The Modern Kunai

In a few previous posts I’ve made much about how the Japanese kunai had undergone an amazing transformation at the hands of Hollywood, from a cheap, multi purpose garden implement into the omnipotent Swiss Army knife of the Shinobi warrior. The modern replica kunai is now part throwing knife, part parry tool, part fighting knife, camp knife, hunting knife, scalpel, the list goes on… Well, the point of this post is that I found yet another incarnation of kunai, from veteran knife shop Cold Steel…:

Cold Steel Kunai

Cold Steel kunai

[view full size]

Now as Kunai go, this is fairly recognizable, though it is a rather unique design, and a major departure from the traditional Kunai design in two very important ways.

First, the blade is a flat, wide triangular blade. Your traditional Kunai was more leaf shaped, than actually a triangle, though this is not a bad approximation. This also stays in keeping with the diamond shaped blade cross section, which gives the kunai a lot of strength, though it is much more shallow diamond than some traditional designs. It would make a strong thrusting weapon. Not so much for cutting, even though it has two very sharp edges. Kunai really weren’t the best design for cutting. Too short and too wide.

The second design departure is, to me at least, a much more important one. In defiance of the traditional full tang Kunai construction, Cold Steel has seen fit to simply encase a tang in a kraton handle. Yes, it looks cool, it probably provides a great grip, and it’s got this great tactical ring on the end of it, but this, imho, is a grave mistake.

There is simply not as much strength in a grip molded onto a rat tail as there is with a full tang with scales. given the kind of use that a kunai might see, i would always be worried about the tang somehow working it’s way out of the grip material. I’ve seen it happen too many times. And it’s a great shame.

But speaking of different kinds of uses, I couldn’t help but notice the handy little chart that cold steel provided on the different grips that could be used to wield the kunai. Now I will readily admit that I am no kunai fighting expert, but seriously, half of those grips seem very… well… pointless… It looks almost like they just held it in as many ways they could think of and then picked the coolest looking ones for the pic.

I mean seriously, a kunai is not a punch dagger. Punch daggers are short for a reason. You don’t want the blade rotating out of your hand. That is why grips 1 and 6 fail miserably in that respect. And grip 4 is pointless when you could use either 3 or 5 to accomplish essentially the same reverse/ice pick grip in a much stronger way. Grip 8 is a good strong hammer grip, while 7 looks like a good way to break a pinky. And whoever came up with grip 2 must have been smoking a controlled substance…

In fact I’m thinking the only ones who could find any practical use for grip 2 would have to be Ninjas… But you can try it for yourself if you feel so inclined… I’m just saying…

Cold Steel Kunai – [True Swords]


7 Responses to “The Modern Kunai”

  1. 1 ladyofspiders
    April 28, 2008 at 12:35 am

    I do love Kuna’s and this one is rather cool looking, but I agree about the photos, instead of different ways to use it, it just looks like different ways to hold it.

  2. April 29, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    That’s exactly what I think those photos are… What were they thinking… They might as well have just hung the loop off someones nose and included a pic of that for all of the usefulness of some of these holds… 😀

  3. 3 kingOfKunai
    March 27, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    hey ive got a question bout those kunaiknives
    can you actually use them as throwing knives?

  4. March 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Yes, they could be, though this is not really the best design for that purpose…

  5. 5 Akira Godzilla
    April 5, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    1. PALM GRIP – The first grip shown is a good grip to use if you don’t have any knife-fighting skills, but you have had some punching training; the ring is embedded into the heel of your palm much like brass knuckles. No knock-out blows are used here: ladies you don’t need strength to back up your 6′-200# attacker when you speed-punch only the first 1/2″ of your blade tip into your attacker’s hands and forearms.
    2. SABRE GRIP – The second is also palm reinforced for thrusting, but that is secondary icing; this is a modified sabre-grip and is used after you have backed your attacker up and he thinks you are outside cutting range: The defender uses a fencer’s lunge to quickly move into cutting range, in an instant snap-cuts the closest part of the attacker, and then backs out of range (speed and balance is key.)
    3. EARTH HAMMER GRIP (weak) – The third grip is primarily used to power thrust without cutting yourself: here your thumb keeps your palm off your own blade’s edge. Your thumb is only moved into this position the moment you thrust because your thumb off the knuckles weakens your own grip. This grip is also used in advanced disarming that I won’t describe here.
    4. EARTH HAMMER GRIP (strong) – Same as three without the disarming weakness. Use this grip to transition into the sixth grip.
    5. EARTH HAMMER GRIP (strong) – Same as three and difficult to disarm.
    6. HAMMER GRIP (extended) – This is an advanced fighting grip that is used during specific fighting situations; like for example ground-fighting (yes people use knives when they wrestle.)
    7. HEAVEN HAMMER GRIP (strong) – A strong anti-disarm grip.
    8. HEAVEN HAMMER GRIP – Your fundamental knife-fighting grip. Here you expose the ring for fast hammering impact blows. There are at least seven more grips (advanced) that are not shown here; except for grip #6, CS focused on just your basic fighting grips here.

  6. April 5, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Hey AG,
    Thanks for the info. Very interesting, application for each grip shown, though it seems to me like many of those grips are really just fancy ways of adapting the use of this weapon to purposes for which it may not have originally been intended. Not that I don’t think they would work, or that an advanced knife fighter couldn’t make use of them, but many of them seem so weak (A couple of your descriptions describe why) that they contradict my personal philosophy of use following form, which should ideally also follow function.

    I’m going to violate one of my own rules, and make an analogy to a video game, but it is really about the principle behind it, not the practicality of any specific video game move itself. I am a big Street fighter II fan. I used to spend countless hours and probably just as many quarters, playing it. The one interesting thing I noticed, that I also found seemed to also apply (in principle only) to my actual sparring, was that while fancy moves all had their place, the simplest moves worked best for me.

    In fact with Street fighter, it got to the point where I could beat the game, with one move. The strong kick. I could pick almost any character, and finish the game using only that one button. Granted, real life sparring is not that simple, live opponents are never as predictable as video game characters, however, I found my the most effective sparring techniques for me were the simple ones. Not that I couldn’t pull of any of the fancy ones, but rather, to me, they just seemed needlessly fancy.

    I think the same thing when I look at all of those grips. Lot’s of different grips. Many of them inherently weak. Not to belittle whatever styles rely on them, but I can’t help asking myself, why not just perfect the use of the strongest ones instead?

  7. 7 Akira Godzilla
    April 6, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Hello PB,
    Yes training the fundamentals, correctly, is most important. (Remember that is is your responsibility to train with whatever you choose to carry.) Use grips #4 and #7 if fighting with a ring and use grips #3 and #8 for blades without a ring. If you choose to neither train, or carry a blade, then use grip #1 if forced to defend yourself with any pointed object (even if it’s a pencil or your car key) so you can use the fundamentals you already know without change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

April 2008
« Mar   May »

Subscribe The Dark Realm!

Add to My AOL

%d bloggers like this: