Author Topic: Anti Knife Fearmongering Courtesy of the Wall Steet Journal  (Read 22741 times)


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Deadly pocketknives become a $1 billion business

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

By Mark Fritz, The Wall Street Journal

A decade ago, Jim Ray brought together a champion martial artist, a former Navy Seal and a police-weapons specialist to draft designs for what he hoped would be the perfect pocketknife.

But the high-tech knives the team created were never meant to whittle sticks. Instead, the team produced knives whose blades could be flicked open with one finger faster than the widely outlawed switchblade -- but were still perfectly legal. "Nobody wanted to call it a weapon" at the start, says Mr. Ray, a former proprietor of a North Carolina tourist shop. But eventually, he adds, "that changed." And soon Mr. Ray and the company he formed, Masters of Defense Inc., were marketing the blades' utility when "shooting is just not appropriate."

Mr. Ray was a pioneer in a technological revolution that has transformed "tactical" knives -- originally used in military combat -- into a $1-billion-a-year consumer business, aimed at just about anyone in the market for a small knife. These 21st century pocketknives, with their curved, perforated or serrated blades and ergonomic grips, can inflict deadly damage, but they are also compact, easily concealed and virtually unregulated.

In March, a monthly FBI bulletin alerted law-enforcement agents nationwide to "the emerging threats" posed by the knives. Though there are no statistics on how many crimes have involved tactical-style knives, the FBI says knife-related crimes have edged up, to 15.5 percent in 2004 from 15 percent in 2000. In that time, violent crime in general dropped 4.1 percent.

The knives' popularity has been a boon to some retailers. Mike Janes, owner of Second Amendment Sports, a hunting, fishing and camping superstore in Bakersfield, Calif., says that knife sales have been climbing an average of 25 percent a year in the past decade and that 75 percent of the pocketknives he sells are tactical. "Are you tacti-cool? That's what we say down here," Mr. Janes says.

Dave Vanderhoff, who runs U.S. Martial Arts in Clifford, N.J., recently taught a knife-fighting class that included a judge, a banker, a nurse, a young woman with a belly ring and a French chef from Manhattan. And Spyderco Inc., for example, makes a tactical knife that, when folded, masquerades as a credit card.

But the marketing techniques for some of the new pocketknives aren't so mainstream. Cold Steel Inc. makes the 3/4-ounce "Urban Pal," which has a 1.5-inch blade. "The Urban Pal should be standard equipment for survival in today's urban jungle," its Web site says.

Lawyers for the tactical-knife industry have persuaded government officials that even minor manual movement -- no matter how enhanced by levers and springs -- separates the knives from switchblades, which require pressing a button on the handle to flip open the blade. "We have to resist the application of the 1950s switchblade laws to the new technology," says lawyer Daniel Lawson, a knife collector in Pittsburgh who represents the tactical-knife industry. Thirty-seven states now outlaw switchblades, partly because they developed a cult following among teenagers in the 1950s. But, says David Kowalski, a former knife magazine editor and a spokesman for the industry, tactical knifes have remained legal because "the laws across the U.S. are a mishmash because (legislators) really don't know anything about knives."

Modern tactical knives are rooted in the 1980s, when some martial artists in the U.S. became practitioners of a Filipino style of knife-fighting. An early innovator was Ernest R. Emerson, a martial artist and custom knife builder. In 1995, Oregon's Benchmade Knife Co. collaborated with Mr. Emerson to mass produce the Closed Quarters Combat 7 knife. It opened quickly, locked in place and could be closed with one hand.

Mr. Emerson, 51 years old, says he insisted on selling that knife for $159, believing the high price, performance and custom look would give it cachet. The knife was a hit, and competition got hot. Mr. Emerson formed his own company in 1997 and says annual sales rose to about $10 million last year from $800,000 at the start.

Worried that they might face regulatory scrutiny, makers of the new-style pocketknives formed the American Knife and Tool Institute. The trade group credits U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, with persuading U.S. Customs in 2001 to stop seizing shipments of one-hand-opening tactical knives that some investigators considered switchblades. A spokesman for Sen. Wyden, Andrew Blotky, says he can't confirm the senator's involvement.

