Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 93 - LYNN THOMPSON
COLD STEEL - LYNN THOMPSON
"I'm working for my customers so I'm constantly looking to find things that they might also have an interest in and promote those." Lynn Thompson, owner of Cold Steel Knives
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ABOUT LYNN THOMSON:
Dustin and Jeff headed to Ventura California to meet Lynn Thompson, the owner of Cold Steel Knives. Lynn joins the show to talk about starting the company back in 1980 and the ups and downs of owning and operating the World's Strongest Knife Company. Lynn is very concerned with his customer's safety and wants to provide them with the best and highest performing knives he can create. Plus, he is interested in the history of weaponry and talks about some of the special projects the company has produced including baseball bats and spears. finally, Lynn explains the unique relationship Cold Steel has with the entertainment industry, and what fuels him to keep moving forward.
ON THIS WEEK'S TV COMPANION SHOW:
This week on Science, Jeff learns that Nuclear Pasta could be the strongest material in the universe - but what is it? Then Dustin gets mad on The Roast when they discuss Banned Books Week, and why banning books is still even a thing in 2018. Plus stick around for more fun including birthdays, the running gag of following Christian Slater, and some exciting news from The World's Strongest Coffee on The Update including the new Death Kettle coming soon and the first look at a very limited edition Zakk Wylde Valhalla Jave Odinforce mug.
DEATH STAR OF THE WEEK:
Meet Quentin Mariano, in the Death Star of the Week segment in the show below:
Lynn: Thank you so much.
Jeff: I was saying on the drive up here to Ventura that I don't understand why we haven't thought about it earlier, but there should always be a collaboration between Devilish Coffee and Cold Steel because the world's strongest coffee meets the world strongest knives, is I think just a match made in heaven.
Lynn: I agree.
Jeff: And I want to talk a little bit about the company at large. I'd like to start kind of like in the beginning. I'm curious, how the inception of this company started back in the 80s? Was the idea always lets start and make the world's strongest knives? Or did that kind of coalesce after the company started?
Lynn: It actually has kind of an interesting beginning. I started Cold Steel because I broke two of my competitors knives. One right after the other and I said I could do a better job and I must do a better job.
Lynn: And as I mentioned earlier, I grew up in Brazil and lived in really rural areas in Brazil where there isn't easy resupply.
Jeff: Right, yeah.
Lynn: If you break your knife, you might be out of luck for a long time and since it's man's oldest tool, there's really a need for a super strong knife.
Lynn: We set out to manufacture that and I didn't know anything really about knife making other than I collected custom knives at the time, but I'm self taught. I learned. You're sitting in my conference room right now in the library with 2200 books on knives and swords and martial arts. This is how I learn. I do and I read and I study. And I watch.
Dustin: That's the best way to learn. I mean that's ... I mean any other way you're going to learn it from somebody else who learned it that way. So you're kind of getting it first hand, that style. So, you've been a martial artist for a long time. Were you a martial artist before you started getting into knives?
Lynn: Absolutely. I started boxing in sixth grade.
Dustin: Oh wow.
Lynn: So my dad got me a book by Nat Fletcher called How To Box and I studied that book and I used to, my mom used to get mad at me because I'd wear out my shoes shadow boxing all the time. I was up on the toes of my shoes on asphalt, shadow boxing all the time and she'd get mad because I'd wear out the shoes so fast. So yeah, I start out in boxing and then judo and shotakan karate and then wado-ryu karate and then I got introduced to Filipino martial arts and I've never looked back.
Dustin: Really? What was it about Filipino martial arts that ...
Lynn: Well I was interested in knife fighting and they had a knife fighting art.
Lynn: And I'd never seen that. I'd read two other books on knife fighting before that but Dan [inaudible 00:02:53] book on the Filipino martial arts was the one that really kicked it off for me and Bruce Lee's Jeet Kendo book also. I read that when I was, I think I was a senior in college. Those books had a huge impact on me.
Lynn: I've been a Filipino martial artist ever since I guess my senior year of college.
