I would be lying if I said I knew about the extensive background that the CUMA TAC-RI had, before starting this review. I stumbled upon the blade while looking over some of the TOPS Knives products in search of a survival knife. I was intrigued by the shape of the blade and its similarities to a Gurkaha Kukuri. I got a hold of Mike (CEO) over at Tops Knives and ask him if he could get me in touch with the CUMA TAK-RI’s creator. Being the stand up guy he is, Mike put me in contact with Waysun “Johnny” Tsai, the man responsible for the CUMA TAC-RI.
Before I go any further I will add that Waysun’s history is one of the more interesting and extensive backgrounds that I have had the pleasure to research, read, and hear about. Because it is so extensive I will save the bulk of it for after the review.
Its unique style and feel puts the CUMA TAC-RI 2 in a blade category all it’s own. Although it may resemble a Gurkaha Kukuri, the fact that it contains a partially serrated blade with black traction coating and sharpened top edge, sets is very far apart. The word CUMA (Combined Universal Martial Applications) only begins to explain the versatility of this blade, it’s survival/bushcraft features are also very prevalent. The overall length of the product is 13 1/2″ which includes it’s 7″ blade. The knife has a full tang, the end of which has an integrated small pry bar that can be used for scraping. The CUMA TAC-RI’s sheath is black nylon and contains a polymer blade concealer. The sheath includes a smal utility pocket, rear MOLLE, and paracord lanyard.
As the majority of TOPS knives are, the CUMA TAC-RI 2 is made of 1095 high carbon steel. As stated above in the overview, the steel has a black traction coating making the main body of the blade rust resistant. The grip of the TAC-RI 2 is an upgraded version of the original TAC-RI. Now covering the steel, the TAC-RI 2 micarta handle offers a much more comfortable feel and grip. The idea behind the TAC-RI was to provide a survival knife that could also be used tactically. The sharpened top edge makes the TAC-RI more effective in a jabbing motion as well as an providing a possibly fatal back swing. The ”U” shaped serrations towards the base of the blade offer an enhanced ability for either hacking wood, or assisting in fatal strikes. The small pry bar/scrapper is every effect in both applications and the bow drill divot in the handle proved to be very effective.
Application/ Video Review:
The CUMA TAC-RI 2 is a great piece of kit for the survivalist or the operator in search of a reliable combat blade. It comes to the end user pre sharpened and provides a great feel. The only negative I found to the TAC-RI itself was that with most Gurkaha’s it is common to hold the blade parallel, and under the operators fore arm with the blade facing out. Due to the sharpened top edge of the TAC-RI it makes it fairly dangerous to do so thus limiting operational use. The sheath that came with the TAC-RI is a durable rugged nylon but lacks the ability to really secure the blade. The sheath has an open polymer sleeve for the sharpened portions of the product and a fairly lack luster set hook and loop straps that are supposed to hold the blade in the sheath.
Media/ Waysun “Johnny” Tsai:
As seen in the images above, the CUMA TAC-RI was adopted by the well known GI-JOE, Snake Eyes. I spoke to Johnny quite a bit about origin of the blade and he assured me that the cartoons author came to Johnny to adopt the blade, not the other way around.
Waysun “Johnny” Tsai:
As I stated before, I had the privilege to speak to Johnny for quite some time. When asked what the idea was behind the CUMA TAC-RI was, Johnny replied “I wanted to design a knike based off the Gurkaha Kukuri. I always thought that it was a bad ass combat/ bush knife but the traditional design was always felt a bit outdated to me. I am also fascinated with all things survival and wanted to work on a hybrid blade that could be tactical and meet the needs of an “island survivor” survivor man too. So, I sketched up a “tactically” functional version of it and teamed up with TOPS Knives to produced it because I knew they would make it as hardcore as it could possibly be.”
Johnny also provided me with his full biography which can be read below.
Global Chief Instructor For C.U.M.A. Practical Tactical Training and “THE A.R.C.” (All Range Combat).
SiJo (founder) Waysun “Johnny” Tsai was born of both Taiwanese and Puerto Rican descent on April 11, 1972. He began his official Martial Arts training over 30 years ago on the north side of Chicago under his father, Shaolin Grandmaster John Chi Yuan Tsai. At the age of sixteen, SiJo Tsai received his first level black sash certification in Tsai Family Chuan Fa Kung Fu and Tai Kit Kuen Kung Fu under Master Steven G. Abbate.
Between the ages of sixteen and nineteen SiJo went on to run three different locations of his father’s schools as the Chief Instructor. It was then that Sijo began to travel extensively around the globe with his father in order to train with and participate in many seminars with some of the greatest names in the martial arts.
Today, “Sijo” Tsai is considered to be one of the world’s foremost experts in practical street defense. He currently serves as chief instructor in North America in the Tsai’s Family Chuan Fa Kung Fu System. He currently holds the rank of eighth degree black sash in both the Tsai Family System and an in Tai Kit Kuen. He is also the founder of C.U.M.A. (Combined Universal Martial Applications) and the A.R.C reality based fighting program (All Range Combat).
Waysun Johnny Tsai has also served as an USAWKF committee member (www.usawkf.org) for full contact San Shou (2007-2008).
He has over 25 years of experience in teaching the martial arts. Since 2006, His teachings have reached more than 250,000 people via live training, books, magazines, television, DVD and other online media outlets including You Tube, WNUR SCOPE RADIO (Northwestern University) www.scoperadio.com and the WGN Channel 9 Morning news segment (Around Here, April 2010).
Some of Waysun Johnny Tsai’s most recognizable students include: Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr and AT&T Cotton Bowl hall of fame player Kris Haines (retired Chicago Bears).
- Practical Kung Fu Street Defense (Random House/Triumph Books, Spring 2008, www.triumphbooks.com)
- Combat Kung Fu Series: Shadow Palm (Beckett Media/Unique Publications) Summer 2007.
- Combat Kung Fu Series: Defensive Concepts and Applications (Beckett Media/Unique Publications) Summer 2007.
- Volume One: Practical Tactical Pen Street Defense (TKFI) June 2009.
- Volume Two: Practical Tactical Impact And Edged Weapons (TKFI) January 2010.
- The Practical Tactical Schrade Pen (Taylor Brands LLC) Summer 2010.
- Volume Three: Practical Tactical A.R.C. (All Range Combat) July, 2010
- The C.U.M.A RAM TACTICAL PEN (www.cumaram.com) Summer 2010
- The Essential SWAT Baton (Taylor Brands LLC) Winter 2011