This article is part of the Karate Johnathan: Knifedad Hero series.

You can't tell but I'm SUPER jazzed to be interviewing my idol.Today, we bring you an interview with the foremost elder statesman in the Knifedad community. This is the dude who basically invented wearing swords in the modern age, the Sifu of Street Sai, the Grandmaster Flashlight himself, Phil Elmore! So, would you care to introduce our new readers to your seminal work?


Street Sword is a funny book. I wrote it 13 years ago, and all I was trying to do was right a book about basic sword mechanics. I'd searched for such a book and, not finding it, I decided to write one. I'd already written one book for Paladin Press -- "Flashlight Fighting," which was the first book I know of that taught basic striking techniques, cribbed from Japanese yawara, and applied them to small handheld flashlights. I pitched the book to Paladin, and they were skeptical, so I remember putting together some proof-of-concept material for them.

The man who invented bringing a knife to a gunfight.The man who invented bringing a knife to a gunfight.

The techniques are super basic. They're mostly Kali and Filipino Martial Arts techniques, nothing remarkable. Everything went fine until it came time to give it a title. Paladin presented me with a list of titles they were prepared to accept, and believe it or not, "Street Sword" was the least objectionable. In other words, the book was published with a title that made people think it was about exactly the opposite of what it was really about. It never sold as well as Flashlight Fighting (which was a great seller for Paladin while it was in print) because of this ill-conceived marketing.

In retrospect, though, I don't mind. If not for that silly title -- and their indulging me in what is an admittedly silly cover -- it would never have achieved this weird pop-culture almost-fame that it has. Chris Hardwick made fun of it on @Midnight; Break.com made fun of it; I think it's been "The Worst Things For Sale." Every so often I go on Twitter and find people talking about it, and then respond to them, which I think everybody involved finds fairly amusing. I mean, if I went on Twitter and complained about a book I read in 2006, and the author chimed in and was in on the joke... that would be a fun moment.

Undoubtedly. I was once exiled from the Poetry Slam community because my insistent mockery of Ready Player One became intolerable to the myriad and rabid Ernest Cline stans which organized all the shows. What's your take on this BUDK treasure, shuriken decorated with stolen cover art from the Xbox game "Ninja Gaiden"? This is the ideal weapon for getting arrested at an anime convention.

Settle down, Naruto.Settle down, Naruto.

What I love about the 3-Piece Ninja Warrior Throwing Star Set is that I don't think there really is such a thing as "3D-printed art" in this context. I guess they mean the art is evocatively three-dimensional, rather than printed from a 3D printer? Or maybe the shuriken are 3D printed? But that seems unlikely and they're probably just silk-screened which, honestly, is disappointing. But I know that if I were hurling throwing stars at my enemies, I would want them to be momentarily distracted by the artwork. Like, here it comes, zzzzzzzing past a guy's face, and in Bullet Time, his eyes widen as he says, in slow motion, "Thaaaaat isss some greaaaat silk-screen printinnnnnngggg" before the shuriken slices his throat open and dies a horrible, gurgling death.

They're basically a Krull glaive for knowing the meaning of ephebophelia. The only thing they can wound is the reputation of the owner. They'd be less dishonorable if they murdered their husbands by dripping poison in his ear. Have you ever seen a shuriken assault in the streets? I'm tempted to keep one of those silk sheets Kung Fu ladies catch thrown weapons with, but my EDC kit is already pretty unwieldy.

You don't want that. You want one of those metal-tined fans with ninjas and kanji silk-screened across them. That's all you need to deflect dull shuriken. I've never actually seen anyone attacked with ninja stars, but then, by definition, you don't see the attack. You only see your sentries pitch forward with ninja stars embedded in their heads, and then it's too late. You do have, sentries, right? If you don't, you should get some.

If the Interlopers are crinkly paper balls or closed bathroom doors, my cats will suffice.

