How To Deploy Your Folding Knife During A Life-Threatening Attack

Note: The following information is provided for your knowledge only. Although everyone has a right to self-defense, it is incumbent on you to know the self-defense laws in your area if you ever have to physically protect yourself or others. Furthermore, a knife should only be used in self-defense when you, or someone else, is at risk of death or serious bodily harm. As such, use this information at your own risk.

In my last article “It’s Time You Get a Proper Folding Knife“, the various attributes and characteristics of an ideal folding knife were discussed. In this present article, it is now time to articulate when to use a folding knife. And by this, I do not mean the obvious idea of when to use a folder for standard cutting tasks, but rather, I am speaking of when to use a folding knife for your own personal protection.

After all, when life and limb are on the line, it is critical to know when to deploy that blade in your pocket; otherwise, it’s just a glorified paperweight. So, let’s get started.

Not a Fantasy Knife-Fight

A knife fight will not be like this.

The first thing to understand about using a knife for self-defense is that doing so will not be a pretty thing. Whether you are the one doing the cutting, or the one getting cut—or most likely both—any altercation with a blade will be brutal, bloody, and bestial.

This is not some fantasy duel where you are tossing your knife from hand-to-hand as you parry and jab with your opponent, just waiting for the perfect moment to execute that Jet Li triple-strike. No, instead, any real knife-fight will likely involve shock, surprise, and serious unpleasantness. You likely won’t even see your opponent’s knife until you have been stabbed with it a few times. This won’t be like the movies; instead, it will be a life-and-death struggle the likes of which few modern humans have ever been involved in.

So, given all of the above, please realize that the very first rule of knife-fighting is this: avoid any knife-fight if you can. Run, swim, or jump if you have to, but in the end, do whatever you can to avoid battling a blade. And if you cannot avoid some guy with a knife then shoot the prick. That is the second rule of knife-fighting. However, if you have no gun, then the third rule of knife-fighting is to know when to use your own folder. And, ultimately, there are only two ways to deploy your folding knife: reactively and proactively.

Reactive Knife Deployment

Know that if you are faced with a knife-wielding opponent who has already deployed his own blade and is coming after you, then it will be quite difficult to have the time to deploy your own folder in response. However, while this will be difficult, it is not impossible, for there are a number of circumstances where reacting with your own blade is a perfectly reasonable response.

First, consider that there are individuals who have become so quick with deploying their own folding knife that they can draw it and open it as fast as they could draw a pistol. Now, doing so takes a great deal of practice, but nevertheless, if you are a knife enthusiast, and if you practice so much that you could draw your folder in a split second, it might be entirely appropriate for you to draw and use your own knife if you are suddenly faced with a close-range blade-wielding opponent.

For other people, empty-handed self-defense techniques might be preferable in such circumstances given that you will likely get stabbed repeatedly while fumbling about for your own knife. So, know your own level of skill and only reactively deploy your folder if you know that you can do so.

Second, if you are attacked by a knife-wielding individual, and if you are able to turn and run from the assailant for a short period of time, this will give you the few precious moments that you need to draw and ready your own folder just in case you cannot run far or fast enough. After all, when facing a knife, better to have your own knife then to have no knife at all.

Third, if you happen to be fighting against an enemy with a knife (or another lethal weapon), and if—God forbid—you happen to find yourself grappling and wrestling with such an opponent, then this might give you a moment to react and draw your own folder to end the struggle while in that grappling situation. Again, this won’t be pretty, but better that he is stabbed than you.

Not a bad time to grab your blade and stick it in his leg.

So, even when faced with a knife-wielding opponent, there are certain circumstances when you can effectively react with your own knife, even if doing so might be difficult under such conditions.

Proactive Knife Deployment

Although it is possible to effectively react with your folder, the fact is that a folding knife is even better in a proactive role. By this I mean that, in certain situations, it is possible to preemptively deploy your folding knife in preparation for use in a self defense scenario.

For example, if you ever find yourself in the wrong part of a city, suddenly being approached by a gang of rather feral-looking youths, then it is perfectly sensible, in such a situation, to preemptively deploy your folder in preparation for a confrontation. Of course, you will conceal your folder and not let them know that you have it deployed, but it will be ready nonetheless.