Dustin: Oh wow. That's really cool. Is the Filipino martial arts, is that what got you interested in knives to begin with?
Lynn: No. I've been interested in them since I was a little kid. Even in Brazil. I lived in Seara which they used to call the state of the gun and the knife. The knife was an ever present tool and weapon and for whatever reason it clicked with me at the earliest age. I have pictures of me at five years old in Brazil with wooden knives my dad carved for me. My dad was quite handy and good with tools and wood working and stuff and he carved me wooden knives. I'd go around with a whip which was a long belt that I got a hold of somehow and my wooden knife. I was quite the terror.
Jeff: Sounds it.
Dustin: Did you ever have to use your martial arts skills in real life? Have you ever had to ...
Lynn: Yeah a few times.
Dustin: Yeah. Yeah. Any memorable moments?
Lynn: Probably none that I want to talk about here.
Jeff: That's good.
Dustin: Fair enough.
Lynn: I have a few scars.
Dustin: Yeah. Yeah. Any good fighter does, right?
Lynn: Yeah, if you've never been hit, you've never been in a fight.
Jeff: That's true. That's true. So you start from a great premise then. You want to create a better product. You know you can, so you want to start up this company to do that. When did that, was it ... I want to kind of delve into like the beginning of the company. Did it take off immediately? Was it accepted in the community because there are a lot of competitors out there.
Lynn: No. It was a huge struggle. In fact, I'll go out on a limb here and say the tactical knife industry that exists today, the demand, was started by myself and Al Marr.
Jeff: Oh wow.
Lynn: And a little bit Kershaw in the early 1980s. There was just ... very, very few offerings in tactical knife, what we could call tactical knife today. I was the first one, Cold Steel, to break the $100 price barrier and start selling commercially made knives for over $100 and it was a huge struggle. Like the tanto point that everybody recognizes today, I introduced that to the American public.
Dustin: So what makes that tanto knife more unique than your usual tanto?
Lynn: Well there are American tanto that I design, has a very thick spine and the spine runs down to about a half inch of the terminal end of the tip itself. So you have a lot of stiffness in the blade and then normally, sometimes for some applications we'll flat grind it, but normally we hollow grind it. So you have a stiff spine, a hallow ground blade, and then a secondary grind at the point which we call the akote in Japanese sword nomenclature, at that area. We combine the hollow grind with the flat grind which forms a secondary point. So you have your primary point at the terminal end and there at the bottom you've got a secondary point that's just awesome for snap cuts.
Lynn: So when you hit somebody with that secondary point, you flick your hand and that secondary point engaged the target. It splits that target into a big V.
Dustin: So it does more damage?
Lynn: It does a lot more damage and actually will penetrate quarter inch leather where other blade styles won't go through that with a snap cut, but because that secondary point is there, it maximizes the damage that you can do with a very non committed below. See, what people don't realize is the snap cut is the fastest cut that you can make and the one that you can make and get out with the least amount of time. So you can do a lot of damage in a micro second. And when we're talking a micro second, we're talking a 20th, a 30th of a second.
Dustin: So it's an efficient killing machine.
Lynn: It is.
Dustin: That's great.
Lynn: A tanto is awesome. Its long suit is, because of the akote and the stiff spine and the fact that the spine runs close to the tip, the tip is enormously strong compared to other tips. So it's very unlikely to break.
Dustin: Yeah. Were you experiencing breakage with tantos that you were using before that?
Lynn: No, I was ... see I didn't use a tanto, that's why I invented it.
Dustin: Yeah. Interesting.
Lynn: I borrowed parts from Japanese swords and stuff but our American tanto was my invention and I was using a double edged knife which I have a lot of affinity for a double edged knife but a lot of the points are very weak.
Lynn: I broke the points off both of them and you break, we've done studies where if you break off even a quarter inch of a double edged blade like that, you're going to get a big reduction in penetrating power.
Lynn: So it's a big deal to break your point off. And the tanto point, the most you can normally break off that is maybe an eighth of an inch. If you do break it, you don't break much. It's still viable but a lot of blades when you break the tip off, they are just ... they've got an edge left but they are too blunt at the end to penetrate.
