Heavy Bladed Chopping Knives
About the Videos

I had a few requests to demonstrate combative uses for heavy bladed chopping knives, particularly khukuris. Since many people like very sturdy, thick spined, and heavy bladed knives for use in the woods and outdoors, or for other chopping and cutting tasks, I decided that showing some martial uses for such a blade might be interesting to more than the few people who had requested such a video.

The blade that I use in this video is a hand forged khukuri from Nepal. I bought this knife from Himalayan Imports. It is a model known as a Bonecutter, is approximately 12 inches in overall length, and was forged by a "kami" or bladesmith named Murali. This is fairly small and short in blade length, as khukuris go. I chose this particular khukuri to use in order to show that even a short, little "chopper" can do good work in a martial context, and because one of the people requesting this video owned a similar khukuri and was interested in my thoughts on it.

The medium that is being cut is a composite structure. First, there are two layers of denim (two pairs of jeans, one inside the other). Second, stuffed tightly inside the legs of the inner pair of jeans are strips cut off from our martial arts matting when the matting was cut to fit our training hall floor. These strips are fairly light in weight, allowing the target to swing much more freely than would a heavier target, such as a side of beef. Due to the spongy, springy nature of the matting material, and the free swinging nature of the entire target, I have found that cutting through the denim and into the matting material within the target is much harder than cutting into cloth or denim encased meat. Using this target, if the matting material is severed cleanly, a cut on meat would be far more dramatic.

The edge on this knife was honed until it was able to cleanly slice paper and shave arm hair. Despite the sharpness, the edge is still relatively thick and exhibits more drag when cutting than would a thinner edge. The added heft imparted by the thick blade of this knife, however, does compensate to a large extent for a thick edge. In addition, the heft adds the ability to break or cut through bone, wood, or similar hard materials that might not be found on a thinner, lighter bladed knife of the same length. A thicker edge is often less fragile than a thinner edge, and can suffer less damage from heavy impacts and hard use. Of note is that the curvature of the khukuri blade tends to focus even hacking style blows to the center of percussion of the blade. Further, the design imparts a bit of drawing of the edge along the target, even without the three dimensional cutting technique displayed in the video, where the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints all move and rotate freely. Due to their curvature and design, khukuris are very good at a variety of camp and outdoor chores, including chopping of wood. As can be seen in the video, with proper technique and training, a khukuri can be devastatingly effective as a weapon. Hacking, chopping, and three-dimensional cutting technique can all be effective with a khukuri. Though, in general, against meat and similar soft targets, the three dimensional cutting does do more damage, due to the fact that more edge is on the target for a longer period of time during the cut, a hack or chop from a khukuri can also be formidable.

Notice that a khukuri can be handled with speed, as is demonstrated toward the end of the video.

I hope this video was useful to you.

Tuhan Holloway, March 2010

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