The Care and Keeping of Your Knife

Knives can cost you a pretty big chunk of money, so extending their life is what many people are striving to do. Knives can take a beating, so it might surprise you to hear that they are actually pretty fragile in the scheme of things. Here are some tips on how to treat your knife with the best care to extend its life, keep it sharper for longer, and not letting it rust or corrode.



Cleaning Your Knife


For starters, you should be cleaning your knife. People often hear the phrase that a dull knife is a dangerous knife, but a phrase that we less commonly hear is that a dirty knife is a dangerous knife. If you clean every part of your knife, it is going to last longer than if you just give it a quick wipe down. While cleaning your knife, I would recommend starting with the blade. For the most part, your knife is going to be made of a quality steel that is resistant to rusting or corroding easily. To wash the blade and handle, I would recommend using warm water and a mild dish detergent. To prevent scratching the blade, use a soft brush, such as a toothbrush, or a smooth sponge. I would not recommend using the tougher side of most kitchen sponges, because it could scratch your metal. The next step in cleaning your knife is removing any rust. If you are constantly maintaining your knife, this shouldn’t be a problem, but, if you do have rust, it is a pretty simple solution. Just get a rust remover, spray it on the rusty spot, and leave it on for a few minutes. For cleaning any of the nooks and crannies, a cotton swab or q-tip will work great. Another efficient way to get all of the dirt and dust out of the little areas is using a can of compressed air and spraying it into those spaces. To get all of the possible parts, it is a good idea to disassemble your knife. Don’t do this unless you are sure that you know what you are doing and you are going to know how to put it back together. During this whole process, don’t be scared to really soak your knife, but when you finish, make sure that all the parts get fully dry. You should especially be cleaning it if it comes in contact with salt water.

If you are working with a kitchen knife, the cleaning process is a little bit different. Some are dishwasher safe, but some are dishwasher tolerable. This means that while they can safely go in the dishwasher, they aren’t going to maintain their full capabilities if you do put them in. Really, it’s a good idea to always wash your kitchen knives by hand. They are prone to getting dinged during the washing cycle. Dishwashers can affect the metal in your blade and damage your knife handle material. Something to remember about kitchen knives is to not leave them in your sink. Because people are constantly putting dishes in the sink, your knives could get scratched up, or even bent or broken. Another thing to remember with your kitchen knives is to immediately dry them after washing. If you leave it to dry on a rack or in another place, it can start to grow mold and mildew. Since kitchen knives aren’t usually as intricate as tactical or everyday knives, you aren’t going to have to be as concerned about the tiny crevices.

If you have a custom knife, you are going to have to give it a little extra TLC during its cleaning process. You should hand wash the blade with a gentle soap and warm water and make sure that you rinse it well. The handle should be cleaned with a damp cloth. You can buff the handle with a soft, dry cloth.

Many knife companies sell maintenance kits which will have the exact tools that your knife needs to get the cleanest. These are worth the investment.



Lubricating Your Knife

Benchmade Total Lube
Benchmade Total Lube

Lubricating your knife does two main things. First, it oils the moving parts of your knife so that your knife can function smoothly. This means that opening and closing your knife will be smoother and swifter. The second main thing that it does is protect the steel and metal parts. This is because the oil helps water, dust, and dirt slide off and not get stuck to the parts. This will help your knife resist rusting and corrosion.

When lubricating your knife, you do not need too much oil, just a few drops onto the moving parts and then wipe the blade with any excess oil. You should be lubricating your knife after each cleaning. If you are using your knife daily, it would benefit you richly to lubricate your knife once a week.



Storing Your Knife


If you aren’t going to be using your knife for a long period of time, you should not be storing it in its sheath, especially if the sheath is leather. Sheaths collect moisture and the moisture gets stuck, putting your blade at a higher risk of rusting. When knives are stuck in a small area with moisture, the steel will also develop pits. All steels are subjectable to rusting and corrosion, even if they are a stainless steel, those steels are just less likely to rust. Knives should be kept in a consistent and dry environment or room.

