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The Balisong is a unique instrument. Although it has been stigmatized by Hollywood, politicians, and law enforcement due to its portrayal in movies, its favor among street thugs, its use in the martial arts, and its flashiness, the balisong is actually one of the most useful knife designs ever created. A knife is primarily a tool, and the balisong is no exception. For those of you who relate a knife to a weapon first, keep in mind that the knife has been voted the most important tool in the history of man, and that millions of Americans carry a pocket knife every day to do simple chores, not as a weapon. In fact, one of the earliest uses of the balisong design according to C. Gollnick was on Spanish ships to prevent sparking around the canons (the brass handles wrapped around and shielded the steel blade).

Knife enthusiasts should be aware of the advantages of the balisong design. Many of these "knife folks" see the balisong as a flashy and complicated knife. Lawmakers should also reconsider the laws currently restricting balisongs, which seem silly and are out of date. The balisong is no more dangerous than a regular pocket knife, and is, in fact, more difficult to open than many of today's folders, making the argument that it is a kind of switchblade seem ludicrous. Here are some advantages of the balisong design:

1) The balisong is the only folder almost as strong as a fixed blade, since the handles ply in the direction of the grip and the blade is stabilized by two opposing forces. It has the most positive locking mechanism of any folding knife.

2) The balisong has fewer components than the typical folder, making it less prone to failure, more durable, and easier to clean than many folding knives.

3) The balisong requires no sheath, as the handles fold compactly around the blade to protect it. Add a clip and it can hang on a belt or pocket.

4) The balisong is fun. There are endless ways to open it, so it has "character." You can customize how you open it and make up your own tricks. Learning to "flip" a balisong is akin to playing with a yo-yo, and yet you can open it simply and quickly if the goal is to just get a job done.

So you see, the balisong is far from a flashy and complicated knife, only of interest to enthusiasts. It is both practical and fun, and adds a uniqueness to the knife-carrying experience. A hunter once said he prefers a balisong because he knows the lock won't fail on him and the knife cleans up more easily than a folder. Of course some of these advantages fall away when one compares the balisong with a fixed blade, but the balisong folds into a more compact unit and is more fun than a fixed blade.

In order to enjoy many of the advantages of a balisong, one must consider purchasing a quality balisong. There is alot of sub-par quality in the balisong market. Expect to pay about $100 or more, save a few exceptions.

The balisong has a beautiful, symmetrical design that reminds one of good architecture: Practical, yet artistic in its expression. In existence since at least the late 1600's, the first European balisongs show the evolution of this design concept. The balisong design has also been popular in the Phillipines, and is used in the Filipino martial arts, where much balisong lore sources from.

Unless built specifically as a showpiece or strictly as a cutter, a good balisong should be able to perform a wide range of actions well. This range of activity means that constructing a high quality balisong takes above-average skill and experience. A knifemaker needs to consider issues of grip, handle width, balance, dynamics, and tolerances. Anyone can cobble together two handles on a blade, but to craft a balisong that moves accurately, with "swing," that has good balance, and a user-friendly blade and handles, is a challenge. Despite its simple design, executing a great balisong is a complex matter, and it is a minority of knifemakers who put in the work necessary to try their hand at making one. Crafting a great balisong is a significant achievement in knifemaking. The best balisong makers are able to fuse utilitarian considerations with the art of producing a beautiful knife.


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