June 07, 2004

Extreme Mumbledly-peg

Knife Throwing 101, courtesy of Iron Bear over at Who Tends the Fires.

This is one of those things that is on my "everyone should know" list. You do carry a knife, right? At the very least, a Swiss-army or Boy Scout pocket knife should be part of your daily kit. Something larger and defensively-oriented should be in your car. And you should know enough about using it to be a credible threat, because nothing is more frightening than facing someone who obviously knows how to use that knife in their hand. And at some point, that might mean your only good option is throwing your knife at the target. Iron Bear has the best advice possible on the subject.

Even if you don't stick or cut your target, throwing a knife can have benefits. I'm assuming here that you have a backup like another knife, you don't throw your only weapon in most situations. The first benefit is pretty obvious, most folks will flinch if a knife is coming their way, probably a lot too, and that's a hell of a distraction. Use that distraction to get away, or to prepare for the disabling move you're going to win the fight with (like hosing him down with pepper spray). Also, since you don't lob or toss a knife - you throw it hard - another benefit is that even if you hit your target with the hilt of the knife, it should feel like a Randy Johnson fastball, and he's going to take a moment to do a quick check and realize that the blade isn't buried deep. Again, get away or use the time to win the fight.

Like many skills, accurate and effective knife throwing isn't technically difficult, but it takes time to develop the ability, and more time to practice and keep your skills sharp.

Guys, impress the ladies. Ladies, impress the guys and remember: nothing says "no" like a woman who can perform an impromptu vasectomy from across the room (that's 'Dad' talking, by the way).

Posted by Ted at June 7, 2004 05:59 AM
Category: Links

I used to carry a very small, girly pen knife (the blade was all of an inch long) on my key ring, but I had to surrender it going into a courthouse for jury duty and into the Reagan Bldg. for a meeting. Finally I decided I didn't use it enough to warrant the hassle.

Posted by: nic at June 7, 2004 01:28 PM

I must disagree in part. While knowing how to use a blade is a skill I woudl recommened to everyone I think you went a little overboard:

"...nothing is more frightening than facing someone who obviously knows how to use that knife in their hand..."

Really? I take it it's been a while seen you've seen Raiders of the Losr Ark?

It's good to have a knife. Pepper spray - eh, I don't really think it's that effective unless you just use it to make sure your food is hot enough.

But the most frightening thing for an attacker to face is not a knife, but a firearm. The bigger the hole in the barrel the more intimidating it is.

Sure, a guy or girl with a knife can cut you up pretty good if they know what they're doing but that requires some physical effort at the time (as well as mucho practice beforehand) & it also means they have to get close enough to reach you with their arm. That means there's a chance that the one person will be able to disarm &/or defeat the other person who has the knife.

With a firearm the amount of physical skill reuired is not anywhere near that of the knife. Most people can be shown in an hour or two how to be just as effective with a firearm as most cops are. Add to that practice once or twice a month & the person is more or less ready for anything short of a fire team.

Think about this, if a 6'2" 220 lb. guy tried to attack Mookie, do you think he'd be more scared of her having a knife or a .357? Firearms do something that no other weapon can do - it negates the physical advantage the strong & highly skilled would have with their bare hands or a contact weapon. If you face someone with a knife there's always the chance (proportionate to your skill level) that you can get close enough to take the knife away &/or defeat them.Even a well thrown knife won't instantly incapacitate someone (unless you get really really lucky). Not so with a firearm.

Knives are cool things to have & be able to use, but they are not an adequate substitute for a firearm.

Posted by: Publicola at June 7, 2004 05:18 PM

Uh... I agree with the firearm thingie...

But I want to learn to throw knives! I always have. Daddy! PLEASE!

hehe. I'm super hyper spastic today.

Posted by: Mookie at June 7, 2004 05:21 PM


Learn to do both. :P

Posted by: Publicola at June 8, 2004 01:15 AM

Thanks, Ted. ;]

*reads up at Publicola* 'Cola, I don't think I said anywhere in the linked article that a knife - thrown or otherwise - is a substitute for a firearm. And I'm trained with edged steel. For that matter, a firearm isn't a cureall. I've seen a few dead men who thought pulling a gun was a magic wand that made you invincible, and found out the hard way that it didn't.

Rule of thumb: a Shotgun trumps a handgun. A handgun trumps a blade. Cold steel and training are better than martial arts. Martial arts are better than untrained bare hands.

And all of the above are useless without mindset and attitude. A gun without mindset produces what in technical terms is called an "Armed Idiot".

All of them: guns, blades, hands are tools. Throwing, disarms, knife technique, knowing when to run, and knowing how to perform a double-tap are skills. Tricks, performed with tools.

Armed begins and ends between the ears. ;]

Ted's correct on the psychological thing. Cold steel has a visceral effect on a lot of people, even trained people, that other weapons often don't. It doesn't operate on a logical, rational level.