If you are storing a culinary knife, you should not be storing them in a drawer with other utensils. In a drawer like that, the knife is prone to getting scratched or dented because everything is going to shift each time you open and close your drawer. However, if this is the only place you have to store your kitchen knives, consider using a plastic guard and then laying the knives side by side. You can find these plastic guards for around five dollars. Another great storing option for your kitchen knife is on a magnetic board. A knife block is also a good place to store them, however, you should look for a block that has horizontal slots, instead of the typical vertical ones. This is because you want your blade to be resting on its side, not on the cutting edges.



Cutting Properly with Your Knife


This section mostly pertains to kitchen knives. For starters, you should always be cutting on a countertop. When you cut directly onto your countertop, the surface is too hard for your blade. Whatever surface you are cutting on should be softer than your knife’s steel. Using a wood or plastic cutting board is going to be the easiest on your knife blade.

Second of all, the chopping motion, or the constant up and down, is going to dull your blades edge. If you rock or slide with your blade, keeping your blade in contact with the cutting board is going to benefit you the most. Every time your knife comes in contact with your cutting surface, no matter what it is, it is going to cause small burrs on the edge, dulling it. That is why you want to maintain contact with your board during the whole process.

Lastly, when you scrape your food off your cutting board, I would recommend using the spine of your knife instead of your blade.

This does slightly pertain to tactical knives though. Unless absolutely necessary, you should not pry or dig with your knife. You should also avoid using it as a can opener or a screwdriver. Really, most of the heavy duty work should be avoided with your knife unless necessary.



Honing Your Blade


For kitchen knives, you should be honing them regularly. To hone a knife does not actually sharpen your knife. When a knife edge gets dull, the edge has been misaligned, so even if it is still sharp, it won’t cut the food as properly as it once could have. A honing steel pushes the edge of the knife back to the center and straightens it. It corrects the edge of the blade without actually shaving any off. However, the knife will seem sharper because the blade has been realigned. Many professional chefs will hone their knife before every use to keep it in best possible condition.



Sharpening Your Blade

Spyderco Sharpmaker
Spyderco Sharpmaker

Everyone hears the phrase that a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife and that phrase brings us to the last key aspect of caring for your knife. One of the most important aspects of caring for your knife is actually one aspect that many people view to be the hardest: Sharpening. A sharp knife should be able to slide right off the skin of an onion. Sharpening your knife does take practice and it will be difficult at the beginning. If you have a high quality steel, you are going to need a high quality sharpener to get the best possible result. To sharpen the knife, you need a sharpener that is harder and stronger than your knife blade because it needs to actually grind the blade down.

When searching for a good sharpener, find one that includes a rough stock removal surface or a diamond abrasive. It should also include a finishing surface that is made out of a hard stone or a ceramic abrasive that you will use for the last touches.

When sharpening your own blade, the most common and best angle is going to be 20 degrees. This can be done with a sharpening stone, but it is going to be a lot easier if you use an actual knife sharpener. Many people don’t enjoy using an electric sharpener because they strip away too much of its metal.

Sharpening your knife repairs the nicks and dings on a blades edge to let it properly cut. Sharpening is done less frequently than honing, really just a few times a year depending on how often the knife is actually being used.

If you are terrified of sharpening your own knife because you are afraid of damaging it, or if you just don’t want the hassle of learning how to sharpen your own knife, or if you just plainly don’t have the time to sharpen your own knife, there is absolutely no shame in sending it to a professional.





