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The Knife Whisperer – The Whispering Reverse Grip Knife Tip

The Whisper Tip of the Reverse Grip Knife

I’ve heard the whisper. Have you? The secret tip.

“If you see a guy hold a knife like this (reverse grip) watch out! He really knows what he is doing.” 

Said the tipster who knows nothing, anyway. A receiver from another tipster who knew nothing. I have heard that “insider tip” numerous times. One time, I was even told this tip by a guy who had never been in the Marines, but heard this tip from a “Marine friend.” The irony was I was in Triangle, VA, hotel restaurant next to the Marine base Quantico, there teaching Marines among other things – “knife.” Some of it saber grip knife.  

I have nothing against the reverse grip. I teach it too. But, how many times have you heard or been told, or been taught the reverse grip is the only grip to use? Because there are some popular courses out there preaching this idea. I am often both depressed and fascinated by the paths and ideas of various knife courses. Some appear to me like death cults, others have what seems to be oddball, incomplete conclusions.  Take for one example, the obsession with dueling. While dueling can happen, it is not the only thing that happens in a knife fight (ohhh, like ground fighting?)  Most never cover legal issues and just cut and stab away. Some way over-emphasize Sumbrada patterns. I could go on. Another is the various obsessions with knife grips.

In the 1980s, I was at a Dan Inosanto seminar and he said. “there is no one perfect knife grip, just the best one for the moment.”

Man! That little phrase stuck with me forever as a baseline. Sometimes I think I have short-changed myself as a teacher when I state my mission statement is total “hand, stick, knife, gun.” I think it subliminally shortchanges the 4 individual courses in the minds of practitioners. Courses of which I think are terrific, otherwise I would improve them or not teach them at all. I have slaved over these courses for decades to keep them simple and thorough. “Each course is stand-alone.” So, my stand-alone knife course seems to get buried inside this bigger mission – nomenclature.

I worry about knife grips too. With my Force Necessary: Knife course, I insist that a practitioner learn and experience BOTH the saber and reverse grips. Then after much COMPLETE study, they choose what their favorite grip is, based on the “who, what, where, when and how and why” of their lives. I never tell them to automatically favor any one grip. Pick one, but make it an EDUCATED choice (and not a whisper tip choice). I like both grips. But some don’t like or respect both grips and for odd and incomplete reasons.

The first time I received any training with a knife was in a Parker Kenpo class in about 1972 when they received Kenpo knives and dull trainers from Gil Hibben. The knife was designed to be held in a reverse grip and used in a kick boxing format. This initiation caused decades of Kenpo-ists to hold their knives in a reverse grip as though Moses, not Gil Hibbens, had handed them knives from the mountaintop. In the late 1990s I was teaching in a multi-instructor camp and a old Parker Kenpo black belt was there with his little group. I was covering saber grip material ( a pox! ) and he would horde his people over  into a corner and show them the “proper, reverse grip way” to fix what I was doing saber style. Which by the way his was more complicated and somewhat awkward than the simple saber material I was covering.  

Finally he had to approach me and said, “you know, the reverse grip is the superior grip.”

I said, “no it isn’t.”

He glared at me.

“You can do just as much or even more with a saber grip,” I added.

He stormed off – his 7th dan “master” self, all upset that someone younger in blue jeans and a polo shirt told him flat-out no. (oh, did I mention that he also makes and sells reverse-grip-only knives?) My next session by the way, I covered some reverse grip material, as I am…an equal opportunity stabber.

People pick grips for odd reasons too. I recently read from a guy writing about his grip choice. He said he once saw someone with a training knife, saber grip, stab a mitt and the guy’s hand slipped up on the blade. This made him pick the reverse grip. Really? That? Well, as a detective who has investigated knife crime for decades, I can tell you such slippage happens with BOTH saber AND reverse grips. It depends on the knife! It’s shape, handle texture and any guard/hilts, design, etc. Dear Reverser – your hand slips down on a reverse grip too. Jeez. In fact, a hammering reverse grip deals a mighty blow and your hand needs to be protected perhaps even more, versus an ice pick grip slip.

