Kukri booklet; anything/everything about the knife
21st April, 2019
I have prepared this special document on the “Khukuri” for the general public knowledge. There are several questions and queries, anything and everything about this amazing knife one may have that I have tried to address. I do hope you would find this presentation useful and benefits you in some way to know more about the kukri. If there is anything missing, something not clear/right or any suggestion then please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org JAI KHUKURI!!
Thank you and Namaste,
Saroj Lama Tamang (SLT)
Founder and MD of KHHI Nepal
PS: Both the word, KHUKURI and KUKRI, are alternatively used which actually means the same.
Is it kukri, khukuri or khukri ??
“Khukuri” is the actual word. This is the original word when the knife was first made. “Kukri” is more accepted by common people as the word was used when the knife was first documented and came out in writing. “Khukri” is more used in Asia subcontinent mainly in India. The knife largely rotates around Nepal, British and India.
What is a kukri?
Kukri is a single edge curve knife used for any activities that involve cutting. It is the national weapon and pride of Nepal and also the famous identity of the legendary Gurkhas. It is a standard issued knife to the various Gurkha/Gorkha regiments in Britain and India and Nepalese national army.
Why is it called Gurkha Knife?
Since the kukri has always been in the hand of Gurkha and officially issued to them it is called the Gurkha knife. A kukri and Gurkha have flesh and blood relationship since their origin long time back. One is incomplete without the other hence we put them together as “Gurkha Knife”.
What is a Gurkha knife?
A gurkha knife is a kukri carried and used by Gurkhas/Gorkhas in army. It is a curved single edged knife around 10-13” long carried in a leather sheath issued to Gurkhas for official carry and usage.
When and where was kukri invented ? discovered?
Nobody is sure of this as there are no documents or source to confirm this. It could well be in the ancient time or in post classical era or even in the medieval period in or around/beyond Nepal. The exact time and date, place and maker has been lost in history which will sadly never be known but the research continues.
Does anyone provide training for kukri?
A kukri is a basic tool that does not really require specific training to use. It comes with time, effort and play. Basically it is firmly held in hand and swung against a target with force in a slightly angular position. However some martial arts institutes, individual trainer, knife enthusiast etc do offer some training which can be searched in the internet. Even the army train it’s soldiers to use the knife in the best possible way. One can find many techniques, training courses and short videos on how to properly handle a kukri in internet.
How to fight with a kukri?
Although kukri is primarily a cutting tool it is also a lethal weapon. Gurkhas became famous welding these knives against its enemies. A kukri is a close combat man to man warfare knife. Basically it is firmly held in hand and swung against a target with force in a slightly angular position as any other knives. It does not really need any special course or training as the user will get used to with the knife with time and effort. However some martial arts institutes and even the army train the users to best use the knife. One can find many techniques, training courses and short videos on how to properly handle and fight with a kukri in internet.
What is kukri used for?
Kukri is a sharp knife that can be used for any activities that involve cutting and slicing. It can be used for domestic purpose in and around house, for jungle and beyond in vegetations and for any warfare actions. Besides cutting, kukri is also used for pounding things since it has thick spine and flat panel. It can also be moderately used for stabbing and digging as it has pointed profile and robust tip.
Where to buy khukuri in Kathmandu ?
Thamel in Kathmandu Nepal, one the main touristic places, is where one would find numerous khukuri sellers from street vendors to footpath to proper shops. Besides Thamel one could also find khukuri shops in Patan, Bhaktapur and some in New Road and Basantapur. In Kathmandu there are many sellers but very few makers. Most are dealers but claim themselves as direct makers so one must be very careful of this. One should also be cautious when buying as many are copy ones sold by amateurs and almost everybody claim to have made for the army. Its always suggested to first see the reviews online, know the background of the seller, properly check the knives when buying and of course verify (cross check) what they are saying/claiming.
How to use a khukuri?
A kukri does not need any specific course, training or method to use it. It will come with time, effort and play. It can be handled as any single edge knife. The two important things to keep in mind are; 1) to firmly hold the handle, use the sweet spot of the edge and cut (landing) angularly. 2) Keep one arm distance between you and the target so that you can forcefully swing the blade, hit the object in angular motion and always hack one side until the object is completely thru.
What a Nepal kukri look like?
A typical Nepali kukri is a re-curve shaped blade, single edge having a notch with a cylindrical shaped handle having metallic fixtures. It comes in different shapes and sizes however most have broader chest than belly and handle is flared up in the bottom of the handle. Most have wood handle and has a leather sheath with a frog.
