THE P’KAL KNIFE: by DENNIS MARTIN

At the Mind’s Eye Shooting Program in Sweden, Marcus Wynne brought a mouth-watering selection of Spyderco knives for the guys to appraise and savour. I left with several goodies including the intriguing P’kal folder, together with the trainer. Since then I have been evaluating them, training with them, and showing them to guys on courses in several countries. In this article we will discuss the methodology and evolution of this purpose-driven weapon.

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[Den and Marcus discuss the Spyderco P'kal and trainer]

THE PIKAL METHODOLOGY

Leading gunwriter Dave Spaulding and I have a running joke about the types of comparison article popular in the gun press; “Double action versus single action”, “Revolver versus autopistol” and “9mm v 45”. We expect to see gunleather discussed with an article “Basketweave versus Decorative stitching; your deadly force decision”

In the edged weapon community a similar discussion is “Forward Grip versus Reverse grip” with experts often taking polarized positions. One leading writer slated Reverse-grip as…..  “A frequent choice of unskilled, or, deranged persons, and most particularly, women”  Well, high on the list of people I don’t want to face if they are holding a knife are the deranged, and top of the list are deranged women! A knife program used briefly by the US Marine Corps took the opposite view, utilizing the Reverse-grip, and denigrating the Forward grip. The common-sense solution is, of course, to be conversant with  all options, because in the mix of violent assault at close range you may need those choices. In our Edged Weapon programs we discussed and trained with the Forward grip, using a natural “hammer” type hold, as well as the Reverse-grip, sometimes known as “Icepick grip.”  Both holds used edge-forward orientation [when using single-edged weapons]. We did have one method in the program, which used the knife in an edge-up grip. This was the wartime “Gralloching” technique, taught by Fairbairn and Sykes, for use with the issue military “Jack-knife”. By holding the knife in forward/edge-up grip a savage thrust to the perineum, followed by a ripping slash through to the pubic bone is lethally effective, while preventing the non-locking clasp knife from closing on the fingers.

Then I saw a video by James Keating where he showed some Reverse-grip drills using an edge-in orientation. Then, a while later Massad Ayoob wrote a comprehensive review of about fifteen ways to grip the knife, in an American Handgunner Annual. One of the methods discussed was the edge-in configuration, in either Forward, or, Reverse-grip. I must admit that neither of these expert discussions, got me to adopt Edge-in, as I merely mentally filed the concept as one of many in the knife community. I was by then taking part in an online discussion forum, and became part of an international network sharing ideas and training methods. One of the leading thinkers in the group went by the workname of SouthNarc, and he took the time and effort to video some of his concepts, with a training partner in the police station where he was based. He very kindly sent me a copy, and included in the highly effective material on extreme close fighting, was the use of the knife in edge-in alignment. It was simple, elegant and vicious. I started trying out the method, and added it to my syllabus.


[Southnarc demonstrating on Slackbladder]

Southnarc explained that the Reverse-grip/edge-in system [what he abbreviates as REM] was known in some parts of the Philippines as pikal, which means, “to rip”. An apt name, since the method features ripping and hooking of the limbs, as well as rapid stabbing and arcing slashing attacks.

 From a deep background in the Pekiti-tersia branch of FMA, Southnarc viewed knife usage through the prism of street reality, based on many years experience as an undercover narcotics officer in Southern USA. He took a few, high-probability techniques from the FMA and blended them with the use of other force options, including unarmed striking, grappling as well as the integration of the firearm. From that first, privately distributed video, Southnarc has produced several DVDs showing his system, and has become recognized one  of the most effective instructors in the use-of-force field.


A few years ago Southnarc started teaching in the UK and I was able to attend the first seminar. The training was great, and we had the obligatory “post training scoff” at a Chinese banquet, where we were able to chat about all aspects of training for several hours. Since then, Peter “Slackbladder” Morgan has trained extensively with Southnarc, both in the UK and overseas. Slacky has presented some of the material on our seminars, and the guys have always lapped it up.

 [Peter “Slackybladder” showing a knife/grappling technique]

KNIVES FOR REVERSE-GRIP/EDGE-IN [REM] METHOD

Southnarc wrote an article on the modification of the Kershaw Talon folder to produce the Southern Comfort  here  Sometime later a friend told me that he had imported a couple of these and had one for sale if I was interested. I was, and was delighted with the knife when it arrived. Very well made, solid, sharp, and, as promised by Southnarc, extremely fast to deploy.

Since then Southnarc has created an array of specific-to-task edged weapons, designed to support his  philosophy of personal protection. He formed Shivworks  as a think tank to disseminate the training and equipment resulting from his experience and continued research. In time the idea of designing a purpose built folding knife specifically for REI was proposed, and the Shivworks team collaborated with Sal Glesser of Spyderco on the project, which emerged in 2006 as the P’kal knife.

THE SPYDERCO P’KAL TACTICAL FOLDER

THE HANDLE: For efficient ergonomics the grip of a Reverse-edge knife has to be oriented in such a way as to fit the contours of the hand. Spyderco have achieved this, but gone further in making the handle very secure under the stresses of extreme close-quarter fighting. A deep choil affords the finger a positive index point for securing the grip. Folders usually lack a guard, and this choil prevents the hand slipping onto the blade when stabbing into flesh and bone.

Handle material is a finely-textured black G-10, ideally fit for purpose.

 

THE BLADE: At 3” this blade is legal in many jurisdictions. The two main techniques of the pikal method are a rapid, repeated stabbing, and a hooking, ripping action to any opportune limb. The blade fulfils either requirement, with a wicked point, and the trademark Spyderco sharp plain-edge. Blade material is CPM-S30V, a  martensitic powder- made stainless steel which was developed specifically for knife blades.

 

OTHER FEATURES: The P’kal is equipped with the new compression lock, easily accessed with either hand, and very strong.

 

The clip is skeletonised wire, and can be affixed to either side for ambidextrous carry.

 

Finally the knife has a rather elegant version of the Emerson Wave opening device.


 

This was, in fact, added at a late stage in the design process, and was designed by Sal Glesser. It works superbly, and in fact, makes the P’kal such an effective self-protection weapon. I have been favouring compact fixed blades in recent years, but the Wave device makes the P’kal a viable tool for infight weapon access.
This version of the Wave is removable, should the user desire it; I doubt many will, as it makes access and opening easy and immediate.

The inclusion of a dedicated trainer, the C103TR to the product line has made the P’kal even more attractive to the serious practitioner, willing to invest time, money and effort to their personal safety.


[The P’kal trainer on a recent overseas course]

THE P’KAL KNIFE IN ACTION

  

The Jab]

[Larry hooking and striking on Steve]

 

[Marcus demonstrating detail of the hooking/capturing/shearing  technique]

[Larry shows a lowline thrust]

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Specifications:

length overall 7 3/8″ (187mm) blade length 3″ (76mm) blade steel CPM-S30V

length closed 4 3/8″ (111mm) cutting edge 2 13/16″ (71mm) weight 3.6oz (103g)

hole diameter 1/2″ (13mm) blade thickness 1/8″ (3mm) handle material G-10


All in all Shivworks and Spyderco have come up with a winner.

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LINKS

Spyderco

Southnarc’s DVDs and other products available through Shivworks

A great source of information, moderated by Southnarc and his friends at TPI Forums