The Disciple: A Defensive Knife made by Trace Rinaldi
Written by Don Rearic


The Disciple is specifically designed to be easily concealed and carried but also to serve admirably in an open carry role as well. The entire concept behind The Disciple is to have a small fixed blade that draws fast and is legal in many areas. A knife that can be used to clean fish or while hunting to clean game, if you so choose. But still be 100% viable for defensive purposes if the situation demands it. What a concept! A small knife, legal in many areas that you can actually carry without breaking a bunch of laws. This is not a knife that gets by on “Combat” looks, but one that is very effective for Self-defense.



The Disciple is designed not only to be used in reverse grip with the cutting edge facing inwards, it is designed to be comfortable in that role. Most knives do not feel comfortable in this position.


Please take note, from this point on in the article, I will refer to “reverse grip edge in” as “Pakal” as this is more accurate and shorter.



The Knife


Taking a ruler across the edge, from in front of the choil where the edge actually begins to the point, the edge is three and one quarter inches long. This is a bit deceptive as the edge has a nice curvature to it, which gives you more cutting power.



From the front of the Micarta scale to the point is just over three and one half inches long.


The overall length is just about seven and one half inches, overall, a nice, compact package that is very easy to carry.


As far as my stainless steel ruler is concerned, the blade is one-eighth of an inch thick! Absolutely razor sharp with a needle point, this knife is designed for effortless penetration and equally effortless cutting on the withdraw or during hooking maneuvers. Trace Rinaldi really did an outstanding job of configuring this knife to do precisely what needs to be done.


Just a bit more on the point of The Disciple. Many people might think that a knife designed for thrusting would have a different profile than The Disciple. Please consider the words of another fine Craftsman:


"One might only have 50 or 60 foot pounds of energy behind a stroke, but, when concentrated on the needle point of a blade, it literally adds up to an astronomical amount of pounds PSI [Pounds Per Square Inch]."


- Bob Engnath


No, The Disciple is not a Classic Tanto, but the observation rings true as to the reality of having a very fine point. The fine point and the overall thin profile of The Disciple are made possible by utilizing CPM-S30V. Just as important as the steel is the heat-treating of the steel. The Disciple is heat treated by Paul Bos who has a reputation in the industry that is legendary. Experienced Knifemakers like Trace Rinaldi have discovered that this steel can be ground quite thin while still retaining so much strength, it truly is an incredible steel. All of this combined with good corrosion resistance and edge retention adds up to an awesome package with an ease of carry that is hard to beat.



No Guard?


This knife is guardless, with this method we will be discussing; a guard would be superfluous. A guard could impede the draw from concealment, becoming entangled in clothing, especially if you are actively fighting an assailant or grappling with them. The knife is easily thumb-capped with the thumb on the butt of the knife; a guard on this type of knife would be redundant.



Some do not like thumb-capping, saying that the thumb could break on a hard thrust. I think if you have thrusted that hard without thumb-capping, your hand would go down the blade anyway. I have tested this using the Trainer on various dense objects and I have not found that capping with the thumb would be injurious to the thumb.


The focus should be on working your grip to increase strength and protecting your hand. Thumb-capping is a very secure method. As with any endeavor related to fighting, you have to have a very strong grip. It does not matter if the weapon is a firearm, stick or a knife.


With that in mind, the knife has a small, integral guard and remembering how the knife is designed to be used, the little finger fits into this integral guard nicely and locks the hand in place. The green Linen Micarta scales that form the grip are comfortable in the hand yet it is finished by Trace Rinaldi so the Micarta is not “slick” to the touch but has a “grippy” feel to it. Micarta is as pleasing to the eye as it is tough.


All of these attributes come together – along with the actual shape of the knife’s handle, to make for a secure package that is not only fast in the hand, but fast to draw as well.



Kydex Sheath



You can have an excellent knife and if the sheath is not up to par, you don’t have a System. The Kydex Sheath is cleanly executed and practical. More importantly, Trace Rinaldi struck the balance between security (retention) and being able to draw the knife fast. Remember that you might be rolling on the ground with someone, you might get stomped a bit before you can legally justify using a weapon anyway. It will do you no good if your knife is so fast on the draw that someone kicks the sheath hard while you are grounded and dislodges the knife and you roll over onto it compounding your injuries.


Just a quick tug and the knife is out, but it firmly holds the knife and that is exactly what you want for safety as well. Knives that are very easy to draw with a slight tug are preferred over those that you can simply “lift” out with two fingers very easily.


The Sheath has a Blade-Tech Tek-LokÔ that can be moved to a few different positions or it can be removed and the knife carried a few other ways as well. Depending on your familiarity with various ways to utilize ParaCord, you might come up with a few other ways to carry the knife. The Tek-Lok is secure on the belt, much more so than many other attachments people often use for Kydex or Concealex Sheaths.



The Trainer


There are so many people who are carrying knives for defensive purposes that are fooling themselves. While it is true that the folding knife is even more reliant on having a matching training knife, it is still incredible to have a dulled and rounded version of your preferred fixed blade.



The Trainer that Trace Rinaldi has crafted matches the overall feel, balance and weight and really lets you know the capabilities of the knife’s grip and how it moves, especially against someone being combative to a degree.


Because this is a steel Trainer, or Drone, as some prefer to call them, you still must exercise extreme caution when using one with a training partner. The Trainer can damage you, they hurt when they are misused and can cause injury. It can knock teeth out, injure eyes, throat cartilage, break fingers, wrists and ribs – quite easily with someone who is overzealous.


There is no way around it. It makes no sense whatsoever to have a small defensive knife and then train with an aluminum or rubber Trainer that is much larger than the knife you are carrying.


The Trainer is the same basic size and shape as the live version and it feels perfect. It has Red G10 scales for the grip; Red is becoming the “Industry Standard” for “Training Color” now.


You need a Trainer for light to medium – highly controlled – contact, the reason being, you have to know what it is like to move limbs out of the way after thrusting or hooking into them. Nothing is going to pull the limb out of the way like metal, even hard rubber does not have the power that metal does. Metal gives you feedback and allows you to actually feel how it would be to really perform the movement. Again, you must be very careful with a Training Aid like this.


Not many people want to make such a device for Training and Trace Rinaldi should be commended for that as well.



What is “Pakal?”


This is not merely a review of a knife. The knife is excellent, but the knife was designed with a specific method in mind and that method is “Pakal.”


Pakal in the Visayan dialect of the Philippines means to rip. Pakal is synonymous with “Ice-pick Grip” and more importantly, having the knife in a reverse grip with the edge facing inwards. Yes, the edge is facing in and not out to the attacker. Like an animal’s claws, Pakal movements are designed to pull in and tear apart flesh and not push it away. Shearing through pulling limbs in - an almost Praying Mantis type of movement with the knife in Ice-Pick Grip is another way to describe some of the movements in close-quarters combat using Pakal.


This is an unconventional grip to some people. Many well-meaning people that do not understand it are quick to say, “No, I want my edge facing the attacker so he has to fight through the edge to get to me.” That is a valid statement and method of fighting with a knife, however, when used as a criticism of Pakal, it is not valid.


The reason it is an invalid criticism is because Pakal Methodology is primarily a thrusting method as opposed to a cutting method. If one does not understand this, one cannot understand Pakal. The thrust creates openings that can be exploited and any cutting, shearing and tearing is usually secondary.


When you push someone away and they are still viable, if they come back in again, you have to clash with them again. And in that moment, everything can go wrong. You don’t want to have to engage, then continue to allow them to disengage and reengage you over and over. They might get lucky. Yes, you might get lucky as well but in a world where multiple attackers are a very real concern, do you really want to keep playing that game hoping you hit the jackpot and the other guy doesn’t?


If you slash outwards, even if you are fast and strong, the assailant may still have the opportunity to fade back a bit and diminish your cut, robbing the power from it. In the Pakal Method, that becomes the mechanism that wounds them. If they do not pull back, we pull back and rip and if they do pull back, they rip themselves anyway. Much like a snare, they are already caught and their only hope is to try to ride the blade to avoid the damage, a difficult thing to do in a fast-moving altercation involving weapons.


In order to understand Pakal Methodology, you must understand that it is primarily a thrusting method and cutting is secondary with the cuts being ripping and shearing wounds. These are not “slicing” slashes and cuts, as many people are accustomed to from exposure to other methods.


