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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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…
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! 😀