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Author Topic: Knife Grip  (Read 2363 times)
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« on: June 26, 2013, 03:30:05 PM »

Ed, several years back I attended one of your talks at the Blade Show.  At the time I had never handled one of your knives.  As soon as it was over, I went to your table and spoke with a gentlemen (i've unfortunately long forgotten his name) who told me that your knives are designed so that they are held with the index finger in front of the guard.  Understandably, that gives the knife user good control of the blade. 

Fast forward to recently, I was reading a thread on a martial/ close combat forum discussing bowie knives and their historic use.  One poster posited that the "mountain man" grip was a bowie fighting grip in which the knife was held, edge up, with the index finger wrapped around the guard against the spine of the blade.  The sharpened clip point would be used for slash attacks. 

That brings me to my question. Why do you design your knives to be held with the index finger in front of the guard?  It seems that most knifemakers today design knives to be held with the hand behind the guard.  Was it a historical tradition that you wanted to continue or strictly a performance characteristic?

On a side note, it is also interesting that the V42 combat dagger was designed differently from the F/S dagger in that the index finger could be safely wrapped around the guard.       

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Daniel Rohde (D-Vision)
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2013, 06:27:57 PM »

I'm defiantly not Ed but there's several that I know of one is you can use longer total blade length because you can "choke up" on the knife another is it lets you have more grips more options

for the situation and when soldering the guard it acts as a heat barer so the edge doesn't over heat and when you index finger is on the ricasso your hand won't slide down the handle these

are a few that I know I think others could add but I think it's a great design!
Hope this helps
Dv....
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2013, 08:38:25 AM »

I could be wrong, but I believe that Ed's goal is to have a knife that you can use in multiple grips. When Chris was helping me form my first handle, I started with a carving grip. Chris fiddled with it and then said, "ok, but what if you have to skin and hold it like this? Is this comfortable on your fingers?", then later, "What if you need to do this?"

Since, Ed's goal is to make a knife that will cover as many contingencies as possible, he makes knives that are comfortable/safe in as many situations as possible. That's why you won't find a Fowler SubHilt Fighter, it's a contradiction in terms.
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2013, 02:54:15 PM »

The reasons for the long ricasso are numerous, and no disadvantages makes it ideal.

Like Daniel said, the long ricasso provides a heat sink to prevent over heating the cutting edge of the blade, when heat treating (hardening) it provides an advantage in allowing the maker to harden the entire blade with out hardening the tang. A hard tang is a definite weakness in a blade.

The ricasso provides a place for the maker to put his stamp without creating a stress raiser in the blade. When ever you see any writing or makers stamp on the side of a blade it is a stress raiser. A scratch is a scratch, it does not matter if it was made by a stamp or laser or etched, it can be a stress raiser.
This lesson was learned centuries ago by knife makers and has always been one easy way to spot a knife that may be defective.

Another essential aspect for a functional blade is that there should be no nick at the start of the cutting edge. The cutting edge should flow smoothly from the ricasso. Those little nicks you see in some blades are a stress raiser and you will see blades that broke right at that nick.

The ricasso does not shorten the depth of possible cut in that it simply supports the cutting portion of the blade, thus you have a longer blade that you can place your finger ahead of the blade and gain control over the longer blade.

Providing the maker provides guard that is friendly to the hand of the user you can wrap your fingers around the handle and blade for a secure grip in any direction you need to apply force.

It is also an essential aspect of a long ricasso that it be rounded and friendly to your hand.  When you use a knife it is essential that the geometry of the handle and guard automatically indexes the knife in your hand in order that you know by experience exactly where the tip and cutting edge are.

There are more reasons why I like them, but these are the essential aspects.

Once you have used a blade with the long ricasso you will love it.
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2013, 05:42:28 PM »

Thanks for the response guys.  I was especially curious if Ed had any historical reason for wrapping the index finger around the guard.

On a bowie knife, i'm curious of the origin of the "mountain man" technique.  Understandably, the guard would act as a subhilt helping to aid extraction from whatever you stuck the blade into.  On the other hand, if the user paried the blade against another blade, there's a good chance the opponent's blade could slide cut the finger.  But I'm of the mind that it was probably more of a fighting technique and less of a dueling one. 
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2013, 06:50:31 PM »

I would be interested to hear of historical predecessors of Ed's design too. So far i havent seen anything that looks like a true match.

I also have never heard of the "mountain man" technique. Interesting. How would the grip help in such a case, i would think any advantage in leverage you might sacrifice in fingers!
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2013, 10:05:30 AM »

I developed my "style" on my own by simply using knives. I do not claim sole authorship, there have been millions of knife makers throughout time, I am sure "my" thoughts have happened before.

I have learned from many makers, most of which are no longer with us. When I go to knife shows I look at many old knives, when I see one with a well shaped dropped handle my interest increases and I look more closely. If the handle is friendly to my hand and has a palm swell my interest increases.

It was a rare knife marked Michael Price that was probably made by his father that started me on the path of the complex convex blade. Another old knife showed me the advantages of the reverse taper and I am enjoying working with that combining it with what I call the modified Price Grind.

Rudy Ruana showed me what a great fighter should look like through a knife he made in 1938.

Henry Huber showed me what a great Bowie should look and feel like in a knife he made in the early 1830's.

You can find examples of great knife makers who were dedicated to function, all you have to do is look and ask the knife questions and listen to the lessons it has to teach you.

Take a close look at a Patton Sword and you will know what they should be.

The best designs seem to come from Europe. We can learn from stone age blades, our heritage is a vast one.

So many lessons await us, I am in awe of where we can go as our HEPK members grow and start their own investigations.
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2013, 07:33:50 PM »

David, it seems that David Steele discussed the "mountain man" technique in his book Secrets of Modern Knife fighting.  I'm going to find a copy and order it to read. 

Ed, I definitely agree with you on the European blades.  Whether it's the puuko, laguiole folder, corsican folder, German hunting knife, Russian Scout knife, etc. many traditional European knife designs are inherently practical and usedul, absent of "fluff."  It seems like people now days overly complicate their knives just because they can and their designs suffer for it. 

I like to study what I refer to as the "blade architecture" of all knives I come into contact with whether its a cast butterknife or Cold War era bayonet.  Likewise, I like knife makers that know why each and every curve, shape, and line is on their knife.  Those that do seem fewer than not.  I may not agree with their conclusion but I can respect why if they have a conscientious reason.
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