Filipino kampilans

Which side is the cutting edge of the kampilan (the "cutlass" described by that valiant Knight of Saint John, Antonio Pigafetta, who fought by Magellan's side at Mactan)? I ask this because some kampilans have the blade and handle mounted one way, while other kampilans have it reversed--sorta like how different seaxs have one side sharpened or the other...

C'mon, somebody's gotta know what I'm talking about...

I know what a kampilan is- however, I don't know for sure which end is the cutting side. I had always assumed they were double-edged.

I'm pretty sure they're single-edged; most swords of that type are. Anyway, some kampilans have the blade mounted one way in relation to the hilt, while others are reversed--wierd.


u subscribe to ED? if so, i'm sure the knowledgeable folks there would know the answer.


Nope, I don't subscribe--not yet, anyway. Tell me more about ED...


Some cool pics and discussion on the Moro Kampilan at

pics of the blades

edited to add 2nd URL

eskrima digest, probably one of the best resources on FMA - a free emailing list.

guro crafty dog comes to mind of the many knowledgeable and active posters. i know sreiter used to post a lot to ED.

on my site, - on the fma page should be a link to subscribe to it. ray terry of the mike inay serrada lineage moderates/maintains the list

Mas and Stickgrappler,

Thanks, dudes--much obliged as always.


the kampilan's i've seen were always sharpened on the longer side -

i've seen pic's of them eith the long side on top - i always assumed the poeple just photographed them upside down - blades was never my thing - mainly because there were so many similar weapons wit the slightest variation - i was like fuck it -

a good example is the criss - if the point goes up it's called one thing - if the point goes down - it's another -

i would venture to guess if the short end is the sharp edge - AND the short edge is the down side - it's probally called something else - not a kampilan

there are weapons that are only sharpened on the top edge so if the short edge was sharpened and was the top side - it would probally be something else again.

i doubt this would be the configuration as the weapon is moro in nature, and the moro's style was hacking - decapitating - not really finess stabbing and slashing -

BTW all the blades with top edge only grind were all light quick weapons

sreiter,Thanks for the input, bro--judging from the way FMA masters tend to hold modern reproduction kampilans, I was beginning to think that must be the case. The differences in hilt mountings still confuse me a bit, though.BTW all the blades with top edge only grind were all light quick weaponsOh, believe me, I know--I've had the chance to hold several original krises, bolos, and even a talibong, and all the examples that I handled were light and well-balanced. If I have one complaint about these Filipino-style swords, it's the fact that in many of them, the tangs are rather thin, which in turn makes them more likely to break. Aside from that, I can definitely say that they are decent weapons. One feature that I really like about the kris is the way the blade is "set" in relation to the handle, so that the blade actually angles forward a bit. Talibongs feature this "forward set" blade too, though the angle is even more extreme. The advantage of this design is that it increases the efficiency of the cut--much in the same way as the angled blade of a guillotine. This principle can also be seen in 15th and 16th century German-style halberds (the "classic" landsknecht-type halberd), as well as some 17th and 18th century Scottish basket-hilted broadswords.TFS

if you get a chance handle a gununting lighting fast - like i said IDing blades isnt my thing - but they almost look like a inverted and shortened calvery sword - arced but sweeping downwards -

beside the tanks being to thin - tey are also WAY to short - thats my biggest complaint - seems like the tang on the blades i've seen only go in about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way into the handle - the indonesian blades are constructed a little better IMO - and they have pretty much the same blades - actually all the antique criss' i ever saw were indonesian

Hello Everyone,

TFS- The Kampilans are sharp on the long side, but I have seen one that also had the reverse side sharpened. I don't know if the owner did this or it came that way?
The Talibon and gununting are slanted in the forward direction (from what I have been told) to help add to the effectiveness of the slash. The weight forward design does give it a very balanced feel in your hand. The Barong is also a nice blade to play with, with extremely good cutting power. As for the "tang" I agree that it would be a better design if they went deeper into the handle, but I have only seen some of the more recently produced ones (?Cheaper?) my barong (probably from WWII) has held up nicely to many chops on several logs etc. I'll have to check on the tang design on that one.

Steve L.

sreiter,the indonesian blades are constructed a little better IMO -That's interesting, because the dagger-sized krises from that area (as opposed to the sword-sized ones from the Southern Phillipines) have the thinnest tangs I have ever seen on any knives (at least, that has been the case with the ones I have seen).Steve Lefebvre,Bro, thanks again for the hookup with the Phillipine History sites--I've gotten some good info out of those (including some awesome quotes some Spanish sources). The Talibon and gununting are slanted in the forward direction (from what I have been told) to help add to the effectiveness of the slash.Is it talibon or talibong? (I ask because I've seen it spelled both ways). Also what does the gununting look like? I could swear that the one blade of that type I handled was indeed a talibong, but, since I've never seen a gungunting, maybe it was one of those. I've read that the talibong is a weapon of the Christian communuties, but, in an article on a Muslim tribe by Mark V. Wiley, I saw a photo of a warrior who was holding what appeared to be a talibong. Perhaps it was a gununting? Or, was/is the talibong used by both Christians and Muslims?The "forward set" blade does indeed increase the efficiency and power of a cut--aside from the blades I mentioned above, other swords and knives which have made use of this principle would include the kukri, the Turkish yataghan (one of my favorites), and the various ancient swords--the Greek kopis and the Iberian falcata.Thanks as always, guys,TFS

this is a little different than the one i was (although it was a few years ago - i remember it having a edge on top - but i could also be totally wrong)

what i meant by the indo blades being constructed better was - i would take a long thin tang over a short tang - granted the tang could break, but handles tend to come off of short tangs

hence forth this is my standard disclaimer-

i will continue to contribute - but i'm doubting my memory big time -

i found my reference notebook that i used everyday in class - when i wasnt sure on a paricular set or whatever - this is how i refreshed my memory -

well in 3 short years -i forgot what alot of the termiology, and hence what alot of movements are -

been studing BJJ so much that the other stuff is just gone - guess it's true - use it or lose it

Just checked to see what a gununting looks like--and I can definitely say that what I handled was, as I originally thought, a talibong.