Friday, October 30, 2015

Beauty in Black Steel

Serious knife folks, collectors and makers, know the differences between Wootz, Damascus, patterned-welded and folded steels. They look similar, and sometimes overlap in how they are made, but there are differences.

Originally, the pattern-welded and folded steels came about because the metals were sometimes poor, and one can increase the strength and edge-holding abilities of a blade by blending and making a steel that is more than the sum of its parts. 

You get a hard section for the edge, more flexible for the body, like that. Heat it, hammer it, and forge a better tool. 

A lot of cultures played with these, the Japanese, the Vikings, the Indonesians, and they all added this or that, hammering and folding and coming up with blades that worked better and looked better. The Indonesians have books that deal with the patterns of pamor, there are hundreds of them, with different meanings.

These days, with the excellent steels available, pattern-welding and Wootz and such aren’t necessary, and this kind of thing is done more for the look than the function. 

I have several knives and a small collection of older kerises and kerambits with the traditional patterns, and some of them are quite striking.

Here is the latest addition to my collection, a small pocket folder with what is called “Raindrop Damascus.” Gorgeous … 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Silat Las Vegas 2015

So, a quick review of the Silat Sera Plinck seminar in Las Vegas this past weekend …
It was a small, but advanced group, serious players, and the event was ably put together by Don Lee. He was aided and abetted by Victoria Blackwell, and we couldn’t have asked for a better crew to run the show. For those of you who wanted to go but couldn’t, Don has a great selection of T-shirts and shorts, and if want to offer your support, drop by Maha Guru’s website and order some stuff. All high-quality materials, and cool-looking.
There was a whole bunch of quality-teaching going on, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but again, if you wanted to go but couldn’t, Guy Bowring videoed the seminar and once they are edited, the vids will be availed from Resonant Video. If you are a Sera Plinck student, you will get a whole lot out of these; if you are a serious student not in the Sera lineage, you might be able to get Maha Guru’s approval and buy a set, and that would be a great introduction to the art. Plus Guy has some other excellent videos of various silat teachers. Check it out:
We had students from the Portland group, the Italian mob, and the Colorado players were well-represented. A bunch of nice guys and gals all around, and dedicated to their training. 
It goes without saying that Maha Guru Plinck’s teaching was outstanding. He has forgotten more than most of us will learn, and his intuitive grasp of what to teach and how is always impressive.
Guru Louis Compos, a gentleman and a scholar, was also on hand to show material from a variety of arts at which he is expert, and clearly is a man who knows and loves what he does. 
There were some instructors who couldn’t make it, due to injury or other commitments, and we send all best wishes to Guru Vanatta, who is on the mend from surgery.
Cotten Blackwell was honored by Maha Guru, and deservedly so; (I was also honored, though less deserving.) 
Cotten demonstrated the eighteen djurus on the pantjar platform, up and and down, *both* sides, that’s 72 djurus total, and we were all mightily impressed. I was going to be called on to demonstrate my djurus, but fortunately, I managed to pull a hamstring Sunday morning, and had to practice old man silat for the rest of the sessions. Good, because I wouldn’t have wanted to follow Cotten …
We ate well, drank a bit, socialized, and I, for one, came away feeling like I’d had a visit with family, because that’s what we were in this art. Next time one of these comes up, you want to think seriously about attending. It was a hoot.