Skean Dhus and tactical folders



In the Letters section of the october 1999 issue of Guns and weapons for law enforcement there appeared a letter entitled Scottish Knife Tradition That explained the traditional use of a skean dhu in combat.

I will hit the hilights and then explain the reference to tactical folders.

"(the author of the article the writer was refencing) was less than impressed by the examples of skean dhus he found in scotland. That is easy to understand. Indeed, the skean dhu has deteriorated in to an article of gents jewelry....
Furthermore, people who are not experienced knife fighters always prefer a long blade and a very sharp edge. They are less than impressed with the tiny 4 inch blade of the traditional skean Dhu. "

The author goes on to say he will not defend the modern skean dhu. Then he gives some of the common excuses highlanders will make for the modern Skean Dhu. He then get to the important part.

"I have never killed a man with my Skean dhu, but my grandfather did in world war one and his father, gradfather and all previous forebears killed men with their skean dhus..... My grandfather passed on the essential knife lore along with my first skean dhu when I was twelve."

He goes on to describe a "proper" Skean dhu. Basically make sure the hilt is bulky enough to fill your hand. Make sure it is of good steel. And curiously to blunt the factory edge a bit because "A sharp edge is inclined to stick in the wound and the hilt on a skean dhu is to short to extract it easily...". Then he get on to how to use it.

"On using the skean dhu for what it was designed, you stab- you never slash. You use no finesse. You attack feriously and stab repeatedly till the foe lies dead on the ground. With this weapon, the back handed downstoke into the shoulders and neck, sttacking the subclavian arteries, carotid and jugular is most effective. After that, the back handed sidestroke in to the ribs can wreak havoc on the foe's heart and lungs. The forehand upstroke in to the belly is used as a last resort because the skean dhu is neither a slicing nor a ripping weapon but purely a stabbing one. The bearhug and simultaneous stab in the kidneys can be effective if your anatomy. These are quick kills.
However, many kills have been made by indiscrimante stabbing because the lance head shape and short, immensly strong blade of the skean dhu will force apart ribs with the greatest of ease, provided the stab is delived with sufficent force."

Whoa long post. I will finish it off in a second post a little later with How to carry it, how to attack with it. Then I will draw the parallel with tactical folders.

Man my hands hurt
Ok I am back sooner than I thought.

After describing the techniques the author describes some caveats. One such is to never stab the spine because the spine will bend back on to the blade and nothing will make it bend forward. He then continues with how to carry the skean dhu.

"For concealment, carry the weapon in the middle of the back or under the armpit. The stocking top is thought to be the correct place to carry it, but old time highlanders never wore stockings. If you want to be sneaky, carry a dress skean dhu in your stocking and a real skean dhu concealed for a left hand draw. It's easy to use left handed."

He then goes on to explain the attack strategy.
"Most important, when you use a weapon like this you must attack like an old time Highlander. You must charge at the foe, determined to kill or die in the attempt, screaming blue murder, your adrenaline pounding in your ears together with some hostly bagpipe music; with visions of swirling tartan, proud banners, fierce warrior and blood knee deep in the heather.
This is not a defensive weapon. It is a brutal, killing instrument, plain and simple, and wickedly effective."

Now the question is "How does this related to tacticla folders?" Well I look at the one sitting on my desk and I see many similarities. It has a short blade, it is easily concealed and it is too small to be a slashing weapon. The blade is only single edges (well the first third is double edged) and the handle is a little small but overall it is very similar in size and shape.

Essentially most tactical folders have blades smaller than 5 inches to keep them in the pocket knife category. And any time you pull a knife you better be prepared to kill. If you aren't it is time to re-examine why you pulled the knife. This style is perfect for the person whos only interest in knife fighting is for self preservation. It is easy to learn, brutally effective and does not require a large knife that can get you in trouble with the law. So carry your tactical folder and in a time of need attack in true Celtic style, screaming your war cry while Bagpipes fill your ears.

Enjoy, hope you found it intresting.
Cold steel has some skean dhu looking knives in there catalog they call it a mini colloden

Also jim Hrisoulas makes thembut they are more of the dress skean dhu as well. I would probably consider using the steel from either maker but would redo the hilt if possible to make it bigger.


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