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Golok (sometimes also spelled Gulok or Gollock) is the name given to a range of large knives and short swords originating from Southeast Asia, most notably from Indonesia and the Philippines.
Sizes and weights vary, as does blade shape. They tend to be heavier and shorter than machetes, often being used for bush and branch cutting. Having either a primary grind or an edgewise taper, the Golok is less likely to jam in green wood than the flat sided machete. Goloks are traditionally made with a springy carbon steel blade of a softer temper than that of other large knives. This makes them easier to dress and sharpen in the field, although it also requires more frequent attention.
The Golok was made famous in Britain after the initial defeat of the British Army by the Japanese during the Burma Campaign in December 1941.
The Martindale Number 2 Golok is the current jungle knife of the Special Air Service. Many currently serving soldiers prefer the older issue Goloks (which were made in Birmingham, England) to the recent issues (made in Africa) — but losing one’s Golok is a Return-to-Unit offence, which limits a soldier’s ability to carry locally sourced replacements. Common UK army slang for a golok is “tree beater”.
In addition to the modern, manufactured versions of the golok produced by Martindale, a wide variety of traditional, handmade goloks are produced on the islands of Java and Sumatra.
Goloks have many similarities to other woodland knives such as the parang, bolo and kukri.
Bark River Knife & Tool manufactures Goloks in modern 0170-6 tool steel with full convex grind and a variety of handle materials such as Micarta, G3 glass-reinforced plastic, and exotic woods.
In the 2008 film Rambo, John Rambo forges and uses a golok.
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