The Business Center: Teaching

Knife Drills
The knife drills listed below come from some drills I learned from the Filipino arts; I shall also try to make the connection to our Kenpo techniques. For these attacks we are assuming you are unarmed and your attacker is thrusting in with a single knife. As an additional note, you are practicing to defend against knife attacks. The difficult point to stress is that in a knife attack, it is not a matter of not getting cut, its a matter minimizing the damage because you will be cut, especially if they have any skill whatsoever in holding a knife.

The First Drill: Avoidance

This drill can be done in two parts but the primary purpose is to not get stabbed. The drill starts with you and your attacker standing face to face with maybe four to five feet apart. Your attacker will then step forward and thrust the knife towards your abdomen or solar plexus.

  1. Have your attacker stab at you. Pivot your hip and torso so you are out of line of attack. Return to standing face to face.
  2. Repeat the above action again but pivot to the opposite side to avoid the stab. Return to standing face to face.
  3. Have your attacker stab at you and follow the above pattern. Attacker: only attack as fast your defender can respond.
The purpose as I said is to not get stabbed, but it also teaches timing. If you move too late, well, you get stabbed, if you move too soon, they can simply redirect their knife thrust towards you. Consider it a parry without contact.


  • You can also step into your attacker with this pivot so as to close the distance and retaliate. If you step back, you are going to give them more distance and more time to react to your change of position.
The Second Drill: Deflection

This drill builds off of what was previously learned with the pivot as you avoid getting stabbed. In addition to what was worked on previously we will now add a physical deflection to the avoidance. There will be two steps detailed on how to deflect the thrust and then to pass the blade away so you can control it and then defend yourself.

  1. Standing face to face, your attacker stabs at you. Pivot in place like before and use the outside of your opposite forearm to the side of your attacker's arm. (If you pull your left foot over, your right arm will be the parry.) (It's an inward downward parry palm down if you want to be technical.) And of course, in Kenpo, we don't occupy the same zones with both hands, so raise your other hand high as a check and a universal block as well. Note: Expose only the outside of your arms; it will be less damaged if, or more likely when, it gets cut.
  2. With your opposite hand checking / deflecting your attacker's thrust; have your high hand drop on top of your attacker's thrusting arm to pass it aside. If you choose to pivot to the other side, you can maneuver the knife away from you as you pivot to the opposite side. Or you can change your high hand pressing check into a controlling grab to free up your opposite hand to counter with a shot to the ribs or groin as in Entwined Lance.
Often the low hand is used as a guide for the top hand to react. 


  • A common variation is your initial deflection with the opposite hand keeps that opposite hand high and blocking on top of and/or on the side of your attacker's thrusting arm. The other hand is held close to your person to prevent errant cuts, and it continues its course to pass the knife away or to return it to sender.
  • Like the previous drill, you can also step into the attacker with the deflecting parry to close the gap between you and your attacker. Usually the same-side hand and foot are used.

The third section attempts to blend the gap between these non-Kenpo knife drills.

  • Raining Lance- If you step in with your left foot, your front hand goes high (showing the back of the forearm) to the downward knife thrust. You redirect the stab and then guide it into your attacker's leg. You guide it with your rear hand being low (as practiced in the above drills.)
  • Piercing Lance- With the initial step into the thrust, you execute the universal block proecting your arms as well as you can.
  • Thrusting Lance- The universal block is present again in that you strike down with the front hand and grab your attacker's wrist followed by a left underhand claw to the groin. With the inward handsword, if your attacker jerks back and turns the blade, you want to have the inside of your arm cut minimally, so a simple variation could be the top of your hand coming down on top of your attacker's arm before grabbing.
  • Entwined Lance- The outward hooking parry could be easily seen as a deflection with your hand high blocking to the inside of your attacker's arm followed by control of the weapon.
  • As you may note, Glancing Lance is not in here. The only way it could be included in this is in the opening move of the initial parry, but that is stretching it a bit.