How do you prefer to grip your Bowie?
First off, congratulations for the foresight to create a Western Martial Arts forum. Brilliant! Now:
So, bowie knives are typically trained with in the saber grip (blade up), with the icepick grip (blade down) taking a secondary place in importance. This is quite the opposite of how one would prefer to hold, say, a rondel dagger when practicing more medieval and renaissance versions of dagger play. A bowie knife is far more suited to the slash than a rondel dagger, though it retains a fair stabbing ability.
That said, some prefer to hold the knife with the sharp edge of the blade facing towards the user. Some reasons seem valid, others, a bit trite. On bowies built with a brass strip down the back edge of the blade, the softer brass could catch a sharp edge sliding down, hopefully disrupting an attack. The top edge of the blade near the tip was often sharpened, and this slightly recurved section would be used in a short hacking or chopping strike. And, by holding the edge towards you, you would parry with the thicker spine of the blade, saving your edge from knicks and other such damage.
The other grip is more conventional, holding the edge towards the opponent, to take advantage of its cutting ability in the shortest distance possible. If the top edge was sharpened, it would be used in reverse strikes and slashes.
Does anyone here on Bullshido have an opinion on how they prefer to hold their bowies? Do you prefer a saber grip, or icepick grip. Do you prefer edge in, or out? And, I guess most importantly, have you ever been in a position to say, "That's not a knife...."?
The top edge should always be sharp to allow for the "back cut."
I use a hammer grip to avoid slamming my thumb into the guard.
Finally, as to the last question, yes.
I always hold my knifes by the handle, never by the blade. I get cut far less often that way.
Originally Posted by Muerteds
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I've only ever done knife work with a rondel so I can't comment on what to do with a cutting edge. I can say that I've found the icepick grip telegraphs your movements a bit more but gives better leverage for committed stabs & grappling. The sabre grip seems better for premptive swarming attacks using the French & Italian thrust (Medieval German terms).
I've done a fair amount of armored dagger sparring with rondels and a little bowie sparring at WMA conferences over the years.
Rondels: alternating between the hammer and icepick grips, although in practice you end up holding the dagger in both hands a lot of the time; the edge basically isn't an issue in armored fighting.
Bowie: sabre grip, edge forward.
Saber grip, edge forward. A bowie is long enough that it's like a sword. The saber grip allows for more momentum in chopping strokes and full extension with the elbow in other attacks (more range). The bowie is destructive enough that I don't see a reason for using the reverse grip. The only reason I could see for that is if you have to draw it suddenly at close quarters without a cross draw or articulating the wrist. It would probably end up edge in if you did this.
A few weeks ago I picked up one of those folding Bowie knives with the blade that's longer than the handle. They're nifty.
When folded, the blade extends past the handle and the whole thing fits in a sheath. It makes it like 7 inches shorter. It has a locking/opening mechanism with a brass latch on a hinge like an old switchblade. They also have a guard that automatically folds. Here's a nice one:
Originally Posted by Hesperus
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