Not too long ago, my boss, Sal Glesser, walked into my office and asked me a curious question: “If society were to collapse tomorrow and you could have only one blade in your kit to deal with the aftermath, what would it look like?” Without hesitation, I answered “I’ll bring it in tomorrow.” What I brought in was a barong—a machete-sized single-edged knife with a leaf-shaped blade and a thrusting point. More specifically, it was a custom-made barong with a Japanese-style cord-wrapped handle that was co-authored by Canadian ABS Master Smith Wally Hayes and Special Forces veteran/knifemaker Brent Beshara. I originally designed it as an aluminum trainer for one of my annual training camps, but my devoted and sneaky students commissioned Beshara and Hayes to bring it to life in steel. While it represents the pinnacle of its breed, in general terms it is a machete with a point. It is also what I would want at hand as an edged weapon if society as a whole began to misbehave.
Big Blade Defense
Why am I talking about machetes in a column ostensibly devoted to street tactics? First of all, as noted, big problems like civil disturbances call for bigger weapons. Machetes are also great non-firearm options for home defense or while hiking or camping. And finally, believe it or not, they are becoming increasingly common as street weapons—especially among gang members from countries where machetes are everyday tools. And if you want to learn how to defend against them effectively, it helps to know how to use them.
Most people think of machete-sized blades as nothing more than big knives, but they have a lot more going for them than that. Their long edges are certainly potent when drawn through a target with conventional cutting mechanics, but they also cut very effectively with a “push” cut—adding a whole new dimension to their close-quarters application. Because of their weight and mass, they are extremely effective chopping tools and literally pack enough power to sever limbs. And if pointed—like a barong—they can be used to thrust, creating huge wound channels.