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Butterfly Knife History

Butterfly Knife History

Today, the butterfly knife has its own tight-knit community. Butterfly enthusiasts spend hours perfecting their flipping skills, utilizing the knives as much for flipping as cutting, if not more. Butterfly knives provide collectors with a hobby, not just a cutting tool. Butterfly knives have a pretty well-established niche nowadays, but they’ve actually been around for quite some time. Since butterfly knives are pretty popular among Grindworx customers, I thought I’d give you a brief knife history lesson on the balisong. Enjoy!

Butterfly Knife History: Who Created the Balisong?

Interestingly enough, there is some debate about where the balisong originated—the Philippines or France. To give you all the information that’s out there, I’m going to share both perspectives with you, and then you can decide where you think the balisong came from.

Perspective #1

The majority of people will probably tell you that the balisong originated in the Philippines around 800 A.D. According to those in the Philippines, Filipino warriors invented the balisong. The name comes from the Filipino word “bali-sungary.” “bali” translates to “broken or bending,” while the word “sungay” means “horn.” This translation makes sense, as Filipino butterfly knives are said to have had handles crafted from buffalo or deer horns.

Perspective #2

Others say that the balisong actually originated in France in the late 1600’s or late 1700’s. One French book entitled “Le Perret” depicts a picture of a butterfly knife. The book was published around 1710, and according to the book, the butterfly knife was created between the late 1600’s and early 1700’s.

What Does it Mean?

You might be seeing those dates above and be thinking, “Um, obviously the balisong was created in the Philippines because 800 AD is way earlier than the 1600’s or 1700’s…” Well, you’re right about that. However, some people have problems attributing the balisong to the Philippines because there is no hard, documented proof that the balisong was first invented there. Mostly, this information has been passed down by word of mouth. At least, the information online that I’ve found doesn’t attribute the information to a specific source. Because of this many people attribute the creation of the balisong to France since they have actual documentation on the balisong’s beginnings.

I don’t necessarily think we should all discount the information about the butterfly originating from the Philippines, but I do think it’s good to know be aware that two different cultures are associated with the balisong’s beginnings. After all, knowledge is power, right?

 Butterfly Knives Today

The butterfly knife has been popularized in the USA largely by Benchmade. Benchmade actually got its start making butterfly knives, which is why the company’s logo is a butterfly. (The world makes so much more sense once you put two and two together, doesn’t it?) The materials used in butterfly knives have evolved over time to include materials like carbon fiber and titanium, but some materials remain the same, and the overall design of the butterfly knife is largely the same as it has been historically, as well.

What is your favorite butterfly knife or material used in butterfly knives today?