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Best Martial Arts Self Defense Techniques: Weapon Disarm

Updated on June 7, 2013
NateB11 profile image

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


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.

The radial artery along the inside of the forearm.
The radial artery along the inside of the forearm. | Source

Vulnerable Areas

Particularly when dealing with a knife, it is important to have knowledge of which areas of your body cannot be cut at all, or else it could lead to certain death. 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 loss of blood. 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 Artery
Femoral Artery
Carotid Artery
Runs along inside of foreman
Runs along inside of thigh
Runs along the side of the neck
When cut, quick loss of blood, could die within minutes
When cut, rapid bleeding could lead to death within seconds or minutes
When cut, bleeding is rapid, 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, (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, and, for this reason, it is also effective, in assisting a disarm, 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.

Jaime, wielding a stick, and Glenn face off.
Jaime, wielding a stick, and Glenn face off. | Source
Glenn parries the attack
Glenn parries the attack | Source
Glenn grabs Jamie by the wrist
Glenn grabs Jamie by the wrist | Source
Glenn guides the attacking hand down low and brings his other hand to the back of Jamie's hand
Glenn guides the attacking hand down low and brings his other hand to the back of Jamie's hand | Source
Glenn put pressure on the stick and keeps the wrist locked up
Glenn put pressure on the stick and keeps the wrist locked up | Source
Glenn strips the weapon from Jamie's hand
Glenn strips the weapon from Jamie's hand | Source
Alternatively, if the weapon hand ends up in the position with the hand up, Jamie here applies a wrist lock and puts pressure on the weapon against Glenn's thumb
Alternatively, if the weapon hand ends up in the position with the hand up, Jamie here applies a wrist lock and puts pressure on the weapon against Glenn's thumb | Source
Jamie strips the weapon from Glenn's hand
Jamie strips the weapon from Glenn's hand | Source

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, in which the consequences can be so 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, 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


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    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      6 years ago from California, United States of America

      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!

    • Kasman profile image


      6 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      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!

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      7 years ago from California, United States of America

      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.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      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.


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