How many martial arts fads have you seen come and go?

Whether it’s weapons, gadgets and tools or entire fighting systems, it’s rare that a fad will catch on and stick around for more than a few years.

So when one does, it’s worth taking note.

The karambit combat knives from Southeast Asia have the potential to be included in that elite group.

Brief History of the Karambit, Southeast Asia’s Popular Combat Knives

Over the past 4,000 years, mankind has effected thousands of variations in the design of swords, combat knives and impact weapons. The major influences in their evolutionary path are related to three triggers.

The most profound one has been the discovery of new materials or the ability to process old materials into a more usable form. Human beings progressed from sharp sticks to stones, then to copper, bronze, iron and steel implements. Each discovery caused a major leap in weapon design and tactics.

The second trigger has been the clash of cultures. Every time there was a physical shift of cultures — whether because of famine, natural disaster or invasion — an opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of the enemy ensued. Inevitably, each side would adapt, modify or copy the weapons and applications that appealed to its people.

The third trigger has been invention and innovation. Whenever there was an advance in armor, weapon design or tactics, the development of the key needed to defeat it inevitably followed. Those that didn’t evolve quickly enough faded into obscurity or died off.

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(Featured image courtesy of emersonknives.com)