As regular readers may know, I am a big advocate of the kukri. I am also, however, a big fan of Horace Kephart’s writings so am interested in tomahawks too.
Last year I acquired a copy of “The Fighting Kukri” by Dwight C. McLemore. There is nothing wrong with this work but I personally found his techniques “over-systemized”. I can understand the reasons for his approach and recognize the influences, but it was not to my personal taste. This may be because I have my own ideas about using a kukri, as readers of Attack, Avoid, Survive or Crash Combat will know.
One technique I did note was a defensive/ ready posture that had the forearms in a sort of pyramid configuration. If an enemy has his own kukri or a similar weapon I’d not like to leave my forearms as such a tempting static target. If he has an inferior weapon then my arms are going to be moving and letting my kukri bite!
Yesterday I got to look at a copy of “The Fighting Tomahawk” by the same author. I found this quite informative.
One advantage a kukri or other knife has over a tomahawk is that it can more rapidly and more smoothly be brought into action. A knife is generally worn so that its handle can be grasped first. A tomahawk is generally worn so that the first part grasped is the head or the shaft just under it. How do you move your hand to the end of the handle in a combat situation?
You can, of course, flick the tomahawk upwards and catch the end. Or you can let it slide down out of your hand and catch then end. There is a significant chance that you may fumble this and lose your tomahawk! McLemore’s solution to drawing and readying the tomahawk will be the subject of today’s blog. It has applications for other implements such as hammers or entrenching tools.
I call this technique “Brace and Slide” or “Slip, Brace and Slide”.
Grasp the tomahawk just under the head and pull upward to clear it from your belt.
Brace the butt of the handle against your hipbone or another convenient body part.
Slide your hand down the handle and grip near the end.
It is possible that an enemy will have rushed your before you have the tomahawk fully drawn and readied. I have often stated, you should defend or avoid an initial attack before attempting to draw a weapon. That said, a tomahawk or hammer gripped just beneath the head can still be used to augment your unarmed techniques.
Tomahawks and similar small axes usually come with a protective cover. Typically such covers feature belt loops or some other means to attach the cover to your belt. When carried in this way smoothly and rapidly drawing a tomahawk to defend yourself becomes very difficult. A better option is to use the cover just as a cover and rig another means for carrying the tomahawk. A tomahawk or axe with a sheathed head still works pretty well as a club!
Many photos of WW2 German soldiers show them with entrenching tools slipped through the front of their belts rather than in the belt-mounted carrier, which was worn on the left side. The intention was to make the entrenching tool more readily available as a weapon.
If used only as a cover many tomahawk sheathes are probably over engineered and have a lot of unnecessary weight and bulk. The photo below shows a rather elegant alternate edge protector. Such a thing could be easily constructed from materials other than leather.
Cops often carry their nightsticks by a simple belt ring. Workmen carry hammers slung from a cloth loop. These methods can be adapted to carry a tomahawk. A diagonal strap can be added to prevent the tomahawk being lost when climbing or crawling and this provides greater security than simply slipping it through a belt.