Preferred Grip?

Discussion in 'Misc. Knife Arts' started by Bob Hubbard, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Darth Vindicatus Supporting Member

    What is your Preferred Grip? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type?

    I've seen 4 types: Blade up-edge forward, blade up-edge back, blade down-edge forward, blade down-edge back. I've also seen 2 knives in 1 hand, one up, one down. Anything else possible?

  2. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    The saber grip is certainly the King of Grips. Good range, good mobility...there's a reason that chefs world-wide hold the knife this way.

    This can be good for some close-in work with uppercut-style strikes and for wide, hooking strikes, but as a rule I don't like it for knives. For a sword it sometimes makes more sense, but most of the time I'd rather have a saber grip. Note, for a double-edged sword the distinction is purely in one's own mind!

    The classic Norman Bates attack comes to mind for most with this, but I think of Michael Echanis' military knife book too. This allows for powerful slashes, but some range is sacrificed. It's a good defensive move in many cases, but for a knife-on-knife duel the saber is better (for me). I'd be more likely to use this when my opponent is not armed with an edged weapon--say, if he has a stick.

    A Pekiti Tirsia instructor convinced me that grip this was worth considering for small blades, especially if one has a blade in each hand (in which case one can be saber, one can be like this). It allows for powerful hooking techniques pulled back toward yourself and of course for control of the opponent's arm. With a larger blade, I don't see the advantage.

    I recently saw a single knife with blades at both ends, each bending slightly in opposing directions, for this purpose. It seems gimmicky to me.

    There are lots of variations of these grips, like index-finger-on-the-shaft for thrusting, etc. On rare occasions you might even grab a single-edged knife by its blade and make a push cut. (Usually, this is more of a sword technique--especially if you have on a gauntlet to protect your own hand.) There are also special knives that may be gripped differently; a push dagger may be held such that the blade protudes between the middle and ring fingers, for example. A half-opened balisong or a kerambit (with a hole for the finger) can be swung in a way that doesn't quite fit any of these descriptions.

    Then there are grips for throwing the knife...
  3. Far Walkers Moon

    Far Walkers Moon New Member

    Blade back with dull edge against arm.. Have used it for many years
  4. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    A common criticism of this hold is that you give up some range. Do you feel like you do?
  5. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise Senior Member Supporting Member

    Best thing is to just train with all of the various grips so that you
    can function with any grip and feel comfortable. I hate to give up
    reach but will do so for concealment purposes and the potential for
    real difficulties in being disarmed.

    Brian R. VanCise
  6. Matt Lim

    Matt Lim New Member

    All-around use for saber grip, good reach, good control, lots of options. Though I trained beginning students with pakal grip if they can't find the correct distance or can't feel the "connection", or keep on stabbing the face of his partner. Pakalgrip seemed to be a safer wayto train knife.
  7. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Senior Member

    Knife Grip

    This is a technique specifically tailored for smaller knives. If you stop the momentum of your hooking technique with the outside of your other wrist, you get a "pressure cut" against the fulcrum that you've created.

    The "Blade Up, Edge Back" grip provides you with the Sak Sak variation of what's described above, except that now you "clip" the opponents's limb with the edge of the blade and your thumb, as shown here.

    Momoy Canete sometimes liked to hold the dagger in sabre grip, except that he would put his index finger along the back of the blade at the last second and "point" the dagger (palm down) towards its destination. Sometimes the finger would be curled up and around the outside of the hilt. Risky - but so's tightrope walking. (In other words, if you can get away with it...)

    I like daggers because you get all the grips described depending upon whether you're in Sak Sak or Pakal.


    Steve Lamade
  8. JohnJ

    JohnJ Senior Member

    Grip preference is easy...hammer grip. It allows one to cover a greater range which is essential. A hammer grip is a more common grip when deploying and/or opening a knife be it fixed (dependent on carry) or folder. Logic dictates that effective grip utilization should be based on whatever grip you happen to have if a weapon has to be drawn.

