Knowing how to effectively fight with a knife has a lot less to do with the actual knife than you might think. Like unarmed combat, much of the technique behind knife fighting relies footwork, spacing, and angles of attack.

If you want to start learning knife self-defense, it’s best to start with footwork. Learn how to fluidly move in and out of attack range, circle an opponent, lunge forward and backward, and maneuver during the fight.

The footwork involved with knife fighting is similar to the footwork used in boxing, so taking a boxing class or learning boxing footwork will greatly improve your knife fighting abilities. It will also help you learn things like range and spacing so that you will instinctively know if your opponent is in striking distance or not.

Protecting your knife is another fundamental area of knife fighting. Having your attacker take your knife and use it against you is a horrible situation to be in. Never leave your knife dangling out in front of you.

Remember, if your knife is within striking range of your opponent, the wrist of your knife hand is in range for them to grab. Once they grab a hold of your wrist, fighting for control of the knife can become a life or death struggle. Remember to always keep your knife hand moving, always strike swiftly, and stay out of range of your opponent unless you are throwing strikes.

There are many other things that could be said about knife fighting tactics that go beyond the scope of this article. However, in the end, regularly training in these tactics is going to be much more valuable than just reading about them.

Taking a boxing class will teach you plenty of skills that you can apply to knife fighting. But taking a knife fighting class, will be even more beneficial. If you seriously want to learn how to defend yourself with a knife, there is no substitute for real-world training.