Archive for the ‘Claw’ Category

Killer Karambits!

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

In a previous post, I wrote briefly about a very interesting weapon design. One that utilized a forward sweeping blade, as opposed to the traditional blade belly that curved outwards. In that post, I pointed out that there are good reasons why we generally do not generally use out ward curving blades. For one thing, a cut using an outward curving blade, would be difficult to achieve on a flat surface.

For whittling wood, it might be helpful, but because the shape of the edge would cause all of your cutting strokes would tend to want to pull the knife out of your hand, I think it would be a rather fatiguing design. However there is a specific knife style that utilizes just such a design, but in a way that makes it perfect for it’s intended use. And a wicked little knife it is. Ladies and germs, allow me to introduce you to: The Karambit.

Filipino Karambit

Filipino Karambit

Ain’t it a beaut? The Karambit (sometimes also called a Kerambit or Korambit) is of southeast Asian origin. Much like the Japanese kunai, it started off as a simple utility knife, used for household tasks, the southeast Asian equivalent of the American pocket knife, or hawkbill utility knife, and eventually ended up being used for self defense, and martial arts. However unlike these knives, the Karambit possesses a number of very interesting and unique design features.

The most noticeable feature is the large ring on the pommel of the knife, much like how many Kunai are depicted today. However that is where the similarities end. Karambits have a very pronounced reverse curve to the blade, and depending on the design, may have any number of other unique features as shown below:

Parts of a Karambit

Parts of a Karambit

Now that’s just a mean looking little knife. My kind of pocket knife. It would probably make your average pocket knife run screaming in terror. But that’s a plus in my book. Modern day Karambits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some features are removed to meet the restrictions of local laws, and others simply a matter of tradition. Some are double edged, others are single. Some have rippers on the spine, others don’t.

Karambit Designs - Strider Knives

Karambit Designs - Strider Knives

However the things that are common to all karambits, is that characteristically curved blade, with an sharp inside edge, a grip, and the ring. And therein lies the beauty of this design. Remember before how I said that a concave blade design actually placed more drag on the knife in use? Well this design actually allows you to use that drag to your advantage.

That ring in the pommel gives the wielder a very solid purchase on the knife, allowing very strong cutting strokes, and even low pressure draw cuts, simply by laying the edge on a target and pulling the knife across by the ring. It is really quite an effective design. And, unlike like most over knives, you get a very secure forward and reverse grip.

Undercover Karambit (Black)

Undercover Karambit (Black)

Incidentally, I am not particularly impressed with those little mini blades on the spine, (aka rippers). At least the way I often seem them implemented. They are a very cool (and sinister looking) design feature, but most of them do not appear to be designed for maximum efficiency. But a properly designed set of rippers, shaped more like small sharp gut hooks, than flat chisels, could really do some damage. Kinda like this:

Dawson Large Karambit Field & Tactical Knife

Dawson Large Karambit Field & Tactical Knife

Nowadays, the Karambit is a fixture in several southeastern Asian martial arts, where it is used, with great effect, to inflict large numbers of superficial cuts, deep major artery cuts, joint or limb control, weapon defence, or any combination thereof. About the only weakness of the Karambit is that you have to learn a whole new set of techniques for fighting with it, because it does not work the same way a traditional straight bladed knife does. And there are so many more things you can do with a Karambit that you could not easily replicate with a regular knife, that you really need training in order to use it to it’s fullest potential.

Traditional Karambit With Wood Sheath

Traditional Karambit With Wood Sheath

However it is definitely a very cool tool. My kind of tool. In fact, I could see someone like… Riddick… using a karambit. It’s totally his style. I bet if we upsized the karambit to large knife proportions, this would probably be a much more effective weapon than the saber claws Riddick uses. Hmmm…

Dragon Claw Toenail Set

Dragon Claw Toenail Set

I think I’ve got an idea for this piece of steel I just so happen to have lying around. I’m off to the workshop. I have a karambit theory to test! ๐Ÿ˜€

Of Dragon Tails and Tigers claws

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Konnichiwa! So I thought I’d try and come up with some clever title for this post, since both tigers and dragons are subjects, (in a matter of speaking) of this post. But, as you may probably have guessed by now, the only thing that kept popping into my head wasย  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Yes. So I took the easy route. Pathetic isn’t it? I have no imagination. *sigh*

Anyway, today I thought I’d show you more great stuff from the site of NineDirections.com, as Matthew was kind enough to send me more pictures of his work. The first item on the list today are more pics of the Ninja Shuko (Tiger Claws) from the last post on the topic. First we have a really cool pic of the Shuko hand hoop being forged.

