Knife grips, push daggers and getting the point forward

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Christopher 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • #5288


    So I like to experiment with knife grips. I figure it’s best to be able to use one however you pick it up. But I’m also curious about the advantages and disadvantages inherent to each grip.

    Hammer grip allows a hard stab and is thus what most criminals use, but in a fight, you’re probably going to want to use it with a straight (unbroken) wrist to make it most natural and minimize injury to yourself. This means that a likely attack in hammer grip is going to be hooking stabs.
    (Here’s I’m thinking of all the CCTV videos where a thug will come up to a guy, block his exit, blade away from him to conceal the draw and then turn back into him with a big swinging punch or stab.)

    Saber grip (thumb straight and pressing down on the spine of the knife) allows tighter arcs in the thrust.

    Then some weapons combine the advantages of hammer and saber grip by giving the knife a sub-hilt. Some old European arming swords had a finger ring above the crossguard to make it easier to grip the handle at an angle while keeping the fingers protected.

    Reverse grip (edge in or out) also some limitations but a lot of grip security and power.

    Then there’s the push dagger grip. Push dagger grips with more than a three inch blade are something you hardly see except in the Indian “katar”.

    If I put a weapon or trainer facing out from between my knuckle, then the knife is simply an extension of my punches. You can punch straight, hook, rip, slash, and all with as much power as your grip design and body structure will allow. The only problem I can see is that it’s illegal to carry a push dagger in a lot of states. Or maybe I’m missing something?

  • #5295


    I think the adrenaline rush is going to make grip the knife as tightly as possible. Your question reminds me of a question I’ve had regarding knife grips in KTS. In the video where Chas Clements teaches knife fighting he advocates a tight, solid, hammer grip with short strong stabs and slashes none of them going outside the box. If I hear him correctly, he says not to switch grips during the fight. Pak Steve’s lessons on knife in YT teach how to switch grips in the midst of the action to create a push and pull effect. The movements with the knife appear more flowing and some would be outside the box. Both are great approaches and I’m not saying one is better than the other.
    My question is, is this a matter of the individuals’ knife fighting style? I myself remember Uncle Bill circa 2011 advocating what I could describe as a pencil or three finger grip that seemed to work for him

  • #5296


    I forgot to add, regarding the issue of legality, a trend I’ve perceived since the explosion of kerambits and other exotic knives in the market. In non-knife-friendly states (the biggest one IMO being NY) the design and shape alone will give the enforcers an excuse to go after you. I remember one case from NY (the defendant’s name was Umali, if I got it right) where, upholding a manslaughter conviction [whether it was the right result I won’t argue here] where in dictate the judge chimed that “a knife like that [insert whatever design, like push dagger or kerambit, here ] can only have one purpose, killing.” So, imo, your edc blade should be like the homely girl you take to the roadhouse so she don’t draw much attention, if you catch my drift.

  • #5297


    I couldn’t help but look up the opinion.


    It was a second degree murder conviction. I think it is a sobering read for martial artists. I’m biased for a number of reasons but I’ll tell you that I did witness innumerable abuses from some though not all bouncers in NYC during my hell raising years.
    The dicta about a knife that can only have one purpose is probably from one of the cases in Carl Brown’s The Law and Martial Arts.

  • #5330


    I’d correlate the grip with the intended purpose and targets.

    Pak Steve introduces knife basics

  • #5344


    “My question is, is this a matter of the individuals’ knife fighting style?”

    Seems to me like it’s a mix of that and the individual’s operating environment. Some cultures have things that won’t work in others.

    Think of three different eras in self defense training.

    One is high middle ages. It’s popular to wear heavy coats, carry long daggers and do wrestling. Knife encounters are going to be up close, hammer and icepick grips to stab through clothing/armor, a lot of the counters will involve a grip on the blade to wrench it from the hand.

    The next evolution is Renaissance or post-feudal dueling cultures, and you’d get the former tactics but also long range weapons held in different grips.

    Then modern times, you might face any of the former weapon types, but also box cutters and tiny pocket knives. So you could also encounter (or use) “razor” style attacks that carve the up the guy on the receiving end instead of delivering a deep stab. You’d also need defense options that don’t rely on gripping a blade (although long stick-like weapons are still there).

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