There are people and courses out there now that mandate the reverse grip, ignoring the saber grip, therefore treating the saber grip as worthless? Mindless followers argue that:

“well, the reverse grip is the Filipino way.”

“The reverse grip is the Pekiti Tirsia way.”

“Ex-super-copper Pete Smith says the reverse grip is the best.”

People! People….people. FMA does BOTH grips. Pekiti Tirsia also teaches tons of saber grip material. And Pete Smith? He is just, flat-out, wrong-headed about this. He is not as smart as you think. He is not as smart as he thinks.

And I will go you one more reverse grip oddity that’s worse. There is a sub-culture out there that wants you to fight reverse grip, with a single edge knife, with the one sharp side, “inside,” facing back at your body. Not edge out to the outside world, where the enemy bodies are attacking you, but edge back at you. Dull edge at the enemy. This is its own unique thinking disorder. The world you are fighting is OUT there, not in your armpit. And why must you hook and haul ALL your enemies, ALL the time inside and close to you? Can you? Can you hook ALL people, ALL the time, in for your one- trick, special magic?

You should have a double-edged knife, which is legal in some places, or you should have a knife with one complete sharp edge and the other side/edge   1/4,  ½ or ¾ sharp anyway. (the so-called “false edge,” a confusing term for “civilians.”) Then the edge-in-only argument becomes moot, because you can still slash and stab, and stab and slash the outside world. But to purposely plan and buy and limit yourself to one edge, then limit yourself with that edge-in only, is…is…just a thinking disorder. It’s a dangerous, thoughtless, thinking disorder. People even make up these excuses…

“Well this type of knife is meant for…”

“I like this type of knife because when the guy is here, I can….

“It works really good for getting his arm away when he’s choking me…”

The guy is…here? How’d he get there? Dude, your “meant for” list is too small when you consider all the possibilities you might face. So then, are you going to carry 3 or 4 different “meant-for” knives for when the he’s here, one for one he’s there, and two for when he’s everywhere?  To cover all your “meant-fors?” All knives work well on an arm when someone is choking you. Dude, maximize your survival with the most versatile knife. “Meant-for knives” is like putting 2 rounds in a six gun, and then carrying 3 pistols. 

Why in the world…WHY…buy a fighting, survival knife to save your life and the lives of others that is single-edged? And then…and then…carry it, and use it, edge inward?

You do know sometimes in a fight, things don’t always go as “stabbingly” as planned. The reverse grip, edge-OUT offers a slashing  possibility, an ADVANTAGE that might diminish the opponent. A double-edged, or 1/4 or 1/2 edge or 3/4s on the other side is ALWAYS going to be an advantage.

Reverse grip tip in accidents. When the Samurai commit suicide – seppuku – they do it with a reverse grip. There’s a reason for this. It’s easier. The tip is already aimed inward. (Incidentally, the helper that will kill him if he fails? Holds a saber grip.) This “easy-tip-inward” is one more point no one seems to consider when raving about reverse grips. The tip is often aimed back at you. About once every 4 weeks on the nightly reruns of the “Cops” TV show you can see a reverse grip knifer get tackled by cops. When they turn the suspect over? He was – “self-stabbed.” One of our lesson plans with the reverse grip is self-awareness of these maneuvering problems.

I cover dropping to the ground and we see people stab their thighs, and when tackled or shoved against the wall, we see the “Cops” incident of the accidental self-stabbing. Tell people to practice falling while holding a knife and watch the accidents. If people are running and holding a reverse grip knife, and they trip and fall? Watch out! There are more reverse grip “selfie” accidents than saber grip ones. Just be aware of this!

Having written my extensive and popular knife book, which took years, studying crime, war and forensic medicine, working cases and the streets, you discover that there are about some…what.. 30 or so ways to fight people with a saber grip and about 25 ways with a reverse group. But, after 8 ways each, does it matter? 

There are many pros and cons for each grip. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST THE REVERSE GRIP. I teach it also and I believe better and more thorough and thoughtful than most…or I wouldn’t try. I just don’t like the blind acceptance, the secret whisper about which grip is the best and which is to be ignored. And folks, the single-edge-inward version is just dangerous nonsense. And It bothers me that people thoughtlessly accept courses about these things. Question everything. Get educated. Then pick a knife and a grip you need for your world.

The knife is a very forgiving weapon, in that you can do a whole lot of screwed-up, stupid shit with a knife and get away with it. This is not an excuse to stay stupid. You have to think beyond that to create a comprehensive program and promote real knowledge.

Look, I really don’t care what grip you use as long as it is an EDUCATED, informed choice, and not some mindless, mandate from some short-sighted, and, or brainwashed person, or from that ignorant knife whisperer who knows somebody, who knew somebody else, who…

Some Responses:  “Years ago I was grappling with my training partner and had a wooden training knife in the reverse grip. Long story short, we went to the ground and I fell on the training knife and caught the tip in the ribs. That definitely made my eyes water. Since then I’m very iffy whether I’d ever use that grip with a live blade in a real situation. I still train both grips but I much prefer the saber grip due to the added reach, maneuverability, and the sharp end isn’t pointing back at me most of the time.” – Neil Ferguson, USA

“I was at a seminar where an “expert” told us that if we see a man using a knife in that grip to “Run! That man is a professional!”  First off, I’m gonna run either way genius! A twelve year old can get my wallet with a two inch folding knife. Stitches are expensive!  Furthermore most women use that grip when they stab. Are they professionals??” Zane Issacs, USA  (This leads us to wonder, do we not run when the man has a saber grip? – Hock)

*****

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Fighting Paring Knives and Fighting Kitchen Knives and “Tactical” Scissors?

(Note: This essay years ago, garnered me the greatest amount of hate mail ever. Granted I wrote this as a somewhat sarcastic, at times tongue-in-cheek, freestyle. But the hate poured in. (I saved them all). The best was one calling every “student” I had worldwide as stupid and uneducated because I knew nothing and I just tricked stupid people. )

      To me, a knife is a knife. Sure there are many different kinds of knives, some better at some things than others. But in a primitive level, a knife is a knife. So, when some folks pop up “on the martial market” suggesting , and even at times arguing that a smaller, paring/fruit knife is suddenly real good for knife fighting, my answer is “ahhh…yeah, okay, so…”

     I would never have excluded paring knives as a potential weapon. Of course not. Perhaps I have worked way too many police cases where kitchen knives, big and small, have been used. Of course they can be weapons. Always have been.

     There seems to be a little fad/craze recently about using paring or fruit knives for fighting, instead of bigger knives or tactical folders, if even as some sort of a trick. A legal trick? A street fight trick?  You know, those little kitchen knives just about everyone has and uses. A knife here in the States, you can buy for about a dollar or two in the common, Dollar Stores, or Walmart, or in every grocery storeOne guy told me that when he lands from a plane ride, he runs to a cheapy store or supermarket right away, and buys a paring/fruit knife for self defense. Good idea? Although I don’t know how he’ll carry it around, but its good for the hotel room and…thereabouts. I don’t know. Why not? More on this “paring-knife-carrying-around” in a bit.   

paring knife

     And I do worry about the classic hotel room defense problem too, especially in weapon-free countries I work in. I don’t exactly travel to the best and safest places all the time. I was in Africa one night, and the power went out, various people filled the streets outside and…well, that’s another story…

     But do take a look at these paring knives. They are pointy, sharp and  cheap and you probably can get them anywhere. Not a bad idea. Cheap knives. Expensive knives. I saw a fixed-blade knife in a big knife show one weekend back in the 1990s. It was very cool. It was about $175. Then my wife and I were in a kitchen store in an outlet shopping and they had kitchen knife sets for sale. From a distance, I saw a set with similar designed wooden handles. I looked closer, I swear, I swear, the middle knife in the set of 8, looked EXACTLY like the $175 knife I saw at the show. The whole kitchen set was like $19.99. Ever since then, I have been really pessimistic about the cost of knives and branding, etc. Sure, probably the knives were made differently. But how much? And what do you want to do with them. Who, what, where, when, how and why? Specifically, this equation – “Who-knife,” “what-knife,” “where-knife,” “when-knife,” “how-knife” and “why-knife?”

