Thu January 09, 2020

By Shelly B Short


James Black School of Bladesmithing “Cutting Competition” to be held in Historic Washington

Old Washington Arkansas Uofa Hope Texarkana Bladesmithing
James Black School of Bladesmithing “Cutting Competition” to be held in Historic Washington
WASHINGTON, AR – January 9, 2020

The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana will host a special “Cutting Competition” in Historic Washington, Arkansas, on January 17 at 1:00 p.m. as part of the events planned to celebrate the grand opening of the new James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades. The competition is designed to test the sharpness and durability of the participant’s knife, as well as the skill of the user.

Renowned bladesmiths from around the world have been invited to put their hand-forged Bowie knives to the test in this exciting display of art and skill. Participants will include Jason Fry, Forged in Fire season 5 episode 26 finalist; Larry Cox, 2019 Uncle Al’s Cutting Competition fourth-place winner; James Carlyle, 2012 Jerry Fisk Cutting Competition Champion and 2019 Hoorah Days Cutting Competition third-place winner; Jim Sowers, 2018 Central States Hammer-In Cutting Competition champion; Mark Fleming, 2017 Hammer-In Cutting Competition Champion and 2018 Arkansas State Sharpest Man Competition overall champion; Cass Stanford, 2017 Uncle Al’s Cutting Competition Champion and 2018 Arkansas State Sharpest Man Competition first-place winner; Mitch Cargile, 2018 Arkansas State Sharpest Man Competition second-place winner; Jake Rhea, 2019 Arkansas Knife Show Cutting Competition Grand Champion; and Lin Rhea, 2006 Blade Show Cutting Competition World Champion.

The James Black School grand opening will also feature special guest, Governor Asa Hutchinson, who will formally dedicate the “Arkansas #1” Bowie knife. Those in attendance will also be able to view a special exhibit of Bowie No. 1, on loan from Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. Following the dedication, there will be a ceremonial “First Firing of the Forge” at the historic campus Bladesmith Shop to welcome the first class of James Black School students.

Along with these events, a community education class entitled “The History and Art of the Bowie Knife,” will also take place at 11:00 a.m. in the beautifully restored 1860 Brunson House at Historic Washington State Park. Students in the course will learn about the history of the Bowie Knife and its place in the history of Arkansas with Master Bladesmiths Jerry Fisk, National Living Treasure; Lin Rhea, Resident Historic Blacksmith at Historic Arkansas Museum; and Billy Nations, Supervisor of Interpretive Programs at Historic Washington State Park. The cost of the course is only $20 and will include lunch. Individuals wishing to participate in the class can register by calling the UAHT Community Education Department at 870-722-8102.

UAHT will offer a Certificate of Proficiency in Bladesmithing beginning January 17. The degree plan is intended to provide students with a unique opportunity to earn a degree in the historic art of bladesmithing. Courses in the credit program will include Introduction to Bladesmithing, Intermediate Bladesmithing, Knifemaking, Handles and Guards, Damascus Steel, and Advanced Bladesmithing. Students will also have the option to enroll in classes as non-credit students. To enroll, visit

Please join us for this exciting cutting competition at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades Grand Opening. For more information, call 870-722-8516.

  • Pictured, Lin Rhea

  • Pictured, Mark Fleming

  • Pictured, Mitch Cargile