Calling all Warriors, calling all Warriors, report for duty. Lets make the most use of our time during winter for general maintenance of our warrior path. Today I want to focus on the tools we use to train and protect ourselves and specifically, the connection we have with them. When we look at what we want/need from a tool the first things that come to mind are quality, reliability/durability, cost, etc. all being affected by various factors. Yet less often considered is the connection we have with these tools and this could be just as important a factor as any other. While we all have connections with the things we own, be they sentimental, religious, spiritual and others, how often is it a consideration when obtaining the tools of our craft?
As Warriors we all want to be one with our weapon, to make it an extension of ourselves. But just how do we go about doing that? Most would say training, and they wouldn’t be wrong But what many would not realize is the actual physical connection, where the flesh meets with the object, is where it all starts. Now since we can’t change our physiology we need to ensure that the tool meets the requirements needed to make a good connection and that means the materials used.
What makes a good connection? Natural materials like wood, bone, horn, leather, even steel. No synthetics like rubber, plastics or other petroleum based products. Why? Synthetics have no life, no aenema and the body, which is electrically charged, can’t make a connection with synthetics. It’s a natural resistor and insulator. Its what we use to protect ourselves from electrical currents. Why would we want to block that connection with our weapons and trainers? Doesn't that go against the whole ‘be one with the weapon’ thing? Now you’re catching on.
Now am I saying no to all synthetics for all things? In a perfect world, yes. Natural is just better for everyone. However we are not going to change the world overnight and there are a bevy of synthetic handled knives for work and rescue that can outperform natural in many areas, namely durability and sometimes grip (we’ll get to more on that soon) with some of the advanced grip technology. As far as tools go that is great. They don’t need a connection like that we speak of here, they need it to perform and last and not let go.
Wait, don’t warriors want a good grip too? We certainly don’t want to lose our weapon at the wrong time either. Yes, yes, true but we are working under different conditions. We are working under stresses that that can many times take away all fine motor control leaving us with nothing but gross motor control and a loss of strength. We need to do everything we can to make sure we are still holding on to that weapon when the time comes. Natural material makes a better connection. Period. The connection alone gives you extra strength. Like a +1 strength in D&D. It’s there and it beats out synthetics. Try an experiment similar to the teeth together/closed you maybe did in school and see for your self.
1. Take two things of similar size weight etc and have one be synthetic and one be a natural material making the connection. A couple of trainers would be good (no real knives please for this) or anything really like a wood pencil vs a plastic pen.
2. Hold the natural object that you chose in your hand and put your arm straight out in front of you and have a partner push down on your hand with only one of theirs and try and make your arm lower while you resist. Don’t go crazy and hurt each other trying to prove who is tougher, firm but controlled pressure is enough. After a few seconds what happened? Your partner probably realized that without jumping on top of you they could not move your hand much and you found it was fairly easy to withstand their pressure.
3. Now do the same with the synthetic material. I bet your arm went straight down and you were powerless to do anything about it. You don’t need to let me know, I’ve done and seen these and that is enough.
You are stronger with your teeth apart than when they are together. You are stronger with natural materials than with synthetics. I don’t make these rules, I just choose to acknowledge them and use them to my advantage.
Right, so, whats next? We have the connection with no resistors in the way. All naturalle, check. We train all the time, for the way is in training, check. Now it’s time for the spiritual or soul connection or whatever you want to call it that works for you. Its making you one with with that weapon on a higher level. Thor had his hammer, Arthur had Excalibur, BB King had Lucille. What do you have? Regardless of the activity that we choose, we all want to have a deep connection that special something. A guitarist wants that special guitar, a chef a prized knife, a writer has an old type writer where the “m” sticks. They all mean something on a higher level to them and they acknowledge it. They may not delve deeper into the meaning but they all know that BB King played better with his Gibson named Lucille and Stephen King probably wrote better on his favored typewriter.
Now you are asking yourself, how do I get something like that for my training? Don’t I have to wait years and develop a relationship with this thing? Or spend a lot of money? Or have it gifted to me? No, not at all. We warriors are in a unique position to bypass all that and actually create the connection by creating our own trainers and/or weapons. In fact, everyone that trains should at the very least make a trainer for themselves. Many people modify or customize the tools of their trade to work exclusively for them and their needs and this alone can have a great impact on the connection, for intent is powerful. So if that’s all you can do then do it, but get involved with the process. Don’t just buy it or settle.
