Stabbing vs. Cutting
Ok, after some of the commentary on knife defense and what not in Your Martial Art Sucks I got to thinking on something I have pretty much always taken for granted.
Thrusting with the knife is inherently more lethal than cutting.
I have pretty much always believed the above statement to be true just because I was told it was. Is anyone aware of an empirical study that shows one way or the other?
"inherently" is a strong word, but it's probably more true than false. I've never heard of anyone trying to study it scientifically, and I don't know how you could, really. How would you control? Would you survey incidents of knife attacks? If you did, how would you control it so that you were comparing apples to apples?
If we're talking about the chest, for instance, then stabbing would be much more likely to be lethal, as cutting the chest with most knives won't even get through the ribs. If the throat, I don't know. Cutting might be lethal more of the time there; hard for me to have an informed opinion. If extremities, I would venture to guess that more people die of blood loss from large cuts than from thrusts.
I would say that thrusts tend to be aimed into the vitals while cuts are often applied in less-vital places.
The most horrific injuries I have ever seen were generally caused by slashes from stanley knives/bayonets etc as you get wide open wounds with fat/muscle/tissue hanging out, and lots of small blood vessels damaged. but these injuries were, in the words of a medical proffesional, 'relatively superficial'
however both fatal stabbings I have had the misfortune to go to were relatively neat puncture wounds that went several inches under the surface and through arteries, lungs, hearts, ribs... its was only at the PMs that you realise how much damage is done....
I don't know of any formal studies done on it, but I believe that to be true. I think most cuts are relatively superficial but getting stabbed is likely to jack things up in a way that is not easily repaired.
I would like to point out the time stamp of the two above posts. I'm wasnt being redundant :P
You attack different targets differently. You take what you can get. That said, a stab is going to be more penetrative (SP?) than a cut. It will also generally be easier to do than a cut, on a timing/distancing standpoint. But if I had my druthers, I would go for the chop or hack.
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From a training perspective, most Kalistas (Eskrimadors, Arnis(is)?) would say that every slash should have a slash and every slash a thrust.
As for the lethality of the slash, a straight cut is generally less severe than an angled one. Why do you trim flowers at an angle? To keep the ends of the cut from closing up. An angled cut of a blood vessel is much harder for the body to repair than a straight slice.
To reiterate what was said above, a lot depends on the target.
Originally Posted by Canuckyokushin
Hit an organ and you get results. That is tough to do with a cut.
Lungs. Heart. Liver. Kidney.
It may take some time but without medical attention that person is going to die.
It takes a while to bleed out from a cut wound. Unless you hit a major artery with a cut the victim will probably survive even without medical attention. You may slice through a tendon, such as the wrist/forearm and make it unusable. But the overall stopping power of a slash is less.
With a stab wound look for dark blood and sucking/wheezing sounds. That means you hit money.
Part of the reason for the danger of stabbing v slashing is penetration. Unless someone is using a very sharp knife (with a good amount of weight), it's tough to slash deeply. Slashes will bleed a lot, but as said above it's superficial. That's one reason why people tend to survive slashed throats (as opposed to stabs to the neck) - lack of penetration. Further, things like clothing can help cut down (pardon the pun) on penetration as well in the case of slashes.
Stabbing, on the otherhand, brings a lot more body weight to bare on the action. And, as noted above, it's a case where a little depth can go a long way towards making you dead.
On a side note, I've been anecdotally told (by a kali and police instructor) that the general knife attack pattern (if such a thing exists) is two to three slash passes followed by concerted stabbing attempts. Anyone ever here anything like this? I have not had a chance to get back with that instructor to quiz him further on this.
This is something that is often discussed/debated in historical fencing circles as well. Virtually all of the dagger techniques from the 14th/15th/16th centuries are stabbing (thrusting) attacks and counters to those types of attack. This is probably due partly to the type of weapon being used, often a "rondel" style dagger, optimized for thrusting, and the heavy wool clothing of Europeans of the period. However, even when daggers that obviously have a cutting edge are depicted, the predominance of thrusting is still there. I really believe this is due to the "inherent" stopping/killing power of the thrust. Cutting can lead to severe bleeding, etc. if you cut deeply, but can also be difficult through even moderate clothing. A deep thrust is more likely to damage a vital organ and cause the kind of injury that is difficult to survive. I'm afraid I can't back any of this up with any data right now, but I'll keep looking.
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