The Fighting Knife: A Life-Saving “Silent Partner”

The Fighting Knife: A Life-Saving “Silent Partner”

WE have borrowed his excellent term for the fighting knife from the title of the late John Ek’s little Classic pamphlet, Your Silent Partner, which once accompanied the individual purchaser’s “Ek Commando Knife” when these blades were sold to our fighting men during the second world war. While John Ek has passed on, and his little Classic has long since gone out of print, the fabulous Ek Commando Knives are not only still available, they are even better than their original WWII versions, and you do not need to be a member of the armed services or the intelligence community to purchase one! (During the early years Ek knives would be sold only to such official persons). Along with the legendary Randall Made Knives, we honestly cannot think of a better made knife for close combat than the Ek. These are not the “only” great fighting knives available — but in our opinion, they stand at the top of the product list. The Applegate-Fairbairn Fighting Knife, the famous Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Knife, and the original Vietnam-era Gerber Mark II Combat (later, “Survival”) Knife, also rank as near-perfect choices. These last three also having been combat-proven and having a much smaller price tag (not being hand-made) than the Eks and the Randalls.

From the first edition of the Classic, KILL OR GET KILLED, a photo of Rex Applegate demonstrating how to attack a man using a fighting knife. In our opinion the WWII method developed by Fairbairn and perfected by Applegate remains the premier knife combat method. It is fast, simple, and deadly. It will of course work with any knife, but a specially made fighting stiletto offers enormous advantages as such a knife is made for anti-personnel use.

From the first edition of the Classic, KILL OR GET KILLED, a photo of Rex Applegate demonstrating how to attack a man using a fighting knife. In our opinion the WWII method developed by Fairbairn and perfected by Applegate remains the premier knife combat method. It is fast, simple, and deadly. It will of course work with any knife, but a specially made fighting stiletto offers enormous advantages as such a knife is made for anti-personnel use.

The critical thing in knifework (our preferred term for this aspect of close combat) is of course not the weapon, but the man. Mindset, a proper degree of the basic skill, fitness and agility, and supporting unarmed combat skills and knowledge, all go into making the best all-round knife fighter. And when we speak of a “knife fighter” we are most definitely not speaking of a “man vs. man duelist“. We are speaking of a combatant — a fighting man (or a private citizen trained in the fighting man’s skills) — who possesses the mental and physical acumen to take hold of a knife and attack an enemy with it, and do what it takes to neutralize that enemy at once, and completely. Knifework is offensive, never defensive. And although a knife may certainly be employed in self-defense, it must be employed offensively if it is to be effective. This turns many people off, and for most individuals in Western culture, the knife is a distasteful weapon. This is regrettable in the extreme, since, after a firearm, the knife is the most deadly and fearsome weapon that a man can use in personal combat. It offers not merely a physical advantage that virtually eliminates considerations of size and strength between adversaries, it offers a psychological advantage that in many cases surpasses that which a handgun offers its possessor! Nobody fails to shrink from the prospect of being stabbed and slashed viciously with a sharp blade. The well-coordinated, agile and ferocious combatant with the desire to kill his foe, and who has a razor sharp fighting knife in his hand, is an enemy that no sane man would wish to confront. We have always found it unfortunate that our society, unlike the Asian and Latin societies, disdains the knife as a weapon. Since the U.S. military does not issue a fighting knife to every soldier who is dispatched to a combat area, we recommend to those military servicemen who are anticipating being sent into harm’s way that they obtain their own fighting knife, and learn how to use it! Then, never leave camp without it! That fighting knife should be within speedy reach (as should a reliable handgun — but that’s another story), and it might easily save an off-duty soldier from being kidnapped or taken by surprise in some other context, when his shoulder weapon is unavailable. Unfortunately there are laws forbidding private citizens from carrying knives of a certain length (in the USA) or any knives, at all (in London, England, for example), and therefore we certainly do not wish to advocate that anyone violate the law. So, we will not urge anyone to carry a knife where doing so would be breaking any law. But check. If the law permits you to do so, then learn how to use a knife in personal combat, and carry one that the law allows you to have on your person. Fixed-blade knives are always preferable to folders — but quality folders are preferable to nothing. The best of all folders for self-defense is the Applegate Combat Folder. It is available in two sizes — one that was scaled down a little to permit it to pass as “acceptable for carry” by private citizens in most urban areas. Buck Folding Hunters are good lockblade folding knives, too. Whether the best combat knives (Randalls, Eks, F&S Commando knives, etc.) may be carried or not is one thing. That private citizens may (in the United States, anyway) own and keep “at the ready” in their homes any fighting knife they wish, and as many of them as they like, is LEGAL, as far as we know. Check with the appropriate authorities where you live. If in fact you are lawfully permitted to keep whatever knives you wish in your home, then take advantage of that, and see to it that you’ve got a few lethally formidable combat blades strategically placed inside your dwelling — just in case. If convenient and to your liking, you might wish to learn knifework from us. We teach the offensive/defensive employment of the knife, and we have been doing so since the early 1970’s. Our system incorporates the Fairbairn/Applegate methods, the Biddle/Styers methods, elements of ju-jutsu and kenpo-karate maneuvering, and some innovative skills that we have created and which we lace into our program. But if you simply purchase a copy of Kill Or Get Killed and Cold Steel, and study the knife fighting material contained in those classic books assiduously, you can teach yourself a good deal of effective knifework. We’d also urge that you obtain Applegate’s book, The Double-Edged Fighting Knife, which offers some excellent material, too.