Let’s take a look at making a wooden knife trainer. Does it have to be fancy? No not at all. It could be crude as all get out. It could be a stick that you peeled the bark off of and smoothed out the wood a bit so it didn't hurt the hand. Voila, a homemade trainer. Or you could get involved with tools as simple as a saw and some files or a jigsaw and sanding belts. Regardless of your capabilities or access to tools when you are done you will have a connection with that trainer that no one could ever take away. Now strengthen that connection and spend time with it. Another point here about trainers. If you shoot, you probably know that your training ammo should match closely to your actual use ammo. Same goes for your trainers. You should have one that is an exact duplicate of your main use knife. Yes it is is ok to have some general shapes or stickfigures for trainers but you should also have a match to yours. Here are some that I made. I have a match for a Crossada in case I ever own one, and I made a match to my Cold Steel Voyager XL. I also removed the paracord from a trainer and attached some ebony I had.
Making your own weapon. Right, now he’s talking crazy. I’m not a blacksmith! Well now, you could be. Blacksmithing techniques and tools are more accessible than ever before. They even have TV shows about it and the number of videos on youtube is, well, enjoy that rabbit hole.
But maybe you dont have the time or the safe space for a forge, now what? There are many ways to go about it. You can skip the forging process and go right to the next step and that is stock removal. Even after shaping in the fire blacksmiths have to go to this step. In the stock removal only method, we have a little more stock to remove but we didn’t sweat our bleeps off in the forge either. Here again we will see that we don’t need a lot of fancy equipment -
You know Rich, I really just don’t have time for all that and power tools scare me, I’ll just go buy one off amazon. Just hold on there. We have more options and you may just use Amazon. I am talking about buying a knife blank. They are all over the place. Ebay, Amazon, even Etsy has them. There are also specialized knifemaking supply websites and the prices on all can range from $10 on up. From here all you need is natural handle material, a bond to attach said handle material and at bare minimum sandpaper. This is actually what I did. I bought a blank off of ebay, handle scales off another website, a pin I had, and a piece of flat bar steel for the forward curving guard from home depot. See pic below. Cost of materials about $42. (Leather sheath shown in top photo I made out of a scraps bag from Michaels Craft Store.)
One last option is to take an existing knife that you bought or already own and modifying it. Case in point. Over the holidays Walmart was selling these gift sets that had a Shrade Uncle Henry skinner and companion 3 blade pocket knife. I waited till after the holidays and the price started dropping and I snagged a few. They had atrocious plastic handles but I was buying with the intentions of attaching some elk horn that I had for a project as I had never attached horn before. Cheap knives are better for practice. The plastic handles Shrade put on there were worse than I thought but to Shrade’s credit they did something smart. Instead of making the handle permanent they attached it with a phillips head nut attachment that connected to the inside rat tail. This made removing the old handle a breeze. Otherwise you will have to get creative with removing the old handle without damaging the blade. For tools all I used were a hacksaw, a drill bit to shape the hole to fit over the rat tail and to make a hole for the pin. Epoxy. And a grinding wheel to shape the sides of the antler to meet the guard. See pics below that show the stock knife and my custom.
Warriors of old made their weapons out of necessity and gained naturally from the benefits of the connection made. Some noticed this connection, most were oblivious. All gained. The modern warrior has such easy access to weapons of all levels of quality and a myriad of options, as opposed say only bronze and oak wood or obsidian. It is so easy to obtain we don’t make that connection and we don’t care all that much about them. They are disposable, like everything else we own and use. Mass production and synthetics have taken the soul out. Even if we chose natural material and have an available connection, ie not resisted or insulated, the thought process, and therefore the energy, does not go past the hands and into the weapon because it is so easy to discount that weapon.
Of course not all warriors in history made their own weapons and we can gain these connections other ways like through custom knives that fit us personally, the investment of time and intent making that connection, or an heirloom piece that has sentimental or religious value acting as the bridge. Maybe that Cold Steel piece is truly your calling. Consider making some personal modifications, (either yourself or a pro) or imparting some Mojo into it. Yes Mojo. Smiths have been imparting Mojo into their works for a very long time. Many cultures make it a religious event including prayers and other rites. Many smiths up to and including today impart their Mojo at the time of quenching, sealing in its soul forever. Spells and rites of all kinds have been used to make the connection. Knives even figure prominently in some religions, sometimes having special knives for prayers.
For me, the value gained by making my own trainer alone is more than I could put into words here. You will just have to experience it for yourself then you will know. I will continue to make my own trainers and knives both for the savings and for the fun but will also buy from others here and there. But the connection will always be sought. Through natural materials and intent.
Good luck with your trainer and stay sharp. Well, not the trainer, keep that dull.