Electric Knives

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Young men want to test their courage, but most good tests of physical courage are also great ways to get killed — or at least injured.

If you modify a dangerous sport to make it safe, it’s no longer a good test of courage.

Some hobbies successfully ride the edge between too-dangerous and not-scary — most forms of grappling are mildly dangerous and, in competition or when you’re new, fairly scary — but other martial arts have lost their edge — literally.

Fighting with foils or rubber knives isn’t scary. Fighting with more substantial weapons can lead to broken bones.

Burton “Lucky Dog” Richards has done his share of fighting with rubber knives and wooden sticks, and here he talks about the benefits of using a Shocknife in training:

The downside is that a Shocknife costs $500.

But you can make your own from a cheap electric fly-swatter:

  1. Make sure any residual charge is bled off by tapping the racket into something metal and grounded, making sure that both mesh sides touch. Remove batteries. Unscrew the housing.
  2. Pry apart the plastic “racket” portion and snip off the leads to the three attached wires, or simply cut them as long as possible. Discard racket.
  3. Since this is supposed to simulate a knife, the leads will need to attach to something of a similar shape. The template should also be non-conductive. I found a piece of wood to be the best option, since it was easy to adjust to the desired shape. Take the overall length of the weapon into mind- how long does the training weapon need to be? With the body at 8 inches, I cut the wood template to a little under 3 inches.
  4. [...]

“Please don’t be stupid with this thing.”


  1. Marc Pisco says:

    You can’t make it safe to ride a sportbike at three-digit speeds on public roads.

  2. Isegoria says:

    Motorcycles are a great example of something that feels fairly dangerous while being really, really dangerous.

  3. Marc Pisco says:

    I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that’s alarmingly true.

  4. Grasspunk says:

    It is like watching fencing, then watching old duels with real swords. When the weapons are real the combatants are more distant and go only for forearm hits.

  5. Isegoria says:

    I didn’t realize that the last sword duel in France was fought in 1967. Zut alors! Socialist politician Gaston Defferre insulted René Ribière, got challenged, and then won.

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