Fred Perrin, The Martial Artist’s Knifemaker

Fred Perrin’s name has become synonymous with “La Griffe.” There are very few Knifemakers out there that are competent with a blade. Most of them have a real Cult of Personality thing going on around them, which at times can be rather unsavory. Sometimes they cultivate that sort of thing…sometimes they do not.


Fred Perrin, The Quiet One, stays out of the spotlight for the most part and continues to make excellent Self-defense knives and other weapons. What of those, “other weapons?” Well, they vary, through my friendship with Fred; I’ve come to know him not only as a very talented Designer and Maker of knives, but also as a serious researcher of weapons of all types and the methods to use them in the most effective manner possible. Fred stays in the shadows of the Knife Community.


I like that. Fred has the air of being every bit as covert as the weapons he admires and makes. Low key - and he is content with that and I admire that.


I love LaGriffes, they are awesome. I could just leave it at that and maybe I should!


Many of you have probably read the Perrin/Emerson LaGriffe Article here on the site. I think that covers most of the ground I could cover here along with the soon to be complete Spyderco SPOT Article which will on this site as well. These two Production knives, the Emerson and Spyderco versions of The LaGriffe, are just about the best Self-defense knives – smallish fixed blades – currently available today. The picture below has two Emerson LaGriffes and a Spyderco SPOT LaGriffe as well as a plastic LaGriffe Trainer.



Fred’s Custom LaGriffes are something to behold. Some people may not understand this, but Fred’s work has a warmth to it. When you hold one of his Custom LaGriffes in your hand, you look at it carefully and it has a presence to it.



Many people can make a perfect knife. Very few of them have that added touch of personality to their knives. A Custom LaGriffe may be a very simple knife or it can be quite elaborate. It does not matter – you can have a Custom LaGriffe with Micarta, some exotic wood, bone or Stag…G10 fiberglass composite or simply have the handle/grip skeletonized and "plain,” the same valuable attributes are there. 


When you see a LaGriffe like this one with file work, mosaic pins, spacers and giraffe bone for a grip, well, it’s just a work of art. A functional piece of artwork. My camera cannot capture the beauty of this knife.


The LaGriffe, The Master’s Knife?

The term “Knifefighting” has become quite controversial in some circles. It can mean so many different things to different people. I only use it so everyone else will know what I am talking about from the beginning. But, what we are going to be concerning ourselves with in most cases of Self-defense is not “Knifefighting” per se… No, it is Offensive Self-defense; the best “defense” is a good “offense.” What we are talking about is a fight. That seems very simple but many people forget this, they think that because there is a knife or some other weapon involved that it magically becomes a “Knifefight.” That is not necessarily true. It is more like a Streetfight involving weapons more than anything else. It is fighting while you have a knife, or multiple knives – or other weapons as well.


You have to broaden your horizons and think beyond merely cutting and thrusting or even using the pommel as a striking implement. You have to think of everything. You may have an opportunity to grab the other person; you might have to grab them. We hear a lot about multiple attackers and “Mass Attacks.” They exist, they are a reality and they are deadly. If you are in the middle of a group of people that are hostile or turn violent when you are in their midst, you may have to grab one of them and use them as a shield against the others. James Keating had some solid material about shielding in his Spyderco Civilian material he released years ago.


The LaGriffe has the pistol grip and the hole for the index finger and you can grab onto people and their clothing. You can actually grab clothing and then push the point of the knife into someone while you have them, all with the same hand. Grab, twist the clothing, and orient the point and plunge.


Quite some time ago in a discussion about Push Knives/Daggers, I said the following:


“These are not "fighting knives" in the classic sense, you know, a big ole knife that you can stick in someone's chest and they instantly give up the ghost and drop like a rock...


But, in a very real way, these are streetfighting knives in the most realistic sense...”


(Quoting yourself can be a rather pompous endeavor; I have to set aside my own views on that…)


That is precisely the way I feel about the LaGriffe. So many people look at them and because they are not large, they just shrug them off, “Oh, that ain’t nothing…what are you going to do with that thing?”


