The recent rise in popularity of balisong flipping shows no sign of stopping. The hobby continues to grow and reach new people every day.
This increased interest is due to a number of factors: more and more companies and makers are starting to produce balisongs, there is a wider selection of low-cost options, the quality of trainers has matched that of live blades, and they’ve caught the attention of some high-profile social media stars, most notably PewDiePie.
But with more and more people joining the hobby it can be hard to stand out from the crowd and grab peoples’ attention when they’re scrolling through flipping videos. People crave original and unique content, and will pass over what they might see as “cookie cutter” flips or stale combos.
Even if you’ve mastered most of the expert-level butterfly knife tricks out there, you might still have a hard time getting noticed. In the highest level of balisong competitions it is almost a given that most competitors will have all of these tricks well rooted in their arsenals.
There are many ways to jazz up your content such as using good music, increasing production quality, editing clips in creative ways, having a gimmick, so on and so forth. Even if your flipping isn’t top-tier, there are still ways to spice up your butterfly knife videos to make them more enjoyable to watch.
Although all of these are great methods for getting more views on your flipping videos, there’s no substitute for some good old fashioned steez.
If you’re looking to dazzle people with your skills and break out of the mold of everyday flipping, here are 6 unique balisong tricks that will make you stand out.
Power aerials are nothing new to the world of balisong flipping, but are no less impressive even as more people perform them. Even though some aerials are quite commonplace among flippers - namely scissoring and helix aerials - power aerials are far less prevalent and are sure to turn some heads.
Aerials are a class of trick that involves the balisong leaving the flipper’s hand by being thrown into the air and then caught. Normally the knife is caught with the hand, but over the years some people have experimented with bicep catches, catching the knife in the back of the knee, and even neck catches.
Normal aerials can be thrown with the knife spinning on a vertical, horizontal, or parabolic (horizontal and vertical) axis, can do any number of rotations, and can be caught in the open position, closed position, or by a single handle when used in the middle of a combo.
Power aerials are simply big aerials consisting of a large number of rotations, being thrown to a greater than normal height, or very often both. Although there’s no strict definition set in stone of what makes an aerial a power aerial, they’re generally pretty easily identifiable and stand out against normal throws.
Incorporating power aerials into your combos and routines are great ways to grab the attention and earn the respect of flippers and non-flippers alike. The increased risk that comes with throwing the knife with the extra speed and height is much more impressive than with regular aerials, and is guaranteed to improve your cred in the balisong community.
Examples of notable power aerials include @knownlyrics15’s 20 rotation power aerial, as well as the failed power aerial between @silent_jay908 and @looseyfur, which demonstrates quite clearly the risk that flippers take when performing these manipulations.
If you’re looking for a way to spice up your aerial game without wanting to take the risks that come with power aerials, aerial closings are a great way to make you stand out from the crowd. Aerial closings are exactly what they sound like - throwing an aerial and catching it in the closed position.
This may seem pretty simple on the surface, but the vast majority of aerials you’ll see most flippers perform are either mid-combo (such as scissors or helix aerials) or are caught in the open position. By catching an aerial in the closed position you’ll catch most people by surprise, since they’re likely to assume it will be caught in one of the previous two ways.
This principle applies to all forms of art, not just to butterfly knife flipping and not just to aerials. Playing with an audience’s expectations generates awe and curiosity in the observer, not knowing what you’re going to do next creates suspense and mystery, captivating attention and making your art more compelling.
In music this can take the form of a borrowed chord or a key change, in film it can be an M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist ending, in balisong flipping it can be as simple as catching an aerial in the closed position rather than the open one, though this is certainly not the only way to add more unpredictability to your flipping style.
This point is perhaps best summed up and put on full display by the established flipper @assassinflonne in his YouTube video on this topic. In it he explains how breaking out of your comfort combos and disrupting your normal flipping patterns is one of the best ways to make your flipping more interesting to watch, and will make it more fun for you as well!
One of the most unexpected and mind-bending butterfly knife tricks in existence is the mobius flip. Although this trick has existed for years, first appearing on Reddit and later making an appearance on Balisong News, it is still seldom seen in flipping videos and therefore still has the ability to leave people asking “what the heck was that!?” as they rewind and rewatch this move again and again.
Different variations on the move have since been developed. In addition to the standard trick there is also a reverse, double, double reverse, thumbless, and even more mobius flip variations continue to be created.
