Imri Morgenstern, Prime Combat Training - The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 430)

Imri Morgenstern, Prime Combat Training – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 430)

Imri Morgenstern of Prime Combat Training joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on Episode 430 of The Knife Junkie Podcast. Imri’s real world combat experience makes him an ideal field/combat knife designer and tactical instructor for people of all mindsets.

Imri grew up playing football and wrestling but only really learned how to fight when it counted in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). In the IDF, Imri was an elite special operator specializing in counter-terrorism warfare, demolition, breaching, and hostage rescue.

A rescue breacher, master breacher, and breaching instructor, Morgenstern created the first “cold breach” team in the IDF and created SOPs for hostage rescue breaching. Imri is certified by the IDF as a range officer for a variety of weapons, including small arms, RPG, M2 .50 Cal., LMG, M203, grenades and all manner of explosives.

Morgenstern is trained in Krav Maga and is a certified instructor in Michael Janich’s Martial Blade Concepts (MBC) knife fighting system. He designed a brutally effective fighting karambit for Lotar Combat, an Israeli knife company, called Kharma. T.Kell Knives is his latest knife making collaborator, having co-designed the Sapper, a recurve fixed blade knife optimized for Explosive Ordnance Disposal.

Currently, Imri serves on the Tactical Rifle Team at Prime Combat Training, creating instructional content geared toward educating the public.

Find Prime Combat Training online at www.primecombattraining.com and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/primecombattraining.

 

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Imri Morgenstern of Prime Combat Training joins me this week on Episode 430 of #theknifejunkie #podcast to chat about knife design and usage. Imri's real-world combat experience makes him an ideal field/combat knife designer and… Click To Tweet
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The Knife Junkie Podcast is the place for knife newbies and knife junkies to learn about knives and knife collecting. Twice per week Bob DeMarco talks knives. Call the Listener Line at 724-466-4487; Visit https://theknifejunkie.com.
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Announcer [00:00:03]:

Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast, your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your host, Bob the Knife Junkie. DeMarco.

Bob DeMarco [00:00:16]:

Welcome to the Knife Junkie Podcast. I'm Bob DeMarco. On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with Imri Morgenstern, a former IDF operator who teaches shooting and other tactical skills. I met Imri at the Tkel knives booth at Blade Show, where I proceeded to monopolize his time talking about knife defense, his knife designs like the TKL Sapper, and his time spent on the front lines. With an exciting new release just now in the hands of those who preordered them, I thought this was a perfect time to find out more about Mr. Morgenstern. It can be hard to keep a conversation going at Blade Show with so many shiny objects all around, so I'm excited to have a proper conversation with Imri and dig in. But first, be sure to, like, comment, subscribe, and hit the notification bell. Also, share the show, if you would. That really does help out. And as always, if you want to help support the show financially, you can go over to Patreon. The quickest way to do that is go to the knifejunkie.com/patreon again. That's the knifejunkie.com/patreon.

Announcer [00:01:17]:

Do you like the sound of the alphanumeric combinations? M 392, four P and 20 CV, but bristle at eight, cr, 13 MOV, and A-U-S eight. You are a knife junkie. Probably worse.

Bob DeMarco [00:01:31]:

Imri, great to have you here, sir.

Imri Morgenstern [00:01:33]:

Hey, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it. I'm excited.

Bob DeMarco [00:01:37]:

It's my pleasure. Yeah. So we met at the T Kell booth, where we have something in common. Well, a love of knives and a love of Tim Kell's knives. And just off the bat, I want to say congratulations on the sapper. Congratulations on that. It just dropped. I know people who preordered them just got them, and I, unfortunately, was not on that roster. I hope to change that in the future. But, man, it is a beautiful knife. I got to check it out at Blade Show, so congratulations on that.

Imri Morgenstern [00:02:06]:

Thank you. I appreciate one little correction. We had a run come out of, like, 15 or 20, and the people who are pre ordering, I believe in August, it will be up.

Bob DeMarco [00:02:18]:

Okay. Sorry to misspeak that. Can be a sticky subject when people are excited to get their knives and they hear, wait, everyone else got them?

Imri Morgenstern [00:02:28]:

Yeah. No, I mean, there's the first batch, the preliminary batch, where we kind of dipped our toe into the sapper water, and now we're going into production. Right.

Bob DeMarco [00:02:40]:

Well, okay. I want to talk all about that and your design goals with the sapper and all that, but before we get to that, I want to lay down some of your background. I mean, you have a from what I gathered, talking to you, and from what I've read, you have had so far a pretty complete military career in the Israeli Defense Force. And I don't know if that's how.

Imri Morgenstern [00:03:04]:

I would say it. I don't know what that means.

Bob DeMarco [00:03:10]:

Okay, let me not say complete. Let me say you've served a lot, you've done a lot of things in some dangerous lands for a good long time, in some dangerous situations. Maybe not complete. You probably have more. You're not retired.

Imri Morgenstern [00:03:27]:

Okay, I'm not retired, no, I got out. But in the usual fashion of Israel, you're in the reserves in special units. You're in reserves in your active duty unit, essentially till you're about 50.

Bob DeMarco [00:03:44]:

All right, so tell me how you got involved with the IDF and what you sort of began to specialize in and how you grew within that career.