Further, to completely grasp Pakal, you must understand the dynamics of real world assaults instead of squaring off and Duelling. You must intimately understand the reality of sharp force injuries that are documented as well.



Pakal: Guerilla Warfare with a knife.


What exactly is the “method?” The method is, as we have discussed, having a knife in reverse grip with the edge facing in and not out towards the attacker. What does this method offer you? Let’s break it down.


Guerilla Warfare is Unconventional Warfare. If using forward grip or other grips could be described as “Conventional,” this method is best described as “Unconventional.”


In Guerilla Warfare, the rule of the day is to hit and run. You do not utilize lengthy engagements with the adversary because lengthy engagements can be quite costly. Guerilla Warfare is all about deception and feints to set the opponent up in a place of weakness that can be taken advantage of.


If Self-defense is not “War in microcosm,” then why do so many Martial Artists study works like Sun Tzu’s “Art of War?” Strategy transcends the amount of people that are fighting. Pakal is deception and relies on speed, ferocity and controlling tactics to keep you safe.


You do not have the luxury of time in a world of multiple attackers who might very well be armed in this day and age. You cannot become entangled with one person and make the engagement with that one person a Chess Game. The Chess Game is the entire environment and not one person.


Pakal is thrusting and ripping at the core of the movements, the short blade is best used in that manner and especially so in reverse grip. People wear military-type heavy jackets, denim, leather and if you think about how sophisticated criminals have become, the possibility of encountering a violent predator wearing some form of real body armor should not really surprise you. Slashing against heavy leather jackets, fresh denim and Kevlar body armor is not going to have much effect unless you have a very large knife that is razor sharp. You can cut through these materials with a smaller, sharp knife if you anchor the materials to something that does not yield. When you try to do that on a fast-moving attacker, everything can change, they move and take power away from cuts.


Because of clothing and the flailing movements in a fight, the short knife is best used primarily as a thrusting weapon. The basic idea being, when a weapon-bearing limb comes into your sphere of influence, in that area that is dangerous, instead of cutting it like you see in more Conventional methods, Pakal dictates that you try to thrust into it. If the thrust lands, you pull and rip and the startle reaction of the attacker increases the wounding. As this is happening, you pass that limb as you move by them if at all possible, and you strike them again, several more times with the goal being – incapacitation.


If the thrust does not land and the point is not buried into their weapon-bearing limb, you get a hooking movement that still shears and that shearing effect is incredibly powerful – much more powerful than merely slashing outwards with the edge facing out.


In the Pakal Method, the first thing that touches the attacker wounds them. The point is obvious, thrusting into that limb or some other part of the body. If that fails or the point should skip across, you get a hooking pass that cuts on contact.


I always tell people this, if you are attacked by someone that has a knife, do you think you could get your hands out there to slap the limb that is holding the knife? They usually answer like this, “Yeah, sure, but that is not knowing how to fight with a knife either.” It is that simple. You have a knife in your hand; if you can then get your hand out there to slap that incoming, attacking limb holding a weapon, yes, you can bury the point of a knife into that limb and destroy as you control.


Any attempt to stop this can be met with Pakal “Jabs” to the facial area and/or neck. This can get the attacker’s hand(s) up to protect the face, giving you something else to target, hooking or thrusting into those limbs to pull them down and away, wounding them as you do so because your edge is facing inwards and you are pulling.


Pakal Jabs to the face are linear, fast and non-telegraphic and they are generally directed at the face to get the person to turn away or cover up so you can then have them in a position of temporary weakness. You can then exploit that weakness, end the fight and save your life.


Pakal Jabs and short, very tight – arcing thrusts as well as hooking to pull, clear and cause extensive damage is the focus of Pakal. Repeated thrusting to the face, neck, chest, lower abdomen and kidneys, as necessary, until the assault on your person is stopped is the rule of the day. Why such a ferocious method? We will discuss that in a moment. There are very few “One Shot Stops” with knives and there is no really “safe” way to disable someone or cause enough hemorrhage to the point you could consider the movement an instantaneous cessation of hostile movement on the part of the attacker.

Obviously, if the person is struck several times and he surrenders or falls to the ground, you would not be justified in “finishing them off.” We are not advocating that at all. It would also be against the general concepts of “hit and run” and getting out of the area – to stay there and “finish” someone. That’s not in the game plan although it might be in a Military application of the same method – out of necessity.

