Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reading material

I just finished reading the “Manual of the Baratero: The Art of Handling the Navaja, the Knife, and the Scissors of the Gypsies”, translated by James Loriega and thought that it was relevant enough to write about and post to this blog.

A few months ago while looking through Blade magazine I saw a Navaja style knife, I’d seen them before, but couldn’t remember what was special about them. So I looked them up and found that they are Spanish folding knives that have a peculiar locking mechanism that has teeth that make a ratcheting noise when it opens. In searching for pictures of this mechanism I found Loriega’s book on handling the Navaja, and thought I would give it a try.

I was not too surprised, based on reviews, that there wasn’t a whole lot of technical information about how to fight with a knife, and found the socio-political commentary very interesting. I can’t say that I really gained a lot of insight into the fighting style either, or the knife itself, although there are some basic dimensions that I would probably throw out immediately if I made one. I still need to figure out the locking mechanism, although admittedly I think I have a pretty good idea of how it works at this point.

Mostly this appears to be a book simultaneously trying to remain politically correct while sharing the virtues and flaws of the gambling enforcer, in an era where death from duels and knife fights appear to have happened with much greater regularity than they do today.

I do wish that they had talked a little more about fighting with the Gypsy scissors, but mostly there was a little commentary on gypsies and then - use the same techniques as for the Navaja.

The translator clearly has a much better grasp of martial arts of all sorts, and blade fighting in particular than I ever will. And I'm pretty sure that you can learn more about spanish bladework in some of his other books. Just not this translation.

Finally, the book is actually very brief, as the second half is the original Spanish version.

1 comment:

Bethany Dirksen said...

I absolutely that you read a book and enjoy a magazine completely devoted to knives! Don't you love our society :)