Shuko - Forging the Hand Hoop

Shuko - Forging the Hand Hoop

And here we have a couple of cool shuko just hanging out and acting all cool…

Ninja Shuko (Toger Claws) - Just Hanging Out

Ninja Shuko (Toger Claws) - Just Hanging Out

A pair of Shuko with their battle faces on… >: (

Shuko - Claws Out!

Shuko - Claws Out!

Enter the Shuko! LOL… OK, ok… I get it. Enough with the Shuko.

So how about… Dragons? Specifically Dragon Tails? Yeah, I thought so… Dragon Tails, also sometimes called Rope Darts or Dragons Tongues, are basically a small blade attached to length of rope anywhere from five to who-know-how-many feet in length.

Dragons Tail

Dragons Tail

They can be spun at great speeds, and controlled via cord or chain, can be used to cut or penetrate hard targets at distance. A rather intimidating weapon, indeed. I’ve always loved the rustic feel of raw sharpened steel, and Matthew at Nine Directions has, as usual, replicated the look beautifully.

Dragons Tail - Edge

Dragons Tail - Edge

So what we have here, folks, is a heavy slab of steel, with sharp edges, on a rope. You can’t beat that with a baseball bat. Yet another example of some excellent work by NineDirections!

Dragons Tail – [Nine Directions]

Ninja Shuko – [Nine Directions]

Steel Hands of Shadow… Tekko-Kagi Revisited!

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Not too long ago I posted about of my favorite Ninja tool, the Tekko-Kagi, (or Tekagi), featuring an outstanding example of workmanship by one of my readers, Matthew Wright (who posts here as Mangetsu) of NineDirections.com. I have always been particularly impressed with the authenticity of his work, however he recently put together a refreshed version of the aforementioned tool, as well as his website, and I thought I’d talk a little about my opinion of his the modifications to the traditional design.

So here it is, The Signature Tekko-Kagi from Nine Directions, which he most appropriately called “Steel Shadow”…

Signature Tekko-Kagi - by Nine Directions

Signature Tekko-Kagi - by Nine Directions

The word Tekagi (which is the abbreviated form of Tekko-Kagi) is, if memory serves, a contraction of two Japanese words, “Te”, which means “Hand”, and “Kagi” (a variation of “Kage”), which means shadow. In other words, this is the “Shadow Hand”. This makes a whole lot of sense when you consider that the Ninja (or Shinobi) were also called “Shadow Warriors”, due to their predominantly clandestine methods.

Their specialty was working from, or in, the shadows. As in, the most efficient way to plant a steel claw upside a marks head from a dark corner while their back was turned… ๐Ÿ˜›

But back to the weapon at hand. This ain’t yo grandmas Tekagi! This design, while fundamentally similar to the traditional tekagi design, differs in two very important respects. First, where there used to be a narrow forearm/wrist band, Matthew has extended the band to an almost full forearm-length leather bracer, to which the rear of the claws are riveted.

Tekko-Kagi - Arm

Tekko-Kagi - Arm

This, by itself, is perhaps the single most useful and functionally outstanding improvement I have ever seen in a tekko-kagi. It provides some additional much needed support, giving the tool much more strength, and should be significantly more comfortable than the traditional design, allowing for the wielder to use it with a lot more power.

Tekko-Kagi - Full

Tekko-Kagi - Full

The claws themselves appear to have been extended to the full length of this longer bracer, creating a full forearm cage that drastically increases the defensive capabilities of the weapon. In addition to this, he has shortened the top hoop, the hand grip, our control point, as it were, so that a much more natural, solid, closed-fist grip can be used to manipulate the claws. This is a *massive* improvement over the old large wide grip of the previous design, as your hand muscles are in a more natural and stronger position this way.

Tekko-Kagi - Grip

Tekko-Kagi - Grip

I have always held that while adherence to tradition is certainly of value, tradition should never get in the way of improvement. The old school ninjas did things the way they did because that was the best way to do them at the time. However their fundamental methodology was not one of stagnation. They constantly improved and modified their techniques and weapons, and were there not so many more effective tools of the trade to use, they would have upgraded their tekagi in much the same way Matthew has done.