     While we spend a lot on special “fighting” knives, we need to mention it is long known, world-wide, in law enforcement circles that simple kitchen knives of all sizes are used a lot – like in …70%, 80% or 90% – (I’ve even heard once 95%?) of all knife attacks in the civilized world. The rest of the world? Good chance you are going to be attacked by a knife-like, handy “tool” they use in the jungle, woods, garages or farm fields. Thereabouts. And then of course, next there is the use of the “tactical knives” to take up the statistical slack. In or out of the field, the military rarely uses a knife in combat, but rather as a handy tool, and when it does, it won’t be a little kitchen knife. I have a friend who works security in Mexico who translated a famous, underground phrase into English for me –

“You will be killed by a 5 peso knife.”

     5 pesos or $500, I am not a collector of knives, per say, so I do not collect them just for the sake of admiration and collection – if you know what I mean. And I mean to say that I do really like the looks of some knives, but to me, they are just tools. I don’t collect pairs of pliers either. Or hammers. Do you see what I mean? That is how boring I am. Simple tools. Use-able. I understand that some people really do love collecting knives. Fine with me. Have fun with it, I say. If you want to spend $1,000 and get a super-duper, steel blade that will stab and penetrate an Army tank? Go for it. I’d like to look at them too. Hold them for a few seconds and flip them in my hand. “Size” them up. And so forth. But, I’m just not going to buy it. Buy it and then…what? Stick it in a drawer somewhere in my house?

“I like my tools to be weapons, and my weapons to be tools,” -Paul Howe, retired war vet, Delta Force

Instead, I suffer horribly from, my malady, is the collection of knife TACTICS. Knife moves. Knife movements, Knife techniques. Knife situations. Not the collections of knives for the collection, adulation sake. 

pliers

     Most of you already also know how I feel about carrying knives officially called like,  Close Quarter Combat 7 or,  SEAL Team, Throat-slitter 6, …or studying knife courses with crazy names. (Remember the more macho you really are deep down? The least you need to show it.) Its all fun and games with macho, militant knives until you actually use your “Klingon CQC De-Bowelizer” in a fight. Or, you have graduated from knife courses with violent names like “Beserker,” or “Destructo.” What about that “Prison-Stick em” course with special “prison-stick em’ knives? Or, you proclaim you are a “bastard child of the knife mafia.”  Worry about the name of your knife and the name of your knife course. Police and prosecutors will. We/they will take a hard look at this and add it to the demise of your freedom. Please trust me on this. I have worked these cases. The name of your knife and the name of your knife course, like your comments on social media, works for you or against you. Whack-job tattoos. Grow the fuck up. If you think you are defending yourself in some ultimate knife course, how well will you defend yourself AFTER you stab the crap out of someone, with all this mess in your background? I recently saw a webpage of one of these out-lander knife “families” and someone wrote a little ditty about “cutting someone balls off and sticking them in the newly-knife-emptied eye sockets.”  YOU…are a sick fuck. YOU…are why the rest of us carry knives and guns.

     But, back to the fruit/paring knife which started these ramblings off.  Will the world treat you better if you have a paring knife and not a commando hatchet “in your pocket?” In the real world, a paring/fruit knife is still but a knife. Can you walk around with a paring knife and be safe from police scrutiny? Whatever knife, in the end, a knife is a knife. To a cop who pats you down, a knife is a knife. We know about the record high use of kitchen knives. So, to further confuse the police and society, the idea was/is floated on the internet of sticking said fruit knife into a piece of fruit, all inside a plastic bag, into your pocket?

    And walking around like that, pretending an eventual, later hunger pang, with all that bulky, wet, rig bulging in your pocket, (as suggested by some young Mexico cop? Or, as I am also told the fruit/knife/bag idea was originated some by other people years and years ago?). But wait! I heard this years ago with walnuts. Stick the small knife tip inside a walnut and have some of these nuts loose in your pocket.

“Oh noooo, London officer, Sydney officer, (______ insert city officer) I just like nuts.” The rig might be better in a little paper sack? Or maybe better – a metal lunch box? Then you get to look like Charlie Brown walking to school all the time.

