Story by Waysun Johnny Tsai, Photos by Waysun Johnny Tsai and Chris Caban
As a martial arts instructor, you will sometimes find yourself on a never-ending quest to find training gear for your class. We all look for gear that is high quality, durable and of course affordable—like Hog Mountain Tool and Tactical. Training with gear like rattan sticks can be a pain in the ass, as they get beaten on and chewed up pretty quickly, when used hard.
Then, there are training knives, a quick Google search will turn up tons of options. Most of us have probably owned a dozen different brands of training knives but they are usually a one size fits all. Meaning that they don’t always match the knife that we actually carry.
About four years ago while visiting my friends at the Atlanta Blade Show, I noticed a table full of training blades, next to my buddy’s booth. I walked over to the booth and started looking at the training knives and swords, and a gentleman named Chris Caban introduced himself and his brand—Hog Mountain Tool and Tactical.
Chris, who is a friendly guy, explained to me that he makes custom training knives. During our conversation, he also mentioned that he was a recent contestant on the debut season of Forged in Fire: Kinfe or Death. Consequently, this was actually a show that I had been binge watching, right before I made my drive to Atlanta.
I showed him my C.U.M.A KAGE, that I was carrying around, and he was like, “sure, I can make that.” And he did. Along with training versions of several other C.U.M.A. knives that I designed.
Chris and I have stayed in touch since then and he has since produced nearly 100 custom knives and training Kali sticks for me—which are used regularly in my weekly class. In fact, I would say that Hog Mountain Tool and Tactical has pretty much become the exclusive training blade brand of C.U.M.A. Combatives. And that speaks volumes, since I have access to a lot of other companies and makers.
Chris’s prices, quality, turn-around time and customer service have really won me over. Like it or not, he is never getting rid of me as a customer, or a friend. Hog Mountain has literally become my secret weapon, when it comes to making my training weapons
Chris is a good guy and an interesting person. He is a trained martial artist in both Kali and Brazilian Jiujitsu. A custom training knife manufacturer. A partner in an overseas knife company and just a savvy businessman, that is always on the hustle. He also hosts an open, full contact Kali gathering called Krampus. But I will let him tell you guys about that, as he agreed to take a minute and answer a couple of questions for our readers.
So, without further delay, please allow me to introduce Chris Cabin of Hog Mountain Tool and Tactical.
K&GS: Thanks for joining us today. Please introduce yourself and your company to our readers.
CC: I’m Chris Caban of Hog Mountain Tool and Tactical. I make training blades for Filipino martial arts and defensive tactics. I’m also a part of the Willumsen Copenhagen company, a Danish knife manufacturer.
K&GS: Tell us a bit about your martial arts background.
CC: I was on the wrestling team from 4th grade to freshman year of college. I poked around with Boxing, karate and Muay Thai, until I met Benjamin Salas and he introduced me to the massive worlds of FMA, Silat and BJJ, in 1998. I’ve trained with some of the best out there and hope to continue my journey until I’m an old geezer.
K&GS: How did you get into making training knives?
CC: I had Guro Victor Gendrano in for a workshop, and during one of our conversations he expressed how he wanted to see the FMA continue to expand into new technologies. We soon devised a plan with my old man, to start cutting blades in my dad’s garage.
K&GS: I see that you gravitated to making FMA training weapons. What do you make them out of?
CC: The blades are made from a high-density PET and the sticks are made from an Acetyl. I wrap the handles for comfort.
K&GS: How many models would you say you currently produce?
CC: I focus on a few blades in my social media posts but have well over 100 drawings in my CAD files that I can cut anytime.
K&GS: How did you get involved with Forged in Fire KOD?
CC: My Atlanta Kali Group has a pretty good name, and I got an email from Production. First, they were asking about sparring with different types of blades, but by the time I got down there I was told it was a cutting competition. They were very tight lipped about the whole thing.
K&GS: You were on the first season, right? What took you out? The fish or the chicken?
CC: I was on the 1st episode of Season 1. I got knocked out by that blasted Chicken.
K&GS: Did you find yourself using your FMA skills on KOD?
CC: I did totally. It was a pretty exhausting event. Especially with a 10-inch blade. I got my stride on the ice block where I could feel the angles digging in the block. It was pretty bad ass.
K&GS: You also do BJJ right? Tell us about that?
CC: I do. I got started in 1999 but didn’t focus on it until about 2001. Benjamin got us connected with Carlson Gracie soon after, and we flew his flag here till 2005. I got my Purple Belt via Carlson, from Rey Diogo while I was teaching in Guatemala City. I went on to earn a Brown Belt, with 4 stripes. Now I do limited no-gi work.
K&GS: I know you hold an annual FMA stick fighting contest, Krampus. Tell us about that.
CC: Ahh Krampus, the home for bad kids who don’t visit their families on Xmas but go to the gym and fight. For the past 11 years, I have been hosting this non-contest sparring event. I’ve gotten several major sponsors for giveaways, and we normally have about 20-25 fighters. This year we teamed up with some California fighters, who are now living in Georgia, and starting Krampus in July. Moving forward it should be a bi-annual event.
K&GS: Is Krampus an open-to-the-public event?
CC: It is open to FMA fighters from all over. We try to keep the mood light and keep the energy level at about an 8, so no one gets mangled. There are some serious battles but we’re not looking to really hurt each other. You will get bruises. Lots and lot of bruises. *Laughs*
K&GS: Anything new or exciting in the pipeline?
CC: I have been trying to recreate the blade art the old time Pandy would put on their blades. Blades I have from WWII & Vietnam eras all have cool art and I want to expand on that. Traditional sheathing is also on the board.
K&GS: How can people get a hold of you, to make training versions of their favorite knives?
CC: I only use one portal, the Facebook page. Anything else is not me. Hog Mountain Tool and Tactical on Facebook. I receive messages that way and can make EDC and Christian Filipino blades to about any spec. However, I do not make Moro blades like the Barong or Kampilan. I have one Kris design that I make, but no other Moro blades.
K&GS: Thanks for taking time out to share with us today.
CC: Anytime. K&G
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SIJO Waysun Johnny Tsai is a Chicago native and the founder of C.U.M.A. Combatives and the C.U.M.A. Survival School. A Master level Instructor, Sijo has over 33 years of combined experience in teaching practical street defense in the civilian, military and law enforcement sectors and is considered one of the World's foremost experts in practical street defense and Combatives. He is a published book, magazine and DVD author, as well as a highly established impact and edged weapons designer. Sijo has knife designs on the market and available through TOPS Knives, Slysteel Knives, Day One Gear, Combat Ready Knives and Grunt Style.
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