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413 Group’s Balisong Series: What is a Balisong?

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As a kid or an adult, you must have come across people who can perform various tricks with knives and almost all knife enthusiasts are familiar with the Balisong. You remember those crazy fold-able knives the cool guys flailed all over their hands? Yeah, I am talking about those. Meet Mark Guillermo as he demonstrates his skill with the Balisong, all the while discussing the origins of this really innovative little tool.

The balisong goes by many names, such as fan knives, Batangas knife, Veintinueve and the most commonly used one being the Butterfly Knife. The balisong is quite the marvelous little instrument and is an item of both interest and collection for admirers all around the globe. The structure of the balisong cuts the knife into half its original length. This makes it easy to perform a variety of stunts with your imagination as the limit.

There is, however, a lot of conspiracy and confusion surrounding the origin of the Butterfly Knife. Some say it was discovered in the Philippines while others argue that it was a product of the European engineering.

The Balisong is greatly engraved in the Filipino style martial arts. The warriors of the past and the present use such knives in tandem with their martial arts training. Lore suggests that the knife was handed down to later generations and represents the craftsmanship of the early Philippines’ culture. Jeff Imada a well-known martial arts choreographer also stated that the word “Balisong” comes from ‘Baling Sungay’, which translates to ‘Broken Horn’. The ‘horn’ explanation can be traced back to the Carabao(a type of water buffalo) horn carvings that were inserted into the handles of the knives. Although the Philippines have overwhelming evidence stating it originated in their land, they lack any substantial proof to justify those claims.
The one thing that leans towards the European theory is hard evidence. Unlike the Philippines theory, the origin of the Butterfly knife in Europe can be traced back to actual sketches which resemble the early prototypes of the tool. Although the concept wasn’t very popular, it slowly spread from France to England where it got patented and finally entered the Filipino culture via Spain(the Philippines was a Spanish colony at that time) and was readily adapted into their martial arts.

Nobody knows for how the balisong came to be, but going by the history, we find that it was the Philippines who popularized the concept of the present day butterfly knife by imbibing it within their martial arts style.
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