This article is the based on information gathered throughout the years, martial arts training, application of tools, knife designing and production.
Originating in Indonesia – where it’s called the kerambit – the karambit (as it’s known in the Western world) is a C-shaped blade with a curved handle and a ring at one end.
Like many historic, edged tools, the karambit started as a farming tool and later evolved into a tactical weapon. Such C-shaped tools are thought to have originally been designed based on what people saw in the animal world, such as a tiger’s claw.
Variations on the Karambit
This ancient tool now has many variations – the only thing that has remained constant from the start is its C-shape.
There are three main sections to a karambit blade:
- A ring
- A frame or handle
- A blade
Beyond that, there are many differences. They include blades that are edged on the inside, outside or both; short and long-length blades; a “gut hook” on the outside curve near the point; wood or horn handles. Some even believe that some early karambit blades did not have a ring.
Changes Made in the United States
After the karambit made its debut in the United States, there have been many different designs from an assortment of manufacturers.
The biggest change is that the knife has gone from a fixed blade to a folding blade. Also, in the last few years, designers have tried to affix the name “Kerambit/Karambit” to a curved handle with a ring but add a straight blade.
This is likely because of the popularity and reputation of the C-shaped knife and the possible income stream it can create.
Despite all these variations, there is some misinformation that must be dispelled:
- A karambit is not a knife with a ring, a curve handle and a straight blade, whether it’s fixed blade or a folding knife.
- There is no such thing as a reverse karambit. Turning a karambit horizontally, vertically or 360 degrees will still have a C-shape.