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Old 02-22-2013, 09:01 PM
IceQube IceQube is offline
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Knife Fighting Grip and Technique

What grip and technique is depicted in this image?

http://i3.minus.com/jbxtxetpVccxyE.png
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:06 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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It's a reverse grip, aka icepick or pakal grip, very loosely held (or the picture was taken before he completed the transition to a firm grip).
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:27 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Too late to edit: as far as what technique, I don't think we can tell from that still, we'd need to see a video. What's that from, anyway? Looks fun.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:55 PM
The Controvert The Controvert is offline
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I haven't seen that episode yet, but it looks like Jim Caviezel from the TV show Person of Interest.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:40 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by pravnik View Post
It's a reverse grip, aka icepick or pakal grip, very loosely held...

It's not a reverse grip, or at least not a standard reverse grip. Or even one that I've ever seen in the real world.

That's a kitchen knife, it's got no guard. The standard, and effective, reverse grip places the thumb on top of the butt on knives like that so that the fingers don't slip over the blade when you stab. That also allows you to punch with the knife hand if needed. On knives with prominent guards all fingers are used to provide a better hold.

That grip has the index finger placed on the butt.

That provides far less protection against the hand slipping when stabbing. It makes it impossible to punch. Most importantly, it restricts the range of motion in the wrist to the point where it becomes effectively impossible to stab or slash forwards .

You can try this yourself. Hold the knife in a reverse grip with the thumb on top of the butt. You will find that you can effectively move the knife through a range from that shown in the photo all the way to 90o from the arm. It's that 90o angle that makes it possible to stab forwards or to draw across the body.

Now try holding the knife as in the photo: with the index finger on the butt. You will find the the best you can manage now is about 45o from the arm. The only way that you can now stab is to bring the point behind the opponent and drag the knife back towards your own body. That's a useful technique, but you sure as hell don't want it to be the only technique you can use. Similarly, the only effective way to draw the blade across the opponent is to swing the forearm almost parallel to the cutting path and follow through with the elbow. Once again, an effective technique but not one that you want to be your only option

So the short answer to the OP is that it's a Hollywood grip. Something made up by a Hollywood choreographer with no experience in actual knife techniques because it looks cool. Or possibly produced because the actor didn't learn what the instructor taught him.

It's not a grip that could be used in the real world.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:57 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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What's the advantage of a reverse grip, anyway? it seems as though it would be inferior to a standard, blade-forward-thumb-on-top grip.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:04 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
It's not a reverse grip, or at least not a standard reverse grip. Or even one that I've ever seen in the real world.
Right, that's why I said it's either a really loosely held reverse grip, or the still was taken as the guy was transitioning the knife to a properly held reverse grip. The only reason I can think of to actually hold a knife like that is if you have your arms down by your side and are trying to hide the knife against your forearm.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:18 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
What's the advantage of a reverse grip, anyway? it seems as though it would be inferior to a standard, blade-forward-thumb-on-top grip.
It is in some ways, as it has less reach than a forward grip, but there are some techniques where it can be very useful, like slashing across the biceps and forearms. If you're brush blocking an opponent's extended arm and trying to slash his bicep as you sidestep past him to the outside, trying to slash the bicep with a forward grip is awkward and hard to do with force, but a reverse grip with the edge out uses similar body mechanics to a punch, has more force behind it and feels more natural.

Last edited by pravnik; 02-23-2013 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:36 PM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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The reverse grip is, quite simply, the strongest hold for a stabbing attack. This could be a crucial factor in a defense situation. Try holding a dummy knife in different grips and try them out against a firm target and you'll see the difference. The rapier hold is actually the weakest, especially with the thumb flexed straight (even if it's braced against a ramp or a nub in the handle.)

BTW, my training with knives is a bit informal. My teachers didn't train me how to fight with a knife; they taught me how to kill with one. It's one of those dopes that I keep at the back of my head.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:07 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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My knife technique is somewhat more theoretical than practiced, but the authorities I can bring to mind deprecate both the "hammer" and "icepick" grips as too limited in range of motion and too easy for even a slightly skilled opponent to block. I can't tell from this picture if the blade wielder is changing grips or using some form of the forearm grip, which strikes me as being useless except in the hands of someone who's practiced the technique extensively. I think it's come into prominence in media the same way the sideways gangsta pistol grip did - because it looks kewl and diff-er-ent, not because it's a realistic, practical or worthy technique.

The proper grip of a knife you intend to do harm with is across the palm, butted against the heel of the hand, and facing forward. All else is for experts with nothing but time to perfect the technique, or idiots.

ETA: One authority I have here on the shelf talks about those who make a cult out of their weapons, especially things like the balasong. His advice when you encounter one of these cultists is not to try to emulate them; he suggests shooting them or running away, not wasting time mastering such a tricky and low-use skill.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 02-23-2013 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:13 PM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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^
I don't doubt your assertion. But personal experience and a lot of case studies got me sold on the ice pick grip.

A bit graphic. But one knife beat 4 AK-47s. BTW, he falls under your definition of an idiot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3LpYN9777U
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:51 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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When I was growing up the prevailing wisdom was that anyone using a reverse grip was undoubtedly showing themselves to be an untrained amateur, but you hear that less and less now. I don't think I've ever met an eskrimador who didn't consider the reverse grip a perfectly acceptable variant, even if they heavily favored a forward grip themselves. At any rate, I'd say comparing the reverse grip to the Hollywood "gangsta style" gun grip goes way, way too far - a considerable number of instructors teach the reverse grip as a valid alternative grip, but I've never met any handgun instructor anywhere teaching a sideways "gangsta style" method of shooting.

Last edited by pravnik; 02-23-2013 at 06:53 PM.
  #13  
Old 02-24-2013, 06:13 AM
SirGalahad SirGalahad is offline
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William Fairbairn and Eric Sykes perfected the British commando knife and developed a very efficient fighting method based on thrusts and slashing. They primarily held the knife in the "rapier" position. What's interesting is that they developed these techniques in Shanghai while serving on the Shanghai Municipal Police Force.

This fascinates me, since Asia is where the reverse grip is favored in many fighting styles. Why would two British commandos suggest confronting the local well established martial knife techniques with what, for all intents and purposes, appears to be a Medieval fighting style?

I've studied several styles of knife fighting, but not to the degree of mastering them, just as a side interest while being involved in Karate. I feel that both grips, forward and reverse, should be combined in any serious attempt to forge a style that can deal with the multitude of Martial Arts that have spread to students and fighters in modern times. Like mixing Western Boxing with Muay Thai, combine the best of both styles ... be prepared for anything.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:01 PM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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When I did Kenpo, it was related that Ed Parker sparred with a veteran LA knife fighter that used the reverse grip with a razor sharp linoleum knife. It was sparring but Ed found the one weakness and that was the guy's empty hand was held too far out from his body and was the vulnerable point.

I remember one wicked move with the reverse grip. It is meant to be hidden - in the palm of your hand and the blade is lucked behind your arm or covered by a sleeve. you can do an upward arcing motion up across someones ribs and pecs/and or upper biceps, and then stab straight back down into the neck and/or clavicle area with tremendous force. One wicked move.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:10 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Originally Posted by SirGalahad View Post
This fascinates me, since Asia is where the reverse grip is favored in many fighting styles. Why would two British commandos suggest confronting the local well established martial knife techniques with what, for all intents and purposes, appears to be a Medieval fighting style?
I admire Fairbairn and Sykes and believe theirs is the root of the most effective knife techniques for general (i.e., not taking a lifetime to master) use. An hour of F/S based training can turn a combatant into an effective wielder; I can't think of any other schools that don't require martial-arts level training and indoctrination to reach effectiveness.

However... asking why two commanders of the empire stuck with European thinking and techniques instead of learning from the natives is self-answering. (Yes, many were more open and respectful than the trope, Fairbairn included IIRC, but still...)
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:57 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
The standard, and effective, reverse grip [/URL]places the thumb on top of the butt on knives like that so that the fingers don't slip over the blade when you stab. That also allows you to punch with the knife hand if needed. On knives with prominent guards all fingers are used to provide a better hold.

