Skip to main content

Best Martial Arts Self-Defense Techniques: Weapon Disarm

I've been training in martial arts since the 1980s and consistently since the '90s. I am a 2nd-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate.

If you ever come across an attacker who has a weapon, here is how you can disarm them.

If you ever come across an attacker who has a weapon, here is how you can disarm them.

Dealing With an Attacker That Has a Weapon

It is important to understand that when dealing with an attacker with a weapon, the risk of serious injury or even death is more likely than if no weapon were involved. Therefore, it is a life and death situation in which certain precautions should be taken and certain rules and principles should be followed.

Vulnerable Areas

Particularly when dealing with a knife, it is important to have knowledge of which areas of your body you should protect at all costs. If the arteries on the inside of the arms and wrists are cut, blood loss is so rapid that death can occur within seconds. Therefore, it is crucial that this area is not exposed to a knife. Likewise, the femoral arteries on the inside of the thighs, when cut, leads to quick blood loss. In addition, the carotid arteries along the neck, when cut, will lead to bleeding and death.

Vulnerable Areas to Protect Against a Blade

Radial/Ulnar ArteryFemoral ArteryCarotid Artery

Runs along inside of foreman

Runs along inside of thigh

Runs along the side of the neck

When cut, the quick loss of blood could lead to death within minutes

When cut, the rapid bleeding could lead to death within seconds or minutes

When cut, bleeding is rapid; you could lose consciousness and die within minutes

The Rule

There is a three-step rule for dealing with being attacked by a weapon. The three steps are (1) seize, (2) control, and (3) disarm. You must grab the hand holding the weapon, you must control the hand and weapon (in the case of guns, you must make sure the barrel is not pointing towards you), and you must disarm the attacker.

Clearly, if the attacker controls the weapon, he can use it against you. Thus, the purpose of seizing and controlling it. If he still has the weapon, he could still find a way to use it even while you are controlling it. In addition, you want to spend the least amount of time possible struggling with him. Therefore, you will want to strip him of his weapon.

The Rule For Defense Against a Weapon


Grab hand/arm that holds weapon

Control the hand/arm that holds the weapon so that it cannot be used

Take the weapon from the attacker or strip it from him/her to eliminate the threat and end the struggle

Basic Disarms

Nothing beats actually practicing various disarms with a partner to learn how to actually perform them. However, I have presented here two basic disarms to give you the idea of how a disarm works. Generally, to strip a weapon out of an attacker's hand, you must peel it out the thumb. The thumb is what gives a person a grip on any object. For this reason, it is also effective in assisting a disarm. The goals is to grip the attacker's thumb and thumb pad (meaty part of the thumb). Furthermore, trying to pull the weapon out away from the thumb will do no good; you must go against the thumb. This is a basic rule. Another martial arts principle relevant to disarms is the push-pull principle; generally, disarms are accomplished pulling on the weapon hand and wrist and pushing on the weapon. The force created, when done properly, strips the aggressor of his weapon.

One Last Word

One last word on the subject of self-defense against a weapon, and that one word would be RUN! It is always advisable in a self-defense situation to run. Especially when dealing with someone wielding a weapon; the consequences can be tragic. It is advisable to avoid physically contending with the attacker entirely; escape, get something between you and him like a car or a tree, and talk your way out of it (and even if it does escalate into physical contention, it is advisable to find an object in the environment that might equalize the situation). Often someone brandishing a weapon means it as a threat. Though they might intend to use it if you fight with them, they might also leave you alone if you also back off. This does not mean do whatever they say; if you get into their car, you are in even more danger and under their control. Escape is the first option. You will have to read the situation and see the possibilities. If there is plenty of distance and you can get away, then it is wise to do so. As already discussed, injury levied by a weapon can be fatal. These techniques provided here are a last resort, because you only want to tangle with someone who has a weapon if there is no other choice.

Here at 88 Years Old Doce Pares Grandmaster Cacoy Canete Sparring Spontaneously Using Strikes, Locks, and Disarms

Modern Arnis Grandmaster Remy Presas Demonstrating Ways to Control and Disarm Attacker

© 2012 Nathan Bernardo


Nathan Bernardo (author) from California, United States of America on April 11, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by, Kasman. That is very cool that your friend taught you some disarms and that you trained in martial arts; yeah, even when I've taken extended breaks (on a bit of one right now), I always still love to learn about martial arts, so I feel what you're saying about it bringing back what was learned. Glad you took the time to read my work and comment, and thanks for the votes!

Kas from Bartlett, Tennessee on April 11, 2013:

Great word brother. Before I flew to Chile, a friend of mine who is former Egyptian special forces trained me in some disarming weapon techniques in case I or my team encountered anything like that there. I had studied martial arts for years but I haven't practiced in a long time. This is a refreshing hub as it brings some of that back to me now. Voting this up, useful, sharing!

Nathan Bernardo (author) from California, United States of America on November 07, 2012:

Yes, alocsin, possibly a certain toughness from the conditioning of training, and doing drills that train the reflexes will prepare a person to face a situation involving someone with a weapon; and understanding techniques and principles involved in this particular kind of defense can be burned into muscle memory and neuro-pathways to make them second-nature, in addition to having some semblance of the real weapons in training. Thanks for stopping by, giving your attention and feedback.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on November 07, 2012:

Certainly a useful form of self-defense. But I gather that part of this training is gaining the courage and confidence to use this against another human being, which we're conditioned not to. Voting this Up and Useful.

Related Articles