A while back my wife and I got some training on using knives in a self-defense situation. While the instruction was very useful and informative, something about that class has stuck with me and bothered me. The instructor recommended a knife hanging around a lanyard on his neck as the best option for a bladed self-defense tool. I’m going to disagree.
The kind of knife that the instructor recommended was something along the lines of the one in the picture below.
As a tool to use once in a while if you are doing a task that requires a blade to be kept handy this might be fine. But I personally would not consider this a viable option for self-defense. One of the things we train for in self-defense is being able to reach your tools without having to look at them, or grope around for them. If you think about the training that you have done with a pistol for self-defense, when you draw the pistol from the holster, it is always in the same place, regardless of your body’s orientation. With a knife like this one, if you get into a self-defense situation and that knife has managed to sit comfortably between your shoulder blades from the running, fighting, capoeira, or jazzercise that you have been doing, that knife is useless to you. If you are moving and need to get your knife instead of your gun for any reason, and you are wearing a knife like this, it will invariably bounce from side to side hunting for your armpits as you move, making it nearly impossible to get a hold of it, forcing you to slow your movement in order to get a positive grip on it. Another issue is that unless that lanyard has some kind of breakaway feature, we have now provided any potential assailant a noose to use against us. If it does have a breakaway feature, it isn’t any better. Now with a firm yank that tool that we thought we would have for self-defense has become someone else’s tool to use against us.
For all of our other self-defense tools, we always make sure that they are stationary on our person and any change in our orientation does not change where that item is. We keep our pistols at our waist, and even if we hanging from our ankles over a pedestrian bridge like a wannabe Batman that pistol is still at our waist. Same with spare magazines, IFAK, flashlight and so on. So why would we risk it with dangling a potentially crucial piece of self-defense gear around our necks? To be fair, this is nothing against the knife itself, but in the way it is carried. Ideally this same knife would be kept in that same sheath, but attached to our belt instead. Fixed blade knives at our waist are the best option for bladed self-defense tools. A folding knife with a clip that goes in your pocket is probably second best. My wife and I both carry a folding karambit knife in our pockets, clipped to the lip of the our pocket. While they are inconspicuous and quick to deploy, there is always the chance that it doesn’t deploy fully, or that the lock mechanism fails, and the blade will close on our fingers while we are struggling with an attacker. Even with that being the case, I don’t have to grope around for it like a clumsy teenager in the back seat of mom’s minivan trying to get to second base if I ever need it. The best option is a fixed blade at your belt. The next best option is a folding and locking blade at your belt. The worst option, which is so bad I don’t even know why it even is one, is a blade around your neck.
For things to wear around your neck pick something else like dog tags, clip on ties, those little glow stick things that wannabe ravers are wearing at 6 a.m. in Denny’s after spending all night at SXSW, or a locket with a picture of your favorite porn star hidden away inside. Don’t wear a knife around your neck, it’s a bad idea.