My interest in empty-hand defenses against knives goes back to my earliest training in the martial arts back in the early 1970’s. At that time, I was studying American Self-Protection (ASP)—a hybrid system that included elements of judo, aikido, Savate, and Western boxing. About halfway through the rank progression to black belt, we started learning defenses against knife attacks. At first, it was cool, but as some of the more serious students and I began to “turn up the heat” and make our training more realistic, the counter-knife techniques quickly fell apart. That failure prompted my interest in learning how to use knives as weapons and fueled a lifelong quest for a practical, reliable, easy-to-learn system of unarmed defenses against knives. I never found the solution to that problem in any existing system, so I created it in the form of Counter-Blade Concepts (CBC).

During the decades of training I’ve done since my early ASP days, my approach to counter-knife skills progressively got better and more complete. However, it wasn’t until the tragic events of September 11, 2001 that I really focused intently on codifying and organizing them into a logical system. Consistent with the paradigm shift that Martial Blade Concepts (MBC) experienced around that time (switching from drill-focused training to an application-focused approach), I structured CBC to focus intently on the reality of “the problem.” In other words, CBC had to work against real knife attacks, so defining the characteristics of the most common types of attacks had to be the first priority.

At the time I systematized CBC, I was teaching under the sponsorship of the Spyderco knife company at their headquarters in Golden, CO. When we added CBC to the four-level MBC curriculum I was teaching at that time, it fell at the end of the skill progression. In other words, all the early CBC students already had a strong foundation in MBC, so it made sense to use their MBC knowledge as a foundation. For example, the first phase of CBC—Deflect and Counter—was based on the use of MBC-style live-hand deflections paired with dominant-hand eye strikes. The first CBC instructional video, which I produced with Paladin Press and released in 2006, reflected this approach and basically treated MBC skill as a prerequisite for learning CBC.

As news of the CBC curriculum began to spread, I began to get inquiries about CBC training from other interested parties—especially in the law enforcement community. When I started teaching CBC as a stand-alone course, I realized that I needed to streamline the curriculum and not rely on a prerequisite MBC knowledge base. During that streamlining effort, I focused my own training very heavily on CBC and, in the process, achieved some quantum leaps in the efficiency of CBC technique that were distinctly different from some of the tactics I taught in the Paladin Press video. Through my ongoing analysis of videos of actual knife attacks, I also decided that CBC’s training focus should address attacks in the order of their likelihood, not in the numerical order of the angles of attack as they are commonly taught. Through months of intensive R&D with my private students, I also refined and perfected the defining tactic of CBC—the Compression Lock.

Although I was very pleased with the evolution of the CBC system, I knew I had something really special when I began to receive inquiries from law enforcement and corrections officers who were dissatisfied with the counter-knife training they were getting and looked to CBC for something better. When they began to embrace CBC as their go-to counter-knife system, I was extremely honored. When they began to report back to me that CBC was in fact saving officers’ (and civilian) lives, I knew it was time to produce an up-to-date video that taught the improved, evolved version of the curriculum. That video is Counter-Blade Concepts: Street-Proven Tactics to Survive a Knife Attack from Stay Safe Media. In simple terms, this is the video I wish I had 40 years ago when I wanted to learn how to defend myself against a knife attack. It’s the answer to one of my biggest fears. It’s also one of my proudest accomplishments.

Stay safe,

Michael D. Janich