Tag Archives: knife

My New Knife (and other stuff)

Yesterday I received my custom-made knife from Kenny Hermsen.  Kenny owns and operates Meherrin River Forge & Knifeworks in South Hill, VA.

For under $200 I received a locally made knife, manufactured to my specifications by a true artisan.  It also came with a lovely letter sealed with wax, which appeals to my old-fashioned sensibilities more than Kenny could possibly have known.  As it turns out, Kenny and I have a little bit in common.

This big, elegant, razor sharp beauty is a rugged, period-influenced Bowie with a blade just shy of 10″ — and she is now my silent training partner.  As many of you already know, in addition to my non-profit Cabal Fang Martial Arts program, I am now also operating Bobcat Martial Arts, a Frontier Rough & Tumble martial arts and Walking Stick self-defense school.

So the knife Kenny made for me is fixin’ to get put through her paces real soon.  And based on the feel of her, she’s going to make short work of whatever she comes up against.

If you have need of a blade, large or small, send Kenny a message through his Facebook page.

You’ll be glad you did.

A Mystic’s View of Fists, Knives, Sticks, and Pistols

This is my favorite knife, handmade using 18th Century methods by Deer Runner (a.k.a. Joe Schilling).  Note the little deer track stamped in the blade.  In the background is my little "go bag," a vintage hemp Italian gas mask bag.

This is my favorite knife, handmade using 18th Century methods by Deer Runner (a.k.a. Joe Schilling). Note the little deer track stamped in the blade and the old school flavor of the sheath. In the background is my little “go bag,” a vintage hemp Italian gas mask bag.

As a martial artist, I study and practice skills with the potential to cause grievous harm.  I train in all aspects of unarmed self-defense, as well as with knife and cane.*  As a mystic, I look at my hands, my knife and my cane — all possessed of violent possibility — and I feel very differently about them than I do about my pistols. I own two, passed down to me when my father died.

My hands can be used to do a million things, most of them non-violent, like writing, cooking, driving, and holding hands with my wife (my personal favorite).  My knives also have multiple uses, like opening packages, slicing apples, carving wood, and getting crud from under my fingernails.  My cane offers two primary kinds of support — a third leg while walking or hiking, and a bit of added security against multiple attackers.

Two hands and a knife are with me always.  My cane, more limited in use than my knife, stands in the corner until needed.  Knives are safely placed to the right of every plate in the Western Hemisphere.  Canes are used by elderly people worldwide.  It takes time and practice to turn a fist, a foot, a knife, or a Mulberry stick into a true weapon.  In their natural states they are innocent, nearly harmless things.

But the pistols, which are made for the sole purpose of killing things, are tucked away in a safe.  Their profile is the reverse of the hand, knife, or cane.  Rather than being safer in the hands of an untrained person, they are far more dangerous.  Careless handling by a child or novice can result in tragedy.

I had been considering a shooting class sometime this year, but after careful thought and meditation, I’ve decided against it.  I’ll maintain my focus on martial arts.  Sure, there’s a violent element.  But martial arts also make the body strong and flexible, build character, and focus the mind.  Give me those tools which are inherently innocent, and let me learn how to use them for all their myriad purposes under the sun.  I have no interest in picking up an instrument of death to learn the art of slaughter.

Still, I am a mystic, and in the words of Socrates, “All I know is that I know nothing.”  Perhaps I’m too nice, too kind, too sensitive.  Perhaps someday I’ll feel differently.  So let us all be free to do what we will, feel what we will, and love what we will.

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* I also train with chucks (a.k.a. nunchaku, jool bong, “numchuks,” etc.) but that’s more of a fun, dexterity thing than a weapon thing.  They hang on a hook in my workout room.

Fitness for Knife Fighters

This is one of our dull practice knives.  We cut them out of wood and wrap the handles in orange duct tape.  Orange makes it clear to observers that we aren't trying to actually kill each other.  And it keeps them from getting lost easily.

We cut our practice knives out of wood and wrap handles in orange tape. Orange identifies them as dull to casual observers and keeps them from getting lost easily.

This month at my martial arts club we’re practicing knives (specifically, knife targeting and precision).  We try to tailor our Constitutionals (the fitness part of our workouts) to mesh with whatever we’re working on technique-wise.