You can do a lot with a LaGriffe; you have to know what you are doing to begin with. The best compass in the world will do you no good if you don’t even know how to read it or even where you want to go in the first place.


Most people do not understand a knife unless it is huge and has the capability to remove a limb. So many times I have read about people who fully intend to threaten an attacker with their knife, an attempt at intimidation. “The bigger the better! They’ll run from me!”


In a world full of guns, you think that’s smart? Just because the attacker has not drawn a firearm does not mean he has no firearm in his pocket. Just because he draws a knife does not mean that’s all he has.


Another similarity with the Push Dagger, besides the kinship with it being a misunderstood weapon by many, is the fact that the LaGriffe locks into the hand like a Push Dagger and is easy to strike with in a non-telegraphic manner. Like the Push Dagger, it becomes an extension of your skeletal system.


The Push Dagger in the hands of someone who knows how to jab (as in Boxing) is a very effective weapon. Frighteningly so. The LaGriffe is very similar to this and you can reach out and really damage an attacker with a LaGriffe and they will not even perceive it. It will be too late, just as it is very hard to perceive the tip of a Fencer’s Foil…it has already found its’ mark before you perceive you have been struck…


A Couple of Wicked Spikes


Call them “Stylets” or miniature Poniards if you like. Sometimes referred to as a Lancet. Most people misunderstand these small weapons as well. The reason some people do not understand them is very simple. Again, some people only understand something like a Kukri when it comes to edged weapons. If it does not have the ability to chop off a limb, it is useless to them, as I mentioned before. Further, they then go on to say the item is useless for everyone else. That’s simply not true.


If you were grappling with a friend and you jabbed them with a common sewing needle, they would probably start screaming and disengage if they could. I’m not talking about merely poking them; I’m talking about sticking them deep with a sewing needle. Even in the middle of a heated but fun grappling session, it might take a few times of jabbing them – but they would feel it rather quickly and wonder what on Earth you were doing to them.


That’s because when you are having fun grappling, it is neither nice nor polite to stick your friend with a sewing needle. Right? It’s not like this sort of thing is allowed during friendly grappling or in sporting matches.


In a real fight, some rather terrible wounds can go by unnoticed at the time because of adrenaline and endorphins. A human being can take a lot of punishment and not feel most of it in some cases.


These small spikes may not work in every instance where they would be deployed in real life or death fights, but I have to think that they would work in a large percentage of them. There are no guarantees in any fight. I think a lot of it would depend on where (on the body), how hard and how often you used the spike.


These could also be lethal; it all depends on where you hit someone. Obviously, thrusting to certain areas of the neck can lead to a quick death with a lot of edged and/or pointed instruments. For right now, I’m just focusing on the streetfighting use of these things.


Some would say that you could get the desired result from using a simple writing pen in the same manner - which depends on where you hit them as well. If you stick a writing pen in someone’s rear end or high in the thigh, it might not be that effective, if you stick one of these spikes in the attacker’s flank, he’s going to feel that in most cases.


For now, we’re thinking about these little spikes.


Obviously, there could be legal problems looming for you if you carried such a thing but as the streets don’t seem to be getting any “nicer” or “safer,” these are all things you have to take into consideration. We’re talking about Self-defense, after all, and not merely hurting people that are innocent…


Let’s assume that it is so bad where you live that you have to carry such things and the possibility of using them is very real. The threat of arrest is not nearly so bad in some areas as is the threat of being beaten up or killed on the street. Sometimes life gives us very hard choices…



Going back to the sewing needle, these spikes are about 20 times (or more, just a guess) thicker than a sewing needle. Longer and with an incredible point. Fred ground the end down to a triangular point, which will penetrate a heavy leather jacket with relative ease.



What happens if you are swamped and smothered by multiple attackers? A common pocketknife can surely be a great aid to getting you out of such an altercation. So could one of these spikes.