If you take care of your knife, they are going to take care of you back. Caring for your knife can seem like a time and energy consuming task, but in all actuality, it is very simple. You should always clean your knife—cleaning it is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of rusting or corrosion to your blade. By disassembling your knife, you are able to keep the innards clean, making your knife work as smoothly as possible. Second, you should be lubricating your knife. By keeping it oiled, the dirt, dust, and water is going to be more likely to slide right off. This helps to reduce the risk of rust and corrosion. It is not a bad idea to wipe down and oil your knife gently after each use, but you should certainly be oiling your knife after each cleaning. Thirdly, you should be storing your knife properly. It should not be stored for long periods of time in its sheath. Knives should also not be stored in utensil drawers along with other utensils and kitchen objects—the risk of damaging your blade increases greatly when stored in this way. Fourth, you should be cutting properly with your blade. Blades seem strong, especially when they are made out of high quality steel, but they are fragile. Treat them as such unless a situation arises where you can’t. Fifth, if you are a chef, you should be honing your knives to provide yourself with the best possible edge. You can hone before every single edge. Lastly, you should be keeping your blade sharp. You can do this by yourself or send it into a professional. By following these six steps, the lifetime of your blade will be significantly increased.

Basic Knife Maintanance

We are going to give you several ideas and solutions to help you keep your knife in tip-top shape. Having a well-maintained knife will save you from a headache and losing some money. You’ll be surprised at what all needs to go into a well-kept knife.

When you first get a pocket knife, this is the best time to start developing good habits of keeping a knife in good working order. Daily/weekly habits will make all the difference in the long run. Those habits include cleaning the blade after each use (or at least daily), a regular cleaning of the inside of the knife, the occasional sharpening of the blade, keeping the knife dry, and keeping the knife well oiled. No need to worry, we will go into how to do each of these. There is even an acronym to help remember all of these tasks: that acronym is D.O.C.S. which stands for the following:

D- Dry

O- Oiled

C- Clean

S- Sharp

This will help you to remember what you need to care for your knife.


To start off, let’s talk about keeping your knife dry. It is crucial to always remember that all steel, including stainless steel, can rust. The precious metal that is put into these knives need to be free of water at all times or else the can and will rust. If your knife comes with a sheath, do not store it inside it. The leather and other materials collect moisture on the blade. This built up water can lead to a rusty blade. Even after washing a blade off, make sure the knife is entirely dry. Otherwise, rust will build up. One sign of rust is a discoloration of the metal. Discolored metal has a blue/grey/black color, is a sign of oxidation, which precedes rust.


Next is oiling up your knife. For all of you that have those fancy flipping knives, whether they be fully auto, spring assisted, a flipper, or even a folder, the moving parts need to be lubricated. This will optimize the performance of the knife. Fixed bladed knives don’t get off the hook so easily. All knives need to have their blades oiled. A thin film of lubricant to the entire surface of the blade will help prevent surface oxidation and corrosion from moisture (if you live by the coast where there’s lots of salty air, try dabbing a little motor oil on a rag and rub it onto the blade). Finally, wipe the lubricant off with a towel.


After using your knife, it is a good practice to clean and dry your entire knife (not just the blade). Before I get to cleaning, one of the first things I do is blow on the knife with compressed air. This will remove a lot of the debris and other gunk off the knife. Afterwards, there’re a couple of routes to go. The first route is to wash your knife in warm water with simple dish soap while using the soft side of a sponge. This will get most acids off the blade. You can then use a toothpick to get any gunk out of the locking and firing mechanisms. Be sure to dry it by using either a towel or let it air dry. Don’t let dirt or anything else dry up on the blade. The second route is to use chemical solvents such as acetone, nail polish remover, or alcohol to clean your blade (as a hack to take care of tree sap, use hand sanitizer to get rid of it). Be extremely careful with these solvents. Some of these may damage knife handles and blades. Avoid harsh detergents and solutions that contain chlorine which can accelerate corrosion of the blade steel.

Besides blades, handles get dirty too. To clean, try using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser by gently brushing the handle. Then wipe down with a towel afterwards.


Never let a blade get dull, always sharpen it. One way to prevent a dull knife is by using it properly. Do not use the cutting blade as a can opener, chisel, a pry bar, screwdriver, or for any heavy work for which your knife was not designed. A sharp blade is safer than a dull one. If you are timid in sharpening your blade, it is worth it to have someone else sharpen it for you.

