Preventing latch damage on Balisongs


Musical Director
Mar 22, 1999
When manipulating a balisong, sometimes the latch will fall between the handles during an opening and scratch up the back of the handle that the latch normally closes into. On the other hand, sometimes during a closing, the latch will fall between the handles and hit the blade damaging either or both.

I have posted on my web page, , the technique I use to keep my knives from being damaged by this.

Any other ideas?


[This message has been edited by Gollnick (edited 30 August 1999).]
Chuck, need to remove that comma in your url, won't take folks there with it.
(PS, I like that wallpaper, nice touch!)

But in regards to the latch, I use the latch opening metods the most, just to help keep the point of the knife nice and fresh, also I feel it is one of the fastest methods of opening a the knife! I really like that method best. Anyone else like the latch openings too?


It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me,
it is the parts that I do understand.
Mark Twain

[This message has been edited by Gary W. Graley (edited 30 August 1999).]
The other thing you can do is wrap some string or thread around the pin that the latch pivots on until it will not swing freely. Then it pretty much stays where you put it upon releasing it, usually pretty much sticking straight out from the handle end.

I have to agree with you Gary.... the latch openings are my favorite as well. I wear my sheath horizontally, just right of my belt buckle, with the latch facing forward. I usually keep my Bali un-latched, with the latch pointing down, outside of the sheath. That way all I have to do is slide my index finger along the bottom of the sheath, thumb along the middle, and when they meet....POP it up.

And by the way..... nice job explaining the tape method on your site there Chuck.

Clay G.

Latch drop openings are nice and very fast, yes. But, man can not live on latch drops alone. What about flips and spins and whips and twirls and exchanges and snaps and tosses and catches and and and... oh my.

In a combative situation, I would not A) use a balisong if I didn't have to. You know I love these knives, but the modern folders such as the BM AFCK or Rekat Escalator, IMHO, obsolete the balisong as a weapon and relegate, or raise it, to art. And B) wouldn't use a latch drop since you don't have a positive enough grip.

My first use of a balisong (or other folder) in a combative situation would probably be as either a punch weight or as an impact weapon. In those cases, a firm grip is important. A lot of people like to talk about the intimidation factor of a fancy balisong opening. This assumes that 1) you see the attack coming and face your opponent before the fight even starts (Hollywood style), 2) you will properly execute the opening when you hands are denched in nervous sweat, your heart is going about 250 beats/min. pumping a solution of 50% blood and 50% adrenalin, you have lost your fine motor skills, your opponent is trying to disarm you, and you may already have been hit, 3) that you will have the time and space to execute the opening, 4) that your oponent, who is now suffering tunnel vision and who is now actually no longer hearing will pay any attention to the opening, 5) that your opponent isn't some combination of drunk, high, or insane, and 6) that your opponent is going to be impressed with or scared by your opening. Don't count on all of these things happening.

Keep in mind also that if you draw a knife and demonstrate some special competence with that knife by executing some unusual opening, you have just (at least here in Oregon) licensed your opponent to draw a gun and shoot you regardless of what the situation may be, who started it, who hit whom, who was trying to rob whom, etc. Yes, even a criminal in the act of committing a violent crime against you has a right to self-defense if you escalate the situation to deadly force.

One of the original strengths of the balisong is that you can draw it quickly and quietly, carry it in your hand unseen, make a few hits with it and your opponent will never know why that fist felt so hard, open it quickly and stealthily with one hand, slash and thrust a few times, close it up, resheath it and be done without your opponent, or anyone else, ever seeing the knife. In a combat situation, I'd probably stick to a simple, reliable, quick, non-flashy single-flip opening.

Remember, though, a real fight is chaos. In a real fight, the best made plans of mice and me go right out the window. This is why repetitive and constant training is so very important. That two-hour class you took two years ago isn't worth anything today. You may be able to remember and show me all the techniques if you think about it for just a split second. But, in a real fight, you don't get to remember and you don't get to think.

I'll just add: twirling a knife is obviously trying to scare off a prospect, and the harder you try to look scary the less scary you look. I always laugh when I see movie villians twirling balisongs and nunchukas in what the director considers an intimidating manner. I see that more and more lately ... do soldiers twirl their rifles before they shoot the enemy??? Movie soldiers might start doing that any day now....

-Cougar Allen :{)
Hey Cougar, ya' mean I've been spending all this time practicing my twirls, and they're not good for self defense
.......crap, I was just getting good!

Clay G.

Balisong manipulation is a non-combative art. I think it's a great art, and Clay is one of the best balisong artists I've seen.

Mr. Allen said it very well. One of my favorite Hollywood knife scenes is in one of the Indiana Jones movies when the villian appears and does some fancy dance with his sword. Indy just looks disgusted with the whole thing, draws his revolver and shoots the guy. So much for the fancy opening.

Do soldiers twirl their rifles? You bet they do!... in parades.

Manipulation has combative benefits because you gain an intimate knowledge of your weapon. Soldiers who learn and practice and drill to twirl their rifles on parade are less likely to drop those rifles in combat. They may not do the fancy parade twirls in combat, but they'll use the knowledge, the feel, the experience they've gained in becoming one with the rifle.

So, keep those blades spinning.


[This message has been edited by Gollnick (edited 01 September 1999).]
Oh by all means, the latch openings are not the only way, just one of the fastest when the need arises, the twirls are neat and my daughter has caught on fast and works them very well, not as fast as dad, but pretty fast. I still haven't got the hang of the finger twirling, like in the Imada tape, I sort of get it to but then it all just goes plop. All the other openings are not a problem, just that nagging finger twirl one. I know, it takes practice which I must commit to do more.