Tekko-Kagi - Forge

Tekko-Kagi - Forge

So I say to Matthew, kudos for a job well done! These are perhaps the best designed Tekko-Kagi I have seen in a long time, and I doubt I will see any better. This is outstanding work folks, created with an eye to replicating the look and feel of the traditional design, except much, much better.

Tekko-Kagi - Grass

Tekko-Kagi - Grass

This Tekagi has single-handedly made NineDirections.com my next Site of the Month. If you want some truly outstanding replicas of traditional ninja gear, made with an eye for practical use, as well as authentic construction techniques, Nine Directions is the place to go…

You really can’t go wrong. ๐Ÿ˜€

Signature Tekko-Kagi – [Nine Directions]

Traditional Ninja Weapon Design – Part 3: – Tekko-Kagi

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Ohayou gozaimasu! Welcome to the next installment of my series on traditional Ninja weapon designs, featuring the work of Matthew Wright of Ninedirections.com.

I thought I’d finish off the week with a little bit about one of my favorite traditional ninja weapons, the Tekko-Kagi (aka the Tekagi or “hand claw”). Tekko-Kagi were multi purpose tools traditionally used by by Japanese ninjas for defense and offense against sword wielding opponents. The tekko-kagi design was very well suited for the purpose. The large heavy claws made it easier to deflect, block or trap swords, and in a pinch could quickly be used for offensive attacks as well.

Tekko-Kagi

Tekko-Kagi

Tekko-Kagi are one of my favorite ninja weapon designs because, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is one of the few hand claws I have come across that was designed to use both the hand and wrist muscles, in addition to the wearers fingers, (unlike many weapons from previous posts) to control the weapon. And as we can see from Matthews reproduction, you would certainly need all that strength to use it effectively.

I mentioned in my previous Ninja weapon series how traditional Japanese ninjas may not necessarily have had the resources to forge the high quality steels that the Samurai used, and would have been forced to use cheaper metals, like iron or cheap steels. In order to compensate for this, they would have made much bigger, thicker tools. Matthew has take great pains to remain as true to tradition as possible and his reproductions do capture this design philosophy very accurately.

Tekkokagi - Top

Tekkokagi - Top

However, as you can see from the pic, the hand grip is really very long, and I personally think the design couldย  have done with some major trimming in the grip area. My personal experience has been that weapons like these are much easier to use when you can wrap your entire hand around the grip. However Matthew can be commissioned to custom design the weapon to any specification you might require, so for the most part, it is a non issue

In stock form however, the thick steel had grips, thick claws, a very solid wrist hoop all combine to make each claw a whopping 5lbs each. Heavy, as hand claws go, yes. But also very, very strong, and this would have been a requirement for blocking an incoming sword strike with one of these, back in the old days. I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly be willing to sacrifice a little lightness in order to be able to use my Tekagi as a shield against multiple sword strikes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tekkokagi - Front

Tekkokagi - Front

Overall, a great design, one of my favorites. It isn’t pretty, or flashy or covered in mirror polished gleaming stainless steel, but it is exactly the kind of weapon design I love. Dark, strong, with a wicked set of fully functional claws that quite simply mean business. A definite must-have if you are into accurate reproductions of traditional Ninja gear… ๐Ÿ˜€

Tekko-Kagi – Matthew Wright – [Nine Directions]

Another Freaky Finger Claw…

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Back again with another entry from the weird and wonderful world of finger claws:

Gothic Skull Lord Finger Armor

Gothic Skull Lord Finger Armor

Meet the Gothic Skull Lord Finger Armor. Because your fingers need armor too. ๐Ÿ™‚

So here we have another finger claw, a rather more practical version of neko-te, consisting of a regular ring with what I will assume is a likeness of our earstwhile Skull Lord emblazoned on top, to which are attached three armored articulated section, the last section terminating in a rather evil looking talon.

What to say about this. Well. I like the talon. And the armor. And the articulating design. But to be honest, unless this is all attached to a gauntlet, all I can see is pain. In the *wearers* future. Yes. I said *the wearer* The claw wielder. The finger claw sporter. Etc. Ad nauseam. Uh huh. Unless they have really strong fingers. Or like to use poison. Or maybe like to go for the eyes… Yeah… that’s a good legitimate use for something like this… Soft targets.

Not very sporting, imho, but if, for any given reason, you decided to put these on one morning when suiting up for a battle, weeeell…

Not much more I can say about that… ๐Ÿ˜€

Gothic Skull Lord Finger Armor – [NorthStar Zone]

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