Quick Tips On How To Use A Butterfly Knife

butterfly knife on a stone

image via: pixabay.com

Do you have an interest in knives? maybe you enjoy hunting and fishing or wood carving. if so, you probably have several knives used for specific purposes. or you may like to collect different styles of knives as a hobby. in this article, we'll talk about a special knife that's popular with collectors and martial arts enthusiasts alike; the butterfly knife. We'll detail exactly what a butterfly knife is, give you some tips on how to use a butterfly knife, and get you up to speed on the laws covering these knives. Our goal is to show you how to use a butterfly knife safely and keep you out of trouble with the law at the same time. Let's get started!

What Is A Butterfly Knife?

blue handle butterfly knife

Image via: Pixabay 

You can think of butterfly knives as a type of folding pocket knife that has some special qualities that make them different from your ordinary pen- or pocket knife. Butterfly knives feature not one, but two handles that each counter-rotate around a tang, the stud that connects the blade to the handle. When closed, the blade of a butterfly knife hides in grooves in the handles. When the knife is open, a skilled user can spin the handles and the blade of the knife in many aspects. Butterfly knives have sharp blades of varying lengths and handle styles but the main concept of a blade rotating around the tang is the same. When learning how to use a butterfly knife, many people start with a blunted version called a trainer that allows you to practice opening and closing the knife and spinning it to perform special knife movements without getting hurt.

Types of Butterfly Knives

When considering which type of butterfly knife to buy, you have two types to consider based on the handle used to conceal the blade.

  • Channel-handles are made from one piece and are stronger and last longer as the blade lays in a channel or groove when the knife is closed
  • Sandwich-style knives are less expensive and more common as they are built from different components and then layered together with screws or pins


When learning how to use a butterfly knife, many people also like to know a little bit about the history surrounding these unique knives. Also known as a balisong, butterfly knives most likely developed in the Philippines around 800 CE, so they've been around for a long time. These knives were being mass-produced in the Philippines by 1900 and their popularity spread as sailors and merchants introduced them to their respective home countries. Although they were originally called balisongs, people quickly adopted the name "butterfly knife" to describe them because when the handles were open and spinning it reminded some of a butterfly in flight. We also know butterfly knives as fan knives and Batangas. Batanga is the name of the province in the Philippines where many of the knives are made. Regardless of what you call them, understand that butterfly knives were originally developed as a weapon, not a tool.

How To Use A Butterfly Knife

Using, spinning, or "flipping" a real butterfly knife can be very dangerous if you haven't established a high level of skill. Flipping a butterfly knife open and spinning it can be lots of fun and a great way to improve your reflexes and dexterity. It looks cool, too! If you want to learn how to use a butterfly knife skillfully, we suggest starting with a trainer knife. Training knives are legal everywhere and the blade isn't sharp or pointed, so you won't get hurt if you make a mistake. And in the beginning, you'll make lots of mistakes. Your hand is a soft target with lots of muscles, tendons, and blood vessels, so it's best to play it safe and start with a training knife before you move on to a real butterfly knife. That being said, let's look at some basic skills you must master when learning how to use a genuine butterfly knife.

Performing a Basic Flip

First, grasp the butterfly knife from the safe side. The knife has a dull side and a sharp side, so you want to always keep your fingers away from the sharp side. Make sure you understand how the knife will close and how the sharp side will fit into the handle and then hold the handle that receives the dull side of the knife — the safe side. Even when using a training knife, you'll want to practice this safe technique.

Wrist Flick

While holding the butterfly knife directly in front of you and pointing forward, flick your wrist back. Think of a motion that would be the opposite of casting bait when fishing. Instead of flicking the "line" forward reverse the motion and bring the handle of the knife backward by flicking your wrist. When you flip your wrist back, the knife will open and the handle of the sharp side will hit you between your thumb and your forefinger. Keep your hand in the same position. Practice this movement until you can do it in your sleep if you want to progress and learn how to use a butterfly knife like a pro.

Flip Forward Return

This exercise will complete our first basic movement as you return to the starting position by reversing the wrist flip. Here, you'll want to flick your wrist at a downward angle which will close the knife again. If done properly, the knife should be in the same alignment as when you began the wrist flick, with the blade resting inside the handle.

Open Thumb Flip

Remember the wrist flick where the knife handle of the sharp side hit you between your thumb and forefinger? With this drill, flip the knife the same way but open your thumb and move it to the side. This allows the handle of the sharp side to strike the control handle (the handle you're holding) and engage the blade. Once you've flipped the knife into place, close your thumb, covering both handles. Once completed the butterfly knife should now be open with the blade pointing away from you. You should hold both handles together, palm up with your thumb covering the handles. If you want to learn how to use a butterfly knife properly, this movement is key as it completes the first of a series of basic movements.

Advanced Movements

When understanding how to use a butterfly knife, it is important to know the difference between moves and combinations. Beginners sometimes try to perform combinations without understanding the underlying movements that make combinations possible, and if you're using a real butterfly knife, you could cut yourself. A move is a single action someone can do in a variety of ways such as backward, forward, and upside down. A simple 180-degree rotation of one handle to a counter position, closed to open, or returning open to closed with front and back grips, is an example of a movement. A combination is a series of movements performed as a continuous flow. When learning how to use a butterfly knife, understand and master the movements before you attempt combinations.

What Are The Laws About Butterfly Knives?

illegal legal written on a paper

Image via: Pixabay

So far we've learned what butterfly knives are, the different types available, a little history about the knife itself, and even how to use a butterfly knife to perform basic or advanced movements. How about the laws concerning these knives? Is it legal to carry one or keep one in your home? The short answer is that it depends on where you live. Let's look at the laws.

Lithuania: Anything Goes

United States Laws: Let the States Decide






Butterfly knives are unique knives (or weapons, depending on your jurisdiction) that when used properly can help develop your reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity. They also make interesting additions to any knife enthusiast's collection because of the varied designs and rich history. If you want to learn how to use a butterfly knife the right way, start with an understanding of the differences between movements and combinations. Practice and develop the movements by heart before you attempt combinations and always learn how to use a butterfly knife by starting with a training knife. As we've seen, the laws can vary depending on the country or state, so make sure you're aware of what applies in your jurisdiction. It always pays to exercise caution, whether you're learning how to use a butterfly knife or if you're not sure of the law.

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