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13 Brutal Tips, Tricks, And Myths From A Filipino Knife Fighter



Brutal Tips, Tricks, And Myths from a Filipino Knife Fighter

[Editors Note] A friend of mine over in Manila is an avid practicer of Filipino Knife Fighting wrote this article and asked me if I'd share it with our community (Keep in mind that these aren't my views and I am definitely not a trained knife fighter). It's definitely got some interesting points and I thought you guys and gals might enjoy it. Let me know what you think about this fighting style in the comments below:

I've been practicing knife fighting for over a year now. While my dreams of being a professional knife fighter like The Winter Soldier have crumbled away, it has brought me some serious and lethal realizations about using knives for combat and survival. Here is just a taste of what I've learned:

13 Lessons from a Filipino Knife Fighter


1. The Knife is Lethal

Once you've become involved in an altercation that has caused you to expose your knife, you need to remember that you are holding a lethal weapon. There is no other way to use a knife in a fight than to strike with fierce lethality. If you intend to use it simply to scare an opponent, you are an idiot. Once a skilled opponent has seen you pull out your survival knife, the first thing he does is study the length and build of the stainless steel. Then he will strategize how to kill you.

Tip: Don't give your opponent that chance. Pull out your knife only when you're in a position to lethally strike your opponent.

2. It's ‘Always On'

It's 'Always On' | Brutal Tips, Tricks, And Myths from a Filipino Knife Fighter

Strictly speaking, there is no ‘on and off' button with a knife. Sure, you can argue that an automatic folding knife has a safety lock, but once the blade is out, it's out. There's no reloading time, there's no concept of ammunition with a knife. It's a weapon always ready to draw blood.

Tip: Bring a knife that is easy to deploy in times-of-need. A folding knife is great, but a fixed blade is even better. Make sure you carry it in such a way that it's easy to pull out if you're carrying it inside waistband (IWB) style.

3. The Biggest Myth About a Knife Fight…

Knife disarming techniques are deadly self-defense moves – for the one doing the disarming. We regularly spar with dull wooden blades here and 100% of the time, disarms don't work. If you are about to try to lock the hand or arm of an attacker, you can expect to get stabbed 5 – 10 times before actually being able to do so. On top of that, the only reason you are able to lock your opponent's hand or arm is your opponent's fatigue. If your opponent is in good condition, you will never disarm your opponent through locks.

Tip: Hitting your attacker's face with a blunt weapon, a head-butt, your fist, or your palm for disorientation is a much better way to approach a disarm for self-defense training. Even so, prepare to get stabbed before being able to disarm your opponent.

4. The 21′ Rule

If you are educated in the way of the knife, you have a 21 feet allowance from anyone wielding a gun to be able to close the gap and turn the fight into a hand-to-hand combat.

Tip: The trick is to keep your eyes open and avoid staring only at the gun. Always be alert to your surroundings.

5. Don't Overestimate Your Knife

I've had some realistic medium training in the past with another knife fighter. I found there were times when my knife would not cut the flesh deep enough or would not puncture the flesh easy enough. During those sobering moments, I realized it was hard enough to stab, puncture, and cut where you want to. It was even harder to make sure the damage is deep enough.

Tip: Always make sure the knife is razor sharp with knife sharpeners. A dull knife can set you up for missed opportunities in damaging or critically wounding your opponent. Keep both your knife and sheath in good condition.

6. Cuts Are Overrated

While slashing moves are instinctive and natural for us – especially for those who aren't so used to wielding a knife for combat, it's the stabbing that does the real damage. Slitting someone's throat records a higher survival rate than we are set to believe. That's because, no matter how good your grip or strike is, usually the damage is not deep enough.

Tip: Stabbing someone in the femoral artery, brachial area, neck, lungs, groin or anus, however, ensures death for your opponent. Plus, it's easier to stab someone than to cut someone deep enough to kill.

7. Human Anatomy Is the Key to Victory

There are only a handful of places where you can stab someone and make sure the person ends up dead or permanently incapacitated. The brain stem and other areas I mentioned in the previous tip is a good example. Femoral artery, for one, ensures immediate excessive bleeding. Stabbing someone in the stomach can mean a long way off from death and he or she has a high chance of stabbing you back.

Tip: Better to strike with your weapon once and strike lethally than to do ten stabs in non-critical areas and risk the person fighting back and wounding you.

8. Hitting Them Between the Eyes Is Almost Never an Option

That said, the eyes are extremely hard to hit. Even if hitting the eyes can immediately end the fight, it's not worth the risk of getting yourself stabbed. Human beings have the ultimate instinct to defend the eyes ferociously from any weapon.

Tip: If you can make your opponent blink by faking an eye attack, that is a thousand times better than actually trying to hit the eyes.

9. Deception Is Everything

But you can only use it once. In my opinion, the best way to use deception is to try to make an exit. Whether you drop lines about not knowing the problem, not knowing the person or not wanting to fight – use whatever means necessary for you to get out of the situation.

