SMOOTH LINES FOR ROUGH WORK – THE BONTOC BLADE
After a successful collaboration with ABS Master Bladesmith Daniel Winkler, Rafael Kayanan transformed the tribal headaxe into a more modern streamlined design with the acclaimed Sayoc-Winkler Knives2 RnD Hawk. Now, the task was to come up with a knife that would complement the hawk, with the primary design focus of offering a practical one of a kind survival tool.
Kayanan wanted a knife that matched the aesthetic standards set by the RnD hawk. One concern was to keep the hawk’s gun style grip that attracted many high end collectors and users. The other was to be able to fill in any extra knife related tasks that the hawk was not initially designed for. He engaged the project with the goal of surpassing his own expectations. Most of his early attempts came close enough to excite fellow blade instructors but did not meet the standards that Kayanan was seeking.
When Kayanan, a professional concept design artist and master level knife instructor grew dissatisfied with his initial product designs he sought the valued advise of Pamana Tuhon Christopher Sayoc, Sr. the head of SAYOC International Group one of the premiere knife systems in the world.
Sayoc suggested going back to what worked best, back to daily usage blades of the indigenous Filipino tribes, to use a blade profile that was already tried and true as the base of the new blade. Afterall, much like the spiked headaxe that the RnD hawk appropriated, these knives were the native peoples most trusted tools for hundreds of years.
Kayanan knew exactly which blade would be more than up to the task.
Rafael owned an old knife that eventually served as the blade profile base of what was soon to be called the Bontoc Blade. He’d inherited the blade over 25 years ago upon the passing of his uncle. His uncle had acquired the blade directly from his research travels as a city engineer into the Philippine’s mountainside during the late 40’s. It was a gift from the tribesmen themselves, where a knife is a symbol of stature and an offering held with high regard.
The exotic tight weaving and graceful sweep of the blade’s edge was the highlight of many show and tell occasions with fellow knife enthusiasts and blade instructors. The blade itself surprisingly lacked the ornate complexity of its wrappings. As Kayanan had done with the hawk, he altered a few details to accomodate modern application and gear. A few minor tweaks on the blade’s tip to arm alignment for optimum cutting and thrusting, plus adding the unique RnD style grips were all it needed to adapt it to a combative scenario.
Before passing the design over to receive Winkler’s expert craftsmanship, the blade needed a name. It was quite obvious and an honor to name the knife after it’s main influence.
The Bontoc Blade.
Many readers may find the word “Bontoc” exotic but a brief history on the word’s origin will reveal it’s actually a common term. In honor of the tattooed, sinewy highland warriors the American GIs encountered, they affectionately referred to their own homeland’s rural countryside as the boonies or boondocks.
Today, the slang, “boondocks” is used to describe any wild, desolate backwoods. Little is known that the term originated in reference to an actual tribe – the Bontocs, who thrived in what U.S. servicemen in the early 1900’s considered the uninhabitable, densely wooded mountainsides of the Philippine Islands.
For generation after generation these indigenous highlanders transformed and mastered the harsh physical landscape that often swallowed up, and discouraged numerous expeditions. During the 1800’s, Spanish conquistador journals record how their troops were repelled on the “isles of fear”. The harsh reputation of the terrain continued into WW2, as wandering Japanese soldiers were captured or killed by tribesmen in the wild hills.
The magnificently tiered rice terraces reveal how the Bontocs have elevated the basic means of survival to a high art; a feat completed only with their uniquely designed tools: the Bontoc axe, spear and knife.
The common Bontoc’s blade had a variety of purposes, from woodcarving, ritual practice, hunting, building shelter, farming and warfare.
It takes a skilled, wilderness savvy individual to venture into the boonies, one who could certainly use a Bontoc Blade by his side.
Bontoc Blade Specs:
Full Blade Taper
Blade Length: 7″
Overall Length: 12 1/4″
Weight: 13oz rubber
11.5oz wood or cord
Handle Materials: Curly Maple, Walnut, Black Micarta, Re-cycled Rubber or Cord Wrap
Blade Finishes: Standard Caswell or KG Durable finish (add $15)
KG finishes: Black, Dark Earth, Tan, Green, Jungle camo, Desert camo or
The KG Finish can be applied on the Micarta handle material for a full camo treatment.