If the gang leaves you alone, then so much the better, but at least you were prepared. Note as well that this course of action would be quite legal because if the gang attacks you, then it would be easy to articulate why you felt the need to use your folding knife to protect yourself in this drastically outnumbered situation given that your life was arguably at risk. Note as well that such reasoning would also apply if a very small (or elderly) man was facing a much larger and more youthful opponent.

Second, and similar to the first scenario, if you are on the wrong side of the tracks and are facing one unarmed individual who looks like he is going to cause you some trouble, feel free to get your knife ready as well. However, don’t open it, as using the blade could be construed as using lethal force in a situation that did not warrant it.

Instead, just have the knife in a tight grip with the bottom of the knife just slightly beyond the bottom of your closed fist. Then, if attacked, feel free to rain hammer blows down on your assailant with the bottom end of the knife giving your blows a little extra “bite”. This way, you stay within the bounds of the law, but you nevertheless gain an advantage over your unarmed attacker.

Finally, in countries where gun ownership is difficult, having a knife for proactive home-defense is also a must—although, in the case of home-defense, I would recommend a short sword or kukri, not just a knife. Either way though, when you hear that bump in the night, never get out of bed until your hand has closed around the grip of your bedside folder.

A little something for home defense when your handgun misfires.


In the end, knife-fighting is not a game, nor is it something that you want to engage in. Avoid a knife-fight if at all possible and shoot the bastard if you can’t. But when all else fails, better to know when to reactively or proactively use your own folder if circumstances force you to do so. So be ready. Fight like a beast. And win.

Read More:  It’s Time You Get a Proper Folding Knife

99 thoughts on “How To Deploy Your Folding Knife During A Life-Threatening Attack”

  1. Lol @ that photo…”Not a bad time to grab your blade and stick it in his leg.”
    If the armbar is that deep, chances are the elbow capsule has already popped. Don’t ask me how I know these things…

      1. Because I have popped a few arms in BJJ class… it happens when you slap on a quick armbar and they don’t tap. Had my arm popped a few times as well.

  2. Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.
    YES! I was so hoping I could be the first to use that comment.

  3. I carry a KA-BAR in a leather sheath for when I cannot use my gun. I also own a Serbu Super Shorty that I stash in my car when I’m out, and either a glock 31 or a S&W .357 magnum snub to carry on my person. The snubby fits nicely in my leather jacket when on the motorcycle, and the super shorty is for truly dangerous crowd control situations (like if black lives matter surrounded my car).
    To add on to this article I would add that you MUST learn grappling skills if obtaining a firearm is tough for you. Remember that if the guy has a knife, he will be focused on the knife and what he does with it because he thinks the knife alone gives him superpowers. In grappling we learn to use the enemy’s limbs to our advantage, so if the dude tries to stab you, you can get the arm and go for numerous moves that can disable or even incapacitate them.
    Luckily for me, I can shoot the bastard.

    1. While all this talk and theory is very interesting and entertaining to read, I do not see why the average person would >need< to learn anything, much less grappling. This will surely ignite a swift response on a site like this where everyone is serious about “self-improvement” and sure martial arts stuff is self-improvement too but you should only do it if you like it; not to fit into someone else’s tough guy narrative. There are just too many attractions in the world for every guy to spend appreciable time on becoming a hard ass as visualized by Hollywood or a BJJ gym bouncer. I suspect that even most black belt hard asses would much prefer to live in their own gym fantasy bubble, dishing out knowledge on real world violence they’ve never personally faced themselves. If they base their egos on being invincible hard asses, I can see these dudes committing suicide after someone cold cocks them or worse.

      1. Martial arts instructors alwas have a bit to say about dealing with someone wielding a knife. That’s one thing they’re keen and quick to keep an eye on. They’re very focused on the knife and the possible moves the wielder can make. It’s good training for thinking fhst where to go at tho wielder to dasable them. Often a martial instructor will avoid engaging someone with a gun though. It depends on the state and position of the person with the gun. Martial arts in addition to your gun or knife will make you a better combatant still. Some blunt wrestling holds are good to know too.

