OTF Karambit Grips - A Guide
When people think about the quintessential Southeast Asian blade, they usually
imagine the Balisong (aka butterfly knife). Foldable and easy to conceal, the
Balisong gradually accrued mystique as users developed increasingly flash methods
of deploying it. But while the Balisong has a history stretching back a millennium,
there’s another knife from the same section of the world with just as distinguished a
pedigree: the karambit.
Shaped like a slim crescent moon and originally intended to aid in the harvesting of
rice, roots, and various kinds of grain, the karambit came into being during the 11th
century. Soon enough, though, it migrated from practical uses to a weapon in its
own right, shifting from a backup blade to an integral part of the Silat school of
martial arts. With a unique handle that includes an incorporated safety ring, the
karambit can be twirled and spun with as much panache as any Balisong.
In this article, we’ll explain how karambit users employ different grips while using
this sickle-shaped weapon and how the design choices in OTF karambits may affect
Types of Karambit Grips
Part of the reason why knife-trick enthusiasts have migrated to karambits is the ring
that lies at the back of the handle. By threading a digit into this metallic hoop,
aficionados can twirl the blade this way and that, switching up its orientation and (if
they’re incredibly skilled) even that hand that’s holding it. However, that doesn’t
happen without a lot of practice — and a solid understanding of how one should
hold a karambit.
The following sections will explain the different types of karambit grips and how
they’re used for different tasks.
Forward Karambit Grip
knife, you know exactly how a forward karambit grip works. It’s the most common
grip used with any other sort of knife because it provides stability, control, and the
ability to use the blade in a precise way. It’s the grip you use when you’re cutting
steak at a nice restaurant, preparing dishes in the kitchen, or opening a cardboard
In fact, the forward karambit grip is so common that you likely don’t need it
explained — but let’s do so anyway! Hold your hand open with fingers extended and
palm flat. Lay the karambit handle so that the blade rests between index finger and
thumb with the knife’s spine near the heel of your hand. Curl your fingers around
the handle, curl your thumb around the spine, and you have successfully managed
a forward karambit grip.
it’s not the one most frequently employed in karambit combat. That honor belongs
to our next grip type.
Reverse Karambit Grip
The name may give you the idea that it’s not exactly common, but the reverse
karambit grip is the most common way to hold this family of knives. Take the knife
and flip it so that the blade is positioned past the blade of your hand. (Make sure
that it’s curving away from your forearm rather than toward it.) Curl your fingers
around the grip, making sure to thread your index finger through the karambit’s
safety ring. Then brace your thumb against the ring’s edge for added stability. If the
position reminds you of Anthony Perkins confronting a showering Janet Leigh, then
you’re doing it right.
The reverse grip isn’t particularly effective for everyday tasks such as opening
packages or the agricultural work for which the karambit was invented. However, it
opens up a world of possibilities when used in combat contexts. Karambit fighting
doesn’t imitate more traditional dueling styles. Instead, it almost serves as an
extension of a combatant’s hand, whipped from concealment to strike at vulnerable
areas such as the inner arm, armpit, belly, and neck. The reverse karambit grip
facilitates such a style
Extended Karambit Grip
While this grip looks impractical, martial artists and knife fighters who specialize in
working with the karambit use it for extra reach and punching power. Start with the
reverse karambit grip and then open up your pinky, ring, and middle fingers. Next,
slip that trio of digits around the karambit’s handle and curl them into your fist. The
knife should only be held by your index finger (which remains stuck through the
safety ring) and your thumb (which is braced against the ring for stability).
If this grip feels a little less secure than the other two, then know that’s by design.
Some practitioners will shift to this grip mid-swing, allowing momentum to carry the
stabbing point farther that it otherwise would reach. Needless to say, this grip
carries certain safety risks, as do the remainder of practiced grips.
Other Karambit Grips
The previously mentioned grips are the main three employed by karambit
practitioners. However, others exist, but they’re best attempted by those with who
have the oversight on an expert. Many of these grips are transitionary holds that
allow users to spin, switch grip, or switch hands on the fly. They run the very real
risk, though, of actively hurting the unwary.
Karambit Grips and OTF Designs
the karambit has mainly been a fixed-blade implement. One of the advantages of
an OTF karambit is that it’s incredibly easy to conceal and quickly deploy when
the need arises. Still, OTFs introduces a complication: the switch.
either positioned at the front where the blade deploys or at the rear near the safety
ring. Naturally, this somewhat limits the grip options, the former working best with
forward grips and that latter with reverse grips. While practitioners can shift their
karambits during use, they’ll need to return them to the deployment position in
order to retract them.
TacKnives offers a large variety of OTF karambits. See our selection here