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"Knife or Death" Ronin War Sword

Discussion in 'Sword Discussion' started by Storm Crow, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. Storm Crow

    Storm Crow

    Apr 12, 2006
    I'm sure some of y'all have seen the new open cutting competition show on the History Channel, "Knife or Death". While I haven't gotten to compete on it (Several "Forged in Fire" competitors, including Rashelle Hams from my episode, have been on. She did quite well.), I did get to be involved in an interesting way.

    I was contacted by Tu Lam, retired Green Beret and one of the three hosts of the show, when he saw some of my carcass splitters on Instagram. He asked to meet me at Blade Show to discuss a project.

    [​IMG]bladeshow13 by James Helm, on Flickr

    All three hosts of the show were getting blades for themselves to do some cutting for demonstration and promotional material for Season 2. Travis Wuertz built his own piece of awesomeness. Bill Goldberg, the wrestler. had a big cleaver built by Wayne Meligan, who had competed on Season 1. Tu was interested in having me build him a blade for him.

    In particular The Mutant double-edged carcass splitter that was my reaction to seeing the first episode of the show caught his attention.

    [​IMG]bladeshow12 by James Helm, on Flickr

    We discussed what he was looking for, his thoughts, my thoughts, made some sketches, and continued the discussion after I got back home. What I ended up building was a kind of pan-Asian dao that Tu named the Ronin War Sword. There are influences from Chinese pudao, Korean hyeopdo, Vietnamese yem nguyet dao, and Nepalese ram dao.

    [​IMG]ronindao03 by James Helm, on Flickr

    The steel is, of course, 80CrV2, with a 16" blade and 18" handle. The weight ended up just over 3 pounds, with the point of balance right behind the front Turk's head knot. The handle wrap is toasted hemp cord over a neoprene foundation, impregnated with West System marine epoxy.

    [​IMG]ronindao06 by James Helm, on Flickr

    The main edge is a tall flat bevel with secondary bevel, while the spine side and clip are zero-ground convex edges. Stout, and hair-shaving.

    In addition to a forward lanyard hole, I laser-engraved Tu's dragon logo on the blade.

    [​IMG]ronindao07 by James Helm, on Flickr

    I built an open-backed Boltaron sheath for it.

    [​IMG]ronindao04 by James Helm, on Flickr

    A look at the War Sword in my hands...

    [​IMG]ronindao08 by James Helm, on Flickr

    ...and a far more dramatic shot of it in Tu's grip. It looks better with him!

    [​IMG]ronindao01 by James Helm, on Flickr

    I know that there has been at least some cutting done with it in association with the show. Tu made a nice, clean cut on a big fish using the convex side.

    [​IMG]ronindao09 by James Helm, on Flickr

    The Ronin War Sword and the other hosts' blades have been all over social media in promotional material, but Travis' sword is the only one that I've seen (in very quick shots) actually on TV.

    I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up the latest issue of Knives Illustrated to see that in their interview with Bill Goldberg and Tu Lam, that Tu discussed the Ronin War Sword and they included a picture of him with it. That makes two months in a row that my work has ended up in Knives Illustrated. :D

    [​IMG]ki01 by James Helm, on Flickr

    [​IMG]ki02 by James Helm, on Flickr

    In spite of living a nearly hermit-like existence, I sure get to meet some interesting people and do some interesting things. :D
    W. Anderson, katanas, LG&M and 15 others like this.
  2. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    Way cool.

    One thing though, Some reading your thread header (including myself) might immediately think of a Ronin Katana Sword Company medieval XVIIIc war sword.

    That looks like a great sword for the KoD courses and having multiple edges a plus. Other makers have their own take on the show but being able to use both side a common trait. Only a few have flipped their sword around to suit the job at hand.

  3. Mecha

    Mecha Madscienceforge.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    Epic stuff, Storm Crow. I like seeing your distinctive blade work get so much attention. I got to check out the Wuertz blade while on the set, it was really nice, but I wish I'd have gotten to see your Ronin war sword in person.
  4. d762nato

    d762nato Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    Awesome but that weapon looks smaller in your hands for some reason.:D Pretty cool slasher especially with the double edge, and I'm still wanting one of your awesome bush swords.:thumbsup:
  5. Storm Crow

    Storm Crow

    Apr 12, 2006
    Thanks, guys! :)

    Horseclover - Tu is the one who named it, after his company, Ronin Tactics, that he founded when he left the military.

    Mecha - I'd love to get to check out Travis' sword. I actually had a couple of guys who were on the show contact me after making their run, complimenting me on Tu's War Sword after getting to see it on set. Looking forward to Season 3 coming up. :D

    d762nato - Tu could run a speed bag with his pecs. :D It may look smaller in my hands, but it looks like he's ready to lead the Mongol hordes into battle in his hands. Have we talked about a bush sword before?
  6. d762nato

    d762nato Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    Congrats James, I don't believe I've talked to you but have checked to see if your books were open a few times. Thanks,

  7. Storm Crow

    Storm Crow

    Apr 12, 2006
    Doug - Shoot me another e-mail, mentioning this thread.
  8. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    Cool beans!

    I rid not see him at the Show (assuming Blade Show West).

    But it was nice to meet you, take a pic, and converse briefly at David Browns table, and look at your knives back at your table. (Youbwere holding the Keffler Silverback we were looking at in the pick with us all)
  9. Storm Crow

    Storm Crow

    Apr 12, 2006
    Bigfattyt - I enjoyed getting to meet you as well. :) Tu talked with me at the main Blade Show in Atlanta. He wasn't at the Portland show.

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