Ernest Emerson

Ernest Emerson

Infobox Person
name = Ernest R. Emerson

image_size = 185px
caption =
birth_date = birth date and age|1955|3|7
birth_place = Northern Wisconsin, USA
occupation = Knifemaker, Martial Artist, CEO
spouse = Mary Emerson

Ernest R. Emerson (born March 7, 1955) is an American custom knifemaker, martial artist, and edged-weapons expert.See Herndon (2000), Combs (2004), Norman (1995), Tieves (1998) and Hopkins (1998).] Originally an engineer and machinist in the aerospace industry, Emerson became a knifemaker known for making decorative knives but later became better known for his combat knives, eventually founding a production company to mass-produce his designs, and popularizing a style of knife known as the Tactical-folder. [See Herndon (2000), Tieves (1998), Basch (1990) and Lang (1997).] Emerson's knives have been displayed as museum pieces, designed for use by Navy SEALs, [See Tieves (1998) and Dockery (2004).] and used by NASA in outer space. [NASA use:
*cite web
last =Trzaska
first =Frank
title =NASA Knives
work =Oregon Knife Collector's Newsletter
date =2004-02-01
pages = 8
url =
accessdate = 2007-10-05|format=PDF

*cite web
last =Emerson
first =Ernest
title =Government Contracts
work = Emerson Knives Inc.
publisher = Emerson Knives
year =2002
url =
accessdate = 2007-10-04
] They have also been featured in films and novels, furthering their popularity with collectors.

Emerson is an accomplished martial artist who has developed a combatives system, Emerson Combat Systems, which has been taught to police officers, elite military units, and civilians.


Ernest Emerson was born on March 7, 1955 in a convert|400|sqft|m2|sing=on log cabin built by his grandfather in northern Wisconsin, and was raised in a family of farmers, craftsmen, and teachers.Combs (2004).] Harvard reference | Surname=Emerson | Given=Ernest R.| Title=Grandpa Gave a Part of Himself With That First Knife | Journal=Sporting Knives 2003 | ISBN= 0-87349-430-X | Year=2003 | Page=54–59 ] While attending high school he displayed great ability as an athlete, specifically as a wrestler and baseball player, being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals to play professional baseball at the age of 17 in the Midwest League.

Emerson began his training in martial arts at the age of 16 with the Korean version of Judo known as Yudo, traveling from Wisconsin to Minnesota twice a week to attend school. He continued his study of the martial arts while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a brown belt in Kyokushinkai Karate and a black belt in Shotokan Karate while competing on the university's karate team. After graduating with degrees in physical education and world history, Emerson moved to Southern California for the sole purpose of continuing his martial arts training at the Filipino Kali Academy.a There he studied Jun Fan Gung Fu, Jeet Kune Do, and Eskrima under the tutelage of Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo (both protégés of the late Bruce Lee).cite news |last=Emerson |first=Ernie|url= |title=Testimonial |publisher=IMB Academy |year=2006|accessdate=2007-02-20] a According to Emerson, he could barely afford the US$12.50 monthly dues, and performed maintenance and janitorial duties in exchange for instruction.b Emerson subsequently trained in Gracie Jiu Jitsu for three years at the original Gracie Academy in Torrance, California, under the founders of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu system, Rorion and Royce Gracie.Norman (1995).] Eventually, Emerson became an instructor in his own right and combined the principles of all these systems.Hopkins (1998).] It was also in Southern California where he met his wife, Mary, who at the time was one of the world's top female practitioners of Jujutsu. During this time, Emerson worked as a technician, a machine operator, and eventually a design engineer for Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo.Harvard reference | Surname=Pickles| Given=Al| Title=Innovation Sets the Pace | Journal=Tactical Knives Magazine | Volume=1 | Issue=1 | Year=1995 | Page=32–39 ]

Early knifemaking

Although Emerson credits his grandfather's gift of a Barlow knife to him at the age of eight years with starting his interest in knives, it was not until later in life that he turned to making them. The summer of 1978 found Emerson in need of a balisong knife for his study of a Filipino martial art and, unable to afford one on his salary,Herndon (2000).] Emerson decided he would attempt to make his own instead. He milled and drilled the handles from aluminum stock; the knife's blade was a simple steel blank that he hand cut with a hacksaw, shaped with files, and heat treated at his dining room table with a butane torch.

When he started classes with this "homemade" knife, his instructors and fellow students were impressed with his handiwork and asked him to make knives for them.Tieves (1998).] cEmerson did so and sold these early butterfly knives for just the cost of materials, but he soon raised the price to $50 each, as demand for his knives increased. Emerson went on to make fixed-blade knives on a part-time basis, but upon seeing a Michael Walker handmade folding knife at a gun show, he was so impressed by the quality and design that he decided he was going to make folding pocketknives from that point on.d Emerson contacted Walker and obtained his permission to use the Walker Linerlock mechanism on his own knives.Basch (1990).]

