Learning from Master Wong’s Knife Defence

Master Wong is very entertaining. Some of his videos on emptyhand techniques are not bad. Then he put out videos on the Wing Chun weapons and I was kinda like meh…..

Yesterday, I saw his video on defending against a knife attack. He is still entertaining.

His explanations sound so convincing too. It even looked effective and could work against someone who does not know how to use a knife and just thrust without any idea of follow up.

However, I am more worried about the attacker who knows how to use a knife or an attacker who repeatedly thrusts and slashes with speed.

I have seen different techniques against the basic thrusting / stabbing attack in Master Wong’s video. One of the more recent ones is from Master Yang Jwing Ming.

Whether dealing with emptyhand technique or weapon attack the problem is always the unknown factor i.e. I don’t know what the attacker will do or not do.

In this example, if the attacker just thrusts with the knife and leave his arm there you can get away with anything. Similary if he thrusts and slowly withdraws his knife for another attack.

The problem starts when the attacker thrusts fast, withdraw as fast (including stepping back). Then its not easy to do the technique Master Wong showed.

Add to it the possibility of the attacker slashing as a follow up to the thrust whether when he is in forward position or does so when he withdraws his blade and you have a different dimension to the problem.

Shall I then add the possibility of the attacker using his other arm to fend off your attempts to defend against his knife?

How about if the attacker switches hand?

When you consider these few points you will see the loopholes in the responses that Master Wong demonstrated.

He may have more effective techniques that he did not show to the public (most masters do) but for the ones he showed the following pictures below are the things that come to mind when I looked at what he showed. I am not even an expert in defending against a knife attack but the problem areas below are what I spotted with a beginner’s eyes.

Example A
Example B

Example A and B – Master Wong showed this as the first movement in deflecting the knife thrust. The problem I see with this response is that the neck is wide open to a slashing counter. However, as seen in Example E Master Wong has anticipated this. This is good as long as the opponent is not able to flow with your deflection and take advantage of it to insert his slashing attack in between the timing required for you to move your hands up as shown in Example E.

Example C

Example C – before Master Wong secured the hold in Example F he ended in this hold first. This is not a secure hold and by twisting the blade to face up, the opponent can slash upwards as he step back. But once you get to the one palm down, one palm up position in Example F then the hold is secure. The problem is before you get to this secure position.

Example D

Example D – Master Wong does foresee the possibility of a follow up slashing counter as shown here.

Example E

Example E – a question I like to ask is if I can foresee the attacker trying to slash me as shown in Example D then would the attacker be smart enough to anticipate my response and have a counter ready to both my hands coming up to protect my throat. If the opponent has experience using a knife then bring both hands up to protect myself is an invitation for the attacker to slash my stomach. Because I am reacting to his attempt to slash my throat first it means that the attacker is ahead of me on the attacking beat and the moment my hands come up and he quickly lowers himself to slash my stomach I will not be fast enough to counter the follow up attack.

Example F

Example F – good response from Master Wong. If there is a weakness in this counter it is that the attacker can still get out of the control. If he can do this he can easily switch knife hand and re-attack Master Wong. This time Master Wong will be way behind the attacking curve since both his arms are attached to the attacker’s right arm but Master Wong does not have any hand to check the attacker’s left hand with the knife now.

I do this analysis as part of my own study in how to defend against knife attacks rather than a post to take down Master Wong. By understanding what not to do I gain a better understanding of what to do.

Dealing with a knife attack or any types of attack is not so much a case of I am right, you are wrong. Instead, it is a case of given this response what can I do to avoid getting stabbed or slashed, and at the same time be able to counter effectively.

Effectively in this sense means how to prevent the attacker from continuing his attack and take away his weapon. In this regard I need to eliminate his ability to move and change.

This is why in Kali our study of how to handle knife attacks is based on knowing both sides of the equation – the defender and the attacker. We learn how to defend including how to take away the knife, and then initiate our own knife attack. When the glove is on the other hand (or blade in our hand) how can we use the knife and prevent the attacker from being able to defend himself.

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