U of A Hope-Texarkana Instructor History Channel “Forged in Fire” Champion


Ricardo Vilar, a lead bladesmithing instructor and technical advisor at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades, won the bladesmithing competition last night on Season 7 Episode 27 of the hit television show “Forged in Fire” on History Channel. “Forged in Fire” tests world-class bladesmiths as they attempt to re-create some of history’s most iconic edged weapons. The contestant who survives the elimination rounds and wins the episode’s contest earns $10,000 and the title of Forged in Fire champion. Vilar competed against three of the best bladesmiths in the world to recreate an Ikakalaka African sword. In the end, he earned the title of Forged in Fire Champion.

Vilar is a founding instructor of the UAHT James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades located in Historic Wahington, Arkansas. He is also a lead technical advisor ensuring the campus is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment while still honoring the history of the location as the world-famous birthplace of the iconic Bowie Knife in 1831. The Bowie Knife is recognized around the world as the American Blade and the official knife of the State of Arkansas. Vilar shares his knowledge and skill with the next generation of bladesmiths in the classroom and forging shop through a variety of unique classes at the James Black School. “Ricardo’s talent, as demonstrated in his dominate performance on ‘Forged in Fire,’ is the perfect indication of the commitment that UAHT and the University of Arkansas System have to making sure that the James Black School offers the best and the most unique bladesmithing educational opportunity in the world. Our Historic Washington campus provides students the opportunity to train at the art’s most significant historical location and from faculty who are recognized as true master artisans in the craft,” said, Chancellor Chris Thomason

Ricardo was recently named a judge on the hit television show “Forged in Fire” Latin American Edition on History Channel. He began his professional career in 1993 and became a licensed Journeyman Smith with the American Bladesmith Society in 2005. He served as the president of the Brazilian Society of Cutlers from 2003 to 2008, is a co-founder of a cutlery school in partnership with the University of Brasilia, and was invited by the University of Texas in 2005 to be a Brazilian style instructor at the Hammer-in Fall. In 2010, he was the coordinator and teacher of a cutlery course for Corneta Tools in Osasco, Brazil, where he taught more than two hundred students. In 2011, one of his knives was adopted as the official knife of the Brazilian Parachute Brigade. Some of his recent awards include Best Field Knife IV, Best Tactical Knife IV, Best Industrial Knife IV, and Best Knife Bush Craft IV at the 2015 International Cutlery Show.

The UAHT James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades offers a Certificate of Proficiency in Bladesmithing degree designed to provide students with the unique opportunity to earn a degree in the historic art of bladesmithing. Courses in the credit program include Introduction to Bladesmithing, Intermediate Bladesmithing, Knifemaking, Handles and Guards, Damascus Steel, and Advanced Bladesmithing. The James Black School also offers non-credit bladesmithing courses.

Upcoming courses taught by Vilar can be found by visiting www.uaht.edu/bladesmithing. For more information, email bladesmith@uaht.edu, or call 870.722.8568.

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