Counter a charging attacker

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

If backing up doesn’t work very well, what should a defender do to counter a charging attacker who is armed with a contact weapon?

The best way to solve this problem is to set up two people, one armed with a training knife and one armed with a Simunitions or airsoft pistol. While the knife attacker charges, the person with the gun experiments, trying to move backwards, laterally, or forwards. The “right” answer depends on a lot of factors including the defender’s agility, the defender’s draw time, the attacker’s speed, and the initial stand off distance before the attacker charges.

This kind of drilling, while tiring, is exceptionally valuable. After a dozen or so reps, the defender gets a “feel” for what tactic might work best for any given attack. That knowledge is invaluable.

I’ve done this drill with hundreds of students over the years. The most successful movement pattern I’ve found is somewhat counter intuitive.

Moving FORWARDS at a 45 degree angle to the attacker’s charge almost always works. Sprint forwards at a 45 degree angle away from the attacker’s knife side. If the attacker has the knife in his right hand, you should try to sprint past the attacker’s left shoulder. Running towards the unarmed side reduces the chance that he can reach out and cut you as you sprint past him.

This straight-line movement will cause the attacker to have to change his course to intercept you. That almost always buys you time to get your gun into play.

I advise students to sprint straight ahead until they are a couple steps past their attacker. At that point the defender should continue to move in an arcing pattern with the goal of taking the attacker’s back. In reality, the attacker will keep pivoting to adjust to your movement and you will usually be unable to truly get his back. It doesn’t matter. By now you have your gun in play and are putting rounds on the bad guy.


  1. Lu An Li says:

    A simple tip like this can save a lot of lives.

  2. ASM826 says:

    There’s a thousand years of Japanese blade arts that could help explain why this idea works. Moving in on the diagonal is an excellent way to disrupt an attack. Nothing is guaranteed in a fight, of course, but this is a great suggestion. He may miss completely, he may slash your arm, but you are still in the fight.

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