Small Knives: Theory and Application
Most who are educated on self-defense have incorporated some type of edged weapon or knife into their combative profile. There are many theories on what type of knife to carry for everyday use and how to apply this age-old tool in self-defense. This article shall address small fixed blades for everyday carry and where they fit into the overall scheme of fighting.
Small knives are first and foremost, just that; small. We’re usually talking something with a three-inch blade or less and an overall envelope of seven inches or so. They’re greatest attribute for everyday carry is their compact size. They can be carried anywhere on the body. Around the neck, on the waistline vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, on the arm, on the ankle…the possibilities are endless. Because they are small one can even carry several of them in different places on the body with relative comfort and ease.
Many dismiss small knives saying that their greatest attribute of ease of carry is their greatest weakness when it comes to actually using them in a fight. The analogy is usually made between large handguns and small handguns.
Personally I think those who dismiss small knives as useless are not familiar with the overall dynamics of a fight.
Fights are close range affairs for the most part. They are usually from a couple of feet or so between the combatants to a clinch where the participants have tangled and are jockeying to strike, knee, bulldog, and choke.
If we understand that for the most part range cannot be controlled then the efficacy of small blades begins to surface.
First is the issue of access. Any tool must have a logical scheme of movement, to be brought into play that encompasses economy of motion. Small knives, because of their profile, usually require a lot less movement on the part of the user to get into action. If we understand that large movements are restricted in confined spaces and that often we’re at bad breath range with an opponent, then small knives begin to fit into the fight a bit better. If someone throws a punch at you, and you instinctively flinch, there’s a good possibility that the antagonist’s momentum will carry forward and create a tangle of limbs. Is it easier to draw a two-inch fixed blade from the waistband or an eight-inch Bowie, when you’re fighting for space just to effectively strike? Can you really pull off the range of movement required to haul eight inches of steel out of the waistband, especially if you have a short torso, when you’re that close to someone? Think about it.
Continuing with this line of reasoning, because we’re using a smaller tool, we’ve opened up the number of locations on our body where these little lifesavers can be concealed. At close quarter, a portion of your body may be blocked from access by the assailant or by the environment. If you’re shoved against a wall, and wrapped tightly it’s difficult to get to anything on the torso from the hip points rearward, a location that many favor for carry of tools. However a small knife carried around the neck or on the arm may still be reachable. Again, options. You can’t do that with a Hell’s Belle Bowie.
The same principles of close quarter fighting that allows one to access a smaller knife easier carry over into actual application. Because movement is restricted, long sweeping slashes are nullified. With a small knife, one can index the edge or point on a portion of the body and pressure forward. With the edge, the tool bites a bit into flesh and then is drawn in whatever direction that one has free to move the limb. With the point, the length of the blade is inserted into the target and then torn around with the edge of the blade doing all the cutting on the inside of the target. Tearing of triceps and biceps from the bone, and disemboweling someone are all possible now. Or because a lot of movement is not required the knife is pumped in and out of the target using thrusts. Most seasoned criminals use a blade in this manner, on the street and while incarcerated with great success.
Finally when looking at small knives one must view their attitude about fighting in general. Do you carry a weapon in hopes of intimidating the opponent? Do you believe that it’s really a good idea to tip your hand to any adversary that you're armed with anything? Why would one knowingly give up the advantage of surprise?
Small knives are meant to be felt not seen. The theory behind them is assaultive not duellist. These tiny tools are meant to be used in conjunction with a great deal of aggression and ultraviolence and complement elbows, knees, headbutts, and bulldogging. If the fight’s not yet on they can be drawn surreptitiously and kept hidden until the fight goes. In-fight, they can be accessed and deployed quickly before the adversary knows what hit him. There is no weapons fixated method for application. They enhance what you should already be doing, which is fighting with vicious and brutal efficiency. Look at small knives as tangible ambushes. They come out with speed, shock, and surprise. Now you’re dictating the terms of the fight, not him. He’s reacting to you, not vice-versa. In fight weapons access and unpredictability are in keeping with the tenets of OODA principles. Tools quickly accessed and used with economy help you step out of the reactive loop that an aggressor initiated attack puts you in.
Below is a picture of several small hideout knives that are part of my personal collection. I carry them as needed and can even carry all of them comfortably if I wish. Lettered in the picture are:
A. Taylor “Master” concealed Bali-song knife/pen set.
B. Pat Crawford Devil’s Dart
C. H.G. Long Lapel Dagger
D. H.G. Long Thumb Dagger
E. Bud Nealy Mini-Max
F. Fred Perrin LaGriffe.
G. Fred Perrin Street Surgeon.
H. Mike Yurco Concealment Claw
I. Mike Yurco Neck Claw
J. Pat Crawford Keychain Claw
Almost any of these little nasties can be carried anywhere and come out from anywhere. How effective are they? Well I think it’s obvious that by now effectiveness is predicated upon the user. Ignore small knives at your own peril.
(“SouthNarc” is a Police Officer in the Southern United States assigned to a Narcotics Task Force. – D. Rearic)
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