Review of the Spyderco Pikal Knife

Spyderco Pikal Folding Knife

The Spyderco Pikal folding knife was designed from the ground up as a fighting knife. Furthermore, the knife was specifically designed around a set of techniques.

The Spyderco Pikal was designed by the people at Shivworks, who have no-nonsense, rock solid technique. As far as I can tell, the group is composed of law enforcement and corrections officers. Nothing focuses the mind on the ugly reality of edged weapons like working in a prison. (If you go to the bottom of this page, they have some free pdf tutorials that are some of the grittiest I’ve seen.)

There are also some online video tutorials (here and here) that outline how to draw the knife, as well as a simple set of techniques to use it. The Pikal is meant to be held in a reverse icepick grip, with the blade facing in toward the wielder. The techniques are sound and very effective, the sort of thing a beginner could pick up and use in no time flat.

[The group claims that “pikal” is “to rip” in Bisaya (Cebuano), but it’s not. My research says maybe Ilonggo. Suffice it to say that when I trained with Master Ed Planas, the saber grip was called “saksak” (“stab”) and icepick grip was called “pakal.”]

Spyderco Pikal in Reverse Icepick grip

The guys at Shivworks make a very important point that their techniques are easily used in emergency situations with impromptu weapons, like pens. My thinking is increasingly headed in the direction of icepick grip. If you look at all of the common emergency or semi-impromptu weapons, they are stabbing or puncture weapons, not cutting weapons. If all of your training is with knives, and your techniques is designed to employ blades, you may come up short when employing an emergency weapon such as a pen, pair of scissors, awl, ice pick, screw driver, etc, because they have no cutting edge.


10 Responses to “Review of the Spyderco Pikal Knife”

  1. There you go. My work here is done! You can’t do any better than Southnarc’s stuff. Shivworks sells some pretty good DVDs on the use of Pikal and there are some pretty good tutorials (Youtube and PDF). I was happy to see their short segment of quick-draw methods, as this is an area that is severely neglected in a lot of systems but it is as important, or even more so, than the actual angles of attack, techniques, etc. I was going to put together a little primer on my style, but in thinking it over I think you can get almost everything you need from Southnarc. I would recommend “The Essential Ray Floro” DVD set too. Its very good and has a lot of expanded reverse grip material on it. Both of these guys are probably better than I, so I’ll defer to their respective sites/ DVDs. Excellent point about the use of Pikal vis-a-vis improvised weapons. You would be surprised what you can come up with in a pinch. Excellent stuff all the way around. Just remember to practice this stuff a lot in order to hard-wire it into your system.

  2. I would expect this to get the same treatment that Big Stick Combat gives to the rattan stick. An Ice pick grip is one of those “cool” things people try to do and end up being a compromise, in this case you sacrifice range and slicing ability.

    Can the Ice pick grip be deadly? Yes. Can it be used as a long range style? No. The Ice pick grip is a close range technique and I want the option of fighting long or short range and not getting stuck to one range.

    The idea of using non-knife objects in the Ice pick grip is not new, and it does not help promote the knife, only the technique. The idea of a knife being designed only as a weapon is NOT a selling point in a court of law.

    As for the opening videos, It would seem to me (not having owned this knife) that it is much simpler to open a Spyderco with a Wave feature or even just a regular tip-up Spyderco (both of which I own).

  3. James,

    Maybe, maybe not. Like a lot of things, it comes down to context. I think the context we’re talking about here is using the knife as a back-up to the big stick, especially so if you are grappled and/ or taken down. I’m sure there are many fine techniques out there to counter this scenario that don’t involve knives, but that isn’t what this is about. Do you need to spend $150 bucks on a Spiderco P’kal? Of course not. My go to blade is a utilitarian folder that cost me $20.00 at Harbor Freight. With respect to long-range, again, you’re right but that isn’t the context of this discussion. Improvised weapons and the ice-pick grip…nope, nothing new there either, just providing food for thought with respect to a back-up weapon and/ or a default plan for when shit goes south. Do I train exclusively with reverse grip, edge in, no I don’t but I do train it often. I also train to use both hands equally well. Can I access my blade with either hand, on my back, mounted, in the dark, while taking blows from a dedicated opponent? I sure can, and that is the real question to answer. It doesn’t matter how much you know, what style you practice, or who your personal “guro” is, it only matters what you can pull off under pressure.

  4. Tommy, the common idea in my posts have been being able to fight regardless of weapon or weapon size just as you have said. My reply this time was due to the fact that the original post seemed to be going the other way to how you and I train, ie. it seems to be promoting one grip more than the others. I do realize that Darrin puts these up as food for thought but I felt the need to again promote the idea that your training should not be locked into just one weapon or just one grip.


  5. Tommy,

    I’ll look at the Ray Floro DVD. I remember seeing some of his videos and being impressed.


    The Pikal does have a pocket opening feature. If you look at the top of the blade, there’s a thin metal rod.

    With a knife, I lean toward the saber grip and thrusting attacks at range.

    The Pikal method does seem viable to me. If you look on the pdf tutorials page, there’s a really interesting one on the saber grip versus the club grip (for lack of a better term). Whereas in the saber grip the wrist is pronated, the club grip is more solid and you are less likely to lose the knife.

  6. Oh certainly, the method works, it’d just a close range method. I do like the bocking and hooking one can do with an ice pick or reverse grip.

    Any knife can be used but it you plan to use a fixed blade in ice pick grip a Kydex sheath without a strap in best. Easy to draw on the left hip if you hold your stick in the right hand.

  7. […] outward. The Spyderco Pikal knife I wrote up earlier is designed for a reverse icepick grip, with the blade facing […]

  8. Although the tools I carry often contain pocket knives, I’ve never considered a knife to be a weapon. Especially Spyderco Knife products, which I think are some of the most beautiful designs (for a working knife) available at any price. But after reading this page, I wonder what percentage of knife buyers are buying for self-defense?

  9. In Canada we carry knives as tools and not weapons (no 2nd amendment here) however *wink* anything can be used as a weapon, even the awl on a Swiss Army Knife if you have it open at the first sign of trouble.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s