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Old March 9, 2009, 10:45 PM   #1
Anthony
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Tactical Advantages of the Karambit Combat Knife

Hello Everyone,

I have studied Modern Arnis for a couple of years and am now moving over to Inosanto Kali with a new instructor. When it comes to a daily carry knife I have settled on the Emerson Commander in it original size.

While visiting with Mr. Emerson at a knife show I handled their various Karambit models and began to wonder about the design. When it first became popular I mostly wrote it off as a passing fad, but it has proven to be more than that.

Can anyone give me a better idea of the tactical advantage(s) of carrying a Karambit in place or in lieu of a more conventional fighting knife?

Thank you for your input.

- Anthony
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Old March 9, 2009, 10:55 PM   #2
okiebuckout
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this clip shows a few moves with this particular knife.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHmieya9GO0
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Old March 9, 2009, 11:05 PM   #3
Anthony
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Thank you for the link. It does illustrate some of the advantages of the design. It appears that it would be best for extremely close engagements. Much closes than typical so called "knife range" with its short, curved blade.

- Anthony
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Old March 9, 2009, 11:12 PM   #4
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it depends opun your particualer striking pattern or instict.. if you inherintly have a stabbing based offense than the karambit is not the most suited blade you could carry ... on the other hand if you inherintly have a slashing offense(particurly a underhand style) than its hard to beat the effects and overall design of the karambit.. now from a tactical standpoint beyond the pure fighting aspects of the blade... i think a more traditional blade such as a drop point or tanto... something with a straite edge line would apply itself more easily to common cutting and penetrating task...
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Old March 10, 2009, 07:43 AM   #5
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okiebuckout thats very nice, but does it work in speed? I mean, can you really parry a knife attack at a full speed like that?

BTW did you gentlemen ever considered trying a pushdagger or that new kabar pistol grip knife? I think these are really very dangerous.
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Old March 11, 2009, 08:00 AM   #6
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After watching that video, I conclude that I would only survive a knife wielding assailant with that level of knife skill if I put him down with well placed shots before he got to me.

I wonder whether the 21 foot rule is valid, or has it been extended?
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Old March 11, 2009, 08:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
After watching that video, I conclude that I would only survive a knife wielding assailant with that level of knife skill if I put him down with well placed shots before he got to me.

I wonder whether the 21 foot rule is valid, or has it been extended?
The 21 foot rule has always been more guidance/rule of thumb than anything.

As for knife fighting, I had an opportunity to train with Steve Tarani one time. As a class, we all agreed that our first move in a fight with him was 1) run away, 2) shoot him repeatedly, or 3) shoot ourselves if 1 or 2 was not viable. Option 3 would probably hurt less than what he could do.

When you are dealing with someone whose signature phrase is "3 and a half inches of steel through the eye socket is a great distraction tool," choosing the "I'm going to die anyway, might as well hurt less" seems like an option worth contemplating.
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Old March 15, 2009, 05:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
The 21 foot rule has always been more guidance/rule of thumb than anything.
It's about 10 meters (cca 30 ft) if you have a holstered pistol and the assailant starts at you with a knife in hands, and you are not surprised. IMHO the worst thing one can do when attacked by a knifer is to stand and reach for a gun. You will be likely bleeding before you draw. What I'd do (and practiced) would be to evade the initial attack somehow using bare hands or anything at hand at the moment (he will very likely cut your weak hand forearm but you should survive that), pass him and run away and while running try to pull the firearm, then eventualy turn and shoot if you can't outrun him.
I'd never try anything complicated or static (meaning: the fighters, namely the assailant stands on one spot) technique.
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Old February 11, 2010, 02:13 AM   #9
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Fight or flight response

"What I'd do (and practiced) would be to evade the initial attack somehow using bare hands or anything at hand at the moment (he will very likely cut your weak hand forearm but you should survive that), pass him and run away..."

In my opinion, turning one's back to an assailant armed with a deadly weapon, one that can kill with a single strike, is a bad idea. I do, however; agree with the line of thinking if you're not surprised. In the event that some foresight is available i.e., you see it coming, get control of the knife!! This can be accomplished by simply grabbing the persons wrist (ideally) or forearm of the armed hand (in a single knife only scenario, which is the most common). Once you have control of the limb, getting a knife away from an assailant is a relatively simple (not easy... simple) task if you have had any training. If you have not had any self defense training, running is probably your best option.