Most human beings have a natural fear of the dark. If they are being stung by some sort of “invisible hornet” you have in your hand, it’s dark outside, these spikes are very svelte and hard to see anyway…they might just disengage altogether. Standing back to curse at you or throw rocks and bottles – still a dangerous situation but not nearly as bad as being stomped into the ground by them.


Understand that this is the realm for these very small and clever hideout weapons. They’re not something you extract from a pocket or lapel and challenge someone with, “On Guard!”


No, they are something quickly and silently deployed when you think something is going to turn violent. Or perhaps in a crowd that is hostile, maybe a riot has erupted, it does happen from time to time, maybe there is some sort of disaster and people are terrified and you are being crushed. You might be able to relieve some of the pressure on you by deploying something like this, as horrible as that may seem at first glance, to save your life. Just to stick them in the rear end…get them off of you.


Maybe someone is trying to pull you out of your vehicle and you can deploy one of these hidden somewhere in the vehicle and use it “sting” them.

Please note that I am not saying this, “Train for the lowest common denominator, train to meet someone that a sewing needle will dissuade.” Nothing could be farther from the truth, I am also speaking of targeting accurately and being relentless in the application of a device like this.

If you are unfortunate enough to end up on the ground with a highly skilled grappler and you are not skilled at grappling and you have ended up there because you failed to stop the takedown, you are in trouble. Grapplers, being very proud of what they can do, will scoff at some of these ideas. But I think you can get one of them to jump off of you like a rocket if you started sticking them with one of these spikes. They’re not going to be expecting that, they are expecting to smother empty hand tactics and because some of them are training to smother weapons or the drawing of weapons, I would advise you to never let someone see the weapon, any weapon, let them feel it.


The American OSS and British SOE deployed small tools like this in the field. These weapons had many different names, poniards, spikes, darts, brochette, bodkin, hatpin, hairpin and simply…”nails.”


Brochette is French for “skewer” and bodkin is a term that is not used much anymore, it usually meant large sewing needles. Some intricately hand-carved from Whalebone or Ivory. In the mid-1800s it was even common to see certain types of sewing implements, referred to as stilettos. This makes a lot of sense because most people don’t realize that a dagger is double edged but a stiletto is more of a spike, historically speaking.


Here is a picture of one of my Dad’s “Bodkins,” a large sewing needle for repairing canvas tarps and tents, next to one of Fred’s Spikes.



It is absolutely fascinating to me to see the similarity in some things and it makes perfect sense, sewing is about piercing materials, you see now? It’s amazing, the OSS and SOE termed some of these things after common sewing implements (especially European implements and some going to French Resistance Fighters) and why not? Why not name a piercing weapon after a piercing tool?


Another interesting thing I have come across is the use of the French word “Chatalaines” used for small sewing or jewelry boxes. I have tried to define the word myself from French and I keep getting “Lady of the Manor.” I have found yet another and as of this writing – unofficial – definition of “Chatalaines.” That being, women’s dresses in the Victorian Era (and even today in most cases) had no pockets. So a “Chatalaine” was some sort of clip device to attach a thin chain to the belt or other area of the clothing so a small container of sewing needles and possibly a thimble, could be carried around. Much like a Police Officer’s whistle is attached to their clothing by a small, thin chain and on the other end of the chain is some sort of small hook or other device to attach the chain to clothing.


I think the use of “Chatalaines” for a sewing box is incorrect, I think that would be “Etui.” An Etui could be a cigarette or cigar case, a small case for your eyeglasses or possibly a pistol. Neat, huh? I have not written Fred about this, I’m sure he will correct me and add much more later.


Isn’t this interesting to ponder? A sheath, I imagine, could be considered an Etui and the ball chain used for neck knives and various ways to use ball chains for carrying knives and such, they could be considered this same type of chain device… Chatalaines.


That is not to say that I am 100% correct in my definitions. What I am trying to say is, for hundreds of years people have had to carry things and have had to invent ways to carry things that fit the clothing of the era they lived in. Much like we do today. Just an interesting discussion on the side, that’s all this is.