    2. I’d recommend an AK “pistol” over the super shorty, that only holds 3 shells with a 6 inch barrel. I carried a Glock 19 for 6 years, had to draw it twice, fortunately they rethought their actions at that point.
      The .357 isn’t much better than 9mm out of a snubby barrel, you just get extra flash and recoil for not really any gain. It’s best out of a 4 inch or greater barrel.
      I think your knife comment goes along with firearms with thugs. Most see it as a magic weapon and an intimidation tool, they haven’t done things like practicing jam clearing, and all the other shit I practiced pretty regularly.

      1. The snubby is great because you can shoot it whilst concealed. Maybe it’s just my ego talking, but if some scum was set on hurting/robbing/killing someone that day, then it’s best that they get what’s coming to them, not having second thoughts if the person they thought was an easy target drawn on them, thereby possibly making them run away only to find an old lady later on. I could not in good conscience, scare someone like that away only to have them attack someone who was supposed to be me. I would rather they try onme and get shot, than see me with a gun and pick someone more vulnerable

  4. “although everyone has a right to self-defense,” not in the UK, unfortunately. Using even non-weapons in self-defense is enough to get a guy locked up.

    1. Self defense is your right, just because you were born. It comes form God and Nature and your mother’s womb and from the first breath you drew on Earth. Check out the American Revolution to learn more.

  5. A knife doesn’t always stop a fight instantly- true story, kind of long, bear with me- ( the names have been changed to protect the innocent, actually I have no idea what their real names were just the nicknames assigned to them by the rest of the town)
    Back in the day, we had a couple of somewhat rough families in the neighborhood who lived across the street from each other in some old shotgun houses. On the east side lived Hatchet Man along with his old lady and a few really ugly kids in a three room house. On the west side lived Booger, his wife Stinker and a house full of really ugly kids from diaper age up to about 16-18 or so.
    One of the favorite activities of these folks was building a fire beside the street to sit around and get staggering drunk every day.
    Once during the daily fun Hatchet Man and Booger got into a fight whereupon Booger pulled out what was known as a watermelon knife, a folding pocket knife with a thin blade about six to eight inches long and cut Hatchet Man across the stomach with it DEEPLY. Hatchet Man fell over bleeding like a stuck pig so Booger, not wanting to get entangled with the law loaded up Stinker and all the little Boogers and Stinkers in their 1950s model Ford station wagon and hit the road.
    Hatchet Man got up and using one hand to hold his intestines in, walked down the street to a paint shop where he stole a gallon of paint thinner, walked back to Boogers house, poured the paint thinner all over the front porch then set the house on fire before walking across the street to his home where he had a large couch on the front porch. When the fire department showed up Hatchet Man was sitting on the couch on his front porch watching Boogers house burn down while holding his intestines in with his hand. The firemen told me blood had soaked through the couch, ran across the porch and was puddling on the ground. Seven or eight days later Hatchet Man was back in the woods cutting firewood with a double sided ax like nothing ever happened.
    I guess that’s why they called him Hatchet Man.

    1. Booger, Hatchet Man, Stinker, and the ugly kids. Sounds like the white trash in the trailer park a few counties away from me. And BTW Confederate, I wouldn’t call them rednecks either. Never confuse white trash with rednecks. This from a man born in New Jersey.

      1. That would be one helluva show, those morons couldn’t have answered a question but the fight would be good.

        1. No, I didn’t move, they did lol. We don’t have it like Lolknee out here in the country, there’s not many people so you’re going to run into all the fuckups and weirdos in the county in a regular basis.

        2. I know what BOTH of you mean – my neighbors house (on both sides) is on the other side of a 12″ brick wall!
          no getting around them!

  6. Only knife fight I was in I didn’t have a knife. The guy came after me. I grabbed his wrist and flipped him. He hit the ground so hard, when he got up he asked if we could just forget about it and he would leave. I said yes. He left. Anytime he saw me after that he would say hey and keep moving.
    P.S. I was always good at flipping people. Just a natural. And I watched tons of pro wrestling growing up in the seventies. May be fake but some of it works if you practice it.

