Buying Training Sticks


There are four factors to consider when buying training sticks for Kali:



In Filipino martial arts, including our Pekiti-Tirsia Kali (PTK) system, rattan sticks are used for training. Rattan is similar to bamboo but its stems are solid. This lets them withstand plenty of abuse without transferring kinetic energy to your hands like harder woods might if you continually pound on them. (In the future, we’ll get padded plastic ones for sparring.)



While variations are inevitable and personal preference should be of the utmost importance, generally speaking sticks should have the following dimensions:

  • 1-inch diameter
    26-inch to 28-inch length
  • Unless you’re already familiar with a specific brand, it’s always best to get hands-on with a pair of sticks before putting money down.



Unpeeled rattan sticks usually last longer. Peeled means their skins have been removed and they’ve been decorated for aesthetics. As always with PTK, we always go for function over form, so unpeeled is suggested. Though, keep in mind, with time and/or intense training, both varieties of sticks will eventually start to wear down. (All the more reason to get the tougher unpeeled versions at the outset.)



Online: Amazon and eBay can be hit and miss, so I suggest Century Martial Arts. They have a variety of options and the price is decent for a large franchise.

In Person: I usually suggest going to a brick-and-mortar martial arts store if there’s one in your neighborhood (they’re going extinct, unfortunately). Nothing beats being able to hold the stick in your hand before purchasing it.

Specialty Supply Stores: Go to your local cane/wicker supply store. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard good things about Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply in Huntington Beach, California. Its prices seem to be about 40% cheaper than most martial arts stores.


Buying a Training Knife


We sometimes practice reality-based drills at speed involving knife draws from our pockets. So it goes without saying that having the right training knives will be vital. For new students or those who have yet to purchase gear, here’s a quick primer on how to select the right training knife for you.


Folding Knife Replica

The best training knives I’ve used replicate real “folders” in look, feel, weight, and operation — but have blunt blades and rounded tips. Since you will fight the way you practice, you should practice the way you fight. This folding knife replica will help you do just that.


  • Represents the most commonly carried type of knife.
  • As realistic as you can get.
  • You’ll feel the “cut” without getting maimed.
  • They’ll take a beating and last forever with proper care.
  • You can safely practice realistic draws under stress.


  • More expensive than other types of trainers
  • Don’t simulate longer blades, such as kitchen knives or Bowies

Where to Buy:

Generally, I recommend going to a brick-and-mortar store to find the right trainer that fits your needs and preferences. But there are plenty of online options. Click on my top 3 recommendations for folding knife replicas below:


Aluminum Fixed Blade

The second-best training knives I’ve used are made of aluminum and resemble fixed blades. They also have blunt edges and rounded tips for safety.


  • You’ll feel the “cut” without getting maimed.
  • Aluminum construction lasts longer than wood, plastic, or rubber.
  • Resemble fixed-blade knives in shape and length, adding a bit of a psychological edge to your training.
  • Usually cheaper than the more expensive folding knife replicas.


  • Don’t fold like most knives found on the street.
  • Lighter than real knives, meaning a less realistic feel.
  • Requires an extra sheath when practicing drawing techniques
  • Can get scratched up or dinged, which could potentially scrape your skin.

Where to Buy:

There are plenty of options available in stores and websites. Here are a few:


Rubber Knives

Training knives made of rubber (or more likely one of its thermoplastic duplicates) are the cheapest option and will do if you have no other tools … but they also have the most disadvantages.


  • Usually the most affordable option


  • Don’t fold like most knives found on the street.
  • Far lighter than real knives, meaning a less realistic feel.
  • Bend easily, resulting in damage or complete breakage of the knife
  • Offer no physical or psychological threat and prevent realistic responses.
  • Usually don’t have compatible sheaths, so you can’t practice realistic draws.

Where to Buy:

I discourage students from buying rubber trainers. But if you’re low on funds and saving up money for class tuition instead, then consider these more rigid and realistic models from Cold Steel:


Wooden Fixed Blade

A staple of edged-weapons training for millennia, the wooden knife has proven to be a safe training tool. But how realistic is it?


  • You’ll feel the “cut” without getting maimed.
  • They resemble fixed-blade knives in shape and length.
  • With care, holds up better than synthetic-rubber knives


  • Don’t fold like most knives found on the street.
  • Lighter than real knives, meaning a less realistic feel.
  • Aren’t made with compatible sheaths, resulting in unrealistic drawing techniques.

Where to Buy:

I generally dissuade my students from buying wooden swords. However, if budget constraints leave this type as your only option, consider researching eBay, Amazon, Century Martial Arts, and other online sites. Also, I’d recommend going to a brick-and-mortar store to handle one in person.