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 like that? 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 female, 21 year old, skinny 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 Kick Boxing 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.
I do need to say though that the only reason why I would answer "NO" to our original question is because there's been a great deal of research showing that a person holding a knife as far as 30 feet from you (previously supposed to be 21 feet away) is highly likely to be able to cover that distance by the time you get your firearm and shoot and thus poses a real threat that might not be able to be fought with a firearm. As my tough-guy Marine trainer taught me, "if there's a knife involved, you're going to get cut, so make sure you know how to fight to ensure the cuts are where YOU want them and acknowledge the reality that you need to learn how to properly fight with and defend against a knife." Yeah...we'll get to that topic later though.
Ultimately, 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.
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