Here an attacker is choking a victim from a mounted position. The pressure is on for the defender to make his next move.

The increasing popularity of the MMA (mixed martial arts) has prompted some serious changes in the personal-defense world. Although it is clearly a sport and not all-out fighting, it is much closer to no-holds-barred combat than most other forms of martial arts competition.

One of the most striking reality checks inspired by MMA has been the need for groundfighting skills. While the belief that “most fights will end up on the ground” may be a bit of an overstatement, if you really want to be prepared to defend yourself on the street, having ground skills is a must. And since we’re focused on knives and knife tactics, it’s only natural to ask what role they have in a fight that’s gone to the ground.

Your Equalizer
In simple terms, a knife can be a great equalizer on the ground and can serve as a great force multiplier for your groundfighting skills. However, having a blade is by no means a guaranteed cure-all, nor does it mean that you get to ignore unarmed ground skills in your training. To follow are some basic guidelines for the use of knives on the ground.

Know When Drawing is Justified
Not knowing how to groundfight empty-handed is not automatic justification to use a knife. You still must be in fear of death or grievous bodily injury to justify the use of a lethal weapon. However, if you take into account the fact that a simple takedown that might knock the wind out of you on a mat could crack your skull on concrete, hitting that threshold can come sooner than you think.

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Here an attacker is choking a victim from a mounted position. The pressure is…