Normalcy is not something that I am particularly noted for, and my tastes in edged weapons often follows suit. My interest in this product lies in the applications of yet another potential “Tool for the Toolbox,” honing some practical skills that may be considered “job related,” and (at the risk of parroting some information from the ReKat web page) a little Knife-Fu history lesson.
I DO NOT profess expertise in this subject, just a little dabbling on the periphery of the field.
The “Original” Warrior
Here is a neat tidbit of Spec Op knife history: The knife was designed by Robert Taylor and Randy Wanner in the late 1970’s, purportedly with some input from the late Michael D. Echanis. (Echanis was the author of the three modern classics Stick Fighting, Knife Self-Defense for Combat and Knife fighting, knife throwing for combat. Some of you here may have even trained with Mr. Echanis at one point or another before his untimely demise in El Salvador.) This super-sized variation had an eight inch blade and 14″ OAL. It was made for a limited time by a number of noted individuals, including grinding Master Bob Egnath, and enjoyed limited manufacture by Al Mar Knives. The blade was more than just a step away from traditional fighting designs, as the photos show. [Note: The original design was almost re-released by ReKat as the Gijin (twofold meaning here: a derogatory term for Caucasians; or Roundeye, as in the company moniker) Warrior, although exact details remain sketchy. PLEASE beware of the low-end imported rip-offs out there in quasi-military surplus and novelty shops.]
The blade was designed at a time when combat applications with aggressive joint locks and throws based on Hwa-Rang-Do and Ju-Jitsu were coming into vogue and being taught to certain members of the US military. In today’s world with the “sudden recognition” of a number of Filipino Martial Arts variants (along the lines of Arnis, Escrima, Espada E Daga, Kali, Pekiti Tersia, and the wicked Indonesian Penjat Silat styles, to just name a few) and their heavy emphasis on the use of and defense against edged weapons, the Hobbit Warrior blade design should begin to gain more recognition and acceptance. The rationale for this radical blade geometry is to more efficiently incorporate the sweeping and hooking motions used in a number of these martial arts for attacks, traps, and disarms. ** With this in mind, remember this is NOT a general-purpose field knife for dressing a deer, picking your teeth, or whittling a twig on the front porch. The design and intent of this blade is for CQC, HTH, or whatever you wish to call surviving an otherwise potentially terminal encounter. **
The Hobbit Warrior
This knife was released to the public in the mid-1990’s. It is a scaled down version of the original Warrior, which makes it a little more “streetable.” An even smaller version called the “Pygmy Hobbit” is rumored to be in development as this is written; it being a fixed-blade version of the folding “Pocket Hobbit” variant. Made from a full tang length piece of 5/32″ thick ATS-34 steel, the Hobbit Warrior blade offers both decent strength, and exceptional agility and speed of manipulation. The balance point is located just behind the guard hilt and gives the blade a neutral feel when grasped in either the reverse or more traditional European sabre grip. In addition to a recurve blade and dual edge (albeit with a false tip), the HW has a series of alternating 3/16″ wide teeth along most of the length of the blade spine.
Application of these serrations is not as a Survival Saw as in the Gerber BMF, Phrobis/Buck AR-15 bayonet, and Lile “Rambo” blades, but for trapping and tearing the striking limb or joint of an opponent. A quick rake along the length of an aggressors shin, hand, or forearm, would leave a series of furrows worthy of immediate attention/distraction. I have been informed by a knowledgeable associate in the HW lineage that the serrations also have a much more grim visceral undertone upon abdominal strike withdrawl) Simply put – Crude, Rude, and P-C Socially Unacceptable survival stuff.
The Hobbit Warrior has a rearward-facing guard hilt that is large enough to prevent any forward slide of a wet hand, yet not bulky enough to hinder a smooth grip/hand transition. This guard is tapered from a width of 1.125″ on the top (serrated side) to .750″ on the bottom (blade side). Often disregarded as moot or non-essential, a guard hilt can keep you out of serious trouble. A friend recently found this out while training on a tire dummy. During a simulated attack his hand rode up the handle onto the blade, resulting in some severed tendons and deep lacerations.
The pebble-textured hard rubber handle has four finger grooves positioned for blade-forward use, though the Reverse/Ice Pick hold is the preferred draw and usage position. Having cut my teeth with a painted aluminum handle Gerber Command blade, the tackiness of this grip is welcomed. The grip did not lose its feeling while doing fast-paced continuous training, even by the time I had to wipe the sweat from my eyes. A quick wipe of the grip with a handy crying towel/bandana kept it drier than me. I am not particularly fond of pre-molded finger grooves: they are typically either too small or too large for my medium-large hand size. This is not the case with the Hobbit Warrior, though. The angled grip naturally fills the palm and the top of the grip is ground hexagonally, tapering nicely into the pommel. A very slight bilateral palm swell exists for ambidextrous use, but is hidden from view by the wrap around finger grooves. In terms of physical comfort, I would rate this grip design right up there with the Gerber BMF/LMF blades.
The pommel/skull crusher has a large 1″ diameter hexagonal aluminum hammer tip for use as an impact weapon. For versed reverse-grip technicians, this allows either a locked thumb or raised thumb position that is quite secure. While many believe this idea is spurious, let me give a personally witnessed street scenario, hereby dubbed The Redneck Rodeo Rut.
