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5 Tips for Defense Against an Axe Attack Like in Germany

Just recently in Germany, an axe-wielding assailant struck four people on a train. So, if someone came swinging a bludgeon at you, would you know what to do?

God forbid that you should ever be attacked by an armed assailant. But if someone is coming at you with a baseball bat or a golf club, remember that one blow from bludgeons like those could be lethal if struck in the head. So what do you do?

I know, many people will say, “Pull out your gun and shoot him.” Yes, do that … IF you are legally carrying and are properly trained and have the time to actually pull your gun out of your holster. But attackers have been known to cover ground faster than people can draw their guns. So, if you are unarmed, what do you do?

Here are five tips:

1. Run!

Always my first choice. If you want to practice self-defense skills, better start practicing your running. Get out of there as quickly as possible.

However, I understand you may be on a crowded train like the case in Germany. Someone has a collapsible steel baton and they deploy it. You can’t run away. You believe you must defend yourself and others. What then?

2. Intercept the weapon.

The weakness of someone swinging a blunt object like a club or bat is that the attacker must chamber the weapon. That is, they must “cock” it by drawing it back to their head before swinging it. Your job is to stay out of the arc while the attacker tries to make contact. You can stay out of the swing so that the bat misses you.

But you cannot do that forever. If you are to disarm the assailant, you must leap into him and get close enough so that his swing will not hit you. You must “jam” his arms and you can wrap yours around him.

The time to leap in is when he has finished a swing (and missed), or while he is retracting the bludgeon in preparation for a strike. When you move in to intercept– make sure both of your arms are blocking his arm; one arm alone will not be strong enough to intercept his arm.

Next: What to do with the weapon after you intercept it?

3. Control the weapon.

YouTube screenshot of a martial arts instructor teaching how to dodge and neutralize a baseball bat attack.

YouTube screenshot of a martial arts instructor teaching how to dodge and neutralize a baseball bat attack.

As soon as my two forearms strike the outside of his arm (his forearm, upper arm), immediately wrap your arm that is farthest away from his head over his arms. Continue the wrapping motion until your arm has completely surrounded his arms, and then grasp his arm that is closest to you.

His wrists should be in your armpits. (If not, just do the best you can to keep your arms over his, preventing him from swinging or retracting the weapon.)  Bring your elbow close to your body. This move will trap his arms next to your body. If he is swinging with only one arm, do the exact same technique.

Sammy Franco’s DVD “Batter Up– Defending Against Baseball Bat Attacks” offers the best step-by-step instruction on this technique. Here is a sneak preview of his DVD.

Watch carefully and you will see him stop the batter’s arms, “overwrap” with his arms, and then attack with his “free hand.” (Get the DVD!)

Here is another video that clearly illustrates how to charge in before they begin their swing and trap the attacker’s arm(s). Warning: this video contains plenty of vulgar language. Turn the volume down if that bothers you. But the instruction is right on:

Nick Drossos shows us defense against a short stick/club in this video:

And just one more. I always enjoy Shane Fazen’s FightTIPS videos. Here’s his take on defending against a blunt object:

Once you’ve controlled the weapon, what do you do?

4. Disarm the attacker.

There is an old saying in martial arts: “Closest weapon, closest target.” Take the closest weapon you have at this point (your hand that is closest to his head) and use it with violent or even lethal strikes.

Jam your fingers into his eyes. Or send a powerful knife hand strike into his throat. You can follow up with knee strikes, head butts, elbows to the jaw, bite him if you absolutely have to, but whatever you do make sure they are crippling blows.

Remember, he was trying to kill you with that weapon. He’s not going to go away easily. You must strike him repeatedly and powerfully until he is down on the ground and no longer a threat.

5. Attacks from above your head.

If someone is swinging a bat or club directly down on top of your head (not a normal strike, but certainly possible), you must defend yourself in a slightly different way.

Instead of leaping in with two forearms to intercept the blow, move forward diagonally to the attacker. Move towards him and off at an angle as his blow is coming down. Your block is not to stop the downward swing but rather to deflect it away from you at an angle. Once the weapon is past your head, follow up with the “wrap” of his arm(s) and ferocious strikes to his eyes and/or throat.

If someone has an axe, you have the added danger of a blade protruding from the handle. However, if you jump in fast enough, you will be able to jam his arms BEFORE he begins his swing. Follow up with the “wrap,” and strike as you would against a baseball bat or golf club.

Hopefully, you will never have to use any of this instruction. But this world is increasingly dangerous. If you are serious about self defense against these weapons, get a partner, get a plastic baseball bat, and start training. You’ll fight like you train!