One thing I'm starting to hear a number of people ask me is what knife I would recommend for self defense. Well I can understand why they'd ask me, after all most of my business now has evolved into knife sales plus I am a higher ranked Brown Belt in American Kenpo; but it's still a question I really, really hate. Now I know this is going to surprise a number of people, and I can already hear you asking why? And that is a legitiment question. After all, if anyone can recommend a knife for self defense it should logically be me, right? After all, don't most martial artists learn various weapons? And don't I sell a fairly wide range of knives? Well, yes, I suppose most martial artists do learn a variety of weapons, and I certainly sell enough knives to have an excellent idea of what each one can do. The problem is that knife fighting just isn't that simple a thing. You certainly can't just pick up a fighting knife cold and make effective use of it; and even if you could, there's so many ways to fight with knives that anyone who's being honest about things just can't recommend just one knife.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, let's watch a video from several years back when my instructor was starting to teach my daughter Kali, also known as Escrima.
Okay, okay. I'll admit that it's a little boring, and I hear you saying "This is stick fighting! What the bloody blankity blank does this have to do with knife fighting?" Well sorry to tell you this, but even though most people in America think Kali and Escrima are forms of stick fighting, they were originally a system of fighting with knives about the size of our modern day machete! They started using sticks in practice for two reasons. One, your students are much less likely to accidentally kill each other if they're using sticks instead of knives, and two, the Japanese who had concurred the Philippines didn't want their concurred subject learning how to fight back. So watch it again and imagine Coach and Jannie using machetes instead of sticks. Frankly, even today Jannie is nowhere near skilled enough to use her training against an opponent who is an expert and survive; and if I'm going to be honest about it, neither am I.
Now go to YouTube and do a search for knife fighting. Last time I looked there were somewhere around 200,000 videos claiming to teach you how to fight with a knife, and almost every one of them is different. So if there are that many ways to fight with a knife, how in the name of everything good am I supposed to recommend just one knife to you? Plus I'll go even a step further, and say that unless you are well trained I can't recommend a knife for you in good conscious for the simple reason that any recommendation I make is just going to get you killed if you are not trained; and if you are then you don't need my recommendation on type (though I'll be more than happy to discuss the merits of different brands and types of steel).
Now you're asking why does everyone recommend a knife for everyday carry then if you can't defend yourself with one? A couple of reasons actually. First, a knife is just a handy thing to have. Just think about your normal day. How many things do you need to open or cut on your typical day? Or maybe you need to be able to scrape something off the floor and out of tight corners. Or perhaps you have things you need to trim from time to time. Yes, you could use other things; but with a knife handy you can do all of them. With out a knife you're probably are going to need 2 or 3 different tools, if not more. And secondly, even though I just spent most of this ramble saying you need to be trained to be able to defend yourself with a knife, especially against an expert; the truth is that you're not going to run into too many experts. Not unless you make the mistake of stumbling into gang territory or threaten a trained martial artist. Against the average dumb crook on the street, a knife is something to threaten his or her victims with, not a weapon he or she actually knows how to use well. Against someone like that, a knife that you're comfortable with can be a useful deterrent. Just keep in mind that even if your opponent doesn't know how to use a knife well, if you don't then you are going to get cut. Possibly badly. So do yourself a favor. Go out and find yourself a good martial arts class. I don't really care what style truthfully, for in the end the instructor is going to matter much more than the style. Stay with it for at least a couple of years. And then look me up. By that time you will have enough training and knowledge that we can have an intelligent conversation and I can make sure you have a knife that's right for you. Until then, the best I can advise you is to pick one you feel comfortable with. If you can't get a good grip on it, it's not going to help you. If it feels good in your hand, then you stand a chance against the average mugger even if it's not a great chance.
I'm sorry this ramble is ending on such a dismal note, but I do need to be honest with you. After all, if I start feeding you happy, happy tales with little or no truth to them I'm not going to do you any good, and you'd be right to write me off as a blowhard who doesn't know what he's talking about. Still, there are a lot of other things I can teach you about knives, and so I'm going to start doing an occasional ramble about knives and their care. Until then, I wish you blue skies and smooth sailing. You take care, and I hope to see you again in this little corner of cyberspace I call my own. And remember, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing with attitude!