Teenager shot by police at Reno high school: Lessons to learn

I just got sent this link to a video of a teenager shot by the police at a Reno high school:

You can view another angle here.
What seems to be known so far.
The predictable response here.

What is likely to happen now:

  • There will be the usual outcry along the lines of “Why did he shoot him, the kid only had a knife?” from those with no understanding of the dynamics involved in such an encounter.
  • Then there will be some more outrage as the journalists, pundits and professional rabble-rousers do their thing.
  • In the end, nothing will change and it’ll be waiting for the next incident.

In the mean time, I suggest focusing on the lessons we can learn from this. There are several things to take away form this video:

  • Disarming somebody with a knife without hurting him is not easy, nor is there a guaranteed technique you can use to pull it off. What’s more, a knife represents lethal force. Such a threat is typically responded to with lethal force, such as a firearm. Why? Because when you don’t and things go wrong, they can go wrong in catastrophic fashion (fast forward to 7min15 for the attack):

  • If the officer didn’t stop the kid and went down himself like the officers in the previous video did, the kid could have slaughtered several of students who were standing there. It’s the officer’s duty to avoid that, along with not dying himself. So if you brandish a knife and threaten others with it, act erratic and refuse to drop it when ordered, you should expect a definite response from law enforcement.
  • For those who don’t understand this, here are some realities about violence, about knife vs. gun and also this article. As an overall strategy, when faced with a knife and you have the option: run. Run for your life. Which brings us to the next point.
  • Look at the other students. They refuse to leave and even come closer as soon as the kid is no longer looking right at them or moving in their direction. There is no way to emphasize enough how monumentally stupid this is… If you have kids, teach them to flee when an event like this happens. I teach this to my children and repeat the lesson regularly: being an innocent bystander doesn’t make you safe. On the contrary, you can become a victim in an instant or become collateral damage when law enforcement takes action. Here’s an article with many examples. Here’s a video that shows exactly how fast bystanders can become victims, even when they think the fight is over…
Teenager shot by police at Reno high school - Lessons to learn

Teenager threatening with a knife in Reno high school

Early reports claim the kid was bullied and lashed out like this to protect himself. I have no idea if this is true, the investigation is ongoing and should reveal more. If true, is this enough to give him a pass on pulling a knife like that? That discussion is beyond the point of this article. The point is to learn from this incident and avoid becoming a victim.

Good luck and stay safe.

Krav Maga Knife Defense Video

Earlier today, I saw this Krav Maga knife defense technique and had to watch it a few times to check if I saw everything right. I always try to go out of my way to avoid criticizing other arts as I don’t practice them, but this one seems to go beyond Krav Maga knife defense as I know it.

I’ll comment more on that below, but first, watch the video.

Krav Maga Knife Defense

Some thoughts on this video.

  • My first thought was “What the flying monkey fuck?” My second thought was “This looks nothing like any Krav Maga knife defense I know.” Which doesn’t mean much because my direct training in it was very limited and a long time ago when an Israeli soldier showed it to me. But what he showed looked nothing like this here. Looking at this video, I guess I must have misunderstood him back then….
  • Knife attacks suck. Let’s get that out of the way first. There are no easy solutions. I’ve yet to see a comprehensive system that is easy to learn and applies to all possible ways a knife can be used against you. Which is a key factor as you won’t know how the guy will use it on you until he does. Not all attacks are a prison yard rush or a FMA weed whacker from hell. There’s lots of ground between both these extremes and if you train for one instead of the other, don’t assume your techniques will work out of the box. The differences are just as important as the similarities. Which is why I don’t believe there is a one stop shop for knife defense. On a technical level, there are several things I find disturbing and I’ll cover some of them now.
  • She turns into the knife as she grabs it. It may just be me but I’d prefer turning the other way instead of cutting my own throat. My name is Demeere, not Dibbler
  • She spins her back into her attacker. His left arm will not magically disappear as she performs her technique. Look closely at the video and you’ll see there is nothing stopping him from beating the crap out of her with it or using it to stop her from spinning in the opposite direction. When that happens she cannot disarm him (as she needs that spin for the disarm) and she’ll just get her throat cut from behind instead of from the front. Not a big improvement…
Krav Maga Knife Defense

Krav Maga Knife Defense or assisted suicide?

  • Her control is limited. Her hands are both on the blade and on her own wrist. The only real control of his arm she has is between her arm and her armpit, which is far from a solid control. If he yanks his arm back or forward, she is unlikely to be able to stop him from doing so. When that happens, it will all go downhill from there…
  • The lead knee sucks for power. She has to knee him in the groin with lead knee, as her back is half turned. This is one of the weakest positions to knee an opponent from, because her hips cannot power the knee strike. To use her hips for the lead knee, she’d have to face him more, forcing her to loosen or even release her grip on his arm. I doubt she can do any significant damage to him as is right now.
  • The spin seems doubtful. As she’s giving him a free hand to stop her from spinning away from him, I doubt very much she’ll manage to do so effectively. Even more, he’s basically in an underhook, which is an extremely strong position for his arm if he can brace and lock it down. Which is something most people do instinctively as soon as you try to grab their arm, knife or no. I don’t see her getting that to work if he actively resists, especially given the weight and strength difference between them.
  • “The padded part of the hand can take some strain.” Really? I have heard this over and over but have yet to find somebody willing to put his money where his mouth is and try it against a non-compliant partner. I wonder why… I would also love to see somebody try this on a knife with a serrated edge. Furthermore, I would like to see them try it against a resisting opponent who outweighs him significantly, just like the instructor in the video does this woman. Any takers to prove that Rob Roy actually does Krav Maga knife defense too?


All in all, I would never teach this technique to the woman in this video. There are too many issues with it on too many levels. To each his own and if you can make it work, more power to you. But for me, it reeks too much of the “Expect to get cut” zombie-meme and then turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve seen other Krav Maga knife defense techniques I found a lot more convincing than this one.