History of the Edged Tool : Drawing Blood Lore

Drawing Blood Lore

Just as with swords, regional and cultural superstitions exist regarding the treatment of knives that are used in combat. One common superstition states that it is bad luck to return a combat knife from its sheath without using it to draw blood. That is, don’t take your knife out of your sheath unless you intend to attack your enemy with it.

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A Scottish myth exists surrounding drawing the sgian dubh (Dirk), without drawing the blood of an Englishman. These superstitions are usually attempts to insult the culture of the enemy.

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There are cultures that believe a knife does not belong to an individual until it has ‘bit’ them, or tasted their blood. After initial blood letting the owner and the knife are bound in their destiny. Practitioner in these superstitions may intentionally prick their finger on the blade of a knife rather than wait for an accidental cut. The knife will stay sharp longer and is less likely to accidentally cut its owner once it has tasted his or her blood.

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This blood drawing has made it’s way into our classic science fiction. Dune Writer Frank Herbert invented the Fremen and the Crysknife. Once a Fremen warrior unsheathed his blade it must draw blood before it is sheathed.

There you have it, those are just a few of the knife superstitions / rituals that are out there. Stay tuned in to our blog for more articles on this topic.

http://www.extremely-sharp.com/eslife/drawing-blood-lore/

History of the Edged Tool : James Bowie and Sandbar Brawl

We are a knife company owned and operated by true knife junkies. We (as owners of Raven Crest Tactical) love all things knife related, especially knife stories and history. In this series we are going to share some historical / ceremonial / cultural and religious stories regarding edged weapons. Get ready because we are coming out of the gates hot with this series..

James Bowie and the Sandbar Fight

James Bowie, that name may sound familiar to some.. Ever heard of the “Bowie Knife”, here is what one looks like:

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Well James Bowie created the Bowie Knife and here is what James Bowie looked like, you know he is serious business because of those monster mutton chops:

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What you may not know is the truly epic knife fight that took place between James Bowie and Major Norris Wright. Now when I say epic, I am not just throwing that around loosely, James Bowie was as tough as coffin nails.

Let’s dive in and find out why….

On September 19, 1827, both James Bowie and Major Norris Wright attended a duel on a sandbar outside of Natchez, Mississippi. Bowie supported duelist Samuel Levi Wells III, while Wright favored Dr. Thomas Harris Maddox.

To put this In modern day terms, James Bowie was a Green Bay Packers Fan and Major Norris Wright was a Chicago Bears fan and they both went to watch their team play each other.  With about 16 other fans.

The duelists each fired two shots and missed, and as neither man was injured they resolved their duel with a handshake.

In case you didn’t catch that, both duelist got their shot off at each other, both duelists missed, both duelists then shook hands and considered their issue resolved. At this point the story should be over, but oh no, this is where it starts to get good.

In my mind at this point in the story the people who showed up to this duel were disappointed at the results. I think they were restless and wanted to see some blood shed (again this is banter, but it makes sense if you think about it). Come on people, think back to Junior High or High School fights.. Everyone there is so amped up, they want to see carnage, they want to see their “buddy” win… What these people got wasn’t carnage, they got a handshake.

As both duelists turned to leave, Bowie came forward to meet them. Seeing this, Maddox’s friends ran forward to join the group. Two men in this group had previously fought and still had an ongoing issue to settle. Man one is named “Cuny” and man two is named “Crain”. Crain, is recorded as having called out to Cuny, “Col. Crain, this is a good time to settle our difficulty.” After that, Crain drew his weapon and fired, missing Cuny but striking Bowie in the hip and knocking him to the ground. Cuny and Crain then exchanged fire, with Crain sustaining a flesh wound in the arm and Cuny dying from a shot to the chest.

