One could go on and on about the historical and genealogical evolution of the blade form, but I will keep it brief and try and keep this restricted to the purely physical reasons why this is an extremely versatile and deadly design.
The blade doesn’t have a cross guard for the most past. A little notch is cut into the front ,lower part of the blade. This serves to prevent the blood from the opponent’s cut from flowing down into the handle and making the grip slippery.
A firm grip and wrist deployment are critical to using most knives. The notch is said to represent the Shiv Lingam. In many cases, the correct repertoire involves laying one’s forefinger over the lingam, extended outwards.
This allows the blood from a cut to flow on to the extended finger, and it is then flicked into the opponent’s eyes as he charges in.
The grip is flared outward at the bottom , minus a well defined pommel. This again prevents slippage. Lacking a heavy pommel, the weight of the knife is concentrated on the top half, which helps in correct usage.
The blade itself is a brilliant design. It curves outward around midway through. The weight is concentrated in the rear, driving the sharp single edge into flesh with more momentum. The khukri is a hacking blade par excellence.
The curved forward edge means that the initial point of contact on the target is minimized, concentrating all that impact of a relatively small initial area..ergo more hacking power. While the blade is optimised for hacking, it can also be used for thrusts and slashes..the former more than the latter.
The indian style of blade deployment, especially with a talwar, is quite different from that of a sabre. Thrusts are forsaken. Rather the attacker uses superior footwork, to get real up close and personal , with an almost straight wrist, and draws his blade across the body of the opponent, making a very long, cut. The inward curving blade of a talwar is designed for exactly this.
The angle on the blade means, that the upper half can be used for thrusts/stabs rather easily. Because of this angle, one need not bend the wrist to the point of almost over extension to get a straight thrust in without a reverse grip. However, with the relatively thick rear side, one must not expect very deep thrusts without putting a lot of power into them (unlike the peshkabz or the katar).
Overall..a blade built for the fighting man. Not so much for the sneak assassin..but a man who expects to engage in the battlefield, assaulting a position with multiple hostiles.
About Writer – Kunwar Rajeshwar Singh Karki is an ‘Ex-Mayo’ and an ‘Informed’ farmer based in Nainital.