Martial Arts

The Kerambit a Personal Protection Tool from Southeast Asia



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A kerambit is a knife that has its origins in the countries of Southeast Asia. No one knows for certain which specific country may have fostered its origin, but for sure kerambits are well-known and studied in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillipines. A kerambit is considered to be a personal protection tool. Kerambits are generally small, and are characterized by short, curved blades, and a handle topped off with a ring on it. Kerambits have very distinctive characteristics.

Kerambits have also been known as korambits, and karampits and karambits. Despite the difference in spelling and pronunciation, kerambits have several defining criteria. The ring on top of the handle is one very distinctive feature. The ring allows for improved grip retention, making the kerambit difficult to disarm. In addition the ring allows for easier access for retrieval from a place of concealment within a person's wardrobe. Kerambits can be held in a variety of ways, using a variety of grips, but the most classical and well known position is with the ring on top of the fist with the index finger going through the hole, the blade typically is below the bottom of the closed hand with the curved blade generally pointing forward.

Kerambits are generally thought of as personal protection tools due to their small size.The blade is usually short, with most examples at 3" of blade length or less. Due to the positioning of the ring, the kerambit can be used as an impact tool, when striking with the ring in a punching/striking method. The bottom aspect of the edge of the blade can also be used for striking as well. Because of the ring and the comfortable handles, the kerambit may be considered as a "handpacker" as well, whereby the closed fist clenched around the kerambit handle is reinforced by the structure of the handle to allow for improved striking methodology.

Due to the unique shape and design of a kerambit, it is a very versatile tool of self-protection. The trained proponent has a variety of choices of force response, going from non-lethal impact to deadly force with the blade components of the tool. Because of its small size, the kerambit can be used in a striking method, it can cut with its blade edge, and can facilitate thrusting or punching motions depending upon the curvature present on the kerambit of personal choice.

Kerambits generally are contained within sheaths to allow for ease of carry and concealment. Traditionally sheaths were made of wood or leather. In today's modern renditions of these classical tools, synthetics such as kydex are used. In traditional methods of carry, the kerambit was usually positioned with the handle upwards. Using modern synthetic components and sheathing, the kerambits now are offered with a variety of carry possibilities including handle down positions.

In the past some people perceived the kerambit to be a "woman's blade" or tool of self-protection. Today there are a variety of modern versions available with the latest in steel and production methodologies. Collectors and history buffs have a wide variety of kerambits to choose from. Often classically made kerambits were either designed by a maker's preference, or a customer's preference, so there is a large diversity of size, shape and design to this unique tool.

There is value to training with a kerambit as a personal protection tool. There is value to study of its manufacture and collection of them as artifacts from another culture and time period. Kerambits can inspire thought and study and empower those who seek an additional tool to their arsenals of personal protection.

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