I had hoped the silk sheets would help me get back into the competitive Ribbon Dance scene, after my terrible "accident" at the Sarajevo Olympics, but I can't compete with the ribbon-bots Tesla is cranking out. Entire industry is gonna be automated into extinction by 2021, mark my words.
In the world of Hollywood replica weapons, how would you rate Legolas's twinblades? Frankly I think they're well suited to slicing, but I'm really more of a dicer. Curious for the pro's perspective (prospective)

It's not gay to let an elf do stuff to your butt.It's not gay to let an elf do stuff to your butt.

United Cutlery has a long and distinguished history of equipping the nation's video store clerks and dungeon masters for melee combat. When I was in college (back when video stores existed), I owned several United Cutlery daggers, just in case I was set upon by orcs or highwaymen. My favorite was their Scorpion dagger, which had a tiny push dagger in the tubular handle that you were supposed to coat in poison. (Yo dawg, we heard you like knives, so we put a dagger in your dagger so you can stab while you stab.) Regrettably, the poison was sold separately.

In all seriousness, if you never use them, United makes some nice looking stainless steel movie replicas suitable for hanging on a wall and, uh, never using. (If you wield a full-sized sword made of stainless steel, especially a movie replica with a rat-tail tang inside a plastic handle, you run a very real risk of the sword snapping in half under its own weight. (If that happens but the flying end lands in your enemy, take credit for it.) These Legolas blades are short enough that this is probably not a big danger, but I'm not sure I'd want to test that theory.

Rat Tailz & Tang sounds like an Insane Clown Posse album about 6th grade antics. Definitely trending more towards finding an ammo box stash of titty magazines in the woods and saying cusses in a church than video clerk barbarians felling foes with spring-loaded poison blades and Hollywood replica swordapaults (plastic hand held blade launcher, patent pending.)
While we're on the subject, what kind of poisons would even be effective on a blade? I'm looking around my kitchen like, bleach? Ammonia? That would just sterilize the wound. Ant poison works on ants not humans. Are folks home-brewing their own alchemical distillations? I got mint and oregano, I'll make tabbouleh out of their organs. Sun Tzu never covered offensive horticulture in The Art of War.
If you had to defend your honor with a fantasy replica weapon, which would you use?

I knew a guy once who swore that nicotine could be somehow distilled from cigarettes to form a deadly, deadly poison. Attempting to do so probably falls under the heading of things that you might be idly interesting in trying, but shouldn't because it will earn you a Darwin Award for reasons that have yet to be identified (but which will surely assert themselves during the process).

I know exactly which fantasy replica weapon I would use to defend my home, at least, because I've done it. I once owned a Marto "Highlander" replica katana that I kept on a stand in my apartment. There was a disturbance in the hallway outside the apartment, and I took that blade and went looking to see what the matter was. I was very young, in my early 20s, and not very smart about these things. I've since learned that you can, you know, just stay inside and not answer the door, and thus all the difficulty is successfully circumvented.

Fun fact: That Highlander replica katana had the aforementioned "rat tail tang," a cylinder of metal connecting the blade to the handle. It broke, and while the blade never separated from the handle, you could hear the broken piece of metal rattling around in there. This was long before I knew anything at all about swords, and it was years before I wrote "Street Sword." I look back on those days and remember fondly the fact that, while I was very foolish, I at least had hair.

That reminds me of the time I was attacked by the spectral visage of a phantasmal barbarian, who was about to strike me down with an ethereal short-handled flail, before I pointed out that his weapon was historically anachronistic and he deflated with a comedic whoopee-cushion sound effect.
But aside from that, I've generally found that all wielding a sword during tense situations does is focus the police anxiety on me, exclusively. I like this idea of instead waiting out trouble from behind a heavy oak door, I bet there's a Masterclass to be held on all the defensive jutsus possible with a solidly built, well-hung door. For example, disarming dudes by opening it a little so they stick their gun in and then you slam it on their wrist for Maximal Damage, set it on its side on a pair of sawhorses for a beer pong table, then jump on one end causing it to flip up and hit a pair of Sword Dudes in the chins, or duck behind it and then slamming it in the face of a pursuer. Critical hits are likely to stun them for a moment, if you see stars and lil pink birds circling around their head, they're ripe for a Coup de Grâce. I'm gonna put a pin in that for now and circle back to this idea later.
I'm curious, though, when you wrote your book on flashlight defense, did you ever imagine a product like this hitting the market? I presume this is a deadly weapon only in the sense that it could be swallowed by an especially dedicated survivalist, but it strikes me as defeating the purpose of Flashlight Kata in the first place. Surely, mounting Hot Topic grade spikes on a non-weapon would, in the eyes of law enforcement, render it a Weapon? And why mount them on the front, near the actually useful flashlight part of the flashlight?

