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Combat Ju Jutsu

Weapon Disarming - Last Resort

By Kevin O'Hagan

Many years ago I was on a multi-styled course, where many high graded instructors in their particular arts were teaching. I went onto the mat of a Ju-Jutsu instructor whom I rate as one of the best combat instructors in the UK, while he was teaching a group of novices.

I heard him open the session by saying to them, ‘You want to know the best defence against a knife, do you? Shall I tell you?’

The group was ‘all ears’ waiting for this gem of information from this formidable martial artist. ‘Yes Sensei’ they said waiting for the answer with bated breath. ‘******* run!’ was the instructors advice.

Some of the class just stared in silence, others giggled nervously. Surely that was not it was it? The group of ‘would-be’ Bruce Lees was deflated.


Every martial artist will have heard this piece of advice somewhere yet still ignore this rational survival tactic. They feel running is cowardly, or that they have the necessary skills to disarm any weapon wielding assailant.

They’ve done it in a class many a time, no problem. Running, no way! In days gone by I have used the tactic or something similar on many occasions. When I was younger I put myself (foolishly) into situations that I quickly realised I had to get out of. Even though I was training in martial arts my first survival instinct was to get the hell away if I could.
I am now a 5th Dan instructor in Ju-Jutsu and I still give that advice to anyone training with me.

Where weapons are concerned, try to make a getaway, if you can’t pick up a weapon of sorts yourself. If all else fails then fight unarmed and as viciously as you can and expect to be hit, slashed, cut, etc. no matter how good you think you are.


Make no mistake, weapon disarming is a last resort, especially when unarmed. It is not like the TV or videos, it is a frightening scenario and one you want to avoid at all costs. There are many ‘loonies’ out on the streets that will not think twice about sticking a blade in you for looking at them the wrong way.

They would love to rearrange your features with a beer glass for spilling their pint! To illustrate this point, a friend of mine who worked the doors - who sadly is no longer with us - told me that he saw a guy in a club he was working produce a 10 inch carving knife and literally disembowel another man. The situation spilled out onto the street and the man staggered off down the street holding his stomach in. The attacker chased him stabbing the knife into his back. The reason for this act of crazed violence, the man chatted up the other man’s girlfriend! Incredible!

Martial art training does not give you an invisible force field of protection to handle every situation and belt rank or reputation doesn’t matter a damn on the streets to your attacker. A 14 year old youth armed with a baseball bat or a Stanley knife is a dangerous proposition, be aware of this fact.


In my classes I teach a lot of weapon disarming and weapon usage. This is so people get to know what it feels like to confront a bat, knife, etc., and learn their strengths and weaknesses. I feel nowadays that everyone should have some knowledge of what to do when encountering a weapon. The training must be realistic, working on the correct mental conditioning and approach as much as, if not more than the physical.
Emphasising it is a last option with no guarantees, that you will be fighting for your life and you will have to have something special up your sleeve to survive.

Rubber Knife

Instructors that every now and then at the end of a class pull out a rubber knife and show a few fancy wrist locks and flips and tell you that’s how it’s done are living in a dream world and may come unstuck and pay a heavy price!
You must train constantly against weapons or devote a large part of your training to become anywhere near proficient at disarming and if you are serious about it then this is what you have to do.

If all else fails, make sure you have a good pair of trainers to make the getaway!

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