Something interesting happened last night. I picked up the double sticks for a quickie through the Double Sticks Series. Instead of the larger movements that I would normally do when executing the techniques I found that my movements were a lot more compact and swifter.
Considering that I practice the DS Series sporadically nowadays the only reason I could think of for the change in flavor is my practice of balisong flipping.
OK, I know. Most balisong flippers are not FMA practitioners. FMA practitioners might do the balisong or not. If they do balisong flipping then the practicality of application would eliminate the fancy tricks involved in the sport of balisong flipping.
So why would I do balisong flipping knowing that the majority of flipping tricks are not practical. For one balisong flipping looks like a lot of fun. Secondly, it makes for interesting study of the principles found in physics.
Thirdly, I saw that some flipping moves resemble the core movement of practical techniques and thought that it could enhance emptyhand techniques. However, since the balisong flipping community and the FMA community do not intersect I could not find out from existing practitioners and have to be my own guinea pig.
Did what I write here interest you in taking up balisong flipping? Before you think of jumping in consider it carefully for the reasons below.
Balisong flipping can be an expensive hobby. Sure, there are cheap balisongs on Amazon but I wouldn’t touch them. If you start with a poorly made balisong it might ruin your experience from the start and you give up before you even start. So its better to start with a decent model that can give you a good start. The only thing is a decent model might start around US$150 + shipping.
What are some of the issues with poorly made balisongs :-
a) Balisong flippers are normally concerned with tap and play. Well made balisongs have zero or minimal tap and play
b) Well made balisongs have good balance. Typically a balisong balance is either where the two handles and blade meet or at the end of the handles. A different balance point can affect how the balisong flips. When I started out I find that it is difficult to do a trick like the fan if the balance is at the centre. By comparison, if the balance is at the ends of the handle (what they call handle bias) the fanning movement is so much easier to pick up. There are pros and cons to where the balance is. That’s how I ended up with 11 balisongs because each model has a different feel to it.
c) Gap between handles. Some models like the Nautilus have gaps that can literally give you a painful pinch when the handles snap together at the end of a flip. The gap on models like Krake Raken and Polaris are spaced sufficiently so that you don’t get bitten.
d) A good manufacturing process (think its from the blasting) makes the handle sticky to hold. This is good if you have dry hands which makes a smoother handle slippery to hold, sometimes even flying off at the end of a flip. Models like Nautilus, Krake Raken and Swordfish have a more sticky feel. The BRS Barebones that I have is slippery.
e) Many balisong models weight more than 4 ounces but some like the Polaris and Prysma is around 3.8 ounces. If you are starting out it is easier to use a lighter rather than heavier model.
f) Handle thickness – unless you have longer fingers some balisong handles are more difficult to manipulate especially when doing tricks like the extended twirl which involves using the little finger to flip.
g) Most balisong trainers have bite indicator on the blade so that you are aware which side the sharp blade is on which is one way to prepare you if you ever want to use a live blade balisong. Though the bite indicator is pointed it won’t cut you but it can give you an uncomfortable reminder that the blade is supposed to be sharp on that side. Until you figure out how to reduce the impact of the blade on your finger at the end of a flip that reminder from the bite indicator will dampen how enthusiastic you flip the balisong.
h) Though 4 ounces does not seem that heavy, if you drop a model like the Swordfish on your feet it will hurt. More so, if the pointed blade lands first.
i) Pick a model with chamfered blade as it is less painful on impact with your fingers in the initial stages of learning.
j) Check the design of the handle. Things like jimping and grooves in the handle make for better gripping.
Balisongs can be bought on Amazon and the respective brands websites. Some of the more popular models like the Gildr Artic sell out super fast. In their most recent drop on 26 Feb most models were sold out within the first half hour of their release. By noon all the models were sold out and it will probably take two months for them to restock.
Fortunately, the Polaris is in stock so its a good one to start off your balisong flipping journey. Another model that is nice to handle is the Machinewise Prysma which I think they have a drop every two weeks, releasing 30 units each time. The gold-black handle Prysma sold out after a week but the more recent black-black handle Prysma sold out after two days.
Squid Industries models are available most of the time though new models are sold out by the time I receive their email notification. Their Squiddy is a good one for beginners, especially if you don’t want to startle or frighten people around you by flipping a knife even though its a trainer.
Where to buy balisongs :-
a) Polaris – https://www.balisongflipping.com/
b) Prysma – https://machinewise.store/products/prysma
c) Krake Raken – https://www.squidindustries.co/collections/krake-raken
d) Squiddy – https://www.squidindustries.co/collections/squiddy
e) Artic – https://glidr.co/collections/arctic
f) Wave – https://artseabalisong.com/ (I have not mentioned this model as I have never tried it but its an interesting model)
As far as instruction goes there are tons of videos on how to flip the balisong on Youtube. Just slow the video down if you have problem catching a trick. If you are old like me then flipping won’t be as easy to pick up. Some tricks are easier than others. Some like aerial flips I am still struggling with.
Check out the Squid Industries Youtube channel for instructional videos – https://www.youtube.com/@SquidIndustriesco
Some of the tricks that can help you with your FMA and Wing Chun training :-
a) Fan Combo 1
b) Wrist Pass
c) Behind the 8-Ball
If you can’t see how the above tricks can help your MA training fret not. With some tricks such as the Wrist Pass you should be able to spot the connection between the flipping movement and a particular wooden dummy technique.
The Fan Combo 1 movement is like the vertical rotation technique that comes in the last section of the Cho Gar SLT.
Behind the 8-Ball is a good study in accelerating at the last part of a movement to generate enough momentum to roll over the balisong. The training in accelerating by using a wrist motion can help in executing abaniko techniques (in iKali the fanning technique is called witik).
Also, if you do the wrist motion incorrectly your wrist will become tired fast and even sore after a few repetitions. You will experience the same thing if you do abaniko incorrectly. Understanding what makes a proper wrist motion that can allow for good control, ability to generate momentum and mitigate the stress imposed on the wrist when doing Behind the 8-Ball can help you with the abaniko in which the larger movement and manipulating a longer stick amplifies the stress on the wrist.