combat, crime, Indiana crime, kung fu, martial arts, mixed martial arts, self defense, Terre Haute, Terre Haute Crime

How Should I Respond to Someone Holding a Weapon?

Recently, I wrote an article on here called, Violent Crimes: Do More Happen in the Day or Night?   The statistics in that article surprised some of you.  And, the article led to some interesting questions.  One of these questions walked into my school, the Yost Wing Chun Kung-fu Academy, in Terre Haute, Indiana.

This young man stated that he had been “in the martial arts” for “nine and one-half years” under the same instructor.  While explaining his experiences in training, he said that he was taught to run every time someone threatened him with a stick or knife.  He stated that it was “too dangerous” to try and defend one’s self from some one carrying a weapon; then, asked me what I would do. . .

Now, to be fair, there is no way to give readers a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with weapon threats.  Firstly, the intentions of each attacker are different.  Secondly, the weapons they’re using could be different.  Thirdly, your opportunities to respond vary based on environmental conditions and settings as well as your own predispositions.  Fourthly, the attacker’s proficiency in the weapon’s use varies from attacker to attacker and day to day. . . .   And, the list goes on and on.  But, these things do lead us to some very important things we must possess in order to defend ourselves from weapon attackers.

person running
Photo by Negative Space on

Before anyone says, “Just run!”  Allow me to share the rest of my story:  When this young man asked me this question, I understood where he was going with his line of questioning, so I – seeing that he was standing much closer to the exit door than I was – asked him to run for the door.  He did.  I out-ran him, stood in front of the door, barring his way, and said, “You aren’t getting out this door.  Now what?”  My point was made:

Sometimes you cannot run without exposing yourself to the intentions of an attacker.  Sometimes you have to stand and defend yourself and those you’re responsible for.

Story shared, let’s look at the points I promised you earlier.  In order to be able to stand and defend yourself from a weapons-threatening attacker there are some things you’re responsible for providing yourself prior to the threat, itself, including but not limited to the following:

1.) Awareness.  We have to be aware of what others are doing around us in a way that does not threaten them.  In today’s world people are often distracted with “virtual reality” on phones, tablets, computers, automobiles, etc.  It is a careless means of conducting ourselves when we become too consumed in this form of “reality”.  (I’d encourage readers to check out my article Toughening Up Softies – Wisely!)  When we’re aware and relate to those around us, we equip ourselves to deal with issues before they become too dangerous to deal with.

woman wearing purple shirt holding smartphone white sitting on chair
Photo by bruce mars on

2.)  Position.  When you go to a restaurant, do you look for a clean table to sit down?  I do.  But, if that’s all you require of your placement you may be missing an opportunity to defend yourself.  Where we choose to go in life and how we choose to place and conduct ourselves on the way to and once there matters.  Attackers, after all, come from somewhere.  Are you sitting where you can see the room and people entering and exiting?  Are you sitting where you have some protection or a means of escape if necessary? . . . .  The list goes on and on.  Point made.

But, let’s add more more thing to position, before I leave it.  Are you making bad choices that put you in places you shouldn’t be?  Then make better ones and watch your risk factors drop.  Some young men can’t get past their egos.  They throw up their chest every time they walk past someone in a karate or kung-fu uniform.  (I just want you to know I see you.  I just don’t care how you decide to walk down the street, as long as it don’t impact me.)  These types of people are too insecure to avoid conflict by humbling themselves to take the path of least resistance.  (No.  I’m not referring to the book.  I mean the real resistance that promises trouble if one walks into it, like another human being.)  And, on that note, if you’re walking down the sidewalk and see someone coming your way that looks like he’s had a day from hell, humble yourself and walk around him.  You can still get to where you want to go without claiming some stake in the sidewalk.  (Sure.  You pay taxes.  But does that mean you have to pay a quality of life (-or-death) toll for being stupid just to get to where you’re going?)  In the real martial arts world we call this evasion of conflict.  It’ a skill set that often is associated with wisdom.

