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Practice fighting knives

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How to Practice Knife Fighting in a Martial Arts Class

By Keith Pascal

Fighting with knives is completely different from empty-hand fighting. Practicing with knives in a martial arts class can be challenging. You have to balance between safety and realism. Students deserve the best environment for learning, and also they need techniques and strategies that go beyond empty-hand workouts.

First, Knife Fighting Safety in the Class

Martial arts schools have insurance considerations. Some insurance agents would faint if they knew that there was knife-training going on inside their insured establishments.

For this reason, safety precautions need to be taken:
  • Use practice knives, wooden or rubber
  • Wear safety glasses, even when fighting with practice knives
  • Instruct students to take the training seriously -- no goofing off

Knife Fighting For More Advanced Students

Again, this rule stems from considerations of liability. If you are the teacher, then consider reserving the knife fighting for your more advanced classes. And if you are a student, expect to have to jump through hoops and advance in the art, before you are taught knife-fighting skills.

This has to do with both the teacher getting to know and trust the student before teaching more dangerous techniques, and also making sure that the student has enough skill not to injure himself (or herself).

More Distance During Knife Practice

Knives increase the martial artist's range. You get an extra four or five inches of reach, when you wield a knife.

Because of the added striking distance, you should increase the distance between the two practice partners. Increase your normal, comfortable empty-hand distance by the length of the blade. (No reason to overreact.)

The extra reach is good practice for your lunging, and adds an element of safety during practice.

Changing The Curriculum

When practicing with knives in class, you might want to incorporate lessons specifically designed for knife fighting. Block and then punch or kick strategies don't work against the more efficient, and well-trained, knife fighters of today.

Efficiency is the key. Make each technique count.

Practice for realism, but be sure to practice safely.

Keith is the author of '10 Days to Better Knife Fighting' and 15 other ebooks and ebooklets on knife fighting and knife defense: Knife Fighting Books

To get on a great list all about practical self defense sign up at: Martial Arts ezine. (You get a great free ebooklet on elbow strikes, checks and counters, when you join.)

Keith Pascal has taught martial arts for over 25 years. He left his job as a high school teacher in 2000, to become a full-time writer.

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