Balisong Butterfly Knife Basics
The Balisong, or Butterfly Knife, is a bladed instrument and weapon from the Philippines, used on the Islands both as a tool and for fighting. It consists of a two-piece handle and a blade; the handles close in on the blade to conceal it and reveal the blade when open. The blade, when closed, rests in grooves in the handles.
Having it's origin in the Philippines, the Balisong has become popular across the globe. It has been included in such movies as Sharkey's Machine, Big Trouble in Little China, and Kick Ass. It's become a favorite among many people because many flashy and tricky moves can be performed with the instrument. In other words, to many people the Balisong is fun. However, it is always good to use caution with such a tool and be very conscious of the sharp edge of the blade when using it. It is also important to be aware that the knife is illegal in some areas.
Since safety is the first concern, I've provided a chart below to identify certain parts of the Balisong which you must be conscious of to use it safely. The main parts I want to cover are the latch, the safe handle, the bite handle, the edge, and the swedge.
The latch is attached to one of the handles of the knife and is used to keep it locked in place when the knife is closed. Typically (but not always), the latch is on the handle on the sharp edge side of the knife, known as the edge: This handle is known as the bite handle. This is very important to remember, because you do not want to hold the knife by the handle on the edge side of the knife. The other handle is called the safe handle, for obvious reasons: It is on the side of the knife which is not sharp, known as the swedge. So, see which side the latch of the handle is on and this will help you keep track of where the sharp edge of the blade is. See chart below for more details.
The purpose of this article is to cover very basic moves of opening and closing the Balisong. It is important to mention that good training in weapons is a must for understanding how to use them properly without hurting yourself or another. Safety is always a primary concern in martial arts training.
This is probably the simplest, quickest, safest way to open the Balisong. No extra moves, and the chances are reduced that you might lose your grip or fumble with it. It involves opening the knife by pulling the handles apart, with blade down and back of your hands facing you; turn the blade upwards, turn hands with palms facing you, then close handles with knife exposed. To close, reverse the process. Of course, you could also open the knife starting with the blade pointing upwards first; in which case you simply pull the handles apart and close them together with knife exposed. Here I show the first method with blade down.
One-handed Quick Opening
This is the quickest and handiest way of opening the Balisong. I say handiest, because it leaves one hand free if needed. It is also relatively safe, because chances of dropping it or fumbling with it are minimized. You let the bite handle and blade dangle down, keeping hold of safe handle in thumb and index finger. Spin knife clock-wise in hand until blade points forward and bite handle dangles. Keep hold of safe handle between thumb and index finger, open other fingers to grip bite handle into your palm.
The Three Move Flip Open
This one is a bit more intricate. Conscious of where the latch is (see above and see your knife), also be aware of which side the sharp edge of the blade is, and make sure you are gripping the handle on the side of the blade which is not sharp (the safe handle). Let the handles fall open. With a small clock-wise motion, spin the handle in your palm, gripping with thumb and index finger, until your fingers are in-between the handles. Spin the handle again in the same fashion, until the blade and bite handle are dangling downward. Now with a quick and short upward motion, pop the bite handle up into your hand so that now you have both handles in your hand and the knife exposed and ready. To close it, you use the same series of motions, but the blade and bite handle are popped up into your hand at the end.
Ice-pick or Reverse-grip Opening
An Ice-pick or Reverse-grip is a grip in which the blade is pointing downward out the bottom of your fist. To open the knife in this fashion, you again drop the bite handle and use the small clock-wise circular motion to spin the safe handle in your palm so that the bite handle dangles. Slip your index finger to a position so that it rests on the safe handle between the safe handle and the blade. You then pop the blade and bite handle upward so that the safe swedge part of the blade rests on your index finger. Then hold the safe handle between your index finger and other fingers and put you thumb on the outside of the safe handle. With a quick motion downward and out, flip the blade and bite handle using your thumb on the outside of the safe handle to propel them, until the bite handle rests in you hand with the safe handle. This last move takes dexterity, because you will have to keep a hold of the safe handle and move your fingers and thumb out of the way so the bite handle can land in your palm.