Dustin: Right. So how do you stay innovative with a tool that has been around before fire was invented, right? Weapons have been around forever. Like it was the next thing that we invented after throwing our first fist. Right? But what's the next best thing? Using a tool.
Dustin: How do you stay innovative on something that's been around and been used for hundreds of thousands of years?
Lynn: Well I constantly tried to delve into history and introduce our customers to historical designs that sometimes we update them and sometimes they can't be improved on. For instance, the kukri. If you look into Nepal, there's lots of different tribes there and they carry different sizes and shapes of kukris. Some I think are better than others and we pick the ones that we like the best. We do a ton of testing to find out what works the best. So we're all about performance. It's hard to make something look really good and perform real well. My wife said, why can't we make really sexy knives like the competitors do? I said because they won't cut and they don't stab.
Dustin: And then what's the point?
Jeff: What's the point? Pun intended.
Dustin: Yeah I know.
Lynn: Today, there's a dumbing down of the knife industry. You see a lot of companies coming out with these blunt fat points that kind of are dropped and they've got a short clip on them and stuff like that, and they are trying to make them less threatening.
Dustin: This is probably sacrilegious here, huh?
Lynn: Yeah. I mean that point there is like a mini cleaver if you will. You really can't stab with it.
Dustin: No, that's definitely not a stabbing tool.
Lynn: So, and yours isn't sharp enough to be a straight edge. And the handle is really slick.
Dustin: It's kind of a pathetic knife but I like the look of it. It cuts.
Lynn: That's what a lot knives are today. It's about looks and feel over performance until you need to use it.
Dustin: Yeah, right.
Lynn: And now you're pissed because that cool bitching little knife that you thought was so bad ass, just folded up and cut your finger when you were in an emergency.
Lynn: People always ask me, well then why do you carry such big knives? Like I'll pull this one out. I carry three of these all the time.
Lynn: You want me to save you with this? Or with this?
Lynn: If you're bound up and you're tied up and you're compromised in some way. Your life is at stake. Do you want me to pull out this and cut you free or that?
Dustin: Yeah. No, that's no contest. No contest.
Lynn: I always ask people, why you carry such a big knife? Well you want me to save you with a Leatherman tool or a five and a half inch serrated Vaquero from Cold Steel that's razor sharp?
Dustin: And that's a sexy looking blade.
Dustin: I don't know what you're talking about because that's the sexiest looking blade I've ever seen.
Lynn: Well we're talking about how do I stay innovative? This comes from the Turkish Yadagon which Sir Richard Burton said, he wrote The Book of the Sword, was the most perfect cut and thrust shape ever devised by man. It's got an S curve, a slight S curve to it.
Lynn: But if you notice the point is very acute and lines up with the center of the handle but it has an inward curve and an outward curve and this inward curve gathers, so if I block something with this, I catch it here. If they try to escape, the hump or this curve catches them going out.
Lynn: But it's enormously pointy too. So it thrusts as good as a dagger.
Lynn: And it cuts like a sword.
Dustin: Yeah, I feel like there's a lot of things that will be forgotten and you're kind of bringing them back up to light.
Lynn: They have been forgotten because there's not that many people interested in performance today. This is what I, want to give a shout out to the American Blade smith Society in the early 80s and to Dan Ragni, a master smith. They caught my attention because they were interested in performing. And I thought, I don't want to be like that.
Lynn: That's why I came out with Sanmy knives and Sanmy steel because I could come out with a laminated blade that would perform the feats that these custom blade smiths were doing with their knives, at a price that people could afford or you could put a knife in a vice and you could bend it 45 degrees and it doesn't break. You can cut through a one inch rope with one swing. These are just some of the things that these guys were pioneering in the early 80s. Today, you are seeing kind of a dumbing down of performance. No one talks about it. I'm kind of the pride of the knife industry because I'm interested in lock strength. Super interested in it because when you think about it, this knife is on a hinge, right?
Lynn: The only thing stopping that razor sharp blade from slamming shut on your fingers ...
