Is there any "style" or self-defence that teaches techniques against chainsaw attack.

E.g. if somebody attacks you like this video

I don't now how to defend myself. Either I could run away or attack him before he start the chainsaw. But what then when the chainsaw is running? The chainsaw is quite heavy so he cannot practice fast movements, but still is there some guidance or techniques that teach defence against chainsaws?

UPDATE for people who have never used any chainsaw before.

  1. A chainsaw that is turned on and the trigger pressed cannot be touched or blocked (the blade) using your hands or legs or any of your body part, as the chain has 10,000 - 14,000 RPM. This is unless you are wearing a special suit that is used by professional lumberjacks and even then it's not 100% and depends on the angle etc. It will tear your tissue very badly even when you touch it just a little.

  2. A chainsaw will eventually run out of petrol, at this point it is a rather ineffective weapon." Hmm, unfortunately the level of gas is not an issue. It can run for as long as half an hour if started and the trigger is continuously pressed. If trigger is not pressed all the time it can run even longer, of course. And it depends on the chainsaw type etc. If you have an electric chainsaw, you can run it indefinitely, however you are limited by the length of the electric cable/cord.

  3. Only Chuck Norris can stop a chainsaw blade with his hand!. Everyone else will fail.

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    +1. Are you planning to train your Zombie army to resist chainsaws?.... Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 8:46
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    There probably isn't anything specifically about chainsaws but I imagine any defence mechanisms for defending against two handed heavy weapons would apply
    – user1010
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 9:12
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    What you need is a bigger chainsaw.
    – kioopi
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 14:36
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    12 ga shotgun with buckshot would do wonders in stopping such an attack Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 20:00
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    Looking for an answer drawing from credible and/or official sources? Understood!
    – stslavik
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 14:24

16 Answers 16




Consider for a moment the "Chainsaw-Wielding Killer" of your apparent nightmares. Assume, for a moment, a weight of approximately 8.3 lbs. (Roughly 7.4 lbs. for a lightweight chainsaw, another .9 lbs. for fuel, using the Stihl MS 192 C-E as a guide) – roughly twice the weight of a european bastard sword. Said killer could:

  1. Wield the weighty weapon by the rear hand guard and handle, making his effective range arm length + a rough 2.5 feet (estimating 1 foot in length for the handle and motor, and 1.5 feet for the bar). I'm about 6', so assume and effective range of about 8.5' for a man my size. This would give greater range, but make the weapon clumsy and less easily controlled.

  2. Wield the weighty weapon by both the rear hand guard and the center support handle. This would give greater control, but would remove roughly 2.5 feet from effective range - one foot from moving a hand up halfway down the saw, and a foot and a half (give or take) from your ability to extend your arms.

Clearly, the goal would be to harm you and not himself, so an average attacker might be expected to forego range in favor of control especially given such a heavy weapon, which would make scenario 2 our likely candidate.

Facing a Chainsaw

The nature of the weapon tells us two things:

  1. The weapon is no more effective than a stone at a distance, as it cannot run without the trigger depressed.

  2. It is most effective in a 1.5' range from the end of the bar to the motor.

These two being given, we can assume there are two relatively safe places to be. First, outside the effective range of the attacker; the second is inside the effective range of the attacker.

Rule 1: Cardio

If you happen to find yourself outside the effective range of the attacker, stay there. Your goal is to put distance between yourself and the attacker, preferably with impediment. Climbing over walls is going to be difficult while lugging an additional 8 lbs.

Learning to escape from an attacker is similar to escaping surveillance: you have to be willing to do what the other person is not. Climbing up high only to jump off of a building can buy you time, if you know how to disperse the energy of the fall.

Moving into a public space is going to make it very hard for a chainsaw wielding killer to harm you. Not only is he going to look quite conspicuous, but he's also going to have a lot of trouble getting through a crowd while running with a chainsaw (it's a hinderance, not a help).

Muto Dori

The techniques for fighting an attacker with a chainsaw are the same for fighting an attacker with a sword, but likely easier. Getting inside the bar will put you inside the range of the chain. Examples would be:

  • As the attacker raises the chainsaw to slash down, follow him in and push up on the handle as you continue to drive through, letting the excess weight carry him backward. Alternately, take the handles, pull down as you turn to throw the attacker.

  • If he lunges to drive the chainsaw forward, lunge forward on a 45° angle to move inside, and keep close. Attack to the head to drive the chin upward to carry him back.