Kukri fighting techniques…
How to use a kukri in combat?
Interestingly kukri does not need any specific course, training or technique to fight with it. It will come with time, effort and dedication. Good body maneuver, sound body movement, precise focus and firm grip would massively assist the kukri in fighting (hand to hand combat situation). Like the Samurai sword kukri can be used in upward and downward movement (swing) in slightly angular position. There are some martial arts institutes and online courses on how to properly use a kukri as a domestic and lethal knife which can be helpful to get the best outcome. Even the army/police train its soldiers on how to get the maximum result in warfare/combat. Most Gurkhas are natural kukri users and do not need any specific course or technique to use/fight this knife.
What does cross khukuri mean?
Cross Khukuri is an insignia of two single khukuri crossed one over another mostly in upward (standing) direction. It is the commonly used as the Gurkha symbol. It is also widely used to represent different security forces/companies. Cross kukri does not really mean or signify anything but security forces use it as valuable badge or coat of arms. The khukuri symbol holds high place in people’s outlook.
What is the standard size of kukri?
Kukri ranging from 10-12” long are standards ones. Most standard khukuris have 4.5-5” long handle including the metallic fixtures. Standard size kukri weighs from 450-750 grams.
What are Karda and Chakmak ?
What are two accompanying knives of a kukri for??
Karda and Chakmak are the two accompanying knives that come at the back of the sheath of a kukri. “Karda” is a small utility knife and “Chakmak” is an emergency sharpening knife. Karda has one sharp edge where as Chakmak’s both sides are blunt in order to sharpen/strop. Most traditional khukuri come with the two small knives.
What is the notch of a kukri?
What is the notch for in a khukuri?
A notch or “kaudi” in khukuri term is a cut out in the edge of the blade in the ricasso area. A notch is what that distinguishes a khukuri from other knives. Most notches has a number “3” like figure in the front edge and symbolizes the holy “OM” symbol of Hinduism. It is also there to function as a blood dripper.
What is the price range of kukri knives in Nepal?
There are many varieties of kukris so price ranges accordingly. As like any other products, more the craftsmanship (time and skill), more the use of expensive material, more will be the price. As of speaking now, till APR-MAY 2019, the famous army model like the British Gurkha Service khukuri range from NCRS 3500-5000 depending on the quality and finishing of the product.
Standard weight of khukuri?
Standard size kukris from 10-12” weigh anywhere from 450-800 grams depending on the profile, thickness and usage of materials. Kukris have various shapes so weights entirely depend in it. Most Service khukuri which has standard size and regular (common) shape weigh from 500-600 gms.
Why 5160 steel is mostly used in making kukri in Nepal?
5160 steel is mostly used in Nepal due to its easy availability in the local market. It is also affordable and comes in required shape and thickness to make any kukri. The steel is forgeable, easy to heat treat and durable with very good outcome. Here it is important to utter that 5160 means the spring or suspension steel of discarded vehicles from car to tipper. Since the steel is the source of any leaf spring both terms are relatively used for one another in Nepal. It is also called “Spring Patti” locally.
What is 5160 steel?
5160 is a high carbon (HC) steel mainly used as spring steel for vehicles. It is the suspension steel and has carbon contain of about 0.60%. It is the classic and best steel for forging/making any size knives hence widely used and preferred by all knife makes. It is very hard, durable and easy to heat treat. 5160 steel or locally called “Spring Patti” is easily accessible and affordable in Nepal.
Who is the best kukri maker?
An expert Kami [(born kukri maker, mainly called Bishwakarma (BK)] is the best kukri maker in the world. Kamis who have years of knowledge and experience and devoted themselves to this profession are known to be the best maker. They also have the inborn quality inherited from their father and beyond since kukri making has been a caste profession for generations for them.
What makes the best kukri?
Which is world’s best kukri?
A perfectly well made and well balanced kukri with perfect fitting and finishing makes it the best kukri. Normally a kukri ranging from 10-12”blade, weighing around 500-700 gms and handle from 4.5-5.5” handle makes it an ideal kukri. A gentle curved profile with sweet spot well exposed and having taller bevel features make a lethal and effective kukri. Moreover a “Panawal” version or Full Flat Riveted Tang is always a more durable handle.
What is the value of kukri?
What is the importance of a khukuri?
