Without These Five Knife Skills, You Can’t Call Yourself a Survivalist – Readyman

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Without These Five Knife Skills, You Can’t Call Yourself a Survivalist

Posted on May 03 2019

Try to survive outdoors without a knife and you will die. Here are the five fundamental skills of knife mastery. You should spend a lifetime building them.

1. Defense.

Don’t say, “I have a gun. Why do I need a knife?” 

First, a knife makes you a better gun fighter. Fighting in any discipline radically helps your martial science. The knife teaches body movement and angles, two things that are essential to gunfighting.  Movement is the key to winning fights, and the core of knife fighting is movement.


Click to Watch the Video on Knife Fighting by the Author

The knife teaches you blade awareness and proprioception—understanding where your body and tool are in relation to an opponent.  Professional fighters live or die over good proprioception and they invest decades of training and practice to master it. 

The knife teaches you reaction, by avoiding the aggressor’s knife and reading his body language no matter if it’s a gun, knife or hand.

The knife may be the only thing you have. The skills translate to screw driver, kitchen knife, box cutter, tent stake, or even a stick.  

Learning the knife is fun. There are few things that get the blood pumping more than a simple game of “tag” with a training knife.

Man with a knife killed at least 3 policemen before being subdued.

2. Daily Usefullness.

Carry a knife all day, every day. No shit, this is non-negotiable for a survivalist. The knife should be an extension of your body. 

The vikings often went to battle with the same axes they used for boat-building. Why not fight with a tool that you know better than your wife’s body? If you must fight to kill, wouldn’t you rather use a blade that your hand, arm and eye already know very intimately (probably because you’ve opened a thousand boxes with it?)

Prepare animals for cooking, cut vegetables, even eat your food with your “utility knife.”  If you carry a knife everywhere, you’ll use it as a screwdriver, an anchor, a shovel, a striker for fire, a mirror, a signaling device, a chopper, a whittler, a skinner, a box opener, a probe, a spear, a trap, a glass breaker, a seat belt cutter, an awl for sewing, a splinter remover, a blister reliever, a surgical instrument and so on. Make that knife an extension of your arm and mind. 

3. Mastery Around Others (Etiquette). 

Another man will instantly recognize your basic competency and gentlemanliness by how you treat your knife and how you handle it around him. An over-civilized noob can be immediately identified by sloppy knife etiquette.

When passing a knife to another man, pass it to that person handle first. When the receiving party has a secure grip on the knife they should say “thank you.” This lets the surrendering party know that the receiving party has a secure grip on the knife. If you borrow a knife from someone, gentlemanliness dictates that you clean the blade before you give it back to the owner.

When a knife comes out, you will be rightly judged by another man as someone who cares about skill and decorum or just another Tool. Beware and be conscious.

4. Proper Care.

A knife should be kept razor sharp. Dull knives cause far more accidents than sharp knives because the user forces the blade to cut. Heavy pressure on a cut, because your blade is dull, often leads to injury and infection.

 Video: keeping your knife razor sharp.

A knife should always be clean. Now with modern steel that resists rust and pitting, this doesn’t present much of a challenge. Modern high carbon steel blades are usually coated with stain and rust resistant layers. Still, your knife should be checked regularly for damage, chips in the blade, loose handles or loose cross guards. Keep chunks of animal or food out of the cracks and crevices. Your knife represents you. Take care of it.

5. Ingenuity.

In modern society, materials abound that can be fashioned into a knife. Hasty knives can be cobbled together from glass, plastic, stone, metal, teeth, bone, horn or any other hard material. Either in a disaster or in a SHTF scenario, steel and metal will be discarded everywhere. Old dead cars and the guts of factories will not suddenly disappear but serve as an abundance source of raw materials. 

Make a Hasty Homemade Knife: video

In the medieval ages in Europe, steel was very rate, and enough steel to make a sword cost a small fortune. Because of this, swords and knives were handed down for generations. In the post-apocalypse scarcity of steel will not be an issue, but a good knife will still be worth its weight in gold. Get out of the terminal mindset that a gun is all you need. Armed combat is only one of the threats in a SHTF world. Needs like starvation, farming, animal husbandry, surgery, construction and hygiene require a knife more than a gun. Shorting your knife skills because you have a vault full of firearms would be a dire mistake. “The Way Of the Knife” is a far more probable scenario than a gunfight.  


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  • qxfugohgtr: November 10, 2020

    Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

  • Joel: December 04, 2019

    One of my go-to knives that I carry everywhere I go, is my Leatherman which gets the tar beat out of it on a regular basis, this year a co-worker and I were mowing a trail and we came across a large willow across the trail and neither of us had a saw on the mowers. We took that tree apart with a 3.5" blade and saw, and them towed the pieces out with the mower.

  • John: May 17, 2019

    Useful information. I don’t give any other person personal “tools” however.
    Thank you for coverage

  • Richard Schafer: May 16, 2019

    Thank you, great article. I wasn’t SF, but I was recon with the 82nd and I probably used my knife every day for various and sundry tasks. It’s true how it increases ones awareness. I train in Pekiti Tersia Kali, and practicing with a 4" razor sharp blade in ones hand makes one very cognizant of ones surroundings!

  • Darrell Shawcroft: May 16, 2019

    My Benchmade Griptillian has served me well. It cost much more than the bargain knives, but it has been worth it in every way.

    Excellent knife for those of us that work in an environment that won’t allow a fixed blade knife or even a blade over 4 inches.

    The AXIS is one of the strongest and best IMHO.

  • RangerRick: May 16, 2019

    Great article, a man or lady needs to know how to use their tool in order to survive.
    Never buy the bargain tool, it will let you down when you need it most.
    Ranger Rick
    Automatic Survivor Training Group
    North Idaho

  • Liam Athias Babington: May 09, 2019

    A good SEAX knife with a 5-6 inch blade is what I prefer to carry not a folding knife a full tang knife is the best!!

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