Pre-tactical models

Emerson's early folding knives were of the linerlock variety, ground by the stock removal method, and utilized rare materials from the aerospace industry, including titanium, carbon fiber, micarta, and meteorite.Harvard reference | Surname=Covert | Given=Pat| Title=Cutting Edge Knifemaker| Journal=American Handgunner Magazine | Volume=23 | Issue=133| Year=1998 | Page=70–75,122] e He also incorporated exotic materials common to knifemakers of the time, including mother-of-pearl, abalone shell, paua shell, staghorn, and rare hardwoods.Lang, (1997).] Writer Paul Basch reported in 1990 that Emerson refused to use the parts of any animal or plant which was an endangered species, noting Emerson as being an environmentally conscious knifemaker. The steel used in these blades was typically graded ATS-34, AEB-L, or 440C, and the blades were either highly polished or hand-rubbed. Emerson also made knives with Damascus steel blades. Among custom knife collectors and purveyors today, these knives are known as the "Pre-Tac" (Pre-Tactical) models. They can be identified by their bright anodized titanium bolsters and liners and the predominant use of clip point blades. The knives were also noted for their close tolerances and precise locking mechanisms. Emerson credits the following knifemakers for helping him along during his early years as a knifemaker: Michael Walker, Clint Breshears, Bob Engnath, and Jim Ferguson.

Emerson's first logo or stamp on these knives was "Emerson Knives" surrounding the outline of a Bowie knife; accordingly this is referred to as the rare "Bowie Logo", appearing on only a very small number of knives. When a knife collector asked Emerson if he made Bowie knives, Emerson informed him that he did not. The collector then advised him to change his logo or he might confuse the knife-buying public, as they would ask for Bowie knives instead of linerlock folders. Emerson agreed with this assessment, dropping the knife outline and the word "knives" from his stamp, using just his name in a half-circle on the blade as a logo. This marking is known among collectors as the "Half-Moon Logo" and would appear again as a transitional mark between the Viper and Specwar lines of knives.

These early knives sold for between $800 and $2,000 each; that, combined with his appearances at knife shows and write-ups in knife magazines, helped Emerson gain status and credibility as a custom knifemaker. Once established as a serious and reputable maker, Emerson was soon able to concentrate on making the knives he wanted to make—knives designed for use as opposed to show, specifically folding-knives designed for combat.

Viper Knives

As a direct result of watching his fellow martial artists train with a fixed-blade fighting knife in class, yet carry some type of a folding knife when they left the training area, Emerson decided there was a need for a sturdy folding knife designed primarily for combat. Although Emerson had always maintained that the knives he made were built as fighting knives first and foremost, in October 1988 he stripped down five of these designs to simpler materials. He continued his use of linen or canvas micarta because of its high tensile strength and superior gripping surface when wet; he decided on black or dark grey for the color instead of the brighter colors used previously. He retained the titanium for the liners and bolsters but chose to bead-blast them a flat grey matte color as opposed to the colorful anodizing which used to appear on his knives. The reasons for using titanium were its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance.cite web | title=Titanium Alloys – Corrosion and Erosion Resistance | work=The AtoZ of Materials:Materials Information Service – The Selection and Use of Titanium, A Design Guide | url= | accessmonthday=December 31 | accessyear=2006 ]

Emerson ground the blades of these knives from ATS-34 steel with a Rockwell hardness of 57–59 and made them thicker toward the tip, creating a stronger-tipped blade than he had made previously. He bead-blasted the blades as he did the liners and bolsters instead of rubbing or polishing them, giving them a matte finish as opposed to the mirror-polished finish common on his earlier knives. Emerson designed each one of these knives for a specific purpose. The slender Viper 1 and smaller Viper 2 were designed for use as a police officer's backup weapon. The Viper 5 was designed to be used by naval boat crews, as the handle was contoured with a rear brake so as to not slip from the user's hand when wet.

Emerson's goal for this Viper line was to produce a working knife which would be more resistant to the elements and more durable than the "art knives" for which he had become known. These knives were created to satisfy the demand for a practical field-grade combat knife which could be carried discreetly and accessed quickly. He sold these five models under the name "Viper Knives" and changed the logo on the blades to read the same.f Emerson makes these models to this day on a custom basis under the names MV1–5, "MV" standing for "Model Viper".Walker, Greg (1993). "Battle Blades: A Professional's Guide to Combat/Fighting Knives" (Hardcover), pages 38, 130 ISBN 0-87364-732-7]

pecwar Knives

In the mid-1980s individual Navy SEALs from a West Coast team had been using personally purchased custom fixed-blade knives made by Southern California knifemaker Phill Hartsfield. Hartsfield's knives are hard ground from differentially heat-treated A2 tool steel and are known for their distinctive chisel-ground blades.Harvard reference
Surname = Steele
Given = David E.
Title = The Hottest Grind of All
Journal = Blade Magazine
Volume = 24
Issue = 3
Year = 1997
Page = 16–18
] More accurately, they are also zero ground; that is, the edge has no secondary bevel, minimizing drag when used for cutting purposes. Emerson had long been impressed by the cutting ability of the chisel-ground edge and had asked Hartsfield's permission to incorporate it into his own folding knives, which Hartsfield granted. When the SEALs asked Hartsfield to make them a folding knife, he informed them that he did not make folding knives and referred them to Emerson.Dockery (2004).]