Let’s stop one more time and just evaluate what happened…. Both duelists, who’s issues are now settled are shaking hands and Bowie comes forward to meet them. Who knows why, but what this does is put Bowie right in the middle of another “unsanctioned” duel that is about to go down between two other guys who were also attending the duel. The first duelists fired and missed his intended target, but instead hit Bowie in the hip. The second duelists fired and killed the first duelist who struck Bowie.  What Bowie did next is what has made him a legend…

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Bowie, rising to his feet, drew his knife and charged at the remaining duelist, who struck Bowie so hard on his head with his empty pistol that it broke the pistol and sent Bowie to his knees. Then, at that moment, Major Norris Wright appeared (remember he was the guy who was rooting for the other team), drew a pistol, and shot at the fallen Bowie, missing. Wright then drew his sword cane and stabbed Bowie in the chest, but the thin blade was deflected by Bowie’s sternum. As Wright attempted to pull the blade free, Bowie reached up, grabbed his shirt, and pulled him down upon the point of his Bowie knife. Wright died quickly, and Bowie, with Wright’s sword still protruding from his chest, was shot again and stabbed by another member of the group. As Bowie stood, pulling the sword cane from his chest, two more men fired at him, and he was struck once in the arm. Bowie spun and cut off part of one of men’s forearms.

I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s just try to paint the entire picture here: You have a bunch of amped up men who were just disappointed by the duel they came to see. They paid good money to travel to see two guy shoot and kill each other. That didn’t happen at all. In the midst of the crowds breaking up, two guys who have beef with one another realize that they are both in the same spot, and that spot it hot. Now I am sure that they had friends in each one of their ears pumping them up. They were probably mean mugging and talking trash to each other (relative to their time of course). Well it eventually got real and they decide that they were just gonna settle their issues right there and right now. They didn’t even wait for people to get out of the way, they just pulled their pieces and started firing. Hence, James Bowie gets accidentally shot in the hip. Well that seemed to really anger James Bowie and I can fully understand why. All he wanted to do was support his buddy and then all of a sudden some fool shoots him in the hip. And back then it wasn’t like he could just call 911 and get to a hospital or Urgent Care. Getting shot back then was serious business. From there James Bowie turns into a 1800’s version of Chuck Norris and just annihilates everyone in his path, with just his knife.

The Battle of the Sandbar lasted more than 10 minutes, leaving 2 dead, and another four wounded. But believe it or not, James Bowie was not part of the 2 dead. Even after being shot numerous times and stabbed in the chest with a cane sword, James Bowie still went Beast Mode on his attackers and lived. One of the doctors who treated Bowie’s wounds went on record saying this: “How he (Bowie) lived is a mystery to me, but live he did.”

So if you are ever in a discussion about who is the baddest mad don’t forget about James Bowie and battle at the Sandbar.

 

Spartan Facts

Spartan Warrior Trivia

8 Spartan “Did You Know?” Facts :

1. Did you know Spartans had to prove their fitness even as infants?

Infanticide was a disturbingly common act in the ancient world, but in Sparta this practice was organized and managed by the state. All Spartan infants were brought before a council of inspectors and examined for physical defects, and those who weren’t up to standards were left to die. The ancient historian Plutarch claimed these “ill-born” Spartan babies were tossed into a chasm at the foot of Mount Taygetus, but most historians now dismiss this as a myth. If a Spartan baby was judged to be unfit for its future duty as a soldier, it was most likely abandoned on a nearby hillside. Left alone, the child would either die of exposure or be rescued and adopted by strangers. Babies who passed inspection still didn’t have it easy. To test their constitutions, Spartan infants were often bathed in wine instead of water. They were also frequently ignored when they cried and commanded never to fear darkness or solitude. According to Plutarch, these “tough love” parenting techniques were so admired by foreigners that Spartan women were widely sought after for their skill as nurses and nannies.

2. Did you know Spartan children were placed in a military-style education program?

At the age of 7, Spartan boys were removed from their parents’ homes and began the “agoge,” a state-sponsored training regimen designed to mold them into skilled warriors and moral citizens. Separated from their families and housed in communal barracks, the young soldiers-in-waiting were instructed in scholastics, warfare, stealth, hunting and athletics. At age 12, initiates were deprived of all clothing save for a red cloak and forced to sleep outside and make their own beds from reeds. To ready them for a life in the field, the boy soldiers were also encouraged to scavenge and even steal their food, though if detected they were punished with floggings. Just as all Spartan men were expected to be fighters, all women were expected to bear children. Spartan girls were allowed to remain with their parents, but they were also subjected to a rigorous education and training program. While boys were readied for a life on campaign, girls practiced dance, gymnastics and javelin and discus throwing, which were thought to make them physically strong for motherhood.