This opinion is based on the statistic that the majority of knife attacks that occur during the commision of a crime usually happen within the 21 foot perimeter to start and the victim is usually not surprised e.g., "Give me your wallet/money/whatever!!!" or "I'm gonna kill/hurt/cut you!!"
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Old February 11, 2010, 08:11 AM   #10
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The 21 foot rule is just the minimum distance someone needs to get to you before you can draw and shoot. The idea here is that if you have an aggressive attacker, you should be getting your weapon out before they are within 21 feet.

The kerambit is fine as an extension of hand to hand combat and could be used if you were escalating force from open-hand to a weapon. You are forced to get within contact distance to use it effectively. Personally, I never want to get that close to an assailant, even if we're in a knife fight. I don't have a force ladder to follow and I don't have to put myself into violent situations, so I stick to weapons that allow me distance. Run some force on force drills with someone that has no knife experience and then make your decision, it's not for everyone. It's not for me.
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Old February 11, 2010, 08:56 AM   #11
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When the Karambit "fad" hit several years ago, I bought one to train with just to familiarize myself with it. After experimenting with one for a while I just didn't feel that it offered any advantages over a conventional blade design.

Quote:
The kerambit is fine as an extension of hand to hand combat and could be used if you were escalating force from open-hand to a weapon.
Make no mistake, a knife falls into the same category as a firearm. It is a deadly force tool and will be viewed as such.
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Old February 11, 2010, 09:05 AM   #12
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Something I did about knife vs. gun at short range: Gun Zone Link

Larry
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Old February 11, 2010, 01:11 PM   #13
AcridSaint
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Quote:
Make no mistake, a knife falls into the same category as a firearm. It is a deadly force tool and will be viewed as such.
I only mean that if you are transitioning from open hand then you are already in contact distance, so it becomes an area where a close-range only weapon is not as disadvantaged.
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Old February 11, 2010, 02:08 PM   #14
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I carry a boker folding karambit sometimes. I prefer straight blade like my Cold Steel ti light, but I can't legally carry a 4" blade in some of the places I visit. I got the Boker to carry when I'm there. If I'm limited to a short blade, I prefer the Karambit.

I find them really suited for hooking parries or attacks to the arms. And yes, they do seem really dangerous at close range.

That said, I really prefer fighting at longer ranges with knives, so I have to alter my tactics a bit if I'm carrying the Karambit.
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Last edited by rburch; February 11, 2010 at 02:14 PM. Reason: Forgot to answer the OP's ??
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Old February 11, 2010, 02:19 PM   #15
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mello2u, I am with you there. I am not a knife fighter. I am of decent size and weight (over 200 lbs and strong) but I am not taking on a knife fighter hand to hand. If someone comes at me with a knife, they are bringing a knife to a gun fight.
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Old February 11, 2010, 02:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rburch
If I'm limited to a short blade, I prefer the Karambit.
That's a great point. Karambits generally have a short blade while still being effective, making them legal where other knives may not be. I'd much rather have a 2" blade on a karambit than a 2" on a drop-point.
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Old February 11, 2010, 08:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
I only mean that if you are transitioning from open hand then you are already in contact distance, so it becomes an area where a close-range only weapon is not as disadvantaged.
Gotcha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rburch
If I'm limited to a short blade, I prefer the Karambit.

I find them really suited for hooking parries or attacks to the arms. And yes, they do seem really dangerous at close range.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great Mahoo
That's a great point. Karambits generally have a short blade while still being effective, making them legal where other knives may not be. I'd much rather have a 2" blade on a karambit than a 2" on a drop-point.
In what specific way(s) do you (those that say you prefer a karambit) feel that it is superior to a conventional design of the same length? In other words, what can you accomplish (in terms of inflicting damage) with a karambit that you can't accomplish with a conventional blade?
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Old February 14, 2010, 10:30 PM   #18
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The K seems best suited to moves where the opponent is trying to move AWAY-the hooking/grabbing blade in reverse grip makes it a natural for cuts pulling 'in' towards you.

Although I have no experience in actual use, that's my impression from handling one.

