Up Close with Ernest Emerson
KI: We have spoken about your axe collection before. Do you mind telling us how big it is? EE: I have about 20 to 24 axes, all the way from Neanderthal through Cro-magnon to Neolithic and bronze age, iron age and Viking. KI: How long have you been collecting historical axes? EE: It has been over 20 years or more that I have collected a lot of that stuff. KI: What got you started? EE: I collect antiquities, which basically started with Roman coins and stuff like that. As I became involved in the search for Roman coins, I found that there were other items that interested me, like statues, artwork and other antiquities. Due to my taste for weapons, I became interested in antique weapons, like the shepherd’s sling, Greek arrowheads, Neolithic flaked arrowheads and stone—and then, of course, knives and swords. In my collection, I have some very unique swords, such as a real Roman Gladius from about A.D. 144—from an area that became modern Bulgaria—and several medieval swords that are over a thousand years old, with one that is over 2,000 years old. Also, in the collection are several Crusader swords from the Levant region.
KI: The head of your new Battle Axe was modeled after an old Viking axe head you have in your collection. Where did the haft design come from? Is it historical in design as well?
EE: In regard to the haft, that came from my experience of growing up in the north woods of Northern Wisconsin and using axes from a young age—same period that I got my first Barlow knife. I was always working with my father around the farm and became familiar with what was comfortable and efficient for this type of tool. So, it is not a historical design, just from experience.
KI: What did you feel was the most important feature of the Viking Axe that you wanted to make sure to capture in the Battle Axe?
EE: The most important thing is the balance in the swing and the comfort in the hand. Much like a machete, people don't understand that taking one in your hand and swinging it a few times is not using a machete; you have to take it out and swing it for a couple hours, cutting through jungle. Same with an axe; you use it for an extended period of time. That is when you find what is most comfortable. KI: Have you ever had the opportunity to travel to Norway and research the Vikings and their axe? EE: No, I have not. That is on my bucket list, but it has not happened yet. KI: Do you plan to release an instructional video on the Battle Axe into your DVD edged training library? EE: I am thinking about it. I definitely want to, but it is a matter of time. I am very particular about my training systems, so I want to take my time and make sure that everything is applicable to functional combat. It has to work and has to be something that the average person can walk out the door and use.