Target Focus Training’s Tim Larkin on How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker Carrying a Knife

by Raymond Horwitz Photo by Robert Reiff

Target Focus Training’s Tim Larkin on How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker Carrying a Knife“[Target Focus Training deals primarily with] asocial violence,” says Tim Larkin, the Black Belt Hall of Fame Self-Defense Instructor of the Year. “[Asocial violence] refers to those rare instances in which you need to respond with violence; if you don’t you’re essentially participating in your own murder.” And thus begins another lesson in how to defend yourself from an attacker from the recently controversial Tim Larkin, founder of the fighting system known as Target Focus Training.

In this exclusive video, this expert in the instruction of self-defense moves delves into how to defend yourself against an attacker wielding a knife using close-range fighting techniques to your tactical advantage.

“We’ve got tons and tons of video of [military and law-enforcement] officers doing exactly what they’re trained to do,” Tim Larkin says. “Exactly what they’re trained to do is go for their tool base — and rightfully so. Often times they’ll be working their way up the force continuum. They’ll try to get distance. They’re going to get to their pepper spray first. [If] that doesn’t work, they’ll try to get to their baton.

“If they can’t [get the baton], though, they’ll pull out the firearm — and all done at [very close range], [so] there’s all sorts of other things that could control the situation as fast as the tool.”

Tim Larkin on How Target Focus Training Aims to Turn the Human Body Into a Weapon

“We teach people to do the work of a firearm, meaning we want to learn how to do [ the work of a bullet] with our human body,” Tim Larkin says. “We want to destroy tissue, we want to break things on the human body that we can break. [We want to replicate the forces] of humans colliding with each other or human colliding with the planet. I don’t need a tool in order to do that — especially this close.

“Sometimes the worst thing I can do with [an attacker] is go to get distance. He may have a knife I don’t even know about yet. All of a sudden, I realize this is ‘on,’ and [when I go] to get distance [it] gives him plenty of room [to stab me].”

Tim Larkin, standing toe-to-toe with his attacker, moves away about a foot. This opens up room for his training partner to simulate a stab with his training knife. Such a situation is exactly what might happen as a civilian or even a military or law-enforcement officer tries to create space to draw a weapon that is higher up the use-of-force continuum ladder. Instead of using one’s arm to push oneself away from the attacker (or push the attacker away from them), Tim Larkin recommends pushing a strike with one’s forearm into the attacker’s throat. This not only creates space but injures the attacker at one of his vital points, setting up an extra split-second for appropriate deployment of your own knife or even a firearm.

How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker at Close Range Using Target Focus Training Tactics

“Everything I want is [at close range],” Tim Larkin says. “I’ve got top of the foot. I can bust his ear if I wanted to. I can break his ankle. It’s all right there as long as I know what I’m doing. If I think [a gun I’m carrying] is the weapon, I’m screwed. The only weapon you have is your brain. Everything else is a tool. I don’t need this to be effective. If I pull this weapon and I drop it, I [can still attack with my hands].

“Guys who survive violence are guys who think [along these lines]. And that’s all we’re trying to show people: This is how you train in a low-stress way so it’s there for you when you need it. And then you up to the stress levels. When we [train], we’ll do every sort of distraction there is. But I won’t do that until you’ve got your basic strikes keyed in and you know where to put [them]. It’s useless for me to stress you out if you don’t know what to do. It’ll just cause chaos and fear.”

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