Now, if we think about things now, we see that the concepts of carrying various items are timeless, aren’t they?


A neck knife carried on a piece of ParaCord or ball chain, for example…see the connection?


According to Martial Artist and Historian Don Cunningham (buy his book, “Secret Weapons of Jujutsu,” I enjoyed it immensely), the correct Japanese term for the hairpin would be “kansashi.” I mention this to give you a broad view of these nasty little devices. Throughout history, small edged weapons like these have been utilized and they have been effective.

Lapel Knives!

Fred has made quite a few of these as well and they could be used in the same manner as the spikes. Again, in the dark, where most bad things happen because bad people seek darkness to work their evil on society, knives like these are very hard to see. That is the important part to remember.



I know some people refer to cuts to the forehead as “The Veil of Blood” techniques because the blood floods the eyes and temporarily blinds the attacker. I know some people don’t agree with that – or they condemn it in some way.


The fact remains the face and scalp bleed copiously when cut. Ever cut yourself shaving? Think about the cut being much worse than that. Blood in the eyes is a very real deficit for anyone to fight through.


It is a very real possibility that the fight would end because the other person would have to clear their eyes constantly in order to continue. You might not have to injure them further, you might be able to turn and run or kick them in the legs to take them down and then run to safety.


I also know that people will scream that this is “maiming” or “too brutal” for “legitimate” Self-defense. Look, if it is bad enough to draw an edged weapon, it is basically a situation that calls for lethal force or you are going to be in trouble anyway, so the point is moot.


Why people have to mince words and feel for people who have no feelings for them, I don’t understand. There is nothing “immoral” or “illegitimate” about defending yourself in this manner if you are going to die or be severely injured if you do not act.


(How do you like the miniature LaGriffe in lapel knife form in the picture below? Isn’t that great!)



Buy some of Keith Melton’s great books on British SOE and American OSS Weaponry and study them. There is a wealth of knowledge in them with regard to the Lapel Daggers, Spikes and all the other assorted edged weapons used in World War Two…


Fred Perrin is carrying on The Great Tradition of the World War Two French Resistance Fighter.

The Brutal Reality – Streetfighting

This is what most people, even most people involved in Martial Arts, do not want to confront. When I first started down that path years ago, my dreams were of perfectly executed blocks, shutos, throws and joint locks. A few years later, like many young men, I became enthralled with the idea of the perfectly executed back spin kick to the head of my adversary. The more I saw, the more I changed.


These three items represent an excellent Self-defense package for people. Self-defense comes down to Streetfighting. If you had the capability to carry a concealed handgun, that is obviously an excellent idea in a hostile environment.



These three items designed by Fred Perrin cover a lot of Self-defense needs.

The Self-defense Wallet


This is a stroke of genius. Well thought out, the design is great, it is practical and the materials and construction are excellent. I don’t have to tell you that being struck with several dollars worth of coins would hurt you if you wrapped them up in a good, tough leather sack. And that is what this is. I’m not going to dwell on that, it’s obvious!


Instead, I’m going to tell you what a great wallet this really is for some of you! If you wish to obtain one because you think it would be good for Self-defense, and it would be, that’s great. But it really is a wallet worthy of carry especially for people who have to carry a lot of coins.


I see three major areas where you would have to carry a lot of coins:


·         People who travel on Toll Roads and Turnpikes.

·         People who travel and have to use pay telephones.

·         People who use Laundromats.


If you run out of change on some Toll Roads, you can actually be ticketed and fined if you do not have change and you pass through some of the Tolls that are unmanned. If they have a camera that takes a picture of your license plate (instead of having the little gate that goes up and down), it can cost you many more times the amount of the Toll in fines, etc. So, if you travel in these areas, having a lot of coins is a must.