3. Did you know hazing and fighting were encouraged among Spartan children?

Much of the Spartan agoge involved typical school subjects like reading, writing, rhetoric and poetry, but the training regimen also had a vicious side. To toughen the young warriors and encourage their development as soldiers, instructors and older men would often instigate fights and arguments between trainees. The agoge was partially designed to help make the youths resistant to hardships like cold, hunger and pain, and boys who showed signs of cowardice or timidity were subject to teasing and violence by peers and superiors alike. Even Spartan girls were known to participate in this ritualized hazing. During certain religious and state ceremonies, girls would stand before Spartan dignitaries and sing choral songs about the young men of the agoge, often singling out specific trainees for ridicule in order to shame them into stepping up their performance.

4. Did you know all Spartan men were expected to be lifelong soldiers?

As grueling as Sparta’s martial education system could be, the soldier’s life was the only option for young men who wished to become equal citizens, or “Homoioi.” According to the edicts of the Spartan lawmaker and reformer Lycurgus, male citizens were legally prevented from choosing any occupation other than the military. This commitment could last for decades, as warriors were required to remain on reserve duty until the age of 60. Because of their preoccupation with the study of warfare, Sparta’s manufacturing and agriculture were left entirely to the lower classes. Skilled laborers, traders and craftsmen were part of the “Perioeci,” a class of free non-citizens who lived in the surrounding region of Laconia. Meanwhile, agriculture and food production fell to the enslaved Helots, a servile class that made up the majority of Sparta’s population. Ironically, constant fear of Helot revolts and uprisings was a major reason why the Spartan elite became so devoted to building a strong military in the first place.

5. Did you know Spartan youths were ritualistically beaten and flogged?

One of Sparta’s most brutal practices involved a so-called “contest of endurance” in which adolescents were flogged—sometimes to the death—in front of an altar at the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia. Known as the “diamastigosis,” this annual practice was originally used as both a religious ritual and a test of the boys’ bravery and resistance to pain. It later devolved into an outright blood sport after Sparta went into decline and fell under control of the Roman Empire. By the third century A.D. there was even an amphitheater constructed so that scores of tourists could cheer on the grisly ordeal.

6. Did you know food was intentionally kept scarce, and poor fitness was cause for ridicule?

When a Spartan man completed the main phase of the agoge at around age 21, he was elected to a “syssitia”—a military-style mess where citizens gathered for public meals. To prepare soldiers for the strain of war and discourage poor fitness, the rations doled out at these communal dining halls were always bland and slightly insufficient. Spartans were renowned for their devotion to physical fitness and proper diet, and they reserved a special loathing for overweight citizens, who were publicly ridiculed and risked being banished from the city-state. Wine was a staple of the Spartan diet, but they rarely drank to excess and often cautioned their children against drunkenness. In some cases, they would even force Helot slaves to get wildly inebriated as a way of showing young Spartans the negative effects of alcohol.

7. Did you know Spartan men were not allowed to live with their wives until age 30?

Spartan society didn’t discourage romantic love, but marriage and childrearing were both subject to some peculiar cultural and governmental constraints. The state counseled that men should marry at age 30 and women at 20. Since all men were required to live in a military barracks until 30, couples who married earlier were forced to live separately until the husband completed his active duty military service. The Spartans saw marriage primarily as a means for conceiving new soldiers, and citizens were encouraged to consider the health and fitness of their mate before tying the knot. In fact, husbands who were unable to have children were expected to seek out virile substitutes to impregnate their wives. Likewise, bachelors were seen as neglecting their duty and were often publically mocked and humiliated at religious festivals.

