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Author Topic: Throwing Knives  (Read 3403 times)

Hock

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Throwing Knives
« on: August 09, 2005, 02:24:15 PM »

In the early 70s I started with Ed Parker karate and one of the school tenants was, “never throw away a perfectly good knife.” This line stuck with me through time.

Back in 1999, I wrote a book called Military Knife Combat . To so do, I researched well over a 1000 military histories to find actual recollections and information about knife fights (this book is being absorbed into the knife chapters of my Training Mission books.

1000? You say! (this is not a flippant claim, oh, like 20,000 women Wilt Chamberlain had sex with). Here is how I did it. I am a history buff and I love oral histories anyway. So I had about 20 years of reading them. Then, when I started on the project officially I began the collection of stories and I traveled to three military libraries. One in Oklahoma had huge walls of new and old military books. I limited my hunt to knife fights in the era of firearms to get a better feel for modern times.

I developed a way of scanning these books to get to the combat parts. For example, if I picked up a biography, I knew that the first few chapters were a childhood and a hometown story, then basic training. Well, after a while, you have a feel where you are going to find the fighting parts. So I set up shop at these libraries, sometimes for days pouring over these books. Now that I think of it, there were probably over 1000 books at that one place alone.

The book eventually had 44 real knife fights in it. In all of those non-fiction and history books. I found only two times where throwing knives were successfully used. One time in WWII, gypsies were rounded up by a Nazi soldier. One such gypsy was wearing a backpack. When the Nazi ordered them all to put their hands up, this put the man's hand near the handle of a large knife that he kept in the top of his backpack. When the Nazi looked away, the man pulled the knife and threw it straight into the Nazi's chest. Then he charged the wounded soldier, beat him, took his knife back and fled. The toss? As I recall 8 feet? The tale was told by a gypsy, boy in his memoirs of prison camps, so I can't say.

The second one was from a Tales of the Green Berets and recalled a time when a two Berets peered over a thick bush in Vietnam and to their surprise, there stood an NVA. The Beret already held a large knife, Bowie-style, in his hand and he instinctively threw it. Reflexively. The huge knife buried deeply into the enemy soldier's torso and killed him. This toss? Only about four feet.

Both cases, presumably, big knives, thrown powerfully and very close. No flips. (this I guess) I found no stories of bad guys pulling the thrown knife out of their body and attacking the thrower with it, or other classic renditions, gossipers like to pass. (if you know of one, please tell me and I'll get on it)

Throwing knives involves a great mastery and even great masters have problems. In the 1990's, I did a seminar in New England with a bunch of knife and sword people. One of the main hosts, was a trophy winning, renown knife thrower, who taught knife throwing (and tomahawk/hatchets) and as a pastime he had a small “knife range” where he taught local Boy Scouts and other groups for seminars.

A few of us got together a day before the seminar and we played on this range. With his own favorite knives, this award-winning expert was far from perfect. Nor were his expert friends there with us. Much better than me. I was told that some American Indians would start very close to the target. Throw a bunch. Step back. Throw a bunch. Step back. Throw a bunch. And each would develop a savvy about their knife, the heave and distance. Then one flip. Then two flips. Etc. The same method for bow and arrow and the same concept I use the rare times I have taken new handgun shooters to the range. I use the same, unsexy, uncool, boring "indian" method.

One champion expert complained to me he was “rusty and off his game,” having not thrown in a few months. This made me think about how perishable this throwing skill was?

I learned that I could throw a heavy, big knife, oh, pretty decently without the knife flipping. I could stick the smaller throwing knives moderately well if the knife didn't flip. The flipping was tricky. It involves the weight of the knife, the distance to the target and amount of flips the thrower instinctively thinks is needed. The lighter the knife, the harder it was to get it to penetrate into certain hay-packed targets.

The improvised range included a standard clothesline with a target rigged on it. The target would be reeled in or out. The experts had great difficulty with this range change because it was difficult to determine how many flips would be needed. The charging target even interrupts non-flip throws because of the need to instantly change heaving points. Even the resident super expert had a mediocre day at his very own clothesline rig. I could not make one knife stick as the rushing target closed in, out of 20 or so tries.

At the end of this day with trophy-winning experts, I learned a few things, and one was -I am not throwing away my knife. Too chancy.

*AND I would never dedicate the time to become good at it.

*AND even being good at it was no guarantee you could get the knife to stick in a real, moving person, possibly with flailing arms

*AND that clothing interferes with knife success.

*AND people wander into emergency rooms frequently with knives stuck in them. "Can you take this put?"

*AND people usually still fight on after a knife stab or two, or three! If I threw a knife into someone, there would be no guarantee he would drop and die.

*AND I could easily miss-judge distance of moving targets.

I personally have to will stick with the old Parker advice. Don't throw away a perfectly good knife.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with throwing “things ” at people like tables, chairs, decks of cards, hats, batteries, pens, etc. You all know I have encouraged and preached that for years and years and years. Throwing knives however, especially lighter ones for the purpose of penetrating through clothing and stabbing into round-shaped, moving people to do significant, worthwhile damage is different, and will always be controversial and a statistical risk.

