The Back Bite – Russian Martial Art Fighting Knife by TOPS Knives USA

A curious and unique new Russian Martial Art inspired Fighting knife has emerged from TOPS Knives USA known as the Back Bite.

The Back Bite is a unique combination of Wharncliffe back edge and concave “strike face” edge that is designed to be utilized primarily in a reverse grip edge out (RGEO) or inverted blade method. What that has to do with Russian Martial Art, is what I am here to tell you about.

Prior to my exposure to Russian Martial Art, I had studied an assortment of arts ranging from Tae Kwon do to Judo, Muay Thai kickboxing and various Kali systems of stick and knife fighting. My experience in these arts shaped my perspective in many matters, including the implements of defense that I chose to carry on my person. What we have in our heads has a tendency to dictate what we carry on our person and our training shapes our perspective in regards to what those ideal implements might be.

Enter Russian Martial Art.

Through chance and good fortune I was first exposed to Russian Martial Art. With luck I have been able to continue to train with an assortment or individuals in the United States and abroad.

Russian Martial Art is a highly evolved and militarized fighting system that utilizes many aspects of traditional Russian fighting styles. The core principals of this system include – efficiency of movement, conservation of energy and realizing the raw power and substance of the individual.

The Russian Martial Art practitioner must cultivate fluidity of movement, natural bodily response and learn to turn these responses into effective action. One must identify the various ways in which the body has become mechanical, regain the ability to utilize the full articulation of the body and learn to use every possible part of the body, as an effective implement of attack and defense.

The whole body methodology of Russian Martial Art extends beyond hand to hand combat to fighting with a gun and also to edged weapons. As a Militarized system, the edged implements most often made use of were Military issue implements, such as the now famed Spetsnaz shovel and the AK47 bayonet. After having trained with these implements for some time, I came to the conclusion that it was possible to develop a purpose built fighting knife (PBFK) that would be a better fit to the methods of Russian Martial Art itself than it would be a fit to the barrel of an AK47 rifle.

The Russian system of hand to hand combat includes notably ellipse like striking “patterns” that enable any point of contact from any angle or trajectory to be utilized to devastating effect. This allows for a near unlimited array with which to engage any and all targets of opportunity. In no case is Russian Martial Art blade craft limited to inflicting damage upon the adversary through application of the edged implement alone.

The Back Bite is enabled for this purpose by the concave strike face (edge out) section of the blade. This blade section allows the operator to strike the target with the fist when gripped in the blade down concave edge forward (RGEO, primary) configuration. The strike in turn draws the concave strike face section blade over the surface area of the strike creating a devastating wound in the process.

The practitioner of Russian Martial Art frequently utilizes not only the extension of the arm as an action of attack or defense but will also utilize the momentum of the arm as it retracts for a secondary action. This is the purpose of the Wharncliffe section of the Back Bite blade and the notably flat chisel tip. The Wharncliffe section both enables the operator to engage various targets utilizing the trajectory of the arms retraction but can also be utilized to inflict damage upon the adversary utilizing various trapping methods.

Back Bite Tops Knives

The “flat chisel tip” of the Back Bite would be the byproduct of a Wharncliffe edge in most any other knife. Some have come to view the tip as an unsharpened facet of the blade given the sharpened Wharncliffe and concave blade sections. The chisel tip has its own unique purpose and contribution. The flat chisel tip incorporates an element of blunt force trauma into the blade geometry. This blunt force element contributes to both tip strength and penetration. The unsharpened chisel tip drives with blunt force creating a wound channel in which the Wharncliffe edge provides relief of the blow.

Now that you know a bit about the Back Bite knife, including its features and the purpose of those features, the question remains, by what unit of measure does one judge the validity of a concept such as, a Russian Martial Art Purpose Built Fighting Knife?

There may a number of ways; I chose to approach one of the world’s top authorities in Russian Martial Art, Vladimir Vasiliev.

Having reviewed the Back Bite, an email was returned stating that “Vladimir was truly impressed with the knife” and that the Back Bite was sent by Vladimir to Russia, to the founder of a Spetsnaz unit.

Vladimir Vasiliev keeps in incredibly tight schedule and having sent the Back Bite to the founder of a Spetsnaz unit of his own initiative was already a compliment beyond words. I then asked if Vladimir might provide me with a brief commentary in regards to his thoughts having had the opportunity to examine, handle and work with the Back Bite. An email was returned with the following.

“(The) Back Bite is a very unique blade. Due to the creative shape and feel, this knife provides new possibilities of applying it in a confrontation. I(t) gives more variety of knife movements and work. A great addition to anyone’s knife collection.”

Vladimir Vasiliev, Chief instructor – Systema Headquarters, Toronto

To some this may seem like just a few sentences. In fact it is less. However in being less, it is so much more. There is a single string of words within these few sentences that speak to the practitioner of Russian Martial Art, Systema. Those words being – “provides new opportunities of applying it in a confrontation”.

Vladimir Vasiliev is a Master of Russian Martial Art, Systema, who is capable of working against any movement and turning the action of the adversary into an opportunity to effectively eliminate the threat through application of technique. For a man of Vladimirs tenure to state that a knife designed specifically for the practitioner of Russian Martial Art provides new opportunities of application, itself speaks volumes. And it took less than those few sentences to say it.

Some have asked if the Back Bite is Russian Martial Art exclusive. The answer to that question is no. We all have an inherent set of instinct based defense responses, the instinct to strike with a cross punch or hammer fist for instance. Russian Martial Art goes well beyond these impulses. It is an art that is natural, devastating and if need be deadly. However, bearing in mind the geometry of the Back Bite, when gripped in the RGEO (primary) configuration, even impulses such as these could be deadly effective.

Stay Alive!

– C Despins

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