Knife combat is lethal. Almost anywhere a knife strikes the body, the blow can kill. Knives are debilitating, the first cut is used to distract (with pain) cut tendons, muscles, or ligaments to stall and create openings for more deadly blows.
Knife combat is fast. Because of the highly lethal nature of the knife or dagger, fights are over in a few blows. Often, they are over in one or two and the first one to land the blow wins. The second (non-weaponized) hand is used for blocking and controlling the opponent to create openings for the knife strikes.
Knife fighting happens in extremely close quarters. Unlike swords where there’s some distance, knife combat happens in the fist/grappling range around the body. It starts close and it ends closer. A character who learns knife fighting won’t be ashamed of getting up close and personal with someone else, even if their intention is not killing.
It’s very difficult not to kill someone with knife fighting and even characters who don’t know what they’re doing with knives will have their killing power greatly enhanced by them.
When she’s being trained, however, she won’t be using the real thing. She’ll be using what’s called a “trainer” which is a blunted or dull knife that allows the student to practice their techniques without risk of injury to themselves, their fellow students, or their instructors. Her training will be carefully supervised by her instructors and she will be trained to have a very strong respect for her weapon(s) as well as the damage they can cause.
While she may be trained to dual wield, it’s more likely she’ll begin by learning to use just one. Though two knives double up on force, they lose the ability to block and disarm as easily as an open hand.
Develop a comprehensive understanding of anatomy. She will be trained to strike towards specific places on the body, so it’s important to know where the arteries are, what the muscles do, where the nerves are located, etc. Knife fighting focuses on causing as much damage as possible via pinpoint strikes. They can slash, strike, cut, etc.
Learn or develop the laws underlying the culture she lives in. Knowledge of violence and fighting comes with a high premium, so know what she’s risking by learning to fight. Remember, knife fighting or even just self-defense with a knife will upgrade your status under the law in a way that hand to hand combat doesn’t. Aggravated Assault, Assault With A Deadly, and Manslaughter could all be possible charges she could face for her actions. So, understand the society’s rules and incorporate them into your story.
Remember, she knows how to use the knife, she brought the knife with her. Local officials will know she was looking to kill someone when she gets caught. So, beware.
Michael Janich, Stay Safe Media I recommend going through his Martial Blade Concepts videos as a primer for self-defense knife tactics, all the videos have a longer instructional DVD that can be purchased from the website if you feel you need more instruction or ideas. He’s a good instructor and knowledgeable about his subject. His instruction is always focused on using the weapon in a real world environment and that’s what will make the lessons invaluable for you. So, check him out.