     Using that wet pocket carry for “plausible deniability?” Nahhh. You know, I just don’t think so. Maybe in some rural area of Mexico? Or a picnic area on the coast of Greece? I think they are really S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G this pocket method of carry in a desperate ploy to sound innovative. To me? Not so much. Being a cop and being around cops for most of my adult life – a cop sees a knife. A knife is a knife. What happens next will all fall into local length laws, knife laws, personalities and the situation, etc. A police officer or detective doesn’t say,

     “oh look, how cute. A harmless, fruit knife in a pomegranate.”

     If the fruit knife is illegal by local law, the length and so forth, then the knife is just plain illegal, even if stuck in an avocado in a plastic bag in your pocket, or stuck anywhere else. This will not fool anyone unless the police deem the carrier is like a certified Forest Gump type. Or maybe the investigating authorities are dimwits? The situation will rule out. 

     You can of course, carrying your sheath-less paring knife inside your pocket with a little clever Origami (folded paper ala Japan). It won’t be a sheath-sheath, but you won’t sit down, say, and stab your thigh. Will it come freely from the paper sheath or require two hands to clear the knife? If the knife, this…this paring, fruit knife…is “legal” in size and so forth, you don’t need the fruit, the plastic bag, a  nut, or the “hungry-later” tale. Still, even with the bagged knife, the police, the prosecutor, your lawyer or your embassy might think you a shallow liar. (It was suggested somewhere that …”spies”… carry their murder weapons in such a manner to fool the local, hapless gendarmes.) I would first, instantly think you a liar. Two strikes. Strike one – you got a knife. Strike two – you are lying to me. Try that in New York, England, Australia or parts of Canada and see what happens, or in some USA cities. London, England is now on a massive, anti-knife, witch-hunt, ban. But if the knife is legal. It’s legal. Stuck in no matter what. Stuck in a sheath. A walnut, with a pocket full of walnuts. A peach. The overall situation counts. As they say – the “totality of circumstances.”

     I think part of the mystique is also, that you will more easily fool and stab someone suddenly with the knife in fruit and in a bag? You know – street, trick them? Think hard about that one. You are threatened. You smile, and slowly extract your bag/fruit/knife rig out for a quick, refreshing bite. Does the loan-shark, or crack dealer, mugger, or psycho not see…a KNIFE! Just exactly where, why and when would you do this or ANY such fruit trickery? Do you want to walk around all day long like this, day after day, after day with a wet, fruit bag in your pocket? What set of circumstances and situation calls for this knife/fruit/bag idea in YOUR life?

Can you stab a guy with such a short knife with its tip in fruit, all while inside a zip-lock bag? Think about this people! When “God made his little green apples,” some of those apples are hard. How hard is the fruit you using like Loki to confuse the police?  Better be some soft peaches. And let’s not get into the lesser penetrations of really small, naked, knives, least of fruit-laden ones. 

     Worse, as soon as the fruit trick gets out on the world-wide-web of clever tricks and plans and was published? Well, it’s out on the internet as a clever trick! 

     The arresting and prosecuting parties can look on the net and your Facebook page, your social media, your favorite groups, (are you a bastard child of the edged weapon, grim-reaper, balls-in-the-eye-sockets, cosa nostra?) your tattoos, etc. and see its a “world-wide,” web trick.

     Changing subject course a bit again (sorry) while I am rambling, while we are pondering/kicking-around, common, last ditch tools, especially in your hotel room, I can’t help but think of scissors? Last ditch? Scissors, the kind that can be disconnected at the joint/hinge as in the photo below? I travel all over the world with scissors. You can’t really walk around with scissors either in many countries. Your motivation could and will be questioned, though I know people who have scissors in a leather scissor carrier on their belts – using the old excuse that they are “needed for work.” (by the way, the next cop question is “where do you work?” And prove it.) I always have certain pairs of scissors in my hotel room, at very least. And…thereabouts. Some open and come apart, like in the photo here. Open em’ up, a little like one of those damn balisongs, and split em’ apart if you can. You got two edged weapons. Small, tough scissors blades hinged together, can actually feel just like a push dagger and small scissors are not illegal to possess. Just don’t put them in carry-on luggage. 

