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Lets eto Waa SiON ks oa KNIVES: FLIPPIN’ ‘N FLYIN Guidance from old-school butterfly knife enthusiasts and the Web has enabled Heath Willard to fully involve himselt in the grow- ing niche knife community. Here he manipulates the Benchmacie model 43-401 Pair ara ETA eo ctlen ea Ora irene Eee ee ira ae ea IE sa Na le ee ance tod Area ad pe cn ee eg i aaa oe Cece ar errata a Bee = balisong, which he said was made in a limited edition of ‘98 and was an exclusive f (Willard photo) Li i THE MUCH-MALIGNED | AND MISUNDERSTOOD BUTTERFLY KNIFE ENJOYS AN EVOLUTION In STYLE LY, eee ae Kalfemaker/martial artist/motion picture star Real ARS ees Gana eee ‘retention during the rotating and swinging of the blade. The dagger/holiow-ground blade Is ST el reek Mea eres eek ara Cela eared ala Sas 1 spite of perhaps even inspired by— its misguided detractors, the butterfly knife continues to evolve into ever- more hi-tech, utilitarian and attractive designs. Cutlery companies are offering the exotic folders in a range of prices, and high-end custom makers are refining them into the embodiment of true collee- tor pieces, The origin of the butterfly knife—also called balisong by many—is unclear. Some say it was first developed in the Phil- ‘ppines, while collector/historian Chuck Gollnick said a French book entitled Pied- Du-Roy may contain the earliest known documented reference (1791) to a butterfly knife. Still others speculate that the knife hhas American origins. “I hear different things,” said knife: maker/martial artist/motion picture star (The Vault) Laci Szabo, designer of Spy- derco’s new Szabofly. “You ask the Span- jards, and they say it originated in Spain. To tell the truth, I don't know. Martial artist/knife designeriwriter Michael Janich said he thinks he has come very close to pinning down a date when commercial production of the but- terfly knife may have begun. He cites the SEPTEMBER 2005 books—Filipino Martial Culture, by Mark V. Wiley, and Jeff Imada’s Advanced Bal- isong Manual—as references. ‘According to Wiley’s research, the butterfly knife was invented by a guy named Perfecto De Leon,” Janich said. [According to] Filipino Martial Culture, the butterfly knife was first constructed in 1905 in Batangas, Philippines. There, it gained mass exposure after World War TI, when indigenous bladesmiths earned living providing butterfly knives to American servicemen.” Janich also pointed out that Advanced Balisong Manual cites a 1908 U.S, patent crediting Charles E. Billings as the o nal designer, but non-detailed research also traces the knife’s true origin 1,100 years earlier to the Philippines. Dr. Pete Johnston, an authority and long-time collector of butterfly knive said that he has tried for many years but with little success—to find a defini- tive history that traces the roots of the knife to a certain date or Filipino martial arts discipline, Market Drivers There will always be people who think the owes BLADE / 67 Northwoods Willow Leaf ‘The new Willow Leaf by Northwoods Knife Co.™ is a product of The Custom Shoppe LLC of Gladstone, Mich. USA. This Is our idea of everything a really Useful hunter should be: a fourinch blade of high grade 52100 stea! with {ots of curve for skinning and plenty of point to boot. The guard is of aluminum ‘and the hanalle beautiful cocobolo, [curly maple, ora variety of Micarta and G10 options. The sheath comes ‘complete with a field-sized sharpening ‘stone and is of the same first-class ‘quality as all our sheaths. ‘The perfect ightweight, practical package fr your outdoor jaunts. Dealer inquiries contact our distributor: Bowie Corp. 906-864-3922 David G. Shirley and The Custom Shoppe, LLC FER Counc mak cze The “Little Sharpie” Fs Sop Sen STP C18 La 6 He Mes 2b tas w/e eof 0" Bh ‘Sore Wheel inde 6a / BLADE Evenheat Set-Pro Ovens Sagat uh GS Spe ree ato Clr Sr fe eonmon ol eg a = 0 yee Teiass ldsetotemd 506000 KES” Aisne ond 3908-00, Kemsse kdsenstond $950.00, Whisper Low oy For “Sef elsiy 0 2501 = yb pt Nears ae nee ate el nr Sy Mew my ace eugene” Cae ese eee byiaerhly Kanege butterfly is strange and dangerous. To this end, many enthusiasts strive to change its reputation for being a lethal, exotic killing tool, In fact, Johnston said that the major group driving the present mar- ket consists of young “fippers” who are mainly interested in the endless variety of extreme manipulation techniques. “They represent the heart and soul of this hob- by,” he noted. He added that among these enthusiasts there exists an active sense of community, all sharing an impressive dedication to improving the reputation of the knife they love. ‘The most monumental impact on the modern butterfly culture has come from the Internet, Online surfing has allowed Dr. Johnston and others, such as self ‘taught fip-master-puru Clay Grozkranz of, and Chuck Gollnick, founder of, to share their knowledge and skill with others, young and old. On the Internet, collectors, makers and flippers from around the world trade ideas, as well as post video clips of their manipulation techniques, Some makers even incorporate some enthusiasts” sug- gestions into their models. With a visit to Grozkranz’s and Gollnick’s sites, and others such as, bal-,, bladefo-, and, 2 pure novice can gain incredible insight in very litle time. A Growing Niche Guidance from old-school butterfly knife enthusiasts and the Web has enabled Heath Willard—his sereen name on the butterfly knife Internet forums is “Icon of Sin"—to fully involve himself in the growing niche knife community. How- ever, Heath still sees the lingering effects of the knife’s bad reputation. “As far as the world is concerned now, 1 balisong is a knife that punk bad guys carry, thanks to the media and movies,” he said “What if the world’s first image of the balisong was of a young man throwing @ bbchind-the-back blind catch? That young ‘man would turn the whole look of it around similar to how Tony Hawk has helped the image of skateboarding. He added that butterfly knife tech- niques are evolving into a kind of extreme sport, where “bali-masters” compete by showing off their Mipping prowess with extraordinary precision, Heath and others hhave made instructional videos for the new ‘sport,” which they have made available online, Now, with a computer, a butterfly knife and a healthy curiosity, anyone can enter the ranks of “flipper” (Editor's note: Manipulating butterfly knives in the techniques described in the SEPTEMBER 2005