A student came to my Balintawak Eskrima martial arts club sometime in the late spring of 2010 looking for self-defence against a knife. I had not been teaching knife for a couple of years, but now I decided to take another look at the curriculum. In the process, I decided that what was really needed was not a collection of techniques but a program. This is my first attempt at documenting this program.

Along the way, I came to grips with something that I had proposed to my teacher, Dr. Dom Lopez, a few time in the past: Is it possible to teach knife defence in a manner similar to the way we teach stick fighting? I had earlier in the year developed a way of teaching the pocket sized stick in this fashion. I now adapted this approach to knife training, with what I regard as an unqualified success. Dom Lopez has endorsed this approach, and has asked me to put it on video for posterity. This has been done at an overview level. This document presents the whole program in similar overview fashion.

Dr. Dom Lopez and I presented knife defence seminars in Langford British Columbia in October of 2010. At the seminars (two sessions a week apart), I and some senior students, Steve Ratch and Bob Holland, presented a demonstration of the new knife training drills. This was the first time we had made the drills public.

Before the seminars Dom Lopez wrote down some of his ideas on self-defence against a knife attack. I present them below to preface this discussion:

There are a number of salient points in the principles of knife defence in the Balintawak system of Eskrima.

  1. A recent Times-Colonist editorial about young men with knives and the 23,000 knife attacks in Canada in 2008 documents an increasing incidence of knife attacks.

  2. We show some methods for knife defence from our Villasin Balintawak Eskrima system.

  3. Our techniques can be fatal. But we want to present the best in our system that can stop the attack in a very efficient way

  4. Keep in mind that this is a portion of a much bigger art, and if a step fails, there are alternative courses of action

  5. We will leave moral, ethical, and legal aspects for a different discussion

  6. The techniques we’ve chosen are designed to be effective, fairly easy to learn (they can be taught to a neophyte) and have adaptability to different situations. For example:

  • the two handed strike, one to the throat and the other on the solar plexus is terrific for multiple opponents because there’s no time wasted. It’s over in half a second.

  • The pouring water technique can be used even if you’re sitting or lying down.

  • The front elbow throw is useful if one just wants to disarm.

  • The flanking and turning manoeuvres are excellent for when the assailant has a lot of forward momentum as in walking or running.

  1. Here are some key points for consideration:

  • The right to self defence is absolute. There is no room for dispute in legal or moral sense.

  • A knife attack is an example of extreme force. It should be appropriate to respond to it in kind.

  • Your first response to a knife attack is your best chance to survive. This is because you have the element of surprise. If you don’t completely disable your opponent, you may not be so lucky in his second attempt.

  • There are only few areas that a strike can completely disable: strike to the temple, eyes and throat.

  • Never use a fist to strike to the face:

a. many guys can take a punch

b. you can injure your hand

c. you will dislodge him from his position ,and (it will be) difficult to do a throw.

  • A head throw is the coup-de-grace, the final move that finishes the opponent.

Dom Lopez, October 2010