    1. Only “knife fight” I was in, I was 13 years old. Some little creep flicked open his buck knife, (which looked a foot long and like death itself to my young eyes) and I picked my Huffy dirt bike up over my head, and brought it down hard on his… and other parts of him.
      Good times.

      1. “Only “knife fight” I was in, I was 13 years old. ”
        I was 15. Glad you prevailed.

        1. Ha! No, I pedaled the heck out of there before the creep’s shitty buddy could get a hand on me, or before any grownups saw what I had done. Interesting observations here:
          1. I was 100% sure that grownups were enemies, as they would send me to juvie, or make it possible for my parents to be sued. They were never protectors– just a more lazy species of predator.
          2. I never had a fight against only one opponent until well into high school, and those scenarios were never life threatening, and often led to friendships/respect.
          As for the bike, mom and dad shitcanned it when I left for college.

        2. regarding point 1.
          Yes. we were under the impression that ANY adult can strike you at ANY time for ANY reason.

    2. Are you sure you didn’t see MacGyver do that watching tv in the 70s and get mixed up thinking it was you?

      1. That’s funny! MacGyver was in the 80s. Glad to meet you Hitler. Surprised you’re still alive.

  7. Self-defense? Yeah right. Just be honest and say some people live where violence is a part of life and the cops don’t care. Everyone else will end up jail.

      1. “you want to put the knife in me… look me in the eye and see what’s going on in there when you turn it…”
        Matrix, one of the most homoerotic characters in an action movie, ever.

        1. “I’m gonna shoot you between the balls!”
          Right in the coffee-table/betweemus!

        2. “i’m gonna fill you so full of lead you’ll be using your dick as a pencil”
          El Guappo
          (wow, that’s two Three Amigos references in as many days)

  8. “The big rules of knife fighting are (a) do not try it at home, and (b) the whole point is never, ever use the blade. It is there to distract your opponent. While he stares at the gleaming steel, you kick his balls to kingdom come–he’s all yours. Just a tip!”
    –Keith Richards

  9. I keep a few buck knives around the apartment and in the car. The good thing about those, is theres that steel lip that protects your own hand from sliding onto the blade as you stab someone.

  10. Do not threaten people with your knife, do not wave it around.
    You deploy the blade only if you are ready and committed to use it.

  11. I’ve had a knife pulled on me-this Asian fucker in highschool (because many of them are scrawny and needed such to feel tough) tried me and I managed to throw them (from a young age I’ve been doing such and am learning catch wrestling so I am a pretty ‘shooter’) and in the process I drove my elbow into their orbital bone and took my index finger with the other hand and went right for their eye telling them if they didn’t drop the knife I would pop the eye right out of its socket. Lucky for them they relented as I was ready to do so and had no issue as it was proportional force. The matter was ultimately resolved and they ended up expelled for that knowing full well if they retaliated I had backup that would have mangled him in a heartbeat for me.

      1. Ha nice. Some of those little bastards were passive aggressive but it was a one-off situation.

  12. I was a cop for six years and the knife duel myth makes a lot of money for knife makers but it’s bullshit. Knife attacks are sudden and all you have time to do is a little empty hand technique.
    The proper response to a knife is a gun, not another knife!
    Look for knife fights on YouTube. There aren’t any. You can see videos of people using all kinds of things to stop an attack but almost never a knife.
    Knives are for attack and whittling and severing the odd loose string, no more.

    1. So you are saying this is not an accurate depiction of either gang violence or knife attacks?

    2. No guns allowed in most of Europe. Only some of the criminals have them.
      To the other part of your post, if knife attacks are usually so sudden that you don’t have time to pull your own knife (and I believe you’re right), how could you possibly have time to respond with your gun instead?
      Unless you already have it prepared because you suspect an attack is coming, but that would obviously also make it possible to prepare your own knife (although certainly no argument that I would rather have the gun if that was a possibility where I – and probably a substantial portion of the Return of Kings readership – live).

