Posts Tagged ‘Assassins Creed’

Throwing Knives – Part Deux – The Art of Throwing Knives!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

OK, so it’s been a while since I posted anything, truth be told, I’ve just had waaaaay too many things going on. So much so that any spare time I might have is a rare and precious commodity. And as you might imagine, rather than sit behind a computer screen during this free time, I prefer to get out and do… Things. Yes. Things. physical things. In ye great outdoors. Or indoors. And stuff. Yeah… OK… Enough of that.

Anyhoo, one of the “things” I like to do in my spare time is… Throwing knives. I may have mentioned it in a previous post, but I have been a knife thrower, on and off, for many years. However recently I’ve been noticing a resurgence in knife throwing interest. Of course it may just have been that I haven’t been looking in the right places, but I think that the relatively recent flood of knife throwing protagonists in movies, anime and video games, may have something to do with it.

I mean if you look at the way throwing knives are used in games like as Assassins Creed and COD:Modern Warfare, anime like Naruto, and of course, Jason Stathams “Hai guise, I’z so hard core ima bring throwing knives to a gunfight” guy from movie The Expendables, it’s kind of hard to miss the glamorization that they have undergone. Much like the lowly Japanese garden trowel morphing into the almighty ninja Kunai…

Incidentally however, even though all I have seen of  The Expendables is the trailer, I thought I should point out that in real life, if anyone was stupid enough to bring throwing knives to a gunfight, they would be dead. Yes. I said it. Jason Statham’s character should have been dead. Many times over. Riddled with bullet holes dead. Dead as a doornail dead. Dead as a doornail riddled with bullet holes dead. D-E-D… Dead. I’m just saying.

And on that note, I’d like to show you a humorous video  I found on Youtube that actually addresses some of the more interesting points about how throwing knives are portrayed in the movies:

A point about throwing knives

A point about throwing knives

Now this guy makes some great points, though he kind of makes a mistake when he presumes a knife that misses it’s target can’t hit (and stick, point first), into the wall behind them. In reality this depends on how the knife was thrown. There are three  main ways to throw a knife. The first, and arguably the most common is what is called the spin or Circus throw, technique.

A knife thrown using this technique spins end over end on the way to the target, which means that the point is only present to the target at specific distances, which limits a thrower using this technique because they must stand at specific distances from the target in order for a stick to occur. Too far outside one of these “sweet spot” distances and you don’t get a stick.

Skilled circus style knife throwers learn ways around this limitation, such as imparting additional spin, by flicking the wrist, or retarding the spin of the knife with the thumb, as it leaves the hand, so as to shift the sweet spots closer or farther away, but personally I think there are just too many variables to learn to take into account to use this style as anything more than a recreational experiment. I do like to use this once in a while, however, since one of it’s great benefits, in my experience, is that it is one of the most powerful throwing techniques, allowing sticks to occur in the hardest of targets.

The second throw type is some times called the “no-spin” though it is technically a very slow quarter spin throwing technique. Now with this style, you have a whole lot more leeway with your distance, since the spin is so very slow, that your effective point stick distances are much , much larger than with the circus style throw. However the knife still spins, albeit slowly, and a thrown knife that misses it’s target, may still hit point first a little ways behind it, but not by all that much. This is the throw I use most often.

I personally find that it is not as powerful as the circus throw, however you are not dependent on being in a “sweet spot” in order to get a stick. Below is a demonstration of the quarter spin through with a unique twist (pun intended), demonstrated by the Japanese weapon throwing expert Houzan Suzuki:

No spin (Quarter Spin) knife throwing - Screw Style

The last, perhaps most difficult, but most interesting, is the spear style throw. Now this throw can actually be performed in a couple of different ways. Some spear style practitioners throw their knives like actual spears, pushing them straight forward, like darts. Yet others accomplish the spear style throw with an overhand or sideways throw. However the distinguishing feature of this style of throwing is that when the knife leaves the hand, it is already point first toward the target, and stays that way across the entire trajectory of it’s flight.

No Spin Wave Knife Throwing Technique

No Spin Wave Knife Throwing Technique

This last method of throwing, demonstrated above by the Russian martial arts expert Yuri Fedin, using either a sidearm or overhand spear throw, is perhaps the most difficult of all to master, but it is the one throw for which a point first stick is almost guaranteed, regardless of where the target happens to be along it’s trajectory. This means that you can miss the target, and still get a point first stick quite a ways behind the intended target. This is the style I’d like to master, but believe me, it is not an easy one to learn.

At the moment at which you release the knife, you must use a a light brushing motion along the spine of the knife, with the forefinger or thumb, to counteract the knifes natural tendency to spin due to the rotational inertia imparted to it by the arc of the throwing arm. Too much and it will rotate in the opposite direction, too little and it turns into a quarter spin throw. You have to get it just right. I can do it fairy easily at half spin distances, but beyond that, it’s hit or miss… Yet again, pun intended.

