8/10/2011 0 Comments
An Old Knife Article For All Of You Who Miss It Posted on December 17, 2010 by oglenk Martial arts in the Kitchen
The use of the knife as a tool is as old as human history. Primitive tribes used knives for everyday survival – as tools of attack, defense, hunting, and domestic utility. In modern times we still use knives as one of our primary tools. Their uses range from cooking knives, pocket knives, surgical scalpels, combat knives, and even as letter openers. Although knives have evolved in style and function, their core components are the same: a handle and a blade. This universal consistency has allowed humans to be very creative in utilizing function-specific grips.
The history of the knife The earliest users of the knife were hunters and cooks. Hunters used knives not only for killing their prey, but also for defending themselves from them. From this essential need the self defense arts were born, not only for defense from the animals but also from other humans. Like Plautus said, “Homo homoni lupus” (Man is the wolf of Mankind).
Over time, martial artists found ways to study and to teach their skills to others. Historically in Indonesia, a novice who learned these arts had to study and live with their teacher in the mountains or in another place isolated from the population. This concentrated study was meant to create a focused experience for the student, thus enabling him to completely invest his attention to his studies. One teacher usually took up to 7 students; this number however was not randomly chosen. It originates from the 7 days of the week in which the students had to take turns with the household chores and serve each other. One of the important chores the students shared was cooking for everyone.
The cooking duty lasted the duration of the several years of ongoing study in the martial art, thus a student would finish his studies with proficiency in both martial and cooking skills. One of the benefits of such training was the art of handling the knife for both self defense and cooking. As this article will demonstrate, the unique grips used for cooking are also very effective for self defense.
The knife and Pencak Silat Pencak Silat is a self defense art from Southeast Asia and the Malay Peninsula. Many of the Pencak Silat movements are rooted in the culinary knife-handling techniques previously mentioned. The art of knife handling is a very important part of Pencak Silat, as the empty handed movements of this art are all based on these knife handling skills. Inti Ombak, which translates from Indonesian as “Inner Wave”, is one of the schools that still emphasize this knife training from the very first class. This article will illustrate and explain some of the knife handling techniques used by a Pencak Silat Inti Ombak practitioner.
Inner Wave teaches twelve knife grips, which are further divided into two categories. The first category consists of the eight “Cooking Knives” and the other are the four “Fisherman’s Knives”. This article will cover the first category.
The 8 Cooking Grips
#1 Peeling the Potato
Hold the knife point-up with the handle gripped between the index finger and the back of the last 3 fingers, while bracing the blade with the thumb. The core movements for this grip are a downward slash or a straight thrust. You should be able to cut through cardboard when you execute this movement correctly.
#2 Cutting the Potato
This grip is easily achieved by flipping the knife point-downward from the previous grip, moving the thumb out of the way without releasing the grip. The knife is then gripped in a fist, blade forward and point down. The handle is squeezed into the palm between the index finger and the last 3 fingers, and the butt of the knife should protrude above the hand from between the index and middle finger. The core movements executed from this grip are a downward stab, leftward slash, or a stab horizontally from left to right.
#3 Reaching for the Vegetable
The handle is gripped between the index finger and the thumb, with the blade facing back towards your forearm. The feeling should be similar to holding a pencil backwards. The core movement for this grip is a backwards stabbing motion. Again, this grip flows from the previous grip, as the entire grips do, in sequence.
#4 Crushing the Onion
This is the common grip that finds universal usage. This is also the core grip, used when switching between non-sequential grips; this grip is the intermediate transition to- and from- the rest of the grips.
#5 Cutting the Onion
This grip is very similar to #4 except you will place your index finger on the inside of the blade, away from the other fingers. The grip is essentially a fist with the knife projecting from between the index finger and the other 3. The butt of the knife can be held against the palm of the hand so as to allow a punching motion with the knife. The core movement of this grip is a forward snapping motion, like you would use when knocking on a door. This is typically used as a stunning hit for disarming.
#6 Carving the Tomato
This grip is made, from grip #5, by simply slipping your pinky finger to the other side of the knife to match the index finger. The 2 middle fingers squeeze the handle and the others brace it. Again make sure the butt is protruding past the hand. This grip allows one to grab with the knife hand while affecting a cut.
#7 Pulling the Stem from the Tomato
This grip is identical to the 3rd grip, with the exception of the blade pointing forward. The grip should again feel similar to holding a pencil. This grip is used for a forward stabbing motion.
#8 Cutting the Orange and Squeezing It
This grip is similar to the 5th grip with the exception of the thumb protruding from the hand. This grip is used to percussively strike, like grip #5, or to simultaneously pinch with the thumb and cut.
Using these grips in self defense
The 8 “Cooking Knives” basically use a three-fingered grip. The three-fingered grip is similar to the one employed in Jiu Jiutsu. When used properly, the three-fingered grip can hold the knife more securely than a four-fingered grip.
To use more than one knife grip at a time you must practice the transitions from one to the next. In self defense, grips one-through-four can be used as a continuous sequence. The same is true for grips five-through-eight. To use both sequences, one can utilize the number-four grip to facilitate the transition. This grip, as stated earlier, serves as the general transition between all the grips. For example, one would use the number-four grip to transition between the eight and the first grip.