So we need knife throwing stories. I imagine there will be some great ones out there. there are probably a few "freaks" like Collin Firth in the Daredevil movie, out there! What was his name? Bullseye? Target?

Hock

Hock

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Re: Throwing Knives
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2005, 03:35:17 PM »

(oops, I discovered they have been talking about this on another thread with an unusual thread name, so here is a note from Ninor on the subject...and by the way, "OZ" is a nickname for Australia...)

Ninor writes...
That ties in to my thoughts on it.  When I mucked round will at stuff in Oz I ended up throwing tomahawks.  The problem with the knife is that if the person you're trying to hit steps backwards or forwards you miss with the blade and hit with the handle or the flat edge.  (Knives turn end over end when you throw them).  If that happens of course you end up (maybe) with a bruise and little else.  With a 3lb tomahawk I don't care if you step backwards or forwards it's still going to poleaxe you.  I got good at throwing these things in short order.  All you need is to stand about 10 feet away from a tree and throw it.  If it doesn't stick, move back a foot and do it again.  Keep going till you get the distance where it sticks, make a mark on the ground and that's where you throw from.

The fastest way to develop accuracy (and this also works for bows and arrows which I still play with) is to draw a vertical line on your target and keep practising till you can hit the vertical line consistantly.  Next, draw a horizontal line on the target and repeat.  Combine the two marks (whatever you're using as your sighting system to make sure you hit the individual lines) and you'll hit the join of the lines i.e. the bullseye, every time.

Hope that helps

PS:  As a combat app, no, don't throw knives.  Unlike Hollywood where the nasty Nazi sentry gets the throwing knife in the back and dies instantly and silently, your real life opponent, should you hit him, won't die immediately and will scream like a stuck pig.  You've also just given him your weapon and lost yours.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2005, 07:10:20 AM by HockHoch@aol.com »
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Sun_Helmet

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Re: Throwing Knives
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2005, 07:48:15 AM »

I would respectfully disagree.
As a COMBAT app the knife is a secondary or third option.
You might need to throw it to get your primary weapon online.
The object is not to stick it- the object is to close with another blade, or get your weapon online.
To FORCE a response that buys you a beat.
All the SF operators we train with carry more than one knife. All sheathed in places so they are deployable as quickly as they can get to their mags.

A thrown knife that does stick will go in FAR deeper than one that is thrusted (not letting go of knife) full on in pakal/hammer grip at close quarters. It is a matter of physics. A sharp metal object flying hard at someone's chest will induce a reflexive response. We train it so that you are NOT standing like a competition knife thrower, but are already running to close a gap, or are using evading footwork so that you can.

The way we explain it is you face off with a bad guy.
He has multiple blades.
You might or might not.
He knows he can throw a blade and deploy another.
He's trained it. He knows his closing gap. He has experienced the reflexive responses of numerous people.
You are not allowed to throw yours.
Would you give him that edge?
I know even a blow or worse, a knife that does stick is something I would NOT gamble my life with.
Losing a blade in a throw is a worthwhile gamble if you train in deploying another knife/higher end weapon.
Bad guy's not gonna get the chance to pick up the missed weapon and in fact I might even count on him going for the missed knife. Because that means he just turned his back, or bent over.That's another beat I bought myself.

Again, just our preference. Doesn't have to be others.
Whatever works ...works.

--Rafael--
« Last Edit: August 10, 2005, 08:22:57 AM by Sun_Helmet »
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Trembula

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Re: Throwing Knives
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2005, 07:49:18 AM »

While talking to a Marine Raider from the 4th Raider Batt he told me about a fellow named Matthews who was their knife throwing instructor. Apparently this Marine could throw a knife overhand, over his shoulder, behind his back,  "gambler style" and a no spin overhand method (the latter two he said were the preferred ways).

Three years ago when my buddy Adam and I were at the MACE in Quantico we would amuse ourselves after dinner until Dark by throwing knives. We discovered that any knife that holds up to being thrown 800 or a 1000 times is a pretty sturdy blade. Incidentally we were using USMC Combat-Utility Knives (a Ka-Bar and a Camillus - the Ka-Bar self destructed and the Vietnam-era Camillus is still good to go although I don't throw it any more) with the rationale that skill with a fancy throwing knife is meaningless because you wouldn't be carrying it if you ever needed to actually throw a knife for real. So we used "Ka-Bar's" because anywhere the Marines go, you'll find a "Ka-Bar" and all of them are balanced essentially identical (Camillus - the best quality of the "newer" ones, Ka-Bar, Ontario, etc.)

The underhand "gambler" style works well with any knife that is weighted towards the blade. Even on a charging target (or when you are moving). The max range is maybe 15 feet. Since the knife does not rotate, distance is less of an issue than gravity.

