Saturday, June 30, 2007

Knife Function

Every preparedness minded person knows they need a knife. My goodness, knives are on every “survival list” known to man from little kits built into Altoids tins and carried in a pocket or purse, to equipment carried in one’s vehicle. Another reason we know everyone needs a knife is that there are just so darn many of them for sale – business must be good. In fact, in my opinion, business is too good.

So before you go and plop down a week’s pay on a “Combat Concubine” or “Survivor X” (I made up those two names but the real names companies give their knives are just as silly) please try to keep in mind one fact: they are tools. They are only tools. Tools are supposed to fulfill a function – do you know what function your knife is meant to fulfill? “Survival” doesn’t count – we need to be more specific.

Knives are basically designed to do three types of things. A knife that does one of those things in an excellent way will not be able to do the other two very well. Let’s take a look.

Slice. The knife on the top is designed to slice and it does that job very well. Notice that the blade has a lot of what we call “belly”. It is curved in such way that as one draws it through the material to be sliced, it pulls itself deeper and cuts continuously. Normally, to get a lot of belly on a blade, the point has to be elevated well above the center line of the handle. This is good for slicing but not good for our next area.

Stab. The next knife down is a bayonet. It is designed to be attached to the end of a rifle and then thrust into an enemy soldier. It is designed then primarily to stab. It is well designed for that purpose. Notice that the blade is narrow – it is designed to go deep. Notice that the point is directly on the center line of the handle and blade – this is to focus the full power of the thrust onto one precise point – the tip. It is sharp on both sides but that is really to aid in deeper penetration – due to the blade shape it makes a relatively poor slicer. Because of its light weight it is terrible at performing the third function knives may be designed for.

Chop. The third knife down is a kukri and is designed primarily to chop. Choppers are typically heavier than other knives so that there is some oomph to the downward blow. They are also designed so that the weight is over the sweet spot so that it can be focused at the point of the blow. Choppers give and take a lot of impact stress and are typically of more robust construction than slicers or stabbers for this reason. In the case of this kukri the blade is angled down – and that works very well. But this is not necessary – consider another style of chopping knife – the cleaver.

Knives are tools. There is no “one knife that can do it all”. We don’t use hammers to drive screws and we don’t use pliers to hammer nails. But we can have a useful tool that compromises – consider a pair of fencing pliers. They can hammer (not great, but they get the job done), they can act as pliers, they can cut wire, and they are really good at twisting wire. There are other tools that do each of those tasks better than a pair of fencing pliers – but they can’t do it all nearly as well.

If you want a multi-purpose tool (and any knife is already multi-purpose) you need to decide what you want it to do and what trade offs you are willing to accept. The three bottom knives are decent compromises. They all slice fairly well. Notice they all have some amount of belly. They stab okay – notice the point is generally along the center line (more or less) in each example. All three are decent choppers – this is due to their weight, length, and the way their edges are designed.

Are they perfect survival knives? Should you rush right out and buy yourself one (good luck with the first two)? No. They are decent knives and they are good enough to make my points but these are the ones I had laying around to take the photo – they are not ones that I have in my BoB, in my BoV, or on my gear. But this entry is not about me or my knives – it’s about you and your knives. Think about what you want in a knife then go obtain one. Better yet – obtain several. Get the right one for the right job.

Most of the guys and gals I run around with in woods carry several knives at any one time. Big ones, little ones, heavy ones, light ones, multi-tools and machetes, daggers and clippits.

Those are just three aspects of knives to consider. There are many others. Steel, geometry, handle material, sheath/carry system, etcetera, and etcetera ad-nauseum. But again, don’t get swallowed up by the hype. In the end a knife is just a tool. One of many. I said the folks I run around with are knife people and that’s true. Some of them even spent lots of money on their knives. But you know what? In the end, it’s not the knife. It’s the man or the woman wielding it.

Give my bud, Bud, or my wife a used, rusty butcher knife picked up in some second-hand store for a dollar and they would run circles around the average Joe equipped with their “Special Forces Commando Knife”.
So whatever knife or knives you end up obtaining - go use them. Get familiar with them; learn how to sharpen them; decide how you like to carry them. For your own sake, don't try to "keep them new so I'll have them when I need them". Yeah, I heard that once...
See ya out there.
If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at
Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Knowledge and Wisdom

I teach many things. I try, in the course of my labors to impart knowledge. Knowledge can be easy to gain; it can also be quite difficult. It depends a great deal on the subject about which one wishes to learn and also, to a lesser degree, on one’s mental abilities. A lot comes down to a student’s motivation.

The internet is a wonderful resource if used correctly. You can learn a good bit about many subjects merely by logging on and surfing the correct sites. That’s one way to gain knowledge. You can read, you can watch and you can listen – all on your computer. Another way is to visit your library. I live so far out in the boonies it’s easier and (considering gas at over $3 a gallon) sometimes not as expensive if, rather than visiting my library, I order a used book from an online resource like You can also take classes and courses from instructors like me.

Doing the above and applying some self discipline will result in a net gain of knowledge on your part. You will get smarter about stuff.

There are lots of folks out there who “know a lot of stuff” but don’t have a lick of common sense. They “know stuff” but they have never attempted to apply that knowledge. They don’t realize there is a lot about that subject that they do not know. They don’t know what they don’t know. They lack wisdom.

What is wisdom?
I got to thinking about this question in Sunday school this morning where we discussed knowledge and wisdom. That was what actually got today’s blog entry going.
In Proverbs 9:10 we read: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Compare that with Colossians 2:3 where we read (speaking of God, the Father, and Christ) In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. There is a lot of meat in those two verses for the spiritual carnivores out there. Chew on it for awhile.

Looking at it from a more secular perspective ( I would have used “spiritual vegetarians” but thought it might offend ) we could say that wisdom is knowledge combined with experience. Wisdom then is greater than knowledge. Wisdom contains as one of its vital elements, knowledge. The other of course, is time. Time spent applying the knowledge.

Some methods of learning, some methods of instruction include experience. While merely reading an article does not, conducting repetitions of a martial arts move would provide some of this experience. Almost no instruction out there contains enough experience in and of itself. The student has to go forth and apply the knowledge in a variety of ways under a variety of conditions to truly gain wisdom in that aspect.

I could use as an example a “black belt” in a given martial art. I would be referring to the real black belts of yore – not the current graduates of modern day belt factories. Earning a black belt back then was just the beginning. That is when the real learning started. I could use that example but that would be a blog entry in itself – take what you can use and discard the rest.

What does this lead us to? Doing stuff. Go do stuff! (Where have we heard that before?)
Increase your knowledge.
Put your new-found knowledge to work.
Gain experience.
Be brave – you may stumble, you may (initially) fail – get back up, bounce back and apply yourself.
You will then start to gain wisdom.

I started out writing that I teach many things. I teach parents how to keep an eye on their kids in the outdoors and I teach kids what to do if they get lost; I teach law enforcement and military men and women how to prevail in dangerous situations; I teach men, women and children how to defend themselves, I teach all manner of survival courses. But the most important survival course I teach is on Sunday mornings and it deals with eternal survival.

Hey, surviving the various monkey wrenches thrown at us today is important – teaching folks how to do so keeps food on my table. But what comes next is a whole lot more important in the big scheme of things.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? - Mark 8:36

Not what you expected today, huh? Well, it is what it is. I’d like to leave with you three verses:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. - John 14:6

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. - Romans 10:9

Now that’s survival.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America