According to the SEALs' requirements, the knife had to be corrosion resistant, designed for easy cleaning in the field, durable enough to be used on a daily basis as a tool, and capable as a weapon should the need arise. Emerson's folding chisel-ground "tanto" became the sixth model in his Viper series and, while a handful of prototypes were referred to as "Viper 6", the model was soon named the "CQC6" (CQC refers to close-quarters combat) and was chosen by the SEALs for use.Staff, Knives Illustrated. (1996)"Ernest Emerson Profile", "Folders Special Edition by Knives Illustrated"] ] Harvard reference | Surname=Garrett| Given=Robert| Title=Will the Rolex be Replaced by an Emerson Folder as THE Special Ops Status Symbol?| Journal=Tactical Knives Magazine| Volume=2 | Issue=2 | Year=1996| Page=58–63 ] g Ownership of a CQC6 soon became something of a status symbol among members of various elite military units, including Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, German GSG 9, and British SAS."Le CQC-8 d'Emerson Knives", "CIBLES Magazine", Issue #439,October 2006] Guzy, Mark R. Testimony Before Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee " [ Minutes of the Meeting of the Nevada Assembly Committee on Judiciary Seventy-Second Session] " (2003-03-27). Retrieved 2007-02-21.] hij Because of this connection to the Special Warfare community, Emerson changed the name of his custom knife line to "Specwar Knives", and in 1996 this new designation began appearing in the logo on his blades. Other models followed in the Specwar line bearing the CQC Series moniker, including the CQC7 which is another chisel-ground tanto-bladed folder similar to the CQC6 but with a saber-type handle shape.Sweeney (2004), pp. 7, 142–143] cite news |last=Heavey |first=Bill |url=,13199,659761,00.html |title=Why Men Love Knives |publisher=Field & Stream |date=2005-10-27 |accessdate=2007-01-25] The CQC8 ("Banana Knife") was a folder inspired by Bob Taylor's Warrior Knife and is used by British SAS troops.Harvard reference | Surname=Ewing| Given=Dexter| Title=Knives and Lights| Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=31 | Issue=3 | Year=2004 | Page=126–129 ] The knife also has the distinction of being the first folding knife that was designed to be ergonomically correct in both forward and reverse grip. Its users refer to it as "the finest fighting knife ever developed". The CQC9 ("Eagle Knife") is a reverse-curved hawkbill blade developed as a backup weapon for an American law enforcement agency; it also has an opening hole in the blade licensed from knife manufacturer Spyderco.Delavigne (2004), p. 163] Although Emerson has standard models for these custom knives, each one is made individually by hand.

Popularizing the tactical knife

While not the first knifemaker to build what is known as a tactical folding knife, Emerson was one of several makers who popularized and perfected the concept of the handmade tactical folder in the 1990s.Covert, Pat. "Strike Force!" "American Handgunner", January 2000. Available at [,] Retrieved on December 29, 2006.] ] [Harvard reference | Surname=Shackleford | Given=Steve| Title=30 Most Influential People in Blade History | Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=30 | Issue=10 | Year=2003 | Page=92–99 ] Emerson's knives also began appearing in the Rogue Warrior series of novels written by the founder of the US Navy's SEAL Team Six, Richard Marcinko, which helped fuel interest among collectors.

This surge in interest for Emerson's knives soon became overwhelming. Although he had been making knives full time since 1994, Emerson was still manufacturing these knives in his home garage workshop three years later. As Emerson watched his customers' wait time expand from two years to seven, he realized that the demand for his handmade blades was far outpacing his ability to produce them. The first method to bridge this gap between supply and demand would be through factory collaborations with established cutlery companies.

Emerson's first collaboration with a knife manufacturer was with Timberline Knives in 1993 for his SPECWAR model.k This model featured a one-side chisel-ground tanto blade almost 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) thick. Its handle was made from fiberglass-reinforced nylon molded around a near-full tang. Vaughn Neeley of Timberline designed the sheath. [Harvard reference | Surname=Overton| Given=Mac| Title=Walking Tall With Timberline| Journal=Tactical Knives | Volume=1 | Issue=3 | Year=1995 | Page=82–85 ] The knife was originally a custom piece designed for Naval Special Warfare Group One, and this factory version was soon entered in the trials for the Navy SEALs knife in 1995.Harvard reference | Surname=Dick| Given=Stephen| Title=Blades of the Combat Swimmers| Journal=Tactical Knives | Volume=1 | Issue=2 | Year=1995 | Page=68–73 ] l Although it was not chosen by the Navy, the Emerson-Neely SPECWAR knife won "Blade Magazine"'s 1995 American Made Knife of the Year Award at the magazine's Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia, that same year and was displayed as an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City from May 24 to August 15,1995. [Knifemaker Profile:Ernest Emerson, "Fighting Knives", July 1995] In 1994 the president of Benchmade Knives, Les DeAsis, approached Emerson to manufacture the CQC6 on a larger scale as a factory production model. Preferring to keep the CQC6 as a custom-only knife, Emerson instead licensed a similar design of his, the CQC7. cite news | last = Fritz | first = Mark | title = How New, Deadly Pocketknives Became a $1 Billion Business | publisher = The Wall Street Journal | date = 2006-07-25 | url = |accessdate = 2007-01-02]

The Benchmade factory version was sold under the model name BM970 or BM975 depending on blade length. Other designations followed which denoted blade finish,Stanford (1999), p. 89] manual or automatic opening, or partially serrated blade. The knife retained the profile of Emerson's custom piece in addition to the ATS-34 steel and the titanium liners. However, on Benchmade's offering the bolsters and micarta scales were replaced with G10 fiberglass scales, the slotted screws were replaced by Torx head screws, and the pocket clip was repositioned so that the knife could be carried in the pocket in a tip-down position.Harvard reference | Surname=Clarke| Given=Christopher| Title=Benchmade/Emerson CQC7: Double-Duty Folder| Journal=Tactical Knives | Volume=1 | Issue=3 | Year=1995 | Page=58–60 ]

