PTI Blog

  • LEARNING THROUGH COMPARISONS PT 2 DRAWING THE WEAPON

    The purpose of this series is to learn how to learn; ie the teachnique of learning something new. One way human beings do this (especially when young) is by learning through comparisons. In this essay we will examine the differences in drawing three categories of weapons; the bowie, the kukri and the hatchet/tomahawk.

  • BOWIE POINT- Preferred length and shape?

    If I ever had to use a bowie knife for defensive purposes, I’d want to cut with maximum effect at the longest possible distance. This means putting the Center of Percussion (C.O.P.) as far forward as possible; while still retaining a functional, piercing point (1). Therefore, I’d want to have a relatively short false edge or swedge (2). For most of my bowies, it seems that a swedge length between 1/4 and 1/3 of the overall blade length strikes the right balance.
  • PEKITI-TIRSIA EMPTY HAND VS KNIFE: OVERVIEW

    The main purpose of Pekiti-Tirsia hand vs knife training is NOT to end the fight against a knife with your bare hands. The purpose of any good hand vs knife system should be to buy you enough time to make the fight your weapon vs his weapon as soon as possible.
  • BIG VS SMALL (BLADES) Does Size Really Matter?

    Here is an article I wrote for the July 1999 issue of Inside Kung Fu magazine on the subject of knives for self defense use. I was specifically writing about a pet peeve of mine in the 1990s. Some instructors back then were teaching techniques developed in the Philippines and designed for use with a large blade, but were teaching the same techniques to their students in the West, who are carrying much smaller knives. My problem with this was expecting the small knife to be able to do the work of a much larger blade. Like much else in life: SIZE DOES MATTER!
  • MY FINNISH KNIFE COLLECTION

    I’ve been traveling to Finland since the mid-1990s to teach Pekiti-Tirsia seminars hosted by my friend Sensei/Guro Kaj Westersund. Here are some of the knives he and his students have given me, along with a look at my 2009 trip to the shop of Finnish custom knife-maker Markku Vilppola; as well as a look at the Finnish military Ranger knife designed by J.P. Peltonen.
  • HOW TO MEASURE A KNIFE HANDLE TO FIT YOUR HAND

    The purpose of this essay is to help you find a knife handle that will fit your hand by filling in the information often missing on handle dimensions in the specifications on knife maker’s website. 
  • SMALL BLADES FOR BIG HANDS

    I often gets asked for recommendations of knives for self-defense use.This is usually easy to do, once I get the answers to these two questions:

    1. What is legal for you in your area?

    2. What will you be using the knife for when it is not put to self defense uses? (Which we can usually assume is the vast majority of the time.)

    The one parameter that would often make this choice difficult was when I was asked to recommend a fixed blade for self defense with a blade of less than 4 inches. The problem here is that most fixed blade knives with sub 4” blades have correspondingly small handles. When you have large hands, this can be a problem.

  • GUN VS KNIFE TRAINING

    Dear Certified Firearms Instructor: Think of this article as a way to help decide which tools you should pull from your toolbox first, when teaching LEOs and CCW citizens basic handgun defenses against a knife, coming from someone with long experience in both types of weapons.
  • PTI ADVANCED HAND VS KNIFE: Part 2

    The way I teach Pekiti-Tirsia advanced hand vs knife has evolved over the years.

    When I first learned the system from Grand Tuhon Gaje, hand vs knife was divided into two stages:

  • CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT GRIP

    Back in the 1970s, when I first started learning Pekiti-Tirsia knife work, Tuhon Gaje had us do many exercises to strengthen our grip. Things like doing push ups while holding our rattan sticks with the butt end braced on the floor, as well as striking and thrusting our sticks full power into a stack of car tires.
  • HOW TO AVOID BECOMING A “KNIFE CULT”

    Knife work is inherently "dark" and it is all too easy for your students to go over to "The Dark Side" while training in it. While I want my students to take their training seriously (and the consequences of their actions VERY seriously), I don't want them to take themselves or even me too seriously. Here is the danger I am trying to avoid. What should be a defensive tactics class that simply focuses on one practical defensive tool, can easily be turned into "The Cult of the Knife.”
  • KARAMBITS & MAGIC SWORDS (Crazy Eddie stories part 1)

    “Smell the blade.” said my Indonesian Penchak Silat instructor, Suryadi “Crazy Eddie” Jafri.

    “Why?” I replied, not understanding what this had to do with the question I had asked him.

    “Billy, just smell the blade.”

    Eddie had given me a small Indonesian knife, with a pistol grip and a 3 inch, leaf shaped blade of black damascus steel. It had a strange, elongated hole that looked to be deliberately forged into the center of the blade. The whole thing was small enough to fit into the palm of my hand.