I would love to take a moment and recommend a great source for Tomahawks on the web. Check out HatchetsAndAxes.com ( located at http://www.HatchetsandAxes.com )
I love their selection of Tomahawks and Axes. Perfect for martial artists, SCA, and period reenactors.
You can also find several resources about using and throwing the Tomahawk. http://www.hatchetsandaxes.com/tomahawk_education
The simple Tomahawk is showing up in movies like The Patriot (staring Mel Gibson), Last of the Mochicans (staring Daniel Day-Lewis), The New World (staring Colin Ferrel) and many others. We have seen this great weapon used over and over again in many Hollywood productions. Anew trend is coming now…video games.
As video games get more and more high tech, the weapons and melee are getting lower and lower tech. Many of the video game slated for release feature bow and arrows and main weapons. Laura Croft is back in a prequel to Tomb Raider using a bow to hunt. In Far Cry 3, our hero uses a bow as a survival tool, even the future holds archery skills as we see in Crysis 3, and the wildly popular Assassin’s Creed III features a bow and arrow welding assassin.
Speaking of Assassin’s Creed 3, our protagonist , uses a knife and tomahawk combination for CQB melee work. This is not the first time we have seen the tomahawk in a video game production. Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops gave us a tomahawk set during the high of the Cold War, Rockstar games gave us a tomahawk to use on zombies in the Wild West, and now Ubisoft we give us a tomahawk to use during the American Revolution.
Jump into the action now and get your training Tomahawk from us. Then buy a copy of these great games and swing away.
From the Backcover: ”The low-tech, high-impact tomahawk has been carried in every American war, including Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Here the author traces the origins of the tomahawk and uses his dynamic drawings to show how it can be utilized singly or with the long knife in both offensive and defensive encounters. Includes fighting scenarios, throwing lessons and applications of the war club.”
This book takes you from zero to Tomahawk fighter in a short amount of time. The information is gathered from a variety of sources including Filipino Martial Arts, Spanish Swordplay, Modern Combatives, and old Native American advice and information. The arts of the tomahawk are really a DEAD ART so it is next to impossible to teach exactly how to use this effective weapon in a traditional Native American Indian manner, but we can use our knowledge to reconstruct a very effective training method today. That is the focus of this book.
This review is for our very own TRAINING TOMAHAWK. It is from an excellent book by David Grant. Grant walks the reader through various tomahawk designs and models with many great photos along the way. This is a MUST ADD book for your Tomahawk collection.
Designed for martial arts training with a tomahawk, this model of trainer is copied from pipe tomahawk by Jeremy Bays. The hard plastic is impervious to damage and sits well in the hand despite the flat sides. At 18 inches, the trainer is long enough to replicate the feel of most tomahawks being used today and can be cut shorter if needed. The “pipe” on the pole side is useful for hammer strikes and helps to balance the head. The head is 8.5 inches across from blade edge to pipe.
Jeremy’s design is excellent, and the trainer is hard to put down. Its light weight means it can be trained with for long periods without strain or fatigue. The trainer is also safe for kids to handle and is a great way to introduce them to safety procedures with a tomahawk without the dangers of handling a live blade. However, this trainer is no toy. It can deliver hard blows and do serious damage just like a baton or a bokken. WoodlandArcehry.com sells these trainers at a price anyone can afford, and every tomahawk user or collector should have a least one.
It was the ambition of the boys to be able to throw a tomahawk with the skill and accuracy of our pioneer forebears, and the ability soon acquired by the boys in throwing hatchets at targets was really remarkable. They would come up to within thirty feet of an old board fence with a whoop and a yell, then “click! click! click!” would go the hatchets, each and every one sticking fast in the board, either in a true vertical or horizontal line as it pleased them. Ever since those glorious days of my boyhood in Kentucky it has seemed to me that throwing the tomahawk should be one of the regular feats at all American athletic meets. -Daniel Beard, 1909
You’ve probably seen it in countless movies. A mountain man or Indian takes a man down by hurling a tomahawk through the air and sticking it into his enemy’s back. If you’re going to strike a man down, I can’t think of a more badass way to do it than with a tomahawk.
