|This is knife sambrada. Great drill, but it's not sparring.|
I'm a firm believer in the effectiveness and practicality of Filipino martial arts (variously called Kali, Escrima, Arnis, etc.). However, that effectiveness and practicality goes out the window if you don't train properly.
There are two key elements to getting the most out of Filipino martial arts: 1. Hard sparring against a fully resisting and engaged opponent; and 2. Respecting the weapon.
|This IS sparring!|
fortunate to live in a time in which we have a wide variety of gear available to us. Padded sticks, lacrosse gloves, and helmets mean we can spar hard without getting hurt. However, they can also make us sloppy. If a weapon doesn't inflict pain, we tend to not respect it. Thus, you see things such as people not worrying about possibly being hit on the head with a stick or being stabbed with a knife. This is not good.
|Stick sparring with rattan.|
When training with a weapon, you must treat that weapon as real. That means not "trading" shots. In a real knife fight, would you be willing to take being stabbed in the stomach so you could slash someone in the throat? That isn't really smart strategy. If a tactic has no place on the street, in has no place in sparring.
How to rectify the problem of not respecting the weapon? For one, there is the power of imagination. Just pretend the weapon is real and act accordingly.
For stick sparring, more advanced students can spar with light rattan sticks. Just make sure to start light, wear good quality protective gear, and treat your opponent right.
Knife sparring is a bit trickier. Imagination is probably your best bet. It's very hard to recreate an edged weapon in a safe sparring environment.
Another option is,unfortunately, cost prohibitive for many people. That option is the shock knife. It is just what it sounds like: a sparring knife that gives a mild yet memorable electric shock. I don't own one, by my instructor Burton Richardson does. I've sparred with them on occasion. It's quite an experience. Here's a short video of me, Burton, and my fellow JKDU/Battlefield Kali instructor Manny Valladares demonstrating some shock knife sparring.