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Self Defense/Why are knives such popular weapons?


You emphasize so many times in your NoNoneSenseSelfDefense website that KNIVES are only LAST RESORT weapons, in fact often improvised weapons and some of the WORST to use. Unless you are in specialized circumstances (sneak attacks for example) you're better off picking up a hard blunt stick around than using a knife to "defend yourself".

Thing is I am wondering why there is such an air of mystique around the knife. Pretty much every culture I read upon glamorizes the knife as a manly BADASS weapon that can kill quickly under a skilled user and anyone who can fend off a master knife fighter is automatically seen as a badass. Come one from the Aztecs tot he American Indians to some random angry peasant in the French Revolution to some mugger in Victorian England, I notice every culture has emphasized the knife as being so deadly that no real badass goes around without a knife and every "true fighter" learns how to use a knife and disarms them, defend against them unarmed,etc.

I mean in many cultures such as Medieval Europe there are far more manuals around teaching how to fight a knife attack unarmed than a manual on how to use a war club, spear, etc!

Only Swords get more glamorization and glorification as the ultimate Badass master warrior's weapons!

Yet as you repeatedly mentioned the knife is often seenas a  thug's weapon by modern police and this reputation alone puts a huge hamper on your claim of self defense. At least swords are universally seen as symbols of royalty and wealth, if knife is thugs weapon I am curious wh media glamorizes it so much?

Also I am curious if this stigma of being a thug's weapon is something only modern Western society came up with? ALthough they are emphasized as backup weapons, no Medieval manual I read have any connotations of the dagger being a criminal's weapon and I also haven't seen any connotation int he Chinese and Japanese martial arts I dabbled in. In fact some Native American groups take pride in their knife fighting as the survival of  their heritage.

Also I am curious how Mexican cultures sees the knife? YOu said you were raised under a Hispanic upbringing (something about having  a Mexican stepfather) and you lived in a Mexican neighborhood and faced difficulties for being a minority white. The knife is stereotyped as being one of the representations of Mexican culture in American media to the point they any portrayals of Mexican masculinity will always involve a father teaching his son how to use a knife and Mexicans are always shown pulling out knives in gang fights rather than using baseball bats,etc.

Also I'd have to ask since blunt weapons are better objects, why did-and I am going to use a generic term in slap of historical details- the NAzi party endorse knives? My memory is fuzzy but I know that back int he 20s and 30s you can tell who a victim in a gang fight was hurt by the type of wounds and weapons found in his body. The simple story os that if it was a blunt trauma, it was German communists who killed the victim and stabs and other knife wounds in fact any victim with a knife in his body or near a knife on the ground was probably killed by members of the Nazi party (or at this point as they were called the SA).  

I know my facts are quite erroneous but it bugs me curious why street gangs in this specific case would prefer knife over the more practical baton or chair or other blunt object. The Nazis endorse knives so much that one of the rewards often givent o members who succeeded in joining the SS was a special knife as a commemoration for their street fighting days agains the communists in the 20s-30s.

Knives are not popular weapons, they're tools. They're a tool that the average working man has in his pocket. So it's far more convenient than it is some kind of ultimate weapon.

But more importantly there are some tweaks that make a blade a better weapon, but render it useless as a tool.

I'm going to start to answer your general question(s) with one of "Murphy's Laws of Combat." That is: If the enemy is in range, so are you.

A knife doesn't have the range of a gun which means to use it, you have to be close. On one hand, to people who are impressed with such, that means you're a real bad ass for risking yourself to get to someone. (The mystique you're talking about.)

On the other hand, to normal people that means someone using a knife is a real psycho. A mad dog that needs to be locked up forever because you don't want him roaming the streets.

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

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