The Ibara is probably one of our most popular legacy models simply because of the big name attached to it, none other than the indomitable Mr Craig Douglas.
In 2019 a very unexpected DM was sent to us. It’s not every day you get contacted by someone like Craig who has been a force in the combatives industry for decades. After the the pleasantries, Craig told us that he wanted a custom knife, gave us some basic parameters and let us do the rest. A Patron who allows us to express our creativity within their basic idea is always a great experience, and something we love about doing custom work.
The 2019 Ibara was a one-off knife designed for Craig with the basic specification of being a Double Edged blade around 2.5” long and an overall length under 7”. The original Ibara was made from Japanese Aogami blade steel with a Tsukamaki handle which featured some firsts. It was the first time we had used hishigami made from genuine washi paper, and made the handle fittings from genuine Shibuichi. A complicated amalgam of silver and copper which is water cast in a traditional Japanese method to create a metal that has an inherent iridescence. The original knife was very well received by its Patron, and with his blessing we endeavoured to produce a Limited Edition Ibara each year since.
While we haven’t always been able to produce these blades due to supply complications since 2020, they have always been sought after and have always featured some slight differences.
The 2023 Ibara is no different, featuring some small new details and combinations which we are really happy with.
The blade is unchanged in terms of its size, shape, or handle style. These knives will always only be available as Tsukamaki handled knives because that’s what the original was, but this time featuring the addition of a mekugi detail. The mekugi is a small bamboo pin, which on traditional Japanese sword and tanto handles is the only mechanical connection keeping the blade and handle attached. In our case, it is only an aesthetic homage to the tradition, but is made from genuine antique Japanese bamboo.
This year the Ibara has been created in 3 possible variants for you to choose from. It’s important to know that all variants come with a blunt Trainer, sheath style and mount of your choice. All live blades also have their final edges honed on Japanese Water Stones by hand to produce a mirror polished final edge that will split hairs. All handle’s are what we call “Composite” handles, meaning they are build up from a variety of components and materials to create the finished aesthetics. It’s also worth mentioning that the Ibara Trainer also has a new feature. It is the first time in our history that we are producing blunt trainers with a Cerakote finished blade!
Shinobi is our newest and first variant. Named after the famous “Ninja” of Feudal era Japan, the Shinobi is of course all black. It starts with a blade that is finished in satin black Cerakote, giving it a silky smooth appearance. The handle is built on a black G10 base with satin finished black buffalo horn fittings, black lacquered Samegawa (ray skin) and black silk tsuka-ito. All our tsukamaki is wrapped very tightly using hishigami, and does not require any resin sealant to be functional. However, if you prefer it, we will resin seal the silk for you.
Ronin is the next variant, featuring a blade that is both mirror polished and hot blued to produce a classic metal finish that would not be out of place on a high end classic firearm. The handle components are built on a polished brass liner, with mirror polished black buffalo horn fittings, Samegawa (ray skin) which has been lacquered in Anshu colouring, and finally wrapped with black leather tsuka-ito. The black leather ito is one of our favourites and produces a handle that is second to none in its comfort and rigidity.
Lastly we have Seijin, the Saint! A colour variant which we are beginning to love for its lightness. This Ibara features a satin finished blade which is slightly less reflective, and then hot blued. The handle is constructed of a brushed Titanium liner with brushed titanium fittings. The samegawa is kept its natural white colour and brown leather tsuka-ito is applied to finish the handle off. The Seijin is a really classy combo!
As is tradition, the 2023 Ibara is limited to just 10 sets and are finished to order, taking 2-3 weeks to complete. While we do love making these knives, we also have to announce that the Ibara will be getting even more limited in years to come, as we will be reducing them even further to 5 per year from 2024.
So if you have ever wanted one of these illustrious knives that are finished to the highest exacting standards we can muster, then now is your chance! Head over to the Ibara listing on our webstore and order now!