Modern Day Bladesmith: Operator Safety and a Perfect Design.

In today’s digital market, everyone with an IP address and an idea is a merchant. However, when the dust settles, you can discover one great craftsman who stands behind an unwavering code. The blood, blisters and sweat poured into this Canadian business is only part what makes Lakonian BladeCraft Inc. the carefully crafted brand it is today. Kos set out to write his story in 2012 and the outline was carefully written out with a noble commitment in mind.

Kos started honing his craft during the summer of July 2012. With  strong personal support he launched Lakonian BladeCraft (LBC) in August of 2012. He notes the perseverance and tenacity that brought them to the point of gaining the momentum he has earned today. At this current time, LBC Inc. has thousands of followers on Facebook alone.

One major character in the LBC story is Kos’ partner, Mark C. Aside from providing constant emotional support, he offered LBC 1400 square feet of workspace to use as a workshop in January 2013. With a bigger shop, his capabilities grew and LBC Inc. was able to earn the client loyalty he deserves. This partner has been a constant source of morale and Kos is forever grateful for sharing the vision of preserving the Lakonian reputation. 

 "A true modern warrior seeks to overcome obstacles and solve problems."

"A true modern warrior seeks to overcome obstacles and solve problems."

The LBC Inc. team drew inspiration from Kos’ heritage and belief in naming their brand. Kos has ancestors from Laconia – Lakedaemonia. He reminds me, “Greek has no ‘C’, so ‘K’ is used.” The Lakonia empire is a region in Greece where Spartans were born and trained. Although Mark is not of Spartan blood, he embodies much of the Spartan warrior traits and values, so they kept the “Lakonian” in the name.

The logo for LBC with the blade means sudden death and the Lakonian spirit has always been intended to invoke warriors. For Kos, a true modern warrior seeks to overcome obstacles and solve problems.

“A warrior today is not a soldier, but a thinker and doer. It is about mindset, resiliency, and anti-fragility. Overcome hardship, always.” In an industry where flash and aesthetic is priority, Kos seeks to provide for imperfect heroes. His mantra is about overcoming hardship, traditional weakness and obstacles. The broken teeth pictured in the LBC logo are a nod to that exact characteristic.

With a passion for a number of martial arts, Kos is in constant communication with active individuals who land on a wide spectrum of abilities and skills. His focus is creating a utilitarian tool for a special crowd. They speak directly to Warriors and Misadventurers: these unique individuals seek new experience that could potentially be dangerous.

LBC’s primary client-base is made up of military professionals, law enforcement and a dedicated number of civilians. A large percentage of Lakonian products are custom orders. Though he offers a standard lineup of standard pieces all purpose-built, Kos more often than naught builds the blade from individual needs and concept. For the majority of his end users, the blades are used exclusively for building camp.

The lineup <LBC-LF> is a collection of the most effective Lakonian knives. They are the most heavily used and frequently requested. People have grown towards the lineup and LBC Inc. has gotten the type of experience it needed to design a vast product line with ideal functioning specifications. This experience comes partly from Kos’ personal accomplishments and pursuit for expertise in martial arts. He mentions Archie Luz – the head instructor at Undisputed Martial Arts –- www.undisputedmma.ca -- as a significant influence in the design of LBC products. Creating an effective product is key, and every customer reading a review of an LBC blade can trust in the research and experience behind each knife.

As a self-taught knife-maker he has learned a great deal in a small amount of time. When Kos was eighteen, he had his very first shop experience and learned how to weld. As a startup, building exposure and earning his client base has unfolded from an unintentional strategy. Admittedly, there has been a flood of knife makers since LBC Inc. started opening its 24/7 doors for business. This gives Kos’ constant drive for a pristine reputation both understandable and necessary. With all the time and effort he puts into this commitment, he simply has no time for hype. “You never want the knife to break and injure anyone.” The Lakonian promise is to operator safety and a perfect design.

Kos’ reputation has attracted a unique network of professionals whose advice has proven invaluable. Rene Cocolo – instructor at Dog Brothers Martial Arts* has been credited for constructive input. The LBC discipline is evidently inspired by the same energy that martial arts demands.

 There is an intensity about Kos’ pursuit for excellence.

There is an intensity about Kos’ pursuit for excellence.

All LBC Inc. knives undergo a rigorous quality test and though the product the consumer receives is one that was treated like the prize piece from the batch, one unfortunate knife from each batch is elected: Each knife needs to

1)   Cut paper cleanly

2)   Cut rope cleanly

3)   When chopping or *striking* a 2x4 wooden plank, the tip or edge cannot chip.

Each batch is tested and heat-treated professionally. LBC Inc outsources this part of the process. He opts for a more costly and time-consuming process because the company he works with gives his product ISO 900 certification and he wants to deliver the quality assurance it offers. Forged from a crucible of effort indeed.

For Kos, he was advised by a close family member to pursue his passion. “If you would do it for free, you have all the means to accomplish what you would do best.” His initial intention was always to first build his reputation and then the product. This is due in part for the industry these knives live in. In a niche market where authentic and effective gear you can depend on can run a pretty penny, the good stuff is appreciated and recognized. You should not compromise on your equipment.