There is also the possibility that as you go by them and/or get behind them, having multiple attackers closing in, that you could thrust the knife into the body. Then, using your other hand wrapped around them, grab your knife with both hands to sink the knife and control them. You can steer them with the handle of the knife; you can steer them into other attackers or you can position the attacker you have under control in between you and the other attackers. These sorts of movements are also in some schools of Japanese Tantojutsu.


There is much more, but you can only place so much of this material in an article. It really is that simple and the goal should be to hit and run and not spend time on any attacker. Your goal should be to get beside them safely and ultimately behind the attacker. Like the Guerilla, you want to cause confusion if you have multiple attackers and not simply stand there and engage one attacker until you are in a hopeless situation where you are surrounded.

The One-Shot Stop 

There have been – possibly – millions of words written about “Handgun Stopping Power” and the “One-Shot Stop.” Most One-Shot Stops come from shotguns and rifles, not handguns. If we ignore Central Nervous System (CNS) hits, when these One-Shot Stops do come from handguns, it is usually because the person being shot believes that they should go down, a psychological response ingrained through watching popular movies, etc. Then there are people like one of the Miami bankrobbers, Michael Platt, that continue to fight even though they have a severe wound, possibly mortal, or several serious wounds. They go down only when their body tells them to, they continue to fight. This is why you see one trained man go down from a .22 long rifle hit to somewhere in his torso and another man like Platt continues to fight with an artery severed from a 9mm hollowpoint bullet. One Law Enforcement Officer in that now famous “Miami Gunfight” stated that Platt actually smiled as he shot while spurts of blood erupted from his severed brachial artery in his upper arm. That wound, left untreated, will obviously lead to exsanguination – bleeding out – but direct pressure can stop it. People have survived far worse in combat.


There are three basic One-Shot Stops:


·         CNS hit or a devastating hit to the heart or thoracic aorta where either structure is instantly and almost totally destroyed.

·         A Psychological “stop” where the person believes they are supposed to react a certain way when shot.

·         A Surrender “stop” where the person believes if they continue hostilities, they will be killed, and they give up.


There are so many people out there, no matter how skilled they are or how well-meaning they are, that are perpetrating myths. A person will not necessarily exsanguinate (“Bleed Out”) in thirty seconds from a cut that severs their brachial artery in their upper arm.


This could be a fatal wound if:


-          Their blood does not clot.


-          The surrounding tissues do not cause pressure to stop the flow of blood (tamponade).

-        Or if direct pressure is not applied (tamponade).


It is not an instantaneous “stop.” Unless the person believes that is supposed to stop them and they pass out from shock, from their own reaction to it. Or, they might believe that the only way they can survive is to immediately cease their assault on the other person, they surrender and/or run away.


Dr. Newgard states that in most cases, it would take transection [complete severing] of the thoracic aorta to cause enough hemorrhage to cause unconsciousness in about 4 to 5 seconds. (Originally in an Article about Handgun Terminal Ballistics at All hemorrhage is cumulative, to be sure, but that is a lot of time in a fight and especially in a fight where the person you are trying to incapacitate may have an edged weapon of his/her own or a firearm. It's not a great situation to be in.


“For an average 70 kg (155 lb.) male the cardiac output will be 5.5 liters (~1.4 gallons) per minute. His blood volume will be 60 ml per kg (0.92 fl. oz. per lb.) or 4200 ml (~1.1 gallons). Assuming his cardiac output can double under stress (as his heart beats faster and with greater force). His aortic blood flow can reach 11 liters (~2.8 gallons) per minute. If one assumes a wound that totally severs the thoracic aorta, then it would take 4.6 seconds to lose 20% of his blood volume from one point of injury. This is the minimum time in which a person could lose 20% of his blood volume... This analysis does not account for oxygen contained in the blood already perfusing the brain, that will keep the brain functioning for an even longer period of time.”


-          Newgard, Ken, M.D.: "The Physiological Effects of Handgun Bullets: The Mechanisms of Wounding and Incapacitation."  Wound Ballistics Review, 1(3): 12-17; 1992.


In Self-defense, we are not concerned with killing someone. You must be justified in using lethal force if you use a knife because the knife is lethal force. But the goal is not killing, rather stopping the assault on your person as quickly as possible.