But contrary to popular belief, Native Americans and mountain men rarely threw their tomahawks, or ‘hawks, during battle. A tomahawk was one of their best hand-to-hand weapons, good for both offensive and defensive moves. Throwing a tomahawk to kill an enemy, while certainly very cool looking, put considerable distance between the thrower and his very best weapon. Even if a mountain man or Indian warrior killed his target, he was pretty much defenseless while he scurried to retrieve his hawk from his victim’s body.
Instead of throwing their tomahawks in the heat of battle, mountain men and Indians hurled their hawks mainly for fun. A few times a year, mountain men would come into town to gather supplies and trade pelts they had collected during the previous hunting season. They’d often set up a huge camp outside the town and take part in various contests such as tomahawk throwing. Some Native American tribes held similar contests of skill for their men to take part in. Indians would also come to the frontiersmen’s camps to engage in trading and throw some tomahawks with the buckskin-clad white man.
Like the mountain men of old, you too can take up tomahawk throwing to pass the time on a warm summer’s day. It’s a great activity to do with kids because it’s so stinkin’ easy.
Today we’ll talk about how to throw a tomahawk, but we’ll begin with a little history on this unique weapon and tool, for those who are curious.
A Brief History of the Tomahawk
Osage Warrior with Tomahawk Pipe
Tomahawks originated in North America amongst the Iroquoian and Algonquian Indians who used them as tools, weapons, and ceremonial pieces. The word comes from a transliteration of the Algonquin word for “to strike down.” The first tomahawks were made with wooden shafts and heads of bone, rock, or wood. Europeans introduced the metal blade and traded the tomahawks with the Indians, who became very adept at using them in battle and came to greatly prize them. The poll of the tomahawk’s head–the side opposite the blade–consisted of a hammer, spike, or even a pipe. These pipe tomahawks, which were made with a bowl on the poll and a hollowed out shaft, were created by European and American artisans for trade and as diplomatic gifts for the Indian tribes; they symbolized two sides of a coin: war and peace. As multi-purpose tools, pipe tomahawks were considered extremely useful and desirable by the Indians.
The tomahawk was carried by American soldiers during the Revolutionary War (in fact, the Continental Congress required militiamen to carry either a tomahawk or a cutting sword), to chop wood, dress game, and yes, even to hew down a redcoat, ala Mel Gibson in The Patriot. Flintlock guns were unreliable and slow to reload, and the tomahawk made an excellent back-up weapon for hand-to-hand combat.
As guns advanced, the tomahawk fell into disuse, although it was still carried by some American soldiers during WWII and the Korean War. The tomahawk then enjoyed a bit of a revival during Vietnam. Between 1966 and 1970, Peter LaGana, a WWII veteran of Mohawk-descent, crafted and sold thousands of tactical tomahawks by direct mail to American troops serving in Vietnam. His updated tomahawk featured a sturdy, penetrating spike for the poll. In 2000, both LaGana’s company, the American Tomahawk Co., and his Tomahawk design were revived and other companies have followed suit in producing their own tomahawks based on the Vietnam model.
Tactical tomahawk made by the American Tomahawk Co.
Today, surprisingly enough, the tomahawk continues to be carried by some military units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although it can still be used for hand-to-hand combat (the Vietnam models are capable of penetrating a Kevlar helmet), the soldiers mostly use it as a handy multi-purpose tool capable of breaching doors, deflating tires, smashing windows, breaking locks, chopping through cinder blocks, and opening crates. And of course, it’s something that can be thrown for sport and amusement to pass the time.
A note on nomenclature: While the differences between a hatchet and tomahawk are debated, they’re essentially the same thing. In colonial times, tomahawks referred to hatchets used primarily for war.
How to Throw A Tomahawk
To learn how to throw a tomahawk like a regular Daniel Boone, I went over to Meadowlake Ranch, a working dude ranch in Sand Springs, Oklahoma to talk to ranch owner Tom Warren about the ins and outs of tomahawk throwing. Here’s how you do it.
