The 2011 SHOT Show was a great success on many fronts. And although most SHOT Show debriefs focus on cool new products, the highlight of my show was meeting a very resilient, articulate young lady who shared a very personal story with me.

It was close to the end of the day when this lady and her significant other came to visit me at the Spyderco law enforcement booth. Her boyfriend shook my hand first and thanked me for the instructional DVDs I’ve produced. I thanked him for his kind words, but quickly realized that his appreciation was much more than a casual comment. Showing genuine emotion, he explained that the information I presented on my DVDs saved his girlfriend’s life.

Needless to say, I was very humbled and very curious to know the details of the story. After meeting the young lady, I asked them to come back to the booth the next morning to share the story. They politely agreed.

The next morning, they returned and I invited the lady into the booth to sit and talk. After we sat, she took a deep breath and told me her story:

She explained that about 10 years ago, she was attacked and sexually assaulted. Although she knew the identity of the attacker and reported the incident to the police, due to the mishandling of evidence and a number of other factors, her attacker was not prosecuted.

In the years following the incident, her attacker began to stalk her. Once again, the police were of little help, so she chose to relocate and hopefully avoid further problems. To her credit, she chose to establish her new home in a state that permitted the concealed carry of firearms. She dutifully completed the necessary paperwork and sought out responsible training in defensive shooting skills.

Unfortunately, before she could complete her personal-defense preparations, her stalker tracked her down and attacked her a second time. During this attack, he threw her against a wall and shattered her shoulder, inflicting injuries that still plague her to this day. Yet again, law enforcement efforts were inadequate and her stalker remained on the street.

During this time, this lady met her boyfriend, who trained actively in all aspects of self-defense. In addition to formal hands-on courses, he supplemented his training with instructional DVDs—including the Personal Firearm Defense series produced by my friend Rob Pincus and marketed to the NRA membership. Among the videos included in this series was my DVD Practical Blade Defense.

Acknowledging that carry of a firearm isn’t always possible, the couple watched my DVD intently, invested in proper training equipment, and diligently practiced the skills presented in the video. They also invested in high-quality carry knives as back-up/alternate weapons to their handguns.

In 2010, the lady’s stalker decided to attacker her again. He had tracked her to her new home, in a new state. One evening, after she was returning home from the gym, which had a strict no-firearms policy, she was not carrying her firearm. However she did have her knife. When she turned the corner of her building, her stalker was waiting, having just left dead roses and a note on her doorstep. He confronted her and insisted that the two of them were destined to “be together.” She ordered him to stay back while she reflexively bladed her body to him to protect her injured shoulder and deploy her knife. Undeterred, the stalker lunged forward to attack. Remembering that the ultimate goal of self-defense is safe escape and that the best way to achieve that with a knife is through a “mobility kill,” this lady crouched low and attacked the stalker’s right thigh, just above the knee. Using all her strength, she cut deeply, severing the stalker’s quadriceps muscle and dropping him instantly to the ground.

After escaping safely and calling 911, she returned to the scene with the police. There was a significant pool of blood and it appeared that her attacker had lain there for some time before he was able to hobble away. Sadly, he is still at large.

It should be noted that the knife used in her defense was an assisted-opening folding knife with a 3.5-inch blade. She did not recall the exact model, and the knife was later lost during travel. It should also be noted that the attacker was approximately 6’ 4” tall, nearly 300 pounds, and very physically powerful.

In an e-mail she sent to me after the show, this brave lady offered the following words:

“I wanted to again take a moment to thank you for the training video you produced and how it played a significant role in me still being here (alive) today. The techniques you demonstrated and the manner in which you presented the knowledge were easy to retain and remember in a stressful situation. [My boyfriend] (whom you met as well) took the time to teach and practice your techniques with me before we sat together and watched the video. Those skills are what kept me from being a victim again in a very bad situation that is on-going in my life.

I appreciate you taking the time and wanting to hear my story and get my feedback on your materials. I am a true testament to being a survivor and not a victim. If there is anything I can do to assist you or attest to the viability and necessity of your training please let me know. I would be happy to help.”

Those words—and the fact that my instruction helped this lady survive a potentially deadly situation—mean more to me than anything else I’ve accomplished in the martial arts. I am incredibly proud of her and extremely grateful for her confidence in the MBC system and our teaching methodology. I sincerely hope that her skills, determination, and amazing will to survive continue to keep her safe always.

Michael Janich