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Hello All, Over the many years of practicing Kali, i really never came across the kerambit, but now living in Indonesia, i came across a number of videos and references and was amazed my its ability and conversion to my training.  I also did some research and found that the kerambit is also used in some FMA.

I have actually been doing some individual training with the blade.  I would like to open a discussion on empty hand defence against a kerambit.  I know that there are many masters within this community i hope that i can learn from you all. 

To kick start the conversation, in empty hands (and opponent with blade down)

1. How would you strip the kerambit from the person?

2. How could you trap the kerambit hand whilst counter attack (close quarter) without getting cut, as kerambits are double edge and oddly curved?  As i have tried to experiment with some fundamentals of FMA, i always seem to get caught with the blade, as the wielder can twist its wrist of a cut.

3. Is there a philosophy on the kerambit that someone can reference me to.

Look forward for the comments and ideas from the community.


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Be aware that I have noted a few martial artists that get mad about new comers concentration on the kerambit as a weapon, because it is the newest tool in the bag and it comes across as a fad.  I myself do not consider the kerambit an entry level weapon at all.  It is very easy to get in to trouble with knives because of the distance between adversaries and a kerambit magnifies it because it uses arced cutting methods.

That said, there are special applications because of the shape and length of the weapon.  I do like the weapon as it stands because in a well practiced martial artists hands, I've seen some great things, but note that a short knife has many of the same abilities and limitations, i.e. you need to get inside, up close, and in dirty, which means you are open for a whole lot of nasty that may come your way, especially if you are not a well trained martial artist that can deploy the weapon quickly, get in and out of range.

There are three prominent artists that use the kerambit, that I know of.  I did some basic research for you so that you can find out about these men by clicking on the links:

- Steve Tarani, graduate of Bahala Na (1, 2)

- Ray Dionaldo, Grand Master of FCS (1, 2)

- Doug Marcaida, Rockchester Kali (1, 2, 3, 4)

There are many videos here on and on YouTube of these martial artists that you can watch to pick up the traits of employing the weapon.



Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the heads up, sorry if I upset anyone.  Just trying to figure it out. 

Actually i have trained with short blades and long blades in my Kali training. Yes i agree that blade are advance levels of FMA and require great expertise and practice. Plus nothing to take lightly.

I have came across a lot of materials for attacks and counter attacks using the kerambit but i have yet to find materials for empty hand defence against the kerambit.

I have experimented with energy drills and traps but i think i'm missing something as the blade is very elusive.  Plus is is very easy to counter due to the curve and size.  I will try to look at the reference you provided. 




Sorry if I insinuated that you upset anyone.  That is not a fact at all that I know of, but I've see on Facebook people getting ticked off over kerambits.  I think they are great and we have a very open forum here.  No hostilities are allowed.  :-)

Enjoy your time here on!



My fighting art is called the Fang Shi Do Fighting Method and even though it is an open hand system the Kerambit is used as our primary weapon. The twist for us regardless of blade laws is that we use the aluminum trainers as a piercing and blunt weapon giving us the ability to still grab, pierce, rip, defend and counter live blades.

The great thing about the kerambit is that it is very hard to disarm, you can open your hand without dropping the blade and it is legal.

I have made it onto airplanes with it and through various detectors.

Through all of my Filipino training this tool is the one tool that I highly recommend for open hand defense with a trainer. Still will cause massive amounts of damage and with enough skill can terminate.

The limits are since it is curved and using a live blade it is obviously not meant to pierce/stab but rip and cut, however, very damaging once again.

Since it is curved, it limits your striking as a live blade.

Great tool however to add to your arsenal.

On observation even in knife work the empty hand is taught not to chase the blade even more so with the kerambit. Most demonstrations I've seen are against empty handed partners. It seems the kerambit is limited to the quarto range and one has to get close enough to make it work. The blade hides well so watch the person more so, and don't intercept and stay out of range. Running is good. I have never seen a person use a kerambit against someone running. If You can't run...turn into the feeder be a receiver is to be a victim in a knife situation.     I have no other answers to this accept a pistol of sorts.    

