CRKT Goken Folder, by Pat Cascio

Designed by an award-winning Black Belt martial artist and someone who walks the walk and talks the talk, the CRKT Goken folder is under review. In my opinion, it is a winner in all respects.

James Williams, Knife Designer and Martial Artist

Having spent more than 35 years in the martial arts myself and earning Black Belt rank in five different disciplines, I was more than interested in some of the knives designed by James Williams for CRKT. To be sure, CRKT has been producing several of Williams’ designs for some years now, and I believe I’ve tested them all. They’re all winners, in my book. I also design knives on a very part-time basis, and I know what is involved in producing a design that flows. All of Williams’ knives have a certain symmetry about them, every last one.

I did some research on James Williams for this article. In my research, I discovered he is a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame, as a weapons instructor. He has also been involved in the martial arts since 1960 and teaching since 1975. He is well known throughout the world for his skills. The list of his various martial arts training is too lengthy to list in this article, but rest assured the man is revered for his skills. The list of military and law enforcement agencies Williams has taught span the world, not just in the USA. That says a lot about the man. It is nice to hear about a genuine martial artist, like Williams and his many accomplishments. He’s the real deal!

CRKT and My Testing and Reviews of Their Products

As a bit of a disclaimer, CRKT is producing my own knife design, the OC3, double-edge, fixed blade fighting knife. However, our business relationship does not influence my testing and reviews of any of the CRKT products that I request for articles. If anything, I give CRKT knives more of a work out because of my business relationship with them.

Long-time friend and owner of CRKT, Rod Bremer, and I go back to almost the time CRKT came into existence, and Bremer knows that I don’t pull any punches when testing his products. If something isn’t quite right in a design, I’ll let him know, and he is quick to react.

Williams’ Blades, Small to Samurai Swords

James Williams is into blades, all kinds of blades from small folding knives up to Samurai swords, and it shows in all of his designs, too. There is just that “something” about his designs. When I see one, I don’t have to see his name on the design; I just know it was designed by him. The new CRKT Goken folding knife just might be one of Williams’ best designs to date. Then again, if laid side-by-side with his other CRKT designs, I’d be hard pressed to just say “this” is his best design or “that” one is his best design.

Quick Look at the New Goken Folder

A quick look at the new Goken folder is in order. It comes with the Field Strip Technology, meaning that the entire knife can be field stripped, much like a firearm can, except it is so much easier to master. (I have more on this shortly.) The blade on the Goken is 3.693 inches in length, and it has a modified, wicked, tanto-style blade, which has a black, tactical corrosion resistant EDP coating on it. It will stand up to some harsh weather conditions. The blade is a plain edge version, and this is what I would expect in a fighting knife. No serrations are needed or wanted. I’m not quite sure what the blade steel is, but CRKT calls it 1.4116 ss. It’s a stainless steel blade and one that really holds an edge a good long time without chipping, either.

Its blade thickness is 0.134 or 3.45 mm. It’s a slim blade but wicked. Oh yeah, I mentioned that already. The blade just looks wicked, and it is. Its closed length is 4.954 inches, and it only weighs 4.2 oz, so it’s easy to pack in your front pocket with the pocket clip. The black handle scales are G-10, which is super tough stuff. It also has a locking liner.

Field Strip Technology

Now to the Field Strip Technology. This is one of those oh-so-simple designs, and one I wish I had come up with. The entire knife can be taken apart in a minute or less by simply rotating a “wheel” on the butt end of the knife and moving a lever on the front end. The entire knife then comes apart. It’s easier to watch the video on the CRKT website than explain it. However, it does make cleaning a folding knife all that much easier. And, if you’ve carried a folder in your pants pocket any length of time, or used it afield, the knife gets dirty and needs cleaning. Before this, you needed to rinse your folder under running water and use some ***Q-Tips*** in order to get all the gunk out. However, it also leaves your knife high and dry when it should be lubed. With the Field Strip Technology, the knife is cleaned in a minute. Then, if you need to lube it, it is easy enough to do. Wow!

Testing, Goken Penetrated Soft Body Armor

The Goken did come with a razor sharp blade, and the tip of the blade, the wicked blade, can easily penetrate soft body armor. I tested it on some old soft body armor that had been shot up. The tip of the blade is almost needle-like. I also tested the edge against some hemp and cotton rope and found that no challenge at all. Then, stabbing the Goken into some stacked cardboard was easy as can be, up to the handle of the knife. As always, I put many knife blades up against blackberry vines, and they are tough to cut. However, one single swipe with the Goken’s blade and the vine was no more.

Fast For Slashing Techniques

I don’t have a knife fighting dummy any longer. I used to have one made out of rubber tires, like my late mentor and friend Col. Rex Applegate designed in WWII. Still, I did put the Goken through some fighting techniques, just the same, slashing at cardboard. The knife is very fast in the hand, very fast.

When using a short bladed knife, like most folders are, you will use slashing techniques most of the time. Stabbing is fine, when you can reach the main part of the body. However, it is much easier to slash arms, hands, legs, and, if you can get in close enough, slash the arteries in the neck. Of course, knife fighting is a deadly art and only to be used in a deadly threat situation against another. Slashing an attacker’s hands and wrists will more than likely bring a deadly attack against you to a fast end, if the muscles and tendons are cut. In this case, it is difficult for that attacker to continue their attack against you, period!

Design of Genuine Fighting Folder Outstanding

The CRKT Goken is on their high end of their prices, and that’s for good reason. The design is outstanding, and the Field Strip Technology is a delicate balance in order for it to work properly. If you’re in the market for a new folding knife, a genuine fighting folder, designed by a world famous martial artist, then take a very close look at the James Williams designed Goken. It has a full retail price of $150, and you can usually find CRKT products deeply discounted, if you shop the ‘net. However, if you paid the full retail price, you would still be getting an outstanding fighting folder.


  1. James Williams is an outstanding instructor and great knife designer. I have and carry several of his knives and have trained with him as well. To say I am a fan is an understatement.

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