combat knife throwing... I'm not kidding you

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Dec 1, 2007
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I just read an interesting thread and thought I'd follow it up with this one.

I have studied "no spin" knife throwing for several years and, while I'm not excellent at it, I must say it has imparted a few nuggets of wisdom. For one, I don't carry a gun, and second I don't carry throwing knives. But I am learning (and teaching, whenever I hold a "class") to use objects around me as missiles whenever the need arises. Whatever I can pick up and throw works.

I had a teacher who, when we trained in the desert, would throw sand at us whenever he'd get low enough to grab some. Heaven forbid he got lucky and grabbed a rock instead. It was inevitable that he'd do this if he had the chance, because he didn't have a reason not to - if it didn't buy him an advantage at least it didn't slow him down. And he learned how to do this from his teacher, who made him throw spikes for hours on end. To him, shurikenjutsu used specific tools (knives and spikes mostly) to teach distance control, timing, and how to combine combat movement with evasion and advancement.

So here's why I started this thread... I want to know your opinions on "combat throwing," whether it's a knife or a screwdriver or a coffee mug. Have you ever thrown something at someone as a distraction or simply on impulse only to find that you gained a usable advantage by doing so? And what objects would you want to have handy in case you wanted to throw something deliberately? Please, no "I'd just pull out my Desert Eagle" comments, because that isn't the point at hand.
 

Bobby Branton

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I know there are several schools of thought on this one. I used to think it was stupid to throw a knife at someone. That was until I met Ralph Thorn. I have see him in person and I am here to tell you, I DO NOT want him throwing a knife at me from inside of 20 feet. I doubt if you could kill with a throwing knife, but I think you could seriously disable an opponent. I know combat style knife throwing is not for everyone, but I think certain people who train with the discipline like Ralph, could pull it off.
So, please, lets keep this as a serious discussion and stay on topic, or I will lock this one down too.
 
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Nov 18, 2005
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Thanks Bobby. The mention of screwdrivers is interesting because I like to throw those. If anyone is interested in seeing me in person and happens to be in the Detroit area we will be there doing a seminar this Sunday.

The wife has been pestering me to get back down to Charleston someday, it's a very pleasant place to visit...
 
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I agree with Bobby about Ralph Thorn. I first heard about him from a Houzan Suzuki video I have. Both Houzan and Ralph make it look way easier than it is (for me anyway).

I started by learning to throw an old set of steak knives. My rationale has always been that it's better to train with something basic than something specialized, so I throw chisels, scissors, and the like. I'm still not very good.

Has anyone tried throwing nails? It seems like it would be a decent alternative to throwing spikes.
 
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Nov 18, 2005
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For a long time I always thought the way you do, that it is better to be able to throw anything you can find just laying around. Then I thought about it some more and realized that carrying a knife for self defense would be like carrying a gun - a loaded gun doesn't magically appear just when you need it, and neither is a steak knife or a pair of garden shears. If you want to use it for self defense you are probably going to have to carry it with you, and if that's the case why not have the best? Speaking of which (I know this is going to sound like a mutual back-scratching party but I'll say it anyway), I was throwing some of Bobby's ten inch knives today and also a Tru-Bal he gave me, along with an assortment of junk knives, just to get some kind of practice in, and the difference in performance between blades made by McEvoy's disciples and other knives is very noticeable, to say the least.

Anyway, I still like being able to throw an assortment of objects but screwdrivers are the best. Legal everywhere, don't break, and perform a lot like knives. You could carry a set of these in your car and nobody would even blink at it, including if you got pulled over by a cop.
 
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Anything you can throw at an opponent--knife, screwdriver, coffee mug, stapler, rebar, rock, and so on--has a direct effect on his actions.

If, of course, you know how to throw it.

Folks who throw knives (spin or no spin) understand this: you can't just chuck a salt shaker at a guy like you throw a baseball. You need a different technique, and that's where knife throwing comes in. It is a game changer when you need to delay or deter an attacker.