I leave you with a video clip of what an expert who has mastered this style of no spin throwing can do with… well… anything that has a point on it…


Fedin System No Spin Knife Throwing

Fedin System No Spin Knife Throwing

Assassins Creed Revisited

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

So It’s been a long time coming, but I thought it might be a good idea to take another look at the retractable blade from Assassins creed, especially since there has been some new art released for the sequel, Assassins Creed 2. Now I stick by my original opinion with respect to the weaknesses of the original, as well as this new but equally complex design, and say that it would really be simpler to just use a single spring loaded blade, with both the blade and the housing structurally designed to eliminate any weaknesses the simpler design might have.

For those of you who may not have run across it yet, there are quite a few places selling replicas of Altairs infamous retractable blade from the first Assassins Creed. I will be posting a link to a place you can get one at the end of the post, for those who are interested. It’s a fiarly simple design, gravity or manual operated (not automatic), but it’s still a fun toy with some neat little tricks. Sinza posted a bunch of pics over at our forum Exotic Automatic. You can pay us a visit over there to see what the inside of one of these looks like.

Assassins Creed - Altairs Retractable Extension Knife

Assassins Creed - Altairs Retractable Extension Knife

But back to the topic at hand. The new design has some interesting new mechanical components not shown in the original, that I thought were good, possibly even  necessary design changes in order for it to work as shown in game, which was a problem that the original design art appeared severely confused about. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Assassins Creed 2 - Extension Blade Schematic 1

Assassins Creed 2 - Extension Blade Schematic 1

Assassins Creed 2 - Extension Blade Schematic 2

Assassins Creed 2 - Extension Blade Schematic 2

Above are a couple of screen caps from the trailer for the new Assassins Creed game, and as you can see, the blade design has undergone a few changes. In the first pic from the trailer, we can see an exploded view of the mechanical components from the original blade. However in the second pic we see a quite different schematic, of the blade, which has a large circular section at the top (or bottom, whichever you prefer) of the housing, next to an even smaller circular bit.

Now if you look closely you can see the large circle has three spokes, which would suggest that we are looking not at the housing, but at the mechanism itself. If this were the case, and that was a gear, then we would be able to see teeth, of which the wheel is distinctly lacking, This all suggests that this is a pulley, which I thought this was an interesting departure from the purported mechanical design of the first blade. Unless you were looking at the videos instead of the multitude of schematic, in which case it would actually make more sense. But I suppose that would all be confusing. 🙂

Anyway, pulleys are fairly easy to make, simple to use, and allow you to perform very large gear reductions in a very small space. This was one of the problems with the old design. It did not adequately describe how you would translate Altairs relatively small hand motion of less than an inch into the 6 or 7 inches of translational motion we see from the blade. Using a set of different sized pulleys however, it suddenly became very plausible. Not that the old design was impossible, it was just a really unlikely design.

Anyway, from the glazed looks many of your eyes have adopted, I suspect my endless ranting about the mechanics of a fictional automatic blade may be boring you to tears, so I I’m just throw the links at you and ponder the vagaries of automatic retractable blades all by myself. My conversations are much more interesting that way anyhow.

So there.

Altairs Sleeved Extension Knife from Assassins Creed – [Museum Replicas]

Altairs Sleeved Extension Knife from Assassins Creed – [StrongBlade]

Official Assassins Creed 2 Site – [Ubisoft]

Phyreblade’s guide to Altairs retractable blade (From Assassins Creed)

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I had been considering doing a piece on retractable blades for a while, and was finally motivated to do so by a post I recently got in my suggestion box. A reader, Zach B. commented about his build of an under-hand retractable blade, similar to what the assassin Altair uses in the game Assassins Creed:

Assassins Creed Poster
[view full size]

In general, I love blogging about game weapons with real-life counterparts, but obviously, this game is pretty new out, so there are no official (or unofficially) produced rip offs… err production “replicas” of the Altairs retractable blade to be had for review.

However, since the games release, there have been numerous attempts to duplicate this weapon, and while YouTube is replete with videos of home made “Assassins Creed” blade contraptions, I noticed that, due to a lot of conflicting concept art from the developers, there is actually a lot of confusion about this blades design.

So, in typical blade nerd fashion, I thought I’d try to sort things out. Not necessarily to replicate the game blade, but rather to come up with a practical, real life design for such a weapon. Now let me preface the following by saying that, for your average dweeb, walking around with a spring loaded blade up your sleeve is an incredibly bad idea. There is a reason why these kinds of weapons were not common, even when they were legal. They are highly impractical, not to mention that they are an accident literally waiting to happen.

