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Self Defense/How come the Jail Yard Rush is so unique to North America's prisons? Why couldn't other cultures that emphasize knives develop it?


You mentioned that against almost every knife instructor you faced of various martial arts, although they could handle you easily when you play by "knife dueling", when you finally decide to go to the hood you execute the prison yard rush and you easily overwhelm  them in such a way that they would have been fish fillet had this been a true attack with real knives.

So I've been wondering about this. Seeing that other cultures have been maintaining their knife arts much longer than North America has been developing Combatives, how come no one else thought of a technique like this?

I mean I find it hard to believe that none of the Ninjas of feudal Japan never have been in a situation where a "quick rush" attack approach where you tackle the opponent and stab them hundreds of time similar to the prison yard rush never occurred in Japan's medieval warfare.

Some theorize its differences in Western and Asian culture but this ignores not a  single Medieval manual translated by HEMA shows any technique resembling Prison Yard Rush (not even unarmored in simple wool clothing in the civilian context outside the battlefield).

Not to mention until relatively recently not even the US military has ever taught a technique like this; none of the Civil War books and manuals show a single prison yard knife attack (despite the older West Point manuals showing complex parries and angled attacks with the cavalry sabers used during the Civil War). Not in Fairbairn Sykes stuff (although Applegate does mention the danger of a technique and I saw at least ne diagram on how to counter an attack resembling prison yard rush and how to do the rush at least in one of the books I have).

However as far as the 30s-fuck I seen police reports from as early as the 1800s and even 1700s in America  where injuries are described in a  manner resembling the typical wounds of the prison yard rush. Not to mention I even seen commentaries by bare knuckle boxers who been to prison and affiliated with gangs so strongly in control of prison warn against that quick "knife charge" and always state to KO the guy before he can properly grip his knife (actually some even state the same exact words you do about KOing the guy PERIOD before he can pull the knife) because they  warn of how nasty that charge knife attack they seen would be-especially executed by prisoners and gangs full of members from prison.

So the prison yard rush has been in development long before blood and crips and Aryan Brotherhood existed .

However as I mentioned this development seem exclusive to North America. In stuff about prison in the UK and self dfense manual b British boxers from the same period, thee knife attack mentions nowhere resemble prison yard and seem more methodical in nature. French Savate manuals pictures show approaches to countering knife seem so flashy because the knife attack used in French systems at the time every much similar to the flowery dance like associated with Asian martial arts.

So I'm flabbergasted. Outsiide of USA, I only seen the development of such technique in Canada and Mexico-both from the same sources (prison and criminal gangs).

Why is this? How come systems so battle tested and still in existence as as the Japanese tanto arts and FMAs have 0 defenses against Prison Yard Rush to the point its as though people in the regions and cultures that developed those knife arts never experienced it?

How come not even foreign jails such as the maximum secureity prison of Korea never had inmates coming up with the idea of a prison yard rush attack? I mean if American prison was the source of this technique, shouldn't it develop in say a  prison in Kuwait?

Also is the prison yard rush the BEST knife technique? You mention everytime that the reason FMA instructors and other EAstern Asian style teacher could not counter it was because they never experienced it. But I have seen even prisoners who are trained in martial arts in North America prefer the yard rush as their prefer technique for knfie assassinations.

Also why hadn't the military develop the yard rush until relatively recent in their combatives arsenal?

This thread explains the basics behind that specific question...

Geez I wonder why no one in the Marine Corps or US Army ever realized that prisoners are so good at using knife like weapons?

Is it? Or have you just heard it is?

Having said that, recognize there's a huge correlation between technology and technique. I know of one FMA style that the blades didn't have pins in the handles -- the blades were glued into the handles. The system was largely hacking and slashing, because stabbing caused pressure the bolos wouldn't handle. (The blade would stay in the dude, but you'd be left holding a handle.) Once they started pinning the blades, stabbing was incorporated.

Many prison weapons are not slashing, but stabbing devices. That's going to effect the techniques used. With a stabbing weapon only, the rush is a solid way of getting it done.

What is even more reliable however is when two or three guys grab and stab. And that, you'll find out with a little research, is far, far more common than one guy rushing alone.

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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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