Does a Knife Constitute a Gun Fight?

By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o

Photo c/o

In short, the answer is yes. I have received some e-mails over the past year from persons mistakenly believing that the defense should be in “like kind” of the attack—meaning that a fist should be fought back with a fist and a knife should be fought back with a knife. I don’t know whoever made up such a nonsensical rule. Is this some kind of a ridiculous gentleman’s rule or something? Does that mean that if I don’t have a knife that I’m not allowed to fight back? Such a thought process completely ignores the fact that the fist of a skilled, drug enraged man against a skinny 21-year-old female college student isn’t a weapon to be taken seriously. Even if such a “weapon” wasn’t backed up with sufficient skill and soberness, it can still end or dramatically alter a life. Additionally, what is your goal if you are attacked? To survive or to see if you got your money’s worth from that year of Tae Bo Kickboxing class?

In the world of self-defense, persons with “other” weapons are clearly underestimated. A knife is still dangerous and deadly even at a distance. Not simply because it can be hurled (which takes a great deal of skill not common even among the dark side of criminals) but because a person is capable of covering 21 feet in a deadly charge in only 1.5 seconds. 1.5 seconds. Can you even draw and shoot your firearm accurately enough to defend against such an attack? Well, if you can’t you need to practice so that you are adept. And most importantly, you need to assess every potential attack in one way and one way only. The good news is that a physical memory discipline of quick-draw and accurately shooting is easy to learn and permanently incorporate. Simply practicing with a brush, curling iron, or practice gun at your side for few minutes a day in a quick draw motion will help to incorporate such a response. The important thing is to practice a quality quick draw. Practicing a flawed system will not save your life. It will only ensure that you are expert at performing poorly.

Finally, when it comes to assessing a physical threat of any kind, there really is only one question you need to ask yourself. “Does this pose a viable threat against my life, health or that of another?” If the answer is yes, then point and shoot. “Fair fights” are for Hollywood. 

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

15 Responses

  1. You are 100% correct

  2. To address the concept- “The response must be in like kind”
    If I am attacked do I get to stalk him and attack at a time convenient for me?

  3. It is not “a ridiculous gentleman’s rule”, unfortunately it is the LAW in many countries including Canada.

    If a man breaks into your house at midnight armed with a knife and you shoot him, (in Canada) you WILL be charged with murder.

    I don’t agree with the law, but I can’t change it. Most Canadians disagree with me when it comes to gun rights.

  4. Um,I am with you Kellene, these are sill rules and assinine if made into laws.

    For I cannot fight for crap, not a trained mast of knife fighting, but I can use a trigger of a gun pretty damn well. So, I guess I’ll just do that if you threaten me instead of getting beaten or slashed while trying to ‘gentlemanly”.

  5. In this US of A of ours, lethal force may be used to counter – among other things like robbery, rape, kidnapping – and murder.

    Risk of murder by knife would qualify.

    Defend yourselves.

  6. In some states though, if the attack happens on the street and the attacker doesn’t have a weapon, you will be charged with murder if you pull out a gun and kill him. All 50 states don’t have the same laws when it comes to self defense.

  7. Kellene,

    I enjoy your writing.

    I’ve trained extensively in CQB techniques, especially against knives. I’ve also trained in the offensive use of a knife. It’s a must to learn unarmed techniques against the blade. Most confrontation are initiated inside 21ft., far inside. Drawing a concealed weapon against a blade in the hand will likely get you cut, possibly fatally.

    Avoidance is best, watch for threat signals and learn a few blocks or traps with the week hand. Against even a mediocre knife fighter, most people will not clear the holster before being cut, if the attack is inside 15-20ft.

    Great site and keep up the good work.

  8. Sadly some of us are saddled by useless “proportional force” laws. Here in DE I may only use “proportional force” in self-defense.

    It’s an interesting conundrum for me, since I have cerebral palsy and a surgically repaired jaw. What’s proportional? If some guy attacks me with a knife can I not shoot him? Why should I, as the victim, have to determine whether MY actions are “proportional?”

    • I agree with you. However, I believe that such a law is unconstitutional. If I were in such a scenario, I would either fight back and then fight it in court, or I would move. Being able to defend yourself is NOT a right to be given to me or taken away. It is a right that every government official should uphold and defend vehemently.

  9. Mike W is correct, one has to factor in the differences not only in the weapon used, but also in the mental state of the attacker vs the intended, and also the differences in physical condition of the two.
    Seriously, is Billy Barty supposed to try to defend himself from Mike Tyson with his fists?
    Something tells me that police in Canada will shoot to kill knife wielding perps who resist arrest.

    There just isn’t any way to balance all the differences like one is handicapping a boxing match. This isn’t a bar fight where one cannot be sure who originally provoked the fight.

    • Having to make such a determination is absolutely ludicrous. The Supreme Court has ruled very clearly that if a person feels that their life is threatened, then they may act accordingly. No one should have to have ESP or a degree in psychology in order to protect themselves appropriately.
      Like I always say, I’d rather be judged by 12 then carried out by 6.

  10. it’s true!!

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