  • Leap backward to avoid a slash across the abdomen, move to the outside to attack.

If you find yourself wrestling for the chainsaw, remember that resistance has a direction, push until he pushes back then pull to imbalance.


If you find yourself in this situation, you are likely going to die. That said, whatever you do is correct and you should not worry about technique. Your best approach is to do whatever comes instinctually naturally to you, and to push yourself to act. The only wrong move is not to move.

  • If the wielder is stupid enough to swing it like a baseball bat (with both arms from the height of his shoulder), you might be able to get close enough in that moment to use the momentum and weight of the chainsaw for a hip throw or similar...though, running is most likely a very good idea in that situation.
    – Bobby
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 15:35

There's this art form called Running. It defends against almost any handheld, especially heavy, melee weaponry.

How to defend using Running

  1. Observe position of chainsaw and its wielder.
  2. Distance yourself out of arms (+ chainsaw) reach: this should be some six to eight feet.
  3. Turn away from the chainsaw.
  4. Engage feet and quads in Running.
  5. Do not stop until the revving of the chainsaw can no longer be heard

Not every situation calls for contact.

  • 2
    @VaibhavGarg - From the FAQ/Help: Voting up a question or answer signals to the rest of the community that a post is interesting, well-researched, and useful, while voting down a post signals the opposite: that the post contains wrong information, is poorly researched, or fails to communicate information. Just because an answer makes you laugh is not a good reason to vote it up.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 3:50
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    Well, @JohnP, The question itself invites responses that are slightly tongue in cheek. Although, the presentation might seem flippant, it is evident that the a strategy of non-confrontation is being put forth in this answer, which I agree with. Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 4:48
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    This answer is getting more comments than expected. @JohnP, your first question: yes. Reason: S/E is made for constructive questioning. This is the reason questions are closed. Secondly, if I simply typed "Run" or "Don't engage"—which are all viable—how would that answer be received at first glance?
    – Igbanam
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 2:17
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    As pertaining to the morals of this answer... Note: this is martial arts and not brawl arts. True martial arts teaches discipline and intelligence, when and when not to engage in an affray. The body, the primary weapon of all martial arts, is not an infinite—neither is it a regenerative—resource. Thank you (:
    – Igbanam
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 2:20
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    Well, It seems the upvote rubs @JohnP the wrong way. I don't know if that is the right data point, but I arrived at the question from the weekly newsletter, from the section- "Top new questions this week". Now, if the question isn't great, the site admins/mod need to work on the newsletter question selection as well. Also, in principle, yes, humour is no substitute for content. Still, i refuse to rescind my vote based on a presentation issue, rather than a content issue. Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 3:59

It's a somewhat contrived question, but I will answer as if it wasn't.

  • a chainsaw (even a smaller one) has a reasonable weight, if you cannot out sprint the attacker then you clearly need to do some work on your fitness (note I'm excluding the fact you might be injured (maybe chainsaw guy already removed one of your legs?!!)).

  • a chainsaw is similar to any large two handed bladed weapon. When swung there will be a significant carry-through in the motion, leaving you plenty of time to counter attack. Additionally the swing will be rather clumsy and slow.

  • a chainsaw will eventually run out of petrol, at this point it is a rather ineffective weapon.

Personally I would consider a knife to be more of a dangerous weapon than a chainsaw as the knife is silent, can be wielded in one hand, and you have a far greater attack speed.


A brick to the head is a great counter to a chainsaw. Or to anything, come to think of it.

Update: Since I am forced to give more than one line answers, let me explain: a brick can be thrown. It is hard and heavy and can crush the skull of the chainsaw wielder. If your skull is crushed, you will die. If you are dead, you can't attack people with chainsaws anymore.

  • Presuming that you actually hit them with the brick, and that said impact actually does the damage you expect. Contrary to movies and popular opinion, you can get hit with a thrown brick and not be knocked cold.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 16:00
  • I don't know what bricks you use in your country, but I have seen enough crime scenes in mine to know what a brick to the head does. Or should I have said to use the five-point-palm exploding-heart technique? Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 16:08
  • By the way, are you stalking me now? Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 16:09
  • Oh, yes, I'm seriously stalking you. If I was, I'd have downvoted this earlier. And I worked EMS for several years, I have also seen people hit with bricks both held and thrown that were not immediately incapacitated.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 16:11
  • Sure, a brick can be thrown. It also can be unwieldy, and therefore miss the intended target. There's nothing to this answer that offers the least bit of rational explanation making "throwing a brick" a decent self-defense strategy.
    – stslavik
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 13:36