Kukri as a “Knife” holds a great value as a very effective and durable knife that can be used for various purposes from domestic to jungle to warfare reasons. Its ability to cut, slice, hack, stab etc has been second to none and considered to be the best amongst any other knives. In Nepal the kukri is an iconic object that holds great national pride and historic significance. Its value is such huge that every national security forces are issued with it as an identity and emblem bestowed as recognition of their achievement. Likewise a Gurkha holds an immense value of the kukri. The Gurkha and Kukri are inseparable, sometimes synonymous with countless stories, battles and even tales involving the two. A Gurkha is incomplete without a kukri and kukri becomes meaningless without a Gurkha. This flesh and blood relationship between Gurkha-Kukri has been at its pinnacle right from the old Nepal till today and something that will live on for indefinite with pride and glory. Lastly the people that most values a kukri are the poor and hilly denizens of Nepal where life is an everyday struggle in which you feed and you feed others. The rural is harsh and terrains unforgiving but you must visit the green and just move on with life. Here people needs what’s best and what makes them survive to tear the hardship and carry on, and the only thing they can think of is a “Kukri”. Kukri has been a part of rural life/activities where a man uses right from his tender age until his days are numbered. The same kukri dies next to the user in his rite, and so does the intimate companionship.
How to sharpen a kukri with chakmak ?
Chakmak or the Sharpener has flat edge on both sides which can be used to sharpen the kukri blade. Firmly hold the kukri upside down in almost a vertical way then scrub one of the sides of the chakmak at around 45* against the blade in a rhythmatic way from notch towards the tip. Flip it over and do the same reps but now from tip towards the notch. Repeat the step until the kukri comes to a decent sharpness. Then gently slide (strop) chakmak all the way in each side from notch to tip and vise-versa. Here one needs to know that Chakmak is just an optional sharpener. A proper sharpening tool/device always works better and faster. See our video also posted in our youtube channel >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqSxlqCYNPo
What are small knives with khukuri?
The small knives or the accompanying knives are called “Karda” and “Chakmak”. Most traditional and army kukris come with these. KARDA is a small utility knife that has one edge fairly sharp. CHAKMAK is like an emergency sharpener that has both edges blunt (dull). It can also be used to stropping the sharp edge.
What are the types of kukri?
How many types of kukri are there?
There are many types of kukri having various shapes and sizes. Makers adapt/ed various profiles to individualize and express their making and to also get the best result out of the knife. Primarily the kukri can be divided into the following main categories >>
Sanglo (Slender): narrow and pointed blade profile like Sirupate and Chitlange etc
Budhune: fat and robust body kukris like Bhojpure and Chirrawala
Majaula (Medium version): Blade profile in between the above like the modern army service kukris that are well balanced in weight and size
Kupre: Highly curved kukri with a pointed peak (shoulder) or no peak at all like the Salyani and some historic kukris
Parowal: Rat Tail Tang or Stick Tail tang also known as the “Hidden Tang” like most of the old models and army versions have
Panawal: Full Flat Tang Riveted version in which the tang follows the profile of the handle and pins are used to fix the scales
Pravabwal: Shape/feature other than basic khukuri. A break from traditional that is highly influenced from other knives, styles and communities
Sadha: Normal plain leather sheath with frog or no frog at all
Jhilke/Sajaune (Fancy): Decorative sheath with craftsmanship and adornment for display and gift
Kothimoda: Silver sheath khukuri for special occasion and people
Angkhola: The Panel of the blade is hollow grounded (area between spine and bevel) to reduce weight and tension
Chirrawala: Fuller/s is created in the panel for strength, balance and beauty. First fuller is forged and then grinded out from the surface
Buttewal: Various patterns, designs and lines are made to give an artistic look and value to the kukri
Pattiwal: Taller and unparallel bevel is made to enhance cutting ability and look of the blade
Sadha: Simple profile with even surface like the Army models
In today’s context we must also add one more category called the “Naya and Naulo” or “New and Strange” since these days kukri is heavily modified and modernized to one’s taste, benefit and demand.
How to identify a kukri?
The most distinctive part of a kukri is its notch (cut out) in its front edge just by the handle. This is like the ID of the knife. Any re-curve knife having a notch in its front edge with a flushed bolster having a cylindrical handle with flared butt on both sides is generally a kukri knife.
How to make a kukri knife?
How to forge a kukri?
Kukri is mainly made through the forging process where the billet is heated and hammered over and over until the required size and shape is achieved. It is a long and laborious process which requires good amount of skill, experience and patience. The maker also has to undertake series of other process to finally materialize the knife which can be seen in our various videos posted in our youtube channel.
