Our club needs to pick a helmet for knife-fighting sparrings which would satisfy several conditions:

  1. protect face and eyes from accidental stab (it's forbidden by rules to stab head or throat)
  2. be 'mobile': head should be moved rather freely
  3. be compact: it should not be twice as big as head
  4. protect head from chops and slices (with nothing harder than wooden tanto)
  5. allow peripheral vision

Our best ideas now are:

  1. Fencing mask: good protection, but big, clumsy and heavy. With those we even can allow face-stabs.
  2. Boxing helmet + goggles: compact, mobile, but does not protect the whole face.

Need every suggestion what we shall use.

  • please switch to rubber or wooden knives! Sooner or later it will accidentally come towards someone's throat. Brrrr
    – paddotk
    Jun 11, 2012 at 11:54
  • @poepje sorry for late reply. We, in fact, use only wooden and paper knifes (the last are for beginners). And it's also true that you can get great damage even from a wooden knife (you may even get a broken rib, although it's not very likely).
    – user91
    Jun 15, 2012 at 17:04
  • Ok, I somehow thought that you were using real knives, although I can't remember from what I got that. Maybe from #1. where you mention accidental stabs. :p
    – paddotk
    Jun 15, 2012 at 17:29
  • @poepje English is not my primary language, so I must have used an inappropriate word here. Will 'jab' be better when talking about training knife?
    – user91
    Jun 15, 2012 at 17:46
  • No, that's not what I meant. Just a misinterpretation. 'Stab' is the right word here, a 'jab' is a short straight punch ;)
    – paddotk
    Jun 15, 2012 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


I've tested a variety of different solutions for protection in sparring. I have found nothing better suited to the task than the BTS High Gear system. This offers a similar profile to boxing/sparring headgear with wrap-around eye protection, full face cover, full peripheral vision, light weight...

The problems with fencing masks is they tend to have an unwieldiness about them; the metal face mask pulls the helmet forward, and it's often held in place by a piece of padded wire, and occasionally an elastic strap. This makes it slide about quite a lot, and it doesn't offer too much in the way of back of the head protection (I have no idea what sort of training you're doing that has rules for knife fighting, so I have no idea what would need to be covered).

The High Gear helmet is quite similar to the boxing helmet with goggles, but with full head protection. The down side, of course, is going to be the price – $370 for the helmet alone; a throat guard is available for an additional $75.

Less impressive options are any of the number of various forms of martial arts face masks/shields which offer inferior protection, especially in the region of the eyes. Alternately, you might look at how various types of face shields from other fields might suit your needs, since these will likely be far cheaper, but also less likely to offer the protection required (good stress testing is a must before use).

  • BTS High Gear looks great, though really expensive. Looks like we'll be looking for face masks from passage 4. Thanks for the answer!
    – user91
    Feb 28, 2012 at 8:09
  • Having pranced about with a sabre mask for several hours a week, for several years, I've not found that a well-fitted fencing mask slides about. However, loaners tend to be less well-fitted, so for "club masks" (rather than individual ones), your 'slides about' stands.
    – Vatine
    Feb 28, 2012 at 14:43
  • @IaroslavKovtunenko Think of the BTS High Gear being the optimal solution, whereas the others are work-around solutions. The initial investment is higher, but the end result is a far-safer practice. You might update your question with a budget, though, and you might get other answers with better suggestions in your price range.
    – stslavik
    Feb 28, 2012 at 19:23
  • @stslavik Agree, in the long term BTS High Gear is what we shall use. In short term, we need a plus-minus workaround.
    – user91
    Feb 29, 2012 at 10:33
  • @stslavik For the price, it may vary too much (50-300%) for the USA and for Ukraine to specify its range, so I'd better not add that to question.
    – user91
    Feb 29, 2012 at 10:35

I have seen modified fencing masks...Essentially, pieces of closed-cell foam insulation material fastened to the outside area, and perhaps some elastic straps to keep it on....

I took Western fencing for about 2years and the masks are not difficult to work with.

  • The problem with fencing mask is its size: many hits to the mask won't even touch his head if he was bare-headed.
    – user91
    Feb 29, 2012 at 10:38

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