Multi-purpose-scissors_1

     Recently, I learned from a contact that in a factory in Canada, there was a series of knife assaults. The knives were issued by the factory because they were tools needed for the job. Management, frustrated with the crimes, collected all the knives and issued scissors instead. In a meeting, one of the employees stood up and took the scissor halves apart and held one half in each hand. He said, “look, they took away my one knife, and gave me two knives instead!”  The contact said the halves, blades and handles were quite excellent-shaped, individual edged weapons. There are many scissors on the market that cannot be taken apart, but some can. (Oh, and by the way? No, I am not suggesting that people give up their knives and carry scissors, as some readers with low reading skills here have misinterpreted and smeared me on the net).

Scissors as knife

     In the three decades I worked in patrol and investigations, I recall numerous times when scissors were used in fights. Domestics and self defense. I myself can’t recall a “scissor” murder I worked on or helped out on, but I am more than confident there have been in the annals of crime. I don’t remember anyone ever opening the scissors up and taking the blades apart though, which would enhance the “knife-like” use. I have also inspected crime scenes where the victim had the chance to grab scissors and did not, unable to psychologically identify them as a weapon. I recall one horrendous rape scene. A woman escaped into her bedroom and locked the door. While the intruder/rapist worked to open the door, the woman had time to gather something to defend herself. She didn’t. The man burst in, beat her and raped her. I was called to the scene. There atop the bed stand was a metal pair of scissors. Numerous other things were available too. She didn’t “identify” scissors (or a lamp, whatever,) as a weapon.

     Knives. Scissors, Edged weapons. But once you use a commando knife, a paring knife or scissors in a fight, whatever, the time bomb of arrest, prosecution and lawsuits begins ticking. Clever “plausible deniability” becomes maybe what next? Aggravated assault,” maybe? And, or maybe “murder”? What actually happened? Who, what, where, when, how and why? Situational. When the police discover you have taken courses in “Cartel Knife Fighting” it starts to work against you. 

     Edged weapon innovation. Every few years a knife maker asks me to design a knife. I pass. I really would not know what to design? What could possibly be a new knife design? I mean, I can pick up some restaurant steak knives and some feel like magic, don’t they? How to be different, to design something different? I would probably suggest to the knife-maker the simple commando knife, only not completely double-edged, dodging that law. Maybe a pair of take-apart scissors, or a weird looking screwdriver or something that. No sales for those, though. And therefore, they’d say no. 

     If someone made tactical, combat scissors? Then that gig/secret would be “up” and the trick “outed” too on the web, wouldn’t it? The…combat scissors! Think about the combat cane. The combat baseball bat that has been converted into a black plastic weapon. Tricks out! We know it. We see it. Even discussing this here, teaching the message here, sounds like part of the conspiracy to fool the authorities.

      Probably for sales, the scissors would have to be stamped on the side – Hock’s Tactical Combat Scissors by the company, with a mean looking design/logo. Maybe a skull of some sort? Maybe with…a tongue out and about to be snipped off by combat scissors? Yikes! Why else make them if you can’t sell them to the extreme, tactical/practical crowd? That logo could also potentially be a tattoo? (I’d get a cut! Pun intended!) 

     But legally, it would be safer and smarter just to name them, Aunt Sarah’s Knitting Club Scissors, – as etched on the side. And no, I am not suggesting that people get scissors, get a small sewing kit, put them in a plastic bag and carry them around in their pockets to fool the gendarmes. But if so, maybe the police would look at them and say,

     “oh, what a cute little pair of Aunt Sarah’s knitting scissors!”

     All fun and games until someone gets stuck in the eye with a pair! (as any good Aunt Sarah would certainly warn us against, once she saw us playing with them…)

(oh and by the way? the official stamped-engraved, “Hock’s Combat Scissors” tactical scissors thing is a joke. I thought I would add this disclaimer because some stupid people have read this and criticized me for my ‘”combat/tactical scissors” idea. Dear Low I.Q. reader – it’s a joke.)

Hock’s email is hockhochheim@forcenecessary.com

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