Title and Author Publication info Chuck's comments
The Balisong Manual by Jeff Imada
Know Now Publishing

Los Angles, CA


ISBN 0-938676-04-0

The classic volume for beginning  balisong artists. Hundreds of photographs illustrate the basic techniques. Some of the text is getting a bit dated, but a good start
The Advanced Balisong Manual by Jeff Imada
Know Now Publishing

Los Angles, CA


ISBN 0-938676-07-5

An excellent continuation of Mr. Imada's first book. Hundreds more pictures illustrate dozens of additional tricks. There's also a nice collection of production balisongs in the back. Again, this book is getting on 14 years old and a lot of it is dated.
The Manipulation Manual for the "Balisong" Knife by Tom Wei Ding and Tom Wei Toi
Sunrider Corp.

New York, NY


Honeycomb bound
Probably the first manual on balisong manipulation "published" in America, this little volume with its many clear pictures makes a fine start. It also illustrates a few tricks not found in Mr. Imada's books.
The Butterfly Manual by Donald S. Bitanga Magazine style publication,1984 Illustrates a few basic techniques, but there's really not much here.
Balisong Knife By Tai Jo
Universal Publications

Los Angles, CA


With clear pictures but sparse, broken text, Mr. Jo teaches a few simple manipulations.
Arnis Prasas Style and Balisong By Grandmaster Ernesto A. Prasas. Printed by the Author (though actually a hard-bound book), 1988 Considered a standard manual for Prasas-Style Arnis and an excellent book for any student of Filipino combative arts, this book also includes a brief chapter on the balisong. It includes some simple, combative openings and also a chapter on combative applications. The pictures are well-done and the text is clear. This book can be hard to come by, but it's worth the effort if you're interested in Arnis. (My current teacher, Guru Kurtis Goodwin, is actually pictured in this book).

 The Heart of the Butterfly By Nikolai Alexandrov and Dominick Galiyeva


This is the front cover of this book

And here are two typical pages. (The unique BM42 shown in the picture is not included with the book but is just what I had handy to hold the book open. It also proves that the picture is in focus.)

Alexi Publications

Pismo Beach, CA


ISBN 0-9701652-1-8


I am not aware of a good,.comprehensive book about balisongs. There hasn't even been a single new book about balisongs in about twelve or thirteen years. So, since this project was first announced, I've been eagerly waiting for this book hoping that it would be the significant new volume that the balisong community really needs.

This book begins with an inconclusive history of the balisong. There is a brief discussion of latch placement and one of balisong construction.

One chapter contains an incomplete list of manufacturers of balisongs including such famous brand names as Rostfrei and Soligen. There's also an incomplete list of some custom makers who have made or are making balisongs.

Another chapter contains a rambling discussion of knife laws which concludes, "Use common sense." Well, there's a new thought!

Finally, this book concludes with some reference materials such as a list of knife collecting clubs. a recitation of the NKCA knife grades, and a spotty list of films containing balisongs.

Yes, there are pictures, sixty or so pictures on the 123 pages. Most of the pictures are in color. All but a few were supplied to the authors by other sources. The quality of the pictures is very inconsistent. A few are excellent, but many are just plain out of focus.

There is a nice article on Ken Elgin and Kelgin knifes, and a nice one on Ralph Turnbull too.

There's some nice material contributed by Bernard Levine.

Overall, though, this book is very incomplete. Benchmade, Pacific Cutlery, and Bali-Song cutlery are barely mentioned and the often misunderstood relationship between them is not explained,.

There is one picture showing four of the famous "Harley-Davidson" Benchmades, but there is no explanation of the fact that these knifes are actually BM factory seconds and were marked with HD logos by a third party without HD or BM's permission.

There's another picture that the text says is a BM knife with two BM sheaths, but it's so out of focus that I can't tell for sure what model the knife is.

There are no BS, PC, or BM customs in the book They're not even mentioned. There's no picture of the famous Bali-Song tang stamp.

Jody Samson is NOT mentioned, not even once. How you can write a general treatise on modern balisongs and not mention Mr. Samson is beyond me.