    It is of my opinion that in Pakal, backhand slashes or thrusts are initially limited and open to counters because of the shear execution of the technique which exposes the elbow arm first. However, when I train Pakal, it is always blade out. Hooks, controls, shears can all be done with blade out.
  9. Matt Lim

    Matt Lim New Member

    I also train pakal grip blade out but since pakal translates as rip which I assume a stab-pull-clawing stroke, then a blade-in is technically more appropriate I think.
  10. Far Walkers Moon

    Far Walkers Moon New Member

    yes you give up a little reach but the grip an be changed easily to a different one i you are going o extent your reach. i personally o not like reaching out to far to my opponent and this grip makes me remember not to over stretch
    I also like the way one can falay an arm with this grip
  11. Brock

    Brock Asha'man

    I find that most blade positions work as long as you use a "fist" grip. Most disarming techniques begin by compromising the thumb, so I don't feel that you should do most of the work for our opponent by moving the thumb out of the way to begin with. Did any of that make sense? I've got a 2 yr old sitting in my lap as I type this, and she keeps breaking my train of thought.
  12. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    I know what you mean. I've seen people move their own thumb out of the way to protect it, but I don't like doing this.
  13. Danny T

    Danny T New Member

    I have many times been asked if I have a preferred grip or does Pekiti-Tirsia have a preferred grip. My answer is; “No, however the knife does.”

    What I mean is each knife has a grip that is best for that type of knife. We tend to think of small blades (41/2” or less) like a .22 cal. pistol. A lot of people have died from wounds inflicted by .22s, but this cartridge certainly does not rate very high as a "stopper".

    Most states in the US have laws allowing the carry of blades up to 4 inches and most of us carry within those limits. In my job carrying a 9” or 10” bowie just doesn’t work well.

    We would rather have a much larger caliber weapon like a .40 or a .45 caliber however, if you are stuck with carrying a .22 then you have to use it based on its limitations. This is the same with a small pocketknife. Slashes with a 4" blade in the forward or saber grip are easier to score with but are not reliable "stoppers" of an individual attack. They have a very small margin of error and often take time to take effect. It's not that I prefer the reverse grip; it’s just that it gives the most "bang for my buck" with a small knife. I would prefer a large knife held in a forward grip (actually if I had to use an edged weapon I would really prefer a sword or even a spear) Length does matter. (;.>p

    A slash with a 4" blade is not going to go very deep. Especially in the colder areas where people use heavy jackets or coats. But, a well delivered thrust with a 4" blade is at least 4" deep and in ice pick grip has the weight of a hammer-fist and if presented properly has your weight behind it. The reverse grip helps lock a small handled knife in your hand better and is less likely to be dislodged. It ties in well with empty hand and palm-stick techniques.

    If I had a 9” blade I would not be in pakal grip.

    Try this experiment. Work with a boxer with an equal amount of time in boxing as you have in your FMA. Get in boxing headgear and use a felt marker for a knife. Have the boxer in boxing gloves and a fencing mask. Fight several 3 to 5 second rounds with you holding the marker in saber grip. After each round analyze what happened. Did you "cut" him before he hit you. If so, would it have stopped the punch or the boxer before it connected? After you get a feel for this, try it with both of you in fencing masks and light gloves and using wood dowels with 4" exposed as the "blade". Have the boxer try and "knock you out" with the knife. Then turn the blade into Pakal grip and try again.

    What I think you will find is that while you can score small cuts on an opponent with a 4" blade in foreword grip, you are going to have a hard time redirecting his attack if he is determined to hit you. With the blade in reverse grip (at least the way we teach it) you are going to have a much heavier arm to arm contact and a better chance of redirecting the attacking arm before it can hit you. I try to break my beginners early on of the tendency to play "tag" when knife sparring because with a small knife the question is not who gets hit first, but who gets hit HARD first. When the advanced guys knife spar it looks like 75% boxing and 25% knife work and is very heavy handed. They are in reverse grip, not because they want to, but because they are using a 4" blade. Give them a 9" bowie and they will happily use a forward grip.
  14. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    It's absolutely true that some blades are meant for certain grips. (There aren't a lot of right ways to hold a push dagger!) I also think the thoughts on stopping power make sense.

