Blade Show 2022 in Atlanta was the first ever Blade Show I’d been to, and it was incredible how amazing and overwhelming it was. Three days, two massive rooms in the convention center, Bali Comp, and The Pit - attending the world’s largest knife convention for my first industry trade show was truly a unique and unforgettable experience (read all about it here!).
Based on that experience I was ready for a similar, yet smaller and shorter event. Other than that I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, but knew it would be a great time.
Despite Blade West being a shorter and smaller show - two days in one room compared to three days and two rooms in Atlanta - I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was just as much energy at West. The balisong community showed up in a huge way, both makers and flippers alike, and some great memories were created at the show, the competition, and the after parties.
One of the best parts about Blade Show is just strolling around, meandering through the aisles of booths and looking at all of the amazing edges that makers bring from all around the world. Fixed blades, folders, swords, axes, and assorted EDC items are displayed in abundance, but of course what interests me most are balisongs, so let’s take a look at what was new in the balisong world at Blade Show West 2022!
Although the Atropos table wasn’t in the “balisong corner” where most of the other bali makers were, it was impossible to miss due to the sheer number of products they had on display. Butterfly knives covered nearly every square inch of their table, and they had a wide variety of models available for purchase.
Although I’d tried a couple of their balisongs in the past, it was incredible being able to flip nearly everything in their product line in one place and see some of the more artistic pieces that Atropos makes.
Bladerunners Systems (BRS)
The Bladerunners Systems booth is always a “must-visit” booth at Blade Show. They’ve been making balisongs for over 10 years, and don’t show any signs of stopping.
You could easily identify the BRS booth at Blade West by the hoards of flippers, giant wooden Alpha Beasts, and copious amounts of stylish swag.
Also, their balisong lineup isn’t the end of the story. Their E-Volve line has some killer folding knives, and their other company Revo Knives makes some amazing folders, EDC items, and the newest balisong from the minds behind BRS: the Nexus (pictured above).
Hazetac had one of the most eye-catching balisongs at Blade West this year: the Devil Devils. With both blade and handles expertly cerakoted, these black and red knives look like they came straight from Hades, complete with tridents on the handles and on the pivot bolts.
For the people that these Devil Devils couldn’t tempt, Hazetac also had some Devils in other colorways, with models in both cerakoted and anodized finishes.
Joseph Hansen is still going strong with his current balisong project - the Solo. This balisong is not just a tank and high-performance flipper, but also just simply a beautiful knife.
The look of this knife is blocky yet flowy at the same time, and contains a simple and elegant hole pattern in the handles. The blade shape is unlike any other balisong blade on the market, with features such as a fuller that adds a beautiful element to the blade while also reducing weight, making this knife perfectly balanced and a ton of fun to flip.
Although this was not Indiana John’s first Blade Show, this was the first one where he had his own table! Indiana John has long been a prominent member of the balisong community, known not only for his flipping but also for his knives and knife-related products.
For his inaugural Blade Show table he brought out a little bit of everything (or at least most things) that he makes. His display contained some amazing and unique balisongs, beautiful fixed blades, pivot needles, “bali socks” (his balisong end caps), necklaces, and of course some handmade whips (his name is Indiana John, after all…).
If you missed him at Blade Show, make sure to check out his Instagram and online store to pick up some of his incredible products!
Once again, Julian came to Blade Show with the most recent knife in his balisong lineup - the Embargo. These were different than the ones you may have seen at Blade Show Atlanta though, as he has introduced a beautifully simple hole pattern in the handles of some knives (pictured below).
Everything else about the Embargo has remained the same - flawless finishes, stunning color combinations, and of course the adjustable weight system in the end of the handles that also adds a cool aesthetic element to the knife.
Knife Pivot Lube
Many peoples' first stop after purchasing a new balisong was the KPL booth, where they could try out all three different oil weights in the KPL lubrication line and get expert advice on how to maintain their new (and old) knives.
In addition to KPL oils, Knife Shield has caught the attention of the balisong community for its ability to easily and effectively clean knives and prevent blade rust. Dropping balisongs is an extremely common occurrence when flipping, which means these knives accumulate a lot of dirt, gunk, and other crud on the blades and handles. Flippers left the KPL booth with their knives looking as good as new after just a couple sprays of Knife Shield!
Shop Soet is a brick and mortar storefront in San Diego, CA, owned and operated by esteemed flipper “Damn Right I Got Knives”. He is an authorized dealer of several well-known balisong makers including (but not limited to) Ceroni Knives, Fellowship Blades, and MachineWise.
One of my favorite things at the Shop Soet table was the balisong trick pins - circle pins that you could earn by performing the trick named on the pin. Different pins had different tricks on them, from basic beginner manipulations all the way up to advanced combos. Some flippers were able to accrue over a dozen of these trick pins, which they proudly displayed on their garments like a five star general.
Squid Industries is a staple of Blade Show for flippers. Their booth almost always contains extra space for flippers to hang out in so that they won’t disturb the rest of the attendees at the show, making it one of the main flipper oases at Blade.
