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My Half Spin Technique
by Roy Hutchison

I will now make my best effort to try and explain how the half spin is stretched out to 20 feet plus, and all distances in between.

My first piece of advice is not to try the half spin for long distances until you are able to throw from 15 feet and all distances below 15 feet.

For the purposes of learning, practice throws from 4 to 8 feet as well. This will help you to get the feel of the knife in a way that you are not used to. You will be learning to speed up your 8 foot half spin so as to do a 4 foot half spin, and then to stretch out your half spin from 8 to 15 feet.

4 to 8 feet will probably require you to hold the knife in a different way, not in the way that you are used to. Instead of letting the knife slide naturally out of your grip, as you are used to, you will now have to induce a faster spin at 4 feet, and learn to reduce that spin until you reach your 8 feet mark.

Don't skip over this short throwing, its important! (Remember my boyhood days throwing at the grass early in the essay? This is how I got the knack of "fast spinning".)

One of the easiest ways to get a good insight into varying the spin, is to throw some playing cards on the grass. Scatter them out from your foot out to about 8 feet away.

Now softly throw your knives at them. This makes it easy to observe the action of the knife, without it bouncing all over the place and off of the backboard.

You've got to get used to the feel of the blades, cause you won't ever be holding the handles. Believe me when you get used to that you will find that you will hold the knife in many different ways without even thinking about it... and this is what you are aiming for...

Here is a pic of 'about' where your fingers should be for short range half spins.

Here is a pic of the thumb grip for short range half spins.
(The above holds are used for throwing short range half spins. Mainly for sharp knives, hence keeping the fingers away from the sharp edges. If the knife has no sharp edge, it is O.K. to wrap your fingers around the blade. Be sure to retain the exact same hold, and simply slip 1 or 2 fingers around to steady the knife.)

When you feel you are getting there, start on the board. Throw from 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 feet until you can get a good percentage of sticks. This is now part of the basics. Keep doing this until you can "feel" the distance and the knife flies accordingly.

The long throws are the opposite to the short, whereas you have got to stretch out the throw to decrease the spin. Those who are used to 8 foot half spins should have no trouble in reaching 12 feet. Its basically only altering the hold of the knife slightly. In fact, in some cases, its only a matter of throwing the knife a little harder and with a slightly wider throwing arc while still using the standard hold.

This is where I might blow it cause I'm not sure what a "standard hold" is, but I'm assuming its a sort of closed hand grip, possibly with the thumb resting on top of the blade. Most of you throwers will know what I am talking about, so you will have a head start over the newcomers.

Now if you don't seem to be able to reach a 12 foot half spin, its because you are not reaching for it. Try pushing the knife in a reduced arm arc, rather than a short swinging throw. When you can do 12 feet, then do 8-9-10-11-12 by varying the power and arc of the throw.

12 to 15 foot half spins require a little more power with the arm above the head and forefinger resting along the top of the blade with slight pressure. Keep the blade tight in the palm, but your fingers should not be around the blade. Clasp the blade between the thumb and remaining three fingers. As you let go of the knife, wipe your forefinger along the top of the blade.

Thumb Grip and Finger Guide - For Long Range Half Spins
(The above picture is the thumb grip, with a finger guide, for the long range half spins.)

You must get used to this hold! Its the manner in which the long throws are accomplished, coupled with certain arm movements. (I'm doing my best here, so bear with me :-)

There are many throwers out there. Some will have small hands and some will have hands as big as a bunch of bananas. That being said you must realize these "holds" will vary from person to person. But these words will at least be a starting point for you, I hope.

Throws over 15 feet are much more difficult but if and when you can do the 4 to 15 feet and all in between, then you can try the long ones. If you can't do the 15 foot half spin easily, then you will certainly not be able to do the longer throws.

Long throws are once again the magnified version of the 15 foot throw increasing as the throw gets longer. If I say 20 feet as a maximum, and the thrower gets to be able to reach this distance, then they would have long discovered how to go on under his own skill.

For these 20 foot 1/2 spin throws you need to learn an arm movement that takes the knife in as "straight a line as possible" from above your head to the point of release. And keep the handle pointed toward the target as much as possible even when it is raised above your head.

Use power in the throw, add pressure to the top of the blade with your forefinger, push down on the blade as it leaves the hand and follow through after the knife release.

If you do curl your fingers slightly around the blade try and keep it as slight as possible, otherwise it affects the forefinger pressure. Try and push/throw the knife. And stretch out the throw, just like leaning on a chest-high shop counter and trying to get something that is just out of reach.

And of course, as in the shorter distances, 15 to 20 feet is only a matter of varying the hold, power, and throw to suit the distance.

I can't speak from experience as to the possibility of getting accurate in the longer throws, I just think it may be very difficult. I also think that this type of long throwing is better as a "party piece". But I would like to see a thrower get accurate just to see that its possible.

I would say for those who like contests, and are keen to learn the half spin, it would be nice to run this method alongside the conventional way, for a bit of fun or whatever.

As for knives, I would say that the 13.5" Dragon Knives I've seen on Scott's site look to be more than suitable for this type of throwing:

If anything I advise to get a design that you feel comfortable with.

Sizewise, my preference is about 14 inches long and 14 ounces in weight. I like them to balance in the centre, with one edge flat that will rest on your finger. But, once again, this is only my preference.

As for myself I have not done much throwing for quite a few years. I have kept my hand in at my factory a couple of times a month, but I am a bit rusty.

Since discovering The Great Throwzini Web Site I have started practicing in earnest. My knives are flying again around the toolroom, and I am making up for lost time. Also the children have long since flown the nest so now home will be a place to practice!

I hope these few words will be of help to all those interested in throwing half spins, but remember everyone has to start somewhere. So at least this will give you some ideas and eventually you will develop your own technique.

Keep 'em thudding away!!!

Article Contributed by:

Roy Hutchison
London, England

Here is a pic of the Author - Roy Huthison, From London, England.
(This is the "Half Spin Guru" - Roy Hutchison. Thanks for sharing all this great info Roy. You're doing a great job to help pass on the art of "half spinning" :)

Author winding up to throw a half spin from 17 feet!
(Here he is in the garden workshop, winding up for a half spin throw from 17 feet.)

Spikes work the same way when throwing half spins...
(And here is the grip he uses on throwing spikes when going for a long distance half spin... say around 20 feet.)

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