Weapons can be a great training tool and are commonly used in classes. What I always enjoy is how awareness and survival skills come alive when using weapons. Regardless of the weapon, there are a few steadfast principles that students learn. If using a weapon don’t be a ‘slave’ to it. You have legs, arms and a mind that can also work.

If defending, remember it is not the weapon that works against you but the person. All by itself the weapon will just lay there. Do not be preoccupied with the method of attack or weapon. The body’s survival skills kick in and clear the direction or line of attack spontaneously.

When you consider the speed of most weapon attackers there is not much time to think things through. I will discuss how this type of training is incorporated and utilized further. For the sake of simplicity and in keeping with the scope of this article, I will refer to a knife as the weapon of choice.

Some warm-ups with a knife:

-Hold the knife in your hands and find which grip feels the best. Then spend time just walking with it in your hands calmly. You can pass it from one hand to the next, change grips, even starting to run a little.
-Put the knife on you somewhere, preferably a place you might commonly carry a knife. Start to walk, run, crawl, roll or even jump, just begin to feel this as part of you, not something foreign.
-Once again hold the knife in your hand. This time start to outline or trace you body with the knife. The focus should be on not touching yourself, while still remaining very close to the surface. Stay within a few inches. This builds awareness.
-With a partner, begin to push each other with the ‘safe’ areas of the knife. The butt end, sides or handle are quite good. Simply move out of the way as contact is made.

It is important to note that a knife is a tool, not just a weapon. It can be used for many things. Historically most weapons began as tools, and then became weapons out of necessity. These types of soft drills are very deep and important in preparing students psychologically. A knife can easily overwhelm a person with its energy. If your training does not prepare you psychologically, it will be difficult to defend or use any weapon. Learning how to carry, conceal, use and defend any weapon is of great value.

There are three main distances for knife attackers. Training firstly begins from contact – with the knife touching the body. The main reason for this is to keep the body calm. If you were to study knife defense from a distance, the body would tense up in anticipation and would not be able to work as effectively. A knife is held and placed on the body, once a direction is detected the body moves from the line. The idea is simply to move first and then start to build your offensive skills. The second distance is the knife coming towards you but has not made contact yet. See the movement and clear the line, then mount your offense strategy. The last distance is when someone is walking towards you with a weapon but they are not yet close enough to reach you. In reality this is a very tense moment because you are dealing with many possibilities and options. Some are within your control and some not.

Some training drills with a knife:

-One partner attacks with a knife the other defends. No preference is given for the style of attack. Students can work which ever way they feel. The goal is to disarm the partner.
-One partner attacks with a knife the other defends – from the ground. No preference is given for the style of attack. Students can work which ever way they feel. The goal is to disarm the partner.
-The partners stand side by side and throw the knife in front of them on the ground about two or three meters away. When you say “go” have them race to get the knife. Whoever gets to the knife first attacks, the other defends.
-You can add a third or fourth partner into any of the drills I have mentioned above. It adds yet another dimension to training and skill development.

Yous in learning,



toronto systema training
systema blog systema video archery podcast



Subscribe to FC Club Newsletter

toronto systema training