Other Notes

Lastly, do not attempt any self-repairs. This may void any warranty that the individual knife companies may offer. If your knife needs repair, then you can either:

  1. check with your dealer
  2. talk with the manufacturer or the company you bought the knife from for more information regarding repairs.

Many companies offer cleaning and sharpening for a small fee, or even for free. So, just remember D.O.C.S. and your knife will last you a lifetime. Comment below for any other suggestions on caring for a knife.

Knife Care, Maintenance & Safety


Wicked Edge Sharpening
Wicked Edge Sharpening System

With a little routine upkeep, a quality knife can provide decades of dependable service. First, let’s get some common sense points out of the way. To begin with, never use your knife for tasks other than its primary purpose: cutting. While different blade styles allow for all manner of piercing, slicing and sawing, it is generally best to confine the use of your knife to its intended purpose. This means refraining from gouging, prying, hammering or any other potentially abusive action that will, at the very least, shorten the longevity of your knife’s lifespan. Next, bear in mind that your knife is first and foremost a tool. Treating it with respect and care will ensure personal safety and continued performance over time. Always cut away from yourself and be sure to make precise and deliberate cuts. Keeping your knife clean, oiled and sharp will go a long way towards protecting your investment in a quality tool that has both practical everyday uses and possible lifesaving potential.

Moisture, fingerprints and debris are your enemy when it comes to keeping your knife in top form. Always pick a cool dry place for storage, wipe away fingerprints and moisture, and clean the pivot point (or other nooks and crannies) with a Q-Tip or air duster. A drop or two of decent oil to the blade will help prevent rust and corrosion, while oil, used sparingly, around the pivot area will help ensure good action and ease of movement. For knives that may be used for food purposes, mineral oil is a safe bet. Though it may evaporate relatively quickly, it is cheap, plentiful and will not impart any toxins or go rancid over time. If your knife should see use in a saltwater environment, be sure to rinse it thoroughly after use, allow it to dry completely and consider applying wiping it down with a light coat of oil to protect the steel.

As the old adage goes, a sharp knife is a safer knife. Though perhaps seemingly counterintuitive at first, experience shows us that a sharper knife allows for more exact cutting using less force and diminishes the opportunity for slippage. A sharper knife improves cutting technique by reducing the exertion required to perform the task. A sharp knife, used responsibly with fingers away from the business end and out of harm’s way, is actually a very safe tool.

As a simple reminder for knife care, remember DOCS:

Dry- The entire knife along with the blade

Oiled- Moving parts in particular

Clean- All pivot points and locking mechanisms

Sharp- To ensure effective and safe cutting


Should your knife require some service beyond general maintenance, virtually all reputable knife makers offer some kind of warranty or servicing policy. Since these guidelines vary from brand to brand, it is best to check directly with the manufacturer for the most accurate information. Unless very confident in your abilities, it is wise to allow any repairs, modifications or other service to be performed by a professional. Working on your own knife may void the warranty, as will any other actions considered misuse or abuse, including using the knife as a hammer, chisel, pry bar and screwdriver. Normal wear and tear is also not typically warrantied. Much like any other tool, if properly maintained and used within the parameters of its intended purpose, malfunctions are rare and a person can reasonably expect to rugged dependability.  If a new knife owner follows these guidelines and exercises caution and common sense, they will not only protect their investment but also have a trustworthy tool suitable for years and years of faithful service.

The Pennsylvania Knife, by M.H.

Pennslyvania Knife
Pennslyvania Knife

The Pennsylvania Knife

In every facet of every society, the knife has been and continues to be an incredibly important part of every person’s life. Like fire, you just can’t live well without it. They are so prevalent they are mostly ignored, leaving an enormous knowledge gap that can only exist in a complacent society that thinks close combat is a thing of the past and that a knifes only job is cutting tomatoes.