What You Need
Tomahawk. You can try to perfect your throwing skills with a small hatchet you have lying around, but I recommend buying a set specially made for throwing. They’re weighted to make throwing easier, so the learning curve isn’t as steep as you’d have with a regular ol’ hatchet. You can fork over quite a bit of money for nice, hand-forged throwing ‘hawks, but to get started I would go with something cheaper.
Target. You need something that your ‘hawk will stick in when you throw it. Tom recommends getting a large circular tree stump and cutting a slice at least 4 inches thick. After you cut your round, you need to season it so your tomahawk sticks nice and good. To season your target, just lay one side of the stump face down on the ground. Leave it there for a few months. When the target is seasoned, mount it on a tripod stand made of tree limbs or metal.
Target getting seasoned for future use.
When hurling edged objects, you always want safety to be a top priority, so follow these rules:
Rule #1: Don’t throw a tomahawk if there’s someone standing in front, behind, or beside your target.
Rule #2: Keep the blade dull. You don’t need a razor sharp edge to make your tomahawk stick in the target. So, as an added safety measure to you and those around you, keep the blade dull enough that it won’t easily cut through skin.
How to Grip a Tomahawk
Shake hands with the ‘hawk and say: “Nice to meet you, Mr. Tomahawk.”
Grip a tomahawk like you would a hammer. Tom describes it as “shaking hands with the ‘hawk.”
Make sure the head of the hawk isn’t rotated either left or right. You want it perfectly straight so that it flies through the air without wobbling side to side.
If you have too much spin on your tomahawk when you release it, one thing you can do is place your thumb on top of the handle like so:
Moving your thumb on top of the handle slows down the spin.
This moves the axis point at which the tomahawk begins to spin up on the handle, causing it to spin later, thus slowing the total spin down.
Throwing the Tomahawk
Throwing a tomahawk and making it stick in your target is easy. I was able to make the ‘hawk stick successfully on my very first throw. It’s pretty much like throwing a baseball. The key to successfully throwing a tomahawk is the distance between you and the target. Measure off about five normal steps from the target. That will give your tomahawk enough time to rotate twice so the head will stick in your target. Mark your spot once you’ve paced it off.
Look at where you want the tomahawk to hit on your target. When you’re keyed in on your spot, swing your throwing arm down by your side.
When the head of the axe passes your leg, swing your arm back up.
When the axe blade passes your head, bring your arm forward again, like you were throwing a baseball.
Simply release your grip on the handle when your arm is straight. The hawk will go spinning out of your hand. Let your arm continue in its downward trajectory. This ensures proper follow-through.
Jeremy Bays here. Thanks for coming to my simple blog post about the WoodlandArchery Training Tomahawk.
This training tool has been featured in Black Belt magazine, and in the book Tactical to Practical by David Grant.
This tool was designed FOR MARTIAL ARTISTS to use in the gym, dojo, or training hall. It was birthed because I could not find a suitable training weapon for the tomahawk at a reasonable price. The only trainers I saw were several HUNDRED of dollars.
One day I was looking over my collection of training knives and though, “WHAT IF…I could make a tomahawk out of the same stuff as these knives to use in class???” WELL THE IDEA HAD SPARKED
I now needed to design and build the first prototype of this training axe. I did just that using HIGH IMPACT ABS plastics and CNC cutting equipment. The result is the WOODLAND ARCHERY TRAINING TOMAHAWK ( http://www.WoodlandArchery.com )
To date, this has been used by
* The military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the USA
* seminars all over the US
* 174 martial arts dojos (more each week)
* over 550 sales to regular martial artists and historical buffs
* even one “unnamed- Deadliest” TV show
Jump on over to Woodland Archery (http://www.WoodlandArchery.com) and grab a couple to try for yourself. You can also get the same tomahawks at the BUY STUFF link above.