Pay telephones are like slot machines now. They just take your money, if you use them a lot and you really depend on them, you should have a lot of change on you. The are notorious for “eating” your money and malfunctioning and as Cellular and Digital (Portable) Communications have become increasingly popular, the companies who have pay telephones have taken quite a hit. There are some pay phones in my area that are one dollar per call. I’m 34 years old, when I was a teenager; they were still a dime (ten cents!). Even more disturbing, in the past, if the other party you were calling did not answer the phone and it just rang, you were refunded your money on the spot as soon as you hung up the phone receiver. I have noticed that some companies have the phones set in a manner that you have to pay regardless, even if the other party does not answer, you have to pay for even trying to call them! I’m all for Free Markets, but this is a bit much, I mean, come on.


But if you must rely on pay phones, they are going to get even more expensive and the restrictions on them will grow.


Laundromats are another story entirely. Yeah, big macho guy! I have to use these places sometimes as well! And, it is a lot of money to do so when you consider you need coins to do it. Most of these places have moneychangers that change bills into coins, but they are also out of money or otherwise malfunctioning some of the time too! The stores around any Laundromat usually refuse to give you change – especially in the amounts you need for washing three loads of clothing. Best to have your own supply of quarters on hand. I hate it when the bill-changer is not working or out of quarters, messes up everything and I have to go hunt down some place to get quarters and I hate carrying fifteen dollars in quarters in a pocket!


This wallet ends all of that. There are many things that are simply weapons and they are disguised to be something else, this wallet is truly a gem, totally functional and built very tough. I love this coin wallet.


Constructed out of what appears to be garment leather and reinforced in the major stress area with a much thicker grade of leather, this is one tough wallet. The snaps and straps are all set well and robust. The thicker section of leather wraps around the end of the wallet to give it more shape instead of just appearing to be a leather “bag.” This also serves as reinforcement so the bag will not burst if you hit something with it. This should also keep the coins from “wearing the leather thin” in that area. Great!


You can wear this on your belt, you can place it in your pocket with part of it forming a “tail” or handle to grasp, perhaps placing it in the console of your vehicle for long trips.


The only thing I would change about it is the logo. The logo is wonderful, it simply has, “Fred Perrin Design” on it with a LaGriffe. It is well done and clean (you can see it in the Custom LaGriffe picture near the beginning of the article). The only problem is, the LaGriffe is a knife and the addition of that graphic of the knife on the wallet could cause the wallet to undergo a lot more scrutiny. Not only if you have to use it, but also just carrying it could cause quite a stir in some areas…from someone wants to make an issue out of it being a weapon.


The Perrin Koppo Stick


This Koppo Stick that Fred makes actually reminds me of some mountain climbing tools. I do not know the name of them as I don’t climb mountains anymore, but there are implements that I only know as “Ice Spikes.” When climbing, crawling or slithering on slick ice, you can have these tools in your hand and thrust the point into the ice so you can keep going – instead of sliding down the ice, etc.



For you folks in colder areas where there is a lot of ice every winter, these Koppo Sticks would be most excellent to have in the vehicle and/or your pocket. And that is exactly how I would explain why I was carrying them! And you would not be lying! They’re excellent tools!


As a weapon, this Koppo Stick, if you strike with the point, is obviously going to severely injure someone, so you should be very careful and only use it when your life is in danger.



All I have to tell you is, it is well thought out and the construction is excellent and if you cannot get the rest of the “story” from simply looking at the picture, I don’t think I could type another five hundred words to tell you about it. Read the Koppo Stick Articles I wrote and then refer back to these pictures and use your imagination. This is not the sort of thing you want to use on someone who is simply trying to aggravate you in a Bar or Tavern or something, this will really damage someone. Act accordingly.


Some Links


Many of Fred’s knives and other tools can be purchased through Laci Szabo, his website can be found at:


For further reading, you can visit Fred’s old website, which is rather cool! You can find it with these two links:


Another small webpage dedicated to Fred:


Here is a website where you can order some interesting Perrin items! Enjoy!


You can click on each description to see a picture of the knife/device and I suggest you do!


Click Here


I strongly urge you to visit Real Fighting Dot Com at:


There is a terrific article on Fred located there at:


- Don Rearic


copyright DonRearic.Com

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