How To Make A Monkey Fist Knot For Survival and Preparedness

By Will Brendza | Last Updated: January 22, 2018

Monkey FistThe Monkey Fist – A Badass Knot For Survival

There’s no telling when or where you’ll fall into a bit of trouble.

  • It could be while you’re walking home from a friend’s house late at night.
  • Or maybe it’s while you’re wandering around a town on vacation.
  • It could happen when you’re walking back to your car in a deserted parking lot.

Wherever you are or whatever you’re doing, you need a means of self-defense.

Something to protect yourself from an attacker. One who pops out from the shadows and demands your wallet or threatens your life.

There are many self-defense tools for such a situation.

But one self-defense weapon that’s overlooked but highly useful is a monkey fist.

So in today’s article, we will be covering the following monkey fist topics:

**Note: If you want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.

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paracord monkey fist

What Is A Monkey Fist Anyway?

Most people don’t even know what a monkey fist is, let alone how to use one or how to make one.

They’re a time-tested self-defense tool that’s both dangerous and effective.

Like a miniature flail, a monkey fist can come in many different sizes, shapes, and weights. Some fit on a self-defense keychain or in a purse; others are larger and harder to conceal. But they are a versatile means of self-defense survival.

Now, you can purchase a wide variety of monkey fists from different vendors. If you know where to look, they are all over the place. They’re also a fairly simple device you can make yourself.

Learning how to make one will save you a couple of dollars, and it’s also a very handy skill to know.

If the grid goes down and anarchy ensues, you will want access to as many weapons as possible. And the more weapons you are capable of making yourself, the better.

Just for fun, here’s the “world’s largest monkey fist build.”

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Brief History Of Monkey Fists

As with most knotted instruments, the origins of monkey fists are out at sea in the 1800s. Sailors used them as a way to throw lines between ships or to shore, and in a pinch, they would use them in a fight, too.

Initially, the monkey fist knot was tied around cannonballs to add a lot of extra heft. And imagine what that would do to an attacker!

Getting slammed with a cannonball flail could cause some severe damage.

Since then, they’ve spread widely as a survival tool and form of self-defense. Most of the monkey fists you will find today are not cannon-ball sized.

Instead, they’re now shrunk down to marble size. This makes a monkey fist easy to carry. They can be attached to extra zipper tabs, keychain attachments, or bug-out bag loops.

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Best Monkey First Uses

This is one of the most diverse tools in a survivalist arsenal. Unlike other pocket weapons (like pepper spray), this knot can serve various purposes, from decorative to dangerous.

Here is a shortlist of the most popular uses:

Self Defense

Obviously, these devices make great self-defense weapons. Ones you can keep with you with relative ease and covertly.

You can stash them into pockets, purses, or bags with no problem. And many can be attached to a wallet, zipper, or keychain, enabling fast access in a tight situations.

Here’s how to use a monkey fist for self-defense. Hold the long end by the tip and swing the heavy knot hard – using it as a flail.

You want to strike your attacker with the blunt knot at the end. Swing hard and follow through to generate the most power per stroke.

Aim for sensitive areas like the temple, trachea, or groin.

The more massive your knot, the harder your swing. The more force is generated, the more effective the weapon becomes.

Rock Climbing

Back in the day, before rock climbing was as widely recognized as a sport, they were used as cams. Cams, for those who don’t know, are the devices climbers jam into cracks to create points of contact.

Today’s cams are very technical, but monkey fists generally do the same thing when used for rock climbing.

You wedge the “fist” into a crack in the rock as tightly as possible. Then you clip your rope into the other end with a carabiner.

Now, I don’t recommend using monkey fists in this way unless you have no other option. Using makeshift climbing equipment is extremely dangerous.

Skydiving Parachute Ripcord

This is popular among people who deal with parachutes. Skydivers attach these to their parachute ripcords. This makes it easier to grasp the ripcord while in free fall.