What we are intensely interested in with regard to Self-defense is incapacitation. Newgard simply points out that it is nearly impossible to cause “instantaneous incapacitation” without wounding the central nervous system.


When the vascular system is targeted, a determined and motivated attacker will remain viable until hemorrhagic shock occurs. What this means in the realm of firearms is, you may have to keep firing and striking the attacker until he goes down and the knife is absolutely no different.


Consider that. How can you expect someone to go unconscious in thirty seconds from arterial bleeding – from an arm cut, when it takes four to five seconds to lose consciousness if their thoracic aorta is cut in half? It is fantasy. The Vascular Nurses and Trauma Surgeons I have consulted have said that they cannot accurately predict how long it would take for someone to “pass out” from their brachial artery being severed. Although they are all in agreement that larger arteries and veins are capable of this in several seconds up to several minutes. This depends on many different factors.


Again, many well-meaning people know that this is not reality and they have taken another path, instead of focusing on vascular targets, they target the structures of the body that allow hostile movement to continue. They seek to disable the attacker by targeting muscle groups, tendons, etc. The muscles and tendons that control grip and arm movement primarily.


Like hemorrhage, structural damage is all cumulative, but there are still no guarantees that you are going to sever enough muscle or sever the tendon you are targeting in a fight where people do not behave the same way they do in a martial arts demonstration. People become ballistic in their movements, especially with knives, what you see in these various demonstrations is not necessarily the reality you are going to face when you are trying to save your life in the street.


In the street, people don’t stand there and freeze and allow you to carve them like a Thanksgiving turkey. Unless they have totally lost touch with reality because they are an Emotionally Disturbed Person (EDP), chemically fueled on a drug like PCP or they are simply not scared, when something touches them that is sharp and/or pointy, they act more like they have touched something very hot. They become spastic in their movements, quick to move away. We wish to capitalize on this common reaction. We want to make the most of it.


And if that person that has attacked us is still viable and threatening, more vital areas have to be targeted.


This is what Trace Rinaldi’s knife, The Disciple, is designed to do. Easy to carry openly or concealed, fast to the hand with an excellent carry system, capable of deep penetration and vicious shearing.


Why all the gory details?

 The details of trauma are important because the study of that will save your life. The subject of using edged weapons for Self-defense needs to be on a firm realistic footing like firearms now are.


You examine, closely, some of the instructional materials and methodologies being sold today and you will see people squaring off and when a solid hit is landed to the hand, people turn away, they give up, more or less saying, “I’m dead!” This is not a fight. That is a Duel to “first blood” and that’s not reality. If you think everyone is going to cease hostilities because they lose a finger or something, you have another thing coming when you meet someone who is really serious about damaging you.


If someone were trying to get in your car with your child, would you fight even if you were wounded? Of course you would! Why don’t we consider the fact that some violent criminals are just as serious about their goals as we are?


A lot of these ideas are based on Duelling. There are no multiple attackers, there are no secondary weapons coming into play, there is nothing but the Duel to these people. There are valuable things to be learned from these people and what they teach and put forth, but some of it is terribly flawed.


It has been said, “proximity negates skill.” We have heard this in the past and on face value, it is true to a degree because even a skilled person can be killed in close-quarters combat by accident.


When you examine how assaults happen in the street, the phrase “proximity negates skill” loses a lot of value. We are no longer speaking of people squaring off; we are now in the realm of drawing a Self-defense weapon while being choked, beaten or restrained by one attacker so another can strike us. These are real world assaults, someone might push you into a wall and then they are reaching for a weapon and you have to react. Close proximity on the street is a given, people do not attack you from across the street.


I don’t know what lurks around the corner and I don’t know what will jump out in my face or if the person will shrink at the sight of a weapon or their own injury or blow themselves up like the hood of a Cobra.


Regardless of the danger inherent in close range with a knife, if you are going to carry one and truly rely on it, you better know how to fight in that range. Instead of saying it is futile to do so or making up excuses as to why you are not focusing on this. This is where real world conflict happens on the street. It is right in your face. It is not squaring off to Duel and having an agreed upon distance or distance predicated upon the threat of your knife being in a guard…threatening their entry.


You’re out shopping and minding your own business and it happens! You’re not going into a situation where you are going to confront someone and challenge them.