I am a first generation student of Mas Guru Dennis Ocampo of Sina Tirsia Wali Kali Silat. The karambit is hard to defend against and hard to strip as well . When used as taught in the pikal position it is formidable weapon. Go to YouTube and type in Dennis Ocampo, the Video is called " Karambit and the 12 strikes " it will give you the basics.


I think you are discovering first hand what a formidable weapon the Kerambit can be.  This is partly why it has gained so much popularity of late.  As stated by others here, it is small, easily concealed and deployed almost exclusively in the closest ranges.  Isolating the Kerambit in mid combat is extremely difficult as checks and locks can not only be reversed but also provide an opportunity for the blade to cut.  Disarming a Kerambit is ill advised.  As with all disarms of blades; they should be incidental, not intentional.  The incidence that would allow you to get into position to disarm a Kerambit, however, will also place you in immediate danger of counter attack in the range that the Kerambit loves.  So, this brings me back to your question.  To defend against the Kerambit with empty hands (assuming the situation is  only completely unavoidable) means placing yourself in range of the weapon (at extreme risk) and utilizing large, locking isolations and arm breaks if at all possible.  The truth is that it is just as hard for the wielder of the Kerambit to change hands as it is for you to disarm (almost) since the weapon is locked onto a finger.  So, isolating that weapon arm and locking down the ability to twist the wrist is really the only hope.  Personally, I would not expect to engage with a Kerambit unless in a trapping/grappling situation to begin with.  If I knew ahead of time that the attacker had one in use, I too would prefer to counter with my trusty 1911 or a bolo knife and just stay the hell out of range.  Keep practicing, though.  It is a great concept to explore!  Let us know where it leads you.



I think it is great that you are practicing empty-hand drills against a kerambit. Have fun, relax and look for openings (that's vague, but seems kinda wise, right?).

Specificity may be a part of the problem, at least it would be for me. Here is why:

1) I have to know I am about to be attacked with a particular weapon to bring my specific defenses into play.

2) I have to know I am being attacked to be prepared to defend myself.

3) If I know I am about to be attacked, why am I not running as fast as I can to safety?

4) How did I ever get into a place where someone was going to attack me, especially with such an exotic tool as a kerambit?

I believe it is necessary to practice defenses against all manner of weapons; impact, edged and firearms. I don't train to be able to use a specific weapon or defend against a specific one. I train to be able to survive the encounter. If I try to stay in the "fight" long enough to determine what weapon then I am taking too long to get away! If I focus on hard, powerful strikes to take the other guys space and deliver a takedown to use the earth as a fist it really won't matter what the psycho's preferred method of attack is.

It is possible for an edged weapon to be used in two basic ways. Either the attacker is just showing off, letting me know how tough he is, or I am about to be assassinated. Unfortunately for me I probably won't have the time to determine which it is. Rocky Marciano said "Kill the head and the body dies!" That includes the hand holding the kerambit.

Explore, practice, make mistakes, focus on offense and do everything you can to live in peace with other people.

Remember that retreating or running is not a defensive option like a parry, trap or joint lock. Don't wait until you realize that you are losing to try to leave. Run fast and run soon!


First, I would like to thank all the guros here for being so helpful and not condesending to people asking questions. You all are a breath of fresh air compared to.........others. Second, Melvin since this is your first exposure to the kerambit and you are in Indonesia, you mostly have seen the fixed bladed, double edged version, I assume. The US has made alot of folders and holes for gripping and spinning. So if you are having some confusion based on some of the statements of different types don't worry about it. The info that has already been given in the statements well suffice your questions.   

Wow what a great forum, thanks for all the input.  I agree with statements made my the gurus and senior.  I definitely  advocate the option of fleeing when confronted by an attacker wilding a knife of any sort, after years in training, we all know to well what an edge weapon can do to a body.

I have come from a modern but old school system, in which concept of "defanging the snake" is very important.  Trying to defang a kerambit seems very unlikely in empty hands.  But will explore and update the community if I come up with some ideas.

I'm sure the guys who practice this, will also have come up with some ways in which to defend using empty hands.  Because here in Indonesia, the kerambit is classed as one of the highest levels and usually kept from the public.  (I can understand why).  So now I'm also hunting for a real master who would be kind enough to share is knowledge and skills to me.  If anyone have any references, please feel free to pass them on as i'm keen to work on this.



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