Despite these changes the knife was true to Emerson's original design, and even though it did not have the craftsmanship of a handmade piece of cutlery it satisfied customers with their own version of Emerson's work at an affordable price and without the five-year wait.Harvard reference | Surname=Shackleford| Given=Steve| Title=The 7 is 10| Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=32 | Issue=2 | Year=2005 | Page=42–48]

Emerson Knives, Inc.

company_name = Emerson Knives, Inc.
company_type = Proprietorship
foundation = Torrance, California (1996)
location = Torrance, California
key_people = Ernest Emerson, Founder & President
industry = Manufacturing
products = Knives
revenue = US$10 million
num_employees = 20–25
homepage = []

In February 1996, Emerson and his wife, Mary, founded Emerson Knives, Inc. (also referred to as EKI) in Torrance, California to manufacture knives on a larger scale than he was then capable of. This new company would be a distinct entity from his Specwar lineup of custom knives, although several custom designs would make their way into production from time to time. Four years after starting this venture, Emerson sold an entire year's worth of production in four hours at the SHOT (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show in January 2000.Harvard reference | Surname=Hopkins| Given=Cameron| Title=The Worse it Gets, the Better We Like It| Journal=American Handgunner Magazine | Volume=25 | Issue=157 | Year=2000 | Page=92–93]

Emerson continued to collaborate with other companies on knife-related projects as his own company grew. In some cases these collaborators had become his competition, such as Gerber Knives. In 2002 Emerson collaborated with Gerber Knives to create both companies' first automatic opening knife, the Gerber-Emerson Alliance.Harvard reference | Surname=Karwan| Given=Chuck| Title=Automatic Success| Journal=Tactical Knives | Volume=9 | Issue=6 | Year=2003| Page=50–54 ] m In that same year, Emerson collaborated with SureFire Flashlights by making an exclusive CQC8 (Banana Knife) numbered and marked with the SureFire logo and sold with an identically numbered Emerson-marked Centurion C2 CombatLight. In 2005 Emerson collaborated with Andy Prisco, the CEO of the American Tomahawk Company, to produce the CQC-T Tomahawk. This tomahawk features a curved head machined from 4140 steel with a rear spike and a lightweight fiberglass handle. Although not made by Emerson, the tomahawk was designed by him. [Harvard reference | Surname=Steele| Given=David E.| Title=Wedged Edges at War| Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=32 | Issue=9 | Year=2005| Page=12–18 ] In 2007, Emerson announced a collaboration with custom knifemaker and knife thrower Bobby Branton. The collaboration piece is a fixed-blade knife designed primarily for knife throwing dubbed the BETT: Branton-Emerson Tactical Thrower.

One of Emerson's earliest production models, the Commander (winner of "Blade Magazine"'s Overall Knife of the Year Award for 1999), is a large recurve folding knife based on a special custom design, the ES1-M, that he had made for a West Coast Navy SEAL Team.Harvard reference | Surname=Dick | Given=Steven| Title=The Working Folding Knife | ISBN= 9780883172100 | Year=1997| Publisher= Stoeger Publishing Company|Page=154–159 ] The Commander has a hook on the spine of the blade (originally designed as a blade catcher) which, when snagged on the edge of the pocket or sheath causes the knife blade to open as it is drawn."Cutler of Fortune", "Blade Magazine", October 1997] Emerson called this innovation the Wave and secured a patent for it in March 1999.cite web | title=Self Opening Folding Knife | work=US Patent | author=Emerson, Ernest R|url= | accessmonthday=December 31 | accessyear=2006 ] Emerson's Wave made its way onto most of his knives both in the production and custom lines, with the exception of the Viper models. It is a required feature on all knives that Emerson supplies to military units, search and rescue units, and law enforcement agencies. [Harvard reference | Surname=Overton| Given=Mac| Title=Knives Inspired by the World's Most Popular Combat Rifle| Journal=Knives Illustrated | Volume=21 | Issue=1 | Year=2007 | Page=16–20 ]

After a disastrous helicopter crash in 1999 resulting in the deaths of six Marines and one sailor, the US Navy performed an assessment of their equipment and decided among other things that they needed a new search and rescue knife. The Ka-bar knives issued to the SBUs (Special Boat Units) had catastrophically failed to cut the Marines free from their webbing.

The Navy went to Emerson, who designed and fabricated a working prototype within 24 hours. They found that it met their needs, and the model was dubbed the "SARK" (Search and Rescue Knife). The SARK is a folding knife with a wharncliffe-style blade and a blunt tip designed so a rescuer could cut trapped victims free without stabbing them. The knife features Emerson's Wave.n Seeing another need in the police community, Emerson replaced the blunt end of the SARK with a pointed end and named it the "P-SARK", or Police Search And Rescue Knife. The Ontario, California Police Department consulted Emerson to produce written policy for the carry and deployment of the P-SARK knives in their department.Harvard reference | Surname=Griffith| Given=David| Title=On the Cutting Edge| Journal=Police Magazine| Volume=10 | Issue=2 | Year=2002 | Page=68–75 ] In 2005, the Navy changed the requirements on the SARK to incorporate a guthook on the back of the blade for use as a line-cutter. Emerson made the change on this model which is only available to the US Navy and the model designation is the NSAR (Navy Search And Rescue) Knife.Rescue and Survival Equipment Manual, NAVAIR 13-1-6.5, Naval Air Systems Command, Washington, D.C., February 2007.]