The overhand "no spin" close range toss is another good'un. I never considered this a viable technique until reading about somewhere in a military history and was convinced of its effectiveness when Peter Brusso showed it to me last Summer. The max range is around 4-6 feet. I was a skeptic until he bounced a few trainers off my chest and doggone if every one of those landed point first even if I was a moving target. After I built a throwing target for him, I tried it with a variety of real knives and if the knife was "throwable" it stuck pretty good with that throwing technique.

Incidentally, the new OKC-3S bayonet works well in the Gambler/Overhand "no spin" throws, but the muzzle ring is so fragile that conventional rotational throwing is quick death and even the "no spin" techniques will cause the muzzle ring to bend. So don't throw yours... use somebody else's for practice  ;)
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Sun_Helmet

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Re: Throwing Knives
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2005, 08:07:42 AM »

A sharp metal object flying hard at someone's chest will induce a reflexive response. We train it so that you are NOT standing like a competition knife thrower, but are already running to close a gap, or are using evading footwork so that you can.

I think the biggest difference is the multiple knives.
If you carry one blade your options are suddenly limited.
It is understandable that one would want to hold on to their primary.

As per history, Filipinos used projectiles to close prior to engaging the enemy. Whether by headaxe or arrows. The point is to close on the enemy and do them harm at close quarters. In melees, the tactic is to keep moving and not to duel. Dueling means death in a skirmish. Practically all historical accounts in Blair and Robertson, Morga, and the hundreds of books I have on Filipino history - projectiles and constant motion are in evidence.

Magellan was killed because he reacted to the projectiles first. So we adapted that concept. If you have to close a distance, have your first option be projectile, then use the closing weapon. The first knife is now your arrow, the second knife flows right after. If one is going to throw a battery then why not a knife? It hurts just like a battery on the blunt end, and the other end changes the fight. If you miss you miss... if one never had the option of throwing in the first place that's like missing without allowing yourself the option to. So one really threw a 'phantom' knife to begin with anyway. We don't think of it as losing a weapon if your intent and training already factored throwing in.

As per training time, again it is NOT competitive target throwing. And all one needs to know is how much force you have to generate, the closing actions and deploying a weapon. Attributes you already have if you've been doing FMA for awhile. We've taught people to stick a screwdriver into objects in fifteen minutes.

Most people survive knife encounters because they were fighting off attackers who had no idea of timers and switchers found in the human anatomical system. That's why one person dies when they sever a femoral with one cut and another person survives after being repeatedly stabbed and cut on non lethal areas.

Trembula, in pakal grip you can stick a kabar hilt deep with no rotation in the distance you stated. Even a blunt kabar would do damage that would give you the beat to your advantage.

--Rafael--
« Last Edit: August 10, 2005, 08:31:14 AM by Sun_Helmet »
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Nick Hughes

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Re: Throwing Knives
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2005, 11:46:54 AM »

Perhaps I should have clarified in that post about only having one knife.  In the Legion we were allowed to carry one bayonet and one horrible little folding utility knife called an opine used for opening cans etc l.

Also, in my personal life now I only carry one knife.  I'm not throwing it at anyone for the reason Rafael stated above i.e. I'm not giving up my primary carry.

When I worked the doors I always had a pocketful of loose change though that, in the event of dealing with someone armed with any type of weapon, I'd lob in their face on the way in to cause them to blink/flinch etc.

Have worked out with Ray Dianaldo so have seen the Sayoc methods and am impressed but multiple blades just isn't practical for me on a daily basis.
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Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent. I am attacking.
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Hock

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Re: Throwing Knives
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2005, 08:26:07 AM »

A thrown knife that does stick will go in FAR deeper than one that is thrusted (not letting go of knife) full on in pakal/hammer grip at close quarters. It is a matter of physics. A sharp metal object flying hard at someone's chest will induce a reflexive response. We train it so that you are NOT standing like a competition knife thrower, but are already running to close a gap, or are using evading footwork so that you can.

I have always known that if can take a hefty knife by the handle and throw it like a Nolan Ryan fastball (no blade spin) the power was TRE-mendous. If I stood at just the right spot, or let go at just the righ part of the throw, I could get a great stick. If I am "off the tip?" Watch out! That big knife bounces. I guess I was 50-50 at that. (Maybe worse?)

It was dissapointing to me when I could not get a stick on the moving clothesline target, not once, and the experts I was with did a little better than half the time. Great fun, though.

Getting hit by a fastball, a small pipe, (axe) etc, at that Nolan Ryan velocity would cause pain.

Hock

Sun_Helmet

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Re: Throwing Knives
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2005, 10:37:09 AM »

Yes, we use a clothesline type station for students to practice at some of our events. The major lesson is learning how to close. We found the bounce back is actually more dangerous if you stand still at close range, rather than something that is moving.

And throwing like Nolan Ryan would definitely deliver some pain! :)

--Rafael--
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