Funny thing is people still find themselves whittling and cutting toward themselves or working in close quarters and cutting toward their buddy. The knife demands respect and the consequences of disrespect are maiming and death. It’s still a seat belt cutter, still a pry bar and still your last best hope where a gun cannot go.

There are many knives in my social circle, id describe my area as a Kershaw/Kabar kind of place. These wouldn’t be my first choice but they’re stout enough blades for the work we do and typically, your work is the key factor in your knife choices if any true labor is involved. Ninety percent of these knives are dull–with crusty, gritty innards and slippery handles–held lazily and used carelessly with few exceptions.

All tools–especially those you carry–should be maintained as well as your car or gun and should be used with just as much care. This treatise exists to help cure the blind spot in our culture. This is less about martial technique and more just a short work on what a long term relationship with a good tool should look like.

If a Kali or Silat practitioner happens to stumble upon this, keep in mind, we just don’t have that here right now. We have a knife culture, but it’s not an educated one and that needs to change. Many of these people don’t leave themselves the time to commit to learning in person and this may well be the closest some get to understanding how to use a knife in the gravest extremes.

I have over ten years of uninterrupted martial training, first in a Korean strike based system, then in Wing Chun. Before WC, I ran the knife through that Korean system (Shim Gum Do) and now, I run it through the WC system. Even before I trained, I was trying to find these solutions and stumbled across a lot of knife fighting data from then to now. I always had a partner to work the concepts with and after ten plus years of banging my head against a wall; I feel like I know what I’m talking about to the extent of what I’m going to share.

I’ve called this project the PA Knife because this is the result of growing up in PA, having access to tons of knives, but zero schools. This is no more than incredibly important bare bones information. If I had a school, id leave it up to my Sifu, if I could find a school, id just tell people to visit but we just haven’t got it yet. So here we are.


Very few knife smiths are left in the world. You are unlikely to send your knife away for a checkup; it is at once too important to send away and not important enough to spend a third of the cost to keep it in fighting shape. For dependable results, learn to do it yourself.

The first aspect is sharpening and this isn’t exactly something you can just automatically do perfectly. Some of the kits commonly available look impressive and intuitive and my friends who own them have fine results and not a lot of practice. Myself, I only use an oil stone and fine grit sand paper.

Should you choose the more old fashioned method and have no one to teach you, practice on something you don’t like for a while. Also remember that steel is not created equal: 440 tool steel and AUS8A do not sharpen the same: the point of the practice is just to learn to apply the knife to the stone smoothly and consistently, maintaining the same angle throughout.

The next aspect is breakdown: you should be able to convert your knife to a pile of screws and plates with very little difficulty. In the long term, this will mean that screws will need to be replaced as they inevitably strip. The reason for this total breakdown is so that you can oil and clean every little corner of the tool. This might seem silly, but corrosion is measured in months, not minutes and beauty is maintained over time, not something that simply is.

Unless I have a lot of free time, I typically don’t strip my knife until I hear a creak when I open it. This could extend the life of your screws by a little and a little squeaking for a day won’t break anything.

There are some parts of a knife that don’t need to be oiled or cleaned. For these, the smartest solution seems to be putting superglue on the threads of the screws to ensure that nothing loosens over time and then simply never touching them again.

Some damage can’t be fixed by an oil stone: nicks or broken tips need to be ground out with a file. This file needs to be maintained itself with a wire brush to clear the metal shavings. So far, my kit is stone, oil, special screw drivers, extra screws, superglue and now even the wire brush. If I hadn’t inherited this stuff–minus the glue, screws and oil–id have already spent as much on the kit as the blade.

Nothing is casual about this: I didn’t choose it casually, don’t carry it casually and I don’t maintain it casually. Each tool comes with its own needs which you will come to know over time if you don’t already: a knife can last forever if you just act like it’s your only one and I do believe that it’s worthwhile, even rewarding to do so.

