“What kind of blade is the best?”
“What kind of blade do you carry?”
“Do you always have a blade on you?”
These are pretty common questions in martial arts and preparedness circles. For Sayoc practitioners, these common questions (and the concomitant answers) reveal a lot of information, much of it meaningless outside a given context. For the moment, let’s look at the most likely and practical scenario: EDC (Every Day Carry).
Sayoc Kali defines a blade as anything that can puncture or separate. From a sharp rock to a thousand dollar custom folder made of exotic steel, a blade is defined by its utility more than anything else. Once that is taken into consideration, the questions can really begin. For the moment, let us assume that we are discussing a blade as commonly defined: rigid, metallic, sharp, edged, with a handle.
When discussing EDC, several very important factors should be taken into consideration. Two are:
By its very definition, an EDC blade is one that is carried all the time. A blade has diminished utility if it’s left in a drawer at home because it’s too big or heavy to carry comfortably. Other factors such a legality, security concerns and practicality also have a likewise effect.
1. The question of mission is simply the tasks that a person must complete. Depending on the mission, blades may need to have certain characteristics. In an EDC context, we should assume that there are multiple missions for a single blade. This usually results in people picking a blade that may be a compromise between different modes of utility and what can practically be carried. Of course another solution is to carry multiple blades that are suitable for different tasks. We have to evaluate two main points: what is likely and what is possible. What are the likely situations in which a blade will be needed? An individual who works in a citrus grove will have some definite needs in terms of blade performance (hence design and size). A police officer’s needs would be drastically different (backup weapon or weapon retention). Of course there is also the question of what possible situations an individual could find themselves in. For our purposes, let us presume that one of the primary missions of the blade is self protection.
2. When evaluating environment, we need to evaluate from two perspectives at the very least: physical conditions and permissiveness. WRT physical environment, what is the climate and prevailing weather going to be? what will we be wearing? How much exposure to the elements will we be experiencing? In terms of permissiveness, will we be in an environment (like a courtroom or campus) that restricts the carry of blades? Do we have the authority to carry blades, and do others have the authority to carry weapons? Will our carry be open or concealed? For our purposes, let us presume an urban/suburban environment in a civilian context. Let us also assume that all people carry blades (“All Blade, All the Time”).
The previous factors go a long way towards helping us evaluate the size of an EDC. An Ingorot warrior’s EDC would look very different from an accountant’s. Taking into consideration that the vast majority of humans live in cities, we can safely assume that open carry of swords, machetes, axes and spears is frowned upon by the authorities. Moreover, they can lead to unwanted attention. Weight and size are also affected by whether the blade will be carried openly or concealed. If concealability is a primary factor, then mode of dress and mode of carry will go a long way towards dictating the appropriate size.
As we consider EDC blades, we should begin looking at desirable traits and undesirable traits in blade design.
1. The EDC blade should have a secure handle. Slippery materials should be avoided. Likewise, very extreme texturing should be avoided as well, since it can hinder blade manipulation and cause issues with printing (visibility of a concealed blade) and smooth deployment. the handle should also be conducive towards preventing self-injury. This can be accomplished with sound ergonomic design or the use of a “stopper” like a finger guard.
2. The carry system is incredibly important. Whether the blade is a quick draw or deep carry is also an important consideration. A carry system doesn’t just protect us from the blade and the blade from us, but it is also the point from which we deploy our blade. Concerns about speed of deployment, concealment and retention have to be balanced against each other to find the best solution.
3. The blade’s length must be long enough to fulfill its primary missions. It should be made of a sturdy material that will not break when thrust into something hard like wood, sheet rock or bone. While all of our targets are soft tissue, we must allow for the eventuality that the blade will encounter something more substantial.
4. The blade should not have a choil. Choils on smaller blades seem to serve no purpose other than to catch lint, dust, and fabric. Ideally the transition from edge to hilt/handle should be smooth and without interruption.
A major question also arises when deciding on the format of an EDC blade: fixed or folder? Tuhon Tom Kier has said that a folder is just a broken fixed blade that someone tried to repair. Small fixed blades have been a part of EDC since the first neolithic tribes discovered flint knapping. If possible, carry blades should fixed. No matter what the claims or technology might be, a folder’s pivot and/or locking mechanism will fail under enough force, often unexpectedly.
Is there any one solution to this question? There may be; experience shows that asking the question is often far more important than any specific answers. It should also be noted that while blades are a part of EDC, there are by no means the only element. We’ll explore other factors in future articles.