Filipino blade history to present time info...

Discussion in 'Misc. Knife Arts' started by Ron Kosakowski, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski New Member

    Now this is based on knowledge i have acquired during my Philippine trips. It is also based on my observations. At this point in my life, I have been there enough times to come to these conclusions.

    A lot of the blades that I have on the TFW web site are very rare. We found some of them from some old men on whatever island in the Philippines, others were in my friends family tribe handed down through generations. Others were located in museums in the Philippines. I found some here in the Museum of Natural History but I have all the ones they showed there already on the site.

    The ones that I noticed that are common carry in the Philippines today are the Pinute and the Ginunting. Those are common in the Visyan area. Though the Pinute is popular ALL over the Philippines it seems like. The Itak Tagalog is more popular in some parts of the north...which is really a Pinute with a subtle design change.

    I actually saw a few people in the south with Kris swords. That freaked me out to see something like that today. It was not common to think about it, the Kris does not double as a tool. Made me wonder how much blood was on those Kris swords.

    In the North, it was common to see the Golok The word Golok is common in Indonesia. But that makes sense since Bagiuo region are a result of the early Indonesian travelers who caught a wind that brought them to the north. I was told they were going to the Southern Philippines and caught a wind that brought them further north. My friend looks very Indonesian actually and so do many of the people of that area.

    I have seen a few Karambits but I think it is more the style in modern day that catches their eye. Again, that is an Indonesian influence. There is another type of Karambit, and dam I can't think of what it is called. Its ugly, it does not have that ring at the end of has just a common handle...but it is deadly. Definately not a tool. I will be having that one soon also. I am not sure of the history of it right now but its common in the northern region. My gues is that it is also an Indonesian influence due to the looks of it.

    The War Golok is actually another northern design...a design that is a result of the Spanish breaking the tips of the Sword of the Filipinos. The Filipinos were very good at thrust and slash action with their swords. The Spanish were intimidated by this during a lot of rebellion that was going on at the time so Spanish soldiers were ordered to take all the swords of the Filipinos and break off the tips of their swords. If anyone was seen with a tip, they were killed. Every one had to follow that law or suffer the consequences. I am not sure if this was just in one region though it seems like this blade was popular in the Luzon area. All their blades had to be forged with a flat top, though a newer fighting method of making it a little heavier and gaining a new hacking style of fighting still made it a formidable weapon. I have a War Golok that is very has killed 5 different people. The 5 people were burned and the ashes were put on the sheath to keep the spirits of the warrior power in that blade. It is a priceless gift to me. You can literally smell the death on this sheath and blade. If you guys ever make it to my school, I will show it to you. I was told not to let anyone touch it so you will not be able to touch it. It disrupts the spirit balance of the blade. And i may have to use it some day. :p:

    The Espada Y Daga is not a common blade to see carried today but it is VERY popular. I think it is kept alive through Kali, Arnis and Eskrima. It is popular in San Miguel, Illustisimo and Pekiti Tirsia...I am sure many others as well.

    The Garab sword is another one you see that is still carried today. The Garab knife is a very popular design there. It is a good tool for coconuts and cutting of about everything that is done there in the Philippines. And it is definitely a formidable weapon. I like that knife. I have seen that all over the Visayan area and all over the south. I have seen many people on the side of the road using it.

    The Iron Wood sticks are still carried as a self defense weapon. In the more civilized areas, you can still get prison time for slicing up a person like anywhere else now a days (not that it does not happen), so Iron wood seems to make a good self defense weapon. I have heard that some tribal arguments are fought with them. One hit with one of them and you will break or die. Its not like fighting with rattan where you can show off your bruises after a good fight or two.

    The Pakal knives are a combat weapon made for exactly that, to be held in pakal position (ice-pick, earth position) comfortably. Those are pretty much designs of my friends tribe. You can see those on, and You can feel a big difference from a knife designed for that position in comparison to one that isn't. Very practical and they feel great in the hand(s).

    The Balisong is still a popular carry. All the Special Action Force Commandos and the Marines all had Balisongs. I found that amazing. I feel it is a good knife but there are simpler ones to carry. In Batangas, you can see the tourist versions of Balisongs all over the place for sale. To me they are crap but then again, I am spoiled by good quality. :p:

    Pretty much, all the others on the TFW site are extinct today. Like I said, we had to seek them out and bring them back to life again.

    All cultures were once blade oriented cultures. they had to be or you would not exist today. All our ancestors had to fight with the blade at one time or another for whatever reason. The blade cultures are pretty well dead now. that is due to firearms. You pull out a blade, you get blown away. So to keep up with the Jonses, every one got a firearm. The reason it is still alive in the Philippines and other parts of SE Asia because those people depend on them as tools. they use them for everything they make, crops, etc.. Many of them are poor people who cannot afford modern tools (or a gun for that matter), they were brought up with the blade as a tool so they are used to it. In turn, you will see an occasional hacking up of a body or two when some drinking is going on or some one wronged another and revenge takes place.

