Sparring type 5: knife fighting

Understand how dangerous a knife can be

The type of sparring we are going to describe is substantially innocuous and should be practiced by almost any kind of martial arts practitioner (especially the ones who thinks that disarming a man with a knife could be easy as learning a few winning techniques). This kind of “clash” in its basic version is not dangerous, it favors technique, precision, reflexes, deception, speed but completely excludes pain and stress.

A note by Master Kongling – It makes me laugh to think to this practice: every time (with a spirit of analysis) I tried to propose this exercise to the various masters of disarmament that I met during my career, I always received in response waste, excuses and insults (read Recognize a good / bad master: 5 characteristics).

After having read the general rules of sparring and respect (read How to do sparring and Dojo (guan): rules, respect and etiquette), let’s see what are the peculiarities of this type of sparring.

Description of the exercise

What we need:

  • We need to buy or find / build an alternative version of plastic flexible training knives
  • We have to wear completely with black colors (preferably covering the biggest possible percentage of our body)
  • We need gypsum powder or chalks fixed on the “edge” of the knife

How this kind of sparring works:

  • Each participant has a training knife and can move freely in a delimited area
  • We simply have to “cut” our opponent leaving on him a white line or point (read The basics of short sticks: base strokes and stance)
  • At each “cut” the referee (the instructor) stops the match for an instant and assesses the severity of the damage (according to the area concerned, etc.)
  • At each “cut” the referee gives a number of points to the attack proportional to the damage inflicted
  • If the damage is low, the combat can continue, if it is middle the referee can ask the victim to simulate the wound consequences, if it is lethal the match ends
  • The combat must always be imagined as real
  • Who suffers the blows must honestly “simulate” the relative reaction
  • The battle can last more than 30 minutes (minimum 10 minutes)

Rules and goals

What we can do:

  • We can fully use our speed and any kind of (legit) trick
  • We can attack wherever we want but in a controlled manner
  • We can apply control techniques but without taking them to their damage level (read Chin Na)

What we cannot do:

  • We are not allowed to use our limbs directly to attack (we cannot use punches, kicks, projections, etc.)
  • We may not use the force (we must accommodate the movements)
  • It is not allowed to bring any type of technique so as to cause damage

Main objectives:

  • Learn to manage a weapon in a dynamic context (quick reasoning)
  • Learn to use fluid movements such as those of the Dragon Motion (read Dragon Motion: the swirling movements)
  • Learn to prevail through tactic, reflexes, timing and technique
  • Gain precision, body dislocation control and spatial intelligence (read The most important skill in combat)
  • Learn to recognize good opportunities to prevail (time, space, etc.)
  • Collaterally to improve our stamina

Details of practice

Protections and safety:

  • A transparent mask to preserve our eyes can be sufficient (it is very cheap)
  • It’s up to the instructor to eventually decide to add additional protections (jockstrap, etc.)


  • We can start with various handicap levels (unarmed, in a control condition, etc.)
  • If we do not want to use gypsum we can replace it and the knife with a pen (let’s choose a safe and washable one)
  • Established the teams (eg. 1 vs 2) we can run a multiple clash
  • We can use other training weapons (only if they are completely harmless and not rigid), even 1 per hand
  • It’s up to the instructor to decide to allow more or less contact level


  • Sparring cannot be performed by people that cannot control themselves (generally, in 6 Dragons Kung Fu, we start it in the second phase of learning, read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)
  • This kind of combat is good to learn how easy is to be killed by a knife (even for experts) and to understand what does not works
  • This kind of sparring with the right adaptations cab be performed by everyone (who has a basic psychophysical preparation)
  • The points are not to decide who is the winner but to evaluate the damages

In future articles of this series, we will see the other types of training fights.

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever tried a training knife sparring session with control signs?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

How to master 6 Dragons Kung Fu?

Are you searching for:

  • Daily training exercises?
  • Synthetic theory and concepts?
  • A step by step path from white to black belt?
  • A path (clear, consequential and gradual) designed to build real martial skills?
  • A direct contact with Master Kongling?

Go to our Patreon page and choose a training plan: starting from the Practitioner level, you will gain access to all this and much more.

Inside each Premium Lesson, you will receive the same teaching (practices, tips, concepts, small secrets and corrections) reserved to the live students of Master Kongling.

Important - Once a certain number of registrations are reached, no other participants can be accepted. For more information write to: [email protected].

Support us (1€ / month):