In 1999 NASA contracted Emerson to build a knife for use on Space Shuttle missions and the International Space Station. Rather than design a new model from scratch, NASA chose an existing model which already met their specifications, with one additional design requirement. The model is a folding version of the Specwar knife that Emerson had designed for Timberline with the addition of a guthook cut into the tanto point of the blade with which astronauts could open their freeze dried food packages. The knife is not available for purchase outside of NASA.cite press release
title =Emerson Knives
publisher = American Handgunner Magazine
date = 2000-11-01
url =
accessdate = 2007-10-05

On July 1, 2000, Emerson announced his semi-retirement from custom knifemaking in order to concentrate on this new production company and to fill the thousands of outstanding orders for his custom work.cite web | last =Emerson | first =Ernest R.| title = Retirement Announcement| work = Emerson Knives Inc., News Page | date = July 1, 2000 | url =| accessdate= 2007-01-01 ] He still makes custom knives available for sale at knife shows, but takes no orders for new custom work.Harvard reference | Surname=Shackleford| Given=Steve| Title=Top 10 Most Collected Makers and their Knives| Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=32 | Issue=5 | Year=2004| Page=57 ] Harvard reference | Surname=Haskew| Given=Mike| Title=The Quick-Resale Phenomenon| Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=33 | Issue=12 | Year=2006| Page=30–35 ] Since 1995 the only way to get a new custom knife from Emerson himself is through a lottery held at knife shows where he is present. Depending on the size of the show, as many as several hundred potential buyers write their names on individual pieces of paper at his booth, and at a predetermined time a name is drawn. The winner gets a chance to buy one of the custom knives brought to the show.o [Harvard reference | Surname=Ewing| Given=Dexter| Title=Rock-Star Knifemakers Part 1| Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=34 | Issue=1 | Year=2007| Page=26–29]

In 2007 Emerson branched out in a new direction, announcing he would manufacture twelve custom electric guitars per year.Harvard reference | Surname=Overton | Given=Mac| Title=Emerson Knives: The #1 Hard Use Knives in the World | Journal=Knives Illustrated | Volume=21 | Issue=4 | Year=2007 | Page=36–43 ] His first guitar debuted at "Blade Magazine"'s Blade Show in Atlanta in June 2007.Harvard reference | Surname=Overton | Given=Mac| New Cutlery Unveiled at the 2007 Blade Show | Journal=Knives Illustrated | Volume=22 | Issue=4 | Year=2007 | Page=10–17 ]

Emerson's knives in popular culture

Emerson's knives have appeared onscreen in films and television shows. In "Night of the Running Man", Scott Glenn's character carried a white-handled, one-of-a-kind Emerson CQC6. Ravens, neck knives, and the Commander knife were featured in the short-lived UPN television series "Soldier of Fortune, Inc." A Commander knife was used by the character of Zak in the 1998 movie "The Placebo Effect"; Emerson Knives is thanked in the film credits for the knife.

Ridley Scott's 2001 film "Black Hawk Down" portrayed soldiers carrying Emerson folding knives in the hangar scene, and in "Tears of the Sun" the Kandahar model appeared on Bruce Willis' character's web gear, and other actors were seen with Emerson Police Utility Knives. A CQC7 was used by the main character in "Blood Diamond" and an Emerson Karambit is seen on the television show "Burn Notice". Frank Castle used an Emerson Karambit to kill an opponent in one of the final scenes in "The Punisher". "Transporter 2" briefly featured an Emerson fixed-blade Kandahar knife in the trunk of Jason Statham's car along with other weapons.

Emerson's knives are featured in mystery, spy, military, action, and adventure novels. At least seven of Richard Marcinko's "Rogue Warrior" novels ("Red Cell", "Green Team", "Task Force Blue", "Detachment Bravo", "SEAL Force Alpha", "Violence of Action" and "Holy Terror") prominently feature Emerson's knives (CQC6 or CQC7) as a regularly carried piece of equipment.Marcinko books:
*cite book |last=Marcinko |first=Richard |authorlink=Richard Marcinko |coauthors=Weisman |title=Rogue Warrior II: Red Cell|year= 1994|publisher= Pocket Books|location=New York |isbn=0-671-79956-8 |pages=108
*cite book |last=Marcinko |first=Richard |authorlink=Richard Marcinko |coauthors=Weisman |title=Rogue Warrior: Green Team|year= 1995|publisher= Pocket Books|location=New York |isbn=0-671-89671-7 |pages=3,18,56,78, 130–132, 204, 230, 265
*cite book |last=Marcinko |first=Richard |authorlink=Richard Marcinko |coauthors=Weisman |title=Rogue Warrior: Task Force Blue|year= 1996|publisher= Pocket Books|location=New York |isbn=0-671-79958-4 |pages=4,22,107,153, 174–175.] cite book |last=Marcinko |first=Richard |authorlink=Richard Marcinko|title= Violence of Action|year= 2002|publisher= Atria Books|location=New York |isbn=0-743-42246-5 |pages=28,101,105,110,112,116,154 ] cite book |last=Marcinko |first=Richard |authorlink=Richard Marcinko |coauthors=Weisman |title=Rogue Warrior: Detachment Bravo|year= 2001|publisher= Pocket Books|location=New York |isbn=0-671-00071-3 |pages=217,317,323] pcite book |last=Marcinko |first=Richard |authorlink=Richard Marcinko |coauthors=DeFelice, Jim|title=Rogue Warrior: Holy Terror|year= 2006|publisher= Atria|location=New York |isbn=0-743-42248-1 |page=108 ] The protagonist, Marcinko, uses an Emerson CQC6 or CQC7 on various occasions. On page 175 of "Task Force Blue", Marcinko remarks that his CQC6 was a "personal gift from Ernie Emerson, himself".q

