How to Use a Kukri Knife – Tips and Techniques

Posted in: Knife Blog by Michael on November 21, 2016
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The Kukri knife, also known as the khukuri knife; is the traditional knife for the Nepalese people. Featuring a distinctively curved blade, the knife doubles up as both a tool and a weapon. It has great significance too in social ceremonies across the Indian subcontinent. The traditional knife has gained popularity across the world for collectors, hunters and also as piece of survival gear.

However, very few people take time to learn how best to use the Kukri for the safety, convenience, and maximum value after buying it. This guide is meant to correct this anomaly by offering practical tips and recommendations on how to use the Kukri knife, including: how to carry, proper way of holding during use and how to keep it sharp.

Carrying the Kukri Knife

If you are to use the Kukri knife productively, you must know how to carry it conveniently and, even more importantly, safely. The recommended position to carry the knife is in a belt scabbard. However, among everyday Nepalese people, carrying a Kukri in a belt scabbard is an exception rather than the rule. Most of traditional Nepalese villagers wear a Patuka, a sash cloth circling the waist twice or thrice. The Kukri is slipped beneath the Patuka with the handle at a shallow angle. It’s also not uncommon for soldiers to carry the Kukri in a belt scabbard secured at the back with the Kukri’s handle in line with the bottom of the spinal column.

If you are carrying the knife in a belt scabbard it’s more practical to have it hanging at waist level on your off-hand side. So as to draw the knife with an easy, smooth motion and guaranteeing safety; always carry it with the bent angle facing backward (that is with the sharp edge of the blade facing forward).

Holding the Kukri Knife in Use

Getting into grips with the right way to hold a Kukri knife is a skill that every user must master to make the most of the knife’s high functionality. How you hold the knife depends on the use you wish to put it to. The good news is that for utilitarian use there are only two types of grips to master: the basic and the improvised grip.

Normal (basic) Grip

The Fighting Kukri: Illustrated Lessons on the Gurkha Combat Knife
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The most basic grip of the Kukri is recommended for:

  • Chopping
  • Training
  • Hacking through brush and undergrowth
  • Close encounters in self-defense/combat

The normal grip is very straightforward. Most traditional Kukri knives are fitted with rounded handles and this works well for this orthodox closed fist grip. The only precaution necessary to keep in mind is that the thumb is held straight up on top of the index finger instead of crossed diagonally as in a conventional empty fist.

Improvised (thumb up) Grip

The improvised grip is only practical for medium or small sized kukri knives. Again, it is a closed fist grip but this time the thumb is slightly bent with the last joint flat against the edge of the handle or spine of the knife. The grip is recommended for small, detailed tasks where a higher measure of dexterity or forceful application is required, such as:

  • Cutting
  • Carving
  • Slicing objects placed against a hard surface
  • Peeling a fruit’s rind

Drawing the Knife

If you’re carrying the Kukri knife in the orthodox belt scabbard style described above, you should ensure the scabbard is secured opposite your main weapon hand. In other words, if you are right handed, secure the knife against your left hip and vice versa.

Drawing Out

To draw the knife safely, hold the scabbard against your hip with your off-hand. Holding the handle with your main hand, gently draw the knife out in one smooth motion. You may find that it is easier and safer to draw the Kukri knife if you use your off-hand to angle the scabbard backwards as the angled section is coming off the scabbard.

Drawing In

To draw the Kukri in, hold the scabbard off your hip at an angle of at least 70 degrees and then gently slip the blade in smoothly. Alternatively, you may unclip the whole scabbard and draw the knife in at a distance from your body.

Sharpening the Kukri Knife

The Kukri is traditionally sharpened using a dull blade known as a Chakmak. Most authentic Kukris for sale online come with a Chakmak included in the shipping package. Follow these steps to sharpen your kukri and maintain a keen edge:

  1. Place a plank of wood with a rough surface on a bench or table
  2. Using your off-hand, grip the Kukri and plant the tip on the wooden plank ensuring the blade is angled away from your body
  3. Apply adequate pressure to the Kukri as you move the Chakmak smoothly from the knife’s tip to notch
  4. Maintain a rhythm with your sharpening movement
  5. Flip the knife and work on the opposite edge till the blade is adequately sharp

Even if you only have basic experience working with hunting, survival or general utility knives, you will find that the Kukri knife is as practical and intuitive as they come. While this guide is in no way definitive in covering everything there is to know about using a Kukri knife, you can trust the tips offered as trustworthy for handling the Kukri and getting the best functional value from it.

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Something to add, don’t grip the edge-side of the sheath..the sharp edge could cut thru the sheath and cut your fingers. Get used to grasping the upper edge of the sheath and drawing it out, knife-edge away from your hands…

I have a 6 inch blade Kukri with water buffalo horn handles that is 100 years old I have the original sheath the 2 small knives are not with it (long since lost) I found a company called edgemark that actually had a stock leather sheath that my Kukri actually drops straight into only leaving enough of the handle exposed for me to get a good grip on.I have another model that I carry regularly as I do not want to lose it for any reason I have carried a Kukri religously for the last 30 years and was given my first one by an old authenticGurkha from the 8th Gurkha Rifles. I carry it with pride