You might buy very colorful ones (or use colorful paracord to make your own). That way, when the wind is whipping past your face, you can see your ripcord easily, grab it, and yank it.

Then, hopefully, your chute comes out.

Zipper Attachments

Have a zipper that lost its grip tab? No problem! You can make small monkey fists and tie them to your zipper, even if the slider grip has fallen off.

Due to their shape, they make great little zipper knobs. Plus, you can attach them to anything – tactical backpacks, duffel bags, and even pants!

Dog Toys

Tired of buying expensive rope toys for your dog at the store? Make your own!

Monkey fists make for excellent pet toys because the material is cheap (rope or cord), and they are very durable. Perfect for chewing or tug of war, a well-tied monkey fist will make your canine companion happy as a clam.

And you can keep making them new ones when they tear apart the ones they’ve got.


Monkey fists work well as keychains for several reasons.

First, they are usually bright and easy to spot (thus making your keys easy to find and harder to lose).

Second, this puts an extra self-defense weapon at your fingertips. Keys are one thing that’s almost always on a person. Keeping one on your keychain ensures you’re always armed.


This was the original purpose of a monkey fist. If you have ever tried throwing a rope a long distance, you understand that the task is nearly impossible.

But when you have got a monkey fist on the end of the rope you are throwing, it adds a lot of extra weight—enabling the thrower with much higher accuracy and much greater power.

But rope is not the only thing you can throw with a monkey fist. You can also attach written messages to the handle to pass messages over a decent distance.

Or you can tie smoke bombs to them to smoke out an area within throwing range.

You could even use them to throw fire. Douse it with gasoline, light it up and throw it as hard as possible.

As Paracord

Finally, most monkey fists are made out of paracord and have many survival uses. So if you’re ever in a tight spot and need some paracord, you can disassemble it and use the paracord instead.

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Best Monkey Fist On The Market Today

Where can you buy a monkey fist? The short answer is: online.

  • big ones
  • small ones
  • colorful ones
  • decorative ones
  • etc.

Here are a few of the highest-rated monkey fists you can buy today:

GSM Nautical Monkey Fist Keychain

This simple, old-school monkey fist attaches to your keychain with a classy brass clasp.

It’s the perfect addition to your car/boat keys.

Poifect Gear Set of Two Monkey Fist POI

Poi is the Pacific pastime of spinning fire.

Poi’s are mildly flame retardant. This allows you to light them on fire and spin them around like a maniac.

While poi is a dancing form of entertainment, these instruments can also be used for self-defense. Even if they’re not lit with flames, they’re still deadly.

These monkey fists come in the largest size on this list. This makes them the best option for someone looking to buy a survival weapon.

5″ Monkey Fist Nautical Doorstop Rope Sailor Knot

This one isn’t made from paracord, but I wanted to include it in the list since it’s 5″ in diameter and is technically a doorstop.

Now, this one likely won’t work as a keychain, but it might be one that you could keep your EDC bag stashed in a drawer at work or in your glove box.

Just remember it weighs two pounds. This should be an advantage if you are actually using it for self-defense, but it’ll add some weight to your pack if you haul it around town with you.

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How To Make A Monkey Fist Knot

Maybe you want a specific size of monkey fist, or maybe you want to get one made from particular cordage material. But finding the perfect one can be difficult or impossible.

That’s why learning how to make your monkey fist is important. You can customize it to meet your personal needs and desires.

Not only that, but in a dire survival situation, it’s helpful to know how to make a monkey fist.

You could potentially make a backup weapon for yourself and anyone else in your party. And when it comes to defending yourself in a “shit hits the fan scenario,” there can never be too many weapons on hand.

Note: Feel free to skip ahead to the video tutorials if watching someone build one is easier to understand than reading about it.

The Materials

Note: A monkey fist jig makes this process A WHOLE HECK OF A LOT easier. We cover a few good jigs to consider after we show you how to tie one without first.

The Process – Monkey Fist Knot Step By Step

1. Hold the cord

Wrap the paracord vertically three times around the fingers of your non-dominant hand.

