US Army Combatives

5-3 Defense Against Armed Opponent

Section II DEFENSIVE TECHNIQUES

A knife (or bayonet), properly employed, is a deadly weapon; however, using defensive techniques, such as maintaining separation, will greatly enhance the soldier’s ability to fight and win.

5-3. DEFENSE AGAINST AN ARMED OPPONENT

An unarmed defender is always at a distinct disadvantage facing an armed opponent. It is imperative therefore that the unarmed defender understand and use the following principles to survive:

  • a. Separation. Maintain a separation of at least 10 feet plus the length of the weapon from the attacker. This distance gives the defender time to react to any attempt by the attacker to close the gap and be upon the defender. The defender should also try to place stationary objects between himself and the attacker.
  • b. Unarmed Defense. Unarmed defense against an armed opponent should be a last resort. If it is necessary, the defender’s course of action includes:
  • (1) Move the body out of the line of attack of the weapon. Step off the line of attack or redirect the attack of the weapon so that it clears the body.
  • (2) Control the weapon. Maintain control of the attacking arm by securing the weapon, hand, wrist, elbow, or arm by using joint locks, if possible.
  • (3) Stun the attacker with an effective counterattack. Counterattack should be swift and devastating. Take the vigor out of the attacker with a low, unexpected kick, or break a locked joint of the attacking arm. Strikes to motor nerve centers are effective stuns, as are skin tearing, eye gouging, and attacking of the throat. The defender can also take away the attacker’s balance.
  • (4) Ground the attacker. Take the attacker to the ground where the defender can continue to disarm or further disable him.
  • (5) Disarm the attacker. Break the attacker’s locked joints. Use leverage or induce pain to disarm the attacker and finish him or to maintain physical control.
  • c. Precaution. Do not focus full attention on the weapon because the attacker has other body weapons to use. There may even be other attackers that you have not seen.
  • d. Expedient Aids. Anything available can become an expedient aid to defend against an armed attack. The kevlar helmet can be used as a shield; similarly, the LCE and shirt jacket can be used to protect the defender against a weapon. The defender can also throw dirt in the attacker’s eyes as a distraction.

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