Getting Some Experience Using The Knife

Don’t worry, we are not going to advise anyone to go out and use a knife on someone in order to learn what it’s like! In order to know what it feels like to stab someone, or to slash him, a large side of beef will serve nicely as a target. Put a shirt and jacket on it, and hang it from a sturdy support (tree branch, chinning bar, etc.). After studying the proper manner in which to thrust and cut with your fighting knife, put your techniques to work against the dressed up side of beef. This perhaps sounds like a rather extreme step in training, and possibly it is. However, lethal combat is “extreme”, and using a knife on a human adversary is not at all a “ho hum” undertaking. Not, in any case, for a basically sane and decent individual. So if you are serious about conditioning yourself for the task, you’ll seriously consider this proven method. Don’t waste time practicing such nonsense as knife dueling. Forget about “reverse grip knife fighting” (a silly fad, in our opinion; utterly impractical). Train as is outlined n Kill Or Get Killed, if you are unable to avail yourself of professional instruction from a live teacher. Knifework is simple and deadly. Any “fluff”, any dramatics, acrobatics, unrealistic man vs. man contests, etc. only imparts false confidence by providing an opportunity to develop skills that are IRRELEVANT in close combat and self-defense.

The world famous Fairbairn-Sykes British Commando Knife. This knife, made famous in WWII, is still issued to special forces and NATO troops. It is a true classic! This knie is inexpensive and readily available, and will ertainly do, if the higher priced Eks and Randalls are out of the question.

The world famous Fairbairn-Sykes British Commando Knife. This knife, made famous in WWII, is still issued to special forces and NATO troops. It is a true classic! This knie is inexpensive and readily available, and will ertainly do, if the higher priced Eks and Randalls are out of the question.

Once Again: Mindset Is Crucial!

We cannot emphasize often or strongly enough how critical is the right attitude and mental conditioning when it comes to using a knife in close combat. Not everyone can pick up a knife and take out an enemy with it. Yet, that is exactly what anyone who aspires to be able to use a knife in war or in self-defense needs to be able to do; and to be able to do without any hesitation. What so often happens to those who are weapon aficionados (gun buffs, knife buffs, etc.) is that they focus on the tools, but neglect almost completely the level of preparedness that they must acquire in order to use those tools for the purpose for which they have been designed. It is nice to purchase and even to collect weapons. It is very emotionally and psychologically draining and debilitating to actually use weapons on human beings — even when and if doing so is necessary, lawful, and unavoidable. Normal people do not find it easy to maim and to kill. And thank God that they do not! Matters are quite bad enough as they are in this world, without them becoming even worse! Still, the decent and law-abiding citizen who finds himself in a position where he must defend himself and/or his loved ones must have what it takes to do what is needed. And what is needed in instances where dangerous would-be murderers must be contended with, it to get them before they get you. Using a knife, if you’ve got one handy. “Martial arts weapons” sell like hotcakes. With the exception of modern weapons (like the fighting knife, tomahawk, stick, handgun, and shotgun) such “weapons” are really of value only as training aids for classical/traditional practice, or — frankly — as toys, for children. Getting real is what you must do if you are after genuine self-defense and combat capabilities. And becoming familiar with and expert in the use of the fighting knife, is a giant step in the direction of REALITY!

