Kukri Knife Handling

Kukri Knife Handling / Fighting Technique

“Kukri” – the battle knife historically carried by the legendary Gurkha Army from the hilly region of Nepal – thus also referred to as the “Gurkha Kukri” is probably one of the oldest and arguably one of the most famed and feared combat/utility knives in existence today. Apart from its legacy associated with the legendary Gurkha Army, another major reason for the Kukri’s admiration and fame throughout the world can be attributed to its unique shape and design.

A Kukri has an inwardly curved shape with a relatively much heavier weight and thickness in one side of the blade allowing it to have an axe like thrust and razor sharp blade on the other side to provide it a sword like cut. Given this uniqueness in its shape and design, a Kukri has its own distinctive ways of handling and fighting techniques. The following topics related to Kukri Knife Handling  and fighting techniques using a Gurkha Kukri knife will be addressed in this blog:

  • Carrying a Kukri Knife
  • Drawing / presenting a Kukri Knife
  • Holding a Kukri Knife
  • Cutting with a Kukri Knife
  • Thrusting with a Kukri Knife


historical blade

Carrying a Kukri Knife

A Kukri knife is most commonly carried in a leather scabbard that is attached to or suspended from the trouser belt on one side of the waist (carried on the left side if one is right handed and vice-versa). To allow for safer and more effective drawing and positioning, while carrying the Kukri knife, its blade is usually facing forward. Another common way of carrying the Kukri especially in the villages of Nepal is the scabbard would be tucked into the patuka (a long piece of cloth wrapped around the belly – a common accessory of traditional Nepali dress) just left of center, at roughly a thirty-degree angle, edge down. Sometimes during the parade, army men can also be seen carrying the Kurki in centralized position over the buttocks.

Drawing / presenting a Kukri Knife

As mentioned earlier, a Kukri knife has a razor sharp blade and extra caution must be taken while drawing the Kukri out of its scabbard to ensure the users do not injure themselves. At the same time, given its one sided design and weight, it is always advisable to use both the hands while drawing the Kukri out to ensure better balance.

First, the handle of the Kukri should be grasped using the hand that will be carrying the Kukri with the most common the grip being the basic hammer style. With the other hand scabbard should now be gripped from the spine side nearer the bottom ensuring that the hand is not wrapped around the scabbard – rather the scabbard is held between the thumb and the palm. This ensures that the users do not cut themselves while drawing out the Kukri. The spine of the Kukri must ride the scabbard back during its way out and given its curved, banana like shape; the Kukri should be pulled out in arcing motion with minor upward pressure applied throughout.

Holding a Kukri Knife

After the Kukri is drawn out of its scabbard, it is most commonly held in the basic hammer style in which the holding hand is wrapped around the handle of the Kukri with the thumb coming on top of the index finger as if making a fist. This holding technique provides stronger grip and ensures more power while swinging the Kukri.

Some Kukri come with round circles – sometimes multiple of them in the handle – which is called “Harhari” in Nepali and is spaced very carefully in the handle so that they sit right between the fingers of the hand allowing very secured grip and easy maneuvers to either thrust or swing.

afghan kukri

Cutting with a Kukri Knife

The much famed Gurkha Kukri is primarily a cutting/slashing/chopping weapon or tool. The unique downward slope of the blade, along with the convex belly gives Kukri a point-heavy feel that uses gravity to affect powerful cuts.

There are two basic methods of delivering effective Kukri cuts – the long strike and the short strike. The long strike is performed for cutting targets at medium range – most often within an arm’s length. It is ideal for those situations where there is some distance to be maintained from the opponent or the object being cut. While swinging the Kukri for a long strike, the Kukri is moved into position and launched from the high line. The arm is slightly flexed and extended out into a descending arc to impact into and through the target. Often these cuts are followed with a follow-on cut from a different position or angle.

Alternatively, the short strike is delivered in those situations where the opponent or the target object is very close and there is no space to accommodate the more expansive long strike. The elbow is usually bent during the delivery and power-assist technique through the elbow is often used to push through the opponent’s defense or the target object.

Thrusting with a Kukri Knife

Due to its unique design, apart from cutting with a swinging action, the Kukri can also be used as a thrusting weapon or tool. Given a Kukri’s sharp and pointed tip it can be used as an effective thrusting or stabbing weapon/tool. While thrusting with a Kukri, the blade is propelled forward with a concurrent forward step (if right hand holding the Kukri – right leg moves forward and vice-versa) thus adding weight and force to the stab.

A Kukri is a very deadly weapon/tool and it is always advised to use additional caution while using or handling the Kukri. It is built for strength, durability and extra damage and thus can be quite heavy with very sharp blade and pointed tip. So if not handled properly, a Kukri can inflict serious injury to the users themselves. Thus we at “Famous Gurkha Khukuri” strongly recommend keeping Kukri out of reach of children and at the same time, adult users shall also follow safe practices while carrying, drawing, using and even storing the legendary Gurkha Kukri.

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3 thoughts on “Kukri Knife Handling

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