Often when doing in knife fighting sparring, people tend to ignore that they've got cut. I've seen shock knives on the net, and they seem kind of interesting as they at least give feedback that you've been 'cut'. Does anyone have any experience with them? Do they make for a more realistic knife fighting situation?

  • What knives do you use for sparrings now?
    – user91
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 8:51
  • rubber mainly, sometimes wood Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 9:14
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    actually this video is a good summary... youtube.com/watch?v=iw4ft1L5a3U Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 9:46
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    Strongly depends on technique, I believe. Our cuts look more like chops than like cuts, so even wooden knife strikes painfully. And, well, these shocking knifes give you an illusion of strike while you only touched the partner.
    – user91
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 10:05
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    for sure.....anything that's not a knife is only going to be a 'simulation' of real knife fighting, no matter how you train, it's not quite the real thing. Which is true of most all martial arts training. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 10:39

3 Answers 3


I had the displeasure of training with a set a few years back when they were still restricted to LE and Military. Based on the ones I used, there are two things that you should be aware of:

  1. The knives can be "cranked up" by a little screw at the bottom. When they're cranked up all the way, they do not feel like you've been cut, but more like you put wet hand on an outlet. Anyone whose ever had that displeasure knows what that feels like...
  2. The price tag at that time was about $1000 for a set of two.

The training quality can take one of two paths:

  1. You begin to focus more for fear of being shocked. You will take the training extremely seriously because there's actual feedback of just how likely you are to get cut.
  2. You'll be moving even slower, take any aliveness out of your body, and be too afraid of the tool to use it effectively.

I've seen both, for me it was the former, but I have no desire to repeat the experiment.

A much less expensive solution that Kevin Secours taught was the scratch stick. He describes in a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaHVDSwk6Vs

I prefer this idea since it gives quality feedback, and is cheap enough to be replaced after each use. Pens are a distant second, since they tend to not feel like anything, and the slightest touch can leave a mark (making it difficult to tell what connected with flesh and what just connected with clothing).

Edit: The discussion in the comments for the original post left me thinking about the extremes to which some people want to go for realistic training. As someone who has trained with edged blades in the past, I can say without any hesitation that any form of training is a simulation; if you put two knives in two training partners hands, they will still lack the key component that takes training to reality: intent.

I've trained with guys who hated me; I have a grating personality that can test the patience of Buddha himself. Even with that, there was never the worry that my training partner was going to say, "You know, $%#^ it, I think I'll just kill him." Without that intent to actually cause harm and desire to kill you, there is still an ancient ocean between your training and reality; anyone attempting to sell you on the idea otherwise is out to make money off of your fear.

Shock Knives are a safer and easily as effective method of training as training with a real knife without the unnecessary danger of being involved in an accidental stabbing. I see no reason as an instructor, a husband, and a human being to endanger my students with a bladed knife in the attempt to show them the fear of being stabbed.

Again, I feel the scratch stick is still superior for the reasons expressed above, as well as one I neglected to mention; a shock knife carries all the same dangers as a violet wand or TENS unit. These should never be used on or brought into contact with a person with a pacemaker or other medical implant.

  • Sorry, but what is a scratch stick?
    – user91
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 8:55
  • As above: "A much less expensive solution that Kevin Secours taught was the scratch stick. He describes in a video here: youtube.com/watch?v=RaHVDSwk6Vs"
    – stslavik
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 19:18

The best way to develop awareness of ANYTHING is to do it slowly. Take a training knife (can't be rubber, has to be solid) and slowly put the point on someone's chest and slowly press in. They'll be aware of it, I bet you, way before it touches them. Slowly get to their arm and slowly slice across it. Again, they'll be aware.

Do slow-motion sparring. Half-speed -- or slower. Because knives are inherently dangerous, people have a hard time staying slow. Have someone act as a referee and stop when someone speeds up. No need to say who - just stop, realign, start again. For the slow-motion sparring, you don't need a solid knife.

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    We used to use pens (normal ballpoint pens, caps in place). Worked rather well. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 15:26
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    Pens or anything that leaves marks is excellent if you're keeping score. Before you keep score, my thought on this is to develop awareness. Reasoning: what are we keeping track of if people are flailing around, unknowing of what's happening around them?
    – Anon
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 15:29
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    slow training is good to a point, however, you really do need to train at speed because a LOT of technique breaks down under pressure. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 17:52
  • Keith Nicholas, Very good point, with any technique, not neccesarily knives.
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 18:29
  • @KeithNicholas All I said was 'develop awareness'... I never said it was the be-all, end-all of knife training (or any training for that matter). Slow training has the benefit of developing awareness and sensitivity, which fast training (as the OP clearly states) does not, and this leads to problems. I realize that I did not "answer the question", but I feel like I answered the problem.
    – Anon
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 19:47

I once used an elastic pipe. It's extremely cheap, can be cut to the proper length and you can't accidentally hurt yourself with it, even without protective gear.


Another good option is a rubber or maybe wooden knife on which you put chalk along the edge. This way you will definitely notice a cut.

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