"New York Times" bestselling author David Morrell's novel "The Protector" not only has the main character, a former Delta Force operator named Cavanaugh, using an Emerson CQC7 knife, but the cover art itself is a photograph of a blood-stained Production Emerson CQC7. [Morrell (2003), pp. 259–260, 271, 273, 286, 300, 312, 324, 325, 382, 393, 401, 405, 410, 421–423, 452, 456, 463–464] Cavanaugh uses the knife in combat as well as in many rigorous cutting chores. The author acknowledges Emerson as "the best manufacturer of tactical knives" as well as a "top level blade instructor for elite military and law-enforcement units". [Morrell (2003), p. "viii".] r In an interview with British E-Zine "Shots : The Crime and Mystery Ezine", Morrell indicated that he injured his collarbone during an Emerson knife-fighting course while performing research for the novel. [cite web | title = The Protection Business: David Morrell talks to Ali Karim | work = Shots : The Crime and Mystery Ezine| url = | accessdate = 2007-01-01 |] s

Three of Marcus Wynne's novels ("Warrior in the Shadows", "No Other Option," "Brothers in Arms") also feature use of Emerson's knives by the main characters. The CQC7, Commander, and La Griffe are favored by the main characters and are used as defensive weapons throughout the books. [cite book |last=Wynne|first=Marcus|title=Warrior in the Shadows|year= 2003|publisher=Forge |location=New York |isbn=0-765-34376-2|pages=12, 15, 30, 60, 105, 128, 162, 272, 275, 285, 322|] [cite book |last=Wynne|first=Marcus|title=No Other Option|year= 2004|publisher=Tor |location=New York |isbn=0-812-54944-9|pages=78,338,381] [cite book |last=Wynne|first=Marcus|title=Brothers in Arms|year= 2004|publisher=Tor |location=New York |isbn=0-765-34691-5|pages=124, 321] Barry Eisler's fictional hired killer John Rain uses an Emerson Comrade CQC-12, a folding knife based on the AK-47 bayonet, in "The Last Assassin".cite book |last=Eisler |first=Barry|authorlink=Barry Eisler|title= The Last Assassin|year= 2006|publisher= Putnam Adult |location=New York |isbn=0-399-15359-4 |pages=78 ] The characters of S.M. Gunn's novels based on Naval Special Warfare, Navy SEALs, and submarines routinely carry Emerson's knives. One of the main characters carries an Emerson custom MV-1 Viper knife in the book "SEALs SubStrike". [cite book |last=Gunn |first=S.M.|title=SEALs Sub Strike: Operation Ocean Watch|year= 2003|publisher= Avon Publishing|location=New York |isbn=0-060-09548-2 |pages=40, 60, 86, 190 ]

Retired Navy SEAL and SEAL Team 6 Plankholder Dennis Chalker routinely puts Emerson's knives (CQC-7s and Commanders) into the hands of the heroes of his "Home Team" novels based on the exploits of former Naval Special Warfare Operators.cite book |last=Chalker |first=Dennis|authorlink=Dennis Chalker|coauthors=Dockery |title=The Home Team: Undeclared War |year= 2004|publisher= Tor Publishing|location=New York |isbn=978-0060517267 |pages=88,97,173,251,286 ] Emerson's CQC7 has also made its way into the Clive Cussler novel, "Plauge Ship".cite book | last = Cussler| first = Clive | authorlink = Clive Cussler| coauthors = Jack Du Brul|title =Plague Ship (Oregon Files)| publisher =Putnam Adult | date = 3 June 2008 | pages = 528 | isbn = 0399154973 ]

Emerson Combat Systems


logocaption = Emerson Combat Systems
logosize = 120px
name = Emerson Combat Systems
focus = Hybrid
country = flagicon|USA U.S.
creator = Ernest R Emerson
parenthood = Jeet Kune Do, Boxing, Brazilian Jujitsu

Emerson's study and instruction of martial arts is ongoing. He has accumulated 35 years of experience in a variety of styles and philosophies of combat. Drawing upon this base of knowledge and experience he has developed a combatives system known as Emerson Combat Systems, which has been taught to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, members of the U.S. military, and civilians.cite conference
first =Emerson
last =Ernest
authorlink =Ernest Emerson
title =Surviving the Deadly Attack
booktitle = Less-Lethal Weapons Conference
publisher =Janes Information Group
date =2006-10-25
location =The Royal Armouries, Leeds, UK
url =
accessdate = 2007-10-05

The purpose of Emerson Combat Systems is to give the student the tools to survive the first few seconds of a violent attack. It is based upon the recognition of two factors: the human body's physiological response to stress and its reduction to the use of gross motor skills. According to Emerson, the techniques are based upon the physical and instinctual laws that govern the survival instincts and physical function of a human being.