This should create a loop that is three wraps wide.

Make sure the longer end is closer to your fingertips, as that will be the end you are working with.

2. Slide the triple-loop off your hand

First, make sure not to let the three loops fall out.

Next, pull the loops off your left hand and hold them between your right thumb and index fingers.

3. Warp horizontally

Continue holding the three original vertical loops with your right hand.

Now use your left to wrap the long end through and around the vertically looped cord. Do this three times.

You should now have three horizontal loops wrapped around three vertical loops.

4. Wrap vertically again

This step is somewhat optional, but it strengthens your knot. (Although, it depends on how much spare cord you have left.)

Once you’ve finished your horizontal wraps, make three more vertical wraps over the top of the vertical wraps you originally looped.

Now pass these second horizontal loops between the original vertical ones and the secondary horizontal ones.

5. Insert a round object

At this point, there should be an opening within the loops you have made to insert a round object.

Whatever you’re using, whether it’s a steel ball bearing, marble, rock, golf ball, pool ball, or another round, heavy object, place it inside the loops.

6. Tighten the knot

To do this, you need to work through and tighten each loop individually. Start with the loop closest to the short end of the cord and work your way through the horizontal loops. And then through the secondary vertical loops.

Tighten each one, making sure that you don’t pull too hard on the first few loops. This may take a little practice, and it will take some patience. So try not to get too frustrated.

You may have to work your way through the knot several times to achieve maximum tightness.

Once you’re finished, you’ll have a functional monkey fist.

This is not a project that will work the first time perfectly. You’ll likely need several times before you’re successful. But once you get the hang of it, it will come naturally.

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Monkey Fist Knot Video Tutorials

As they say, an image is worth a thousand words. So there are several “how to make a monkey fist” tutorial videos.

How To Make A Monkey Fist Knot Without A Marble

This video shows you how to make a monkey fist without an object (like a marble) on the inside. This makes for a very small, keychain-sized monkey fist. However, be aware that these don’t provide much self-defense value.

How To Make A Monkey Fist Knot With A Marble

This video shows you how to make a monkey fist with a marble on the inside.

Making A Monkey Fist Knot Using A Jig

This video shows you the process of using the help of a simple jig to build your paracord monkey fist.

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Best Monkey Fist Jigs On The Market Today

Again, there are monkey fist jigs and toolkits that make it easier to create a monkey fist.

They serve as an extra set of fingers to hold the loops as you make them. This also enables you to tie four-, five-, and even six-loop monkey fists!

Depending on how often you plan to make one, you may want to invest in one.

Paracord Planet Paracord Pro Jig

With this jig, choose from 10”, 14”, 18”, 24”, 30”, & 60” sizes.

The Paracord Bracelet Pro Jig includes vertical dowel posts to support various paracord projects.

This jig will hold your projects in place for easier and faster finishes. It also includes etched measurements to provide accurate dimensions.

Maxi Paracord Tool Jig

This simple monkey fist jig can make monkey fists from 5/8″ up to 2 1/4″ (pool ball size).

It features a rugged full metal construction platform and has (4) zinc-plated steel rods for exceptional strength.

SpeedyJig PLUS Paracord Bracelet & Monkey Fist Jig

This jig can make monkey fists up to 2.5″ in diameter and paracord bracelets that are 4-13” long.

It’s built with a sturdy powder-coated steel base that will stay in place while you work, thanks to rubber feet.

The built-in ruler makes it easy to correctly size your paracord survival bracelets when you’re not making a monkey fist.

Final Thoughts

Monkey fists are insanely versatile survival tools.

They’re cheap, they’re relatively easy to make, and they’re highly useful for survival. Owning one is beneficial for survival, but knowing how to make your own is a skill worth learning.

They make great survival gifts and are useful for survival and everyday life.

Few survival knots are as useful as the monkey fist knot, and even fewer can achieve such a wide range of survival needs.

Will Brendza

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