Having something thrown in my face might make me stop. But having a properly thrown object thrown toward me will make me put up my hands. This stops my forward momentum. Another thrown object can make me stay put or even make me step back or turn away reflexively. But one thing I am less likely to do is lower my hands and step forward again...especially if a third object hits me again.

We talk about knives, screwdrivers, and nails handily. And we should. But other objects properly thrown cause significant pain, and pain deters or delays. I carry, for the rest of my life, on the thenar part of my hand (the muscle at the base of the thumb) four tiny dots. These scars resulted from an ordinary restaurant-style dinner fork properly thrown at me by someone in anger. It stuck in my right hand as I raised it to protect my face. This was in 1984, and you can easily see them today on my hand. I respect thrown objects. I learned then this could stop a fight, because it sure made me stop.

About two weeks later, maybe, I saw a buddy of mine throw a spoon straight into a piece of wood. A cheap spoon: and I thought hell, I caught a fork, and now another guy can stick a spoon. Maybe a knife isn't the only option at the table!

There is no shortage of objects you can use in rapid succession to just whip at someone who approaches. And while you do, you can step away, move clear, access a better weapon or just escape. If he steps back from it, he is positioned to be off-balance and you can move in for a quick takedown. Whatever. But for all the BS I hear about people who can use anything like a weapon, I shrug--because if you don't know proper throwing technique, you don't know how to use most things as weapons.
 
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That's a great story - do you think he used a shuriken type of technique to throw the fork?
Overhand throw, just like a knife, to my recollection. It happened fast, but doubt he used a special technique. We were about ten feet apart, and he was backing away.
 
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Jun 22, 2011
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I started knife throwing in my backyard several months ago, just for fun. To put it mildly... I suck at it, BUT I'm much better than when I started. I use the spin method. I tried to self teach the no-spin method and I had a harder time with it, and since I was getting moderate success with the spin method I kept at it. Once I have my distance down I can stick my Cold Steel Perfect Balance Bowie Throwers about 75% of the time. Where am I going with this...

When I knife throw I use about 50% power. This will stick a knife in a side of redwood far deeper than if I just try to stab at it as hard as possible. It's not even close. 50% power from a throw is more damaging than 100% power from a stab. Next point...

Sometimes I practice by throwing around 90% power. I basically baseball throw the knives (Cold Steel makes tough knives.) I'm not trying to judge my distance when I do this, I just throw hard and try to be accurate. Within 20 to 25 feet it is DIFFICULT to miss a smaller than man sized target. Even throwing hard I group my throws in about a foot or less. I would have no problem hitting a person in center of mass within 25 feet. The speed of the throw at that distance would be extremely difficult to dodge. I'd say almost impossible unless they start the dodge before the throw. Even then it would be very difficult.

When I throw at around 90% power I have trouble removing the the knife from the target if it sticks. At that power I routinely make the knife stick with the blunt butt end. I've even had it stick with the spine of the blade.

So, if the knife is hefty enough (I think the Cold Steel Perfect Balance thrower is about 15 oz.) it doesn't even matter if you get a sticking hit. It will produce enough force to cause some major damage. If it sticks... game over.

The only scenario I can imagine actually having to throw a knife in self defense is perhaps if I was hiking and was attacked. Even then I would probably have a gun with me, or pepper spray. However, I might also have something like a Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel that I could "draw" from my pack. That would make an excellent hand held weapon and would be deadly if thrown hard. A big bowie knife would be good as well. I've actually thought about buying the massive Ontario SP-10 Marine Raider Bowie to practice throwing with. I like the idea of throwing my camping tools... I'm weird like that :)

Throwing a weapon, in my mind, is an absolute last option for self defense, BUT it's an option! If you have nothing else, and the situation calls for it, I think it could be a very effective choice.
 
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I just stumbled across this thread. It seems to me the act of throwing something in self defense is a natural one perhaps even genetic in nature. Children need to have the impulse trained out of them. Therefore, taking this natural impulse, formalizing it, developing it to maximize its effectiveness and training with it is a logical progression of events. Indeed, historically, we are discussing the evolution of skills started in the early caveman period of our development and as such has been shown to be effective over millenia.
 
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Aug 14, 2011
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Hi
I am new here but thought i would throw (pun intended) my thoughts on the matter.
i spent some years training/teaching in martial arts (a few different ones) and a few jobs were i had to employ such skills.
there is imo no perfect style/form of martial arts and some styles of fighting will work better for some than others. I often hear people say grappling/jujitsu is best (as it works well in ufc etc), but imo i don't like it as a primary fighting system for various reasons, but i do see it as another tool for a well armed fighter.(just a example not wanting a argument over fighting styles)
this would be how i look at knife throwing, as stated by others its not the be all and end all of weapons training but it is a very handy skill to have.
I am sure most knife throwers would have a much better chance of hitting some one with a object (non knife) in a defensive situation than a non knife thrower
 

MEJ

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Jul 24, 2011
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I think throwing knives could be really useful for a lot of reasons. For example what if someone else is getting attacked and you were good enough to hit them but not quick enough to get there in time? In that kind of situation i would not hesitate to chuck a knife at them if i had a clear shot. Maybe if i was the one getting attacked i would not throw my last one but say he had a gun, because a knife coming at me would definitley make me miss my shot giving enough chance to get to cover. (Might be a bit off topic)
 
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Nov 10, 2003
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Intresting thread, just came across it. An article about Grey (Skeeter) Otter appeared in Blade magazine, but this is the gest of it.

http://paladinplanet.blogspot.com/2011/06/greatest-combat-knife-throw-on-record.html

There is also a youtube video of a guy throwing needles through glass and a guy (maybe same guy don not remember) throwing playing cards to cut cucumbers in half. If he added some tomatoes I'd have a nice salad.
 
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lol, I put up a video on youtube a while back of me throwing a fork, I threw it like a shuriken. I did flatten it out first though but it seems to work pretty well, just not at any distance, I think I was throwing from around 3 meters, maybe 3.5. Butter knives don't work well for me though, they work for spin throwing but I'm not very good at it.
 
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Mar 15, 2011
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I've never seen "no spin" knife throwing with power. It might work with a knife if everything goes just right, but I don't see it working with improvised objects. There just isn't enough power to cause real damage. If you spin throw an improvised object it can cause damage without a "stick." You can spin throw a lot of objects at 90mph. If it hits right you have extra power imparted by the spin and a possible stab. Even if it doesn't hit right, you have impact damage because of the power behind it.
 
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A longggg time ago, at Fort Drum, N.Y., during our two weeks annual training, I had a 18" Ontarion machete, my own, which I brought to summert camp.Big old pine trees were bin the area of the Barracks. I would throw the machete at the tree, sometimes it would stick in. Most times it would bounce off, the same with the jet pilots knife we were issued .( alot of bent blades on those) Try to explain to the Supply Sgt. why you needed a new knife, and why was the turn in was bent?.ANTWAY, I found I could stick my machete in the tree more frequently, by measuring from the tree to my throwing point, by the number of times the blade turned end over end. I would then draw a line with my boot, and stand behind that line.
I impressed some of the troops that passed through our area. They wanted to try throwing, and I let them. I did'nt tell them the trick of it. They failed to stick the machete in the tree.Of course that plastic handle broke. At home, I fabracated one handle out of 1/2inch alum.too heavy)I then fabracted a handle for another machete ouut of 1/2 inch micarda. That worked out fine.
 
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I'd be wary about any claims of speed. I can throw with either method pretty well--and based on video capture, my spin throw was about 40mph, and my non-spin about 35mph. 90 mph might work for a major league fastball, but that uses an entirely different delivery mechanic, and would be a poor choice for sticking a weapon. Impacting with a rock, on the other hand, would very much benefit from a baseball-style throw, but I'd lose the telegraphed windup, T-stretch, and crossover and just go for a step-and-throw.
 
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