Ed Schempp Balance: Small Claw for Self-Defense
About the Videos

The Ed Schempp designed Balance, produced by Spyderco, is an interesting little knife of the type generally classified as a “gentleman’s knife.” It is very small, with a blade that is two inches long, and a cutting edge of one and one quarter inches. It is equipped with carbon fiber handle scales and a liner lock. The choil, being designed as a resting place for the forefinger, assists in keeping the blade from closing on the operator’s finger even in the event of a failure of the liner lock, and also assists greatly in control and handling of the knife. Being such a small knife, it is quite a bit more difficult to access from the pocket quickly when compared to a larger folding knife, which has more surface area to grab and is more forgiving of mistakes in grip placement because of its larger size. Even though the Balance is such a small knife, a well-trained person can put it to good use in a self-defense situation.

In Albo Kali Silat, as is the case in many martial systems, training often progresses from “large” to “small.” Large motions are easier for beginners to understand, help beginners in the generation of power in movements, and large-scale footwork that covers much distance assists newer students in getting out of the way of attacks. As training progresses and skill increases, students gain the ability to use smaller scale versions of their trained movements, now moving through smaller ranges of motion and at a faster pace. Many of the attacks and defenses of Albo Kali Silat, when used by a high level practitioner, look very pretty and flowing, and seem to some students of other systems to be lacking in power or even incomprehensible as to their effect and purpose. The small, quick, rotational movements that power these motions can look, to many, as more “show” than “go.” In reality, with skill and practice, these motions can be devastating. The motions work in empty hand confrontations as strikes, breaks, dislocations, balance disruptions, and other attacks, with the attacks being primarily directed at the limbs of an opponent. In a similar vein, however, the motions work well with small knives, and particularly with a knife with a negative blade angle or talon/claw shape, which glides along a target and cuts deeply when powered by wrist, elbow, and shoulder rotation which keeps the edge in contact with the target as the blade is drawn powerfully along it.

In general, for defensive purposes, I prefer a knife that has the ability to cut and thrust, and am not a huge fan of hawkbills or hook bladed knives for defensive use. However, I make an exception for very small blades with talon shapes. These very small blades work similar to the ring knives or other small, steel “claws” used in some martial systems. Such small knives, including the Balance, are best used as hidden weapons that are not revealed until contact is made with an opponent. There are many ways to conceal and wield such a small knife when it is in your hand.

Notice in the video that the Balance is used at close range and it does significant damage to the cutting target. Please note that the Balance is not easy to draw quickly and, as the blade-opening hole is in the middle of the blade (when the knife is closed), it is difficult to open quickly with many of the methods that are routinely taught to Albo Kali Silat students. The Spyderdrop, or pinching the opening hole between thumb and forefinger and snapping the knife down so that the handle rotates away from the blade, the knife opens, and the lock engages, is probably the most viable option for a quick deployment. I view this knife as something that is to be used as a deep concealment, or backup option to other weapons, or, more likely, a small knife that is pressed into service in an emergency situation when other options are not available. I also recommend that the knife be carried ready in the hand if a situation seems to be headed toward violence. The knife can be easily concealed in the hand and quickly returned to the pocket should it not be needed.

I hope you enjoyed the video. I want to think Ed Schempp for sending me the Balance used in the video. A few months ago Ed and I talked about this knife and I mentioned that I thought it could do good service using ring knife or “small claw” methodology. Ed sent me a sample to try out. Please note that I did not show every grip that can be utilized with this knife or delve deeply into all of the martial uses to which it can be put. I do believe that the video does provide a good overview of some of the best martial methodologies for using this small blade. As usual, please contact me with any questions. Thank you for your interest and attention.

Tuhan Holloway
October 2010

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