Imri Morgenstern [00:03:56]:

Sure. So let's see, I went in in late 2000, early 2001, really. I was born in Israel, and so my parents and I moved to the States when I was eight ish seven, eight nine. And it was kind of a lot of back and forth high school and stuff I did here played football and wrestling and all the normal stuff for here, which, by the way, was like the most instrumental, probably, piece to my being able to have a ball in the army. I loved it. I love it. I still love it, and I totally miss it. But now that I'm living here, now I'm not actively engaged in the military. Now I teach you. So I will spare all your viewers the entire saga of early on and how I got to my unit and all that. But the bottom line is training takes a long time. You go through the pipeline, you go through all the selection process and all that stuff. And then I did about two years of training, and then you're in it. And unlike being in the military here, where the majority of our wars that we have to fight or where our guys deploy, is really far away. Everything's there within maybe a half an hour to a couple of hours for the majority of stuff. Palestinian territories, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, all that stuff is all close. Egypt's right there. Of course, we have peace with Egypt and Jordan, so there's not as much there. But my unit actually got to work there quite a bit, which kind of connects to the whole Sapper thing, because I did a lot of b mining on the Egyptian and Jordanian border region, so that's kind of one piece. But yeah, so demolition was kind of my thing. Earlier on, I was in a section of the unit that's more long range stuff, demolition raids and all kinds of little intel things and whatever. And later on I got into, which really became my passion, and it was more on the hostage rescue breaching, specifically. I love it. I mean, blowing something up and standing practically right on top of the charge and running in and running a gun in through the smoke and everything. It's a ball. It's a ball, right? I often refer to it as better than sex.

Bob DeMarco [00:06:47]:

Well, to me, it's very interesting, the whole idea of standing right next to an explosive charge that you set, that you have the expertise to make it go that way and not this way. And everyone on the other side, if they're still alive, they're probably stunned. And that's probably a great way for you to enter that room in that situation.

Imri Morgenstern [00:07:07]:

That's the idea.

Bob DeMarco [00:07:09]:

Just to get good at that has to be well, it has to be. I would imagine you have to really be paying attention through all of your training. You cannot slack when you're dealing with explosives, I would imagine.

Imri Morgenstern [00:07:24]:

Yeah, absolutely. I'm not sure this is really the path we want to go down. I could talk about this all day, but yes, you get a lot of leeway in certain ways with modern day military grade tools and charges and whatever. You can get any monkey to set a charge. That's easy. Put that there. Connect this, plug this in here. You're good to go. Understanding, really, the magic of it. So I went from the macro to the micro. Breaching is surgical, especially when you're talking HR breaching, meaning hostage rescue breaching. That's very specific, very surgical. You have to for two reasons, really, right? One is effect into the room, and two is how close you can get your team. That's your balance right there is between those two things. And how can I, with 100% certainty and 100% silence, guarantee the opening of this door at an immediate moment with a very specific effect? It's fun. It's awesome. It's awesome. But, yeah, there's a lot involved.

Bob DeMarco [00:08:38]:

Yeah. I'm sitting here thinking of all that must be involved in, and I would imagine a lot of different military skills take a lot of nerve. But explosives to me always seem so unforgiving.

Imri Morgenstern [00:08:53]:

I have all my fingers.

Bob DeMarco [00:08:55]:

Yeah. Thank God. So you grew up somewhat in the States. You moved back to serve in Israel, so you're part of military life. Knives. Tell me about your use of knives. And have you always been someone who's had an affinity for them?

Imri Morgenstern [00:09:16]:

Oh, yeah. Starting as a kid, my first love affair with knives was I must have been I don't know, I must have been five or six maybe earlier, somewhere in there. And my grandmother I grew up with my grandmother mainly. My mother was off. She was a theater actress for a while, and so she was touring and all that. And I just grew up with my grandmother, who was a phenomenal, incredible woman. Maybe a story for some other podcast where it's more relevant, but she bought me a knife. It was like one of those Rambo knives, right? Yes. And screw top right with the compass and the matches and all that BS and piece of junk, I'm assuming, and came home and all I wanted to do. I was two handed this knife, a little tiny kid. I'm two hand in this knife and my best friend's over playing with the knife, everything. And then my mother comes home like a few days later. She just lost it and made my grandmother. But yeah, I've always had an obsession with knives and guns and everything. I love it. And that's why certain people, they get out of the military and they're like, cool, I'm done. I don't want to see guns, I don't want to see all this stuff. I'm not against it, but like, okay, I did my thing, I'm done to me. No, it just started my infatuation my military service. And that's why I do what I do now, right? It's the biggest reason for why I do what I do now in terms of military. Knives in the military are not mostly used the way I think a lot of people imagine. And I think that what most people think about knives is you carry a knife because you get in fights and you use your knife to kill people. And that really couldn't be further from the truth. Your knife is one of your most important tools in your kit, and very rarely is it used for actual for the act of fighting these days, we have such tremendous weaponry, whether AR pistol and all that stuff. They're very dependable, I think, in combatives training. In the military, we do some knife training, but it's nothing like what you would expect, right? And really, that's all units. I'm sure there's some Asian militaries and stuff that do take it a little more seriously, but it's more part of their culture. But in Western militaries, really, knife fighting is all but lost art. On occasion, a unit gets interested in it. And I've provided some knife training to some military units here in the States in the last few years. But it's really okay. There's 4 hours in five, six days of training, right? That's kind of what it comes down to. And so with Krav Magai and all this stuff that we do in terms of combatives, we do some knife stuff, and it left me wanting so much more because I'm like, man, really? A knife is not just used for century removal. Matter of fact, we don't use knives at all for century removal. We do other things. And that's really irrelevant, I guess, for right now. And so that kind of got me going after the military into really wanting to explore it, learn about it. Where I really got into it was actually want to say it was like 2013 maybe. And I had been living in Israel up until that point, and I had this crappy injury in my arm and a series of surgeries and bone transplant and screws and stuff. And I was like, you know what? When I get through with all this hand crap and all this, I'm moving back to the states, and I want to learn how to be a knife maker. I want to go live up in the mountains, colorado, Montana, whatever, which I actually lived up in Colorado for quite a few years and lived in Montana for a while. And so my whole thing is like, I kind of want to I wanted to go back there. I want to learn knife making, start a knife making business, hand making knives, knowing nothing about zero about making knives, really, or fighting, other than what I learned in the military. I moved, let's see, in Colorado, I found my teacher, who's now one of my very best friends by the name of Steve Rollert. Tremendous not only an incredible knife maker, incredible teacher, but really a tremendous human being. Tremendous human being. And his soul goes into every single night, and he's incredible. So I actually ended up living in his shop for about a year and a half. I would set up a cot, literally I would set up a cot between the power hammer and the anvil and get a few hours of sleep, and that's it. I literally lived in that shop for about a year and a half, which was incredible because Steve, not only he brought me into his family, and it was actually quite a turbulent time for their family personally. And so some sickness in the family and some death, and it was hard times, and I'm glad to have been part of that because it was rough, and if I can help so that's really where I started learning knife making through Steve. One of his best friends, Owen Wood, one of the most incredible knife makers ever. Owen lived in Colorado. He's South African originally. Tremendous again, tremendous knife maker, tremendous machinist, just incredible mind, tremendous human being as well. And we all became very, very close. And I have a knife here that I made with Owen. That's kind of his design. But Owen makes these folders. They're so intricate and so complex. I could never even in my wildest dreams, I wouldn't even think of being able to recreate one of his knives.