How to differentiate a real kukr from a fake?
Fair bit of knowledge, some experience and a good eye can help differentiate a real kukri from the fake one. A closer look at the detail of the fixture, handle alignment with the spine, straightness/warp of the edge and shaping of the notch etc can help identify good kukris from fake. However for an expert, just a single glance and one lift are all needed to get that good vibe. A common way of horizontally throwing a kukri handle first against the floor also helps to know how well it is made (handle fixing to the blade).
Is a longer kukri or a heavier more useful?
If I must say then I would go with weight over length. Weight maintains balance thus good controlled swing can be achieved with deep effective cut. Nonetheless a well balanced kukri with good reach works the best. A kukri length around 10-13” weighing around 450-750 gms is an ideal kukri knife.
What is relation between khukuri and Nepal?
The relation between Nepal and khukuri is embedded right from the history. It is like synonymous where one is incomplete without another. Khukuri is the national knife/weapon of Nepal. It is national pride and an iconic symbol to represent the country and its glory in international fronts. Nepal was ruled by various kings and during his absence his kukri represented him. Such was the pride and value of the kukri. The Khukuri was invented in Nepal and it played and still plays a significant role in people’s lives since Nepal is 80% vegetation (forest). In Nepal, mountains, Gurkha and kukri go together as one as the national recognition and enchantment.
Why is kukri so thick (fat spine) ?
All kukris knives are not thick but most does have thick back spine. Since a kukri is a whacker, a hacking knife, a thick spine gives good lethal swing as it provides substantial weight. Hence making the cutting job fast and easy. Moreover the forging and hammering process of thick billet used in making gives thick spine to a kukri.
How must be the edge of a kukri??
What type of edge is suggested??
The edge of a kukri is better off if made convex or semi-convex. Since it is a hacking knife designed for heavy duty works, a convex profiled edge supports the cutting as it has some mass behind it. Taller bevel around 28-30* angle from panel with convex edge works the best in my opinion.
How to verify an official khukuri maker/supplier??
How to authenticate a real kukri supplier??
The best and easiest way is to ask for the official document or paper provided by the army. Army always provides this to the maker/supplier to declare the winner of/for that year. Contacting the army is also recommended for full authentication. In British Gurkhas it is handled by Logistic and Supply (G4 SUP) unit of BGN (British Gurkhas Nepal, Kathmandu HQ). KHHI Nepal has shown this in its site as genuine proof.
What is the best or ideal kukri weight?
Weight of a kukri highly depends on personal choice and physique of the user. However any weight around 450-750 gms is an ideal/best kukri knife to use and carry. Such weight is easy to handle and can be used for prolong time.
Why the kukri is so famous?
Why the khukuri is so important?
Kukri is famous as a knife due to its usefulness and effectiveness. It cuts great, feels nice and can be used for just about any activities that involve cutting. It is also famous due to its very close association with the Gurkhas and its involvement in many wars and numerous campaigns. A Gurkha without a kukri is incomplete. Kukri is also the national pride and weapon of Nepal that has been well documented in history in golden words. It is therefore very famous and important to have it as a knife and also as a historic icon.
What are standard specifications of a kukri like weight, size??
Standard size kukris range from 10-13” and weigh from 450-800 grams depending on the profile, thickness and usage of materials. Current standard army kukris are 9-10.5” bladed and weighs from 400-600 gms. However the older version of the British Gorkhas were much larger from 13-15-17” (blade) and weighed around anywhere from 425-700 gms.
How long is the handle of kukri?
Compared to the kukri blade the handle is bit on the shorter side. This is due to the small hands or stature of a Nepali or Gurkha. Most handles are about 4-4.5” long including the fixtures (bolster and butt cap). The handle is mostly wood. It is measured from center point to center in a straight line even for the curved handles.
How sharp is a kukri ?
Kukri is mainly a knife made for cutting, hacking, swinging etc, not for slicing, peeling or shaving hence the sharpness (edge) is prepared accordingly. Normally a kukri has very sharp edge but not razor sharp (paper/hair cut). A convex or semi-convex edge is done as it has some mass to back up the heavy cutting. Due to this extreme sharpness cannot be achieved.
Do I need to maintain my kukri?
