Knife throwing is an ancient skill rooted in human history as mankind adapted and learned to utilize tools for hunting, gathering, and defense against wild beasts and animals. The art of knife throwing has now in the modern era has developed into both a competitive sport as well as a practice for entertainment.
There are predominantly three basic types of throwing knives. The handle-heavy throwing knife, the blade-heavy throwing knife, and the balanced throwing knife. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages, but your own preferences will be the most important factor in determining which type of knife you end up using.
So which type of knife works best for your needs? Keep reading to find out.
Can Any Knife Be a Throwing Knife?
You may be able to throw any kitchen or utility knife, however not every knife is designed for throwing, and using a knife apart from its intended use can be very hazardous and risky for the handler. The equipment used has been greatly modernized from the early hunting days and is now well adjusted for a very specific use.
Depending on the purpose, the type of knife can vary greatly as well. Lighter knives are usually not heavy-duty and would not be able to take the repeated impact damage from throwing. Additionally, it is very important for the knife to be comfortable and sleek to ensure a smooth release without injury.
There are a few regular knives that may hold well over time if thrown. Heavier knives work very well given they do not bend with ease. Kitchen knives are usually stainless steel but if at least 3mm thick, they work reasonably better than other knives. Old butchers knives are heavy duty cut down to around 6-8 inches.
Skeletonized divers knives are also a great tool that can be substituted for a throwing knife. As long as you use a durable knife, it should suffice for throwing purposes. However, finding the sweet spot will be a lot more difficult with a non-throwing knife, and it is best that you purchase a knife that is purpose-built for throwing.
There are a couple of main types of knives and a couple of generally accepted knife throwing techniques. Some are better suited together but, in general, finding out what works best for you takes a little trial and error.
As stated earlier, there are three main types of throwing knives which are separated by their weight distribution along the blade and handle. This center of gravity greatly affects the way the knife can be thrown and used. When thrown with a spin throw, knives tend to rotate around the center of gravity. Therefore a thrower would need to calculate the trajectory and distance accordingly.
A balanced knife that has its weight equally distributed throughout the object is the optimal knife to use for beginners or people with a lower skill level. You may also vary the grip as per your comfort and ease. They can be thrown with rotational throws as well as no spin throws as the trajectory is much easier to calculate.
The second type of throwing knife is a handle weighted knife. These knives are heavier on the handle with the focal point of gravity more towards the handle. These work ideal with no-spin throwing. The most ideal approach to grasp a handle-heavy knife for throwing is to hold it at the blade end. With spin throws it turns out best for lower turn proportions like 1.5-2 turn ratios otherwise known as slow spins.
The last main type of throwing knife is a blade-heavy knife. These have a focal point of gravity a lot nearer to the tip of the edge. These are for the most part not ideal for throwing purposes. However, I have found the ideal approach to throwing a blade heavy throwing knife is with a handle hold.
Rotational Throwing Knives
The rotational throw technique is when the knife spins around its center of gravity while in a trajectory towards the target. It is usually thrown from a long but fixed distance from the intended target. For this particular throwing style, you may utilize a handle or blade grip and it is conventionally thrown with an overhand throw.
Depending on the grip, the number of spins can be any multiple of a half spin or 180 degrees of rotation. When using a rotational throwing knife, it is essential that the thrower be very critical regarding the distance, grip point and count of spins required before throwing.
No Spin Throwing Knives
As apparent by the name, a no-spin throwing knife is a knife that would travel in an unswerving straight line with its sharp edge towards the target throughout its trajectory. This approach is usually appropriate for shorter throwing distances less than 10 feet from the target.
The no-spin method is a relatively much more swift action as it does not require some of the calculations of the spin throw technique. The ideal range for this throw is up to 10 feet from the throwing target.
There are varying styles with it such as an underarm or overhead throw. The difficult part about this throw is that it is a lot harder to master as it requires the thrower to be very precise and accurate with the grip, wrist action, finger action, and most critically the release timing of the knife. It is usually only recommended for a professional knife thrower, although that shouldn’t deter you from trying it out as a beginner.
Butterfly knives are also known as fan knives or balisong. The balisong is a type of pocket knife with two foldable handles invented in the Philippines. This is not a full tang knife and the handles pivot at the point where attached to the blade and conceal it when folded. Due to this reason, it is not ideal or recommended for throwing uses.
One particular use of this knife is called ‘flipping’ where the holder may flip or rotate the knife around a single hand using the pivot joints. However, this is for entertainment only. This knife has also been deemed illegal in numerous countries due to its use in criminal activities.
Kunai knives were originally created as a multi-function tool used by the Japanese. They can also serve as self-defense weapons. However, its combat use is generally limited to stabbing and jabbing.
The Kunai design features a ring at the end of the handle which allows for a rope to be tied to it. This extends its use for various other purposes such as attaching to a stick to use as a spear, for enhanced grip or to use as a rope dart. Kunai knives are not a good choice for throwing knives as the handle may interfere with a smooth release.
I was reviewing this set recently and while they are marketed and sold as ‘throwing knives’ there’s no way I’d actually want to compete with something like this.
I know a lot of movies and TV shows throw these being thrown around and you can if you just want some fun but they’re never going to compare to the performance of a knife actually designed to be thrown.