Bob DeMarco [00:15:55]:

Well, let's see that knife. I want to see. This is one of your very first and then I want to talk about the sapper. And then we will see an evolution, obviously, from beginning to end.

Imri Morgenstern [00:16:07]:

I have a few of my knives here, what I have left. And honestly, I'm going to show you this knife. It's a folding knife. It's very cool. I in no way, shape or form can take credit for this knife because it's Owen's design. And I did the whole thing essentially under Owen's not only tutelage, but like, if he wasn't sitting there literally looking over my shoulder, no, stop. Do this, do that. And look at that's beautiful man, the shoulders here, right? This is something that people don't really show much.

Bob DeMarco [00:16:44]:

Oh, the plunge grinds there.

Imri Morgenstern [00:16:45]:

Yeah.

Bob DeMarco [00:16:46]:

Beautiful.

Imri Morgenstern [00:16:47]:

And that's all by hand, right. So I could never do plunge lines this perfectly. Even can't do it. When Owen's looking over your shoulder, you're sitting on his machine with his light set up, all that. This is what I got. It looks machine made. I don't have that kind of skill. Right, so and this is I'm sorry. I'll do this again. I'm yeah. So this is an explosion pattern Damascus. I know it's a little bit difficult to see. There we go. No, we can see that pretty well. That looks new and around a little bit. Just that feel. And of course, this is an imperfect example, to say the least, of an explosion pattern Damascus, but it took me probably three weeks just to make the billet. Wow. So that's the level. Owen could probably do it in a few days. Took me about three weeks.

Bob DeMarco [00:17:47]:

Well, so how much of the knives that you've been responsible for so far? How much of that is design, and how much of them have you made? I know you have worked with Lotar Combat Knives out of Israel and have that beautiful Karma Korambit, but you did not make that. You designed that one, correct?

Imri Morgenstern [00:18:10]:

Absolutely, I did not design it. I co designed it with him. We had been talking, and I want to get back to Steve because I didn't really get credit, but near, the owner of LATAR Combat Knives is a very dear friend of mine, also an Israeli SF veteran. He served in another unit that I one of my favorite units to work with. Just excellent, excellent, top notch guy. And he kind of same as me. He's always had an addiction to the cutting weapons. We were discussing one day, and I was like, dude, we got to do something together. And I was like, hey, I'd like to start with the karambit if you're good with it, because I've made a bunch of karambits when I was making knives by hand. My teacher, Steve, was very much responsible for getting me into karambits. He introduced me to all the 3% of southeastern martial arts that I'm familiar with, and I automatically fell in love with them, A, because they're just so special, so cool. And something about just that it's like, I'm no engineer, but there's got to be some sacred geometry to that curve that just makes it incredible. But then in terms of use the cool. So Steve, my teacher, actually introduced me to Michael Janich and started bringing me to train with Michael Janich in martial blade concepts. So I did that for a few years, and that's definitely the best system that, in my experience, I have gotten to train with. So I do try to pass that knowledge on today as well. Right. Because if someone comes up with something and teaches it to you and you're like, oh, my God, this works so incredibly well. Right. So, anyway, through all that, because we're talking about LATAR. Combat knives. I got to starting to make a lot of karambits, and I feel like I got the most misunderstood part of a Korambit is the handle and how that handle works. And I actually have one of my Damascus karambits here that I handmade that was the basis for this karma. So I had actually sent it to near because he lives across the country from me right now. He lives on the west coast. And so I sent it to him. And we just drawings back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. And I cannot take credit for how this knife looks. I can take credit for how this knife behaves to a large degree. But the look, yes, the design, the features, the placement of things was very much my part of this collaboration. Everything visual on here, that's near because his stuff is so different and stands out and it's so cool, and it's really got his flavor on it.

Bob DeMarco [00:21:20]:

So when you were showing me the karma at Blade show, you were showing the teeth on the back and how they're used for kind of like trapping and gripping and that kind of thing, it made me wonder, how does the Korambit fit in with look at that. Oh, man, I love those teeth, those gripping teeth on the back.

Imri Morgenstern [00:21:45]:

You'll have to pardon the spray paint here. That was a range accident.

Bob DeMarco [00:21:51]:

But it just makes me wonder, the Korambit. Okay, let's talk Marshall Blade Concepts for a SEC. That is done sort of at least how we see it. It doesn't have to be, but we oftentimes think of the Warren Cliff. We think of the yo jimbo the yo jumbo. Michael Janet's designs specifically for martial blade concepts. We think of that style blade like you're holding there. How does the Korambit, for instance god, that's gorgeous. How does the Korambit fit into MBC? And how does the Korambit fit into, say, krav Magaza? I guess your native hand art.

