The Flesheater™ began when a friend of mine asked
his martial arts instructor, “What would you look for in a fighting
knife, not a combat knife, but a pure fighting knife?” My friend
was Master Chief Petty Officer Don Griffiths, who spearheaded the design
development research for my SEALTAC™ Series with USN Special Warfare
(SEAL) personnel in 1981.
Don’s martial arts instructor was Arsenio James Advincula, a world-renown
instructor, featured in articles as well as on the cover of most of
the major martial arts magazines. Advincula, a 7th degree black belt
and member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame, began studying Escrima in
1946, Isshin-ryu in 1958, and Hindiandi Kung Fu in 1961. He retired
as a Master Sergeant from the U.S. Marine Corps in April 1981.
With over 62 years experience in the martial arts, with emphasis on
their combat application, and his 24 year military service, Jim Advincula
was well qualified to determine the key design components of a single-purpose
fighting knife. He also developed the current martial arts training
program adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps.
The first prototype was requested by Don during the middle of Desert
Storm. During that time, he collected ideas and input from Advincula
as well as from a number of Advincula’s senior students who made
suggestions for several modifications which were incorporated into the
design of the second prototype. Don was able to make two trips to my
shop to work on the second prototype. It was during the first trip when
the name became official. Months earlier, while accidentally experiencing
the edge of the first prototype, Don had called the knife a real “Flesheater”.
The name stuck (pun intended), and carried over to the second prototype.
During the first trip to my shop, Don and I worked on the handle design.
Working out the design goal of the handle required his understanding
of Jim Advincula’s knife fighting techniques and my understanding
of what would and would not work when making a knife.
The handle provides a secure grip in four positions, facilitating maximum
fighting efficiency for three primary combative distances plus a forward
working grip. In the forward grip, the forefinger is wrapped around
the lower guard for maximum control for work; in first-position, the
“modified hammer” grip is forward, “choked-up”
against the guard; in second-position, the hammer grip is re-positioned
toward the rear of the handle for maximum reach; in the extended mode,
the hand shifts back one finger groove for chopping.
Though the overall length of the knife is the same as the SEALTAC™
I, the handle length is much shorter. This shorter length enables the
modified hammer grip to be used without excess handle protruding from
the back of the hand. Excess length in the pommel area would aid an
opponent in neutralizing the range of motion of the knife hand. Advincula
prefers the modified hammer grip because it provides a more secure grip
than the traditional fencer’s grip.
Jim Advincula emphasizes the thumb and first two fingers for providing
a secure grip in Escrima. For this reason, two finger grooves were used
in the design. If either of these two fingers is injured, the other
still functions with a finger groove to provide a secure grip. These
finger grooves were not limiting factors since Advincula’s particular
knife fighting techniques do not incorporate or require the use of either
a reverse or a rotated (upside down) grip to be used.
Largo Mano Eskrima is a Filipino form of stick fighting which is easily
adapted to fighting with a long blade. Jim Advincula’s knife fighting
techniques were adapted from Eskrima for shorter blades (6-9 inches
long) by practitioners of Filipino combat judo. These techniques were
among the first techniques learned by Jim Advincula from his teachers.
On the topside of the handle, about two inches from the guard, is a
drop. This drop, combined with the handle contours, provides an area
that serves to catch the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. This
is the key to the security of the rear grip.
The (second-position) grip provides about two inches of extra reach
compared to the first position grip, and even more when compared to
the forward grip position. The second-position grip assists in fighting
an opponent who maintains distance while the first-position grip provides
a shorter grip when an opponent moves in. The drop also follows the
natural contour of the hand, when using the forward grip. This handle
design must be held to fully appreciate the effectiveness of the tri-position
grip when utilizing Advincula’s “modified hammer”
The top guard quillion is curved toward the back of the handle to ensure
the handle is comfortable in the first-position grip. If the top guard
did not curve slightly back, the webbing of the hand, when in the hammer
grip, would be stretching to reach it, putting pressure on the first
two fingers at the forward side of the finger grooves.
The handle tends to make the Flesheater™ look strange, but when
you understand the purpose of this handle, and actually pick it up and
adjust your grip back and forth, it give you an impression unlike any
other knife. The Flesheater™ is serious, serious about just one
During the designing process, the question was posed to Jim Advincula,
“How long should the blade length be?” He replied, “At
least one inch longer than your opponent’s, but short enough to
be carried without regard for the additional weight or bulk.”
After evaluation, the blade length was established at nine inches. Coincidentally,
the overall length of the Flesheater™ (14 inches) is the same as
the SEALTAC™ I.
The Flesheater™ blade features a slightly curved lower edge. This
edge design tends to “cut through” and maintain edge contact
better than a straight edge. This flowing curve also adds to the serious
look of the knife.
In order to achieve maximum cutting efficiency, the blade is hollow
ground with the main blade bevel having a 5" radius and the top grind
a 2 " radius. The knife is a full tang design utilizing 1/4" stainless
steel and a tapered tang. The handle is hourglass sculptured with a
pommel swell, a palm bulge and an outflowing front end that provides
support in the two forward
grip positions. This front of the handle can also be left unflared
for slimmer profile for undercover carry situations.
The offset top edge of the Flesheater™ incorporates a double-step
design, serving as a median between the spear and clip points. This
styling allows for proper blade geometry in both grind configuration
and retained point strength, both critical factors in a fighting knife.
The area on the blade back between the rear of the bevels and the guard
face allows a hand to be positioned along the top of the blade for
a close-quarter cutting stroke. For this application, the contact area where the hand is placed in front of the guard has a deeply radiused ‘capture cavity’ groove with serrations toward the front. Both the upper and lower guard faces have 30 teeth-per-inch serrations.
The Flesheater™ comes standard with a right-handed black kydex sheath with a closed kydex belt loop. For complete details regarding sheath choices and options, click on the “Sheath Choices” button in the ‘Dimensions and Details’ section below.
The Flesheater™ plays a major role in the 1994 action novel, The
Reckoning, by James Byron Huggins. One editor said, “This book
does for knife fighting what Tom Clancy did for submarine warfare.”
The Flesheater™ knife/sheath combination is as specialized and
researched a fighting knife design as can be found anywhere. The Flesheater
is a knife designed for people with specialized training whose area
of operation requires a knife of this caliber. When coupled with the
highly refined knife fighting techniques of A.J. Advincula, the Flesheater™
is a superlative weapon of choice.