In its most basic form, the mobius flip is a variation on the “orbit” (check out how to do this trick in our previous article on 15 Intermediate Balisong Tricks). Instead of ending the orbit by holding a single handle and then flipping the knife into the open position, though, the mobius flip ends the orbit with a unique sort of fan shortstop.
Even after watching this trick over and over it can be difficult to see exactly how it works, which is a large part of the allure of this move. A great breakdown of this trick and how it’s done can be found in this tutorial, which shows how the trick is done from multiple angles and from a left and right-handed perspective.
If you’re struggling with this move, one helpful piece of advice that helped me was to wait as long as possible before intercepting the handle with your pinky (for the standard mobius). This will ensure that the handles have built up enough momentum to fan into the open position and successfully execute the trick.
A blade grab technically isn’t a single trick, but rather a genre of tricks that involve - you guessed it - grabbing the blade. The vast majority of butterfly knife tricks involve manipulating the handles, and flippers generally do not contact the blade at all except in certain tricks, such as chaplins and ricochets.
Blade grab tricks stand out not just because they are uncommon, but also because of the extra danger involved. Manipulating the blade rather than the handles puts your fingers in harms way even moreso than normal tricks, and mistakes can much more easily result in injury.
Because of the increased risk involved with performing blade grabs, it is highly advised that you practice these tricks extensively before incorporating them into your combos. Performing unpracticed or improvised blade grab tricks are a great way to burn through your bandaid stock!
There are far too many individual tricks in the blade grab genre to cover here, but some examples include blade fanning, aerial blade grab catches, blade ladders/twirls, and flourishes that involve only wrist motion to swing the knife around. Oh and don't forget the clap chap!
A trick from one of the most creative flippers in the community, the Pull-Through is an original trick from @flipper.was.a.dolphin. It doesn’t neatly fall into any of the “normal” categories of tricks, such as chaplins, twirls, or rollovers, but lives somewhere in the ricochet-twirl-transfer realm.
This trick/combo requires two hands and involves pulling the balisong in a half-open position through one of your hands. Make sure you’re pulling the correct handle in order to avoid any unwanted slices.
Generally speaking, two-handed tricks are less common than single handed tricks. There are a few reasons for this, but the main two are that (1) many flippers focus their attention only on flipping with their dominant hand, and (2) that often times flippers film themselves with their off-hand, meaning they aren’t able to use both if they’re going for a first-person perspective clip.
Even for two-handed flipping, the pull-through is not often seen and will certainly turn some of even the most seasoned flippers’ heads. It distinguishes itself from normal transfers by grouping the blade with one of the handles, as opposed to only holding one handle per hand.
The creator of this move offers a great in-depth tutorial on his Instagram and does a much better job showing the trick than can be explained here. Just make sure to tag him when you master this one!
L’engrenage / “The Gear”
The final uncommon trick comes from another of the most innovative flippers currently active. @chlaskao_zome is another flipper with a style that is entirely his own, and has developed many balisong tricks and manipulations than just the one mentioned here (he is well-known for his unique transfers, quickdraws, and knife-on-knife aerials, just to name a few).
“L’engrenage”, French for “the gear”, involves vertically spinning an open balisong with just one finger from each hand. Like the previous trick, this maneuver does not conform to a single butterfly knife trick category, but could perhaps best be described as a kind of two-handed open/locked twirl.
Since this trick is done with the knife in the open position it can be helpful to have a butterfly knife with a latch, though it is not strictly required (as you can see above). The trick is still very doable without a latch, though it might make it a bit more difficult and take extra practice.
Incredible balance, precision, and consistent speed is required for this trick. Applying the right amount of pressure is key - too much or two little and the balisong will slip and fall.
Dialing in the speed is also critical to mastering this trick. Going too fast or too slow will make the trick look choppy and not smooth, or could cause you to lose control and fumble the knife.
With enough practice this trick can become a very impressive move in your arsenal, and can be incorporated into your combos in a variety of ways.
Make Up Your Own!
All of these tricks are sure to make you stand out as a butterfly knife flipper, but nothing will turn heads quite like developing your own tricks that no one has seen before, and your own flipping style that makes you instantly recognizable by your flips alone. Novelty and innovation are critical to the progression of the hobby, and you never know what slight variation might inspire a major development in the flipping community's collective repertoire.
Most flippers know about the main categories of tricks - chaplins, rollovers, aerials, etc., but as you can see from this list not all balisong manipulations fit nicely into these categories. Don’t be afraid to flip differently, embrace the unconventional, borrow from other flow arts, and put your own spin on what already exists!