THE THINGS WE ARE GOOD AT
Over the years we have developed certain design nuances and techniques which have made our work stand out. While some of these elements may be obvious to some, they may also need explaining to others.
So allows us to fill in some of the blanks…
To the uninitiated, upon first glance at some of our work, it appears very unorthodox. It’s not uncommon for us to hear the words “Why is the blade backwards?”. The Pikal style knife can take some getting used to, but there are a lot of reasons why they actually make much sense for defensive usage.
The Pikal knife originates in the Philippines, in a part of the world where knife based combatives is very much part of the cultural fabric. In the Visayan dialect, the word “Pikal” literally translates as “to rip”, the blade shape and style likely originated as a farming tool, much like a scythe, but also found its uses in duelling.
The Pikal knife style is typified by having its primary edge on the spine. The knife is designed to be held in reverse grip (point down) with the primary edge facing the user. While using a knife in this manner is not especially unique to Filipino Martial Arts, and can be found in other cultures, the Pikal knife is unique in that it is specifically designed to be used this way.
The popularity of Pikal knives for defensive usage has grown exponentially since the early 2000’s when notable combatives instructors like Craig Douglas and Terry Trahan began popularising the methodology around this style. Since then it has evolved, new systems of thought and ways of using them have come to the forefront, but what remains is ultimately the knife which is a formidable defensive weapon.
The beauty of Pikal knives is in their simplicity of use and their devastatingly destructive ability. This is why we have invested so heavily in this style from the practical and functional perspective of blades designed for defensive use.
Since early 2018 we have been working to perfect our Tsukamaki. Our design philosophy is heavily influenced by traditional Japanese blade making, specifically the concept of practicality and aesthetics being fully intertwined. It was a natural conclusion for us to pursue the perfection of a good Tsukamaki wrapped knife handle.
While conceptually this is nothing new in the world of knifemaking, we have attempted to make our Tsukamaki stand out from the rest by developing the techniques and methods to replicate the handle of Japanese swords as closely as possible.
This started with mimicking the fittings of a traditional sword handle, the Fuchi and Kashira. The Kashira specifically is integral to creating a neat and tidy end knot in the Tsukamaki and it was a natural evolution to include this fitting for the Ito (cord) to terminate through. These fittings are painstakingly crafted for each knife handle out of various materials including Carbon Fiber, Bone, Buffalo Horn and even fine metals like Shibuichi and Shakudo.
One of the other aspects of our Tsukamaki which we feel sets us apart is the quality of our materials. We source only the finest Ito, Samegawa (ray skin) and Washi Paper directly from Japanese suppliers who have been in the trade for generations. The Ito cord we typically use is made from Silk, or in some cases high quality leather, and is of such high quality it is used normally for antique Sword restorations.
We buy Samegawa as whole rawhide skins. Unlike using commercially dyed ray skin, our Samegawa is shaped, fitted, polished and lacquered to give it colour and protect it in-house, to as closely replicate the traditional process as we can.
Lastly, we use traditional hand-made Washi paper to create Kome-Kami to support the Ito and keep it’s shape while being tightened down.
Tsukamaki is a painstaking process which takes many hours to become proficient at. Our handles have also been in evolution for years to become what they are now, and will likely evolve further as we venture closer to the perfection we ultimately seek in our work.