In addition to their existing lineup of trainers and butterfly knives, Squid also brought with them their Swordfishes, the newest trainer in their product line. The Swordfish is the first balisong trainer manufactured entirely from aluminum, with an aluminum trainer blade in addition to the aluminum handles.
Balisong Competition: WCFC 2022
Of course one of the biggest events at Blade West for balisong flippers was the West Coast Flipping Competition (WCFC). In fact, WCFC 2022 ended up being such a popular event that they had to open up a partition wall, adding an entire extra room of space in order to accommodate all the people that came out to see some of the best flippers in the world compete!
Once again emceed by the charismatic and charming Guy of WB Concept, the comp was full of prodigious performances, unexpected upsets, and memorable moments. Although we can’t recap the entire comp in this article, let’s take a look at a few of the highlights that made the event exceptionally exciting.
First Round Flip-Off
In the first round, @baliflips_ went head to head with @kart41_, and both performed amazing routines. In fact, they were both so great that the judges’ votes were 2-2, leading to a tiebreaker decided by the cheers of the audience. The audience cheers, however, only led to another tie, the cheers for each flipper being indistinguishable in volume, duration, and passion.
This led to Guy calling for a flip-off, having each of them flip one more time to settle the score. After performing their second combos, however, the judges came down with a split decision once again.
Without enough time for a third round for these two flippers, Guy was forced to become the deciding vote, thrusting a decision on him that he stated would lead to sleepless nights. After perhaps the most suspenseful round in any balisong flipping competition to date, @baliflips_ ended up winning, eliminating @kart41_ in one of the most memorable first-round flip-offs in balisong history.
You Gotta Dive For It!
For another unforgettable moment that will surely go down in the annals of balisong competition history we turn to @balitism’s second round performance.
For the first eight seconds of his combo, the crowd was treated to everything they know and love about Balitism - a dynamic routine full of fans, ricochets, rollovers, and aerials. For the final two seconds of his round we got to see his athleticism, quick thinking, and fearless dedication to the sport on full display.
Although he’s thrown thousands of aerial transfers before, effortlessly tossing a knife from one hand to the other, this one was different. Instead of catching it with his left hand, the knife somehow managed to bounce off his fingers, sending the bali tumbling chaotically to the ground.
With some lightning quick calculations, balitism kicked the balisong in midair, giving it just enough extra height for him to dive to make the catch before his Medusa could hit the ground!
Comeback in the Finals
Balitism’s incredible diving catch in the second round must have given him an incredible boost in adrenaline and confidence, as the next few performances he gave were enough to get him to the finals. The last matchup was between @balitism and @nicklessentropy, where the first flipper to win 3 rounds would be declared the champion.
Balitism had Nick on the ropes after the first two rounds, winning each of them decisively by a judges vote. The third round, however, was not as close, leading to a split decision by the judges that would be settled by a crowd cheering vote that went heavily in Nick’s favor.
After Nick won the fourth round with a 3-1 decision from the judges, both flippers gave it their all in the fifth and final round. As the judges held up their scorecards, two for Balitism and two for Nick, you could hear them faintly exclaiming that they wanted to see a flip-off!
So, once again, Balitism and Nick each had ten more seconds to impress the judges with their flipping. Ultimately Balitism’s backflips were not enough to beat Nick’s behind-the-back double-rotation same-hand Van Gogh finisher, which earned him the title of WCFC 2022 champion.
WCFC 2022 could not have happened without the comp’s sponsors, so a huge thanks goes out to everyone that made it possible: BladeBae.com, BladeHQ, Bladerunners Systems, Carbon Honey, Ceroni Knives, Fellowship Blades, Flytanium, Franken Forge Blades, Hansen Metals, Knife Pivot Lube, MachineWise, Prince Customs, and Squid Industries.
If you’d like to learn more about balisong competitions or check out the results of major balisong competitions from the past 10+ years, check out this article all about the origins, history, and formats of bali comps. You can also find video coverage of the entire comp here, as well as an amazing edit by Balisong News.
Post-Show Bali Meet
The final highlight of Blade West 2022 was the balisong meet that took place after the show on Saturday evening. Dozens of flippers gathered at a nearby park to try flipping knives they’ve never touched or seen before, swap stories, and just hang out, getting to know the people that share one of the same passions that they do.
Although I’ve been to balisong meets before, I’d never been to one of this size and with such a wide variety of people represented. People travel from all over the country (and some even from other countries) to attend Blade Show, so there were people from outside of my region that I would likely never run into at a meet in the midwest.
Not only were there flippers there from all over the country and at all different skill levels, it was a lot of fun to get to chat with balisong makers in a more casual environment outside of the show. It’s really amazing what a diverse crowd the balisong community consists of, all able to come together around a shared passion for a specific type of knife that has two handles rather than one.
If you’ve never been to a Blade Show before, it’s an experience that I highly recommend you try. Just make sure to stop by the KPL booth at the next one and come say hi!
In the meantime, don’t forget to use code BARKHANDLE at checkout for 10% off your order of KPL products, and check me out on Instagram @barkhandle for unparalleled balisong content.