8. Did you know for a Spartan surrender in battle was the ultimate disgrace?

Spartan soldiers were expected to fight without fear and to the last man. Surrender was viewed as the epitome of cowardice, and warriors who voluntarily laid down their arms were so shamed that they often resorted to suicide. According to the ancient historian Herodotus, two Spartan soldiers who missed out on the famous Battle of Thermopylae returned to their homeland disgraced. One later hanged himself, and the other was only redeemed after he died fighting in a later engagement. Even Spartan mothers were known for their do-or-die approach to military campaigns. Spartan women are said to have sent their sons off to war with a chilling reminder: “Return with your shield or on it.” If a Spartan trooper died in battle, he was viewed as having completed his duty as a citizen. In fact, the law mandated that only two classes of people could have their names inscribed on their tombstones: women who died in childbirth and men who fell in combat.

8 Spartan OTF “Did You Know?” Facts:

Spartan OTF Knives by Raven Crest Tactical

1. Did you know every Spartan OTF knife is hand built and quality tested in Mesa, Arizona?

2. Did you know every Spartan OTF knife is hand sharpened by a master sharpener who has been sharpening blades in Arizona for over 30 years?

3. Did you know every Spartan OTF knife had real ebony wood inlays on both sides of the handle? These inlays make for exceptional gripping capabilities.

4. Did you know every Spartan OTF knife has a glass breaker on the end of the handle?

5. Did you know the Spartan OTF knife comes in either Tanto or Spear Point blade?

6. Did you know that every Spartan OTF knife comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee?

7. Did you know that every Spartan OTF knife comes with a full, lifetime, no questions asked warranty?

8. Did you know that this warranty also covers sharpening for the life of the knife?

Spartan OTF Product Pages:

Spartan OTF Product Page (Tanto Blade)
Spartan “Gladius” OTF Product Page (Spear Point Blade)

 

Resources:

http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/8-reasons-it-wasnt-easy-being-spartan

Spartan Toughness

Spartan Toughness…

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The Spartan army stood at the center of the Spartan state, whose citizens’ primary obligation was to be killing machines. The Spartans were one of the most feared military forces in world history. At the height of Sparta’s power, it was commonly accepted that, “one Spartan was worth several men of any other state.”

The tales of Spartan warriors are filled with pictures of fearless and almost reckless bravery. The story that most of us are familiar with (thanks to the movie 300) is The Battle of Thermopylae. This was a week long battle where a Greek force of approximately 7,000 men marched to block the pass of the Persian army. The ancient sources alleged the Persian army to have numbered over one million, but today it is considered to have been more like 100,000 – 150,000 Persians. Either way, the battle was a few Greeks vs a lot of Persians. And for most of the time the Greeks had the upper hand. What the Greeks accomplished that week has since been celebrated in many different ways.

The vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians for seven days (including three full days of battle) before they were annihilated in one of history’s most famous last stands. During three full days of battle, the small force led by Leonidas blocked the only road by which the massive Persian army could pass. After the second day of battle, a local resident betrayed the Greeks by revealing to the Persians a small path that led behind the Greek lines (if this wouldn’t have happened who know how long the Greeks would have held off the Persians). This betrayal sealed the fate for the Spartans and the remaining Greek forces. What the Spartan King Leonidas did next is what we are going to talk about. King Leonidas, knowing the dire situation that he and his troops were in, dismissed the bulk of the Greek army and remained to guard their retreat with only 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans, and perhaps a few hundred others, most of whom were killed. Why did King Leonidas so eagerly go into a battle that he knew would take his life and the lives of his men? The following information may help explain why King Leonidas willingly gave his life that day.

Born for War

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**WARNING: Before we go into the training of the Spartan warrior, we have to warn you that most parts of the Spartan’s training would be considered extremely cruel in our current society. We are not condoning how the Spartans trained their warriors, we are just stating facts.**

Unlike other Greek societies of the time, Spartan men did not have a career choice. All Spartan men were born to be warriors. From birth until the age of 60, a Spartan man’s only focus was war.

As soon as a baby boy was born in Sparta he was taken to the Council of Elders so that they might decide if he should live or die. If the child was strong and healthy he was given back to his parents, if he was weak and ailing he was left alone on a hillside to die from cold and hunger.

