Thursday, 13 September 2012

Scrapboard Survivor Kukri.


            In my blog post entitled “Why a Kukri?” I promised a more in depth look at my favourite Kukri once I could get some more current photos taken. Having just taken such photos, here they are.

            This is the plain vanilla Kukri as it arrived from Nepal. I call this the "Scrapboard Survivor" after my website. This is actually a custom item from KHT. The grip was made slightly longer than they usually fit on a Sirupate-style blade and the half-guard was combined with a traditional-style grip. KHT offered a number of modernized grips with guards as an option but I wanted a traditional style since it is actually the optimum for a Kukri blade. KHT now offer the half guard and traditional style handle on some of their models. A Sirupate blade is narrower and more slender than a standard Kukri blade, although such distinctions are relative since this blade is still thicker and more substantial than many knife blades costing five times as much. The result is a lighter, fast and agile weapon that still has considerable cutting power. The Sirupate can handle most combat and survival applications without weighing the user down excessively.

            KHT very thoughtfully provided a cord channel in the grip and the other night I decided it was time I fitted a retention cord. Note the use of a fisherman’s knot, which allows the cord to be easily tightened or loosened depending on whether gloves or other clothing is worn. The loop is proportioned so that it can either be slipped over the wrist or hooked over the thumb and passed over the back of the hand, “nightstick” fashion.

            The handle wrap was done in two parts, both parts being done with “decored” doubled paracord. Some PVA glue was painted on to help keep this in position. The handle wrap provides additional cushioning for when this Kukri is used for heavy work.

            Kukri in sheath, ready to travel. Note the retention loop has been wrapped and tucked so it cannot catch on branches and other protrusions.  

Grip Exercises.


            Many effective self-defence techniques do not require a great deal of strength to perform. This seems to have given rise to a myth that strength is not important. Possibly this grew out of attempts to build confidence in the lighter built members of classes:- “It doesn’t matter that he is stronger than you, you can still hurt him!” While the latter statement is true, it is wrong to think that a bit of extra strength will not improve your chances.

            One of the most useful fields for improvement is of grip strength. If you want to judo throw someone, you usually have to grab hold of them first. Catch someone’s arm as they attempt to bottle you? Whether you can control their arm long enough to turn the tables will probably depend on grip strength.  Squeeze the testicles to escape from a hold. Grip strength again! And what is the point of being an awesome fighting machine if you still have to get your girlfriend to open the jam jars?

            If you have read my book, this blog or the associated webpages you have probably acquired a cheap set of dumbbells or even attempted to make a set of Indian clubs. Hopefully you have been exercising with them regularly. If so, you will have already begun to see improvements in your grip strength just from manipulating these weights. The palms of your hands probably feel firmer and certain muscles on your hands may be more noticeable. Here are a couple of extra exercises you can attempt.

            Clench your hands into fists as tight as you can for a second or so. Then open them explosively, spreading the fingers. Clench, pause, pow! Repeat.

            Starting with your fingers straight, bend you middle knuckles so your fingertips touch the upper edge of your palm. Then bend you distal knuckles to form a fist. We can combine this with the previous exercise:- Half fist, full fist, pow! Half fist, full fist, pow!

            The great thing about these little exercises is you can do them anywhere at nearly anytime. Walking down the corridor at work:- Half fist, full fist, pow! On the train:- Half fist, full fist, pow! Standing at the bus stop:- Half fist, full fist, pow! Waiting for dinner to finish cooking….

            If you are cooking, try standing in Horse or Sanchin stance. Most combat stances have the knee bent so holding these positions will increase your leg strength and improve you overall speed and mobility.

            Another little conditioning exercise you can attempt. In the book I had you making a knife-hand strike onto the palm of your other hand to demonstrate the force you could generate, especially if you learnt to relax your striking arm. Executing a few strikes like this against the other hand is a good conditioning exercise that not only toughens the edge of the hand, but also the palm of the hand. And since palm heel, knife-hand and hammer-fist are three of our most useful hand strikes….

 

Why a Kukri?


            A common thread on forums is “If you had to have only one XXXXX, what would you choose?” If I had to choose only one knife, I know what it would be, but it would be the same choice should the question be one edged tool, one tool or possibly just one survival item!

            My blade of choice is the Kukri, and the Kukri of choice would be the custom 10” bladed Sirupate I have. I will introduce you to this tool in a later blog post, when I can get some more current photos taken.

            Why the Kukri? This blog is mainly about self-defence, so we will deal with those aspects of the Kukri first.

            The Kukri is fast, agile and has formidable cutting power. The shape of the blade creates a mechanical advantage so that anything the edge encounters is drawn along the edge for an increased cutting action. When the Kukri encounters something, it bites deep!

            The shape and weight of the Kukri tends to bring the point onto the same line as the axis of the forearm, so contrary to nonsense you might read elsewhere, the Kukri is a very capable thrusting weapon. The broad thick blade tends to make a big hole.

            Should you need to pummel someone, the Kukri is well suited to this too. The butt of the grip has a broad metal plate with a smaller diamond shaped projection, in the middle of which is a small stud. A blow with this section will put a lot of force into a very small area. It will probably make a very effective window breaker too.

            Most knives are poor parrying weapons, while swords are generally regarded as good for parrying. Logically there must be a length of blade where the knife becomes more capable of parrying. Shape and weight characteristics will also contribute to this ability too. A 10” bladed Kukri is quite capable of parrying other weapons. I think the forward curve of the blade helps here. The back of the blade is broad and unsharpened so it is possible to use a Kukri for a reinforced block or parry. Just place the palm of your free hand on the back of the blade. Someone swings at you with a baseball bat –dodge! If you cannot dodge make a two handed parry with your Kukri, deflect his weapon off to one side and then snap the Kukri into the nearest body part.

            The forward curve of the Kukri also gives it a hooking ability. You can use it to pull a weapon aside or move an enemy’s arm to create an opening. Since this is done with the edge this will often cut them. The spine of the blade is quite substantial. Should you for some reason strike an enemy with this part it will have an effect.

            One of the virtues of the Kukri is that it is a versatile utility tool as well as a weapon. This means that you are more likely to have it with you when you need it. My Kukri of choice is around 17 oz and 15” long. Similar in weight and bulk to typical hammer. Not exactly a pocket knife but no great burden either. If you are away from civilisation the Kukri is a handy thing to have on your belt.

            One of the fundamentals of survival is fire. A Kukri can quickly turn any available wood into a pile of shavings, chips and fuel. If you need shelter a Kukri can rapidly produce support poles with greater ease than many heavier and more expensive knives. If you need bracken or brush for bedding or cover, the Kukri makes a credible sickle. When you are tired, cold, the clouds are gathering and the light is fading, a Kukri can rapidly provide you with fire and shelter.

            The Kukri is also a rather useful skinning knife. The broad blade has plenty of “belly” and the curved shape helps keep your hand out of the gore. If you need to cut through a joint, ribs or divide your future dinner into chops, the Kukri probably has the cutting power you need.

            Posts on this blog have recently dealt with tomahawks. The Kukri is a very credible alternative to a tomahawk. It has comparable cutting power but lacks a wooden shaft that might be broken. It can be drawn and brought into action in less time and with less manipulation. It is also more versatile since it can also stab and flense.

            And that is why, if I was to have just one knife, one edged tool or just one tool, it would be a Kukri.