Efficiency and Safety

It is my considered opinion that when the knife is in the forward position, the support hand should be floating somewhere in between your solar plexus and throat to provide a barrier to your vitals, but also to create a safe place for your support hand to be.

By generally resolving never to use the support hand offensively unless immediately preceding or following a thrust or a cut to the outside (not crossing your body in a way that blocks your support hand) you can create reasonably safe conditions to use a fighting knife in. They will rotate: the empty hand falling back to guard the neck and the weapon hand falling back to full retention when they aren’t striking.

Stand up and fire a low elbow toward your six o’clock. If your hand is over your floating ribs, this is what I mean by full retention. From this position, it’s most likely your support hand will be fully extended in the classic “stay back buddy” position.

Now imagine those trading places. The weapon comes up from the midsection as the empty hand pulls back to the neck. Now the imaginary knife is extended fully in a thrust with the support hand guarding in the rear. They trade places again: knife dropping back to full retention as the empty hand strikes the face.

This is the standard response you will always be racing back to. A parry, cover, stop hit or suppress will open space for the Standard Response. It is a design dependent technique: the blade must be in its most forward position; punch knives being the perfect example.

The edge must not face your support hand. Collision is a reality in solo training as well as in contact. If the frame work for your training is not safe, neither are your thumbs or radial artery.


This is a mode of thinking more than anything; something I figured out during my training as an EMT. The medical community is filled with acronyms, my favorite being K.I.S.S. as in; keep it simple stupid. S.A.S.C. will be your framework for knife application during drill.

Structural, airway, sensory and circulation: each a necessary part of a working body. Breaking the structure in an arm or leg would be severing a tendon. Maiming the limb would qualify as sensory if it puts the opponent into shock or circulatory damage if they bleed out. Airway should be obvious enough: the trachea, with the carotid arteries on each side is your favored target regardless of what you are or aren’t armed with.

This is all meaningless without an objective and your objective is largely based on context. As a civilian, your best bet is to evade after contact and let the police handle the rest. In order to evade you have to make your opponent do something: fall down. S.A.S.C. should be used with the overall intent to destroy your opponents balance. Drive back the weak points of balance: things shoulder and above, things hips and below.

Key Concepts

Take Ground

One ingredient cannot be done without in any type of conflict. You must rapidly advance in order to win. Any free time your opponent has will hurt you: give them no breathing space, no moving space and no thinking space.

Two Hands, One Leg/Inside Entry

This is the name of the last dummy form in the Wing Chun lineage that I happen to be standing in. I’ve always found it to be the perfect means of assessing risk with violent humans. If you engage the opponent head on, you are risking coming in contact with two hands and one leg that could hit anywhere.

Outside entry is the only reasonable entry. If you happen to find yourself inside, in range of three weapons; fall back to the Standard Response. Stomp forward and take ground, not stopping until the opponent falls over.

Compulsive Cover

One can never truly know where the lethal strike in a string of three will land, on occasion, just covering what you want to keep is the smartest thing to do. Cover your face, throat and solar plexus; it’s typically where the knife is going.

At the earliest point of convince, retake ground and attack again.

Center of Gravity

In order to resist any force meaningfully, you will need a low center of gravity. In the knife context however, you will need to balance that with mobility. You must be capable of moving in all directions and you also need a consistently low center of gravity, preferably lower than your opponents.

This comes with time and training; understanding how to take on force is not something that can be done from the arm chair.

Wasted Motion

The shortest distance between two points is almost always a straight line. Though I was shocked to see situations that made this premise false, it’s still true nine times out of ten. If you slash at your opponent while he thrusts and you’ve both left your positions at the same time, he will hit first. If you both cut, you may have to reposition and reengage when you could have been escaping the scene.

Again, fall back on the Standard Response: take ground, thrust, hit, thrust until your opponent is grounded. This is economy of motion at its best.

