Weapons training for empty hand fighting

Christopher Adamchek

Purple Belt
Oct 1, 2018
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I love weapons training for many reasons, but recently i have a student who loves empty hand fighting and doesnt care much for our weapons training. So here are some points ive noted to him on how it can make you a better empty hand fighter.

  1. Additional ranges - improve range management
  2. Angles of attack and opening - better understanding and use of techniques that will throw someone off. like instead of using a rear hand superman punch i use an extended thrust style punch from spear work, visually similar but altered timing and telography
  3. Precision of gross motor skills - as with a weapons point of impact is often smaller than a fist
  4. Increased proprioception - as you often need to know where and how your weapon is moving without seeing it
  5. Increased adrenaline fear at lower training intensity - as with many weapons you cant think about blow trade offs the same
  6. Drifting techniques - easier to learn, understand, and apply using a weapon first
just some major ones that came to mind writing the post, i know i have more lol
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Master Black Belt
Feb 28, 2019
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Las Vegas
Here's a few more ways weapon training can aid empty hand training -

The added weight (and torque) helps strengthen muscles.

To effectively wield most weapons, body (especially hip) motion is key and this directly aids in empty hand power generation. I've seen YouTubes of weapon kata where the performer is stiff and doesn't use hips, thinking the weapon does all the work, thus showing their lack of knowledge.

As hinted at in your #4, greater concentration is needed with weapons. Doing a front kick with bad form can be embarrassing, doing a weapon technique with bad form can cause you considerable injury (especially with live bladed weapons such as sword or kama, but even a wooden weapon can give a nasty crack to your head or knee.) The added mental discipline needed for weapons can only help in empty hand execution.

There may be weapons technique not found in the style's empty hand form that can be adapted for empty hand employment, allowing for some creativity and unexpected results.

While practicing weapons, my state of mind is different than in empty hand practice. Whether it's due to the added challenge of danger, the feeling of just wielding and having mastery of the weapon, or some latent childhood dream of doing glorious battle....not sure - maybe all the above.


Senior Master
Jan 3, 2018
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Yep, I am in that boat Chris. Love empty hand stuff, never been interested in weapons. But nowadays I've been exploring it and alot has been explained to me how it can translate, and for sure I can see alot of benefits :)