Behold, my new prop.

Well, my new prop stand-in. Just because my current crop of friends wouldn't be alarmed to see me juggling a prop knife doesn't mean I know how to lay hands on one right away. I did briefly consider using one of our kitchen knives. Don't worry, I'm not dumb enough to do it -- I'd learn all wrong, they're all way hilt-heavy.

The brilliant kludge there is one of my folding fans with a bunch of hair ties around the staves, one, keeping it closed, and two, adjusting the balance. It's not quite long enough, but it is slim enough to flip end over end, which is what I want.

The knife the Winter Soldier uses in the film isn't a Ka-Bar, it's a Gerber Mark II. Those are thinner and more gracile than the famous Ka-Bar, and are sharpened symmetrically. More relevantly, they're considerably lighter than a Ka-Bar, which is a big burly thing that comes in at about a pound, sans sheath. The Gerber knife is half that. Eight ounces is on the heavy side for a throwing knife, but possible, and the balance point is right in the middle of the length, right under the unsharpened length of the blade above the guard. Even if you wanted to throw a Ka-Bar knife -- which I suppose you could do if, for example, you were full of some sort of off-brand Hydra super soldier serum -- you'd have to grip it by the light end, the blade, which lets out most of the fancy tricks the Winter Soldier does with the thing in the film, where he switches from using it as a ballistic weapon to using it as a main gauche.

It's an interesting choice of equipment. It's neither what Bucky would have had in the war, nor what you'd expect from a Cold War-origin Soviet agent. Sgt Barnes would have been issued something like an M3, and probably also had a favorite bayonet hanging around; he was a sniper, special enough to have been issued any damn gun he wanted, and the Howling Commandos would have had access to a range of paratrooper/Army Ranger equipment for their various horribly deadly missions. The Soviets used NR-40 knives during the war, and from a cursory inspection of the seedier side of the internet, I note that although the Spetsnaz had great enthusiasm for developing new and innovative ways to kill people with pointy things, they tended to stick with small, single-edged scout knives in that same vein.

The Mark II is an American-issue military knife that came into use during the Vietnam War. It wouldn't have been part of the Asset's original training; it was something they had to bang into his head at least twenty years later. Possibly thirty or forty years, when it became a common item to find in lots of military surplus -- the less distinctive it is, the less traceable it would be. Which does raise the question of how they got the training to stick when they wiped everything else on a regular basis. They zapped him enough that he knew what the thing was and was terrified of it, and submitted to the mouth guard anyway. It suggests he'd fought before and been beaten until he understood he had no choice.

Anyway, back to throwing things around.

Flipping it end over end is not a big deal. It's a little more difficult to catch it by the fatter end; reflex says to catch the thinner one. Which would be the pointy one on a Mark II, and therefore kind of a bad idea, at least until I've reached ungodly levels of skill. Throwing it up from under one arm and catching it on the downward arc is also not all that hard.

The interesting bit is the last fancy catch he does, where he tosses it up, swings his left arm through the arc, pulls his left arm back, catches cross-body with his right hand, and then arcs the knife viciously back. He's tossing it along the front plane instead of the wall (vertical side) plane, and catching it a half revolution off from where he throws it. It goes up with the blade pointing left, spinning clockwise, and he catches the handle horizontal with the blade pointing right. The rotation of the knife is (semi-)independent of the parabolic arc and roughly constant throughout the duration of the flight; to catch the knife a half-spin off from where it was released, you have to remember to throw it from a point either lower or higher than where you plan to catch.

See, this is why I don't do well in groups. I'm not bad at this, but I need to know what I'm doing first, and the only way I get there is vector diagrams all over the damn place. No time for that in a classroom setting. Nobody wants to wait for me to stare into space and manipulate stuff in my head.

I would like to note for the record that Jazmin did float the idea of staging an exhibition of whatever it is I manage to teach myself, perhaps at Arisia. We were admittedly drinking at the time, but she does have a decade of martial arts training, and I am both coordinated and willing to be somewhat reckless on stage. Plus she agreed to play Cap. Anyone interested in funding this?


  1. I proposed an exhibition? When? I remember saying we should recreate the fight, but like you said, drinking. I didn't think I was that far gone ...

    Not to say it wouldn't be fun, though. We would need to put some effort into setting the stage, as the Soldier and Cap use a couple of cars to make things more interesting. I don't think that getting to the same height is really necessary, partly because putting together a structure tall and strong enough to not crumple would not be easy, and mostly because I don't think I can jump quite as high as Cap.

    1. I assumed you wanted to show people. Why do all that work for no witnesses?


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