Disruption of Balance

Balance is weak in several parts of the body: where the head moves, the body follows is a classic point to draw upon and it is this concept that is the most important part of the Standard Response. Balance is also weak in the lower aspects of the body: shots to the groin can cripple a low center of gravity, as will severing the tendons behind the knee or inner thigh.

The “advanced” application of the Standard Response should include a throw, reap or severe damage to the knee. Any martial system can be applied to knife work: wrestling may seem like the last thing you want to do, but gift wrapping an opponent or applying a double leg takedown applies the concept well enough.

You will discover what doesn’t work in training: eliminate the fallacies and all that will remain is truth.

Sphere of Influence

This is an area of no recovery if you do not attack. The SOI is defined as the space you can affect without moving: arms reach or weapons reach. Once in contact at this range, you will not be able to outmaneuver your opponent, nor see what techniques he may try to employ.

Attack, attack, attack and continue moving forward. Once here, there is no Aikido, Karate or even a bob and weave: strike or be struck.

Line in the Sand

This area is one of choice and thought to a small degree. It’s the space you can affect after taking one big step. This big step—when taken by your opponent—gives you all the data you need to get outside (take the opponents back) or even to catch the weapon hand in the case of the very skilled meeting the very unskilled.

Moving First

Resetting the psychological dynamic of an altercation is the most important first step. When someone moves aggressively toward you, they count on you not exceeding—let alone meeting–that energy.

Just taking little steps toward their back while they advance can be unnerving enough to end the confrontation there. Moving first can also suppress weapons that aren’t yet in play.

Consider two bodies moving in relation to each other: if a body turns to face and I move offline, they must reset. Every time they reset, they need a new plan or at least to edit an old one. This is a confidence robber and gives you time to inflict a new tool or tactic to the situation.

Verbal Control

If you can talk, do so. Forcing the enemy to think and respond to commands distracts from their ability to respond physically. Questions are ideal, but commands are realistic. Make your wishes known in the form of edicts: “get back!” or “make space, I’m leaving!”

Being on the receiving end will raise your heart rate and make you less useful. Replace his questions with your commands and never lose control of the conversation.

After you’ve spoken first, move first. Do as much as you can ethically first. Once a knife comes into play, being second and being dead is often the same thing.

High, Low. Low, High

When the mind is bent on attacking a high lying target, it often becomes blind to those low targets. When someone tries to take your head off, they often forget that they leave their knees and groin completely open.

Should the opponent cut low and you have the space and time to articulate a wise move, cutting their face is likely the best choice. Things tend to collide in the low lines and your priority—in a standing altercation—will always be to hit the computer before the weapon when possible.

When the opponent comes in high, cuts to the groin and femoral artery will be your cheapest attacks. Greeting the force head on is the most expensive. While both these choices can have terrifying outcomes attached to them, only one is guaranteed to leave you with severe lacerations.

Outside and Inside Entry

The simplest way to understand entries is to match them with the word “reach.” Inside entry implies that I am facing my opponent and that he can reach me with one of the previously mentioned three weapons available to a human at any given time.

Outside entry implies that he cannot reach me at all: that I have circled toward his back and am out of range of his weapons. Outside entry is easiest to attain from the Line in the Sand: a place where you can calculate your opponent’s movement to decide how he must attack.

Crawl Before Sprint

Last and most important: take your training slowly. This exists to benefit you and your training partner. Injury will not benefit you, neither will death. Nothing can substitute expert instruction and quality sparring gear.

There is no legal advice here either, so crawling through your local law books could be a great next step. Lethal force is not cut and dry: you are far more likely to use a blade against an unarmed group rather than a similarly armed opponent.

Consider also that there is likely to be a large gap of time where you haven’t gotten to your knife yet: grappling occurs here, boxing occurs here. In order to ever apply your knife, you must be competent in an unarmed skill set.

Think your training through carefully so that you can act quickly when it counts: always seek a second opinion; doubt even this.