Recently, I had spoken to Ed Fowler about cutting competitions. We were discussing knife design, and that these knives are purpose driven tools. As the conversation flowed, he said to me: “You know, this is the only sport for knife enthusists.”
This struck me, though I already knew this. Swords have a sport-fencing, Spears have a sport-the javelin, axes have a sport-lumberjack sports, Tomahawk guys have well, you know, Tomahawk throwing. You get the idea.
BladeSports is the first knife enthusiast’s support. So, I am asking, why is it not more popular? One reason, I think it is, is that no one really knows about it. Cutting competitions have only been featured at knife shows, and knife specific events. So unless you are attending an event on the day that a cutting competition is featured, it’s possible that you may never have heard of such a thing.
The feedback I have received from individuals who have watched an event is very positive. People really seem to enjoy watching us hack away at 2x4s, water bottles, and golf balls. As a knife maker, I have sold many knives as a direct result of individuals watching a cutting competition.
I can also say that I have learned a ton about knife making and knife design as well as edge geometry and sharpening from participating In this sport. There are huge advantages to abusing a knife in such a way. Knife failures and successes are great information to gain, not to mention the notoriety from participating. Knife publications like Blade Magazine and Tactical Knifes Magazine have featured articles about our exploits. I can personally say that I have enjoyed seeing my name published in these internationally recognized publications.
What I am asking for in this post is feedback. I need to know what we can do to make this sport more accessible and popular amongst knife enthusiasts. I am also hoping for feedback from knife makers, as the most crucial research and development comes from those who make knives. What can we do as an organization to encourage more makers to get involved?
NASCAR and cage sports enjoys a huge following. Those who enjoy watching those sports without directly participating in them. What can we do to develop more of a fan base?
We are also looking for ways to encourage more sponsorship from knife manufacturers. Presently, the cost for sponsorship is $900 per year. This is not a very large amount for a lot of advertisement. Our sponsors enjoy 2 large banners, the ability to sponsor 2 competitors (who will wear anything that a sponsor will give them), a significant presence on the BladeSports International website, and with the partnership of BladeSports and all of our knowledge about competition knives (read free R&D) the ability to create a production competition knife of their own for sale. Benchmade has taken advantage of this collaboration process to make the Benchmade 171. The Browning Crowell/Barker knife is another example.
What more can we offer knife companies, and knife related businesses to participate? This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know what BladeSports can offer to businesses to encourage them to participate. So far Benchmade, Spyderco, Peters Heat Treating, DMT, Mantis Knives, and a few small businesses are participating. Sponsorship helps our organization financially. As we are a nonprofit, all sponsorship is tax deductible. The funds we obtain are used for running of our organization, funding of our website, putting on events, holding educational schools, and finally redistributing funding towards charity. Our board is composed completely of volunteers. Speaking as the executive director, I have never received a penny from BladeSports. In contrast, I know that I have donated both time and money toward a sport I enjoy and believe in.
I believe that BladeSports International is not just a passing phase. I have hopes and dreams that this sport will be just as popular as NASCAR, cage fighting, and baseball. Through hard work, support of our fans, and help from the sponsors this dream is possible. An example of our growth is the participation of affiliate organizations in the Netherlands, Australia, and the UK. Recently we have been approached by groups from Brazil and Italy.
We are growing, but to my eye not fast enough. What do you think we should do?