But, for those of us who like to live on the edge, love the aesthetics and the mechanical challenge of designing wacky weapons, and are insane enough to try, (notwithstanding the very real possibility of self impalement), I’ll go on. Proceed at your own risk. But remember, Altair has no ring finger. Think about it… People, please, do NOT try this at home…

Mounting and Placement.
For any wrist mounted blade to have the stability and strength to be used effectively, it must be properly mounted. This means a solid (inflexible, like steel, very thick/stiff leather or wood) mounting platform, preferably formed to the shape of your forearm, and a minimum of two straps to keep it in place, one at either end of this base. Your best bet would be to use the entire length of your forearm, with a minimum of two straps, one placed at the wrist and the other just before the elbow, to maximize the weapons stability. Altair has this covered quite nicely, as he used full length bracers with three straps:

Altairs Bracer
[view full size]

Now looking at this concept art for the game you’ll notice that the blade seems to come out from the spot where Altairs ring finger ought to be. In the game, this is not the case, and is entirely impractical for any real life assassin, (unless they are a mutant, like Wolverine) so we will disregard this little snafu, and assume the blade is mounted under the forearm, and not actually in his hand. Next stop, blade design.

Blade Support and Design
Now here is another area that has been thoroughly bolloxed on account of multiple conflicting concept art. In the game, Altairs blade uses a nested rail delivery system, where the blade is housed inside of a set of nested sleeves, which run on an internal guide rail. The sleeves extend sequentially, outermost rail first, then inner rail, and finally the actual blade, once both sleeves are fully extended and locked:

Assassins Creed Blade with double nested sleeves

Altairs Nested Sleeve Blade system
[view full size]

Now here is where the confusion begins. Depending on which art you are looking at, Altairs retractable blade either has two sleeves, or one sleeve:

Assassins Creed Blade with single sleeve

Altairs Single Sleeve blade system
[view full size]

Now nested sleeve systems have the advantage of being able to fit in a retracted form factor that is only a fraction as long as the weapon is when fully extended. This means a much more compact housing. However this comes at a cost. The added complexity of automating the extension and retraction of multiple nested sleeves require smaller, more delicate parts, necessarily manufactured to very close tolerances, that would make the whole mechanism more prone to failure.

In fact, in my opinion, the ideal system would actually use no sleeves whatsoever. And given that you have (and should really use) the entire length of your forearm with which to conceal both the blade and the deployment mechanism, I don’t really see the point of implementing such an elaborate system. Not to mention that a single, fixed-length blade would be stronger, faster, more reliable, and infinitely easier to automate than a shorter blade mounted in multiple sleeves. Which brings us to the our deployment system.

A very important aspect in the operation of any stealth weapon is an equally stealthy activation mechanism. Preferably one that can be activated ‘hands free”, in a manner of speaking. And Altairs got one. In the first concept picture above, we can see that there is a little harness attached to Altairs pinky from the blade housing. This is intended to be his blades activation switch:

Assassins Creed Blade – Ring/Cable Activated

Assassins Creed Blade Mechanism
[view full size]
[video here]

However, in one of the promotional vids for the game we see Altair having to press a button to release a switch that activated his blade:

Assassins Creed Blade – Button Activated

Assassins Creed Blade Switch
[view full size]
[video here]

Now truth be told, this button is probably one of the more complicated ways of doing this. Indeed, you can see that it’s actuation would be counterintuitive, as it would require you to place your fingers in the path of the out going blade in order to activate it. In any case, from the numerous videos of him in action, we can see that Altair simply flexes his hand away from the blade to activate it, so we can assume that a button based activation system is not used. A finger ring cable is a much more flexible way of doing this, and the one I’d go with.

So far as the actual deployment mechanism is concerned, if we stick with the simple, single blade (no sleeve) approach, we can actually use a very compact dual spring double action out-the-front switch blade mechanism. They are simple, reliable and fairly easy to implement. I won’t go into schematic detail here, as it would extend an already excessively long post, however, I can point you in the direction of a buddy, and fellow knife fanatic Sinza, with whom I run a forum (Exotic Automatic) with a lot of helpful diagrams, as well as a break down of some common double action OTF mechanisms. Go on over and check his site out if you have the hankering for a more technical look into the topic…

The Blade.
Finally, we come to the point (pun intended) of all this, which is the design of the actual blade itself. As I mentioned earlier, I favor a single blade approach, with no sleeves, housed in a simple, dual spring loaded guide rail, in the style of your regular OTF switchblade. So far as the blade itself is concerned, we would need to meet a few specific criteria. The blade would need to be long enough to penetrate thick clothing and still puncture vital organs, thin enough to be able to slide between a persons ribs, yet thick enough to resist bending. Throw in double edges, and a sharp point, and we have a winner.

Interestingly, these are the same basic design specifications of the contemporary Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife design, which I will talk about in a future post. Nonetheless, this should give our assassins blade all of the required features to be a terminally effective assassination tool… And that’s all I’ve got to say about that…

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