Soon the upstarts who dominated the self-defense market were jolting the traditional knife industry. Buck Knife Co., a staple among sportsmen; W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery, famed for its collectible pen knives; and Leatherman Tool Group Inc., which makes pocket-sized tool kits, have all introduced tactical knives since 2003.

"It's a testosterone thing," says Buck's chairman, Charles "Chuck" Buck, 75 years old, who estimates the retail market for tactical knives at $1 billion.

Leatherman Tool Group jumped on the tactical-knife bandwagon in 2005, introducing a full line of tactical-type knives. The most prominent feature on its knives is the "Blade Launcher" mechanism, which lets the user flip a menacing-looking blade out of its handle with lightning speed. Yet it also has a bottle-cap opener, a nod to Leatherman's heritage.

Not all makers of tactical knives agree on how to market them. Buck, for example, boasts in marketing materials about the "stopping power" of its tactical knives and bills its "Bones" knife as "bad to the bone."

But Tom Arrowsmith, chief executive of W.R. Case, accuses competitors of "weaponizing" the pocketknife and says it's an approach his company won't take. He does concede, though, that customer demand has prompted his company, a 117-year-old maker of pretty penknives, to offer a line of one-hand-opening knives with tactical features.

The blades on most of the new pocketknives are less than four inches long, the maximum length that passengers were permitted to carry onto U.S. airlines before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 2004, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks concluded that the hijackers in those attacks used short knives -- not box cutters -- to seize control of the planes. At the Pennsylvania crash site, 14 badly damaged knife parts were collected, and at least half have tactical-knife characteristics. But the FBI cautions that it can't be sure those parts are from knives that belonged to the hijackers.

Technology has made blade length almost irrelevant. The city of Atlanta prohibits people from carrying pocketknives in public with blades longer than two inches. Yet, in a widely publicized case, ex-Marine Thomas Autry used a two-inch blade in May to kill one mugger and wound another when he was confronted by five assailants armed with a shotgun and a .38-caliber pistol.

"Clearly we are seeing wounds you would expect from a bigger blade from what victims say was a small knife," says Andrew Ulrich, a Boston Medical Center emergency-room doctor.

Mr. Janes of Second Amendment Sports is one of several retailers who have added knife training to their businesses. He says "this large influx of people carrying 'tactical folders' didn't know how to use them."

Best regards,


Guard Dog

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Anti Knife Fearmongering Courtesy of the Wall Steet Journal
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2006, 12:24:59 PM »
Great article, good find!

Ryan “Guard Dog” Gruhn
Guro / DBMAA Business Director
Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association
"Smuggling Concepts Across the Frontiers of Style” |


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Re: Anti Knife Fearmongering Courtesy of the Wall Steet Jour
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2006, 11:32:00 AM »
Quote from: argyll

"Clearly we are seeing wounds you would expect from a bigger blade from what victims say was a small knife," says Andrew Ulrich, a Boston Medical Center emergency-room doctor.

That is why Sayoc teaches templates... it isn't all about the blade design, but how one utilizes their training to better traumatize vital targets.

Your methods dictate the blade design not vice versa.
Another reason why we start new students off with training blades without personalities. They don't have methods yet.

Sayoc Kali
"..awaken your consciousness of our past, already effaced from our memory, and to rectify what has been falsified and slandered."
Jose Rizal, from his 1889 essay, ' To The Filipinos '


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its not the length of the edge
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2006, 01:17:15 AM »
its how you use it
raf I totaly agree
you dont have to cut deep or long to achieve results
the ham string can be cut with minimal penitration especialy
upon extention
if you know its really quite easy to cut all points with a cutting edge of 1/4 inch long
with the exception of the deep penatrating trama stabs one or two cuts open enough mass for termanil bleeding
and in the instants where you miss
weell thats ok
a cut less than 2 inches and under a 1/4 inch deep have been known to make an attacker move on to the emergancy room jail or anyother place insted of getting cut
yes I been in knife incidents
they suck
you always get hurt
if you can accecpt the fact you can die or be gravely injured
well your gonna die if you dont?
do wht it take to keep you breathing
OMG its survival for whatever sake
you do what you have to
dont kill the other guy if you can help it
but you gotta do whats needed
be a humanitarian after but for the sec your trying to survive
cpr can be applyed
your life cant
there is more to kali than kali itself


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Knife Fighting Techniques and Censorship
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2006, 12:21:15 PM »
Though I've some sympathy for those seeking to keep this sort of knowledge out of the wrong hands, ultimately the effort is futile, particularly as the info in question was developed in a prison. Think it's worth noting that though censorship is implicitly endorsed in this piece, the ramifications of any sort of consistent policy enforcement is left very much alone. By the logic embraced herein you could easily ban the teaching of the FMAs.

