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What Are Karambit Knives?

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Karambit knives are small pocketknives that were birthed in the islands of Indonesia. But its starting place can also be traced back to the Philippines and Malaysia. Karambit knives are pretty much like Swiss Army knives -- McGyver style. Any child of the roaring 80s will know what it exactly means. Essentially, a karambit knife works as a tool. You will still find Karambit knives in the Southern Philippines, the Indonesian archipelago and Malaysia. HISTORY The history of the karambit knife is a tad once-upon-a-timey but it will never fail to dazzle an interested mind. It has gone through various places and served different purposes.


A long time ago, during the ancient Sundanese kingdom in West Java, their kings were deemed very powerful. When their king died, his spirit is believed to become the spirit of a tiger. Hence, the jungle tiger is venerated and revered by the Sundanese. They called this tiger Harimau or Pak Macan, which later on became Pamacan (pronounced Pa-Ma-Chan.) The early Sundanese people were filled with wonder and awe by the ferocious power of the Pamacan. They patterned their knives and blades after the shape of the claw of the great Pamacan. This large knife blade was called the claw of tiger or Kuku Macan. The Kuku Macan was used for fighting in battle.


It was a unique weapon because it cannot be easily disarmed, it can be hidden, and it could make two cuts in one motion. If you had a Kuku Macan back then in the battlefield, you were almost invincible. However, as time went on, the large blade of the Kuku Macan was made into smaller sizes – making it more handy and ergonomic, which is for comfort, efficiency, safety, and ease of use, especially in the workplace. The Kuku Macan became a tool and eventually it was scaled into the smallest personalized size – which is now called the Karambit. The Karambit is sometimes called the Kuku Bima – the claw of Bima. Bima is one of the characters from the Indian epic, Mahabharata. Bima is held with the highest regard among all the gods in the epic Mahabharata.


In modern times, the Karambit is now known as a traditional weapon of the Pencak Silat – Indonesian Martial Arts. And later on these bladed weapons were consigned for utilitarian uses of knives – cutting an apple, slicing a slab of meat etc. MODERN AGE USES OF THE KARAMBIT Its main use in this modern age is strictly utilitarian. It is a multi-functional tool that is well loved by many people. Artists use it for carving wood, and hunters and campers use this as a utility tool – pretty much like a steak knife while they’re out in the woods.


Some people use this as a self-defense tool. Knife enthusiasts keep the karambit as part of their collection. Martial artists of the Pencak Silat also use a karambit in training. Pencak Silat is the general martial arts term in Indonesia. It is also used as an add-on in specific styles and systems of training of the Pencak Silat.