Knives and Edged Weapons Self Defence

Knife, Knives, Weapons, Self Defence, Self Protection, Law, Police, Weapons and Self Defence

Most of us have an inbuilt fear of guns and gun crime. Thankfully, in the UK crimes involving guns are still relatively few in number. By far the great threat is with knives, something which everyone has simple and easy access to:

Consider the threat of Knives Vs. Guns

  • An edged weapon is the most accurate weapon for its range (a close range weapon).
  • It will never jam or misfire and does not need reloading (a knife generally has no mechanism).
  • For an edged weapon to be efficient it must penetrate (slash, lacerate or puncture).
  • There are more murders committed each year in the UK with knives than with guns.
  • Note: Knife crimes in general exceed gun crimes (availability is the reason – every household)


To define what an edged weapon is:-  Any item that can be used to pierce flesh and penetrate into another person’s body can be regarded as an ‘Edged Weapon’. An edged weapon can be 1) Intended e.g. it was made as a Knife. 2) Modified e.g. a flick comb turned into a flick knife or a broken bottle, 3) Cloaked e.g. the handle of a woman’s hairbrush turned into a spike inside the brush part * and 4) Made e.g. a military knife.

* To give some ideas on what else they types of Offensive Weapon could be any item that has been made, adapted or intended to cause harm i.e. a hairbrush, syringe, a pen or a table leg etc.
Therefore in order to reduce the chances of being cut or stabbed in an encounter against an edged weapon:

  • Manufacture distance to reduce the accuracy of an edged weapon (take flight – not fight).
  • Where possible use man-made features or natural obstacles to act as barriers (i.e. shields).
  • SHOUT for help and use whatever is close for defensive measures.


Don’t be brave or maybe foolhardy when facing a knife or suspected knife. Carefully consider and remember the following facts:-

Penetration Depths of a Knife:danger of a knife, knife attack

  • 3cm (1.4 inches) – penetrates the ribcage. (the black tip on the knife)
  • 4cm (1.6 inches) – penetrates the heart. (upto the brown tape on the knife)
  • 8-10cm (3.4 – 4 inches) – the UK average stab depth. (upto the red tape on the knife)

Please Note:

  • Blades of between 3-12 inches in length account for approximately 80% of knives faced by frontline Police Officers in dealing with Knife crimes.
  • Where knife attacks are concerned the victim of a stabbing will not normally know they have been stabbed until the attack has actually finished.

The simple message when dealing with any kind of knife or edged weapon is BEWARE.

Are you aware of the law and knives?

In General:

  • The legal length of a ‘folding blade’ is 3 inches or less & locking knives are considered prohibited (justified for certain tradesmen).
  • You have to be 18 years of age or over to be able to legally purchase a knife (previously 16yrs).
  • Those aged 14 -16 caught carrying a knife ‘could’ be sent to a Young Offenders Institute or a secure unit.  Those aged 10 -14 years are more likely to see social workers.
  • Community sentences – up to 300 hours of hard physical work (min of 18 hours per week) with curfew imposed.
  • Maximum prison sentence for being caught carrying a knife in a public place is 4 years & a £5000 fine (previously 2 years until 2007).
  • Knives Act 1997 – it’s a criminal offence to market knives using such terms as ‘Combat’.
  • Schools do not require parental consent if they intend to screen (electronic wand or arch) a child even if there is no obvious reason for suspicion.
  • Schools can search pupils at anytime without consent if they have reasonable grounds for suspicion (since 2007).


To give some final thoughts for you to consider, remember the 5Cs

C1: Create space – Manufacture distance, take flight and use barriers if available (man-made or natural). When extracting from the area of the threat be mindful of where the actual threat is until you firmly believe that you have cleared the danger zone. Remember, distance is our friend!

C2: Communication – Avoid arguments, intense eye contact and use clear dialog when conversing with the assailant. Prolonged communication could agitate the assailant so keep all verbal communication to a bare minimum. Communication can also be used as a means of deception should you consider to employ self-defence measures.

C3: Comply – Handover all forms of wealth the assailant asks for. And when I say „comply‟ it is ultimately your decision to do so and yours alone. Beyond surrendering wealth, if someone told me at knife point to get in a car and knowing that many individuals disappear each year, I would certainly choose my moment and engage the enemy.

C4: Commit – Be pragmatic and decisive when employing self-defence measures. Only physically engage the assailant if they are in the actual process of making an attempt to hack, stab or slash you. Strike first if you firmly believe they will strike if you do not do so first. And remember, tackling anyone who is holding a knife must be considered as a last resort option.

C5: Conclude – If you have successfully managed to take flight or physically overwhelmed the assailant your first protocol must be to call the Police without delay. If you have sustained any injuries seek medical assistance soonest. If the assailant has in turn been seriously injured administer first aid (if known) and call for an ambulance (duty of care). Preserving evidence is vital which includes blood stained clothing and the offending appendage i.e. the weapon. If you have not touched the weapon during the encounter do not touch it post-encounter. If there are any witnesses willing to assist in providing a statement first take their details and ask them to remain at the scene of the crime until the Police arrive.


With most weapons, Distance from an attacker is king.