Sifu Ellington teaching a student a disarming technique with staffs.

3.)  Self-Preparedness.  You had to know I’d go there, being a self-defense teacher.  Right?  But, it is crucial in defending yourself – whether it’s against a weapons-holder or not.  Think of it like this:  How many jobs have you had where they orientated you into the position the same way, “Lift with your legs, not your back”?  Despite hearing this several times, are there times you’ve caught yourself lifting with your back?  (I can tell you, as an occupational safety and health professional, most people do at some point and time.  And, most don’t know they’re doing it.)

Dealing with physical threats beyond work and home, like people with weapons wanting to seriously hurt or kill you, requires you prepare yourself – just like anything else in life.  Consider this:  You and your wife or girlfriend or husband or children – someone you love dearly – are coming out of the grocery store when a guy with a knife steps up to you and threatens you and your loved ones.  What do you – honestly – think is going through your mind and heart at that moment?  (Whatever you come up with – if you’ve never been in this position – magnify it.)  Now, consider your family scatters or does something to make this guy uncomfortable and even more unstable, how do you think you’ll feel or respond?  (And, let’s magnify that one-hundred times.)  If we’re not preparing ourselves and our loved ones for self-defense situations (like we do fire escapes in our homes – don’t tell me you don’t do that either! -) we will not be whole to deal with the situation.

Neurologists and psychiatrists have a name for the whole-being, the optimized individual, called the Flow State.  (This is what Kung-fu practitioners train to build, maintain and strengthen against outside threats to its condition, by the way.)  In situations like the one we just created, it is easy for a person to lose themselves to the emotions of (1) fear of losing a loved one or (2) fear of losing one’s own life (just to name two).

Thank you for covering this topic! Sadly, as I’m sure you know, the statistics for both women and men are Astounding!  I am one of those statistics, so I definitely believe in Self Defense! I wish it was taught in grade school and not the typical moves that many “self defense” “martial arts” forms do but real, serious, disarm, immobilize or even kill someone (if needed) in seconds kind of self defense.

Wing Chun Women's Self Defense 7Through the years I have replayed that scene over and over in my head, thinking what could I have done differently? How could I have stopped him? I was actually quite a scrapper and not only fought but broke free several times and ran, each time he caught me and dragged be back to the car by my hair. In the end, he tired of my fighting and broke my neck which allowed him free reign. I was 12 and he was in his 40’s I would guess.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, even rape. The gift that came from it changed my life forever. No, not a child Thankfully, but a Spiritual experience that I will never forget.

BUT…if it were one of my Granddaughters…I would want her to be able to stop it. Thank you for helping people protect themselves. It is not something that any of us wish to dwell on but as the statistics show, it is something we must prepare for, praying we never have to use the skills.

This is a good example of why everyone needs to learn real self-defense.  I’ve not only heard this from many others; I’ve seen it play out in the streets.  Where students are to blame for lackadaisical approaches towards training, shame on them.  Where teachers aren’t honest about what fighting looks like outside a sport, shame on them.

I recall a friend of mine, who had no formal training other than growing up on the streets, confronting three guys who took a heavy kicking style “martial art”.  (That term is used so loosely today.)  He walked right through their kicks and knocked two of the three down and the third got hit and ran.  Sorry representation of that style of fighting, but it’s what happens when one doesn’t work hard, honestly, themselves and/or the teacher doesn’t know how to teach real self-defense.

In Conclusion: 

There’s more, but you get the point.  From there it’s situational.  There is no one magic bullet response to a knife-man, stick-man, or gun-man (or any other weapon-man).  So, don’t buy into the YouTube propaganda that tells you there is.  Do yourself and your loved ones the responsibility of developing and maintaining the proper wellness and self-defense ability.  Get involved in a real self-defense program, not one that will give you belts for money and time spent or one that rewards you with participation awards for money and time spent.  Because when it matters most there’s too much to lose.

Empower yourself to life!™

YWCA Logo Smaller File
©2018 Yost Wing Chun Academy. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s