I am sure that many martial artists like myself who trains mostly on hand weapons have been looked down by other people who have probably never been to a real knife fight with the idea that real knife fights doesn't happen like "mano-mano" or "one on one" just like what we see in the movies. There are people who will say about us being very wrong to believe that we stand a chance against a determined assailants who wants to gut us in the real world because we will never see them coming and our years spent training in martial arts or weapons training are useless.
1. It is true that we may not have a chance to defend ourselves in the real world because many experienced criminals whose aim is to murder will not usually flash their knives in front of us before they gut us. Most attacks are ambush style attacks and often all is too late.
Answer: Yes!!! Often in the real world, real weapon based attacks happens when we least expect it and the odds against us may be too great that our chance of survival is very small or very close to none but there are people who have survived similar attacks. What if you also belong to those few lucky persons who saw a chance to fight their way out, escaped and lived? Though it is a big gamble, I'd rather put my chips in and study some martial arts skills than to live a life knowing that if I get attacked that I will never be able to defend myself and get gutted without complain...
2. There is no defense for an assailant who is rushes, tackles and stabs us with a knife.
Answer: Someone charging at full speed with a knife is very difficult to counter or stop but not impossible :)
3. Knife attacks can never be parried or blocked without being cut.
Answer: There are so many people even without martial arts training who have parried or blocked knife attacks and are still happily living and spending their lives with their loved ones. Knife attacks can be parried and blocked but hope for more luck and expect to also be cut or stabbed :)
4. There is no escape if we are grabbed by several attackers while one or two of their members attacks us with their knives.
Answer: Chances of survival is very small but as I have mentioned in "FMA Close Quarters Knife Combat Training", that one of my teachers was hold at gun point by several attackers and was stabbed nine times on the neck then thrown to rot but was able to act dead and crawled his way out and survived. He might have been very lucky or might have nine lives... Another example is my friend's dad in the Philippines who got stabbed several times by unknown number of assailants. He spent months inside the hospital but survived. Some people that I met and some I had the chance to share lunch who lived at the squatter's area were able to escape and live (I just don't know if they are still alive now... man, they are really dodgy...).
5. Knife attacks often happens in the dark and the martial artists will have no chance of defending himself when visibility is minimal.
Answer: This is really very hard especially people like me who basically can't see much in the dark because of our poor eye sights. I have no real knife fight experience in the dark (only hand to hand). Sometimes I practice with my son using dulled kitchen knives or sticks and I often get hit. If this was a true knife fight I am sure that I will sufferer many cuts and stabs though even with my poor eye sight against my son's good vision, I still often win probably because I have more practice time and experience compared to him but I am sure that if he spends a little bit more time practicing, I am "double dead". Here is one of our video that has a short clip during our Arnis training in low light: http://father-and-son-ma-training-japan.blogspot.com/p/our-main-video.html
you'll notice that I was having a hard time seeing in low light making me very unorganized plus getting my eyeglasses bent by my son, lol.
Yes, probably there is still a chance to survive but for me, I will be needing lots of luck, new eye glasses or night vision goggles... Also give me full body armor plus a gun with 100 rounds or ammo, or send me the SWAT team so that they can beat his sorry ass for me :)
6. Martial artists has no effective defense against sucker punches or sucker style knife attacks.
Answer: Martial artist or not, I am sure that no one will ever be fully prepared for sucker attacks. When I was in high school, I got sucker punched by a girl when I was eating "lugaw" (flavored boiled rice) near our school. I was enjoying my meal then suddenly somebody punched me from behind. I quickly turned and was about to jump the attacker but when I saw the college girl who was about to deliver another punch to my face I backed out. She was surprised to see that I was not her real target. She just stood stiff and cried. Her friends apologized and told me that she was looking for his sister's boy friend who happens to look like me... Good thing that I was actively practicing MA during those times and receiving a sucker punch from a girl is no problem but if she was a dude, I am sure that it was lights out for me. What more if this was a knife attack.
Time passed and I had my share of receiving several sucker punches and sucker attacks from school fights, bars, streets, etc. All of these attacks were done by untrained dudes who hits like pussies so I was still able to retaliate and thanks to my buddies who were there and stopped or also attacked my attacker, thus giving me time to shake off the twinkling stars and join in the fun... I was just lucky that none of these sucker attacks were lethal or I will not be here to share my experiences.
7. Using a weapon (guns, knives, sticks, frying pan, etc.) against armed attackers to protect ourselves will put us in prison...
Answer: If we kill the attacker then the answer is a strong YES! The law is not dumb and if proven that we only retaliated to defend our life then probably the'll give us a bit of slack but still we will be facing charges (or unless we have successfully evaded the scene without a trace...???). Probably even if we just injure them during their attacks, we will still be facing charges especially in developed countries. BUT this does not happen much in the Philippines!!! and other developing countries :) There you can still defend yourself and if you get lucky (which we often are...) chances of getting help from passers-by or concerned citizens is still high. During my college days, there was an incident that happened while we are inside a jeepney. There was a lady who was "sandwiched" by two hold-uppers. We didn't notice that a robbery was happening but luckily, the guy sitting across the lady noticed the incident and went for the guy on the left. He didn't know that the guy sitting on the right is also a team member. Suddenly the guy on the right gave him a front stab but the knife hand of the attacker was held by another passenger sitting next to him. All hell broke lose... passengers were hitting the two guys, grannies were hitting them with their high heel shoes, the driver stopped and hit the guys head with a tire wrench. One of the passenger was able to turn the assailants knife against him, the lady on the center didn't do a thing... Law enforcers came to the rescue, the two robbers were bloody and was still receiving kicks, punches coming from everywhere... The people around was ordered to give space and then the two lucky guys got a sweet taste of jungle boots and M-16 rifle butts on their faces. The guy who probably used the knife against the robber plus all of us who joined the party were interviewed and got a nice warm tap on our shoulders and was left to go home.
Many similar incidents like this happened and probably are still happening all over the world. Since I am now living in Japan and if a similar incident happens, I would probably think many times (if I have the chance to think...) before engaging the assailant or I will end up in bars... who knows...???
Going back to martial arts, the reason why we practice knife fighting or defending against knife or weapon attacks is that we are just trying to give ourselves an extra fighting edge. There is a big chance that we may never be able to defend ourselves or a much more bigger chance that we may never be able to experience real combat but again it is giving us extra chance or possibility to survive during an attack. My son and my students also share this same way of thinking that it is better to be "at least" prepared than to do nothing. Even if we may never use the skills that we learned in martial arts, we still can say that we learned some tricks, techniques, gained new friends, probably lost some weight, made our bodies more sexier, exchanged some laughs, pains and tears but most of all, we have enjoyed and benefited something from learning rather than doing nothing. Plus if luck really sucks and we may have to really fight to protect our lives, then I am sure that at least we wont be easy targets :)