Dustin: Is that lock.
Lynn: Is this lock. And people don't think about that. The most important thing when you pick out a knife is how strong is the lock? Not how cool it looks. Not how sexy it is. Not how tricky that you can play with it and all that stuff because when you go to use this thing, for real sometimes, and it folds up and cuts your index finger and severs one of those tendons, now your finger is at half mast for the rest of your life. You're going to be really pissed if you're a musician. If you do anything with your hands. That index finger, if you're a gun guy like me, to injure my trigger finger, that's a tragedy. You know I spent a million dollars educating this finger. This is super educated. You don't want to cut that.
Lynn: So I'm always thinking about my customers fingers and stuff like that, so that's why we have such a passion about lock strength. We're always trying to improve it. Find better ways to make a knife safer.
Dustin: That makes sense. Well I feel like we live in a world, you know it used to be, weapons were used all the time. Everybody had carried a weapon and everybody was thinking about weapons and now we've moved into this soft period where nobody is really concerned about that except for guys like you. A lot of people have lost touch, but I love what you're doing because it's keeping us in touch with one of the most, probably the most important tool that humans have ever come up with.
Lynn: Well we say that we're a warrior company. The warrior is the pillar of the community, not the pillager.
Lynn: We should be the example, the leader, the standard, the guide, the protector and never the one that takes advantage or abuses.
Lynn: So we feel that about our knife company also. We're constantly trying to promote the warrior ethos, you know, and trying to bring that back to America. It's going away. Men are becoming more dumbed down. And, we don't like that trend. We want to go against it.
Dustin: I heard a saying that easy times creates soft men. Soft men create hard times. Hard times create warriors. An an overabundance of warriors creates soft times. It's this constant cycle that we're in and I think we're just in that area where technology and the comforts of life have just kind of taken over. Men have become a little bit ... humans have become a little bit softer and more used to the comforts of life.
Lynn: Well before World War II, over half of Americans lived on farms.
Lynn: One of the successes that had in World War II, one of the greatest things we brought to that effort was our farm kids, both men and women with that tough work ethic and mindset and enduring discomfort and hardship to accomplish their goal. That's one of the huge things. Huge advantages we had. Now, most of us don't live on farms. Probably 95% of us don't live on farms.
Lynn: And so, we're not out there making our bread by the sweat of our brow, so to speak. I grew up with a farmer's ethics. My dad was the first person in his family for probably 300 years that didn't farm. Maybe that's too long? My dad's Grandmother White came over on the Mayflower. Her family could be traced back to the Mayflower, so there's been somebody in my family history here since the beginning of the country. They've all farmed and he was the first one that didn't farm for a living, so I grew up, he was a farm kid from International Falls, Minnesota and grew up in really bad winters and hot summers and out there in the fields working and they had a dairy operation also. So cows, as you know, I hope you know have to be milked twice a day. They don't wait for anybody. They have to be milked. A dairy operation is a seven day a week, non stop pain in the ass. And so, that's what I grew you with, like I was growing up on a dairy farm.
Dustin: Wow. So Cold Steel must do a lot for military, because you're creating usable tools and I've seen shovels, the unfolding shovels that you guys make. That must be used a lot in the military, right?
Lynn: Well our shovel really is a copy from the Spetsnaz Russian shovel.
Lynn: We do have some people carrying it. We have a lot of people in the wood crafting and survival sections of our customer base that like it a lot and I enjoy it. I read this book called Spetsnaz in the late 80s, early 90s. I know that I took example to Australia in 1991 two Russian models. I had a friend of mine that was in the State Department, somehow get his hands on two Russian Spetsnaz shovels and I took them to Australia with me and tested them and I came back and improved on them. I thought the handles were made out of pine and I made mine out of hard wood and I increased the blade thickness by about a third. So I made the blades thicker and kept the shape though and that's how our special forces shovel came about it.