The question then becomes, when all of the concepts and ideas put forth fail and you find someone drawing a knife after they have thrown you forcibly into a wall or a vehicle, what will you do then? Do you think you will magically create range? I don’t think so, that’s why I study everything and you should too.


The most effective method of using an edged weapon for Self-defense, in my opinion, is not to rely on pain to dissuade a homicidally aggressive human predator, nor to rely on hemorrhage or even structural damage. No, it is to combine all of those elements into a strategy that does not stop until the assault on you has ceased.



 Trace Rinaldi – A craftsman of the highest caliber, renown for his survival and tactical designs, Trace was the ideal choice for this project. He is an exceptional maker in the custom “tactical” market because his focus is first on function. The workmanship on his knives and his keen eye for detail is a testament to his ability. When first approached with this project Trace displayed real enthusiasm and took the time to understand the unique design elements demanded by this unconventional knife. During the process Trace obtained an understanding and appreciation for this knife and its use in close quarters defense scenarios.


Design Team

Daniel Long – Interested in knife design and more so in their application to defense situations, Daniel served an integral role as both a designer and as the liaison between Trace and the rest of the design team. His background is in grappling, western fencing, Filipino martial arts and Thai boxing.  Daniel’s eye for aesthetics has been honed over the years through his exceptional work as an artist and was an essential contributor in the final design.


“Southnarc” – A narcotics agent in the southern United States, “Southnarc,” his pseudonym on the internet, is an accomplished martial artist whose background is extensive. He began his training in the martial arts in 1974 in Tae-Kwon-Do and he achieved the level of 1st dan in 1982. After leaving Tae-Kwon-Do, “Southnarc” began training in Shorinji-kempo and Aikijitsu in 1983 and continued until 1986.  At the same time he trained in Kito-ryu Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido, both of which he has attained dan ranking.  Subsequently “Southnarc” trained in Inosanto/LaCoste Kali in 1988 at the Francis Fong Academy and he has experience in Wing-chun with Sifu Fong and Muay-Thai with Ajarn Surachai Sirisute.  He was introduced to Bukti-Negara and Serak Silat through Pendekar Paul Dethours and Mande-Muda Silat with Pendekar Herman Suwanda.  In his extensive study of these arts, he has logged over 200 hours personally with Guro Dan, Sifu Fong, and Ajarn Chai.  “Southnarc” also studied in Kito-ryu in ’90 while concurrently studying at the Fong Academy.


“Southnarc” began training with Doug Marcaida in Pekiti-Tersia Kali in 1993 and focused on this art until 1997.  From 1997 until now he has focused on integrating his training into a product for Self-defense and law-enforcement through observing academy cadets as the lead Defensive Tactics Instructor.  Over two thousand police officers have been trained under his supervision and he is currently an active-duty narcotics officer.


His efforts to spread the word on this method have no parallel. Not many understand this method and “Southnarc” has gone to great lengths to share his passion and spread the effectiveness of the Pakal Method and much more.


Don Rearic – Which would be me, the Author of this article. I have a background in Jujutsu, having started at about the age of nine and continuing on to the age of fifteen. A fleeting interest in Tae Kwon Do followed that. I continued to watch the Streetfighters throughout my youth and drifted out of the whole Martial Arts scene until my early twenties when I re-entered it, having had my interest sparked out of necessity in Arnis. That “necessity” was being employed as an Alarm Service Investigator and Technician. During that time, I was once again exposed to some vicious Streetfighters. Unable to obtain a handgun carry permit because of my employer, I had to use what I could legally carry, that is what led me to Filipino Martial Arts with the emphasis on edged and impact weapons.


I have learned valuable skills from such a diverse group of people, from Bikers and Ex-Convicts through Martial Artists in Ed Parker’s Kenpo System, Bando, and on through Defensive Tactics from Police Officers. I was shown the Pakal movements from a long time Pekiti-Tirsia Player who was primarily an advocate of forward grip and not Pakal. This also changed my view on the Filipino Methods I already understood and practiced.


A special thanks to Daniel Long for the information on CPMS30V as I tend to not keep up on steel developments. This is a steel that has some very good properties! Also, thanks to Daniel for Bio information at the end.


Special thanks to both Daniel Long and Trace Rinaldi for providing the pictures in this article!


Don Rearic


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