Butterfly Knife Basics

Butterfly knives, also known as balisongs, are folding pocket knives with two handles that rotate around the blade. They were originally developed in the Philippines, where they are known as “fan knives” and have a long history dating back to the 1700s.

Butterfly knives are often associated with illegal activity and have been banned in some countries due to their potential for misuse. In the United States, for example, it is illegal to carry a butterfly knife with the blade exposed in public in some states, although they can be owned and used for lawful purposes. Despite their reputation, and especially in their country of orgin, butterfly knives can be used for legitimate purposes such as cooking, gardening, and even as a tool for self-defense.

They are also popular among collectors and have been featured in numerous movies and video games. Butterfly knives are made with a variety of materials, including stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. They come in a range of sizes and can have plain or serrated edges. Some models feature a latch that locks the blade in place when open, while others do not.

To use a butterfly knife, the user must first release the latch and separate the two handles. The blade is then swung out and locked into place by the handles, which are held in each hand. With practice, users can perform a variety of tricks and flips with the knife, such as tossing it back and forth between the hands or spinning it around the fingers.

However, it is important to note that butterfly knives can be dangerous if used improperly. They require skill and practice to handle safely, and users should always be aware of the potential for injury.

For this article, there are three main positions and openings we ll illustrate, which include the positive grip opening, negative grip opening and closed impact position, which is simply the unopened knife used as a unique striking tool.

The positive grip open starts when you are holding the knife with the lock down, facing the bottom of the palm and can flip the lock open with your pinkie finger. From there you hold the right side of the knife and open the blade and other side back, leaving you with the half of the knife in hand. From there you rotate the knife in your hand allowing you to flick the blade and other side back on your palm side. This will leave the blade up, and the other side to connect with the side which is in your hand.

The negative grip open starts when you are holding the knife with the lock down, just as in the positive grip open, but the lock is facing towards the top of the hand. In this case, you would disengage the lock with the thumb, and drop the blade and other side of the knife down. After that is completed, rotate the knife in your hand and as you flip the knife back up, only the other side of the knife will come back up for you to grab and fully expose the blade, but now in the negative or icepick position.

Please review the video I made covering both of these openings: https://youtu.be/wTCVHx3-px8

The last position I will talk about is the closed position. When the knife is closed, with the blade hidden it gives you a great impact tool, where you can strike vital areas on the opponent s body such as their jaw, neck, eye and even use it as a manipulation/control tool. See illustrations for examples of these:

Because explaining the details on how to hope or close these blades are complex to describe in words, I ve included videos on both openings. Practicing and training with these types of knifes is not only fun, but can give you great dexterity and hand eye coordination. Not to mention, if you ever have to open one of these blades as a person tries to threaten you is quite intimidating to them!

Sifu Matt Numrich

Sifu Matt Numrich is a martial artist and self-defense expert, renowned for his training in Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Martial Arts.