Lynn: I read a book about it. I was intrigued that they used it for so many different things. I took it to Australia to see if it worked and I cut down trees and I did some hunting with it and I hacked a lot of stuff with it and I stabbed a lot of stuff, I said hey. This thing is bad ass. So, I decided to manufacture it and that's how lots of things start.
Dustin: That's so cool. Yeah. Yeah. So you must do a lot of testing in general on everything that you release?
Lynn: We do. And when I go on these trips around the world, I'm always dragging 100 things to test. Sometimes it's not really a holiday for me because I've got an agenda of all these things I'm going to test and try out and see if it works or not. Like I took a sigh which is an Okinawa and Filipino weapon. It's got a long blade and it's got two little points at the base. They use it in all the martial arts and stuff and I wanted to see how it would work. Well I took it to Australia and tried to employ it and I was totally unimpressed. The tapered point gives you almost no percussive energy when you hit something with it. It's only good for stabbing and blocking.
Lynn: Now as just a defensive tool to use to block a sword or a knife with or a club, yeah, it has a use there. It's got big quillians at the base and stuff that are real useful. All the stuff, when I see people hitting people with it, percussively I thought, that not work. There is not much going to happen there because I tried it a lot and I was massively unimpressed with it.
Dustin: Well correct me if I'm wrong, from my understanding, so Karate Do is the way of the empty fist, right? It started off in Okinawa because they banned weapons and the only people who were using weapons were the criminals. So then the villagers ...
Lynn: And the samurai that were oppressing them.
Dustin: Yeah, so the villagers needed to learn how to defend themselves. So they started using farm tools as weapons. So scythe from my understanding were used for baling hay. So grabbing hay and flipping it over and baling it and that's why you have bow staffs because they were just using walking sticks. So they were learning to use farm weapons as weapons.
Lynn: They would use the oar from their boat and that became a popular weapon.
Dustin: That's what Minamoto Masashi used to take down ...
Lynn: He carved on oar, he made a [inaudible 00:19:39] out of it.
Dustin: Takwansoho? What was his name?
Lynn: The guy with the long sword. The extra long sword.
Dustin: Yeah. There's so much history there. So I can't imagine that a scythe would actually hold up to actual weapons that were innovated to perform as peak performance.
Lynn: Well I think it was like you said, they pressed into service the best they had and they specialized in learning how to use it but I mean I think there's an over infatuation with that particular weapon. You see it a lot in weapons competition. It hasn't proven itself in the field to me. You know? There might be somebody that's really awesome with it that would prove me wrong. I can't entirely judge it by my lame ass. I always say that. Don't judge me by your lame ass. You know? So with my abilities, what I try to do with it, I wasn't impressed but maybe somebody else could make it hum.
Jeff: I'm so interested because you are such a connoisseur of the history of weaponry and really want to just delve into all of that and Cold Steel as a company now makes a myriad of products that aren't just obviously Cold Steel Knives. Was that something in the beginning of the company, was that the vision always or did that kind of like coalesce as you were getting around?
Lynn: It changed in 1990 when I wanted to make other things that I didn't think were mainstream. That wouldn't be accepted by everybody but I still thought there was a market for it, that's when I started special projects. Then I started making things that were kind of my own interest and I still do that. So, not everything I make at Cold Steel is financial success. Some of it I make because I'm interested in it.
Dustin: I think that's what makes this company authentic, because it's really what you're interested in.
Lynn: It is. I say to my wife, about half the people get me and half the people don't. But if I was in the major leagues, I'd be batting 500 and I'd be like the bomb.
Jeff: That's perfect.
Lynn: I'll talk half. I'm not greedy. I don't want to deliberately offend people but I'll take, if half the people don't like me and half the people like me, I'm good with the half.
Dustin: That's so cool.
Lynn: I'm honored and grateful to get half of them to like me and appreciate what I do. The other ones don't, you know.
Jeff: I think it's good to have that ethos and to not be ... obviously you want your company to succeed and you're doing those things to make your company succeed but you're not pigeon holing yourself and being like I can't make this product or pursue this idea just because, like you said, it won't be financially great. You want to pursue that. You are a connoisseur as your library shows of this type of knowledge and I think it's just so incredible that you can bring that out again to people, because it's being lost on people.