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When the boy reached seven years of age, the Spartan boy was taken from his home to a public training-house. Here the strict discipline begins. Shoes and stockings were never worn by the little Spartan warriors, although the hills and countryside were rough for unshod feet. In winter they were clad in one garment, just as in summer. Their beds were made of rushes, which they had themselves gathered from the banks of the river Eurotas. This was a hard task, for they were not allowed to cut them with a knife, but must break them with their hands. In winter the boys used to scatter thistle-down on the rushes to give a little warmth to their hard couch.

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Each child, from the age of seven, cooked his own food, which was scanty and plain. If after their meals the boys were still hungry, that was looked upon as a good thing. It would teach them to hunt the more keenly, that they might add to their daily portion of food. It would teach them to steal from the neighboring farm-yards or gardens without being found out. So a hungry Spartan boy would climb into a garden undiscovered, or even slip into a stranger’s larder in search of fruit and food. If the boys were caught, they were punished, not for stealing, but for being so clumsy as to be caught.

Here is a famous story about the toughness and severe conditions these young warriors had to go through: “Once a Spartan boy stole a young fox and hid it under his coat. It soon began to scratch with its claws, to bite with its teeth, until the lad was in terrible pain, yet he would have died rather than tell what he was suffering. Such was the endurance taught to the young boys of Sparta.”

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If a boy complained of any hardship, or disobeyed any order, he was flogged, perhaps even tortured. One test of his endurance was a terrible scourging, under which he would die rather than utter a cry of pain.

Once the Spartan boys were twenty years old before they left the training-house to which they had been sent when they were seven. They were then fully-trained soldiers and left the training-house for the barracks.

When war actually came and the Spartans were on the field, they were treated with more kindness than in time of peace. Their food was more plentiful and pleasant, their discipline less strict. This was done to make the soldiers look forward to war, and to desire it rather than peace. The Spartans were happier in war than in peace.

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As hard as the Spartan training was, and as cruel as it sometimes became, it made boys into strong and fearless soldiers. Bravery was the ultimate virtue for the Spartans. There are famous stories of Spartan mothers who would give their sons the shield with the words “[Return] With it or [carried] on it!” that is to say, either victorious or dead.

Retreating in battle was not an option for a Spartan soldier, in fact it was worse then death. Their goal was to either win the battle and return with their shield, or they were to give their life fighting in honor, returning dead on their shield. Those were the only two options for the Spartan warrior.

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For a Spartan, to die in battle was a honor like no other. They embraced the challenge of battle and they looked forward to it. Death in battle was romantic to a Spartan warrior. That was their fate from birth, to be a perfect war machine with no fear of death. Maybe this embracing of death was all about honor, but maybe death for a Spartan warrior was the only way they could truly experience peace. Either way, this is why King Leonidas openly accepted his fate, and even looked forward to the glory of death. Because that is what he and his soldiers were born to do.

Spartan Knife Born to Perform

Spartan OTF Knives by Raven Crest Tactical

Just like the young Spartans who were born with a purpose, our Spartan OTF knife is also built with a purpose. That purpose is to perform under any and all circumstances. We hand assemble every Spartan OTF knife, and every Spartan blade is hand sharpened using a 4 step process. These knives will stand up to whatever you throw at them, that is a guarantee; and just like the Spartan warriors, they will embrace the challenges they are put through. These knives have real Ebony wood inlays on both sides of the handle. This makes for extra gripping ability which is critical for hard core thrusting and cutting.

To see our torture test for the Spartan see the video below and remember the just like all our other OTF knives, the Spartan comes with a full, no questions asked, lifetime warranty. So if you do find a way to end the life of your Spartan, we will send you a new one.

Spartan OTF Product Pages:

Spartan OTF Product Page (Tanto Blade)
Spartan “Gladius” OTF Product Page (Spear Point Blade)

 

Resources:
http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/8-reasons-it-wasnt-easy-being-spartan4
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thermopylae
http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=macgregor&book=greece&story=training
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartan_army

Spartan Warrior

The Weapons of the “Ideal Warrior”

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Thanks to Hollywood, and Gerard Butler, most of us have a picture of what a Spartan warrior looked like. Maybe they embellished a little, but what they did get right was how serious of a warrior the Spartan was.