My oldest daughter bought me a butterfly comb and that's pretty cool! It works well enough to use and all three of my daughters can work it to some extent. The middle one, Chelsea, works it the best of the bunch. She will be headed towards knife collecting I think, or rather hope.

One opening I like is the one where you end up with the blade pointing to you and the handle offered out to give it to someone, neat when they ask if you have a knife they can use. The latch end is forward, safe handle up, drop the latch side down and around to catch it leaving the handle in your hand and ready to offer it to someone. Or to bring your fist up in a blocking move, if you are so inclined. I do these purely out of the grace of the knife, not to practice fighting, since I've not ever been in a knife fight and have no intention of getting into one.

Chuck if you have any pearls of wisdom on the finger twirl please pass it along.


It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me,
it is the parts that I do understand.
Mark Twain

I realize this is a bit off topic but this is the second time I have seen reference ro
balisong combs. Where do you get them.

Oooooo....... Thanx Chuck, I'm flattered.

It's the same for just about any weapon. The things you work on most might not seem connected to their intended use, but these are the things that build confidence. Twirls and throws, all lead to that feeling of being prepared for the unexpected. To be on an intimate level with your weapon of choice. To know how it feels in all situations, expected or unexpected.

Clay G.

Chuck - I have a fair number of latchless bali-songs. Have never had a problem. A couple of holes drilled at the latch end of the handle permits the latch drop by pinching the two holes. If keeping them closed is a prob, drill two small holes on the inside of the latch end of the handle and install two small magnets to keep the handles closed.
Mr. Glesser,

Those are excellent ideas.

You could take the idea of drilling holes one step further by pounding a pin through the holes and leaving just maybe 1/16 of an inch of the pin on each side. You'd round the exposed 1/16" off a bit too. Now, you really have something to get a good grip on. Any cheap balisong should be easy to convert to this method using just a hammer, a pin punch, and a file or maybe a Dremel tool.

Again, I would really not want to risk this new pinch opening in a fight, but let's not start that thread again.

There you have it folks, a whole new opening, the Glesser Pinch Drop. Now, you need to make a .avi file and post it for us.


I have been in touch with several of you regarding the creation of a high quality Balisong. I want to thank you for your input! I am still waiting to recieve the Jaguar that Clay suggested I look at. I have rounded up some bushings, pins, titanium,7075 aluminum and some very small nyloc screws..... all I need is to come up with a good design! A Ti handled one would be down the road, I would like to do aluminum and stainless first.
I discussed the latch problems with an engineer I work with and he suggested that a delrin insert in the latch would prevent blade damage.
I have had suggestions concerning the latch that range from remove the damn thing and leave it off, to "a buttefly knife that is going to be used for tactical purposes needs a positive locking latch". This leads me to believe that there would be a need for two styles of knives, one for tricks and one geared towards utility.
I feel that I can make a quality knife, my main concern is that I am not a Balisong expert and have to learn more about the knives to make one that you experts will like!!!
Any further input, ideas, criticisms or just Balisong lore would be geatly appreciated....
An insert in the latch has occured to me, but it would just get banged up itself.

If you look at a BM45, they came so close to solving this problem... so close.

If they'd have made the handles 1/4" longer or adjusted the blade profile just slightly, then when the latch falls between the handles on a closing, it would not hit the blade, just the other handle.

Some time ago, I started a thread here asking for advice that I passed on to Benchmade for their new balisong design. You might want to scare up that thread.

Hi, Gollnick

Instead of longer handles, how do you think a shorter latch will applicable? I happened to think a latch doesn't have to go all the way over the handle width to hold the handles together, but only need to go to the middle of the handle. Then the latch length will be only 2/3 to 1/2 in length.

This came from my preference for the weight center location. For me, most of the balisongs should have its weight center more forward to the point, especially BM metal handled ones. So I hope this idea would help those who have my preference, not very few I presume.

\(^o^)/ Mizutani Satoshi \(^o^)/
Good thinking. A latch does not have to come all the way over the other handle. I have one example where the latch is a U-shaped piece of sheet metal that mates into a slot cut across the other handle about half-way across the handle. Unfortunately, being made of thin brass, this piece isn't very practical. But, the concept is there.

Maybe custom makers and even Benchmade should consider this.

For me, I seem to prefer a knife with the balance close to the center. The BM44, for example, with its thick tanto blade, seems out of balance to me. I have several knives with heavy, solid handles (no inserts, no skeletion holes) and they also seem out of balance to me. One of the reasons for skeleton holes in solid handles is to reduce the weight of the handles and bring the knife back into better balance.

If you'd like to see a combative balisong draw and opening done in slow-motion for the camera, I've put one on my website as part of my definitions file as part of the definition of "cocoon."

A new photo for the vault is on my list of things to do for tomorrow, but it won't go up for a few days since I'll have to get it developed and I'm not going back to Fred Meyer. They never even appolgized for loosing my last set. They finally, grudgingly refunded the processing costs after I insisted. But they refused to pay for $10 worth of Agfa professional film. I'll not go there again.

Balisongs -- because it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.
Hey Chuck it looks like you're getting better with the video camera. Nice job.

I posted a good amount of stuff this weekend myself. About 14 pages worth to be exact. MAN, what a job.

I can't wait to see the new vault pic, hurry up!

Clay G.