Lynn: Like baseball bats. We make baseball bats. Am I a great baseball player? No.
Dustin: But it's a great weapon.
Lynn: Here's the thing though. I read an article in the LA Times about baseball bats breaking and the danger when the wood chips fly and splinters fly and stuff like that. And I've always been interested in baseball bats, primarily as a weapon. And I said I'll make my own baseball bats out of plastic and mine won't break. So we started out in the baseball bat business.
Lynn: Now my brother in law, who's a professional baseball player and pitcher and I asked him if he wanted to get involved. He said, oh no. That will never make any money. Well turned out to be quite successful.
Lynn: So now we have, I think, four or five different model baseball bats.
Jeff: That's incredible. And again, it would be, if you never wanted to try and pursue that it never would have came to light.
Lynn: Who would have thought baseball bats?
Jeff: Exactly. That's inspiring. Another thing that's interesting about Cold Steel is your relationship to the entertainment industry. How your products have been used by stunt men and in movies and television and stuff like that.
Dustin: Since the 80s.
Jeff: Was that ... initially did that kind of just snowball from that point or did that kind, how did that relationship kind of come about?
Lynn: Well I think the first one started with Patrick Swayze and Red Dawn.
Dustin: Oh right.
Jeff: I love that movie.
Dustin: They were using a lot of buck knives and stuff like that, right?
Lynn: Mr. Millius recognized, he came to Solider Fortune Convention and he has an affinity for what we were doing and he put our knife in there and then we got into Platoon and then it started snowballing from there. And like right now, our ax gang hatchet is Rick's favorite weapon and you see all of our weapons everywhere, through Bad Lands and all the new cool TV shows and movies are featuring Cold Steel. And we're really happy with that.
Lynn: When people say, why do you live in California? Well this is the mecca of martial arts.
Jeff: It really is.
Lynn: This is the mecca of the entertainment industry. And, it's expensive and it's very politically oppressing and it's not really weapons friendly but then there's millions of people who still appreciate what we do. And we're not willing to abandon them and run.
Lynn: So we just haven't run. I'm not much of a runner. I'm more of a stand in place and face it guy.
Jeff: That's a good way to be though. For sure.
Dustin: So have you had anything that you went to innovate or create that didn't quite work the way you wanted it to? Maybe a weapon that you had an idea for and it didn't quite pan out the way you expected it to.
Lynn: I had a crushing loss in the gun business.
Lynn: I came out with a micro minute revolver and I hired the wrong people and I didn't supervise it. I had it in another state far away. And I made lots of errors. I sold it and then the people I sold it to couldn't pay me and reneged and went bankrupt, so I took the loss on that. So yes, I tried. But I didn't give it my all and I didn't do it myself and I hired it out and I made a lot of classic mistakes.
Lynn: There's a book called The Richest Man in Babylon which is one of the best books ever written on investing and it's very simple, uses analogies to explain it and stuff. And, I violated all the principles in that book and I normally don't do that. The worst thing is my wife warned me. And she was right.
Jeff: Sometimes they are.
Lynn: Something comes up, I say you were right. So I took quite a beating in that operation but I still love guns. I tell people I'm a martial artist and a gun and knife-aholic who owns a knife company.
Dustin: Would you ever do it again? As far as starting a gun business?
Lynn: I don't know about that. I tried to make it in America and I tried to hire all local people. I didn't import it. It was such a crushing experience, maybe sometime I will but I feel in my mind, I'm still licking my wounds over that I think.
Dustin: You're a little gun shy from it. Another pun. I'm on fire today.
Lynn: A little gun shy.
Jeff: Well the one question we ask all of our guests on this show and I'm very curious for your answer is, through all of it, from the beginnings of this company into the successes that you've seen today and everything you've been able to achieve, not only with Cold Steel but in your life in general, what fuels you to keep going? To keep innovating? To keep doing the amazing things that you're doing?
Lynn: Well I love my customers.
Jeff: That's a great answer.