By Phil Elmore
Article can be seen in Phil’s Great self-defense blog located at http://http://www.themartialist.com/
The tomahawk is a remarkably effective close combat weapon. A relatively recent surge in interest in the weapon – owing to several factors, among them the prominence of the ‘hawk in the Mel Gibson film The Patriot – means that there are plenty of quality ‘hawks on the market.
Less common – though it does indeed exist – is instruction in the use of the tool as a weapon of self-defense. The beauty of the tomahawk, however, is that it can be a relatively intuitive weapon. Most of us, at some point in our lives, have used a simple claw hammer. There is a set of basic physical movements that can be used to wield the tomahawk that are little different than the mechanics of swinging a hammer.
Now, I can hear the ‘hawk veterans out there grinding their teeth. Yes, I’m aware of the fact that you can use the tomahawk differently, and yes, I’m aware that many of you don’t consider the tomahawk anything like a hammer. My aim, however, is to equip the average reader with an expedient means of using the tomahawk to inflict damage – and nothing more. I see no reason to complicate the issue with esoterica. The ‘hawk can be compared to a hammer and used intuitively on that basis, so why not start from there? Those wishing to put the time into playing with the ‘hawk over the long term will find methods that suit them.
Now, a bladed weapon like a ‘hawk and a hammer will handle differently in application, most notably because one always feels compelled to “break” the wrist more when using an edged tool. Getting a feel for this is why we practice. Use these basics and go out there and train, ‘hawking up the helpless target dummy of your choice.
Okay, on to the basics. Whenever wielding a single weapon, the off hand should be used to protect the center. In some of the photographs that follow, my off hand is not precisely over my centerline – either because I was turning (and reorienting my hand) during the strike or simply keeping my hand out of my face for the sake of the shot. Centerline awareness is a very important skill to develop in self-defense and should not be neglected during weapons training.
When wielding the tomahawk or any other weapon in one hand, the off hand generally comes forward to protect the body when the weapon comes back. Exceptions to this include situations in which extending your hand would get your fingers lopped off or give your opponent something with which to grab and hold you. When the weapon is before your body, by contrast, it gives you some degree of protection – but you cannot simply leave it hanging out there mindlessly or your opponent may try a disarm. Locking your arm out in front of your body is a great way to render workable all those otherwise questionable disarms taught in some dojos today.
Concerns specific to the tomahawk involve the arcs through which its sharp and pointy ends must travel to inflict damage on an enemy, versus the portions of the ‘hawk that are not harmful. We’ll call the latter the ‘hawk’s “non-strike zones.”
Picture your hand and arm as an extension of the tomahawk. Where your arm pivots – at your wrist, at you elbow, or at your shoulder – becomes the pivot point of the weapon, depending on how you swing it. The more you use your shoulder over your elbow or wrist, the more committed your movements become. The more committed you are, of course, the more critical the situation becomes, for greater is the reduction in your ability to recover from an error.
The arc of motion described by your joints translate to arcs along which the blade or the point of the tomahawk must travel to strike the enemy. (The butt of the tomahawk can also be used for strikes, but depending on how light the handle is compared to the weight of the tomahawk head, these strikes won’t have the power that is generated with strikes from the head. Think of using the wooden end of a hammer instead of the hammer head to drive a nail.)
The area inside those arcs of motion – a sphere encompassing your hand and the handle of the ‘hawk – defines the non-strike zone. It is here that an opponent could jam or grab the weapon. You must be mindful of this in wielding the tomahawk. Keeping your motions tight to avoid the danger of attacks to the non-strike zone. This also diminishes the chance that you will telegraph your movements.
Take, for example, a simple overhead strike with the tomahawk. No matter how tight you manage to keep your movement, your arm and elbow comprise a “stop zone.” A quick opponent could attempt to jam or trap your arm and elbow, trusting that the dangerous portions of your ‘hawk cannot be brought to bear against such a counter. Striking from side to side has the same inherent vulnerability, in that the elbow of the weapon arm (as well as the haft of the tomahawk) can be slapped and grabbed without harm.