Exhibit 2, Appleton County vs. Johnathan "Karate" StigginitzExhibit 2, Appleton County vs. Johnathan "Karate" Stigginitz

That's one in a series of innovations in a weird arms race for small "tactical" flashlights. The idea is that you hold the light in your fist and strike with the bezel in a downward, hammerfist motion. Lots of flashlights have "crenelated" bezels for this reason, although this is only one of a few I've seen that goes so far as to mount what is essentially tiny bayonets to the light. There are even flashlights that aren't flashlights at all, but stun guns with flashlights built into them. They're amazingly popular despite the fact that it strikes me as an accident waiting to happen. I get by with relatively tame flashlights by comparison, but I'm not going to lie: If I could buy one that actually had a bayonet mount, I would. And so would you.

i would mount a smaller flashlight onto my flashlight bayonet in case my primary flashlight was disabled due to Violence. Likewise, I dream of the day I am able to incapacitate a roomful of seizure-prone nazis by whaling on them with my Flashlight Nunchucks (FlashChucks, patent pending).
I once worked with an Eagle Scout at a summer-camp who fashioned a "Janitor's Flail" by attaching his formidable bundle of keys to the bottom of his MagLite through a length of cosmetic bicycle chain he wore as a necklace. A boy is a medium through which harm is inflicted upon the world, and himself.
What's the smallest, most tactical flashlight you could feasibly take down a nazi rioter with?

There's a tiny keychain light called the Photon Microlight that's about the size of a quarter in diameter. It won't be easy, but if you can take down a man with a light that size, you'll easily command the respect of your peers -- and, more importantly, you'll get women.

You will not get women.You eill noy get women.

i would attach it to my forehead through a length of medical tape and then, through use of cleverly recorded sound effects and darkened subterranean tunnel, make it look like a train was approaching a malcontented group of III%er militia types hellbent on Mischief. My Looney Fu is unconquerable.

Before we sign off for the day, do you have any parting words to our loyal, absolutely unradicalized readers?

I can add only this: A lot of people don't take self-defense seriously. Those people are wrong. A lot of people do take self-defense seriously and, honestly, those people are wrong too. It's one of those things you don't realize until a late-night cable talkshow host with an audience of tens of people is telling the world, while standing in front of a picture of your 13-year-old book about swords, that you probably trick unsuspecting people into the back of your cargo van. I mean, I'm not saying he's wrong, but still.


Did you know that our forums community has been around since November 1999, basically older than the Elder Gods of Ancient Lore of which we do not speak? Well, now you do, you nincompoop! You should check the forums out here if you know what's good for you (this is not a threat, please do not send me a Cease & Desist).

– Senpai Knifedad (@maltschlitzmann)

More Front Page News

This Week on Something Awful...

  • Pardon Our Dust

    Pardon Our Dust

    Something Awful is in the process of changing hands to a new owner. In the meantime we're pausing all updates and halting production on our propaganda comic partnership with Northrop Grumman.

  • DEAR FURRIES: WE WERE WRONG

    DEAR FURRIES: WE WERE WRONG

    Dear god this was an embarrassment to not only this site, but to all mankind

About this series

Last of a dying breed. The Knifedad, loathed by Gunfucklers, feared by LARPists, enemy to shrubs and cardboard targets all across the suburb. 21 meters to Hugsville. Population? You.

Other articles in this series

Copyright ©2020 Jeffrey "of" YOSPOS & Something Awful