For sale: A deadly book that shows knifemen how to kill

Books teaching knife-fighting techniques and how to kill are being sold on the internet and are not illegal. John Hayes reports.
THE 99p download entitled Put 'Em Down, Take 'Em Out: Knife Fighting Techniques from Folsom Prison by American author Don Pentecost is being sold by a number of online traders under the guise of a martial arts-based self-defence book.

The 54-page book, described by trading standards officers as "appalling", features techniques allegedly devised in one of America's most violent prisons (made famous by the country singer Johnny Cash in his classic live recording Folsom Prison Blues), to protect against knife attack.However, the guide also features detailed information on how to attack and kill using a knife as a weapon.

Highlighting key areas of the body to attack, such as the heart and neck, the book describes how to "stop" an opponent, stating: "The knife thrust should be as short as possible. Continue to pump the knife into the opponent until he is down and/or dead, depending on the situation."

The book also encourages readers to practise knife fighting techniques on a target dummy, which can be penetrated with a blade. After training, readers are encouraged to complete a checklist, which includes: "Did you immediately leave the scene?" and "The most important question: Did you kill the opponent?

Brandon Cook, a trading standards officer responsible for age-restricted sales, said: "I am appalled to find a book about knife-fighting techniques for sale in the UK and available from household name internet sites. Whilst selling the book would not be illegal, it is irresponsible to encourage readers to learn how to fight effectively with a knife.

"Following some high-profile incidents, the age restriction for buying a knife is set to rise to 18 under new legislation. The (Trading Standards) Institute is calling for responsible retailers to adopt the higher age now, in order to make possessing a knife more difficult. Books like these help to glamorise violence, and hopefully the publishers and suppliers will withdraw it."

eBay states on its website: "Fundamentally, eBay is a community, and members of a community must respect each other as human beings. Listings that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance (or organisations dedicated to such notions) have no place in a true community ? we're all here to trade, to do business, and to have fun with each other. eBay will not become a platform for those who promote hatred toward their fellow man."
A spokesman for eBay said: "The book itself isn't illegal. However, it certainly does violate eBay's violent materials policy and as a result has been removed."
Despite these assurances, a quick search of the site revealed a number of traders who continue to offer knife fighting books and even illegal combat weapons for sale on the site.

With over 10 million listings on its site, eBay relies on its traders and a small team of employees to sweep the site for inappropriate and illegal listings.
The ease of availability of both illegal weapons and books/downloads that demonstrate their use online is of great concern to the police, and flies in the face of
increased efforts to educate young people on the dangers of knife culture.

Speaking after a recent national knife amnesty, David Crompton, Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police said: "We are currently involved in weapons awareness programmes in schools across the county, to try and educate young people about the dangers of knives.
"Carrying one isn't cool, and it just increases your chances of being seriously injured or even killed."

There are about 2,000 offences a year involving knives in West Yorkshire, and while many of those involve threats rather than actual violence, the danger of death or serious injury is present every time someone carries a knife. Knife crime in the region results in about nine homicides and more than 300 woundings each year.
ACC Crompton said: "Carrying a knife without a legitimate reason is illegal and we will take positive action against those we find breaking the law."
However, a recent report in the British Medical Journal suggests that amnesties, crackdowns and educational programmes are having little affect on our nation's youth with 24 per cent of 16 year olds claiming to carry a knife or  other weapon and 19 per cent admitting to having attacked someone with the intent to cause harm or injury.
Put 'Em Down, Take 'Em Out: Knife Fighting Techniques from Folsom Prison was originally published by US publisher Paladin Press, which specialises in survivalist, martial arts and combat-related books. The print edition of the book is no longer available, and the publisher is not thought to be responsible for the downloadable books available online.

According to the Text and Academic Authors Association, Paladin Press famously withdrew one of their titles, Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors, after being sued by the family of a murder victim whose killer had used the book as a reference tool.

02 October 20006