As a long-time police academy instructor and instructor trainer for defensive tactics, officer survival, and weapons retention and disarmament, I feel more than qualified to answer a question I’ve seen popping up on a few expert loops in the recent days. The original question was, “What kind of martial arts technique is best to disarm a knife-wielding suspect who is on the attack.? The answer is quite simple. There is no foolproof technique. The suspect has initiated deadly force and that force must be responded to with the amount of force that’s necessary to stop the threat to the officer’s safety. The officer must defend himself with deadly force, if possible.
There is a long-standing, proven rule that an officer cannot draw, point, and fire his/her weapon if the attacker starts the assault from a distance of 21 away from from the officer (not 25 feet, and not 30 feet), such as in the photo above. We measured this distance to be exactly 21 feet from the attacher’s front foot to the officer’ front foot.
However, if the officer already has his weapon drawn, in the ready position, he’ll be able to effectively fire a round to stop the threat. Remember, officers are taught to shoot center mass, not shoot to kill, or to shoot a weapon from the attacker’s hand. That stuff is for TV. In the photo above, the officer’s weapon is still in his holster and he should be contemplating other means of survival, such as running for cover, or preparing to go into a defensive tactics mode – hand-hand combat, with the almost certainty of being cut. I have nasty scars on all five fingers on my right hand, and my head, as proof of this tactic.
In the two photos above the officer would easily be able to stop the threat by firing a round or two.
As my former mentor, a salty old sheriff’s captain, once told me, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight, son. You’re bound to lose a perfectly good knife.”