For any kind of a weapon like this, whether it is a sword, staff, knife, chainsaw, axe, you name it, you want to be one of two places:

  1. Outside its range - Obviously if you are outside the range of the weapon + the wielders reach, then they can't hit you with it (Short of throwing it). Being outside the reach of the weapon also gives you the opportunity to just run away, unless you happen to be in a blind alley or similar.
  2. Inside its range - This is not as desirable, as you can still sustain damage, but in the case of a chainsaw, your modes should either be a) flee, or b) survive. If you can be inside the range (Which in this case means just about chest to chest), then you minimize to negate the advantage of the weapon, and any damage that is done is more likely not to be immediately fatal.

And though it may sound harsh, if you are attacked by someone with a chain saw and you can't run, then it may come down to you having to sacrifice a hand/arm to be able to get in and disable the attacker. The bottom line is your own survival, even if that means you sustain serious damage in the process. Better handless than dead.


Can you run?

A chainsaw is a deadly weapon that can severely injure, mutilate or kill you with a single touch. So if you are not 100% confident that you can beat the attacker easily, you should run. The weight of the chainsaw alone will ensure that the attacker will be slower than you. In addition the chainsaw is difficult to hold and will force the attacker in a certain body position that makes it difficult for him/her to pass through tight space (doors, windows, gates) or over obstacles. You can use that to your advantage when plotting your escape route.

Understand the attacker

Also most answer compare the chainsaw to a sword, it is a very different weapon and should not be treated like someone wielding a sword. The main difference is that the damage is done by the rotating chain and not by the impact of hitting you. Therefore the attacker just needs to simply point the weapon at you and come in contact with your skin to kill you.

In Hollywood movies chainsaw-killers tend to wield it around like a sword, but that is just for the show, a smart killer would just point it into your general direction, leaving you no moment where his 'guard' is down. This can tell you a few things about the intend of the attacker:

  • If the attacker does wield it like a sword, there is a good chance that he has no clue what he is doing, you might be able to use that for your advantage.
  • If he is making a show, he is not 100% ready to kill you. He is buying time to make sure he really wants this. You can use this to your advantage to negotiate or trick him to drop his guard.
  • If he does simply point it at you, he has a real intend to kill you and probably knows what he is doing and will take the first advantage to slice you in half.

How to defend

Suppose you cannot run and are facing someone with a real intend to kill you, the first priority should be to stay alive. You cannot block the chainsaw as it will simply cut through your flesh and bones, so you must not let it touch you. Evading must be the highest priority.

A chainsaw usually has an emergency off system if the chains get stuck in something. So if you manage to trick the attacker to for example push the weapon in dense material that the chainsaw is unable to cut, it will turn off and probably will even be stuck. This would obviously be a good point to fight back. Once you hit him, he will probably not be able to pick up and activate the (for a fight) complicated mechanism to use it against you again.

A chainsaw as well has a system to prevent accidental activation, by forcing the user to push two buttons or grab it in a certain way to operate it properly. This forces the attacker in a certain position that makes it more difficult for him to move freely. In addition a chainsaw is very heavy. Unless you face Mr. Universum, there is a good chance that the attacker will loose balance and eventually loose grip on the handles if you can get him to swing it around, by moving left and right for example, or at least can cause him to hit obstacles with it, which might cause him to loose control over the weapon.

The inertia of the swing can give you a momentary chance for attack, but do not charge in unless you are 100% certain the attacker cannot use his weapon for the moment, as a simple tilt (which requires little strength) can bring back the blades in a position where they will kill you. If such a moment does not present, your best option is to tire the attacker until he gives up or makes a major mistake.


Your best chance to defend is to run. You second best chance is to force the attacker to swing the weapon around, in hope that he either gets stuck somewhere, looses grip, gets tired of wielding a very heavy weapon, or someone calls the police and you receive outside help. Basically the second options means: buying time.


It would largely depend on the chainsaw.

What most people seem to forget is that a chainsaw is a tool designed to either cut an immobile target(trees) or light targets(shrubbery).

A regular chainsaw is not expected to block anything, cut through everything or cut indefinitely.

