ABS Cutting Contests and the Battle of the Bladesmiths

It used to be that the American Bladesmith Society held cutting contests at its hammer-ins and had a yearly championship event at the Blade Show in Atlanta, GA. These interest creating events were not only fun to watch but were a great way to promote the forged blade I thought.

For reasons that I am not privy to but suspect have something to do with the lawsuit happy society we live in, the ABS may have stopped having cutting contests, at least on the scale that they once did. I’m guessing that the powers that be feared an injury at one of these events and saw their options as either stopping the contests, or working at making them safer.

To the best of my knowledge there is a cutting championship at the Atlanta Blade Show but it is no longer within the purview of the ABS. It is put on by an organization called BladeSports International. Videos of the BladeSports cutting events can be found on YouTube.

I miss the ABS cutting contests not only because of the fun factor but because they were educational as well. Of course there was skill involved on the part of the cutter but the knife had to perform as well. ABS makers were publicly testing their knives against other makers’ knives, and that took courage on the part of the maker. One of the most interesting things to me was not who competed in them but who did not. It is no doubt easier to talk about how well your knives perform than to pit them against others knives in front of an audience and have to back up your words.

Currently the ABS has been having something they call Battle of the Bladesmiths at some hammer-ins. These are a contest between several makers who must complete a forged knife in either 2 or 3 hours, I’m not sure which. Then the spectators vote on which is their favorite. These “Battle of the Bladesmiths” are interesting but lack the excitement and variety that the cutting competitions had in my opinion. I suppose that if you are a knife maker they hold more appeal than if you are not. That is to be expected as the ABS hammer-ins are by their nature geared more toward makers and less toward collectors.

I believe that the first Battle of the Bladesmiths was held at a hammer-in in 2010 at Haywood Community College in Clyde, North Carolina. The participants were Jim Rodebaugh, Burt Foster, Jason Knight, and Russ Andrews. Each made a knife in the allotted time and the spectators voted to determine the winner.

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Jason Knight’s winning knife.
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Copyright Bill North 2013

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