In the combative context, an LBC blade will not fail. The durability of the knife is a key feature. You would notice that none of the LBC knives are razor sharp. All knives are utility sharp and this is created purposefully. All LBC blades have no coatings on them and are surprisingly food-safe. The equipment is built properly and there is no worry or concern for a knife breaking. LBC Inc. materials are all sourced from a reputable dealer in the knife community. One unique feature of a Lakonian blade - and admittedly one of Kos’ favourite features - is the reptilian handle created from G10 fiberglass laminate. The material is bounded with a high quality epoxy. The proven material is unique to the touch. His choice of steel is CPM S35VN and A2 tool steel. Using high quality material produces a tougher, sharper tool that is virtually destruction-resistant. Though all finishes are blasted and appear a soft grey with a blue spectrum of light, some models come with an attractive "battle-aged finish".

He comments on how grateful he is for other professionals who selflessly shared information. The blade is intended to be a personal defense tool and the value of operator safety was impressed upon him very early on. In fact, a fellow knife-maker not only sold him his very first knife grinder, he also taught him how to use it. Mike Massington from North Bay was the first to teach him how to be safe. “Competition is the lifeblood of evolution,” and any creative response can only benefit the end user. It remains the strongest incentive to improve and grow.

Other influences Kos mentions are D.J. Urbanovski, and Martin Olexey: both knife-makers who he looks up to. There is a genuine mutual respect for these individuals and it is encouraging to know that concept and design will evolve with this pursuit of synergy amongst peers. Their feedback is a constant inspiration to LBC. Listening to Kos wax about these competitors shows the genuine respect he has for all of these craftsmen.

Martial artists gravitate towards building a blade around comfort and appeal. However, achieving the quality is another Everest altogether. The team that makes your blade is a duo of experts who walk the walk and put all their combined efforts into creating a perfect tool. It can take about one week to create a blade. The moving parts of the process and the multiple partners involved lead to a moving target of a deadline. He notes that if he had every resource lined up in the perfect situation, he would be able to produce a blade in two full days. He notes one of his most recent accomplishments - the plunge lines. Kos has worked tirelessly to perfect this new detail. The purpose of this is to give the blade more strength by eliminating sharp angles. Each aspect of his knife making skills was forged with effort and time.

One of our favourite features of the LBC Inc. knives are the custom sheaths that come with each finished product. Tom Hollis, a notable Team GHOSTS member, is credited with streamlining and teaching Kos the process to fashion them. When discussing current trends in knives and the requests for custom pieces, he notes the knives are getting larger and there appears to be a continued desire to increase the intensity of everyone’s gear.

 Lakonian Blade's Proletariat is a small work-knife perfect for everyday carry.

Lakonian Blade's Proletariat is a small work-knife perfect for everyday carry.

When asked about his favourite blades, there are three he is desperately proud of:

The LBC-C Archon Hunter (picture below) is ideal for general usage and is the best forward grip; edge down blade. As he walks me through what all of this means, I learn that a detail like the broken spine profile enhances tip control and the economy of motion. The handle fits appropriately in his hands and offers him the coveted control.

 "Best forward grip; edge down blade ..."

"Best forward grip; edge down blade ..."

Another blade is the Tyrant Hunter and he notes what makes it significant for him. The history of the piece is a definite source of pride. As the very third designed knife ever made, the Tyrant Hunter is intended for* hard use.

One blade that stands above the rest for Kos is the Ascended Master. When prodded about the significance of this product, he mentions it was made memorable by both the words of a special client and the design process thereafter. This knife is an amalgamation of a number of different cultures’ and the style of their weaponry. During the early days of LBC, Kos received an order from a gentlemanly professional who remains anonymous to this day. The importance of this Gentleman was not lost on me. LBC Inc. aims to provide for modern day warriors and misadventurers – this man was clearly both. With guidance from this trusting client, they fashioned a brand new grip, and drew inspiration from the long blades from Phillipines and the Japanese Tanto.

As he sits back, it is evident that humility is one of his burdening traits. This insecurity is utterly unwarranted. He comments on his tiresome evolution as an artist and how this type of insight was not present during his initial learning stages. Ryan Kennedy from WingChun Toronto* was his very first instructor when he started training in martial arts. From this mentor, he learned that simplicity is perfection.           

“Creativity is the price of the admission to knife-making” and despite the lull of many competitors, LBC kept the focus on content. Though photography and branding are all part of establishing a business, remaining relevant in this era of digital hawking is an astronomical task. Kos impresses his pursuit to create something meaningful. In a market where creativity is held in a higher regard than being pragmatic it is clear his purpose for LBC was always to create meaningful art. He has always strived to “Be creative within the pragmatic box.”

This passion project has grown to be a recognized brand and a vendor in a community that demands only the best. Archie Luz Head Instructor of Undisputed Martial Arts (undisputedmma.com) has made a positive impact on the success and reputation LBC Inc. has now built. Years ago, when Kos was starting out, he was supported by local gyms and now, he is always happy to pay that forward. With more financial success and stability, LBC Inc.* is able to help more people and have more giveaways.

There is an intensity about Kos’ pursuit for excellence. It is a relentless quest to be the very best – not for arrogance or ego but for a respect for the craft and the individual wielding his product. He crafts each and every knife with all the core values of Lakonian BladeCraft Inc.: operator safety and the perfect design. Kos is a modern day bladesmith, and in an age where everything is mass-produced for the everyman and the bottom line stands before quality, this endeavor is for the individual who demands sensible artistry.