While attending a rodeo in Palmer, Alaska, back in the late 1970’s, I saw a rather drunken young rodeo bull attack one of the tougher looking greybeard hombres that had been participating in the events. This aggression was obviously an attempt to impress a number of ladies with his macho prowess after failing to go the distance in a prior event. Mr. Greybeard repeatedly refused to enter the battle and told the kid to go sleep it off. The young bull then attacked with an overhead swing, using a beer bottle as a club. He was quickly disarmed with a hammerfist to the striking forearm and placed in a VERY tight reverse headlock.
At this point, Young Drunk attempted to gain access to a sheathed folder on his ornate concho-covered Tex-Mex style belt. Mr. Greybeard kicked the knife from the young bull’s hand, removed his own personal Buck Folding Hunter, and QUICKLY reversed the headlock to a conventional hold. While rotating Young Drunk in a tight (ala’ calf roping) circle, Mr. Greybeard used the #110 as a fist load/Yawara, striking the upstart on the forehead hairline in jackhammer fashion about ten times in half as many seconds. He then released the rather stunned, extremely bloody, and VERY non-combative Young Drunk to be taken by his friends to the local hospital for sutures.
My friends and I just went back to sipping on our brews and eating the vittles. I have to add that Mr. Greybeard, now seated next to us, was very apologetic to all present about the whole scenario, and regretted that he had to hurt the kid.
Enough Senillo Geezing & Back to the Hobbit Warrior…
The hexagonal pommel/tip is turned down to a .375″ round tip increasing the power of the strike by reducing surface area. My one whine with the Hobbit Warrior lies here. The corner edges of the hex stock are slightly radiused, but still have a sharp edge. This only became apparent when I placed the sheathed Hobbit Warrior cross-draw inside the waistband under a sweatshirt before attending a Memorial Day BBQ. The edges rubbed against my tee shirt while seated in an automobile and in a dining room chair. This became a bit annoying after a while.
I have used this blade for daily training and for practicing a number of classic knife forms, including Yu Shin Yung, and have found it to be very easy to manipulate and causes no noticeable stress on the wrist. The gentle serpentine handle/blade angle has a lot to do with this and it is certainly not a marketing gimmick.
Testing involved daily carry and some work with my silent friends “Mister & Missus Kee-Kah,” the official basement training dummies. Classic Snap cuts and thrusts, reverse thrusts, and FMA style trap & carves were accomplished without a great deal of difficulty. The twelve classic FMA angles of attack and sinawalis were executed easily, although the sabre grip in a thrust attack felt slightly “off.” The feeling of “offness” quickly subsided as I ran the drills more regularly, though. I practiced both inside waistband & pants belt draw and strikes, reverse stabs, snap cuts, and “zee cuts” – three alternating front and reverse slashes.
The Hobbit Warrior comes with a wraparound (taco shell) .093″ thick matte black pebble-texture Kydex sheath. Two permanent rivets lock the sides together, one side black finished and the other side shiny silver. A single drain hole is located about 2.25″ from the tip of the sheath. A G-hook can be used in either inside the waistband or conventional belt carry modes. It is affixed to the sheath body via two blackened Chicago Screws, and eight pre-punched holes let the user select choice of grip height and angle. I would like to see a true mirror-image G-hook offered that would allow for true cross-draw carry and angle selection for those with a penchant for variation. The HW is retained via two press tabs that lock the guard to the top of the sheath. There is a slight “pop-hiss” upon knife retraction, but that’s the nature of the beast with thermo-laminate sheaths.
A Quick tug or yank is all that’s required to release the knife. I found that the tabs prevented a 100% positive engagement of the little finger with the base of the grip/hilt. I tried the jump and roll tests to see if the blade would come out of the sheath under motion, and it passed with flying colors. Holding the sheath upside down and snapping it downward also failed to disengage the lock around the guard.
I had just attended a seminar involving some knife/stick fighting cross training with an exceptional Pekiti Tersia Kali and Penjat Silat instructor. This particular school does full contact weapons utilizing some interesting safety equipment: Lacrosse gloves, helmets with welded steel mesh face shields, goggles, training knives, etc., etc. Let me say my learning curve went up drastically, and you get a real “taste” for what no holds barred sparring with weapons is. With these particular martial arts styles a Hobbit Warrior would really come into its own. Seeing this, I ordered another Rekat product for further training: the Hobbit Warrior Trainer.
The Hobbit Warrior Trainer is a skeletonized version of the knife available for hands-on exercises. It is made from a wrinkle-finished steel complete with guard, but substitutes the hammer tip with a hard rubber end cap. Use of a “clone” trainer that replicates the size, weight, and feel of a carry blade can be real enlightening when used in conjunction with AGGRESSIVE single or multiple opponents.
Unfortunately, the supplied sheath for the live blade is far too narrow for the trainer’s blade. So, I acquired a “clone” sheath from Mike Sastre at River City Sheaths. Mike cranked out a reversible belt loop to fit both a double wrapped Gi belt and a conventional 1 3/4″ Bianchi reversible belt. The belt loop is affixed to the sheath with two cross point screws, two synthetic washers, and the female side of two Chicago screws. It took all of five minutes to convert the sheath position from right-hand side mode, as it arrived, to a left side/blade edge rear carry that exactly replicates the OEM sheath. The fasteners on the belt clip go through the rivets in the sheath, guaranteeing structural integrity. The River City sheath can be made from either Kydex or Concealex synthetics, and mine showed ABSOLUTELY impeccable workmanship.
I had been using a similar-sized length of a broken rattan fighting stick for partner knife training, but I can now retire it for use with its 26″ long mate in Espada E Daga drills. Cost of the trainer is minimal at $29.00 + S&H through my particular purchase outlet. The River City Custom Trainer Sheath price was a mere $40.00, post paid