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Matt Banks
02-15-2001, 07:40 AM
Hello everyone. I just wrote a very long introduction, for this thread, discussing pros and cons of the subject I will explain in a minute. But suddenly we had a power cut and it was lost in cyber space. I cant be bothered to write it all out again, so heres the backbone of my question.

In the style I practice, for your shodan grading along with the grading syllabus, other jiuwaza, one must perform a live tanto jiuwaza.And for one's 3rd dan grading you do as of 2nd dan plus a jiuwaza but with a live katana (not full sharpness). This topic has been raised before, and weve heard already who does and does not agree with it. And ive already explained why I think its a good thing.
I just want to know if there is the same in any other style out there, or dojo etc etc. Ive already heard the views people have expressed, about safety etc etc. This is not what I want to go into, I just would like to know do you know of any other dojo;s out there that do this for the norm. Certainly I have seen many dojo' s in england and japan that do the same as we do. n.b. the last time I posted a thread like this one guy started making a joke post saying how for shodan they do 20 man tanto attacks for the norm, and nothing was gained.

sorry for making so many demands, I wish to gain info from this thread and not get in a ''abuse match''.




Matt Banks

lt-rentaroo
02-15-2001, 09:11 AM
Matt,

In my dojo, we do something similar. When testing for 1st kyu, the student is required to demonstrate at least three different defenses against a tanto attack (Shomenuchi, Yokomenuchi, and Munetsuki attacks -three different techniques against each attack). Often, a static attack such as a grab while holding the tanto to the nage's back or side is also required. The test is usually performed using a wooden tanto, but occasionally a real blade will be used, at least one with a sharp point.
When testing for Shodan, the student is required to demonstrate three different defenses against each type of attack (Shomenuchi, Yokomenuchi, and Munetsuki) with a bokken (Bokken Dori). I've never seen a Shodan test where an actual katana was used. I can see the benefit though. It would certainly make the nage more aware of the weapons blade edge. Too often I've seen nage who forget that the bokken should be treated as an actual katana and that it does have an edge (although not a sharp one). Hope I've helped you out.

cbrf4zr2
02-15-2001, 09:40 AM
Matt,

In my opinion, I think it's what each person feels comfortable with. During our last testing session, persons testing for 1st Kyu had tantodori. In our dojo we use wooden weapons and, at least on this test, one of the people testing had a yoko strike slip through their block, and got a really big and nasty hematoma on their noggen, when the blade smacked into their forehead. I don't like to think what a live blade may have done. Maybe a live blade would have made them more aware and precise with their technique, and it wouldn't have happened? Or, would it have happened anyway, and they would have had a serious head wound? One can only speculate. Like I said this was for a Kyu, not a Dan ranking. I haven't seen a Shodan test in my style yet, as I'm still fairly new. For me personally, if and when I get to Shodan testing, I will probably request live blade if we don't already have that requirement. Then again I'm a glutton for punishment, and if I'm going to fail, I want to fail in a spectacular way.

andrew
02-15-2001, 11:14 AM
My old teacher is French. (He left Ireland again..) He went to France last year to grade for nidan. He was telling us a story about grading with live tanto for dan grades(FFAB, I think), because just before his turn some guy did a bad block against a yokomen and got stabbed in the forehead. The story was sonically illustrated by the loud rapping of knuckles off a wooden bench.

A person grading at this level shouldn't be phased by a live blade, but obviously there can be trouble if they are. However, incidents like the one above are going to be rare because you're probably not going to be allowed grade (or at least do so with a live blade) if you're going to freeze up, and whoever trains you is going to have a fair idea of whether you're capable.

Live katana brings up a whole other world..... There's a much bigger difference between one of these and a bokken, you'd have to be training regularly with one... (OK, I held a katana once and I didn't swing it, and I'm only 4th kyu anyhow...)
andrew

andrew
02-15-2001, 11:16 AM
I gather the accident victim in the above anecdote was quite ok, btw. He was able to watch the rest with a bandage on....
andrew

Simone
02-16-2001, 03:51 AM
Hi Matt!

In the style I train, we have tanto waza for shodan grading the first time and we use a live blade. As far as I know, there have been no accidents. But with the wooden tanto, I have witnessed twice people getting cut on the forehead. Both had no severe wounds but scratches. I think with a live blade you are more aware of the danger, especially in a testing situation. Last december I got the chance to view a sandan grading and there you have to do bokken techniques. We don't have a katana.

Hope that's what you are looking for.

Simone

Chuck Clark
02-20-2001, 12:17 AM
If you're doing tanto dori with a live blade and no one gets cut...it just means that either the person with the tanto isn't really trying to cut or they aren't knowledgeable with a knife.

Brian H
02-20-2001, 08:13 AM
You can dive down deep and mash a button and your nifty sub will leap up to the surface in a dramatic manner. Its good training for emergencies, it provides "focus". Unless a Japanese fishing boat full of students is wandering by. Why not take a dull metal or wooden tanto and coat the edge will a thick paint. Allow to dry until it is still tacky and will transfer, but will not drip onto the mat. This way your gi will pay a price for your lack of focus and the attacker will be more confident about pressing the attack than they would be with an edged weapon.

Aiki1
02-20-2001, 02:18 PM
Chuck Clark wrote:
If you're doing tanto dori with a live blade and no one gets cut...it just means that either the person with the tanto isn't really trying to cut or they aren't knowledgeable with a knife.



Yup. We just had this discussion on the Aikido mailing list. Anyone with experience with a knife of any depth knows this. When I hear things like - live-blade jiyu waza - I cringe. If anyone thinks they could survive this in real life, they're wrong, except on a fluke. It gives a completely false sense of one's supposed abilities.

chrisinbrasil
02-20-2001, 05:28 PM
The old saying is...

"In a knife fight, the winner only gets cut."

Erik
02-20-2001, 08:20 PM
I couldn't agree more with the last few posts.

Makes me wonder about the 78 respondents, so far, in this week's poll.

glennage
04-16-2007, 08:30 AM
in my style we have live tanto jiyu waza for shodan gradings and i believe the live katana aswell at some later stage, possibly sandan. i am just starting to come across the live tanto for my 1st kyu grading where we have to do a simple go waza from shomen tsuki. i totally agree with the last few posts and i'm under no illusion that i will be able to conquer a knife wielding maniac on the street, let alone an experienced kife fighter. however i do feel it makes you concentrate more and your technique can only benefit from it. :D

Ecosamurai
04-16-2007, 08:54 AM
We use a live blade for tantodori in our yudansha exams.

I would add that for us it is not that we're trying to recreate a realistice knife attack environment, as has been said before it wouldn't work very well and people would get cut if the attacker was coming in with any knowledge of how to use a knife.

For us it's more like the difference you get in iaido when you start using a shinken. It shifts your focus.

Mike

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-16-2007, 09:11 AM
If you're doing tanto dori with a live blade and no one gets cut...it just means that either the person with the tanto isn't really trying to cut or they aren't knowledgeable with a knife.

Reality FTW.

Yes, absolutely. Instead of using a live blade, why not just have uke attack as though it were really a sharp knife? Rather than using half-hearted sweeping motions and telegraphed thrusts.

I've often heard the story of someone going up for tantodori on a black belt test...and then seeing uke come out with a live (or at least dull metal) blade. You know what might be an even better surprise?

Uke walks up with a wooden tanto. They face each other and bow. They take up their stances. Uke moves forward -- and starts stabbing and slashing in an actual effort to strike nage.

Chuck Clark
04-16-2007, 10:08 AM
If you're doing tanto dori with a live blade and no one gets cut...it just means that either the person with the tanto isn't really trying to cut or they aren't knowledgeable with a knife.

From someone that has been practicing for a very long time (54 years) and has several scars from sharp instruments in real combative situations on my hands (along with a couple of other places) and have cut other folks... I will reaffirm:

"If you're doing tanto dori with a live blade and no one gets cut...it just means that either the person with the tanto isn't really trying to cut or they aren't knowledgeable with a knife."

If you ain't getting cut (symbolically) with your training tool a significant number of times during each training period you are not doing it properly. If it is kata geiko and you know which attack, etc. is coming, it is, of course, easier to succeed against realistic skillful attacks, but if you're doing free form tanto (or for god's sake... a katana or any sharp implement of similar length) randori or jiyu kumite and you're not getting cut a lot... you are deluding yourself to put it mildly.

I'll add... if you're not always looking for training partners that put you at risk and are really trying to cause you problems that you need to learn to solve within appropriate levels of force and speed for the abilities of the trainees then you're wasting your time.

Rant mode off.

Marie Noelle Fequiere
04-16-2007, 01:02 PM
I took my very first exam yesterday. At one point, we were required to execute a desarming technique against a shomen uchi, and we were allowed to choose to be attacked either with a katana:eek: or a bokken. The only three of us (me included) who chose the bokken failed this part of the test. I suppose that it means that we lacked self confidence to beggin with. Those who chose the katana all said that they trusted the blade to be a strong motivation not to mess up. And it worked.

Tim Griffiths
04-16-2007, 01:14 PM
In several dojo in the UK we used live tanto's for dan grades, generally a set of 5 stylised attacks. The purpose, as I understand it, was as an exercise in calmness and control - not a demonstration of skilled technique per se.
After that, we'd swap the real knives for wooden tanto for tanto randori, where the technical skill would come more into play.

Interestingly, when I moved to Israel where the aikido is generally more rough and ready, people were horrified by the idea of using live blades (although unstandable, once you see the damage people managed to inflict on each other with wooden weapons).

As for 'reality' against knives - I recently started some Kali. Of course, it has its own 'unreality', but as trying standard aikido knife techniques against people who train constantly just to cut you - no way.

Tim

Tony Wagstaffe
04-16-2007, 02:21 PM
Alright so long as its kata only!! and each have practised repeatedly until no mistakes are made..... then full speed.... can look very spectacular!!

Doing free randori........ well you would have to be stark raving bonkers!! :freaky: :crazy: :hypno:
Tony

SeiserL
04-16-2007, 07:58 PM
If you're doing tanto dori with a live blade and no one gets cut...it just means that either the person with the tanto isn't really trying to cut or they aren't knowledgeable with a knife.
Osu,
Gotta ditto this.
Even in FMA, we didn't do that much work with a live blade for grading.

SeiserL
04-16-2007, 08:00 PM
Anyone with experience with a knife of any depth knows this. When I hear things like - live-blade jiyu waza - I cringe. If anyone thinks they could survive this in real life, they're wrong, except on a fluke. It gives a completely false sense of one's supposed abilities.
Osu,
Long time no see. I still think about training with. It was great.
Total agreement here too.
I don't cringe though ... I totally walk the other way.
Cross train in FMA and you knoew what we mean.

crbateman
04-16-2007, 09:08 PM
IMHO, live blade exercise is just nuts. Only two kinds of people do this: those that have been cut, and those who are going to be cut. There is no upside to this. Enough adrenaline should be available without resorting to an additional element of risk. Not only this, but you'll have a hard enough time controlling yourself to the degree necessary for this type of activity. What about the person holding the knife? How much can you control him? Really want your life depending on him? Don't become a statistic...

Keith Larman
04-16-2007, 11:02 PM
I've seen it done. My only observation is that each time I've seen it done the attacks were worse than if they were using a wooden or rubber tanto. The attack slows, the attack is totally telegraphed, and the end result is even less realistic waza. So any perceived "benefit" of using a real blade is more than offset by the fact that the practice is basically worthless. The *intent* of the attacker is what matters. And without strong, committed intent it just doesn't matter if the knife is real or fake. I'd rather have an intense, totally committed "that's gonna leave a mark" attack with a wooden or rubber blade any day.

If you want to get the level up, do the markers and t-shirt thing. But using a real blade will only give you one of two results. One is that your attacker won't give it everything they have so the practice teaches you *less* than just training with a rubber blade. Or they attack you for real and eventually someone ends up lacerated.

