The Deadly Karambit Wounds

April 24, 2017

What is the karambit?

The karambit, also sometimes spelled kerambit, is a hooked blade with a ring at the base of the handle. The blade’s shape resembles a hook bill knife, commonly used for cutting vinyl.

Usually, you hold the blade in reverse grip with your index finger through the ring. It looks simple, but the karambit wounds are very serious.

The ring adds some control to the blade during usage, and you can spin the blade forward on the ring to extend your reach for cuts or strikes. You can strike with the ring, as well. It provides a reliable grip even at difficult angles or when your grip might otherwise be compromised by, for instance, blood.

Origin of Karambit

The origins of the karambit are uncertain, but it originated in Southeast Asia. Some claim it was based on the tiger’s claw in both its shape and its ability to extend and retract. Others believe it was modeled after the spurs placed on fighting cocks, and etymology supports this to some extent because the word ayam means chicken in the Malay language and might be the root word for karambit as ka-ayam-bit.

Traditional Karambit Wounds

Traditional Karambit


Historically, the blade served many utilitarian purposes, and it still thrives as a tool. The certainty of grip provided by the ring means it can be used in difficult settings, such as under water. You can also open your hand and do other things while retaining control of the karambit and keeping it ready for use.

Karambit is a very dangerous weapon when it’s combined with some traditional Filipino & Indo Martial Arts, such as Kali or Silat, Pekiti Tirsia Kalia, or especially Silat Harimau.

One martial artist in Florida suffered a spinal infection, which paralyzed him from the abdomen down. He found the karambit gave him a reliable weapon for self-defense. Since he is confined to a wheelchair and relies on it for mobility, the karambit allows him to manipulate his chair’s controls or move the wheels while still holding the blade.

Other blades, and most other weapons, would not allow him as much mobility. He would have to set the weapon down to move his wheelchair, especially when using his unmotorized chair, which requires him to manually turn the wheels with his hands. He can hold a karambit in one or both hands while he maneuvers his chair and, thus, remain as ready as possible for any attack the aggressor launches.

Karambit wounds - Uses

Modern Karambit - Held Traditionally

Karambit Wounds - Uses 1

Modern Karambit - Held in a hammer grip

Types of Karambit

Karambit blades come in a variety of styles:


Some of Karambit variations

You can find some nice karambit knives below:

Traditionally, many were single-edged but with “spines” along the back near the base of the blade. These spines weren’t serration, per se, but might be used to snag and rip.

In Indonesian Pencak Silat, the karambit is often used as a handle to manipulate the opponent. By hooking the blade behind a bone, you can pull the opponent off-balance and, of course, inflict damage and a lot of pain.

A growing interest in the karambit design has occurred over the past 30 years or so. More and more karambit, or karambit-inspired, blades hit the market each year.

Many top-name knife manufacturers sell folding versions of the karambit with a clip so you can conveniently carry it. Karambits have also made more and more appearances in popular media. Several movies, such as Punisher, Taken, and The Raid 2.

If you choose to buy and carry a karambit blade, though, be aware that authorities sometimes frown on them.

  • The karambit is, for a variety of reasons, considered far more dangerous than a straight blade and, even when not illegal for carry, often cause law enforcement officers and courts to treat those who carry and use them far more harshly than they might in the case of other types of knife.

Karambit Wounds

As mentioned previously, you might strike with the ring. You might also strike with the handle by opening your hand or back of the blade when you spin it in your grip. As such, it can do impact damage.

You can “stab” with the blade by punching, but it won’t penetrate very far. The blade lends itself best to slashing but, because of the hooked blade, it tends to cut much deeper than a straight blade performing the same slash. Where the karambit stands out, though, is in how easily you can rotate it after insertion. The standard grip feels natural and allows for intricate maneuverability. As such, you can easily change direction in mid-cut, widening the wound cavity and exponentially increasing the amount of damage done.

The shape of the blade and handle also provide a lot of leverage for removal if the blade sticks in or between bones. As such, if you insert it between an opponent’s ribs and rotate, you not only severely damage the tissue, but you can fracture one or both of their ribs, adding even more pain and effectiveness to the attack.

  • The karambit is considered one of the most effective tools for close-range combat. The amount of damage it can deal in a short amount of time is prodigious. The surety of its grip in adverse conditions makes it ideal for combative usage.

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