Larry
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Old February 15, 2010, 07:35 AM   #19
The Great Mahoo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenpoTex
In what specific way(s) do you (those that say you prefer a karambit) feel that it is superior to a conventional design of the same length? In other words, what can you accomplish (in terms of inflicting damage) with a karambit that you can't accomplish with a conventional blade?
The fighting techniques for a karambit are for extremely close range, where a smaller blade can be more helpful than a larger one, which could be turned aside a bit easier (although not without damage inflicted.) In other fighting styles, a larger 5+ blade on a drop/clip-point used for penetration thrusts would be hindered more by having a blade restriction.

So, I guess my point is, if you fight a style that the karambit lends itself, you may be less effected by a smaller blade requirement than other fighting styles that tend to rely on larger knives for depth of penetration (although you certainly can inflict harm stabbing with a 2-3" blade as well) If you are not trained on the karambit in the close slashing style, they probably aren't as much of a boon compared to other style knives.
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Old February 15, 2010, 12:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
In what specific way(s) do you (those that say you prefer a karambit) feel that it is superior to a conventional design of the same length? In other words, what can you accomplish (in terms of inflicting damage) with a karambit that you can't accomplish with a conventional blade?
The curve of the blade is better suited to cutting with raking or slashing attacks. If you look at a karambit, the blade design is a lot like a cat's claw.

A shorter clip point blade lacks leverage to cut deep into something, it angles in your hand, slides across the surface, and you get a shallow cut.

The Karambit angles in your hand as well, but with it's blade design, it wants to dig in as it runs across the surface.

I will admit I don't really prefer a karambit. The majority of my training comes from Fencing, so I'm much more comfortable with a long straight blade. Really if I had to get in a fight with blades, I'd want a rapier.

Since that's not practical, and neither is concealing a fixed blade fighting knife. I've chosen to carry a 4" blade folder.

If I'm where the 4" isn't kosher, then the karambit is my choice.
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Old February 15, 2010, 04:58 PM   #21
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Where is it legal to carry such a knife for self defense and what advantages would it offer over a gun? Sounds sketchy to me
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Old February 15, 2010, 07:22 PM   #22
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I don't know about other states, but it's legal in NC and any knife is advantageous over a gun left in the car or at home, which is where you have to leave them often, seeing as how it's not legal to carry a firearm at a restaurant that serves alcohol, a parade, funeral procession, movie theater or any other place that charges for admission... etc.
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Old February 15, 2010, 09:57 PM   #23
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great mahoo & rburch,

fair enough...As I said, I really don't see the advantage. I think it is more likely that you will inflict meaningful damage with a thrust rather than a cut/slash (and you can always thrust in and rip out for more damage).
Since karambits are all but worthless for thrusting, I feel that they give up too much.
Of course, I also don't really buy into the "bio-mechanical cutting" a.k.a. "defanging the snake" thing that is so often touted by many blade practitioners.

To each their own though...
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Old February 16, 2010, 01:49 AM   #24
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As this is a firearms related forum, I state rule # 1 "have a gun, almost any gun will do." Though I carry a knife most every day, I subscribe to the thought of NEVER BRING A KNIFE TO A GUNFIGHT!

Go9od Luck & Be safe
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Old February 16, 2010, 01:48 PM   #25
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Quote:
fair enough...As I said, I really don't see the advantage. I think it is more likely that you will inflict meaningful damage with a thrust rather than a cut/slash (and you can always thrust in and rip out for more damage).
Since karambits are all but worthless for thrusting, I feel that they give up too much.
Of course, I also don't really buy into the "bio-mechanical cutting" a.k.a. "defanging the snake" thing that is so often touted by many blade practitioners.
I wouldn't call them worthless, yes they aren't as suited to the thrust, but I can still thrust effectively with a karambit. It's a matter of angling the blade in your hand to present the point first, and then adding a hard flip with your wrist to rotate the blade in.

Really I think the Karambit works really well with the thrust and rip idea.

I am confused by the "bio-mechanical cutting" a.k.a. "defanging the snake" since I haven't heard those terms before. I'm thinking it's attacking the weapon hand?

If that's the case, its a valid target, and really a smart target. I know my first attacks always tend toward the weapon hands, since it's the easiest to attack with the least danger to yourself.
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Last edited by rburch; February 18, 2010 at 01:00 AM. Reason: spelling error
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