Imri Morgenstern [00:22:33]:

My native flavor? Your native flavor tremendously well, is the bottom line. So Martial Blade Concepts is definitely not a Korambit based art. It's actually not a martial art at all, which is why I love it. No kata, no nothing. It's all about being practical and useful. And it's actually designed around, specifically a folding knife. That's the thought process behind Martial Blade concepts. It's supposed to be whatever you have on you, it's going to work. If you live in Chicago and all you can carry is a one or two inch blade, whatever their law is there right now, you can make it work. Just keep it sharp. And the Warren Cliff is, again, something I learned about from my teacher, Steve Rollard. But like you said, Michael Janice is very big on Warren Cliffs, and he actually owns I'm very proud. He actually owns one of my Warren Cliffs that I made. Oh, cool. The genius of a Warren Cliff in terms of a self defense weapon, is that your well, let's define it in case somebody doesn't know, right? You have a straight cutting edge that is straight all the way to the tip, right? It's completely flat. There's no curve in it. And then from your spine, at some point, you have this cut that goes down towards the tip, and the tip is at the very thinnest cross section of your blade. Now, that can create some problems as well in terms of tip strength. And that's the big part of design, is figuring out what parts you have to reinforce or do whatever with. And so, in terms of use, why this is so good for self defense. This tip, if designed right, is not frail. You can definitely make it frail because it is at the thinnest cross section of your steel right down here, where usually most tips will be up higher atonto the reason, a tonto, which is kind of a backwards worm cliff, right? One of the reasons why a tonto is considered to have such a strong blade or a strong tip, I'm sorry, is because the tip of the blade is at the thickest cross section of your steel, right up top in line with the spineish, depending on design. And so you're getting a stronger tip. But here, for whatever length blade you have, you are going to get maximum cutting surface of your knife. And so if you have a shorter blade, a three inch blade in most states, or a two or one inch blade, if you live in places that are very prohibitive, you can still get maximum effect out of that length of blade. So it's genius. Janich designs a lot of knives for spider combat and his personal preference, because what he designs knives for is primarily self defense, right? And so he likes a very thin cross section, a, because they're folding knives, b because by definition, they're going to be sharper, right? And the tip on a lot of those and some of those, at least the older ones, I'm not up to date on all the current ones, but at least some of the older yojimbos and everything, they had a hollow grind. So that can give you extra sharpness, not necessarily depth of cut, but on human flesh, that's not as important. It's not a piece of wood that your blade is going to wedge into if that hollow grind is too steep. In my mind, I like over designed, big, beefy, heavy things, right? To me, it's like, oh, I love the knife, but that tip, I guarantee I'm breaking that tip off, right? For Jen, she says, okay, then you get another $200 knife, but it saved your life. And he's 100% correct. He's correct. This is why America is awesome, because we have the option to love whatever flavor of AR 15 or almost. Now, despite current political crap, we have all these flavors, and we get to personalize it. And that's why custom knife makers are in business, right?

Bob DeMarco [00:27:16]:

Yeah, amen. I mean, that's the whole theme of this show for me, anyway. And my collection is variety is the spice of life. I love all the stuff behind me on the wall. I love cheap little folders. I love expensive. I love it all. I'll go to Walmart and get a fix if I need one. But just like the blade and Tomahawks whole arms doesn't matter. I love it all. But you wanted to talk a little bit more about your teacher, your knife making teacher, Steve. And then I want to find out about this sapper design and where it comes from. I want you to break it down for me. I feel like you got a lot of roots from this gentleman. Tell me a little bit more.

Imri Morgenstern [00:28:00]:

So, Steve's incredible, right? I've already said how I kind of came to Diaz shop and everything, and Steve and I connect on we're very similar in many ways, and he's a very bushido kind of guy, if you know what I mean. And he's been a martial artist his whole life. He's been his whole life, but for 35, 40 years. A long time. He's been a knife maker for about that long. Tremendous. But then in terms of how we approach creating something, obviously, the fundamentals and all the technical stuff, I learned from him. But how we conceptualize a knife is very similar. And so although he's a lot more into the southeastern stuff, southeast Asia I'm sorry, the Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia kind of stuff, because he actually studied under Uncle Bill detores, penchoxy lot and all that for many, many years, and he's introduced me to him, and Uncle Bill actually broke my knuckle, which I'm proud of. Yeah. So Steve, he has that same personality of passion about it as I do. Whereas Owen, who is just this unbelievably scientific mind, and he's really a machinist and an engineer type, where Steve and I are kind of we flow with it, and it's going to end up beautiful, or it ends up in the ceiling. When you get pissed off and throw the knife at the ceiling and it gets stuck. Right. Which is kind of our joke. Steve was such an inspiration in terms of everything, such a wealth of knowledge and such a huge person. Just takes some random Israeli guy to live with them in their shop, in the house where his daughter and her children live and all that at the time, jamie, his wife, who had passed away while I was there, who was also very inspirational person. So they took me into this family, and we got to geek out on this stuff literally 24 hours a day. So such a tremendous person. I can't thank people like that enough, if that makes sense. Sure.

Bob DeMarco [00:30:37]:

So just from knowing you just a little bit and from the conversation we had, a blade show, knowing about the sapper and then talking about Korambits and other tactical knives and NBC. I know that you are the sort of person who, if I were to say what makes a good knife, you'd say it depends on the purpose. I just have a feeling.

Imri Morgenstern [00:31:02]:

Absolutely.

Bob DeMarco [00:31:03]:

So you built the sapper as based on your experience, D mining. I want you to tell me a little bit about what D mining actually is. Like, what the action is and then how the sapper, besides so many other things. I look at the sapper, I see a beautiful fighting knife, I see a combat knife. But there is so much more to it. Let's talk about that. Tell me a little bit about the D mining and then this design.

Imri Morgenstern [00:31:30]:

Yeah, so kind of where we started off. And I think the reason we segued into everything with my military service having to do a lot with demolition. Parts of demolition are what people think they are blowing up buildings, blowing up stuff, setting up things to blow up later or setting them up to blow up now. There are big parts of working aspects of demolition that are not what you think. And a lot of it has to do, especially in that region with mines landmines, both anti tank and anti personnel landmines. And it's a big thing. The north of Israel, the Golan Heights and parts of Galilee, there are some of the more heavily landmined landmined per mass areas on the planet. There's other Sri Lanka, there's places in Africa that have a ton of mines. But all around the borders of Israel, on both sides of every border, there's a ton of landmines. It's a big thing that we had to deal with in my unit as not really sapper, but it's kind of a close sapper. 18 Charlie there's nothing American in the American military that exactly defines the same thing that we do in my unit. Anyway. You deal with it in some aspects. Sometimes you deal with it on an almost logistical level or administrative. Hey, this isn't an operation. But like I said, on the Jordanian border, there were areas we've had peace with the country of Jordan for many years. And so there are areas there that they want to demine so that they can be put to use, whether it's growing stuff or trading land or whatever. And those are the more administrative kind of aspects of training. So we've done a ton of that. And that's typically in broad daylight. Metal detectors. We know exactly we have maps of where all the mines are. Doesn't mean exactly where they are on the maps, but we have maps denoting exactly what kind of either very specifically there's a mine here, here, here, here, here, or this is the pattern we use to lay them in whatever year. And here's the maintenance schedule. And so that's one aspect. And then there's the special operations aspect that we dealt with a. Lot, which is where the knife even administratively, you find a piece of metal. What do you do? What do you do? You get down, you start digging with a knife, right? There's a way to do it. You're not just right, but on the special operations end, it's a whole thing. And oftentimes you will do it oftentimes always in pitch black, typically not even night vision because that gets in the way. Oh, yeah. I can do a much better job at doing that in pitch black without night vision than with night vision. And we have various tools from metal detectors to these probes folding little probes that you can take out. And those are really good for certain aspects. If I just want to get through somewhere, I'll pull that out. I don't have to get on my hands and knees and start digging the ground. I can probe literally a spot for my foot and then probe a spot for the next foot and so on until we're out in danger area. Cool. That's one application. If I need to get a force, for example, through a minefield, that may be a way that you would choose to do it, depending on your mission set. And then oftentimes you don't want to be standing up. And if I have to find something or whatever and neutralize it for various other reasons, the knife is your tool. That's it. The knife's your tool. You're nice and low to the ground. And I can clear a whole minefield given enough time. Not that I would ever want to do it, by the way. Let me caveat this all with this is the crappiest work that I ever, ever want to ever do again. But I'm incredibly glad that I know how to do it, because if I'm ever in that situation well, paint the picture for us.

Bob DeMarco [00:36:04]:

You said it's pitch black, which is crazy.

Imri Morgenstern [00:36:06]:

First, we only work at night.

Bob DeMarco [00:36:08]:

So you're on your hands and knees, you're on the ground, you're crawling. How do you do this without setting something off? And are you using your blade to fish around in the sand?

Imri Morgenstern [00:36:19]:

Yes. So in certain situations, your answer is probing with a knife. And that's where the majority of the specialized features in this blade originate. So this is the sapper. It started with handmade knives that I made to fulfill a request from a friend of mine, an officer in my unit, and he got the first one, and then I started kind of making them cooler and better and redesigning. I believe he actually broke the tip off the first one I made. So yes, oftentimes, and there is a time and a place where you probe with a knife, and you can kind of with any knife but a tool for the job. Right. So the more comfortable a knife is for that specific application, the correct length of blade, the correct shape of handle, because the grip is very different. Let's see. Did I just cut myself? Maybe so, yeah, these guys are sharp. Everybody knows different grips here. I've left enough room for bigger hands, for more fighting applications. I like the Filipino grip. So for more fighting applications, you can kind of choke up on it. If you're bushcrafting and you want to hack and stuff, you can kind of come back and let your pinky kind of grab in here. And you can really do some good hacking for firewood, for whatever it is bushcrafty stuff. The real grip that makes this different in terms of probing for mines is the knife sits in your hand like this. And this part right here, right back here, the connection, this is going to be your grip here. So one of these two fingers, or however it lands comfortably in your hand, that's what retains the knife in your hand.

Bob DeMarco [00:38:35]:

You're using the bird's beak with your ring finger and pinky to hold it. But the pommel is butted up against your palm there.

Imri Morgenstern [00:38:42]:

Correct. And the pommel part, which is not technically a pommel, right. It's just a one piece deal, but where it fits into your hand. And that's this right here, that is the money. This is the money maker because that is the contact. That is the conversation between the ground where you may have a thing that goes bang in your face and your brain connects. This is where the conversation happens and this is the grip. So, yes, absolutely. I've done that a lot in training. I have done that a lot, live in many different instances. And so it's freaky. It sucks. It's a horrible horrendous job. In a civilian context. If a country wants to demine a certain area these days, they bring in machines, right? They have big machines that do that. They have dogs. There's many different ways for it to be done in a special operations context. And you have a very small team moving through a place, and you got to get through it. And there's a lot of different reasons to do it. It's not just walking through and getting to the other side. You might be, for example, I don't know, going in to switch somebody's landmine locations. I'm just making that yeah, right. Just hypothetical. Hypothetical, completely.

Bob DeMarco [00:40:08]:

So on the blade I'm sorry, I'm interrupting, but on the blade, there is a line that goes down the blade. Describe what that's for. It sticks out. What's that for?

Imri Morgenstern [00:40:21]:

What this line is, and right now, I understand it looks weird, right? But what you'll notice is that line goes straight through the center of the handle here. I'm trying to get a straight line here into the camera, and it goes all the way right to the tip. That tip is what's probing the ground. And it may be submerged a little bit in the ground. Right. You may have it a certain depth in the ground. There may be a little bit of grass. There may be some rocks or whatever that are kind of impeding your vision a little bit. In pitch black, that line may not help so much, but as you move the knife around, you may get a glint of light off of a reflection, kind of off some stars or whatever, just some little bit of ambient light. And that's just helping your brain go, yes, that's exactly where the tip is. So when you feel something under the ground, your brain goes directly to that spot and not a millimeter in either direction.

Bob DeMarco [00:41:27]:

So your eyes are following down the line and then the tip is lost under the ground because you're probing down there. But just by following the line, you can extrapolate where that tip is and know exactly where that mine is.