    3. If you were truly a cop then you would know that a holstered or concealed gun is not effective against an attacker armed with a knife who is at or within 21ft of you. A person with a knife can sprint and attack faster than most people can draw, aim, and shoot. That’s assuming too the gun is already cocked and ready to fire. You are better off using martial arts or if you have a folded knife that you can draw quickly, using that. Our ancestors stabbed at each other for thousands of years. Bladed weapons are effective if you have the knowledge. Blunt weapons however are better and require much less skill.

      1. The 21 foot rule is basic stuff; everyone knows this. Its from 1985 for fuck’s sake. However it only is true with a holstered gun. That is why you use empty hand techniques to gain time and space to draw and shoot. The answer is never another knife. Did your video say to draw a knife and defend with that? No, because its a retarded idea.
        The best technique of all is to be aware of your surroundings, project command presence and avoid these situations all together.
        If you see a knife then you draw and then the 21 foot rule is not valid anymore because the gun is already out.
        Watch YouTube and try to find videos of knife defenders vs knife attacks, there aren’t any, it is a myth made up by neckbeard, armchair martial artists. The kind shop at ninja supply stores and earn their black-belts at karate dojos in after 18 months of “training.”

        1. People have been stabbing each other for thousands of years. It’s not a myth that to be armed with a knife or a club is going to give you more of an advantage than being unarmed.

        2. Possibly, but find a story or video of someone using a knife to fend off a knife wielding attacker. I would wager that more people are hit by lightning = not something to worry about. It’s the stuff of movies and TV shows.
          If a guy pulls a knife on you and all you have is a knife, create distance with bare hand tactics and run.
          Do I carry a folding knife? Yes. Do I often concealed carry? Yes. Do I think It is likely to ever stick someone with my knife? Not at all.

  13. Sad news Lorena Bobbitt was killed in a terrible accident on the beltway this morning. The accident backed up traffic several hours for miles. Appearantly she got cut off by some dick.

  14. Arnold has instructional videos on all important life lessons:

    But, as an undercover DEA (former special forces) dude once told me in NYC —
    “first rule of a knife fight – bring a gun”…
    and Arnold has the instruction video:

  15. I have a plethora of slash proof/stab resistant clothing and t-shirts specially fitted for my size, when you have money you tend to increase personal defense spending. Especially good idea to wear them in clubs/bars you just never know who randomly hates you for being awesome.

  16. Given the “multicultural” ((((enrichment))) plaguing Europe, this is a very very solid article.

  17. I recall when I was young my father taught my brothers and I how to disarm a knife weilder using a sweater or coat. Sorta bull fighting really. Never had to try it, and hope I never will.

  18. I live in Arizona. I tend to bring a gun to a knife fight, and if in the unlikely circumstance that my gun misfires, I also carry a sheath knife with a 4 inch blade.

  19. can’t hurt to have a knife. I always carry one. SpyderCo or Benchmade nothing too tactical … In today’s world you need to have something to protect yourself..

  20. You need to be clear about which country and state you are talking about as carrying a folder in public is illegal in many jurisdictions. I also do not recommend a sword for home defence as if you use it you will likely be locked up (in the UK for sure).
    Instead it is better to have dual purpose items handy for self defence, like a tactical flashlight for example.

  21. Only thing that’s gonna happen is that all those impressionable neckbeards/mouthbreathers that read this site are gonna end up hurting themselves/others.

  22. Hmm… This is a useful article. It seems that Schopenhauer (and Voltaire) were so right:
    “In this world, where the game is played with loaded dice, a man must have a temper of iron, with armor proof to the blows of fate, and weapons to make his way against men. Life is one long battle; we have to fight at every step; and Voltaire very rightly says that if we succeed, it is at the point of the sword, and that we die with the weapon in our hand — on ne réussit dans ce monde qua la pointe de l’épee, et on meurt les armes à la main. It is a cowardly soul that shrinks or grows faint and despondent as soon as the storm begins to gather, or even when the first cloud appears on the horizon. Our motto should be No Surrender; and far from yielding to the ills of life, let us take fresh courage from misfortune:—
    Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.55

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