Lynn: I love my customers and I tolerate my competitors. I work with my competitors just enough to achieve our common goals. Other than that, they are on the other side of the board. I'm on this side of the board. I don't really care whether they like me or not. I'm working for my customers so I'm constantly looking to find things that they might also have an interest in and promote those.
Lynn: Like spear hunting. 100 years ago, bow hunting was in its infancy. Just getting started and in the 20s and 30s, Pape and some of these other guys that were hunting then with homemade broad heads and homemade bows and hunting lions in Africa, they were looked as as like crazy men.
Lynn: I mean absolutely out of there ... and now bow hunting is a huge sport.
Dustin: It's had a giant boom recently for sure.
Lynn: And you've got all kinds of celebrities involved in it and stuff. I hope that maybe some day spear hunting will catch on the same way. So far it hasn't. But I'm still out there trying because I think spear hunting is the ultimate challenge for a hunter. There is nothing more fair to an animal. You've got to get within 10, 12 yards of him. He's got all the advantages at that range because you're in his circle of hyper alertness. This is the range all predators attack from so if he hears a noise that's 10 yards away, he's off like a shot. Oh that's really bad.
Lynn: 60 yards away. What's going on over there? But 10 yards away, oh. This could be really bad and he's out of there. So to hunt with a spear is really difficult to do, but man has been doing it since the beginning. It connects us with being men and women still. We are hunters and huntresses. So anytime you can take a game animal with a spear, you should go on a three day party, because it's quite an accomplishment.
Lynn: And, validation of your skill and your courage and your tenacity and your strength. And all those things have to come together to do that.
Dustin: That's something that if you fail at, you might not ever come back from that.
Lynn: Have you seen my buffalo charge? You have to. I'll play it for you. I speared an Asian buffalo about six or seven years ago and he charged and I killed him at three feet with my pistol.
Dustin: Oh my god.
Jeff: Wow. That must have been terrifying.
Lynn: Well it wasn't till afterwards that I got a little excited about it.
Dustin: That's how it happens, right?
Jeff: It hits you like oh wow I was in there.
Lynn: Well you have conditioned reflexes.
Lynn: My instructor, Godana Disanto, says that your muscles get brains. As you train them, train them, train them they protect you without your conscious thought and I used the technique from Filipino martial arts and a footwork technique called ... now I can't say it. Anyways, it's a side step and turn and I use that technique as I drew my pistol and went sideways. I had to go sideways to dilute the charge.
Lynn: Anytime you have forward pressure, if you back up that forward pressure takes advantage.
Lynn: When you go sideways, that forward pressure starts to diminish as they try to catch up and make that turn, it diminishes and starts to decrease and if I had gone to the back, that buffalo would have killed me. If I had backed up like everybody else did. I went sideways, drew my pistol, turned around. As I was running away from him. Turned around and shot him and by then he was like three feet away.
Dustin: Wow. So you used bull fighter techniques pretty much.
Lynn: [inaudible 00:31:25]. That's the technique. [inaudible 00:31:28].
Dustin: That's exactly what a bull fighter would use. They teach you, if you back up, you're going to get gored. You're going to get launched. It takes a lot for them to turn and then re charge. So that side step kind of changes there momentum entirely.
Lynn: A lot of times they'll use a feint too. If you see the cowboy bullfighters, to save the bull rider, he'll make a big feint to draw him one way and then he'll step and then step again and get next to his shoulder and sometimes he actually has to turn his back to him to get to the right spot. But yeah you always want to run toward their tail, so he's constantly turning.
Dustin: Yes. So is there anything up and coming from Cold Steel that you're excited about that you can talk about?
Lynn: Oh, we have such a huge lineup for next year, we're going to shock the knife world.
Dustin: That's exciting. Any hints as to how that's going to happen?
Jeff: I know there's lots of of stuff that's secret out there that we don't ...
Lynn: I'd really like to keep that secret because ...
Dustin: Fair enough.
Jeff: That's fine.
