Knife & dagger fighting

Safety

  • Never duck out of the way of your opponent’s attack. You will most likely get a knife in your face. Stand upright as much as possible.
  • Don’t fight anyone significantly taller or shorter than yourself unless you are both experienced knife fighters.
  • Keep all attacks below shoulder height.
  • Attacks should be cuts to or across your opponent's body - do not use a stabbing motion with the blade straight and tip-forward.
  • When using a thrust, ensure your wrist is not locked.

Techniques

Attacks for the dagger are basically the same as sword attacks – aiming to deliver a pulled blow to a legitimate target area. There is one exception, that thrusting is allowed. Speed is of the essence - get your weapon in and out as quickly as possible to get back out of distance. Much of the art of dagger fighting lies in feinting to confuse the opponent, a feint is a partially delivered attack, stopped short and withdrawn, or an off target (missing) attack stopped and withdrawn, or a grapple, or other sudden hand movement to threaten a grapple. A grapple involves catching the opponent’s hand or wrist with your hand, this not only prevents your opponent from attacking properly and allows you to move their arm about to manoeuvre for a good position to strike them. It is possible, even with unarmoured hands, it is possible to bat aside thrusts with the back of the hand.

Guard positions

High Guard: dagger forward and high, left hand back and middle height
Shielded Guard: dagger middle and slightly forward, left hand against dagger, knuckles outermost
Wide Guard: arms spread wide, left hand open ready to grapple

Attacks

From high guard

  • Cut down to opponent’s left shoulder
    • Possible counters: grapple attacking hand, dodge
  • Cut down to opponent’s Right shoulder
    • Possible counters: parry with dagger, step to left foot forward and grapple attacking hand, dodge
  • Feint cut down to opponent’s Left and cut across stomach
    • Possible counters: grapple attacking hand, counter attack opponent’s right shoulder
  • Cut down to opponent’s legs
    • Possible counters: counter attack opponent’s shoulders, push down attacking hand and strike shoulder, grapple attacking hand
  • Draw back – rotate R forearm inwards – and thrust for stomach
    • Possible counters: parry with dagger, bat with left hand, grapple attacking hand

From shielded guard

  • Straight thrust, (L hand still)
    • Possible counters: parry with dagger, bat with left hand, grapple attacking hand
  • Shielded thrust (using L hand to prevent a grapple or parry)
    • Possible counters: parry with dagger, bat with left hand, grapple attacking hand
  • Standard eights targeted attacks
    • Possible counters: parry with dagger, grapple attacking hand

From wide guard

  • Thrust in from your Right
    • Possible counters: counter attack with a thrust to the body, grapple attacking hand
  • Horizontal gut cut
    • Possible counters: counter attack with a thrust to the body, grapple attacking hand
  • Downward leg cut
    • Possible counters: counter attack with a thrust to the body, grapple attacking hand

Attacks Against Guard

High Guard

  • Step in, push opponent’s dagger up and away, cut under.
    • Possible counters: pull Right hand up and cut around & beneath the Left hand, intercept the push with own left hand, retreat, grapple opponent’s dagger with Left hand
  • Get your blade behind opponent’s blade then grapple with Left hand, step in and cut to their back.
    • Possible counters: pull back / change guard, match the move of the blade, grapple as the opponent grapples, retreat

Shielded Guard

  • Push opponent’s left with own left so pushing opponent’s right also, attack anywhere on opponent’s left side.
    • Possible counters: meet assailant’s left hand with own left hand, step back with L foot (moving body out of reach), try to strike under the pushed hand

Wide Guard

  • Grapple R hand & attack
    • Possible counters: pull away, grapple the attack

Additional notes

  • If your left arm is away from your body and your opponent attacks your left side, it’s relatively simple to trap their knife arm between your left arm and body, preventing them from moving their wrist and pulling them onto your weapon.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.