Over on Dojo Rat's blog, there is a revisitation to the old martial arts expect-to-get-cut-in-a-knife-fight argument. I thought my comment there was worth repeating and expanding a bit here.
Briefly, for those of you not up on the discussion, there are two basic stands:
1) In a knife attack, you will get cut.
2) In a knife attack, you might get cut, but telling you that you will is defeatist, and should be avoided.
I am not an expert; however, after some training, my side of the fence is 1). Especially if you are barehanded against a blade.
Bare against a blade, absolutely the last resort.
I think the notion that you can skate in a knife attack is way more dangerous than the one that says you'll get cut. If you stay -- a thing to be avoided if at all possible -- and engage with somebody waving sharp steel up close and personal? Bad idea. Bad.
Sure, people have walked away from an incoming blade without a scratch. Hell, I have done so; I 'm one-for-one. But it was a freak incident, my attacker was probably stoned to the gills, and I was lucky. This is not how the smart money bets.
Understanding that you might and probably will take a slice -- but that you must keep going even if you do -- is not defeatist, it is teaching you a survival characteristic. If you can't run, you damn sure can't quit until the guy coming at you with the knife quits.
Martial arts aren't a magical amulet that wards off everything incoming. You need to know how to keep going if you catch a hard hit. You aren't bulletproof.
If you accept that you will be tagged by a blade and can live with the liquid nitrogen burn and the sudden blood flow from a gaping wound, you are worlds better off than if you think you are some action movie hero who can do a clean disarm -- and then suddenly discover you are wrong.
We don't think it is wise to train only for best-case scenario. If you get it, good, take it and thank your lucky stars. If you don't, best you have some idea of what the devil to do instead.
Yeah, you might get a stoner who knows nothing about blades and gives you a freebie. And you might get the International Kali, Silat, & Arnis Champion who can fillet like the catfish chef at Ralph and Kakoo's on Friday night. You won't know which it is until you get there. The expert isn't going to give you a real line, and while you are trying to cover what you think he's offering, he'll be sticking or slicing you somewhere else.
What are your chances of running into this fellow? Probably not very high. Then again, you have to assume the guy knows how to use his weapon. And if he does, and if you are bare, and if you are an expert in hand-to-hand, you might win, but consider this: If the guy facing you is as good as you are unarmed, if he has that level of skill, and you put a knife in his hand? How well do you like your chances?
Put my money on you? That's a P.T. Barnum kind of bet.
One itty-bitty shot to your carotid artery with the tip of a blade, no power necessary, and you are in the countdown for the pine box.
Our art is based on the blade, and we've spent a fair amount of time over the last year concentrating on it. Of course, the drills aren't "real," in the sense that you aren't going to use them in toto. The flow stuff isn't going to continue for three, four, ten passes, it is just to get used to dancing around and seeing incoming from various angles. Training isn't reality, but it's what we have to work with.
The reality is that a sharp, steel blade is way harder to deal with than a rubber training knife. And that being the case, if I can tag you routinely with the latter -- and unless you are way better than I am, I'm fairly confident I'll able to do that if you want to stand and play fisticuffs against it -- then I'd really rather be me than you.
(You can get much further with a kind word and a knife than you can with a kind word alone ...)
After having spent this time dancing about, my conclusion is that I don't want to get into a knife fight, no way, no how, no thank you.
But if such a thing comes to pass, I'd much rather be the guy with the knife.