That grip has the index finger placed on the butt.

That provides far less protection against the hand slipping when stabbing. It makes it impossible to punch. Most importantly, it restricts the range of motion in the wrist to the point where it becomes effectively impossible to stab or slash forwards .
First of all, while the icepick grip has the thumb atop the butt of the knife, a true reverse grip has the thumb on the spine of the grip or wrapped around the handle depending on the size of knife and hand. The reverse grip has an entire different set of techniques than the icepick, which is primarily a stabbing method, as any attempt to slash would lead tip outward with more of a ripping action. Reverse grip is used with slashing moves and reverse stab, e.g. a 7-slash or z-slash, and requires close-in contact range. The primary advantages of the reverse grip is that the blade is relatively concealed (can be easily hidden by folding it along the forearm) and that it is nearly impossible to disarm someone barehanded if they are using this grip, e.g. you can't "clap" the hand and wrist, forcing them to drop the knife (which is a questionable technique anyway). The disadvantage is that it minimizes the effective range of the knife; you have no more reach than you do with your fist, and so is really only appropriate with shorter blades designed primarily for slashing.

You should never punch with a straight knife in your hand; for one, unless you have a very small-handled knife or a huge hand, you cannot form a proper fist. Also, you are likely to jar or injure you hand and lose grip in the knife. There are specific types of daggers made for punching in which the blade is perpendicular to the handle and the blade protrudes out on a tang that goes between the fingers. You can strike with the pommel (if your knife has one) but really, that makes about as much sense as pistol-whipping someone. It should go without saying that you should also not change grips in mid-fight.

There is no "right" way to effect a grip; each hand and knife is different in the way that it is most comfortably and securely held. That being said, the grip shown on the image shows a grip that does not look very secure. Emulating it with a similar size chef's knife indicates that only the last two fingers have any grip at the bottom, and the finger at the top is not very secure. The actor may have larger hands than mine, but I would have to agree that it is not a grip you would see an expert using.

With regard to the Sykes-Fairbairn method, it is designed specifically for thrusting attacks. There is no question that penetrating thrusts are far more effective than slash attacks at disabling an attacker, but they are only suitable with knives greater than 6" in blade length, and wide-bladed knives may get caught in skeletal structure. These may be impractical to carry in daily use, but then, the standard advice if you expect to get into a confrontation with someone carrying a knife is to bring a gun.

Stranger
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Old 02-24-2013, 03:26 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Incidentally, Fairbairn did have some reverse grip techniques. In his book Get Tough, Fairbairn describes a reverse grip downward thrust between the clavicle and scapula intended to sever the subclavian artery, complete with awesome diagram of an about to be stabbed Nazi in the last moments of his life. If I ever were win the lottery I'd love to get an authentic Fairbairn Sykes commando knife, but they vary greatly in quality, cost in the thousands, and can be really difficult to tell from frauds and replicas, even to an expert.

Last edited by pravnik; 02-24-2013 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 02-24-2013, 03:32 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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NM - double post

Last edited by pravnik; 02-24-2013 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:18 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Originally Posted by pravnik View Post
If I ever were win the lottery I'd love to get an authentic Fairbairn Sykes commando knife, but they vary greatly in quality, cost in the thousands, and can be really difficult to tell from frauds and replicas, even to an expert.
I have a B2 that's been authenticated; I prize it because the B2s were made in early wartime England and I can hear the faint rumble of bombs whenever I handle it. I've had it for close to 35 years now and bought it from the son of the man who brought it home.

Unfortunately, the prior owner polished it up considerably, making a bit of a canvas purse from a sow's ear of it. (The blade is slightly asymmetrical, and the knurling of the handle is overlapped and tool-scarred, like most B2s - so polishing the bluing off really didn't add much.) I got it fairly cheaply as a result.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 02-24-2013 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:35 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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That is so, so incredibly cool.

