Knifemaking: love, mixed martial arts, and the Lightbringer

“Love suffereth long, it is bountiful; love envieth not; love doth not boast itself, it is not puffed up

It doth no uncomely thing, it seeketh not her own things, it is not provoked to anger, it thinketh no evil

It rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

It suffereth all things, it believeth all things, it hopeth all things, it endureth all things.

Love doeth never fall away, though that prophesyings be abolished, or the tongues cease, or  knowledge vanish away.”

I Corinthians 13, The Geneva Bible

On the other side of fear there is love.  We often here about labors of love, tough love, and doing what we have to do out of love.  These are the things that are easy to talk about but much harder to describe what they actually feel like when one finds themselves in the midst of them.  These are the things that are hard to deliver if your heart is not truly in them.  Like a good meal, love is not something that can be bullshitted, and certainly not for an extended period of time.

Love is connection.  It’s what holds things together through good and bad.  It helps us to feel our light when it feels like the universe is doing it’s best to crush us.  Most of us probably have parts of our lives that we look back on and wonder ‘how did I get through that?’  It’s love.

We all know romantic love with its intoxicating and consuming nature.  It puts the color in our world.  But beyond the rainbows and butterflies it takes a warrior to love someone deeply, to do the hard things, to fight for what is dearest to them.  This is what makes the world shine.

Then there are the times in life when the light of love can go dim and your world goes dark.  I found myself in one of those places a couple years ago.  It was bad.  I talked to a therapist who told me I was absorbing chaos.  Those close to me said it felt like there was a hole in my heart.  I got ultra New Age-y and talked to several light healers who told me my energies were out of alignment with love and that my heart chakra was blocked.

Though it was helpful to hear these things, it shed no light on what I was supposed to do to fix them or how difficult it would be.

It all came to head sometime after Christmas.  I had lost quite a bit of weight.  My friends said that I looked great but I felt awful.  I was getting up and going to work and going through the motions but it felt like moving mountains.  I had to get the office lady to remind me to eat.

There was a gentleman who had been coming in to pick up our scrap metal at our work for quite awhile.  He was a big Puerto Rican gentleman who used to be an MMA fighter.  His name was Jose and he is one of the happiest and most grateful people I’ve ever met.  He used to get into a lot of fights when he was a kid and then he made it into a career.  He said he stopped because he was tired of beating people up.  He had dated a lady who was a Brazilian fighter.  He always told me never to date an MMA fighter.  I told him not to worry.

So it was around this time that I was having all these problems and he came in and just looked at me.

‘Brother what happened?’

I asked what he meant.

‘You used to be BIG and HAPPY, but now you little and sad.  What happened, brother?’

We talked for a bit.  Jose is a really good man.  He told me to not stop loving, no matter what, that love always comes through.  He told me to look up the Bible verse (copied at the top of this post), which I reluctantly did.  I knew it from having it drilled into my head as a kid in Sunday school and I always thought it was cheesy.  I had heard it so many times under such superficial bumper sticker circumstances that I almost forgot how really elegantly composed it is.

So I made it a point to start doing things out of love, in a way that I had never really done before.  I started showing up for myself.  It was really hard and it wasn’t pretty.  In fact it was about as far from rainbows and butterflies as one could possibly get and still be in the realm of love.  Sometimes it’s still hard and not the prettiest to look at but I had made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let it ever get that dim again.

This is the lesson of the Lightbringer.  It was through that process that I learned that love is something you have to stay on top of and nurture even when, no, especially when it’s hard.   It is living and breathing and a sort of life force that keeps the world beautiful.  Even when the world makes it difficult to love, it doesn’t mean you should stop.  Without it, everything can lose it’s meaning and your world can go dark.

 O1 tool steel, in the process of roughing out the blank

Off the grinder at 80 grit

She is ready for heat treat

Hardened and tempered and sanded to 120 grit at a 45 degree angle

220 grit, cutting in at the opposite 45 degrees…

32o grit straight down the blade for a nice satin finish.  These lines are one of the signatures of a hand finished knife blade.  On the subject of labors of love, hand sanding hardened steel is no joke…

Curly Maple attached to the blade

Toward the end of the shaping, sanding, and bursting process…

The Lightbringer:  O1 tool steel, bursted Curly Maple, Kydex spacers, and brass hardware


I ran into Jose at a gas station the other week.  He told me I looked big again.  I just gave him a hug.

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