Knife throwing is an art, sport, or variously an
entertainmenttechnique, involving an artistskilled in the art of throwing knives, the weapons thrown, and a target.
The throwing knife
The desirable properties for a throwing knife differ from those of a common pocket knife. Knives used are almost always one-piece, rather than the traditional knives that have a
handlemanufactured separately from the blade. The purpose of this design is to create a durable knife with a balanced distribution of weight. Additionally, some throwing knives are double-edged, although the edges of throwing knives are almost always dull (to prevent the knife from cutting the thrower's hands in some grips). The knife sticks through penetration of the sharpened point into the target, hence sharpened edges are unnecessary. As the knife's sharpness and its ability to hold an edge are of little importance, other factors such as weight distribution, overall weight and especially durability become important. Compared to pocket knives, the steel used to manufacture a throwing knife should be more malleable and less prone to breakage.
The basic principles
Knife throwing, whether in a martial or
sportapplication, involves the same basic principles of mechanics. The objective in each case is for the point to stick into the target with a sufficient amount of force. For this to be successful accuracy, distance, number of rotations and placement of the body all must be taken into account. A knife rotates during flight. This means that the thrower, assuming s/he is throwing the same way every time, must either choose a specific distance for each type of throw or - more practically - make slight adjustments to placement of the knife in the hand as well as angle of release and rotation of the wrist. Variations in throw technique can be combined to allow the thrower to stick the knife into a target up to 60 feet away. Throwers may additionally make use of these adjustments while throwing off-center, around corners, and while running.
pear or arrow style
"Spear" or "arrow style" or "combat style" knife throwing is an alternative throwing style practiced by a minority of knife throwers. The principal difference between this style and standard knife throwing is that in spear style, the knives are thrown so that they fly straight into the target with little or no rotation, in the manner of an arrow or a thrown spear. This is usually accomplished by a throw that resembles a shot put, accompanied by a slight downward flick of the wrist as the knife is released, in order to cancel out momentum accumulated in accelerating the knife. Spear style is considered more difficult than standard knife throwing, and is somewhat less accurate, but has the advantage that the thrower does not need to gauge the distance to the target or choose a number of rotations. Thus, in theory, it is more useful as a martial art. Spear style throwers usually use smaller knives - between 5 and 10 inches in length - than typical knife throwers do. They also tend to use knives balanced with more weight towards the handle.
Knife throwing as a sport
In the USA and in Europe, there are communities of people pursuing knife throwing as a sport, similar to
archery. Groups such as IKTHOF (International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame, USA), AKTA (American Knife Throwers Alliance, USA) and Eurothrowers (European Throwing Club "Flying Blades", EU) sponsor events, demonstrations and competitions. Those are an opportunity for the throwers to exchange knowledge, compare their performances, and enjoy the amiable atmosphere common to those events.
The competition itself consists, in the most common form, of a series of straight throws aimed at a set of standard wooden targets. Similar to an archery target, competition knife throwing targets have a bullseye surrounded by one or more rings. A sticking knife scores points. The thrower must be standing at least a set distance away from the target, with higher distances for more challenging events.
IKTHOF, based in
Austin, Texas, keeps a ranking of its members based on their performance during these sponsored competitions. The scores achieved at Eurothrowers events can be examined at the meetings' reports.
Knife throwing in martial arts
Although it was popularized in America in the late 19th century by traveling acts such as the
Barnum & Bailey Circus, the history of knife throwing dates much further back. The art of knife throwing was first used in martial arts or hunting applications. It has been incorporated into the martial disciplines of the Japanese as well as some African and Native American tribes. In such cases, throwing a weapon when fighting is generally thought of as a risk. If unsuccessful it can leave the thrower without a weapon. However, many warriors traditionally carried two or more weapons at the same time.
Knife throwing in the military
Military personnel (usually spec-ops) seldom use "normal" knives for throwing, because lack of repeatability makes training and certification difficult. The French
GIGN's knife has a liquid mercury vial hidden inside to help automatically orient the blade forward when thrown. The Soviet "Spetznaz" throwing knife is actually a blade gun, which uses a very strong coil spring hidden in the handle to propel the blade forward on the press of a button. The holster carries extra blades, because hitting a tree or other wooden object embeds the blade so much, removal by human strength may be impossible. Conversely North Korean frogmenand other elite DPRKtroops are skilled in throwing "ordinary" knives as well as other common household objects, e.g. eating forks.fact|date=June 2008
Representations of knife throwing
Knife throwing has made many appearances in film, most prominently in action movies such as "
Kill Bill", " Gangs of New York", and "V for Vendetta". Many films, with the above-mentioned as notable exceptions, depict the act of throwing a knife in an unrealistic manner. Compared to the standard Hollywood throw (holding the knife by the tip, between thumb and forefinger), competition knife throwers usually hold the knife either along the length of the blade close to the center of gravity or by the handle. Additionally, the number of rotations within a distance of 5-30 feet should be no more than two. Steven Millhauserwrote a story called "The Knife Thrower." It was published in the March 1997 issue of Harper'sand collected in "The Knife Thrower and Other Stories".
Knife throwing is also prominent in the 10th game of the "
Fire Emblem" series.
Knife throwing as entertainment
Knife throwing as entertainment is part of a group of performance arts sometimes known as the
* [http://www.knifethrowing.info/how_to_throw_knives.html Knife throwing technique]
* [http://www.IKTHOF.com International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame (USA)]
* [http://www.AKTA-USA.com American Knife Throwers Alliance (USA)]
* [http://www.eurothrowers.org European Throwing Club "Flying Blades" (EU)]
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