There's something particularly brutal about the machete. Designed initially as a farming tool, in the hands of an attacker it's a deadly weapon. A combination of axe and blade, capable of inflicting a massive amount of damage to anyone standing in their way.
It's also a piece of gear that's easy to get hold of. And one that's going to find its way into most people's bug out bags. In an uprising or a SHTF event, the machete has proven time and time again to be the weapon of choice for those without access to firearms. Being both easy to use while readily available, it's an easy choice.
But the trouble comes when you're facing an opponent with a machete.
One swing and you could lose an arm, or be cut that deep you bleed out before you can get help. With enough strength, a sharp machete can even be used to behead an opponent. Think about that for a second. It's like an axe and a knife had a baby, and in the hands of your attacker it is a devastating weapon. Fighting back is indeed a dangerous move.
Defuse the situation
My first recommendation is to try and diffuse the situation. Perhaps your opponent only wants your wallet, or the food in your pack. Hand it over without question. Stay calm, and do what they say. No matter what, getting into a fight with someone armed with a machete is dangerous, and you never know how it's going to end. You can replace food. But a critical wound could prove fatal, especially in a SHTF situation. The only caveat here is if you suspect the attacker wants to harm or assault you. That's when you need to fight back.
Run the other way
They always say the best defense is a good offense, and if you're unarmed against a machete-wielding attacker, my next advice is to run. One hit will cut deep into your flesh, and you'll go down, probably for good. So, size up your opponent, and if you can surprise them by fleeing, do it. Just make sure you're running towards an area with other people, and you don't trap yourself in an alley or a remote location because that's not going to end well. Drop everything and run as fast as you can.
Find a shield
Every strike you take from a machete could be fatal. If you do need to fight back, the first thing you need to find is a makeshift shield. Use a backpack full of textbooks, find a trashcan lid, or pick up anything that you can use to take the brunt of each blow. Be careful of your fingers, these will get severed if they take the hit, and hold tight to your shield. You're not looking to do anything except stopping the machete from hitting you. The only advice here I can give is to look for something solid, a broomstick or anything wooden is likely only to shatter when hit.
Fight back with fury
Now comes the important part. Against an opponent with a machete, you want to keep your distance, but you also need to fight back if you want to survive. This would be the perfect time to draw your concealed carry firearm, or unload a can of pepper spray into their face so you can escape. But I get that's not always possible. Instead, look for anything you can use to fight from a distance or gain the upper hand.
A broomstick (or similar) may not hold up well as a defensive shield, but if you can smash their hand or wrist that's holding the machete so they drop it, you've now got the advantage. Especially if you can pick up the machete and use it yourself. So aim for their arms, and not the machete. You could also target sensitive spots on the body like the throat, eyes, and temple. Whatever it takes to remove the threat of your opponents weapon.
A brick (or similar) can be thrown to give you a chance to charge in and disarm your opponent. This is highly risky, but if they can't get a good swing you're much more likely to survive the initial contact. Look for whatever you can to close the gap and remove the advantage the machete gives your attacker. Even a handful of dust can provide vital seconds, and once your close use a knife or a strikepen to inflict a massive amount of damage and win the fight.
Using a machete yourself
If you manage to overpower your opponent and get hold of the machete yourself, knowing how to use it to fight back is also smart. Grip the handle tight, and strike with an angled downward motion. The trick is to put force into your strikes without overcommitting, while targeting large, meaty areas of the body that aren't possible to dodge. Like the neck and shoulders, the torso, or the legs.
Surviving an encounter with a machete-wielding maniac comes down to you. If you can diffuse the situation or escape, that's definitely your best option. Fighting back requires a way to shield yourself from the strikes, and a weapon that you can use effectively with a little range. Once you get in close you'll need to end the fight fast, so make sure you've got the appropriate self-defense items in your everyday carry.
You never know when you might need it.