Tricks for butterfly knives

Updated February 21, 2017

A balisong, or butterfly knife, is a portable and easily transportable weapon. It is made up of two handles attached to a blade. The blade slips inside the handles when closed. A real balisong is a dangerous tool and shouldn't be treated as a toy, but if you are interested in some of the tricks butterfly knife users can do, you can use a blunt one or make a paper knife for practice.

Flick Opening

Hold a closed balisong in your hand. Flick your wrist to send the "bite handle," the handle the sharpened end of the blade is stored in, away. At the same time, spin the "safe" handle. The back of the blade and the bite handle will be resting on the back of your hand. Flick your wrist back to bring the bite handle back to the front and put the knife in the open position.

Flip Closed

From the open position, you can quickly flick the knife back to the closed position. Flick the bite handle up and over, leaving your palm open so that the handle and blade can slip back into place. When the knife is closed, it is safe.

Thumb Roll

Hold the bite handle slightly like a pencil, with your fingers high on the hinge. Make sure you are always holding the bite handle, and swing the bite handle out horizontally to open the blade. Place your thumb behind the tang pin, the pieces that hold the handles onto the blade, and swing the blade in an arc around your thumb, landing the blade in an open position in your hand. This trick can be performed clockwise and counterclockwise.

Y2K Aerial

Hold the bite handle upside down so that the clasp points away from you. Flip the safe handle down and let go. The knife will pivot to the open position in the air. Catch the handle to complete the trick. With aerial tricks especially, practice with a blunt or paper knife long before ever attempting the tricks with a real knife if at all.


Hold the knife horizontally, with the tang pins pointing the same direction as your thumb. Hold the safe handle, and drop the bite handle, flipping it around. While you do this, shift your grip and your hand so that the bite handle is held back up between your thumb and two fingers. Let the bite handle come to the closed position.

Pinwheel Close

Perform the same trick as the pinwheel, but start with the weapon in its open position. Flip the bite handle, and hold the safe handle, to prevent trapping your finger between the blade and the bite handle, which is where the name comes from. Again, do not practice these tricks with a "live" or sharp blade.

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About the Author

Grahame Turner has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and a freelance reporter since 2010 for Wellesley Patch and Jamaica Plain Patch in Massachusetts. He also works part-time as a bookseller at the Northeastern University bookstore. He is a Northeastern University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English.