While we're talking lottery winning wish lists, I'd like to own a V42, too, but they're so rare I'd settle for just seeing one.
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:04 AM
SirGalahad SirGalahad is offline
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Originally Posted by NitroPress View Post
I admire Fairbairn and Sykes and believe theirs is the root of the most effective knife techniques for general (i.e., not taking a lifetime to master) use. An hour of F/S based training can turn a combatant into an effective wielder; I can't think of any other schools that don't require martial-arts level training and indoctrination to reach effectiveness.

However... asking why two commanders of the empire stuck with European thinking and techniques instead of learning from the natives is self-answering. (Yes, many were more open and respectful than the trope, Fairbairn included IIRC, but still...)
My question regards the well known controversy regarding fighting styles. Many, especially younger Martial Artists, have come to believe that fighting fire with fire is the wrong approach; they will counter boxing with Judo or Muay Thai with Jui-Jitsu.

A more traditional view is to match style to style, within reason, sort of a "rapier vs rapier, saber vs saber" philosophy. Most of the Western stylists I know, though they may have learned some exotic techniques, tend to match styles with an opponent and are more comfortable resorting to a "foreign" style only if they are confronted with that style. Most of my wrestler friends will wrestle traditionally for a Westerner, until somebody starts with the Judo, then it's Judo all the way.

So, I would have predicted that expert hand-to-hand stylists like Fairbairn and Sykes would have immersed themselves in the fighting culture of China and nearby South Asian traditions, and come up with their own version of Wushu, Wudang, Kali, etc. specifically for the convenience of matching style to style in a confrontation with Asian knife wielders.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:06 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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I remember I first noticed the reverse grip in the Steve Segal movie Under Siege - where oddly, the fight also took place in a kitchen, IIRC between him and Tommy Lee Jones. It looked cool and wildly different at the time.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:56 PM
fiddlesticks fiddlesticks is offline
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Just to confirm that was the 2/14/13 episode of Person of Interest (season 2, episode 15 "Booked Solid"). It does not end well for the non-Jim Caviezel character (who is a rare equal challenge for the Caviezel's Reese), though not fatally badly.

Last edited by fiddlesticks; 02-26-2013 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:04 PM
fiddlesticks fiddlesticks is offline
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Just to confirm that was the 2/14/13 episode of Person of Interest (season 2, episode 15 "Booked Solid"). It does not end well for the non-Jim Caviezel character (who is a rare equal challenge for the Caviezel's Reese), though not fatally badly.
Missed the edit window: For those who haven't seen the show, Reese is a god-level ex-special forces type, who generally makes easy work of most non-trained opponents. The person he was fighting in the kitchen was another apparent ex-special forces operator who was out to kill him. So the fight was supposed to depict two highly trained opponents using what's available to them.

Last edited by fiddlesticks; 02-26-2013 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:59 PM
IceQube IceQube is offline
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Would throwing the knife at the center of mass of the opponent also work, especially if the knife were a heavy butcher's knife?
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:09 PM
IceQube IceQube is offline
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Missed the edit window: For those who haven't seen the show, Reese is a god-level ex-special forces type,
God-level fuck yeah. Shot a baker's dozen times in the chest at close range with an automatic weapon and back 20 minutes later in the episode to kick more villain ass.
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Old 02-27-2013, 05:21 PM
Clothahump Clothahump is online now
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Rules for using martial arts to defend against a knife:

1. Run away.
2. When in doubt, see rule #1.
3. If you get here, you're in deep kimchi. You're gonna get cut and all you can do is try to minimize the damage you take and maximize the damage you do to him.
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Old 02-27-2013, 06:06 PM
LawMonkey LawMonkey is offline
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Originally Posted by Clothahump View Post
Rules for using martial arts to defend against a knife:

1. Run away.
2. When in doubt, see rule #1.
3. If you get here, you're in deep kimchi. You're gonna get cut and all you can do is try to minimize the damage you take and maximize the damage you do to him.
By strange coincidence, these are also the rules for how to win a knife fight (other than "bring a gun to it").
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Old 02-27-2013, 06:54 PM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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The above rules are a bit too universal. For those with slightly more training than the average Jose:

