TOPS Knives Cuma TAK-RI

The Cuma TAK-RI by TOPS Knives is an excellent direct contact combat weapon designed by world famous Johnny Tsai, an eight degree black sash in both Tsai Family System and in Tai Kit Kuen.

I have been writing for the most part of the last 15 years about the law enforcement profession and about all kinds of edged weapons and tools. I have written about knives and tools, which I or other officers carried while serving in Kosovo as a United Nations police officer. I even wrote about edged weapons and tools as I served in Iraq as a police advisor for two years. But I have never written about a real edged weapon carried by a comic book character, until now.

The knife in question is called CUMA TAK-RI and is made by TOPS knives. The special interest in this knife was the fact that it is featured in a comic book published by IDW (Idea + Design Works) entitled “Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes.” In issue #2 the CUMA TAK-RI is shown, along with a sword, being used to dispatch an enemy of Snake Eyes.

Background History

The very sharp 4-inch top edge of the CUMA TAK-RI and the sharp 7-inch blade makes for a perfect slashing weapon.

Snake Eyes is an original character in the G.I. Joe comic book storyline. Marvel Comics produced the comic book “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero,” issue No. 1 from June 1982 until December 1994 ending with issue No. 155. The Snake Eyes character has been featured as a 3.5-inch toy character with 54 different models and at least five in the 12-inch models. These toys were first produced by Hasbro Toys. Snake Eyes has also been featured in various G.I. Joe television series and in the film adaptation, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. In 2009, IDW Publishing took over the license for a G.I. Joe comic series, which takes the storyline in a different direction.

As of this writing, IDW Comics has produced six issues dedicated to the Snake Eyes character where the CUMA TAK-RI is shown from issue #2 through issue #6. In a phone interview with Robert Atkins, the artist of the IDW Snake Eyes, told me he likes to have his characters use weapons that really exist.

While at a comic book show in Chicago, he met a long time G.I. Joe fan and collector Waysun Johnny Tsai and his son. Johnny Tsai is a well-known and world respected Kung Fu Master with twelve schools throughout the United States. Johnny Tsai designed the CUMA TAK-RI. In discussing the Snake Eyes character with Atkins, Tsai suggested Snake Eyes needed to upgrade his choice of weapons and carry the CUMA TAK-RI.
After looking over the CUMA TAK-RI Atkins liked the design and started using it in his Snake Eyes series. The CUMA TAK-RI is shown on the cover of issue number 6 of Cobra Civil War, Snake Eyes.

In a phone interview with Johnny Tsai, I learned that he developed the CUMA Tactical Street Defense program. During this defense program Tsai formulated the design of the CUMA TAK-RI. Tsai also had previously designed the CUMA Evolution which is made by TOPS Knives. CUMA is an acronym for Combined Universal Martial Applications. Tsai pitched his idea and design of the CUMA TAK-RI to the fine people at TOPS Knives and the rest is history.

Self-Defense Nature

The CUMA TAK-RI was designed primarily as a weapon for self-defense for law enforcement and military personnel. Its design was greatly influenced by the Nepalese Knife “Kukri” made famous by the Gurkha warriors who served in the British military. Tsai’s idea was to reduce the bigger Kukri to a manageable CBQ (Close Quarter Combat) weapon. In reducing the size and adding the shark teeth serration, he came up with the interesting CUMA TAK-RI. The idea of the design was formulated through his many years of CQC training and instructing.


When I first received the CUMA TAK-RI I examined it closely. I found it to be all that TOPS Knives are expected to be in quality and finish and could see Johnny Tsai’s reasoning for the weight, size and general design. The knife was light and nimble, which is a must for a CQC weapon. The 7-inch partial double-edge and partially serrated blade is 3/16-inches thick and fashioned from 1095 High Carbon Steel.
The 6.5-inch handle is covered with two slim scales made of Micarta. The tactical finger-grooved handle is about 0.75 inches thick by about 1-inch wide. In the terminal end of the handle there is a 0.25-inch lanyard hole that I found nice as most lanyard holes are somewhat smaller, thereby limiting the size of cord or rawhide you can use. At the very peak of the handle there is a nicely formed blunt-force trauma device.
The blade is 2.5 inches at its widest point. The top sharpened edge is 4 inches and the bottom sharpened edge is 7 inches which includes a 1.5-inch “shark teeth” serration.

The CUMA TAK-RI, when wheeled around and ran through tactical defensive and offensive moves, performs very well. I would consider this knife to be toes-to-toes and nose-to-nose direct contact knife. In other words, when things have gone to hell and they are coming over the wire and you don’t have time to reload, out would come the CUMA TAK-RI.

The CUMA TAK-RI is a well-designed knife for CQC when slashing and jabbing is in order. The large serration is good for ripping and cutting those who would want to do you harm. The double edge blade is well suited for slashing in both directions in either the frontal or reverse hold.

The handle on the CUMA TAK-RI is somewhat thin based on author’s hand size and expectations.

In The Hands

In testing the CUMA TAK-RI I took it out to a wooded area on the family farm. Since I could not find a volunteer to see how well this knife performed, I chose a hardwood thorn tree indigenous to my area. I hacked on this tree and its limbs. I found it took 3 chops to cut through a 1-inch limb. This is not unusual as the wood is very hard. The only problem I found was the handle of the CUMA TAK-RI was a little small for my hand. Thicker scales would rectify this problem and in my opinion would greatly enhance this knife/weapon. I next wedged the knife blade between 2 large wooden planks about seven feet off the ground. I hung my 210-pound body by the handle to see if the knife would withstand the pressure. The knife blade did not snap and held its ground.

After evaluating the CUMA TAK-RI, I came to this conclusion: The knife is well designed and suited for what it was created for which is for DCC (Direct Contact Combat). I would not recommend this knife for cleaning your monster elk, even though you could use it for that. The knife is light and would work for the backpackers of the world but there are better-suited tools and knives for this purpose. If you practice survival techniques and are preparing for December 2012, then this knife would be one you should add to your bug-out bag. However, the CUMA TAK-RI is well suited for those professionals in the military and those law enforcement officers who serve overseas as police advisers. Anyone who would be going into harm’s way, here or in some troubled land, should consider the TOPS Knife CUMA TAK-RI.

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