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Throwing knives/books - recommendations?

Jun 22, 1999
Watched a movie the other day, "LadyHawke" where the good guy takes out a baddie with a knife throw from a good distance (25 ft?) and wondered how far it's practical to do this before the number of spins make it purely a matter of luck.

Seems like throwing is an interesting topic in itself and also wondered if the throwers out there have a beginner's book and/or knives to recommend before I'm tempted to test on my BM 710.

David, thanks for the link. Seems some pros can do more than 30', but I wonder how accurate that is.

Anyone know if martial arts adherents or military operations train to throw?

Seems like a good way to lose your main advantage, but there must be times when a throw is your best or only option (bears, tigers and woodchucks notwithstanding)
There are a couple of good books out about throwing. One that immediately comes to mind is Gil Hibben's book of Knife Throwing. Very inexpensive and very informative.

There are many throwing knives out there also. Everything from custom to production.

I recently picked up a few of Cold Steel's new throwers. They are weighted very well and are sturdy knives(also not expensive at all, about $12-15 retail. Other production throwers are put out by United Cutlery using Hibben's designs. These are a little small for my tastes though, as I like the larger (10-14" knives).

As far as using one to throw at an opponent. We are talking real life here and not the movies. It takes a LOT of practice to get good with a throwing knife, and even then you are trying to hit an object that can move out of the way. Even if you hit the person or animal, the odds of a clean hit are minimal at best.

Also remember one thing. Why would you give your opponent another weapon to use against you. The first rule of using any weapon is to NEVER let it get away from you because it just might be used against you.

That said, feel free to pick up a couple of throwers and have fun. It is not as easy as it looks.

C.O.'s-"It takes balls to work behind the walls "
Jailhack: Thanks, I'll check on the Hibben book the next time I hit my knife store (they have a lot of Hibben stuff).

I agree about movie vs real life, but my life behind the desk may not be the same reality as someone lurking in a combat zone (including yours), so frankly I sometimes (often, really) don't know what's real.

I agree about the tactical (oops, I said it) ramifications of donating a weapon to your opponent. Does your remark mean to imply that knife throwing is NEVER emphasized in a serious combat/martial training program?

I wonder then if every movie scene involving a throw was pure fantasy? Movies sometimes feature the hapless hero severing a rope with a throw from 16 ft away to save someone otherwise out of reach...pure fiction I'm sure, but real life can be stranger than fiction.

Does anyone recall a real life or historical use of an effective knife throw (ie, not necessarily to take out an opponent)?

The actual name of the book is "The complete Hibben Knife Throwing Guide".2nd edition 1998.
And now that I look at it, it may be possible that it is only available through dealers, because it is copyrighted by United Cutlery. If you can not find it locally and still wish to get it, drop me an E-mail and I will get you one.

There should also be a few other good books out there.

As far as your question pertaining to any martial arts teaching students to throw knives, I have never heard of any, but then again there are now so many different forms that one of them just might (I hope not).

Like I said previously, it would take a tremendous amount of skill and luck to actually throw at an opponent and have it cause damage (clothing,bones,odd angles,distance,etc) would all be on his side.

I still will go with the theory of "never let your weapon get away from you".

You can also check out these sites for more info:
Thrower- crl.com/~mjr/thrower.html
Sticking Point- commonlogic.com/knife

Hope this helps.

C.O.'s-"It takes balls to work behind the walls "
Jailhack, thanks again. I'll let you know if I have any trouble finding the book.

it would take a tremendous amount of skill and luck to actually throw at an opponent and have it cause damage

The hero (Rutger Hauer) in Ladyhawke ends up with Michelle Pfeiffer... does he have skill and luck or what
I'm not an expert, but as a teen I put a lot of time into knife throwing. Long range knife throwing depends on knowing your range precisely. At one time I had my driveway marked with lines at one meter intervals. The lines were labeled in a rotating sequence short, medium, long-- short, medium, long... I knew if I was on a "short" line I needed to take a slightly smaller step into my throw and spin the knife a little faster than my relaxed "medium" throw. At "medium" lines I could use my optimum step and spin. At "long" lines I would stretch my stride and reduce my spin. Using this marked out course I could routinely sink a knife in a target at up to 50 feet, but it needed to be a really big target. On good days I would always hit a full 4x8 foot sheet of plywood and often hit a human siloette.

Once you get off of a measured range I wouldn't try beyond about a two turn distance. I always threw from the blade so my favorite ranges were out to 18 meters.

Forget all of the Hollywood stuff. They very rarely make actual knife throws anymore. I have been called by the studios often to pick my brain to see what goes thru the mind of a Knifethrower. That is mostly so that the actor can make it look real. Forget the self defense nonsense about trying to defend yourself against an attack. If you throw a small knife at a large guy like me you will more than likely tick me off real good and make me even more angry. You would have to train for years to even think about such a thing and even then one slight movement could blow your throw. Harry McEvoy wrote some good books in the 70's and 80's. I think that Knife World carries one of them , if not I could help you find one. I sell a variety of throwers and can help you find what you need off list. I will be glad to help.

Bobby Branton
American Knife Throwers Alliance
Hisrtoricaly speaking, throwing knives and axes and hatchets and those sorts of things were quite common and used to soften up an enemy before you actualy make contact with them during a charge.

The discus and hammer throw, as well as shot put, are all Olympic events that recall this. Weapons themselves are found the world over, three that come to mind would be the chakram, franseca, and boomerang. I'm disregarding spears since they aren't really part of this class of weaponry.

Spanish knife forms, like El Cuchillo or La Navaja, frequently teach knifethrowing, not as a primary means of defense, but to give you extra options. They teach to throw without the blade rotating, and if you have no other weapon, to close rapidly remove the knife and get to work. Range depends on your skill, but 20ft. is probably the outer limit.

It would most heinously suck to get a large knife tossed into you, though a small one wouldn't do much.

It appears that the closed mindedness about knifethrowing as a means of combat stems from the work of Col. Applegate and other military authors. Their distaste for knifethrowing likely stems from the fact that if you give a group of soldiers a knife and some spare time they're gonna throw it, and somebody might get hurt. And the fact that the knives commonly carried weren't suitably lethal as throwing weapons, and that chucking an edged weapon at an enemy doesn't impart the same adavntage for a modern army as it did a pre-firearms force.

The "tactical" considerations appear to be quite recent. I think there are also those who just don't want the practice associated with hurting people in any context for personal reasons. If it's a sport it draws less attention from insane legislators.

However, you're not talking about a situation where you toss a dagger in somebody's back and he keels over. A few might do it, and I hear some people are starting to hunt this way.

Throwing knives really isn't that hard to do, even against a moving target, or I'm a helluva lot better with minimal practice than all these guys who do it profesionaly or with greater frequency than me. Or maybe throwing without rotating is just inherently better than doing the spinning number.

If you want to get some good practice in at hitting moving targets, get a thick dowel and chop it into several foot long sections and have a buddy run around while you chuck them at him. You can pick this up pretty quick if you have any coordination at all.

If you want to use knifethrowing for defense, I suggest doing like they do in El Cuchillo, toss it and jump the guy before he has time to recover.
Thanks all for the great feedback. This forum is really quite a school of information.

Let me make myself clear that I have no intention of learning this for self-defense.

This was partly a reality check because knife throws are so common in the movies that I wondered why I never heard of the same situations happening in real life...well I think you all answered that very well.

My only other motivation is that the sound of a solid "ka-chunk" into a target seems satisfying, and I'm just contemplating whether that should be a knife or arrow when I have the time to learn. Thanks to all for providing me with some leads there, as well as a sense of perspective.