Sunday, January 27, 2013

The "inner" edge

Over the past year or so I have been working and experimenting much more with the “opposite direction” of the edge when using the knife in the reverse grip mode. The idea itself is certainly not new, probably first presented in the public by James A. Keating, while some other prominent proponents who have had influence on my approach to it are Southnarc, Ray Floro and some others (I am working on a monster review of their materials in a post to be done soon). OK, for those who are not sure what am I talking about…
Note the orientation of the cutting edge

This way to hold the knife is known under several terms, such as inverted edge, back edge, scythe grip etc, but the term I will use here is reverse grip edge in,  or RGEI for short, simply because it seems to be the most widespread one.

Of course, one of the first questions to arise is: “why would I wanna use this one”? well, obviously, for the advantages it has over the regular reverse grip, with the edge turned out. Attention! It does have its shortcomings too, but for the sake of brevity, this time I will only address the advantages.

So, first and foremost, this grip works very well with regards to both human biomechanics and mechanical construction of your average folding knife (naturally, mechanically speaking, fixed blade knives are superior to folders). When I say human biomechanics, it means that it is much easier to generate force by pulling an implement towards yourself then pushing it away. Therefore, if in a combative situation you have to cut through your opponents obstacles, it is much easier to do with RGEI then with the “normal” grip. In view of the mechanical construction of a typical folder, if you hold it with the edge out and should happen to miss your target on the stab and only hit it (or something else) during the retraction, the knife’s locking mechanism is much more likely to fail than with RGEI.

Second, this grip really forces you to focus on the manner of application that is actually most suitable with smaller knives, i.e. stabbing over cutting/slashing. It is not my intention to engage in what seems the never ending debate among the combative circles, relating to which action is better tactically. Again, I am simply talking about the circumstances dictated by the logistics, i.e. physical features of the tool at hand. Having that in mind, it makes training an average person, with little previous experience in this field, somewhat easier and quicker. See, coupled with the previous aspect of natural mechanics of motion, plus prevalence of gross motor movement under stress, this makes for the wining combination.

Stemming from the previous two points (I really like how things are so compact here), the techniques that lend themselves naturally with the knife, used in RGEI mode, tend to translate rather well and almost directly with so many improvised weapons, or weapons of opportunity, such as ball pens, flashlights, smaller water bottles, even rocks and a host of other things.

OK, I lied… I will address what is probably the biggest disadvantage of this grip. Actually not the grip itself, but the procedure of its acquisition. If you are able to carry a fixed blade knife on a daily basis, then this is not even of concern. If, on the other hand, you are sporting a folder, then the deployment of an average knife in this grip is a bitch. One way to circumvent it is to obtain the specific tailored knife, such as Southnarc’s Spyderco P’kal.

Having not had the opportunity to come by one myself, I have been working on the ways to pull those other, average folders and open them in the RGEI fashion. In short, you need to carry the knife on the opposite side of your pocket than you normally would, depending on whether it is tip up or tip down model. Once pulled, what you need is the technique that uses the flick of the wrist to open the knife by inertia (note, not all knives are suitable for this technique), and then put it to use. By the way, I like to insert a strike or two, using the still closed knife as a fistload, because it gets you to the offensive role sooner, and in my experience tends to be beneficial for the ease of opening itself.