Les DeAsis is mentioned, once. But, when you really think about it, aside from having owned three of the largest American manufacturers of balisongs, aside from having brought us the modern, one-piece handle, aside from holding patents on the manufacture of butterfly knives, and aside from owning the trademark for the word "Bali-Song", what has he really done to deserve mention in a book about butterfly knives anyway?

There are two fuzzy pictures of some BM Model 42s. When I first looked at these pictures I thought "there's something funny about these pictures beyond the focus problem." Then I realized that they have been resized disproportionately and are, therefore, distorted. If you'd like to know what a BM42 would look like if you stretched it, here's your answer.

The high point of this book is one page in which one of the authors shares a few antidotes from his travels in Australia about meeting a rancher and a vintner who both happened to carry balisongs.

If you're looking for spectacular pictures, I'm sorry, there really aren't any in this book. If you're looking for information that can't be found on various websites, well there really isn't much of that either.

In conclusion, I'm still waiting for a good new book about balisongs.

Balisong -- The Lethal Art of Filipino Knife Fighting by Sid Campbell, Gary Cagaanah, and Sonny Upad
Paladin Press

Boulder Colorado


ISBN 0-87364-354-2

184 pages
While this fine book contains some material on balisong manipulation, about 25 pages of mostly pictures, the techniques presented are primarily simplier, combat-oriented techniques that compliment the rest of the book's content. The bulk of this book is about Filipino-style knife fighting, a subject that these three respected authors are well-qualified to write about. This book is a serious, hard-hitting treatment of the subject. It's well-written and well-illustrated with many clear black-and-white pictures.




 The Balisong Knife by Jeff Imada
Tortoise Video 

 I & I Sports Supply Co.

 Los Angles, CA, 1987

50 minutes.

The Defacto Standard video for balisong manipulation. The video is very well produced with excellent production quality (what would you expect from a top Hollywood stunt man?). Most techniques are shown from multiple angles and in slow motion. His "over the shoulder" views are especially helpful because this is how the knife will look as you manipulate your own. Unfortunately, the more complex manipulations such as the Aerial techniques are only shown from one angle at full-speed.

If I were to fault this video it would be that the verbal explanations of the techniques are a bit terse.

This video also includes a lot of extra materials including interviews with Les De Asis and Dan Inosanto. Guru Inosanto even gives a brief demonstration of a few combative techniques. And you can even see video of Bali-Songs being made at the Benchmade factory.

 Mastering The Balisong Knife by Michael Janich
Paladin Press, Boulder, Co. 


About 30 minutes

The video quality is really amateurish and, in fact, in some places it's difficult to see the details through the fuzz. The camera technique is -- well -- there is none. The camera is fixed on a tripod with a full-front shot of Mr. Janich and barely moves during the whole video. There's only one mercifully brief use of "slow motion". The slow motion equipment used is very poor and it ends up being blurry and jerky.

On the other hand, Mr. Janich does give detailed verbal explanations of every technique including complex aerial manipulations. Mr. Janich's explanations of aerials are what I use to explain and teach aerial manipulations. If you're good with your balisong already but can't quite cross the bar into aerials (and that can be a hard bar to cross), then I'd suggest Mr. Janich's video.

Mr. Janich attempts to illustrate a few combative techniques during the last minute or so of the tape.

 Mastering The Balisong Vol. 1, 2, and 3 By Scott Brennan and David Miller
Panther Productions

San Clemente, CA

Three tapes 61, 53, and 44 min.

If you study Filipino Combative Arts, you'll like these tapes. Guru Brennan (guru under Dan Inosanto) spices these tapes with plenty of combative applications that come straight out of FCA.

The production is, overall, quite good so you can actually see what is being presented. Guru Brennan explains things clearly and the camera work is overall quite good.

As much as I like these videos, I still suggest beginning with Jeff Imada's video (or a trip to balisongexreme) to learn the basics of manipulation and get comfortable with a balisong before you dive into these tapes as Guru Brennan and Mr. Miller move very quickly past simple manipulatons.

If you'd like to contribute your own comments about these or other balisong training books or videos, please e-mail them to me.