Imri Morgenstern [00:41:41]:

You should know anyway with enough practice, just by keel, but it's confusing. And oftentimes you have a helmet with a big old glass bulletproof, glass visor thing and you're dripping sweat all over the Middle East in the middle of the night. You're sweating bullets and all the protective gear and all that. Not to speak of the fact that you probably walked quite a number of kilometers with a lot of gear to get there in silence and all that, right? Sneaky dicky. And so any little piece that's going to help me, I want it. Now, what I brought, and there's a lot more about this knife that we can discuss here in a second, but what I brought to kind of demonstrate and just kind of for sentimental reason I have telling you about this a little bit before and you were like, oh, I know exactly what that is. Yes, you do. This is a us. Navy knife. Whatever model it is, I think it's mark three mod zero. At least that's what it says here. You, I guarantee, know a lot more about the history of this than I do.

Bob DeMarco [00:42:49]:

Not really. I just recognize that really cool clip point shape.

Imri Morgenstern [00:42:53]:

Yeah, this is the knife that I actually did a tremendous amount of that probing with this specific knife. Now, the reason I'm showing it yeah, these don't come sharp. I've obviously sharpened this. The reason I'm showing you is this. This right here, we take some very dense, like closed cell foam and wrap it around in a certain way. And then we duct tape it with this gaffer tape, which is like the best tape on the planet. And this was my knife. This is one of my knives right, tied into your vest. And you have arm's reach. So I can probe with it, I can fight with it, I can do whatever I need with it and everything for us, it's all dummy corded to you, everything.

Bob DeMarco [00:43:41]:

Oh, interesting. So that you're out in the dark, you're not on your hands and knees, where'd my knife go?

Imri Morgenstern [00:43:47]:

So even worse than that, because you're not going to lose knife when you're in combat, fighting, all that, that's when you might lose a piece of kit running for your life. You might be losing a piece of kit. You're not going to lose a knife in a minefield. Right. But if it does fall, at least it's still connected to you. We're very concerned about even though some of the more sensitive anti personnel landmines may take four kilos to set off, which is like nothing, right? What is that, ten pounds? And some of them are even a little bit lighter. We're sensitive about I'm not even scraping the ground somewhere where I think, yeah, I get it.

Bob DeMarco [00:44:25]:

I see what you're talking about. It's not about losing it. It's about dropping it on a damn mind and having it go off.

Imri Morgenstern [00:44:30]:

That's part of it. A lot of it is about losing it. Every button on your uniform, everything is not only sewn on, but then we glue it, glue on. I mean, we're very pedantic about these things. You have to be pedantic about every little thing. All the knits on your shoes are counted and marked with UV paint so you can find them if you lose one. When you do your checklist on the way home.

Bob DeMarco [00:44:55]:

You say, Right? And I say, yeah, but I haven't lived that. It's really interesting for me to hear.

Imri Morgenstern [00:45:00]:

What were you about to show? So the crux of this whole thing is this, for those of you I'm not going to take this off because this is the original thing left over from the military, and it's still in great shape. But this was our solution for this, right? This was our solution. And it's not ideal, to say the least. It's giving you a little bit of bounce so that your conversation with under the ground is more gentle, but you're losing some of that feel. Losing some of that feel. But when you do this for a full night, when you do this for a full night every day of the week, sometimes your palms it sucks. Right? It doesn't feel good when people talk about getting hotspots and stuff from chopping wood. Similar kind of concept. And so that's why it took me quite a few tries to actually get something that works for me. And I think it works for the majority of hands because it's about this curve. It's not necessarily about how long it is it'll fit in, should fit in the majority of hands. And so that's the story.

Bob DeMarco [00:46:20]:

It is no secret that I'm a huge fan of Tim Kell and his knives. I think he's a great guy, but I carry his knives all the time. I'm looking forward to the new Mr. One. I can't wait to get that the call. What was it like working with the great and powerful Tim Kell on this project?

Imri Morgenstern [00:46:39]:

Great and powerful wizard of Oz. I also this is my EDC.

Bob DeMarco [00:46:43]:

Oh, nice. Yeah.

Imri Morgenstern [00:46:45]:

Love tim's work. Love tim's work. Yeah. I have a bunch of his knives. Tim and I met in kind of a funny way. I made a video for I'm part of a team called Tactical Riflemen. Those are my brothers Carl, Erickson, and Randy Worst, and all these just tremendous guys. I'm blessed. I'm blessed. Everywhere I go, I meet the best people. Really, the best people. And Carl is and Randy is and all our other guys on tactical riflemen. And so, matter of fact, we just drove in here. Tomorrow morning, we're starting a tactical rifleman night shooting class. Oh, cool. Where was I going with that? Tim Kell. Yeah, randy Worst and I randy is a fifth group legend. He's a legend in my life. I love Randy. We made a video on a bunch of knives our film crew sent us. There's, like, two giant boxes of knives, and they're like, here, do a video on this. And we're like, what? What do you mean do a video on this? There's like 100 knives in there. And so we did three little videos on just going through them. I'm not big on doing specifically gear reviews. Gear review videos. I love gear. I'm a gear head, for sure. We all are. But I find them to be a little boring. And so I always try to do different stuff that will incorporate whatever it is that I'm trying to show. So if I'm trying to show a rifle, I may do a shooting drill and be like, here's why I like this rifle for this, right? As opposed to, check out this rifle and here's what it costs. And the pin diameter is blah, blah, blah. So Randy and I are like, okay, what do we do? So we separated all these knives off into sections by use and by size. And we kind of came up with, like, three or four little tests for all of them. A cutting test, a stabbing test, meat cutting test, and that kind of deal. And that was the one time I pissed off a couple of knife makers because I was like, man, this is junk. I'm sorry. I don't like to say bad things about people's work on the internet, but sometimes you got to call the baby ugly, right? So anyway, Kim saw that video. I believe that actually it was Tim's wife saw that video, and she was like, tim, you got to call this guy. I think you guys are going to get along. And Tim's like, me. He's like, yeah, whatever. It's another dumb ass on the Internet. Who cares? He's talking about knives. So he watches it. He goes, yeah, he does kind of know what he's talking about. And he does kind of think like I do. And he gave me a call, and immediately we had, like a two and a half hour conversation. I was in Texas teaching classes, and I had to get up at zero dark 30 in the morning to go teach. And I think we chatted until like, 02:00 a.m. And at the end of that, he was like, hey, look, let me send you some knives so you see, and then maybe you can do a review on them. And for the record, I'm horrible. I'm horrendous at anything. Social media, I'm terrible. So tracking and posting and filming and all that, I'm not good at. I'm trying. Anyway, we started doing stuff and I was like, man, I don't like this design. But your other design, I love it. And we started going back and forth, and pretty quickly we got to the point where we're like, dude, we got to do a project. We got to do something. This is the first project that we did, and we both fell in love with it. It's a true collaboration. A lot of people have had not true collaborations. Where the guy who came up with the design nobody's reinventing the wheel, right? It's a knife. A knife's, a knife. It's got a cutting edge, it's got a handle, and typically it's got a spine of some sort and blah, blah, blah, right? And it should be sharp. But the little design stuff, a lot of people no, you make it exactly like this, and this is what it has to look like. And I'm the guy who knows everything, and you just make the stupid thing, and that's not fun. That's not fun. And Tim and I really drive just like Mir and I do, right? In a very different way. It's like, I don't know if you're a metalhead or whatever. I love the band tool.

