Originally used as a farming implement the kerambit was designed for harvesting rice and gathering roots. Inspired by the shape of the claws of big cats, as time wore on it became more curved to maximize cutting potential. Although much smaller, it resembles the European scythe in form and function.
At one time the kerambit was looked down upon as a peasant’s tool rather then a proper weapon. However it was often carried and applied by warriors who would use it as a last resort, possibly having lost their [rimary weapons during combat. It was also a common self- defense weapon for women who would tie them into their hair.
In the modern martial arts it is one of the main weapons in pencak silat and also common in kali. It integrates particularly well into the hand motions of these arts, emphasizing the control and manipulation techniques that are notable.
Designs of kerambits varied from village to village, some including finger rings, some made to be used in a hammering motion and all effective for slashing and hooking. They are difficult to detect and disarm – this is one of the main reasons it is so popular today.
One of the best known proponents of the kerambit for blade combat include Pendekar Hermann Suwanda of pencak silat Mande Muda.