1. Don't duel with him. THROW your knife at him. And then pull out a second knife.
2. Throw your second knife. And then pull out a gun.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:23 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Those are all good. I would add these that I've heard over the years:

1. You don't "win" a knife fight any more than you "win" an earthquake. You survive an earthquake and survive somebody assaulting you with a knife. If you have to use a knife yourself, you didn't have a "knife fight," you stopped somebody from murdering you.
2. That said, you're going to get cut.
3a. That said, winners drip, losers gush.
3b. (restated) Winners go to ICU, losers go to the morgue.
3c. (restated) Winners go to the hospital, losers go to the cemetery.
4. If you have to cut, be first. The first cut always counts.

Last edited by pravnik; 02-27-2013 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:42 PM
SirGalahad SirGalahad is offline
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Originally Posted by the_diego View Post
The above rules are a bit too universal. For those with slightly more training than the average Jose:

1. Don't duel with him. THROW your knife at him. And then pull out a second knife.
2. Throw your second knife. And then pull out a gun.
If you have a gun, pull it first!, But seriously, don't ever throw your knife, then you'll be unarmed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pravnik View Post
Those are all good. I would add these that I've heard over the years:

1. You don't "win" a knife fight any more than you "win" an earthquake. You survive an earthquake and survive somebody assaulting you with a knife. If you have to use a knife yourself, you didn't have a "knife fight," you stopped somebody from murdering you.
2. That said, you're going to get cut.
3a. That said, winners drip, losers gush.
3b. (restated) Winners go to ICU, losers go to the morgue.
3c. (restated) Winners go to the hospital, losers go to the cemetery.
4. If you have to cut, be first. The first cut always counts.
Not necessarily. I've pinned a guy's arm (holding a knife) to the wall with a barstool and managed to clobber him without getting cut.

That said, I've been cut about a dozen times or so, so your 90% right.

The old westerns had guys like the Rifleman rolling a jacket up around his left hand to catch the opponents blade for long enough to fight back. That works surprisingly well.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:50 PM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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Originally Posted by SirGalahad View Post
If you have a gun, pull it first!, But seriously, don't ever throw your knife, then you'll be unarmed.
Some styles (like Sayoc Cali) advocate carrying 3, as many as 5 knives concealed. But as a disclaimer, Sayoc guys are not trained to spin their knives all the time. Thrown-and-lost is not a good strategy in knife fighting.
Quote:
The old westerns had guys like the Rifleman rolling a jacket up around his left hand to catch the opponents blade for long enough to fight back. That works surprisingly well.
And then there are bowies with a brass strip wrapped around the spine of the blade to catch the other guy's edge. Not sure if it works.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:07 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Not necessarily. I've pinned a guy's arm (holding a knife) to the wall with a barstool and managed to clobber him without getting cut.
It's not a statement of statistical probability or certainty, it's a rule of safety along the lines of always assuming a gun is loaded. If you're facing down a knife, you cannot safely assume that you will pull off the kickass bloodless knife disarm you've successfully executed a thousand times in training. Your default mindset has to be that if you engage a knife that you are going to get cut.
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:03 AM
SirGalahad SirGalahad is offline
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Originally Posted by pravnik View Post
It's not a statement of statistical probability or certainty, it's a rule of safety along the lines of always assuming a gun is loaded. If you're facing down a knife, you cannot safely assume that you will pull off the kickass bloodless knife disarm you've successfully executed a thousand times in training. Your default mindset has to be that if you engage a knife that you are going to get cut.
It's a great rule of thumb, and a sober warning. I want to clarify one thing, though ... in the above scenario, I was NOT in a knife fight! I had no knife, I just tended to hang out in rough places where every so often, someone would try to attack an employee or patron with any number of weapons. I've been hit with pool queues, broken bottles, full bottles, and shot at (missed). Also, kicked by steel toed boots, that's fun.

Kids, try real hard to stay out of knife fights. Or any fights. Eventually, usually sooner, you get hurt badly.
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