4533758733_b0aba6e8b3_zSparta wasn’t like other Greek city-states that were centers of the arts, learning and philosophy. No, Sparta’s culture was plain and simple: war. Male Spartan’s were allowed only one occupation: solider. Indoctrination into this lifestyle began at age 7, when they left their home and entered the Agoge. During this stage of life the warrior children were subjected to continuous and rigorous physical competitions and challenges. They were also taught survival skills.

Those that survived the training were allowed to be “police officers” of the state until the age of 20. Once the Spartan male reached the age of 20 they would become full-time soldiers. They had no other job or task. They would carry that warrior title until the age of 60.

Weapons of the Spartans

Every Spartan warrior was equipped with 5 different weapons, each with different purposes.

The Xiphos:

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The Xiphos was the close quarter weapon used by Spartan Warriors. It was typically their second choice weapon, should they be forced to use it. Traditionally much shorter than a Greek Xiphos the Spartan’s short sword would prove advantageous when in close quarter battle, with easier maneuverability, being able to inflict damage where a longer sword would be much harder to wield.

The Xiphos sported a leaf shaped straight blade, and would traditionally have been made from bronze or iron, due to the leaf shape nature not requiring the strength that comes from stronger metals like steel.

The Kopis:

Kopis

The Kopis was an alternative sword used sometimes by the Spartans. The Kopis was a longer curved blade that used to cut and thrust when attacking the opponent, and featured a single edge as opposed to the duel edge of the Xiphos. The Spartans would wield the Kopis one handed, and even though it was widely considered to be a suitable blade for use when on horseback.

The Javelin:

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Another weapon the Spartans would make use of was the Javelin. Used from long range the Javelin is a throwing weapon the Spartans would employ before closing the distance on their foes. Common in the Ancient Greece, the Javelin was quite a short throwing weapon, typically three feet long, and constructed from a wooden handle combined with a bronze tip used to pierce and damage the recipient.

The Dory:

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The Dory was a spear weapon used by the Spartans, the Dory was truly a hefty spear and could be up to 9ft long in length. When used by the Spartans this spear would be used with only one hand, allowing the Spartan to maintain and protect himself with his Apsis shield.

When wielding the Dory to attack the Spartan would mix both upwards and downward strikes at their opponents, with both underarm and overarm use of the Dory producing slightly different results.

The Apsis:

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The Apsis was the shield of the Spartan warriors and much loved. Although one may consider the Apsis a defence weapon, in the hands of the skilled Spartans it could also be an attacking weapon.

The Apsis is a multi material construction, and completely round in shape. The shield would start as multiple layers of wood, with a layer of leather before the outer bronze exterior. The construction of the Apsis allowed the Spartan warrior to withstand most weapons glance, and if needed was a suitably heavy blunt force weapon.

The Raven Crest Tactical Spartan Knife:

Spartan OTF Knives by Raven Crest TacticalWe are proud to announce the release of a new OTF knife we feel is Spartan worthy. The Spartan OTF knife is a very heavy duty knife and was designed to perform under any and all conditions. The handle of the Spartan OTF knife has exotic ebony wood inlays that we source from Indonesia. These inlays are not just for aesthetics, they give maximum gripping capabilities, which is critical for thrusting or penetrating heavy duty materials.

We offer the Spartan OTF knife in two versions, our standard version has a serrated or non serrated tanto blade. We also offer a “Gladius” version of the Spartan OTF which has a spear point blade. This blade is more along the lines of what traditional Roman foot soldiers carried.

No matter which version you choose, we assure you that the Spartan OTF is going to exceed your expectations. We guarantee it. Please click the link below, get one of these knives while they last and find out for yourself how awesome owning a Spartan OTF can be.

The Spartans had a famous saying “Molon labe”, it means “Come and Take Them”. It was made famous because it was used as an expression of defiance. When the Persian army’s demanded that the Greeks surrender their weapons at the Battle of Thermopylae, King Leonidas responded with that phrase. We guarantee that if your get to own a Spartan OTF knife you will adopt that same level of passion for your knife.

Resources:
http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/sparta
http://www.legendsandchronicles.com/ancient-weapons/spartan-weapons/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molon_labe