Counting on that visceral effect is the domain of a fool though - the man or woman you're dealing with may not be one of the ones it affects.

Posted by: Ironbear at June 8, 2004 01:32 AM


To be honest I haven't had a chance to wade into your post. (been meaning to but damned if the senate isn't about to get interesting - & I hate it when they get interesting). I was only commenting on Ted's post, not yourn.

My point wasn't that any firearm is always 100% the end all be all of solutions. I was merely making a long drawn out reply to Ted's saying that "...nothing is more frightening than facing someone who obviously knows how to use that knife in their hand..."

While I agree with damned near everything you said (well actually everything but I didn't want to sound like I was trying to cozy up to ya) the thing I disagreed with was Ted's assesment of what's "...most frightening..." I'll grant that anytime I've seen a blade in someone's hand it had one of those "visceral effects" but not quite as bad as when someone had a gun.

So a blade in the hand is frightening yes, but not most frightening. That'd have to go to the sound (absent the sight - makes for a much more dramatic sequence of thoughts) of a good old fashioned pump shotgun being cycled. Next would be looking down that .75" bore. & so on.

But don't mind me too much - some senators think that we need more gun control & are acting on it so I'm probably a bit crankier than usual.

Posted by: Publicola at June 8, 2004 07:20 AM

Nic, I’ve learned to not be ‘automatic’ about taking the knife. It’s there on a day to day basis, but I’ve gotten pretty good at anticipating when having my knife will be a problem (airport, etc.).

Publicola, you are absolutely right with most of what you say, but I still think that the average person will be more frightened by a knife. A knife is personal, and at the gut-level people will imagine pain and wounds caused by stabs and slashes, whereas a gun just puts a vaguely-conceived hole in you. I’m not talking about the reality, I’m talking about instinctually. Everyone has had a paper cut, and knows that the small, almost invisible slice stings like the dickens. That’s a tiny taste of what could happen, and the imagination takes over. Few people have experience with gunshot (or similar) wounds, so there’s no frame of reference.

Personally, I prefer what Dad used to call “Iowa knife fighting” – a .45 in one hand and a big ol’ Bowie in the other. First: “POW”, then walk over and stick ‘em while they’re laying there.

Mookie, like Publicola suggests, if you want to learn to throw knives, you should also learn to handle a firearm. I’ve already mentioned it to Mom.

About the pepper spray, I’ve been tear-gassed for real during military training, and it’s some nasty stuff. I assumed that pepper spray was a milder version, but is it really diluted to the point where it isn’t effective? To my mind that’s even more dangerous than being unarmed, because you can have a false sense of security.

I think everyone has touched on a main point – personal defense should be multifaceted. Carrying a handgun is good, having a knife as a secondary defense is better, but on top of all that, the best method is to keep a clear head and know realistically what you can and should do every step of the way. And that includes knowing when to get the hell out of Dodge.

Thanks for everyone's comments and thoughts, this is great!

Posted by: Ted at June 8, 2004 07:43 AM


pepper spray varies. That's why I don't have much faith in it except as an emergency seasoning. Some people will be instantly incapicitated at the first whiff, others will get really pissed of with no other effects.

You could say the same thing about a knife or a firearm: that not everyone will automatically stop trying to hurt you when you use one on them. There are plenty of examples of a person receiving a mortal wound but still having enough motivation to harm the person who just killed them.

But this is mucho exaggarated with pepper spray because of its non-lethal nature. It more or less tries to stop someone by making the person feel bad. Like I said on some people it is very effective but it's not a sure enough bet in my book to be reliable. Soem sprays are more effective than others in general, butneither is as effective as a well used knife, baseball bat or firearm.

Tear gas is a different creature than pepper spray & odds are your exposure to the former in the military was different than any real world situations involving pepper spray. Were you in a closed building that the set off a few tear gas grenades in? That's much different than someone trying to hit you in the eyes with a spray or stream from a few feet away in an open parking lot.

In certain national parks where carryig firearms is verboten the gracious public officials recommend a peper spray made specifically for bears. Most locals who are asked about it explain that the bears prefer their tourists seasoned. I'm sure it has stopped some bears from time to time but no way am I going to trust a little can of something that I have to shoot directly into a bear's eyes when there are perfectly good howitzers available. Ditto for humans.

what pepper spray can do in most situations is distract an attacker for a second or two. That gives you time to act on another plan. If the pepper spray incapicitates the person then you have more time. But knowing my luck if I relied on pepper spray as anything other than a distraction device (for that I could use a can of over cleaner with the same if not better effect) I'd pick the one person who rubs jalepeno's in his eyes & snorts crushed red peppers to try it on.

I really gotta look up "brevity" in the dictionary cause all I'm tyring to say is that no, I don't trust pepper spray or think its effective enough for self protection. Well, unless you know your attacker has an allergic reaction.

Posted by: Publicola at June 8, 2004 05:46 PM
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