This system is characterized by training as realistically as possible (not training in workout gear for example) and using flowing, dynamic concepts (for example, integrated fightingt and weapon transitionu) with a strong emphasis placed on overall physical fitness. [Emerson, Ernest R. "Old World Skills Keep Today's Soldiers Alive", "Tactical Gear Annual", Summer 2005. 12–20] Emerson maintains he does not teach a "martial art" encumbered by ritual or sporting aspects but a combatives system where the goal is more than simple self defense.v

Emerson has been consulted as a technical advisor to television and movie productions including "National Geographic", specifically a program titled "Fight Science", due in part to his position as the Hand To Hand Combat Instructor for Harry Humphries' Global Studies Group Incorporated, a company that teaches police and military tactics to law enforcement agencies and film production crews.Waterman, Steve. "Brown Water to Silver Screen: Story & Photos". "Soldier of Fortune Magazine",54–57, 67–69. July 1997.] cite book |last=Chalker |first=Dennis|authorlink=Dennis Chalker|coauthors=Dockery |title=One Perfect Op: An Insider's Account of the Navy Seal Special Warfare Teams|year= 2003|publisher= William Morrow Publishing|location=New York |isbn=0-380-97804-0 |pages=323| ]

Emerson has written over 30 articles on hand-to-hand combat, knife fighting, history, and knifemaking for publications including "Blade Magazine", [Emerson, Ernest R.(2001) "Blades That Conquered the World", Blade Magazine, September 2001.118–122] "American Cop Magazine", [Emerson, Ernest R.(2006)"OH NO! You Did What I Told You To Do!", "American Cop Magazine", March 2006, 62–63,66] "Martial Arts Experts", [Emerson, Ernest R.(2006) "Art of Offense", "Martial Arts Experts", Winter 2006, 12–14] "Journal of Modern Combatives",Emerson, Ernest R.(2006) 'Combatives is not an Art', "Journal of Modern Combatives", February 2006, 11–12, 27] "Inside Kung-Fu",Emerson, Ernest R.(1999)"Three Rules to Save Your Life", "Inside Kung Fu Magazine", October 1999, 45–47] "Black Belt Magazine", [ Emerson, Ernest R.(2006) "Anatomy of a Knife Fight", "Black Belt Magazine", December 2006, 98–104] "Police Magazine", [Emerson, Ernest R.(2000)"Countering the Karambit", "Police Magazine", October 2002, 36–41] and "American Handgunner Magazine". [Emerson, Ernest R.(2007)"Under Siege","American Handgunner Magazine", Tactical Annual 2007, 82–90]


*Harvard reference | Surname=Dick | Given=Steven| Title=The Working Folding Knife | Year=1997| publisher= Stoeger Publishing Company |ISBN= 9780883172100
*Harvard reference | Surname=Basch | Given=Paul| Title=Searching for the Super Blade| Journal=The Blade Magazine | Volume=17 | Issue=12| Year=1990 | Page=34–37
*Harvard reference | Surname=Combs | Given=Roger| Title=Emerson Knives | Journal=Knives Illustrated | Volume=18 | Issue=2 | Year=2004 | Page=36–41, 65–69
*cite book |last=Delavigne|first=Kenneth|title=Spyderco Story: The New Shape of Sharp (Hardcover)|year= 2004|publisher=Paladin Press |location=Colorado |isbn=1-581-60060-7 |pages=163
*cite book |last=Dockery |first=Kevin|title=Weapons of the Navy SEALs|year= 2004|publisher=Berkeley Hardcover|location=California |language=English |isbn=0-425-19834-0|pages=23–24|
*Harvard reference | Surname=Herndon | Given=Bill| Title=The Emerson Evolution in Hard Use Knives | Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=27 | Issue=8| Year=2000 | Page=133–138
*Hopkins, Cameron (1998). "Blade U", "American Handgunner Magazine", Volume 23, Issue 133. page 72,90–91
*cite book |last=Morrell |first=David |authorlink=David Morrell|title=The Protector|year= 2003|publisher= Warner Books|location=New York |isbn=0-446-61403-3
*Harvard reference | Surname=Norman | Given=Chris| Title=Ernest Emerson | Journal=Knives Illustrated | Volume=10 | Issue=4| Year=1995 | Page=104–108
*cite book |last=Stanford |first=Andy|title=Fight At Night: Tools, Techniques, Tactics, And Training For Combat In Low Light And Darkness|year= 1999|publisher=Paladin Press |location=Colorado |isbn=1-581-60026-7 |page=89
*Harvard reference | Surname=Tieves | Given=Bruce| Title=Captain Tactical | Journal=Blade Magazine | Volume=25 | Issue=1| Year=1998 | Page=41–44
*cite book |last=Sweeney |first=Patrick|title=Modern Law Enforcement|year= 2004|publisher=Krause |location=California |language=English |isbn=0-873-49659-0 |page=7,142–143


