Gil Hibben is a fascinating man with widely varied interests and talents. This gallery is dedicated to the man behind the knives.
Gil has been training in Kenpo karate for nearly 50 years and has earned a 6th degree black belt in the martial art having studied under Ed Parker and 10th degree black belt Richard "Huk" Planas. He also earned belts in Judo and Aikido. Gil was inducted into the Martial Arts' Masters Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Fame in 2004.
In 1968 Gil designed the Kenpo Knife (sometimes called the Ed Parker Fighting Knife) for his black belt thesis on knife fighting using Kenpo tactics. His thesis became the basis of the Kenpo system's Long Form VIII (the double dagger form) which uses two knives in mock combat.) Over the years Gil has made several of the handmade versions of his Kenpo knives including knives that were presented to Ed Parker and Elvis Presley.
Ed Parker A couple of Gil's handmade Kenpo knives
Gil also licensed his design to United Cutlery to reproduce his Kenpo knife and later a redesigned Kenpo II knife.
The design of the Kenpo knife features an angled guard which allows you to put your thumb on top of the guard and employ the Kenpo "Chinese Fist" grip. This grip is much stronger and offers more stability than the common grip with your thumb down.
Gil and Richard "Huk" Planas
Gil spent five years living and working in Alaska and still has family living there.
During that time Gil not only made knives but was a professional guide.
He still makes annual trips back to Alaska to visit his friends and family
and to enjoy the great fishing.
Based on Gil's Alaskan experience, he designed some of his knives with the wilderness environment in mind. These knives are used and endorsed by the Alaska Professional Hunters Association Inc.
Hibben designed Alaska Pro Guide Hunter and Pro Guide Folder by United Cutlery
One of Gil's handmade Alaskan Hunters
Gil is quick to attribute much of his success to his lovely wife Linda and often refers to her as the "winds beneath his wings".
While Gil is in the shop grinding knives, Linda handles much of the business end of things.
Linda is always at Gil's side at the knife shows.
Sylvester Stallone is a long-time collector of Gil's custom knives. Sly chose Gil to make the now famous knife that his Rambo character used in the movie "Rambo III".
Gil made a video for Stallone showing him how to forge a knife for a scene in the Rambo movie "Rambo III". The scene was filmed but later cut during editing.
The knife that Gil made for the movie "Rambo III" was just the first of many knives that Gil has made for movies and TV shows. He is the official "Klingon Armorer" having designed the edged weapons seen in the more recent Star Trek movies.
Gil with the prototype of the original bat'leth, "The Sword of Kahless". Below, Gil is in Klingon custume posing with the "Sword of Kahless" , the "Bat'leth" and a modified "Raven" that were used in the Star Trek movies.
Although it was cut out in the final edit, Gil made a knife for the John Travolta movie "Basic". Here is Gil and his son Derek visiting with Travolta on the movie set.
In a recent episode of Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" Adam Savage used a Hibben "Double Shadow" to slice open some fruit for an experiment they were doing (Below)
was recently filmed for a segment in
"More Extreme Marksmen" to be aired on the History Channel beginning in early 2009.
Actress Bo Derek checks out one of Gil's knives Kenpo expert Jeff Speakman used a Hibben
knife in his movie Perfect Weapon
Deborah Harry (Blondie) and Linda Hibben Comedian/Actor Shelley Berman and Gil
Gil and his family were invited to the White House to present a knife to Vice
President Dan Quayle to be placed in the Presidential Archives.
Gil has long been interested in throwing knives and has designed a series of throwing knives and axes. His book "Gil Hibben Knife Throwing Guide" has been a popular introduction to the art for many years and is now available in it's 3rd revision. In 2003 Gil was inducted into the Knife Throwers Hall of Fame and awarded the Outstanding Achievement In Knife Design award.
Gil's artistic talents go beyond his art knives. Music has always been a big part of his life. He sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Chorus which won two world championships..
Gil is also a member of the Rhythm Bones Society and it quick to introduce people to the unique style of folk music known as "playing the bones". He even hosted the annual "Bones Fest" in 2003 which drew bones players from around the world to Louisville, Kentucky.
Gil loves music and always has music playing in his shop while he works. You never know when he is going to break out the bones and play along.
As Vice President and President respectively of the Knifemakers Guild, Wayne Hensley and Gil Hibben attend the Grand Opening of the new National Knifemakers Museum in Sevierville, Tennessee. Gil was elected as President of the Knifemakers Guild in 2006 and also received the Guild's prestigious Red Watson Memorial Friendship Award.
Gil enjoys a good cigar and is one of the founders of the
Single Barrel Cigar Society.
Gil and his brother Daryl, a fellow knifemaker, at the Blade
Show in Atlanta
Gil and a few friends
Portrait by Mike Carter
1956 Seattle, WA: Discharged from Navy. Working for Boeing. Began making knives part-time. Sold first Bowie knife for $45.
1963-1965 Sandy, UT: Began making knives full time. Began using 440C stainless steel. Some knives were marked "Ben Hibben" through a partnership in 1963-1964.
1965 Hibben knife featured on the cover of "Guns and Ammo".
1965-1970 Manti, UT: Making knives under the Hibben name.
1968 Designed Browning's original knife line.
1968 Designed the "Ed Parker Fighting Knife" as part of his black belt thesis in Kenpo Karate.
1970 Springdale, Arkansas: Made knives here for about 6 months. No city or state on the stamp.
1975-1979 Silver Dollar City, MO. Resident knifemaker. Met his wife, Linda.
1979-1991 Louisville, KY: Making
knives under the Hibben name.
Also Charlton LTD. produced some Hibben Knives under contract 1988-1989 (small Damascus scale replica of the knife used in the movie "Rambo III").
1987 Designed and made knives used in the movie "Rambo III".
1990 Designed the Silver Shadow, the first of the annual Fantasy Series from United Cutlery.
1990 Inducted in the Blade Magazine Knifemakers Hall of Fame
1991 Gils knives featured in the action movie "The Perfect Weapon" starring Jeff Speakman
1991-Present: LaGrange, KY - Still making knives every day in his shop
1992 Gil's knives seen in the movie "Under Siege" starring Steven Seagal
1994 Gil's knives are featured in the movie "Star Trek - Generations"
2000 Inducted into the Martial Arts Masters Hall of Fame
2000 Gil's "Double Shadow" knife featured in the TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
2003 Inducted into the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame
2004 Inducted into the Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Fame
2006 Commissioned by Sylvester Stallone to make the new knife for the 2008 movie "Rambo"
2006 Elected President of the Knifemakers Guild
2006 Featured in the December 2006 issue of Knives Illustrated
2007 Celebrating his 50th year as a custom knifemaker
2007 Featured in the September Issue of Blade Magazine
2008 Re-elected for 2nd term as President of the Knifemakers Guild
2008 Gil's knives featured in the February 2008 issue of Blade Magazine
2008 Gil and his knife designs featured in April 2008 issue of German knife magazine "Messer Magazin"
2010 Re-Elected for 3rd term as President of the Knifemakers Guild
2010 Gil's knives are featured in the movie "The Expendables" starring Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
Click HERE to see some catalogs from the beginnings of Hibben Knives 50 years ago.