  1. thus striking the saw likely destroys or deforms the rail (or at least knock off the chain)
  2. blocking it with something it was not meant to cut (metal) will ruin the saw teeth and possibly destroy the chain
  3. running away from the attacker until he depletes his fuel stops the chainsaw, too

Of course, after eliminating the gardening tool your attacker used, you still have to defend against an assailant who was willing to attack you with a brutal cutting implement. In that scenario, running is still the best option, but maybe mix it up with getting help from other people.

Oh and let's not forget the part where a chainsaw will not spring on immediately, needs to warm up for 30 seconds to seriously cut anything without stopping the motor and is otherwise a giant, unwieldy, noisy club, so you will hear any attempt on your life by chainsaw from very far away.

This means that as long as you generally move away from chainsaw noises (a good policy), you will never have to deal with a chainsaw attack.

In conclusion, if you don't like to get giant gashes, don't attempt anything stupid with a guy carrying a chainsaw, run and get help. You're not a kung fu master and even they do not fight against powered weapons.

P.S. if you still have questions why not look up ChainsawGood at TvTropes and read more about chainsaws in fiction and otherwise?


By observing the video I see that everyone used the same technique and survived except for one unfortunate person who decided to get "inside" of the weapon. While in the military we were taught that under similar circumstances to employ a technique called the"retrograde maneuver" where what you're actually doing is positioning yourself to effectively counter the attack. The video example was clearly a simulation but realistically speaking the attacker would have been shot at his first attempt. (I've been told that even Bruce Lee carried a pistol!) In short I'll use a quote from one of the world's greatest fighters... "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." - Muhammad Ali


I have to agree with most of the people here, get defensive, get distance between you and the attacker and run away. Man without chain saw likely to run faster than man with chainsaw. If you have loose items around throw them at the attacker to create opportunities for running away.

Obviously if you do want to fight (can't escape), firstly you need to keep distance between yourself and the blade (watch out for opponent lunching), then look for a gap to move in and break the attackers grip on the trigger so the chain is not turning therefore it is more like a club. Then you need to remove the weapon from him.

But I would assume that a person swinging a chainsaw around effectively is one big strong mother and being close range might just put you in danger of being attacked by his natural weapons.

So this get me back to the best defense - tactical retreat.

Remember that the way a chainsaw works is very different than most traditional weapons and therefore their are no real martial arts that would have come up with techniques to counter it. What you would need to do is look at the systems you know and how it can be adapted to work for a chainsaw.

For instance I played around using escrima to work with two axes and two 5 pound hammers. As the techniques are they almost work, but need a little bit of change as these weapons are heavier in the head and shorter than the normal rattan sticks.


Most of the answers I have seen involve getting out of range, but a chainsaw (or almost any two-handed weapon) would be most effective at a distance. I suggest closing while avoiding the blade (not an easy task, I know) and grabbing the engine area. Using a diving roll to get behind the attacker would also position you in such a way that the weapon would be ineffective.

It might also be effective to block the chainsaw with something that could damage or break the chain, such as a metal object.


I remember someone asked Chuck Norris how to fight a person who has a knife, he said if you get into a knife fight you are going to get stabbed. I'd say the same applies with just about anything; if you get into a fist fight with someone who is a really bad fighter, chances are they will still land a few. So if running is not an option, you need to do your best just to survive. Chainsaws tend to have some weight about them, so that is a slight advantage you have as they will swing it around a bit slow and cumbersome, the inertia of the follow through may give you a window, if you are lucky enough for that initial swipe to miss, but it all depends on how strong and agile they are, you will want to quickly get in as close to the attacker as possible and grab their arms or the chainsaw handles and go for the "struggle for dear life" method.

But I would keep in mind that it isn't as easy to kill a person as you would think, even with something like a chainsaw, you could take a fair bit of damage from it and still be so fired up on adrenalin to significantly make the attacker regret instigating the incident.

  • I also remember hearing that a Ninja can enter a room and identify the 10 most effective objects to kill a person, I don't know if that helps, but there tends to be weapons all around us at any given moment and it just takes a bit of imagination.
    – Raytrek
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 23:00

A few thoughts....

Dominant hand and range of wrist motion

  • Let's say the attacker's right handed - they're going to find it natural to slash diagonally from their upper right towards their lower left. It'll be hard/unnatural for them to start any kind of slash from their left. Once their right arm's straight and left elbow bent in against their ribs, they can't turn the blade any more.