Yes like any other knives even Kuki needs maintenance. Most kukris are made from High Carbon steel like 5160 and 80CRV2 which is actually very good steel but tends to rust fairly quickly. Hence regular cleaning and oiling is required in frequent interval or after each use. Even the natural materials like Horn/Wood in handle and leather/hide in sheath need occasion maintenance.
How to take care of a kukri?
- Put oil in the blade like gun oil, engine oil or even vegetable oil once in a while or every time after use after cleaning the blade
- Avoid hitting nail or metallic surface when cutting
- Sharpening the blade before using is always suggested
- Keep blade away from water, moist and finger prints
- Put consumable oil for the handle once in awhile. Linseed oil works the best
- Use shoe polish for the leather sheath and metal polish for fixtures
- Do not vigorously draw in or draw out the kukri blade as this could cut the leather and split open the sheath
- Kukri is not a throwing knife
- Do not drop kukri tip first. There is a good chance the tip might bent
<< MORE INFOR HERE >>
Is kukri functional/ usable knife?
A kukri is very functional and efficient knife. It is famous due to this very fact as users find it more convenient and effective when compared to other knives. However a kukri must be of high quality and very well made in order to function properly. Good heat treatment, good features/materials and secured fixtures make kukri very functional.
What is kukri made of?
Most kukri blades are made from discarded spring (suspension) steel like 5160 of heavy vehicles. Handles are made mostly from Indian Rosewood and water buffalo horn is frequently used for army kukri. Buffalo hide and treated leather are used for sheath.
Is it good to gift a kukri ?
A kukri makes great gift for your loved ones. It is an excellent souvenir to take back home from Nepal. Its unique, beautiful, useful, durable and historic object hence people love to buy it as gift. It’s an exclusive memento from Nepal.
How to draw a kukri?
How to unsheathe a Kukri?
How to take out kukri from sheath?
Do not encircle the sheath with your fingers while drawing out your khukuri. This may cause injury (cut) as the two wooden frames used to make the scabbard leave a small elongated gap that only gets wrapped/covered by leather. Therefore firmly hold the upper (back) edge of the sheath firmly with your palm and fingers making sure no finger is placed on the front edge then draw the blade out slowly. It works better if the blade’s back edge (spine) somewhat touches the inner back edge of the scabbard while drawing out (same while inserting in). Always make sure to keep the khukuri away from body, scabbard holding-hand stretch out, khukuri’s sharp edge facing opposite to your body and slightly downward/angular while taking out for easy execution. In belt position, for a right hand user the khukuri is kept on the left side and vise-versa for left hander. The same above practice follows except for the sheath holding hand is slightly bent and firmly holds it by the back edge.
Is there any quality standard for kukri?
Not as such but buying from a reputed seller or maker is always recommended at all times. Good sharpness, straight spine and edge, no rattling of handle in floor testing, and one that cuts with no bent or chips in moderate hard surface are the minimum quality standard required for a good working kukri.
Is kukri legal to use?
The legality entirely depends on the country’s law and order. After all a kukri is a knife which can be used as a weapon there are restrictions made due to increase in violence lately. So it is highly advised to contact the concerned authority before taking out the knife in the open. However keeping inside home for decoration, using around home for domestic purpose, carrying out in woods/wilds etc are permitted by most laws.
Is kukri legal to carry in plane or to import?
This entirely depends on the country’s law and order and its policy. Many have quantity, size and sharpness restriction and must be declared. However carrying it in hold luggage and getting invoice/paper work from the seller to show at the customs if required lets the kukri thru at the airport. Normally 2-3 pcs are no problem in the luggage. Nonetheless it is always advised to contact the concerned authority to be on the safer side.
Is kukri legal to import?
Yes in most countries. Proper paper works and documents required at the customs will have no issue, but some tax may be imposed by the importer’s govt as per its law. KHHI Nepal declares all its products under the universally recognized GSP code conferred to 3rd countries like Nepal. Such procedure makes easy custom, clearance and collection and even cheap.
Does kukri edge bend or break?
Yes it does if its not sound technically. The edge must be well heat treated and have good geometry. A kukri is generally a hacking knife that will see lots of hard blows. Therefore its best to have the convex edge geometry with some mass in it and hardness around 54-56 HRC.
Why is kukri curved?
Nobody knows why kukri has a curved blade. It is probably the direct influence from its “Believed-to-be” predecessors like the Kopi and/or Machira of the ancient times. It could also be a creation of a highly skilled local blacksmith from old Nepal who found curved shape to be more useful. There are no any written documents or any confirmed source to verify this, except for the assumption by a knife expert or community.