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Knife Disarm Choreography: A Step by Step Walkthrough - #PepsTutorials
Knife Disarm #PepsTutorials

Knife Disarm Choreography: A Step by Step Walkthrough

Knife Disarm Choreography: A Step by Step Walkthrough (Additional Notes)

Knife Disarm

In this Knife Disarm Choreography series, we cover a step by step walkthrough of 3 basic variations of disarm techniques for fight choreography purposes.

The choreographies, are designed from techniques that come from genuine martial arts and combat/defense systems. Such as; Krav Maga, Aikido, Taekwondo Defense System and Filipino Martial Arts.

However, I am not showing these in the capacity of real-life applications. These are expressly educational material for screen or stage performative combat and fight scenes only. 


I opted not to label, and work via an attack number system for this particular one. As there are so many conflicting systems out there, I figured it will end up being more confusing than not.

When I refer to ‘Same-Hand Grip’, I refer to your right hand seizing your opponent’s right hand, therefore ‘Same-Hand’.

While ‘Cross-Hand’ refers to your left hand gripping your opponent’s right hand.

Assuming your partner is right-handed that is. If not, flip it accordingly.


Knife Disarm A: 2-Hand Grip

Techniques most commonly seen in;

Krav Maga

  • Forearm blocks/360 Defense
  • Russian Tie arm lock
  • Arm Drag
  • Elbow lock

Safety Notes – Blocking

When performing forearm block for screen and stage, what we prefer to do is to face our palms outwards. This allows the fleshy underside of our forearms to be the contact points, instead of the hard blade of the bone to clash.

The actual technique is to do the bone clash. However when it comes to screen fighting, we choose to do it differently for 2 reasons.

  • When you are performing against actors who hadn’t previously trained in that kind of hard style martial arts, it’s really very uncalled for to bash them like that.
  • Sustainability. If you bruise it the first couple takes like that, the following takes will be pretty terrible for everyone. Even if both performers are very conditioned, 20 takes into the shoot it’s still very unpleasant.
Safety Notes – Joint locks

Performing a joint lock on screen is a very delicate process. At no point should you be genuinely cranking your partner’s joint. It is 30% firmly securing your partner’s joint in a comfortable position, and 70% acting + performance by the ‘Uke’. (a Judo/Aikido/Jiu Jitsu term referring to the partner being locked locked or thrown)

Performance Notes – Attacker

When launching stabs at your partner, you want to be a convincing attacker. And what that means is that your blade must always be pointing towards your partner. All your performance and energy must be directed at looking like you are genuinely reaching your blade towards your partner. But at the same time respecting the safety distance.

Your blade should stop a feet away from your opponent, even if your partner’s block doesn’t get there in time. Therefore taking into account the safety gap, the direction of attack have to complement the camera angle. If you stack it right, the blade will look like it’s just about to pierce your partner regardless of the safety distance.


Knife Disarm B: Same-Hand Grip

Techniques most commonly seen in;

Filipino Martial Arts

  • Palm Gripping technique
  • Sagang Labo arm redirection

Taekwondo Defense System

  • Palm peel
  • Elbow peel
  • Waist crank

Krav Maga

  • Counter stab-back

Safety Notes – Counter stab back

When performing the stab-back, first distinguish where the camera will be placed. And then you’ll know which side to pierce for the stab to register. When direction is determined, then adjust to accommodate the safety distance in relation to the camera.

Safety Notes – Stab back block resistance

For moments when the both of you are resisting against the knife, there is a trick to have the performance of mutual resistance without the risk of one of you being stabbed if one side falters.

It’s called the reverse resistance. Instead of pushing at each other, both of you will pull the knife back towards yourself instead. You’ll get the same kind of muscle tension and shake, but without the prospect of puncturing an eyeball. Take note to angle the pull direction away from your body, so that you don’t end up punching yourself if the other person lets go.


Knife Disarm C: Cross-Hand Grip

Techniques most commonly seen in;


  • Kotegaeshi wrist lock

Filipino Martial Arts

  • Palasut arm redirection

Taekwondo Defense System

  • Counter neck slice
  • Knife peel variations

Safety Notes – Kotegaeshi wrist lock

Again, for all joint locks please don’t actually hurt your partner. Your partner dictates how far they twist their own wrists, your grip only follows them and nothing more.

30% your firm grip on their hand with your fingers, but without any added tension from your wrist down. And 70% all up to the Uke’s performance.

Performance Notes – Counter neck slice

The method of selling the cutting angle is almost exactly like the side-to-side stunt reaction. Instead of a hook punch, your blade travels that horizontal trajectory, either in front of or behind the target relative to the camera angle.

The reaction is similar too, except the energy scale is lesser as it’s a cutting motion and not an impact. And the movement is motivated from the neck and not the jaw. It’s very nuanced, experiment with it a little, and if you’ve got questions, drop me a message!

Glossary & Credits

Taekwondo Defense System (T.K.D.D) refers to the system used by the Korean Special Forces, taught by the group with the same name.

All technique credits goes to them entirely, I’m only borrowing it for educational and artistic purposes.

Some of the techniques featured here may also be present in many other systems. Please do give me a shout-out, if the martial art you practice also have some of these techniques! It’s always amazing to learn more of how much overlap and similarities in combat systems we have across cultures all over the world!


Much can be discussed about genuine knife attack situations and how many of these techniques wouldn’t be effective in a real ‘street attack’ scenario. As supported by all the comments left by special forces wannabes online.

This series offers a range of different options for various attack angle and disarm techniques, and options are all they are. Options which would be drastically reduced if you were to look for them through the narrow lens with which those people judge what techniques are useful.

Most knife attack situations leaves a person incapacitated within the first 3 seconds, and it’s a harsh reality that there’s very little you can do against a really aggressive and violent attack with an edged-weapon. And hence if you were to do a completely realistic action scene like that, it would last 3 seconds and completely suck for the audience as a cinematic experience.



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Peps Goh is a Singapore based Fight Designer, providing Action Choreography & Coordination services for both screen and stage.
He also holds screen-combat & stunt seminars annually for actors & performers. Private coaching sessions up to a group of 4 are available. For business inquiries, you can reach him at

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