Bob DeMarco [00:51:03]:

I love tool.

Imri Morgenstern [00:51:03]:

Yeah. Love tool. It's one of my absolute favorite bands. Maynard's got a bunch of bands, right? Yeah. For perfect circle, blah, blah, blah. They're all tremendous, and they don't inflict with each other. They're all very different. And that's kind of how I view this whole thing. Right? I'm still going to make Knives with near with low tar combat knives because he's awesome, and his Knives are awesome. Tim has a very specific Tim feel to his Knives, and Tim look to his Knives. I'll show you one of Tim's little features here that I think blew my mind immediately. We're like, Dude, this is awesome. Tim is a supremely honest, good person, which is more important to me than the skill. However, the skill is there.

Bob DeMarco [00:51:52]:

Yeah, it is. I got that impression of him personally as well. Before he even came on the show, I interviewed him on a Saturday morning, which is somewhat rare for this show, but before he came on, he's like, oh, I'm just making biscuits for the family. And I asked him for the recipe, sent it to me. He didn't know who I was. Send me the recipe. I was like, all right, this is a cool guy. And we ended up hitting it off. What were you going to show? Is it the nickel boron?

Imri Morgenstern [00:52:19]:

No, it's a finish.

Bob DeMarco [00:52:21]:

That's still cool. That even adds a Rockwell hardness.

Imri Morgenstern [00:52:25]:

Yeah. And you know what? I think we're going to do this in a stonewashed finish, which I love. I want a little bit darker, and I want a stonewashed finish. And by the way, on the next gen, we're adding along this line. It's going to be like little hashes for, like, a ruler. Oh, cool. What I wanted to show you is this. It's actually the sheath. Kidex sheath. Right? We're actually redesigning the sheath a little bit. This here, this is the genius of Tim. When we started doing this, I was like, hey, hold on. I have another one of Tim's knives right here. I have a sorry, I'm good at breaking things. I kick the table hard. I have a mercenary. This is one of my favorite knives of Tim's. I have nothing to do with this knife in terms of design. This is 100% Tim. And he made this before we even knew each other. But it's got the same locking mechanism that's Tim's design. So when we were designing it, I said, look, Tim, one of my passions now is skydiving. I love skydiving. One of my best friends, Sue Sue LaRue and I, we do a lot of stupid things. One of the less stupid things we do is skydiving. And we skydive together a lot. So he was a halo jumper in fifth group and 10th group and all that, and he kind of took me under his wing for all of that, and he's teaching me how to make all of his mistakes.

Bob DeMarco [00:53:49]:

So that's awesome.

Imri Morgenstern [00:53:51]:

The reason I bring that up is I said, hey, Tim, look, I'm going to jump out of airplanes with this knife. I'm going to 100% make it so that when I want to, I can have a very calm mind about the fact that it's not coming out of the out of the sheath at any point during my skydive, probably the most concerning of which is exit and maybe the actual landing. When you're in the air, it's just wind. So this is what he did. And essentially what you have here is you have a really good positive retention. Okay? But right here, those of you guys, I'm sure everybody watching here knows exactly this is going to split right there. As you take the knife out, the.

Bob DeMarco [00:54:44]:

Mouth of the kidex sheath splits open.

Imri Morgenstern [00:54:45]:

So it can release retention. Otherwise, here where the majority of the retention is around the guard. If you just make this. And that's why a lot of kidex sheaths are two piece, like this one, which is a two piece kidex sheath. When you make it, you take the two pieces apart so you can get the knife out of the ka deck. Yeah. So the brilliance in this is the simplicity. So you kind of unscrew it a little bit, and you move it up to the top, and then you kind of screw it in a little bit.

Bob DeMarco [00:55:21]:

So cool.

Imri Morgenstern [00:55:21]:

You have unbelievable retention. Now, another cool thing, if you really want this knife, I got to get this knife out. You can be really aggressive with it and get it out, but you have to truly mean to get it out. Right. And that's the Timbrain. That's the Timbrain crayon eating marine.

Bob DeMarco [00:55:44]:

Yeah. I'm glad you said it. I can't say that.

Imri Morgenstern [00:55:47]:

That's our banter the whole time. How's your breakfast crayon? Was it black? Okay.

Bob DeMarco [00:55:53]:

Oh, man, I had so much fun. And I know I'm not the only one because I heard other people mention how fun it was being at the t kell knives booth during blade show. And you were there, and I was definitely hanging out talking a lot, and I realized at one point, I'm like, I better buy something or move on, or tim is going to be like, who is this guy just hanging out? But yeah, I think seeing you were showing me the different showing me the different ways you use Korambits, showing me the different ways the sapper is working, and just also the knives that you appreciate. I e. The Night Stalker and stuff like that, and it just really made me think, like, you're someone who has a real love for knives, and you also have a real range of legitimate uses for you to be designing knives within. And a lot of people design all sorts of knives, but you seem to have that field expertise. One last question before we wrap here, and that is like, outside of it has to be for its intended purpose. What makes a good knife, in your opinion?