Tip: Some people even go so far as to say they are blood-related in some way with the opponent. While it may sound funny, in a dire situation, it may just give you a few critical seconds to land a lethal blow or to run away.

10. You're Going to Get Cut…Deal with It

The sooner you accept this fact, the better you’ll get at improving your knife fighter skills. There is almost no way for you to walk away from a knife fight without a scratch. If you condition yourself to take in damage, the more you will be able to handle it. That said, make sure you have the skills and ability to manage and treat your wounds immediately after a fight.

Tip: Learn about wound management even as you're learning about knife fighting.

11. The Best Fight Is the One You Avoid

The Best Fight Is The One You Avoid | Brutal Tips, Tricks, And Myths from a Filipino Knife Fighter

Only fight when you really have to. When that situation is, you have to be discerning enough to know. If you ask me, if you're being held up for valuables or possessions, just give it up. It's not worth risking a stab in the kidney or gut for. But if your life or a family member is threatened, it's high time to pull out that knife and act quickly.

Tip: Run. Running away is the best thing to do in most unfortunate situations. Condition your body in such a way you can run fast, run quickly, and run for miles.

12. Always Carry a Knife…Always

Considering everything I mentioned here, always bring a knife – whether it's for work, utility or self-defense. A knife is a useful tool to always bring with you. As to how many you prefer to bring, that's up to you. Make sure you comply with the laws of your state or country in terms of knife carry length, style, etc.

Tip: Make sure your knives are well-maintained, preferably oiled, razor sharp and always ready to pull out in times of need.

13. Myth: Taking a Cut Is Okay

Unless you are wearing an iron man suit, never ever try to take a cut – even one cut – with your arm. Once you do that, your chances of winning a fight essentially drop to zero. No one can grip properly and fight with blood gushing out from a cut or a chunk of flesh dangling from their arm. Once you think of taking a cut with your arm, the fight is essentially over.

Tip: Put a lot of practice and thought in your footwork. If you grip the knife on your right, your right foot should always be forward. Know how to dodge and check the knife hand of your opponent.

Brutal Tips, Tricks, And Myths from a Filipino Knife Fighter


Watch this video from Kali Center for knife training drills for beginners!

Knives are not self-defense weapons like tasers or a bayonet. A fight with a knife fighter is also not the same in martial arts like Brazilian jiu-jitsu and taekwondo. Knives are lethal weapons which can fatally wound you or be the key to your survival. Be a better knife fighter with these tips 13 brutal in mind!

Are you a trained knife fighter? Do have any vital tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on June 30, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. Mark Walker

    July 1, 2017 at 12:00 AM

    How about this one: “No matter how good you are with a knife, the other guy will always be better.”

    • Sean Patrick Si

      July 3, 2017 at 6:59 AM

      I think that’s an overstatement. If you study under a good, practical knife fighting system, there’s little doubt that you will be the better fighter.

      • gale

        June 6, 2018 at 7:25 PM

        it don’t matter how good you are, expect to get cut or stabbed during any knife fight, luck has a lot to do with who wins, it only takes one “lucky” cut or stab to kill you, or disable you. Best defense is always never get into a fight, as any fight can turn into a knife fight. Even between so called friends.

    • MarkMathers

      July 10, 2017 at 5:40 PM

      See rule #12.

  2. Vic Ocampo

    July 4, 2017 at 8:24 PM

    your Guro is Sixto Carlos…Pugay po! Our system’s lineage draws from Kalis Ilustrisimo as well.

    • Sean Patrick Si

      July 9, 2017 at 10:46 PM

      Yes. I learned everything from him and Alfred Gealogo. Most of the things I wrote here came from them and from Hank Reinhardt’s book.

  3. Did I Spray That?

    July 8, 2017 at 8:04 AM

    Never bring a knife to a gun fight or something like that

  4. Pingback: 13 Brutal Tips, Tricks, And Myths from a Filipino Knife Fighter | Jews Can Shoot

  5. Joe Vigilante

    July 13, 2017 at 11:40 PM

    A knife is meant to be felt, not seen.

    Probably the most common phrase uttered by a stabbing victim is, “I never even saw the knife”.

  6. Richie Hamilton

    August 16, 2017 at 1:15 PM

    A real knife fighter will chew up even a trained knife fighter. I suggest a weapon that puts distance between you and the knife to protect self to be able to get away. Fight another day on your terms not their terms.

  7. Gordon

    September 10, 2017 at 6:23 AM

    Lot of bad/wrong info in this article.

  8. Bill

    December 1, 2017 at 3:09 PM

    feints are over rated, and few if any normal people have the reflexes and burst speed to take advantage of a flinch. It is always better to off balance an opponent , stay off their line of attack, make them redirect constantly. Cuts are not only better than blocks, they block more effectively than blocks or even redirection. cutting to any but kyusho (weak points) is dangerous. shallow cut are from poor technique and lack of cutting practice. Waste no attack if you plan to carry a knife, practice with it, a lot .

