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Preview – Concealed Knife Fighting Techniques

Photos by Patrick Vuong

Know Why, When, and How to Transition From Your Gun to Your Blade

As the assaulter moved in an extremely close-quarters environment, one of his enemies closed quickly on him and seized his rifle. He pressed the trigger but the rifle failed to fire. Without hesitation, he drew his pistol and shot his attacker through the neck. He continued on his mission while trying to clear the malfunction in his rifle. Suddenly, another opponent tackled him, cinching in a chokehold. Again, the assaulter transitioned to his pistol and tried to shoot his attacker.

He experienced another malfunction, and, at that moment, a second enemy grabbed the pistol from his hand. The assaulter again transitioned, this time to an edged weapon. He stabbed the first enemy in the neck and cut his hand, almost severing his finger and forcing him to release his hold. But by this point four other guys were on top of him. One hit him with his own pistol, another placed him in a chokehold, and they eventually beat him unconscious.

The assaulter hadn’t anticipated one thing: the courage and resolve of two American servicemen and a friend who were on the same Paris-bound train in France last year.

The terrorist had prepared for multiple layers of weapon transitions. The passengers of that train were fortunate that those servicemen and several others were present that day and that the terrorist’s weapons were apparently ill-maintained. If evil men are training and preparing to such a degree, what are you doing to be better prepared?

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One of the lessons learned from that foiled mass shooting was the value of training in weapon transitions. And it’s not just terrorists who train that way. When I was a full-time police officer, I remember hearing of a cop who attempted to place a biker gang member under arrest. He discovered a handgun on the biker, and a struggle began. While grappling over the gun, the biker transitioned to a knife with his support hand and began stabbing the officer. The ultimate outcome was the biker died and the officer survived — but after receiving life-threatening wounds.

Why Transition
First of all, it’s probably pretty accurate to assume that many defense-minded individuals who lawfully carry concealed firearms are the same kind of people who carry a tactical knife of some kind, usually a folder. The problem, however, is that most concealed-carry weapon (CCW) permit holders rarely train with their handgun or their knife — let alone transitions between the two. The most accurate statistics available regarding deadly force encounters indicate that the majority of lethal attacks happen from arm’s reach to contact distance, and at these distances there are many factors that can inhibit the ability to safely draw and use a handgun.


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Sometimes there’s no time or space to access your firearm, and in an ensuing fight your knife may be the easiest weapon to access. A struggle with a bad guy over your handgun can easily begin at these distances, in which case a knife can become your best weapon-retention tool. Many compact handguns have a low-round capacity, and not many people pack spare magazines when carrying concealed. If you run dry or have a malfunction in a defensive shooting, a knife can become a great backup weapon as it’ll never run out of ammunition.

In each of these circumstances, preparing and training ahead of time on where to carry a knife and how to transition to it can be a life-saving skill.
Often in the realm of tactical firearms vernacular, the word “transitions” refers to switching between long-gun and handgun. In the broader sense of the word, I prefer to think of transitions as the ability to seamlessly and tactically switch from one weapon system to another as necessary in the midst of a combative encounter. By this definition, a weapon system can refer to empty hands, contact weapons (edged or impact), firearms, and less-lethal weapons like pepper spray and electroshock weapons. You may transition from lethal to less lethal, less lethal to lethal, or — in the case of this article — lethal to lethal, as you transition from firearm to knife.

Additionally, for the intent and purposes of this article we’ll refer to the concealed handgun as the primary weapon, and the knife as the secondary weapon.

Carry Considerations
When deciding what kind of knife to carry, and where to carry it, one of the most important things to consider is whether it’s accessible and deployable with both left and right hands. There are realistic conceivable scenarios where you may need to access it with one or the other. The easiest kind of knife to deploy is a fixed blade as it doesn’t require the additional steps and grip changes that a typical folding knife does to get it out and open.

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For the rest of this article, subscribe here: Concealment 3


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