Sometimes the best lessons are learned in unexpected places. In this case I received a great defense lesson in a tradecraft course. I took a blacksmithing class and forged my own knife. I ended up gaining a greater understanding of knives than I received in many of the martial arts class I have taken.
When taking a knife fighting or knife defense class, you are typically handed a plastic knife and you are taught techniques on how to use the knife. You are taught proper blade orientation, slashes, thrusts and defensive moves. These classes have been essential to my learning how to use the knife. The blacksmithing class gave me something else. It helped me get a better understanding of the knife itself.
In the design and construction of the knife I learned basic blade geometry, knife balance and blade to handle orientation. This gave me a new perspective on the knife and how to use it. The blacksmithing class did not show me how to effectively use the knife. It gave me a new perspective on the blade itself. It really enhanced my understanding of using the knife. Having forged the knife made the knife a part of me. I got a whole new appreciation for the knife when I forged one.
Whether you defend yourself with your hands, a knife or a firearm, you need to be comfortable with your weapon of choice. You need to be able to defend yourself at a surprise moment. You need to know your techniques and if you are using a defense tool, you need to understand it like it is part of your body. Forging a knife gave me that comfort. I found that forging the blade gave me that understanding and a better appreciation for my knives.
When I am holding any knife now, I have a deeper appreciation. When I was younger, I would have a “survival knife” or some other poorly constructed knife that looked cool but was basically a stylized letter opener. Taking defense classes that used plastic knives for practice taught me technique but did not give me a deeper appreciation for the blade. Once I took the blacksmithing class I understood the weakness of the blade I was carrying and I saw that I would have had trouble if I ever needed to use it. I switched my carry piece and worked with the new piece until I was comfortable with it.
The exciting part is that I am still consider myself to be a novice. I have so much more to learn. I am ready for more technique and forging classes. If you can stay enthusiastic about an art and always have a curiosity you will be a successful practitioner.