*Note a: Emerson Testimonial (2006): "I first met Richard Bustillo as a fledgling student at the Filipino KALI Academy in Torrance, California in the 1970s. I had moved from Northern Wisconsin just to train at what was at the time the only full contact fighting school in the world. This was a fighter’s school and needless to say I was more than a little intimidated at our first encounter. After all, here I was in a school filled with some of Bruce Lee's original equipment in front of someone who had trained with Bruce."
*Note b: Emerson Testimonial (2006): "I owe my entire career to my time at the Filipino KALI Academy with Richard (Bustillo) and Dan (Inosanto). I was a starving student at the time and there were some months when I could not afford the $12.50 monthly dues. Luckily they let me clean the bathrooms in exchange for my dues."
*Note c: Emerson Testimonial (2006): "I was immediately fascinated with the (balisong) knife and all of the maneuvers and manipulations so skillfully taught by Richard (Bustillo)and Dan (Inosanto). Unfortunately I could not afford to buy one so I decided to make my own. With a hacksaw, hand drill, file and blowtorch, I made the first "Emerson" Knife. It was crude by anyone’s standards but it worked and I found that there were other "poor" students at the academy. They in turn ask me to make butterfly knives for them. "You pay for materials, I'll make you a knife" was all I asked. The rest they say is history."
*Note d: Basch (1990) Quoting Emerson on Michael Walker:"Here was a guy who put everything I was looking for into a knife. It was then I decided to start making knives seriously and locking liners in particular."
*Note e: Covert(1998):"Emerson was one of the first knifemakers to utilize meteorite as a blade steel."
*Note f: The Viper knives have been marked by more of Emerson's custom logos than any other design: Viper, Halfmoon, Specwar, and the short lived Diamond Logo. The only logo these knives have never been marked with was Emerson's original Bowie logo.
*Note g: Steele(1997): notes the CQC6 as the sixth model after five prototypes as opposed to the next in the evolution of the Viper line of knives.
*Note h: Guzy(2003): "I’m actually on the Board of Directors of Emerson Knife Company; we’re basically a manufacturing facility that makes knives. Just to give you some background, our primary clientele purchases a very high-end quality, tactical folding knife that’s made for the military. Every member of the graduating class of BUD/S (basic underwater demolition/SEAL training), which become Navy SEALS (Sea, Air, Land), is issued one of our knives right off the bat. One of our largest clients, now that we’re engaged over in the Middle East, is the military as a whole. Delta Force and all the elite military units carry one of our knives; that’s primarily our market."
*Note i: Guzy(2003): "we were in Florida and met with the personal representative for the King of Jordan in regards to a knife that we’re making for him and his special forces and personal protection team; we’re discussing training options and we’ll be going over there. He wanted to take one of the samples of the knives; we had to get a special permit to display the knife at a trade show, and we wanted to give him the knife but couldn’t, because we’re prohibited by the law. The King of Jordan wanted to take the knife with him; he’s a diplomat and not regulated by our laws. We could have given it to him, but the state prohibited us from doing that."
*Note j: Guzy(2003):"Most military that we sell to, Navy SEALS for example, we actually hand-deliver those down to the special Warfare Center in San Diego, California, because we’re located in Torrance."
*Note k: Dick(1995):Another reason for this collaboration was the Navy deciding that only commercial designs would be considered due to failure of a previous custom knifemaker to deliver enough models to satisfy the need.
*Note l: Dick(1995):"A number of members of SEAL Team One have privately purchased this knife and are said to be disappointed it was not made the official blade."
*Note m: The Gerber/Emerson Alliance is based on the profile of Emerson's earlier Raven knife design and is an issued item to certain military units under the NSN (NATO Stock Numbers): 5110-01-516-3243 and 5110-01-516-3244.
*Note n: The current version of the SARK is Dubbed the N-SARK, it features a line cutting guthook on the top of the blade. This knife is only available to the US Navy.
*Note o: Haskew(2006):"The demand for Emerson's knives fuels the frenzy surrounding his drawings at shows. Other factors in the premium price on the show floor include scarcity, extended backlogs, and good, old-fashioned hype."
*Note p: Marcinko(2001) p 217:"The best folding combat knife I've ever used, the Emerson CQC-7(in the old days Ernie Emerson used to put serial numbers on his knives; mine is number 007)."
*Note q: Marcinko(1996): “Five fucking hundred dollars' worth of hand-made, personally inscribed knife, a gift from Ernie Emerson, who designed it for me.”
*Note r: Morrell(2003):"Ernest Emerson. In addition to being the best manufacturer of tactical knives (his CQC-7 is featured in this novel), Mr. Emerson is also a top-level blade instructor who works with various elite military and law-enforcement units.”
*Note s: Morrell in "Shots" interview: “Because "THE PROTECTOR" had a lot about knives, Ernest Emerson invited me to take part in a course he was teaching to law enforcement and the military. It was the most brutal training I’ve ever received. Two eight-hour sessions. After the first eight hours, I had bruises all over me from the practice collisions, attempting to defend against a mock blade attack. Half way through the second eight hours, I zigged when I should have zagged. I fell on my right shoulder and broke my collar bone. But it would take more than a broken collar bone to make me walk away from a research opportunity.”
*Note t: Emerson(2005):"Integrated Fighting Skill as defined by actual combat applications is the ability to flow seamlessly through all ranges of combat, using whatever techniques apply and any weapon you may have."
*Note u: Emerson(2005):"Weapon Transition Skill is the ability to flow seamlessly from one weapons system to another, through all ranges of combat, using whatever weapon that applies to any moment in combat."
*Note v: Emerson(1999):"You must destroy him. What do I mean by that? I'm not advocating deadly force. You must judge and act accordingly to those circumstances yourself. Destroying the opponent means removing him as a threat so he may no longer harm you in any way."
*Note w: Guzy(2003):"Our main focus is military and law enforcement. We’re in the final stage of getting POST (Peace Officers’ Standards and Training) certified in the state of California; we’ve got a training program that’s the best in the world, literally, and we train law enforcement and military personnel in defense of edge weapons... it’s not our intent to develop knives for those on the street that want to misuse them, or commit crimes with them; that’s not our intent."

External links

* [ Emerson Knives Official Site]
* [ Patent for the WAVE]
* [ Video Demonstration of the WAVE]
* [ Video of Emerson's NASA Knife in Outer Space]
* [ Emerson Custom Guitars Official Site]

NAME=Emerson, Ernest R
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Knifemaker, Martial Artist
DATE OF BIRTH= March 7, 1955
PLACE OF BIRTH= Northern Wisconsin, U.S.

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