I spent more than half my life involved in the martial arts - and not just one style, either. I started out in Judo, and earned my Black Belt in this style. I went on to study several different styles of Karate, as well as Kung Fu. I hold Black Belt rank in five different styles of martial arts, with my highest Black Belt ranking a 6th Degree. Not bragging, not in the least, as I honestly believe that when you get your Black Belt, you are then a very serious student of the martial arts. I have adapted what I learned over 35 years and developed a street style of martial arts, for real-life self-defense, not for winning trophies. Whenever someone came to me, for training, I asked them why they wanted to learn martial arts techniques. If they said they wanted to win trophies, I directed them to another school. At one time, I ran four different schools, and all we taught were self-defense fighting techniques.
My advanced students - Black Belts - were afforded the opportunity to train in knife and gun fighting techniques, as well as unarmed techniques they learned from me. Having been around knives all my life, and tested them and written about them for a lot of years, I think I have a pretty good grasp on what makes a good fighting knife. I've also designed several fighting knives over the years, with my latest design sitting here on my desk - trying to decide which knife company I should send it to, for a possible collaboration, and get it into customer's hands, as an affordable fixed blade fighter - custom handmade versions are available, but I want to get factory made versions out there, at affordable prices.
I received several requests from SurvivalBlog readers to test the new Columbia River Knife & Tool Otanashi noh Ken Model 2906 - and this is a new model for 2013, and I spent two weeks pouring over the new CRKT 2013 catalog and completely missed requesting one of these knives for testing. I contacted Rod Bremer, the owner of CRKT and requested a sample, and Rod always comes through - they were sold out, but they managed to find one in the warehouse for me...this knife is in great demand right now, so be advised.
The 2906 was designed by James Williams, who has designed several knives for CRKT over the past several years. Williams is a military veteran and a current martial arts practitioner/instructor. So, it comes as no surprise that he knows cutlery. His Hissatsu knife designs have become a favorite with military Special Forces around the world. I like his Hissatsu designs and own most or all of them, but the Model 2906 really added something to his already famous design - it's one of those things that is hard to explain, but easy to understand, once you get the knife in your hand. the 2906 is a further design refinement on the Hissatsu line-up from Williams.
Many knives are designed for several tasks, and that's not a bad thing. However, the 2906 is purpose-driven, and it was designed for one thing, and one thing only - to be used as a weapon . The 2906 was designed for SOCOM (Special Operations Command) as a primary or a secondary weapon to augment the handgun in the hands of well-trained professionals. Again, this knife is purpose-driven - it is a weapon, not a hunting knife, or a knife to be used around the kitchen - although it could be. However, it was not designed for these purposes.
The Otanashi noh Ken has an AUS 8 stainless steel blade, one of my favorites because it is affordable and easy to re-sharpen, and it will do all you ask of it. The Rockwell hardness is 58-59 - which is just right. The blade is 4.52-inches long - so this is a blade that can reach out there and touch someone. CRKT describes this blade style as a Clip Point - I guess it could be called that - albeit a very modified Clip Point design. The grind in hollow and the edge is plain. The finish is bead blasted, with a black corrosion resistant finish - very tactical looking. The lock-up is from the CRKT Frame Lock design, a very strong one - where one side of the handle actually locks the blade open ,and the other side of the handle is G10 scales - tough stuff. There is also the LAWKS manually operated locking device, that turns this folder into a virtual fixed blade knife. The pocket clip allows for very deep carry in the pocket and it is NOT reversible - it is a one position clip. Opened the 2906 is 10.13-inches and the it weighs in a 6.4-ounces. There is a thumb disk on the top of the blade, however I found I can easily flick the blade open with my wrist for faster deployment.
I've often mentioned that, most knife fights are designed around slashing moves - and they are. However, you might be required to do some penetrating moves, and the 2906 thin blade, with a needle point on the blade has exceptional penetrating ability. I used some stacked cardboard and the knife VERY easily stabbed to the handle without much effort on my part - this knife can penetrate. I also had some thin sheet metal, and I used the LAWKS manual lock to further lock the blade open and I was able to easily penetrate the sheet metal without much effort at all. I can see the 2906 penetrating soft body armor, too.
The long curved blade is also designed for slashing moves, and the actual cutting area of the blade is longer than the measured length of the blade because it is curved upwards from the hilt to the point. Again, hard to explain, however if you check out the CRKT web site, you'll see how the long curve is on this blade. I can see this blade easily slicing down to the bone on an arm or leg. If a Special Forces Operator were to use this knife to take out an enemy sentry, I could see if easily slicing through the front of the throat all the way to the back of the neck - not a pretty picture, but I believe this folder can do it with ease. Again, this knife was designed to be purpose-driven, and that is as a weapon - primary or secondary. I wouldn't willingly take a knife to a gun fight, however, I wouldn't feel the least bit under armed against several attackers if I had this knife in my hand. This knife instills a lot of confidence because of the design of the blade.
The Otanashi noh Ken is one of those knives that has to be experienced, to fully understand it. It's one of those knives that is hard to explain in words, but easy to understand, if you are involved in the martial arts, or in a high-risk military MOS, that may require you to use a knife against an enemy combatant. I like knives that are hard to explain, but easy to understand, once you hold it in your hand - it has to be experienced to fully appreciate it.
It's not very often that a knife comes along that is totally purpose-driven. If you are looking for a knife that was specifically designed as a weapon, then take a close look at the CRKT Model 2906 for your next purchase. And, be sure to check out the other James Williams designs, I'm betting you'll find a few more in the Hissatsu line-up that you'll want. Currently - (I'm writing this on May 4, 2013) - this knife is still sold out on the CRKT web site. I told you they are popular. However, I'm hoping that they will have more in-stock when this article comes out in print. The Otanashi noh Ken doesn't come cheap. It retails for $150. However this folder is well worth the asking price. So, take a close look at the 2906, and see if it might be something you want to add to your battery of weapons for self-defense and survival use. I plan on getting a second 2906 when they become available again - that's how much I like this design! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio