The Back-Up Knife

Spyderco Wave Endura

Reader Sir James sent me the following e-mail:

Hi Darrin,

I was laying on the couch watching Hurt Locker and there is a scene where one solider is sitting on top of another in the mount and the one on the bottom pulls out a knife. This caused me to pull out my knife (Lone Wolf T2) which has a point down orientation and required a fair bit of manipularion to open from my prone position.

Now I know that a point up orientation is better for self-defence from when I used to carry a regular Spyderco Endura, and that got me to thinking about my newer Spyderco Waved Endura. A folding knife with a Waved feature opens (with a slight bit of practice) as you draw the knife out of your pocket because the hook catches onto the corner of the pocket. If not done right, it can lead to an open but not locked knife but that is where the practice comes in.

So for a folding knife to use from being on the ground I’d recommend a knife with a Waved feature.

In order of speed:

1. A fixed blade in a no-snap kydex sheath.

2. A locking folder with a Waved feature.

3. A locking (one handed) folder with a blade up orientation.

4. A locking (one handed) folder with a blade down orientation [This being the least desireable.]

Opening Directly from the Pocket

In reviewing the latest Dog Brothers video many fighters carry a back-up knife that they pull after the opponent has closed. In my correspondence with reader Tommy, we are both in agreement that the back-up knife is a serious option for the long stick stylist.

The question is, do you want to surprise a closing, grappling opponent with your blade, or should you make your blade visible to deter him from closing?

In my opinion, the real purpose of the knife in the espada y daga method is to keep the opponent from closing. The old “grab the stick” technique employed by so many masters becomes harder when a knife is involved. Rushing somebody with a stick and a knife no longer sounds like such a good idea.


5 Responses to “The Back-Up Knife”

  1. Great topic. I think you’ll find, as James did, that access and quick draw while your opponent has you mounted (and attempting to ground and pound you) is a difficult task. You absolutely need a knife with a one-handed deployment feature-a fixed blade is always good, but not always practical. The two best options that I have found are using reverse grip, edge in (Pikal Grip) and secondly is using a push dagger a-la Cold Steel’s Urban Pal which is a very effective little knife despite its miniscule size. Either way you need to not only be able to deploy it one-handed but also with probably a very restriced range of motion and you need to do it quickly before you take too many shots on the ground. lastly, you’re opponent can’t see it coming or he’ll try and lock you up. Lots to consider, and I don’t have all the answers but I have explored this scenario in training a LOT and have found some absolutes that do and do not work. More to follow on that later…

    If you are using the big stick in a two-handed orientation, which I believe increases your ability to hit hard exponentially, then the daga y espada option is out. Besides, a knife is best felt and not seen. The biggest danger you face is a total predator that will try and ground and pound you, using a knife. That is almost impossible to defend-I have tried many times in sparring. But I digess. I would rather focus on hitting hard from long range, controling the fight on the inside if it goes there, as we have discussed. As a last resort I will draw and cut. If I don’t have my walking stick with me its a different ball game, but that is for another time. I look at use of the edged weapon as a tertiary response after my primary and secondary tactics have failed.

  2. The question of having the knife out or surprising the attacker is not an either/or ideal; rather it is about what situation you find yourself in.

    I don’t see many people squaring off with a stick and a knife outside of the dojo. If you do own pocket knives and sticks, it is more likely you will have the knife on you rather than the stick (of course this depends on locals laws and where you are at: court room, plane, the Bronx, etc.) because of it’s easy of carry and small size.

    If attacked and your stick in your hand you will tend to use that. However, if someone jumps you and you get knocked to the ground you may or may not have your stick in hand, but the knife will still be clipped in your pocket.

    On a side note: I was with my martial art class practicing knife defense a few years ago in back of the school. Brick walls and pavement was our dojo that day and during the sparing my foot slipped on something and I landed on my back with my head turned to the side only to see a used condom and broken glass…it your training this real? lol. (PS. I don’t care how you train, I just thought it was funny at the time what I saw when I fell).

  3. James,

    Yuck! I have seen similar “stage props” training outside too. It just reinforces the need to leave the sterile dojo environment once in a while in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the real world environment.

  4. Tommy,

    You’ve stated my thoughts exactly on the preference for long range. The push dagger (perhaps the Besh wedge model?) sounds like a good idea.

    I would broaden espada y daga to include beer bottle and knife, frying pan and knife, crow bar and knife, etc.

    Your point about the realistic training in the alley is thought-provoking. I think a problem is that the dojo, which is r5ooted in medieval Japan, with its kimonos, bare feet, air conditioned interior, and clean floor (!) is increasingly out-of-touch with modern life.

  5. oosh that was a pretty mean knife bro

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