A selection of some of the most beautifully made, high quality fighting knives in the world: The Various Ek Commando Knives. Moels without a crossguard are reminiscent of the original WWII models, while the cross-guarded models are of more recent design. Noone ever regrets purchasing an Ek. These knives are great!

A selection of some of the most beautifully made, high quality fighting knives in the world: The Various Ek Commando Knives. Models without a crossguard are reminiscent of the original WWII models, while the cross-guarded models are of more recent design. No one ever regrets purchasing an Ek. These knives are great!

Advantages

The very real advantages of the fighting knife should not be overlooked or underestimated. Consider what they are: • The knife is certainly a silent weapon. • The knife is reliably deadly. In trained hands the knife will kill at close quarters every bit as surely as a handgun will. • There is no level of “martial arts skill” no matter how great that can guarantee successful defense against a knife. In fact, it is probably much easier to defend against a handgun or shoulder weapon threat up close, than it would be to defend against a determined attacker armed with a knife who comes at you for the kill. • A knife requires no loading, and never runs out of ammunition. • A knife is extremely light and portable. It can be carried conveniently and safely by anyone. • Learning how to use a knife — and retaining the skill — is easy. Only establishing the right mindset may present a problem. • The fear factor — the terror — that the knife imposes on an enemy who faces your blade, is a tremendous advantage for you in close combat. • A high level of skill in knifework would enable you to handle two or three attackers, quite often. • The self-confidence that comes with knowing you’ve got a weapon that cannot jam, misfire, require a spare part, or need to be cleaned before it can be used, is an enormous benefit to the soldier in a combat area.

Three of the superb and legendary Randall Made Knives: "D" The Guardian, "E" The Fighting Stiletto, and "F" The Boot Knife. Randall Made Knives are not only weapons of the highest quality, they are pieces of beautiful, artisan workmanship. These three are only a few of the many that the marvelous Randall Company has available. We rate Randalls and Eks as the best fighting knives in the world.

Three of the superb and legendary Randall Made Knives: “D” The Guardian, “E” The Fighting Stiletto, and “F” The Boot Knife. Randall Made Knives are not only weapons of the highest quality, they are pieces of beautiful, artisan workmanship. These three are only a few of the many that the marvelous Randall Company has available. We rate Randalls and Eks as being among the best fighting knives in the world.

• Mastering knifework may assist the close combat student considerably in working out counteractions against a knife that really work (unlike the silliness that is so often observed in “martial arts” programs.

A Few Tips For Learning

This article is not a course in knifework, but we thought we’d conclude with some practical, real world advice, such as we teach our own students when they reach Black Belt level and are introduced to our knife fighting system: 1. Always attack with the knife in your REARMOST hand — preferably from concealment. Use the knife in your lead hand only when defending yourself and/or when dealing (rarely!) with another individual who also has a knife. 2. Throw dirt in your opponent’s face when you attack. And shout, unless silence is literally required by the mission. 3. Slashes get you in, stabs finish the job. Stab for the THROAT, for the HEART, or for the ABDOMINAL area. Once the blade is driven in, cut across hard — this insures optimum shock. 4. Don’t forget that you have feet and another hand! Kick, use the free hand to parry or foil, and drive fingers into an enemy’s eyes, etc. Unarmed combat is prerequisite to learning how to employ a knife. 5. Practice occasionally by using a kitchen knife, a folding knife, a hunting knife, etc., as well as a screwdriver, a utility knife, and even perhaps a shard of glass. These items should be as easily managed by you — using basically good knifework tactics — as a fighting knife. In certain crisis situations, one of these items may be all that you have. We hope you’ve found this article useful. ********************