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Knives, Knife Fighting and Related Hassles
How to Survive a Real Knife Fight

Marc MacYoung

There's more to meeting a knife on the street than any fancy "knife fighting master" or deadly combat system guru, sensei, sabumnim or sifu can teach you. The truth is that on the street odds are you will never see the blade coming ... but there are signs that can tell you someone is carrying and how. If you don't learn these danger signs, you'll end up leaking.

And the time to learn is not when you are actually confronted with this potentially lethal situation. You can forget the "useless crap" you may have learned via Hollywood or on the floor of the dojo with rubber training knives, says Marc MacYoung, an LA street veteran who has actually confronted knives in the hands of people who were .... less than friendly ... shall we say.

In Knives, Knife Fighting & Related Hassles, MacYoung shows you the down and dirty reality of knives and street knife use.

How do you avoid a knife fight? How do you deal with someone pulling a knife without pulling your own blade? How do you handle witnesses? When does a knife fight escalate to combat?

MacYoung covers all those topics in detail. He also discusses how to choose a good knife that is designed to serve as a handy tool; the best and worst grips, draws and stances; dealing with the police; devious street tricks a thug will use to slip a knife into you before you are aware you've been attacked; and much more.

MacYoung emphasizes that wielding a blade is not for the ignorant or the cocky nor is it for threat displays -- those types are weeded out quickly. You have to rely on your wits, mobility, speed and knowledge in order to survive a potentially lethal assault.

This books shows how serious and complicated knife attacks can be and will provide you with the necessary physical and mental skills to either avoid the situation entirely or at least gain a fighting chance.

Warning: This book was one of the first written when MacYoung was "coming out of the street lifestyle ("the Life"); offensive language and an obvious display of "street attitude" are present. This is the very attitude you will face out there. The book is not for all readers. But the concepts are important, despite language and presentation.

Knives, Knife Fighting & Related Hassles (Paladin Press) 1990, 117 pages, ISBN 0-87364-544-8

Softcover, Item# Bknives
Book -- $13       Retail: $15

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Comments about this book include:
If you are looking to live a long, enjoyable life and expect to have to deal with knives in order to reach that goal, then this is the book you must have.

There is a whole bunch of people who fancy themselves as knifers, knife fighters or whatever they wish to call themselves. But what they train for is vastly different from what one will see on the street. Sure, they can get in a ring with someone else with a wooden knife and beat them and feel real macho, but they will be the first to fall when they meet up with someone who does not flash a knife before sticking it in them. Boy, the ring really does not prepare you for that, now does it?

This book is about what people will see on the street, as well as the techniques that the author has found to work when your veins are filled with adrenaline, your vision has gone tunnel and your hands are clammy with either sweat and/or blood. It is a reality far removed from the training halls of JKD or any other martial art.

One of the most valuable sections of this book is on common ways of hiding a blade that are used by street scum. It will help you to recognize such grips when used by others before they get a chance to get close to you. If you can not even do this, then all the fancy simawali drills or expensive fighting knives you have will not be worth a bucket of spit.

My only reservation is that this book deals mainly with things that are best conveyed in the written form. Things that are too complicated to describe appear on two videos he has made, but he never mentions the videos in this book. I do not know how he could transfer some of the stuff from the videos to the written word, but I would be amiss in not pointing out that this book, like all books, can not give the whole picture of an activity like knife combat.
-- Don Roley, Japan


I survived two knife encounters through sheer luck and stupidity before I found this book a few years ago. As a knight in a medieval recreation group (sort of like a black belt of swords, shields and stuff) I thought I really knew what I was doing. Problem is, street confrontations are nothing like tournament competition.

I learned two essential lessons from MacYoung's book: The first is that there is no such thing as a knife fight as the author pointedly states (pun intended). It is really a knife ambush. Unless you are lucky or highly trained you'll never see it coming. Fortunately both punks I tangled with were rank amateurs who flashed their blades giving me enough time to react. The second is a comprehensive understanding of where, how, and why street thugs conceal their knives to pull off an effective assassination. The awareness is illuminating and very possibly life saving as well.

Knives are as ubiquitous as cell phones these days. Working in a stadium where weapons of all types are prohibited and bags are searched on the way in, I nevertheless pull knives off at least a couple of fans every game. Imagine how often you find them out in the street where they are more or less legal. This book is packed with stuff you gotta know!

My only complaint is that while it is long and deep on theory it is a bit short on technique. There are plenty of good sources to supplement this knowledge so that is not a serious detractor
-- Lawrence Kane, author of The Way of Kata and Martial Arts Instruction


When I read his (Marc MacYoung's) knife books and  saw his vids, there was nobody doing 'combatives' and fancy martial artsy  defences against the knife were the order of the day. There was him and  Peyton Quinn...others copied them.
Oh, and I've been known to mess up a guy's seminar  instruction, myself, nottoo hard to do when everyone knows what is supposed to come next
-- Ted Truscott, www.defendyourself101


Granted, this is not the best book available if you want to learn fancy technique or dubious "sentry deanimation" tactics. However, I recommend this text to anyone who carries cold steel for the simple fact that, unlike nearly every other book on the subject, this one truly delivers actual information about REAL "knife fighting" as it actually occurs on the street!

You see, most of those other books give you really bad advice on dealing with confrontations, telling their readers to "slash his throat and stick him in the heart," or similar nonsense. Granted, if you happen to be in the jungle or the cell block, you probably want to "take out" your adversary as quickly and efficiently as possible -- but NOT in a crowded roadhouse full of hostile witnesses!!! If you shank some loudmothed drunk for no good reason -- even if he DID happen to be wavin' his lockblade around -- you will soon find yourself locked inside a dank concrete pit for several years with a bunch of weightlifting goblins who'd really like to get to know you better. Animal, however, gives you options.

First, he lets you know that there is a big difference between a knife fight and knife combat. First, in the typical knife fight, only one person actually has a knife! Second, in the typical knife fight, the unarmed fellow usually ends up retreating (although this is often to either call friends or get a gun). And, most importantly, even if you DO actually cut the guy, KILLING HIM IS UNNECESSARY!!! A slash across the forehead and a couple light jabs into his grasping hands will do wonders towards adjusting his bad attitude -- with no need to leave a body on the floor. Animal makes it perfectly clear that killing your attacker is usually a poor choice, considering the serious legal repercussions, and he gives great advice (learned from experience) on how to address your audience in such a way as to influence them to inform the authorities that you really didn't seem to have any other option.

This book gives sound advice on dealing with the cops, dealing with witnesses, and spotting a potential sneak attack. I recommend it highly. --
Tyr Shadowblade, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Author's comment: The reason for the "theoretical" bent of Knives, Knife Fighting and Related Hassles, is that it was one of a three-part project. They were released over a span of two years. The combo DVD Surviving/Winning a Street Knife Fight covers the technical aspects of knives. As I often say, the book discusses the things you need to consider if you are carrying a knife and are in areas where they are common. Surviving focuses on options to use if you are attacked; Winning is about using a knife.


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