    I like your thoughts on sparring and playing "tag" during knife fighting. Still, when there's enough space, I do like to play defang the snake, even with a smaller knife. I recognize the risk, however!
  15. Silence_sucks

    Silence_sucks New Member

    There ends up being something like 12 different knife grips in some of the systems of the fma, sorry for not being specific will have to ask my sifu about it again, the main point i gathered though was that sak sak and pakal were the only ones worth training, with the others being variants off those or completely useless like the one based of the scholars pen (think of holding a pen) which seems extremely useful for dropping the knife.
  16. oosh

    oosh Junior Member

    "being variants off those or completely useless like the one based of the scholars pen (think of holding a pen) which seems extremely useful for dropping the knife."

    Perhaps you are referring to "Pluma" grip, I don't think it's generally employed with the small knife, more likely with a baston or bolo. In Ilustrisimo it is certainly not useless :)
  17. Silence_sucks

    Silence_sucks New Member

    Haha yep thats the one used as a defence, if it works for you then thats downright awesome and im glad, though i just find for me if i turn my wrist i get the same results and its more stable.
  18. oosh

    oosh Junior Member

    In KI pluma has a variety of uses depending on the situation not just for parrying - it could be offensive, defensive or enganyo. I notice you are in Aus, you might want to check out David Foggie or Rahneer Fabi of Bakbakan KI and I think there is also John Chow who is under GM Tony Diego out there also :)
  19. Guro Dave Gould


    Hi guys,

    Actually grip is quite subjective, dependant on individual user preference and effect. Having said that a good rounded fighter should be versed in all types of grips and understand each inherent weakness and strength attached to each grip applied.

    Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite broke blade fighting grips down into two basic and distinct categories; Soft target and hard target grips.

    Soft target grips imply that only tissue would be contacted with, keeping well clear of bone impact at all cost. Soft target grips are mostly good for slashing targets such as opponents throat, arms, legs and disembowling techniques. Soft target thrusting invites targets such as large muscle groups or isolated organs free of bone obstruction, for example; thighs, abdomen, kidneys, lungs, throat, etc...

    Hard target grips involve any target which is heavily laden with bone where grip retention upon contact becomes questionable. Targets derived mainly through thrusting attacks toward the eyes, Chest / breast plate, heart, temple, behind the ear, base oh the head all qualify as hard targets and require a strong grip upon contact...

    After analyzing target aquisition and defining both hard and soft target locations then range becomes the defining element of combat. For Medium to close range (medio-corto) I prefer "sak-sak" (hammer grip). This grip allows me to manufacture opportunity through deception (enganyos) and be very precise in both tergeting as well as recovery measures.

    The greatest strength for the "sak-sak" grip is range. Thrusting 180 degrees off the shoulder allows you to obtain your maximum reach potential producing maximum effect gained with minimum risk presented in both defensive an offensive roles.

    "Pakal" is ideal once "medio-corto" has been breached and you are forced to fight solely in "corto" range. "Pakal" is a powerful grip offering you more opportunities to contain the situation in close range more so than the "sak-sak" grip (with range not being a factor). In addition should the situation force you to the ground you would find the "Pakal" grip quite beneficial as range is no longer an issue but rather weapon retention and grip strength become the main focus.

    Blade in and blade out usage is simply subjective to user preference with each having distinct inherent advantages and disadvantages attached to them.

    In "largo-medio" range again because of the line of engagement and reach capability I prefer "sak-sak" over "Pakal" giving me an overwhelming reach advantage as I probe for openings or attempt to manufacture opportunity through deception (enganyos).

    In Lameco Eskrima these are the favored grips as assigned to both soft and hard targets:

    "Sak-sak" (Hammer grip) :

    Orihinal - hand fully closed around handle (hard target grip).
    Kamanko - full grip with thumb along spine of blade (hard target grip).
    Daliri - finger along flat of the blade great for precision (soft target grip).
    Baba sa bowaya - mouth of the crocodile grip for controlling opponents weapon hand (soft target grip).

    "Pakal" (Ice pick grip) :

    Orihinal - hand fully wrapped around handle of blade (hard target grip).
    Kamanko - full grip with thumb on top of handle (hard target grip).
    Daliri - finger running along top of handle for passing (soft target grip).
    Baba sa bowaya - mouth of the crocodile grip for controllin opponents weapon hand (soft target grip).

    Go well guys, and as always train as if it matters... because it does.

    Guro Dave Gould
  20. Silence_sucks

    Silence_sucks New Member

    Are they based in New South Wales?

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