The T-shape of the tomahawk makes it extremely useful for trapping, hooking, and grappling. If you can grapple with the butt of a stick, as some Filipino Martial Arts practitioners do, you can perform the same locks and hooks with the butt of the ‘hawk. More usefully, you can use the head of the tomahawk to hook and claw as a cat does when it lashes out with its paw.
James Keating, in an article on Tomahawks in Knifeforums: The Magazine, commented on the usefulness of the point of the ‘hawk. This is a viciously effective piercing tool that delivers great penetration. Just as ancient war hammers with pointed spikes were used to pierce armor, the point of the tomahawk can be driven through the target with all the momentum one can generate with the elbow and shoulder.
Basic striking with the tomahawk is, as you’ve already figured out, intuitive. You can strike to the inside or backhand to the outside. You can also strike down and hook up. It is relatively easy to rotate the tomahawk in the hand (another movement specifically mentioned by Jim Keating in the article mentioned previously), but doing this under stress is inadvisable. Take a strong grip on the tomahawk and use it as you’ve gripped it.
The mechanics of wielding the tomahawk as a weapon may be easy, but just how does one apply the ‘hawk to personal defense? Provided you are not in danger of being hauled off to jail for carrying one concealed, tomahawks – while not the most concealable of personal weapons – can be carried in packs, on your belt, or even under a coat in shoulder rigs (such as this excellent adjustable rig from Survival Sheath, below). They are excellent camp tools, too, which means they can do double duty if you’re worried about personal safety while far from “civilization.” As a close-quarters weapon for most of us, though, the ‘hawk is best kept at home in some readily accessible location, where it can be used for self-defense against intruders.
Many weapons require quite a bit of training to be used effectively. The tomahawk is deceptively simple, but it still requires education and practice to be used to its full potential. Like any weapon, it’s not a magic wand and it’s not capable of doing good or evil unless it is held by a human being.
Give this intuitive tool the consideration it deserves
We’ve see tomahawks in cartoons and in many western movies, but what exactly is this iconic weapon and why are they the weapons of choice for Native Americans? A glance throughout history will provide a brief understanding about the Native American tomahawk and its importance in their society.
When you think of Native American movies, one of the most prevailing and memorable items used in combat are tomahawks. They look as though they do not have much use in today’s modern age, however, the tomahawk is used as a decorative and conversation piece, providing hours of intellectual analysis. The Native American tomahawk is seen as an icon which was used during war. North American tribes have been the prominent users of this item. Coming from an Algonquian word, the name of this important Indian weapon became tomahawk.
The first tomahawks were more primitive in nature being made of a stone head and wooden handle secured with leather. The tomahawk could also have been made with the wooden handle secured in a bored hole on the stone. When the Europeans infiltrated the New World, there were other kinds of tomahawks made. They were made with metal, such as the hatchet we know today. They were called trade tomahawks. The initial use of Native American tomahawks was for hand to hand combat. In addition, it was used as both a mid or long range weapon to be thrown at the attacking enemy. The tomahawk was also used for ceremonial purposes just as many other pieces of artifacts. It was a custom for the tomahawk to be placed on the ground during important council meetings. It meant war will commence and it was approved, when a leader took the tomahawk from the ground. It meant that the warfare had ended if the tomahawk was buried. The well known phrase, “bury the hatchet,” came from this.
Aside from its social and historical context, the allure of the tomahawk today rests upon the ornate and impeccable detailing on the handles as well as on the base of the stone weapon. Artists today craft tomahawks with ornate details and natural coverings made of leather and fur. The resulting effect is a beautiful work of art, worthy to be placed on a wall as decor. For those who want to add to their historical pieces of cultural Indian artifacts, these very unique Native American tomahawks have become a great item. Today, Native Americans use tomahawks as gifts, giving them to a person of importance during important tribal meetings.
Author, Craig Chambers, offers more about Native American Tomahawks on his website. You should also get his monthly newsletter, online discounts and download his popular free ebook from http://www.missiondelrey.com