    I hope you liked this information. Let me know your thoughts or if you have anything to add here.
  2. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski New Member

    Wow, I am surprised there is no responce to this. I racked my agile mind to write this up.[​IMG]
  3. excalibur

    excalibur New Member

  4. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski New Member

    Wow, so many toys out there. Thats a nice find. I am surprised I never saw that site before. I have a lot of antiques myself. Every trip to the Philippines, i come back with at least one. You can sit and imagine how they were used at one time.
  5. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski New Member

  6. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Nice looking stuff! The close-up pictures are good for seeing the detail in the grips and scabbards.
  7. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski New Member

    Thank you. They are a work of art. I felt before that a few pictures did not give them any justice. Now with these up close and personal shot, everyone can now see all the details. I get a lot of e-mails just complimenting the pictures.
  8. mabagani

    mabagani Pendato

    imo this thread belongs under advertising / product news, or I'd suggest side by side comparisons with real examples, since its a thread about history
  9. blindside

    blindside student

    Hi Ron,

    Do you have any of the historical examples that you have based these designs off of? I don't think anyone would say that the ginunting that is being produced now by either you or most other manufacturers is a "traditional" design. It may be ideal for the present day task, but they are neither traditional nor historical.

    If we are going to talk about the actual history of the blades it would be useful to have historical examples. Frequently within your designs I see elements that appear ahistorical, so it would useful to have a good reference point.

    The belt clip/retaining device is certainly not a historical design, nor have I see the use of grip "stippling" for lack of a better word.

  10. sjansen

    sjansen New Member

    I would like to see historical examples with those currently made as well. However, I have seen no proof that they are not true representations of historical examples. Does anyone in the previous examples have proof that they are not true in their representation? There were no links or proof provided. I would like to know either way with some actual proof provided.
  11. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    That would require a sword expert to examine them in person, wouldn't it?
  12. Labantayo

    Labantayo Junior Member

    There are many Philippine sword experts here on this board, but their opinions are ignored or dismissed as wrong by the supposed commercial sword expert here.
    I can guarantee you that he has no idea what most of his swords looked like in their antique form. He says he has examples and we have asked him to post pics of them, but that has yet to happen. Most of the names of his swords are also not correct. Pira Cotabato??? Give me an effin break.
    We have asked that if he can prove his swords are correct contemporary recreations of the antique ones, we would leave him alone. We have yet to see these antique examples.

    They are all fantasy interpretations of some real and some not so real swords of the Philippines.
  13. R. Mike Snow

    R. Mike Snow Chiseled Edge

    Wow, did I hear someone say Ginunting and Pira? Two of my favorite weapons, now we are talking my kind of language!

    Thank you very much for sharing some of your knowledge with us Labantayo. It is an honor to have gentlemen like Zelbone, Spunger, MoringStar, and Dr. Sandata(Jonathan) on this forum.

    Just to be very clear, these are the type of people that the Indiana University Department of Anthropology submit questions to. I have had the privilege to see and handle just a few of these gentlemen's fine museum pieces, eloquently displayed in the their Senjata and Sandata armories. Blades so eloquent, well fitted and fuctional a Japanese and Arabic sowrd collector would be envious. The gentlemen put our national museums to shame when it cames to Sandata. If you actually take then time to become acquainted with these gentlemen, you will find that they know the forging processes, materials, meaning of the symbols, evolution, cultures, history, systems and techniques used for each and every blade. And of course each has their specialty as well. I have exchanged information with them in the past and all of which can be verified through others and documentation. Needless to say has been 99.9% a learning experience of my behalf. They all hold their cultures in the highest regard and work fervently devoting their lives to preserve their heritage accurately and to pinpoint detail. Which is why they ask a lot of questions them selves.

    I have the utmost respect for you engaging on a quest for knowledge Ron, but you are misleading the masses. Instead of standing corrected, which I my self have done so in the past at the beginning of my journey and it is just part of the never ending learning process. You still have not answered the question submitted to you on the Kuntaw Knife Throwing thread. As for your Ginunting, not the talim, puluhan nor kaluban look anything like that of my Gininting collection, antique or modern.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009
  14. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    That sounds like a good idea.

    Pointing out that that's your opinion is one thing. Continually harping on it (*not directed at you in particular*) is getting tiring.
  15. Labantayo

    Labantayo Junior Member

    All we ask is to see the specimens used to make the recreations.
    The swords being commercially sold are inaccurate in form and overall design. If they were indeed made by copying an antique sample, we would like to see it. Also, there are swords by the same seller that really suspect in being a true Filipino weapon historically.
    Pictures of his antique versions are all we have ever asked for.
  16. mabagani

    mabagani Pendato

    Its been shown that many of the modern reproductions are not made at their place of origin, therefore examples do not necessarily follow historical forms from each of the different regions they represent because they are not made by the same inherent tribal groups and there is the obvious broken connection to their past.
    If all swords are made by one maker in one location of the Philippines, its reproductions from the different regions could not have historical value, they are copies and not true historical representations. In this circumstance, it does not take an expert to know the differences between historical and ahistorical.
    Whether the copies follow historical form or fantasy is another question, and either way they couldn't be considered historical if they are not from the places from which they originated. Evidently, experts can show the differences between real traditional forms and errors made in modern reproductions, but it'd be tiring and negative tasks. In the interest of history and for people who want to study the old real weaponry it'd be forthright to replace the commercial examples with images of real antiques or as mentioned just move the thread over to the advertisement forum. With all due respect, this has nothing to do with politics or some conspiracy by a few members, its historical correctness, which I'd expect most people to stand up for.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2009
  17. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski New Member

    I have many antiques at my school. All of which do look like some of the blades I have here on the TFW site. I don't have all 50 different weapons so I cannot help you least not from my school.