Now, the two fundamentals of using any weapon are (a) retention and (b) command and mastery.  In other words, you have to be comfortable holding and using the weapon, and you must retain it all times (dropping it is a serious no-no).

With that in mind, here is what we came up with. Note that this could be easily adapted for use with other weapons as well.

Constitutional Fitness Drill for Knife Fighters

All exercises must be completed while holding your dull practice weapon.  Each time you drop your weapon you must complete 50 Push-ups (on palms with the unarmed hand, on knuckles with the live hand).

  1. Russian Squats (25 reps each way, knife hand forward)
  2. Get-ups (25 reps, switching knife between hands each rep)
  3. Sit-ups w/ Slash (50 reps, lock feet around/under object, slash an “X” at the top of each rep)
  4. Help-ups (25 reps each side)
  5. Push-ups (25 reps on left palm and right knuckles, 25 reps on right palm and left knuckles)
  6. Sprints (25 reps out and back.  Mark off about 20′ and slash an “X” at each turn.  Switch knife hands half way through)
  7. Twisters (25 reps.  Instead of touching the floor on each side at the top of the crunch, slash an “X” on the floor on each side)

This should take about 15 minutes.  And it should help you with retention, command, and mastery.

DC Zinefest Weekend 2014

My dried up carcass sitting behind my somewhat-less-than-popular table

My dried up carcass sitting behind my moderately popular table

When I heard about DC Zinefest I wanted to go.  Problem is, I hate to drive.  Four hours in the truck for a six hour event didn’t equate to my maths, if you know what I mean.  So I talked to my honey, and we decided to throw our sixteen-year-old young ‘un into the gas guzzler and make a weekend of it.

We got there Friday around eight o’clock.  At that point our thinking was amazingly clear after a full day of work and two hours on 95 North: we decided to go and see the various monuments at night, which none of had ever done before, while the crowds were reduced.

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Let me preface this next part by saying that, when it comes to the great patriotic monuments, I am pretty jaded and cynical.  I didn’t expect any part of our excursion to be poignant or touching.  So I was surprised by my reaction to the Lincoln Memorial.  I was profoundly moved (although I did make a Megatron joke on Twitter as we left).  There was something about the place that stirred me.  I’ve always had a hearty respect for Lincoln — the rangy wrestler, the great orator, the gentle and eloquent beanpole  whose bodyguards carried brass knuckles — and I felt like I was standing beside his ghost.

The next day was DC Zinefest of course.  It was a great time (as all Zinefests are) with lots of cool people and a huge crowd.  When I say “huge” I mean that it was literally shoulder-to-shoulder trying to get to the restroom.  Packed.  At some points even jammed.

If you’ve never been to a Zinefest, you should really try one.  These things are direct-from-brain-to-paper publishing extravaganzas, unfiltered, unmoderated, creativity tsunamis.  If you’re a writer, a Zinefest is a great way to get some inspiration.  Kind of like grabbing a naked, 220-volt imagination wire.  Hats off to Dirk and Ari and all of the organizers for their hard work, dedication, and success.

Just like I did after RVA Zinefest last year, I’ll be writing a separate post to review all of the great ‘zines I came home with.  Give me time to read ’em, will ya?

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Sunday we went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.  There was a moment of drama as we walked up to the door and I saw the security checkpoint sign.  I always walk around with a pocket knife, and I forgot to leave it in my vehicle back in the parking garage.  Ooops.  Had to surreptitiously bury it in the mulch outside.  Luckily it was still there when we left and I was able to retrieve it.  Losing a $100 knife would’ve sucked.

I’m sure I’ve been there before when I was kid or something, but it didn’t sink in.  You appreciate this kind of thing much more when you’re an adult.   Here’s a selection of pictures that really don’t do the place justice.  It’s free and it’s great, but not awesome.  Lots of the displays are copies, and there is no obvious traffic flow pattern in any of the halls.  Which means that you have people going every which way, and on a Sunday afternoon, that’s just crazy.  Still tons of fun though.

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So that’s the trip in a nutshell.  Next post: ‘zine reviews!