Tomahawk axes often invoke images of early North American Native American tribesmen and women. Though this is an accurate association — the word tomahawk itself is derived from the Powhatan word tamahaac— modern tomahawks, similar to their early predecessors, are multi-purpose tools used to execute several tasks.
Though most people are familiar with fighting tomahawks used in to hand to hand combat, tomahawks were used by Native Americans, and later by early European colonists, for a variety of functions, ranging from planting to skinning hides. Over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, thousand of tomahawks were hand made, with no two being exactly alike.
Fast forward to the present day, and modern tactical tomahawk axes are mass produced for military personnel, law enforcement agencies, and avid outdoorsmen, survivalists, and hunters. Though not much has changed from the tomahawk’s original design, modern tactical tomahawks are constructed of drop forged, differentially, heat-treated alloy steel. This specialized heat treatment allows for the chopping portion and the spike of the tomahawk to be harder than the middle segment, creating better shock absorption.
Though tomahawk throwing is still a popular event at many fairs, festivals, and regional competitions, the the best modern, tactical tomahawks have come a long way. Here are three of the most common uses of tomahawks today.
Search and rescue
It seems ironic that a “weapon” can be used to save lives in a search and rescue operation, however, it is important to keep in mind that tactical tomahawks are versatile tools, equipped to carry out many different tasks. Used in conjunction with tactical knives, tomahawks are used during search and rescue efforts to cut material or break through obstacles. In addition to having a blade for chopping, modern tomahawks also have a spiked end and/or a hammer that can be used to break through tough material such as stone. These tools prove vital in search and rescue efforts in remote locations or following an earthquake or other natural disaster.
Tomahawks are used by military personnel and law enforcement officers during breaching, wherein they must break through seemingly undestructible barriers such as reinforced doors, windows, or rock. Additionally, first responders such as fire fighters may use tomahawks in order to break down tough obstacles to save lives. Tomahawks come as standard gear for some branches of the military, especially those who often deal with guerrilla warfare, where breaching efforts are most commonplace.
The Kalihawk, designed by world renowned martial artist Doug Marcaida, was created specifically for use with the Kali style of martial arts. Originating in the Philippines, the Kali martial arts incorporate both ancient and modern fighting methods from Eastern and Western Martial art styles. Kali martial artists are known for their ability to use everyday and common objects as a means of self-defense, making the Kalihawk a perfect addition to the tools and weapons associated with Kali martial arts. Being small, perfectly balanced, and easy to deploy, the Kalihawk blends seamless with Kali fighting techniques.
Though rarely used in combat in modern times, the tomahawk has gone from deadly weapon to versatile, life-saving tool. Many civilians find them extremely helpful and useful for outdoor activities such as camping. With the holidays coming just around the corner, consider giving — or receiving — a tomahawk as your next gift.
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