1. Is there a technical term for this counter-attack, where the defender uses the attacker's own knife against the attacker?

  2. How exactly do you subvert the attacker who's obviously applying force against you? Do you have to counter with even more force? Or do you just have to re-direct the attacker's force at the attacker?

The first video clip is from Harry Brown, a 2009 British vigilante film. Michael Caine flips the knife back onto the attacker much faster, at much closer range, than Keri Russell in the second video clip.


This second clip is from Season 4, Episode 11, of the TV series The Americans.


2 Answers 2


A similar move is possible, but neither video shows the correct techniques.

The trick here is to actually pull the arm holding the knife past you as though you are attempting a standing arm bar. Both hands should be holding the opponent's knife hand at this point, (although you may wish to hit them with one hand first).

Then as the attacker withdraws their arm to prevent a standing arm bar you move to a wrist lock. The wrist lock is the one called kote-gaeshi in aikido or gyaku-gote in shorinji kempo. By changing the direction slightly of this from the normal wrist lock you can cut the opponent's neck with a slashing movement.

Note that this is practically impossible if the aggressor is doing anything other than just waving the knife at you. It only works because the knife is being held away from the body in the first place and only then in a 'hammer' grip (ie blade upwards).

You can see the move at the start of this video... Ando and Nick Drossos but then they immediately say why it's not realistic... And I agree, most of the time it isn't.

Anyone proficient in knife use will not hold the knife at arms length and wave it around in front of you. More likely they will hold it close to the body and reach with it only when they strike. This move also won't work against a concealed knife for obvious reasons.

Even if the opportunity to use this move does arise (so again, you see the knife, it's away from the body, they haven't attacked you yet) I would advise against trying it. Any and all encounters with knives are matters of life an death and not worth the contents of your wallet.


Maybe this has a name in some martial art, but to me, this is pure Hollywood fantasy with no real-life value as a technique.

Just consider what is needed for that to function:

  1. You have to bend the offender's arm towards their body.
  2. Without you getting cut.
  3. Without them simply moving back..or turning.

I see no way for that to happen. You would have to be able to grab their neck in order to hinder them from going back and to support breaking their frame. Stiffening the arm is a natural behavior when you hold a knife, ie. you would have to bend their arm with force, which is impossible without having a hold (or wall) to push against. It is possible to hit into the crook of the arm for support, but other than the knee, it has no bending reflex if hit there, so the effect will be limited against an equally strong or stronger opponent. Additionally, I see no reason why the offender would...like...NEVER turn their wrist or their body at any point, making the whole thing useless.

Just compare to the knife fight in John Wick 2 (a movie which generally is...at least more realistic when it comes to martial arts). It shows just how much force it takes even with pushing against an obstacle. And this man has a back-hand grip, which makes it actually harder to push back for him.

What's worse: You would put yourself into the danger zone. One flick of the wrist and it's you on the receiving end. Not worth it. Ever. If you can hold that knife away from you while getting within distance - which would use a stiff arm as a frame holding the knife down - you punch and knee until the offender has other things to do rather than concentrating on the pointy thing in their hands. I see no reason why one should try to move that knife in such a way since it keeps the offender's focus on that knife, where it was all the time. A main aspect of knife defense involves using the fact that they concentrate on the knife and attacking the offender directly, only to use disorientation and pain to disarm afterward, if at all.

The reasons I presented in this answer of mine hold here as well: When it comes to knife fight, what we have is fast and messy and you would never EVER train once in a lifetime moves like this one.

  • +1 Get attacked by a knife. Parry the strike(trough years of training). Slap the eyes. Expect to die(90%).
    – Vorac
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 19:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.