January 2013 - Pg 5-Knife Defense
People may get to talking to the police later on, and say, “Well, this did not happen here. This started over at Joe’s place,” and Joe’s place is four blocks over. At first it seems like someone is lying, like someone is making this stuff up. How could this be? But in reality, an injured person can do huge amounts of traveling. Even though the body is going to expire at some point, it is capable of a huge amount of action and behavior before it stops.
eJournal: You’ve described an inauspicious combination of eventual lethality and short term failure to stop. First, it’s a concern from the viewpoint of surviving and next the lethality factor almost guarantees that we are going to land in court afterwards. Is there a solution?
Bunke: You have to come at this as a training issue. With firearms training, we teach to shoot until the threat stops, and that makes sense. For somebody who can shoot fast and really accurately, that may be a couple of magazines-full in a short amount of time until a threat no longer exists.
In the knife world, that could be a whole lot of cuts until you have caused enough damage for that person to no longer be a threat. As they get more cuts, as they get numerous stab wounds or slash wounds or injuries, the higher the number, then that is going to be an issue for cops to look at, for attorneys to look at, for juries to look at. Law enforcement has seen homicides with multiple knife injuries. Now, if we have trained somebody to use a knife to cut until the threat no longer exists or they can stop the threat, we may have just produced a number of knife injuries for which the first explanation is going to be, “This has got to be a homicide!”
eJournal: That explains why it is so difficult to put on a legal defense for self defense with a knife. How do you distinguish between excessive force and just doing what you had to do to stay alive? How can you articulate why you had to inflict so many wounds?
Bunke: Get trained by good instructors and be able to articulate the concepts that were taught in that training environment. For an example, “I have been trained that if attacked and my life is in danger, I am to attack the arm holding that weapon until the weapon is dropped. I am trained to attack appendages until the threat ceases to exist.” So when we have photographs of a body whose two limbs appear to be shredded, the defender needs to be able to explain that. It is tough to do. It is a quandary that I still think about a lot from a personal perspective.
I was originally trained by Eric Remmen about 20 years ago to attack the appendages, the arms holding the knife, to disarm them, hopefully to stop the fight sooner rather than later. We were really going for peripheral targets. About ten years ago when I trained with George Williams, his training methodology was punch-stab to high-priority targets for the maximum amount of damage with the first wound to stop that fight. The high priority targets were the eyes, the neck, the heart, the face and skull. I understand attacking the high priority targets to stop the threat, but at the same time we are very likely going to cause death. We have to decide between the one injury, versus the multiple injuries, which can cause death as well through the body bleeding out.
I do not know of anybody other than maybe Michael Janich in his book Contemporary Knife Targeting who even talks about the dynamics of knife injuries, probabilities of injuries to knife targets, what parts of the human body you should go for first in defending yourself to address survivability and stop that threat quickly while producing the least amount of cuts.
eJournal: That is a hard puzzle. With firearms, we have always taught that we weren’t to attempt to kill, only stop the threat.