One of the most terrifying crime trends to emerge in recent months has been the “flash mob” robberies. Originally a semi-spontaneous performance gathering coordinated through social media, the concept has been perverted by criminals who now use it to surround and overwhelm unsuspecting victims.
From a self-defense perspective, the flash mob is an extremely difficult problem. Any time you face multiple attackers, the danger level increases significantly. Against a coordinated mob attacking in unison, you face a serious, potentially lethal threat.
There has been a lot of discussion in the firearms world regarding flash mob defenses. In the chaos of a flash mob, bad guys and innocent bystanders are dynamically intermixed, making clean shots extremely difficult. Even if you are able to get shots on the right targets, unless you’re carrying multiple magazines, your success may be very short-lived. This is where a knife has distinct advantages over a gun in that it is extremely selective and never runs out of ammo.
When violent flash mobs first started making the news, I began experimenting with my instructors and private students in our weekly training to determine what tactics—if any—would improve one’s chances of survival in such situations. We found that the tactics we typically use against a single attacker limited our focus and left us vulnerable to attacks from the flanks and rear. Simple, vicious, offensive tactics and dynamic movement worked best and seemed to offer the best chance of success. I have refined those tactics into one basic technique I call the “Punch and Cut.”
Punch and Cut
Basic military tactics teach that the best response to an ambush is to counterattack. The ruthless, all-or-nothing attitude that it takes for a successful counterattack is exactly what you need to power the “Punch and Cut.” The core of this technique is basically a boxer’s jab, but performed with your strong hand while holding the knife. If you watch any boxing match, the technique that lands most frequently and reliably is a quick, straight jab. Deceptively simple, with practice it can be thrown with virtually no preparatory movement or “telegraphing.” When thrown straight at the bridge of the nose, it is extremely difficult to block or parry because it travels straight down the recipient’s line of sight.
Now think of a boxer’s jab thrown with the dominant hand (for greater speed and power) with a knife held in the fist. The initial piston-like strike is identical, making contact with the attacker’s face using the knuckles of the fist. However, once contact is made, rather than retracting the hand, it is cammed forward at the wrist to index the blade’s cutting edge against the attacker’s face. The next motion is to quickly drop the hand while simultaneously bending your knees to drop body weight. This produces a quick, powerful downward pressure cut through the face and probably the front of the body as well.
At the bottom of your arm’s arc, the knife will come to rest with the point of the blade facing forward. Drive forward at a diagonal angle (30 degrees to the left, if you’re right-handed) and thrust the knife into the inside of the attacker’s right thigh, somewhere within the first 6 to 8 inches above the knee. Drop your elbow to your ribs to rotate your hand from palm down to palm up and walk forward to cut his quadriceps muscle with the power of your entire body (see “Comma Cut” in the Street Smarts of the January 2012 issue).
This simple, aggressive tactic allows you to selectively target one attacker to quickly and efficiently disable him. Applied properly, the punch drives his head back, upsetting his balance and leaving him defenseless against the cuts to the face and leg. While the face cut is not physiologically disabling, psychologically, it can be devastating to both the attacker and the other members of the mob. The comma cut to the thigh severs the quadriceps muscle and will either drop or severely debilitate the attacker. Best of all, this simple, dynamic, easily learned combination can be executed in just over a second. Performed properly, it enables you to quickly move past the targeted attacker, either to seek escape or to repeat the tactic against other mob members as necessary.
In addition to the physiological damage this technique delivers, it also sends a powerful message to the other members of the mob. By literally “making an example” of one attacker through highly efficient violence of action, you can potentially turn the tide of the situation.
Violence-oriented flash mobs are incredibly dangerous. While there is no sure-fire tactic to ensure your survival, the “Punch and Cut” gives you a hell of a fighting chance.