Notes on Knives

Notes on Knives

A Short Guide for Choosing the Right Tactical Folder

Regular readers of Black Belt know that we frequently run features on knives: knife tactics, knife techniques, knife training, knife law and even the psychology of fending off knife-using criminals. Consequently, the editors of the magazine receive lots of sharp samples for review.

The feedback we get from Black Belt readers indicates that you love blades as much as we do. And judging from the websites and catalogs of the major manufacturers, this is an exciting time to be into edged weapons, with lots of innovation and plenty of new models in the works. Those two observations prompted us to jot down a few bits of general advice, all of it nontechnical, aimed at assisting anyone who's thinking about buying a blade.


• Once you get used to carrying a knife, you'll feel naked without one. That's when you'll start wondering how you ever got by without a cutting tool in your pocket.

• The longer you carry a knife, the more you'll value it and the more willing you'll be to pay extra for a high-end model.

• Double-edged blades are cool, but they're illegal in some states.

• Bigger ain't necessarily better.

• Some experts advise carrying two knives: one for everyday cutting and one for self-defense. That way, if you ever need a fighting blade, yours will be razor sharp.

• Some of the snazziest models on the manufacturers' websites are automatics. Unless you're in the military or law enforcement, however, you may not be able to purchase one.

Top: Cold Steel's thumb stud. Middle: Spyderco's thumb hole. Bottom: Emerson's thumb wheel.

• Don't fret too much over whether a knife has a thumb hole, thumb oval, thumb stud or thumb wheel. They all work just fine for one-hand opening.

• Serrated blades are nice, but tiny teeth can bend or break. Even worse, they're next to impossible to sharpen.

This knife from Gerber allows the user to position the clip at either end.

• Some knives have a clip that permits tip-up carry, while others are designed for tip-down carry. (A few allow you to move the clip.) Each orientation has its advantages and disadvantages. Experiment to find which one you prefer.

• When picking a new knife, pay attention to the abrasiveness of the handle if you plan to clip it inside your pocket. One that's too rough will wear on the fabric of your pants, causing the threads to fray quickly. Ordinarily, who cares? But if they're your favorite jeans, you'll probably want to keep it from happening.

The handle and clip of this knife have taken a toll of the fabric of the jeans.

• Also pay attention to what's happening in the knife-rights world. A few years ago, a government plan was under way to classify all knives capable of being opened with one hand as switchblades. In an instant, that would have turned millions of law-abiding Americans into criminals. (Every knife shown here can be opened with one hand.) Fortunately, the language of the law was fixed.

For information about other threats to this often-overlooked part of the Second Amendment—our constitutional right to keep and bear arms—visit kniferights.org. And once you've helped secure your rights in your state, watch blackbeltmag.com for expert advice on the offensive and defensive use of these versatile tools.

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Bruce Lee's "10,000 Kicks" Challenge – Complete 10,000 Kicks in 10 Days and Feed The Children

Bruce Lee's secret to self-mastery is hidden in the following quote, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." Discipline, dedication and perfect repetition over time are the keys to mastery. To get results like Bruce Lee we need to train like Bruce Lee.

Keep Reading Show less

If there's a martial artist in your life who's hard to shop for, look no further than this list of the best holiday gifts from the world's leading magazine of martial arts.

The holidays are right around the corner and there's no better time to shop for the ninjas in your family! Black Belt Magazine doesn't just provide the history and current events of the martial arts world, we can equip you with all the best products too. From beautiful belt displays, to stylish gloves, to collector's edition books, keep reading to check out this list of the top five gifts to kick under the tree this year.

Keep Reading Show less

A thoughtful question from Mitch Mitchell, an affiliate coach of American Frontier Rough and Tumble, prompted me to commit to paper some observations regarding two common tools/weapons of the frontier. First, the exchange that led to all this:

Question: "Am I on the right track or holding my danged knife wrong?"

My reply: "Bowie designs are manifold. My personal preference falls toward a flat-spine knife with a half-guard because a spine-side guard or broken spine jams up my thumb on a sincere stab in a saber grip. For me, anyway, a nice, straight, full-power stab with a hammer grip on the high line is impossible, and anyway it is a wrist killer."

Mitchell's question is a common one that can lead us one step closer to weapons wisdom. First, I will point out that discovering that certain tactics and grips are wrist killers is possible only when we invest time in hard training with hard targets. If we stick with mirror play, shadow play or tit-for-tat flow drills with a partner using mock weapons, we likely will never stumble on the realities that make certain tactics ill-advised. As they say, train real to find real.

Keep Reading Show less

Intellectualization is defined as a defense mechanism that entails using reasoning to avoid unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress — wherein thinking is used to avoid feeling. It involves removing oneself emotionally from a stressful event.

Increasingly, I notice the trend in combatives and other self-defense "systems" to intellectualize — actually, to over-intellectualize. The definition of intellectualization that appears above perfectly captures the meaning as it applies to fighting.In an effort to avoid the pain, consequence, damage and stress of fighting — whether in training or for real — instructors use constructed language to describe the impossible (what's expected in the moment) and use pseudoscience to justify what they're professing.Those of you who have read this column for any length of time have heard me say over and over that if you want to learn to fly, at some point, you have to actually take off and land. The same is true of fighting: If you want to learn to fight well, you have to spend a significant amount of time actually fighting. There is no replacement for this.

Keep Reading Show less
Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter