Learning how to throw a throwing knife can be fairly simple in theory, but it still requires regular practice for beginners.
Some martial artists and military personnel debate the tactical value of throwing knives in combat or self-defense situations, but proficiency in throwing knife techniques can be useful at some point in time. If not for the sheer fun of having a quirky talent, then for the simple possibility that some day it may save your life.
Knife throwing is also a sport with competitions taking place all around the world, and there are many associations that organize competitions and support practitioners, such as the American Knife Throwers Alliance (AKTA) and the International Knife Throwers Hall Of Fame (IKTHOF).
The bottom line, though, is that throwing knives are a lot of fun.
TYPES OF KNIVES
There are things beginning knife throwers must know in order to successfully throw a knife. One important thing is knowing the types of knives available. This knowledge will help you better gauge how to throw a knife. For instance, the usual types of knives manufactured are well balance or even balanced blades, handle-heavy blades and blade-heavy blades.
Most folding knives fall into the category of handle-heavy blades and are not all that great for throwing. Many survival knives and bowies are blade heavy and are going to be difficult to throw too. But keep in mind that almost any bladed weapon – throwing knives, combat knives, machetes, tomahawks, and even butterknives – can be thrown. But don’t rush out and just grab any kind of knife and start throwing it. To be a good knife thrower, you need to start out practicing with knives designed for that purpose.
Having said that…
If you’re wondering, “Who the heck throws folding knives?” — watch this video on YouTube by TopCityGear using the Cold Steel Recon 1 as a throwing knife. That is one tough knife! But let’s face it…throwing it over and over like that is a waste of a good knife.
As for tactical use…I’m not going to tell you what to do in a self-defense situation (except in THIS POST). You can consult a self-defense expert on that (unless he’s an idiot he’ll tell you that you shouldn’t throw it). But if you insist on knowing how to consistently and proficiently throw every blade you own, and the only way to throw a knife effectively is to practice throwing it a lot.
Knowing the type of blade or knife you are using will give you a better understanding of how the knife will rotate through the air which is extremely important when assessing your target and deciding on throwing with spin or no spin. Getting a feel for the blade length, weight, and balance are important to know, and that will mostly just come from practice. Longer, heavier blades are often recommended for beginners, since they are a bit easier to control.
See our reviews of various knives featured in the sidebars to help you decide what your next blade will be.
GRIPPING THE KNIFE
Another important aspect is gripping the knife correctly. We’ve got a whole article about how to hold your knife, but here’s an intro to the topic…
There are many different ways to grip a knife, each having different pros and cons. It is recommended that a person place the tips of their index, middle and ring fingers in the middle of the blade or handle. The pinky may or may not touch the knife. On the opposite side, place the thumb in the middle of the knife as well. When throwing with this grip, all one has to do is simply open up the hand suddenly (abrupt release), or let the knife slide out of your hand by using a loose grip.
Another grip used is a full grip where the fingers wrap around the knife completely. Some call this the hammer grip or a handshake grip. 17-time World Champion knife thrower Mike “Alamo” Bainton (Executive Director of IKTHOF) uses this grip amazingly well. Some find the hammer grip may cause interference with the throw since the fingers may get in the way during release and cause the knife to wobble. Handles with rubber grips or loose paracord grips sometimes prevent a smooth release. Despite those obstacles, it is a very popular grip. You’ll have to experiment to see which knives it works well on for you.
Most practitioners prefer to use a pinch grip. This is simply pinching the knife by the blade or the handle. With a blade pinch grip, the thumb would go on the middle tip of the blade and on the opposite side, the blade would be held by the middle of the index and possibly middle finger.
One variation of these grips is stretching out your index finger along the unsharpened edge of the blade to guide the throw. This would resemble pointing at something as you hold the knife. This variation is also sometimes used to throw a knife without spin, which may be done with a close target.
It should be pointed out here that using unsharpened blades is a really, really good idea when you’re first learning to throw. Nothing cuts a throwing session short like slicing your finger open, and most throwing knives will come dull right out of the box for this very reason. Many pros will go so far to insist that a throwing knife should never have a sharpened edge anyways. That is a personal preference, of course, but it’s a no-brainer if you’re just starting out.
Start with a dull blade. Only the point should be sharp to help it stick.
STANCE AND MOTION
Some throwers will start out throwing overhand with a baseball-style throw and just stick with that for years, so we’re addressing that in this article. But you can also experiment with competition-style throwing, along with underhand and sidearm techniques too.
To throw a knife like a baseball, you…well…just throw it like a baseball.
The knife is held in the rear hand with the opposite foot and shoulder facing forward. The opposite foot steps forward and the knife is thrown using full motion and follow through. As with many sports, follow through is extremely important in order to ensure proper speed, targeting and power.
Knifethrower72194 on Youtube has a nice, loose baseball-style technique that works so well for him. Check him out. In my opinion, he’s one of the most talented and most versatile knife throwers currently posting on YouTube.
Speed will play a large part in how accurate your throws are, as the speed at which you throw could affect rotation. Understanding distance and speed will aid in determining how to throw a knife. This is where practice comes into play, since a person can only gauge and enhance their skill by practicing over and over again. Just start out at a distance of 5-7 feet out from your target, and increase as your accuracy improves.
So as you can see, knowing the basics of throwing a knife is simple and straightforward; acquiring some cheap yet decent quality throwing knives is quick and easy as well. As a person advances they will pick up different techniques that will improve their throwing accuracy, and as the practitioner gains a ‘feel’ for different blades, higher-quality knives will be preferred.
Knife throwing is fun and entertaining. However, like with any sport, caution should be taken and the sport should only be practiced responsibly.