    As for the clips, those are modified in a modern way for a reason. Bringing a tropical grown wood here to the US where most of us have 4 season, I noticed some shrinkage and warping on a few of the sheathes. To fix that problem before it started happening to more than just a few, we needed to modify the sheaths a little bit. Not on all of them but some. In fact, we will be using a different more expensive hard wood, maybe Kamagong for some of the sheaths soon do to some problems I found happening. Replacing peoples weapons gets expensive so I have to modify the sheaths. However, they are still traditional weapons from the Philippines.

    As for the historical proof. Believe me, this was a lot of work on my friends and me. My friend had many of these weapons within his family...the blades of the north anyway. If you go to you will see that we have seperated the catagorys of north, south,, etc. The ceremonial knives for a gift, they gave me the originals which are so old, they are rusty and have no wooden handles on them. I plan on putting them behind glass to display at my school as they are. To me, even though they are old loooking like that, it has meaning and also look artful.

    The rest of the weapons we got from old men from whatever island. Sometimes the blades were borrowed, sometimes they were bought from these old timers who just so happen to still have a family heirloom hanging around.
    Museums in the Philippines played an important part in getting actual measurements and some historical info on them. So as you can see, we did not pull them out of our heads and make fantasy blades. Most people did not see many of these designs because they have been dead for a 100 or more years. Many of these you cannot find on the internet for the same reason. Our goal is to bring back a piece of history that has almost become extinct.

    First off, where is your proof that they are not historically accurate outside some clips to hold them in place? I understand that a true historian has to have written proof of historical facts. the problem with the Philippines is a few things against having written records just hanging around in some areas of lesser importance. Number one, outside influences changed that area a few times a little bit in culture and religion. We all know that already. The Spanish had destroyed all written anything due to the thought that the ancient sanscrit looking writings were the writings of the devil. Everything else that survived rotted in the tropical weather. Steel does the same thing. Look at the word Kali...many do not believe the word Kali is a valid pre-Spanish term. But, where did Yambao get the word to put it in his book in 1957? That debate dies right there actually due to no written records and the use of Spanish wording.

    The only way for me to give proof is to bring you around to museums in the Philippines. Or come to my school and see some of the antiques I have on the walls. I have old Philippine combat axes that were made of jaw bones of big animals. We guesstimate they are 200 to 300 years old or more. No one has them on the web. I can't find those particular items anywhere.

    Anyway, I understand the controvercy or at least wondering if they are really historically accurate or not. I can assure you they are. And a lotta work went into making sure of that. There is more to what we do in TFW than just a website with blades for sale. There is a bigger picture.
  18. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski New Member

    What question did I not answer in the Kuntao knife thread? Though, start a new thread for that because I do not want to get into that. I have been involved with the real elders and still am so really, opinions here do not mean anything to me on Kuntao.

    As for the Ginunting, its funny that I have seen the same exact look. GT Leo Gaje has the same exact looking Ginunting that is an older version. If I remember correctly, Nene has one that looks pretty much the same. Is the Gaje/Tortel family not accurate in their design? It is where we based our design from. Its the same design base that Sgt Prado uses, who also sells Ginuntings online and in the Philippines.

    I can tell you this also, I have seen say the Pinute all over the Philippines...probably one of the most popular designs. Most use the term, "pinute" also. However, I have also seen that same pinute with some subtle design changes. Making blades is artwork. Each artist is going to give their design twist to it making it their signature design. So if you see a blade I have that does not look exactly like mine, that may be due to the design the artist took at the time. Like I said above, these designs are based on museum peices.

    I am NOT misleading the public in any way at all. And would not. I am always willing to learn more of course and I will say I don't know if I do not. I have no problem with that. I never claimed to be an expert. I claimed to have some knowledge in the history, culture and a lot of knowledge in the fighting arts of the Philippines. Its what i like!
  19. Labantayo

    Labantayo Junior Member

    Can you post a picture of your wall of antique swords at your school?
  20. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski New Member

    I am not the most computer literate person here. Do I just copy and paste? I would have to take picutres of them, then do that if thats the method. Let me know and I can do that.

    I will also see if my friend can send me pics of some of the originals also. I may have some of those pics. I have to dog them out of the mess of unorganized files in my computer to do that. But I remember being sent a few.

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