Lynn: We don't want to give our competitors a leg up. It's still close enough or far enough away that if I say stuff, they could copy it or at least have that direction to go and maybe that sounds arrogant, so figure me, but I just don't want to teach them.
Dustin: I imagine the competition in the knife industry is intense, because you all must be very competitive individuals because you're dealing with mostly warriors.
Lynn: And there's more competition than ever. In the last two years, there's been hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of knife companies start up and then all the custom knife makers.
Dustin: Yeah, there's a lot of those.
Lynn: You know, everybody that's a custom knife maker now has a website. You know, good for them. I owe a lot, to my success, to the help custom knife makers gave me when I was a young man and I'm enormously grateful.
Dustin: Well even our owner welcomes competition. I mean, you're bringing more attention to a genre that you created pretty much. So it's never a bad thing. You're just bringing the boom of the knife industry to fruition and that's what I've seen, the whole Instagram side of things for custom knives has just gone through the roof.
Lynn: Competition pushes me to change, to advance and to grow.
Lynn: I always try to train with people that are as good or better than I am.
Lynn: I'm always trying to catch them.
Lynn: My regular training partner Ron Bilicki, is better than me at many things. He's one of the most accomplished martial artists in the world but I'm breathing down his neck. I'm always trying to catch him. There's certain elements of my game that are really good and there are other ones that I'm constantly trying to improve on and same thing in knife fighting. Knife fighting techniques keep growing and growing and growing and growing because we fight it out.
Lynn: That's just one thing, when you go into my gymnasium and you see all the aluminum weapons in there, like right now my staff is making 60 new aluminum weapons for me.
Lynn: Whatever idea I have, I make for aluminum weapons and then we start fighting for them and see whether they need to be improved or modified. Does it really work or is it bullshit? You can find out a lot by fighting it out.
Lynn: We believe in what Bruce Lee said. If you want to learn to fight, fight. It's very uncomfortable. I can remember about 12 years ago, 14 years ago, I was really working on my ability to fight at extreme close range under enormous pressure. So I put my back to that banana back in there and have Ron just tee off on me. And it was miserable because I couldn't step back and I couldn't go to the side. I had to deal. And now, I can't say ... it's my favorite but I'm super comfortable there because I've done it so much and I've been whacked so many times, that I don't get hit very much anymore.
Dustin: Well that translates to real life too as far as thinking clearly, through chaotic situations. Jujitsu taught me that like 10 times over and going into the corporate industry of the coffee world, I use that day after day after day. It's chaos, every day at Death Wish for me, and I can think clearly ...
Lynn: It's interesting you mentioned jujitsu because I spent almost all my time practicing ground fighting on my back. If I'm on top, it's easy. I get people who are much heavier or much more skilled and I spend all my time, because if you can escape from your back and you're comfortable on your back, you're not ever afraid on the ground.
Dustin: That's true.
Lynn: And so, I spent a lot of time drown proofing myself, you know what that is, you know? So I don't get smothered or choked or crushed like that. I know how to alleviate that pressure and we have this saying, where there's light, there's air.
Dustin: I like that.
Lynn: If there's no light, how to make it, you know? A lot of times your face is being smothered, so you can just take your hand and press it in like that and all of the sudden there's a crack there and go go ah, there's some light there. Oh there's air coming in there. I can breathe that air.
Dustin: Yeah, I know that very well.
Lynn: So where there's light, there's air. Where there's air, there's life. You know?
Dustin: Yeah and like I said, it translates to real life everyday. Every day man. And you can see it. You can see it in the company. You can see it in this awesome building. I can see it in you. This is so cool what you have here. I really appreciate you having us here.
Lynn: Thank you so much guys.
Jeff: We really appreciate you having us here and really appreciate what you're doing with your company and with your customer base and community at large.
Lynn: And I appreciate your company and all your customers too.
Dustin: That's so cool. I mean the crossover is endless. The world's strongest coffee and the world's strongest knives. Nothing makes more sense than that man.
Lynn: Awesome. We have a lot of future years to work together.
Dustin: Excellent. I look forward to it. All right. Thank you very much.
Lynn: You bet. Cheers.