In my experience, being self-taught, once you have some relevant experience, is useful in terms of deepening or broadening one’s understanding. However, there’s no doubt that it can be tough for beginners to recognize real quality when they meet up with it. No matter what your level of experience, it ends up being the same problem for all of us trying to learn new material: figure out what you want and try to find a teacher who meets at least some of those needs and in a few years, you may be better prepared to recognize a better teacher if he or she comes along. Have fun along the way, work hard, be a good student and someday you may be a better practitioner, perhaps even a good instructor.
This is a very short article on a very complex subject and It’s not a topic I have usually addressed with either groups or individuals for a simple reason — the only way to defend against a knife in the hands of someone who wants to hurt you is to use another weapon against him or her. Sad to say even if you succeed you’ll be cut [or worse] and then you have to deal with the legal system afterwards as well as the ethical issues to be confronted.
You wouldn’t know this from the endless earnest offerings on the internet and on instructional dvd or short-term self-defense courses on offer by various combative experts all promising that their methods will ensure survival against attacks by edged weapons. I don’t like blanket statements about the value of most of what I have seen but I will use one for this topic — Nonsense!
Don’t believe me… take your best man [or woman] in terms of martial experience; put an untrained attacker into some decent protective gear and give them a magic marker and tell them to attack the ‘good guy’ as if their life, or the life of a loved one, depended on it. Afterwards, count the number of coloured slash marks on the martial artist’s uniform or t-shirt even if it looked as if they had succeeded in defending themselves.
So, don’t play with knives if you think that learning some techniques will allow you to use your empty hands to stop an armed attacker without getting badly cut, maimed or worse!
Copyright Michael A. Babin ©2018
N.B. In the interest of fairness to all the experts touting their unarmed knife defense methods; some are better than others though most offer delusions of safety rather than practical advice. It is also true, I will admit, that some training is often better than none, particularly if the training allows you to get used to the idea that someone is really going after you with potentially lethal results. In the end, it is better to die on your feet trying to defend yourself than to die on your knees in a panic.
Training seriously in the Chinese martial arts since 1973; accredited and teaching Yang Taijiquan since 1985 and Baguazhang since 1994.