Senior Israeli Krav Magen instructor Yonatan Graber (right) and his trainer, Maor Hakak, displaying a defense against a forward knife attack.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The wave of Palestinian terrorist stabbing attacks on Israeli civilians is showing no signs of letting up, and many have wondered how they should respond if they find themselves in a life-threatening incident.
Yonatan Graber, a senior Israeli Krav Magen Association instructor, explained on Tuesday how members of the public who have had no previous self-defense training can best respond.
“The most important thing is the state of mind you are in,” Graber said, urging awareness of one’s surroundings.
“I’m not saying you should look over your shoulder every three seconds, but increase your awareness,” he said.
“The best defense is not to be there. If you are able to avoid crowded places or areas that have had repeated stabbings, such as Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, do so,” he stated.
“If you can head outside during the early mornings and late nights rather than peak daytime hours, that’s desirable. Clearly, there are many people, like high school students, who cannot do this,” he said.
In a situation in which someone around you is stabbed, “shout and draw the attention of those in your surroundings,” Graber said.
If you are threatened with a knife attack, and the attacker is still distant from you, “you can use objects to strike, or you can kick. If your attacker is close, use your forearms to block the stab, not the palm of your hands. The palms provide less protection than the forearm, and forearms can be used to block a stabber’s attack from 360 degrees.”
“When attacked with a knife, it is best to defend and move forward. Not to defend and retreat, because if you move back, the attacker will continue stabbing and gain momentum against you. Try to go forward, and try to place both of your hands on the attacker’s hand that is holding the knife. While you’re doing this, shout for help,” Graber said.
“It is very important to understand that, in most cases, the first stab is not fatal.
Most people do not die from one stab wound. You can continue to function. Even if you’re stabbed in the back or in the torso, in the first seconds you will be probably be able to function. Try to channel the adrenaline toward safeguarding your life. Catch the attacker’s knife-holding hand with both hands, and shout for help,” he said.
It is also possible to knee or kick the attacker in the groin.
“If you do end up in a situation in which you are kicking or punching, target sensitive areas, like the groin or throat,” Graber said.
For those who train under it, the Israeli Krav Magen Association has a wide range of responses to knife attacks from all directions and in multiple forms. Defenses range from the most basic to the most advanced. It trains members of the security forces, such as the Israel Prisons Service.
The advanced responses include complex maneuvers to take control of a knife-attacker.
Beyond knives, the association teaches defenses against every form of attack.
Graber added that, unlike criminal stabbings, which are usually directed against the attacker’s enemy or can result from a fight and often involve one or two stabs, a terrorist attacker often seeks to stab as many people as he can in a given area.
“I could be stabbed in the back, turn around, and not see anyone there in a terrorist incident,” he said. “It is important to call for help quickly, either vocally or via your cellphone.”