Imri Morgenstern [00:57:06]:

Yeah, that's a heavy one, right? Well, as a previous knife maker, I've not made a knife in about four or five years, but that was my previous business. I would say there's not a specific factor. Right. The steel, first of all, is your that's that's the foundation of your house. The steel. On top of that, there's geometry. You have your geometry of both the handle and the blade side. If you get your geometry off, the knife's going to suck. Right. You get your geometry off, it's not going to be sharp or it's going to dull too quick or whatever. And that's why a knife is a job specific tool. And then there's the black magic. The black magic of heat treats. Heat treating. Heat treating is the biggest thing. Right. I don't care what kind of s 30 VP q s twelve you have. If you don't get heat treat, perfect. It's garbage. It's not a knife. It's an object that looks like a knife. So the steel, the blade geometry, handle geometry, and let me I don't like to kind of I don't like to say bad things about other people, certainly not in this kind of environment or on this kind of stage. But so many knife makers do not understand the a the use of a knife. They may be tremendous knife makers, but they don't understand how to use this knife, and they don't understand this thing. There's a reason DA Vinci and all those incredibly brilliant people were the first to really be able to draw this hand, and that's just training it, right. The hand friggin hand, you got five fingers and a couple of veins running through it. Right. But the hand is very complex, and there are no two sets of hands that are identical. So understanding how a blade fits in your hand and that's one of the things I love about karambits, is the complexity of the grip of a Korambit. You get this a couple of millimeters off. It is so uncomfortable. It's horrible. It's a horrible feeling. And I'll show you the first knife, the first Korambit that I made that came out, right? That came out was yeah. This is my EDC. Karambit outside of the Karma, of course, which I carry the Karma more often, this one is the most comfortable knife to carry, period. Obviously, both because of the sheath itself. That's a piece of Damascus. So I beat the crap out of this thing.

Bob DeMarco [01:00:00]:

You showed me this. Yeah, I remember seeing that Damascus.

Imri Morgenstern [01:00:04]:

This was where the Karma project began with this knife. It's a 36 layer random pattern. Damascus 15, N 21,095 carbon fiber grips. And, of course, I started doing this curvature on the carbon fiber, and I was like, wow, we've all seen carbon fiber. I've never seen carbon fiber like this. And all it is is the shape that you give it. Right. The contours will dictate all these ridiculous patterns.

Bob DeMarco [01:00:38]:

Yeah. Taking a relatively well, a regular pattern in the two dimensions. You give it the three dimensional thing, and it turns that from a basket weave into something way more beautiful, right?

Imri Morgenstern [01:00:51]:

Yeah. Crazy. So, this karambit, I love this. I love this. This is almost a third of an inch thick, but I like big, beefy knives. Steve and Owen and all my teachers, all my friends are always like, no, we're not doing a quarter inch knife again. And I'm like, Dude, that's the thinnest. I want to go, yeah, quarter inch? What? This thing's almost a third of an inch thick. Because it started off because I was like, I love Damascus. I'm obsessed with Damascus. I'm obsessed with making Damascus. Now, the teeth, the whole idea and it's similar on the Karma is in a lot of states first of all, I'm not a big fan of double edged knives, but in a lot of states, in terms of use, I think visually, they're stunning. In terms of use, a lot of states, it is illegal to conceal a double edged knife. And Colorado, where I was living at the time, you're not allowed to conceal a double edged knife. And I was like, okay, well, I still want to make this useful. And I was doing a lot of NBC at the time and this full circle, because I never truly answered your question in the beginning about Korambits and how they fit into NBC or Karma gun. They fit in perfectly once you understand the tool. Nothing I do or teach is fancy or whatever. I love aggression. And first of all, come on, this looks awesome. But the idea is it grabs flesh and returns. And so it helps you on traps, right. You can grab back a neck or arm or different things, and I get animated. I start hitting things. I'm new to the podcasting thing. Anyway, that's the idea. So it's legal to carry in more states. Now, the overall length here of the blade is exactly the legal limit of this one at the time. In Colorado, it's three inches exactly here, and different agencies will tell you to measure it different ways. But the bottom line is the cutting edge here is three inches straight line. And put this in your hand and fight the way you know how to fight, right?

Bob DeMarco [01:03:09]:

Yeah, I have put that one in my hand, and it's very intuitive. And it lines that finger hole up, which can be the finger hole in the wrong off bias millimeter or whatever. You're going to break your knuckles if you try to punch. Emery, I want to thank you for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast. We're going to continue this conversation so much to the patrons out there. I could talk to you for a lot longer, but we're going to do a little bit more. I have a couple of interesting questions to ask you, and those people get to hear it. But thank you so much for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast. It's been a great pleasure, sir.

Imri Morgenstern [01:03:46]:

Absolutely, Bob. Thanks so much. I don't get a chance to geek out like this, get into it with people who love this so much. So thank you so much for having me on. It's been a pleasure.

Bob DeMarco [01:03:56]:

My pleasure, sir. Take care.

Announcer [01:03:57]:

You know, you're a knife junkie if you have your latest knife purchase shipped to your office so your wife doesn't know.

Bob DeMarco [01:04:03]:

There he goes. Ladies and gentlemen, gentlemen, Imri Morgenstern, designer, co designer of the new T.Kell Knives, sapper, designer of the Lotar Combat knives, Kharma. And then you heard all the other cool stuff he does and is responsible for, chief among all of that, training good people like you and me how to defend ourselves. We're going to talk a little bit about that in the interview extras.

Imri Morgenstern [01:04:26]:

I look forward to that.

Bob DeMarco [01:04:28]:

I hope you're looking forward to another great conversation next week right here on the Knife Junkie podcast. Also, be sure to check in with us on Wednesday for the midweek supplemental and Thursday night for Thursday Night Knives. It's the beginning of the weekend at 10:00 p.m.. Eastern Standard Time right here on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. For Jim, working his magic behind the switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco.

Bob DeMarco [01:04:48]:

Until next time, don't take dull for an answer.

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