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  12. Jojo Afable

    June 6, 2018 at 11:58 AM

    So many comments here both negative and positive. I bet you most of you if not everyone probably had NEVER into a knife fight. I personally never have engaged in one and thank God for it.

    • Mike

      June 7, 2018 at 6:56 AM

      I have Unfortunately, I had Got involved Unintentionally while being in the presence of gang members. I had Prior training in Various martial arts. I used what I knew and I had to Hurt people. But , it was a big gang melee and many people were involved and many got hurt real bad, I also got hurt. And i felt bad that i had to hurt people. But , I was Young at the time. Now that i am older & a little bit more wiser & Trained more efficiently , especially My Mental state , through the years. I train & avoid altercations if i can. But , If pushed to use Violence, I will use Violence too. I know what I am capable of. I probably will feel bad afterward still, but, I prefer to live & let live , but I will Fight to live. I am more afraid of what I can do to Someone than what someone else can do to me–

  13. happyjack, 3rd Bn, 75th Inf Abn

    June 6, 2018 at 2:36 PM

    From a West Philly street kid, we tried to wrap a coat, shirt, or cloth to wrap around our non-knife arm to act as a “catch” or minor protection. I know there may or may not time, but just a street thought.

  14. Robert

    June 9, 2018 at 1:35 AM

    I would almost rather face a firearm than a knife at close quarters. I have on 3 occasions survived and disarmed a gun wielding individual but not one of my methods would be adequate or advised against a knife. If you are thinking first of disarming you are going to get hurt and most likely loose the fight. Think about doing lethal or severe damage first and then if opportunity presents itself you may have success disarming but you had first better have wounded this individual seriously enough to have a major advantage.

  15. Pingback: Filipino Knife Fighting in a Nutshell - the Filipino Blade Culture

  16. CBW

    May 30, 2019 at 7:49 PM

    The “21′ rule” is total b.$. You lost any and all credibility when you threw that little gem out there…..

  17. Joe SickofAholes

    February 8, 2021 at 10:21 AM

    21’ rule is BS? You are bs. Let us guess, you think every attack is a “false flag “ as well

  18. Scott

    May 30, 2021 at 8:26 PM

    My 16th birthday I had a gun pointed at my head, still here today. I have since been in three knife fights and stabbed once under the chin that needed stitches. If the odds were not against me and if my jacket was not pulled over my head I might have seen the knife coming. So no you do not get stabbed every time. Maybe one in three might be more accurate.

    My skill set, I learned most things from magazines (this was the only information available back in the day), so to others that think you cannot learn self defense from books or videos again you are incorrect. I enjoyed fighting, back in the day. I was very good at it and I NEVER threw the first punch, this is why I am able to write this comment from home and not jail. Zero assault charges!

    I have been in jail a few times for other things but for short visits only nothing long term. I do know a lot of people give out advice without the experience. I have the experience and when I was confronted each and every time I never ever felt bad hurting the other person/people.

    If I were to estimate the amount of fights I was in my life time I would have to say approximately 500. Another thing I read in forums that I do not agree with is that almost all fights end up on the ground. If you are good at what you do there are ways of stopping it from going to the ground. For example when I fought uneven odds none of the went to the ground. I had my friends watch me fight against two people at once and not interfere because they knew I would come out on top.

    I think there were only two times that I went to the ground in a fight. Once was a high kick to the head on ice. That was a bad plan, do not kick to the head ever in a street fight keep your kicks low. Untrained fighters have a hard time blocking low kicks and some of them will even use their hands leaving the head wide open for a knockout.

    I did not learn everything on my own, just most. I had a neighbor that had children, they had twins that were my age and they studied judo. The twins used to gang up on me this taught me a lot on how to fight more then one at a time. My older brother and I used to practice fighting with hockey gloves we did not have boxing gloves. My brother was a southpaw so this taught me how to spare against a lefty. In our basement we had huge mirrors that I used to practice in front of; this showed me where I was open and where I could improve.

    But for the most part it was just me practicing, and my determination. I started playing hockey around 12 and this also gave me some more knowledge in fighting. One hockey team I played for we never won a game but we never lost a fight.

    I have never ran from a fight, I always did the opposite I stood my ground. You do not have to swing first either just have some kind of system that will cause the other to swing first and capitalize on the opening he/she has left you.

    I would like to close by saying, this was me not my prouder parts of life but it was me. And please if you are going to give advice to people make sure you have the knowledge to back it up. I will be 60 this year and I never grew up until I was about 40.

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  20. Michael Allen

    April 11, 2022 at 8:43 AM

    The 21 feet rule is not bull shit . As a SWAT COP our Filipino Knife Instructor had every team member try to draw and fire at him while he rushed at us with his training knife from 20 + feet . Every SWAT Team member got stabbed !

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