  • to exploit this fully, you want to attack them while their left foot is landing forwards - back away while observing the timing of their steps, then step in as their left foot comes forwards. The longer their stride the more they'll be twisted away from you, and the harder it will be for them to reach the chainsaw across to their non-dominant side. If you feint as though moving to their open side they're likely to adjust to step their left foot further to their right too. Good options then include:

    • sliding to the outside of their left/front foot (typical aikido move) so they have to twist the chainsaw across their own body to reach it towards you, and their left arm will get in the way of rotating the blade into you. As you slide past, use a ridge hand / reverse knife hand / arm bar / palm etc across their throat/face, or a left low kick to their front knee

    • hard low kick to their front knee then retreat quickly

Short backswing/follow-through slash vs. big thrust motion

  • a chainsaw is not like a two-handed sword in that it doesn't require overall momentum to slash... for a slashing movement with a sword, even when the opponent stays in front of you some backswing is required, but with a chainsaw the blade can be thrust/twisted more directly at the target, so as defender you can't wait for an overt backswing to slip in on the attacker, nor expect much of a follow through after some kind of slash in which to close; it's following the defender's side-to-side movement that can force a difficult/slow/clumsy swinging action, rather than any need to generate speed with the chain

  • it does still take a major effort to thrust the weapon forwards, so you can expect more telegraphing of and recovery time from such a movement, which means it's a better opportunity to counter attack

In desperation

  • be creative with other objects you might use to your advantage - e.g. flicking a belt at their hands or face while keeping out of reach of the chainsaw; don't rely on this for long - it's a high-stakes game - once you see they're distracted by it seek an opportunity to do something more decisive

  • the chain rotates around the edge of the saw, so there's some small potential to deflect the blade through contact inside the chain - if you somehow get stuck with the thing being thrust at your head or chest and have no ability to dodge, a absolute last-ditch do-or-die option is deflecting it with a fingertip or flatfist strike to the area inside the chain, but if you can reach further to get past the chain deflect it there of course

It'd be really interesting to have someone hold a chainsaw while someone else struck across the blade with an old leather belt, coat etc to see how strong a sideways tug the holder experienced before the belt/coat disintegrated - they might affect a useful momentary deflection. Sadly, I don't currently own a chainsaw.


I doubt there are styles specifically training against chainsaw attacks.

What should work is a long (longer than the chainsaw) hardened object like a metal pole. With that one should be able to ward of the chainsaw, as it cannot cut the pole or else will destroy the chain, thus making the chainsaw useless.


I'd use speed- as it has been previously stated, chainsaws can be very heavy and clumsy. I would either run, or, if trapped, for example, inside my own house, I would try to move behind the attacker, and incapacitate them before they could bring the weapon around- although, this would be extremely difficult and would have a high chance of failing. Another thing I might do is get some form of metal stick (maybe a long aluminium baseball bat?) and use it to block the attacks, as this could likely damage the chainsaw (or the bat, depending on how high quality and hard boths weapons are). In conclusion, it's probably best not to find yourself in a situation like this.


I'm speculating, but perhaps you through a piece of clothing in the way of the blade, with the intention of snagging the mechanism? I don't know whether this work or how strong the material would have to be, but it strikes me as similar to defending against a rapier using a cloak.

  • The cloth would probably be shreded in a second. However, this may cause the mechanism to grind. Maybe throwing some sand or mud into it would cause the chainsaw to malfunction.
    – Geeky Guy
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 18:25

It is called a gun. You stay a safe distance a way, aim at the mask made of human flesh (as I assume it is Leather Face you are worried is going to make a trip from Texas to find you) and pull the trigger. If you a squeamish about killing some psycho trying to treat you like a log, then shoot for the lower body, knees are always a good place (most likely messier as they may fall and hurt themselves with chainsaw than 9mm parabellum to the cerebellum) as they cannot pursue. If you have no good aim, invest in a shotgun and defender shells, a.k.a hamburger helper shells, they will stop pretty much anything and all you have to do is point the direction you want to look like ground chuck and voila, screw a chainsaw. By hand? Well if you are asking the internet this question your pretty much well screwed in that circumstance. Run. Anyone who is putting too much thought into this has not spent much time wielding them. They a highly dangerous weapon as the person using it. Unwieldy, no balance, not good for much else other than scare tactics. One missed swipe and oops there goes a leg. Even if they do not maim themselves it is slow, clunky and rather an awkward thing to use for a weapon making recovery from the attempted swing. That and well you fast enough to move around them pretty much means you can do some real damage when they are looking like an ass wipe.

A rock, battery, ninja star, anything solid throw it.

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