Chief Master Instructor and Sulsa Camp founder, Ken Corona, teaches the Four Golden Rules of defense against weapons. These rules apply to all weapons, including firearms. For this post, we’ll look at how it is applied against an attacker with a knife.
Master Corona’s approach to knife fighting has been taught to and by military trainers. Since it is developed for military application, his approach emphasizes efficiency and effectiveness. The Four Golden Rules of defense against weapons is built on this approach.
- Rule 1—Clear The Line: This is your first tactical priority. The line is the “line of attack”, or the trajectory of the weapon attack. For example, if the attack is a fencer’s lunging stab or a downward stab, you clear the line by moving at an angle left or right. You want to move to where the knife is least likely to do serious damage. This may seem obvious, but understanding what direction of movement best protects you from a particular direction of attack is essential to survival!
- Rule 2—Control: Changing your position to evade a knife slash or stab is clearly not enough. Your attacker will simply reorient and renew their assault. This is where control comes in. Control can be as simple grabbing their wrist, or as technical as a joint lock, takedown or clinch-work (standing wrestling) adapted to knife fighting. Control isolates the weapon by countering their attack through control of the arm holding the knife, creating overwhelming pain, unbalancing your opponent, or some combination of the three.
- Rule 3—Disarm: Obviously, your ideal response to a knife attack will result in the attacker losing their weapon or, even better, you taking possession of the weapon yourself. What is different here is the priority level disarming has in your overall strategy. Often martial artist seek to disarm immediately. Not only does this strategy reduce the chances of success in disarming an opponent, it increases the chances that the attacker will be successful in their assault.
Your opportunity to successfully disarm an attacker is vastly improved if you first evade their attack (clear the line) and the get control of their body (control).
- Rule 4—Neutralize: This is the final priority and requires judgement. It may be enough to disarm clear the line, control and disarm to diffuse the situation and/or create the opportunity to escape the conflict. Or the tactical situation may require you to escalate along the sliding scale of force. This could include limb destruction, an arrest control, knocking them unconscious or even lethal force.
These four rules represent principles for effectively responding to a knife attack and increasing the probability of survival. They provide a framework for the specific techniques and tactics taught a Sulsa Camp. Hope to see you there!