Whenever I see it I just think of people getting false confidence in their abilities. And Darwin Award candidates. All apologies to those who do it, but I must say I think it is really a dumb thing to do.

And just dropping a blade can cause a serious injury. I know guys in my craft who've dropped tanto on their feet and had the blade pierce through the shoe, through their foot, and into the floor. I work with live blades day-in and day-out and I get bothered by seeing people handling bokken improperly. If you want to see me go ballistic, start fiddling around with a live blade.

State of mind is what matters. You are training so your body learns how to move when it is for real. Train and train some more. Have them speed up with the wooden or rubber knife and mix up the attacks. That should get your adrenalin going more than enough.

JAMJTX
04-16-2007, 11:17 PM
I took my Shito Ryu Shodan test doing some technique against a live blade - for the first time. We had done a lot of knife work over the years, but never a live blade until my test. I really think that if I had the same initial reaction in the street, I very likely would have been stabbed or cut very badly. As uke took the knife from Sensei and started heading towards me my heart began to pound as I relaized it was a real knife. I had some time to gain some composure by the time he got back to the floor and we were given some instructions. But I hate to think what would have happened if there was not so much time given before any attacks.

Plus, it was only Ippon Kumite, one attack, one defense. So it was not a continuous attack. There's a big difference,

I place a lot of emphasis on the use of live blades to try and get over some of the initimidation factor. But with the nature of Aikido and ukemi, I am always concrned that someone (probably me) is going to fall on the knife.

Students have to become accustomed to working with the blades. I just don't think I'm going to use them in any freestyle or continuous attacks.

Marc Kupper
04-17-2007, 03:37 AM
In the style I practice, for your shodan grading along with the grading syllabus, other jiuwaza, one must perform a live tanto jiuwaza.And for one's 3rd dan grading you do as of 2nd dan plus a jiuwaza but with a live katana (not full sharpness).

We practice and test with wood tanto and discuss that you pretty much will be getting cut if it were a live blade. The goal is to make sure those cuts are in usually places that are not debilitating such as on the outside of the forearms. I've only practice once with a live blade and didn't like it as the attacks are extra careful. We recently got some rubber practice knives but I have not practiced with them yet. There's also marker pen practice which is a fun way to get the intensity up without worry about accidental slashes/wounds from a live blade.

As for live katana - we'll do partnership kata with them but not jiuwaza.

xuzen
04-17-2007, 04:13 AM
REALISTIC LIVE BLADE (TM) testing maketh lifespan of Tori very short... Uke will run out of training partner very quickly.

Having say that, I am curious, how does the Kenjutsu students of old train in the old days before shinai and the armour was invented? Serious question.

Boon.

CitoMaramba
04-17-2007, 04:51 AM
REALISTIC LIVE BLADE (TM) testing maketh lifespan of Tori very short... Uke will run out of training partner very quickly.

Having say that, I am curious, how does the Kenjutsu students of old train in the old days before shinai and the armour was invented? Serious question.

Boon.

Very carefully :)

Seriously, from what I've read, they used bokuto (bokken). Some ryu also used an older version of the kendo shinai called fukuro shinai or hikihada (toad skin) shinai.
See the movie "The Last Samurai" for details :)

Alex Megann
04-17-2007, 08:29 AM
It has been said many times, but it's far easier to stab someone than it it is to protect yourself against an attacker with a knife.

I used to visit a local Tomiki dojo every week and found the shiai practice very interesting. The problem was that, coming from an Aikikai background, it took me a while to pick up the very specific rules about how to attack. I was paired off with a visiting dan grade from another Tomiki dojo, and immediately buried the rubber knife up to the hilt in his ample belly, to the great surprise of both of us! Since then it has become very clear that it can be ridiculously easy to reach someone's vitals with a knife, especially when the attack isn't restricted to the standard shomen/yokomen/tsuki directions.

I would definitely agree that using weapons with an edge is a great eye-opening occasional training aid. On the other hand, amidst the heightened stress - and eventually fatigue - levels of gradings its seems to me very risky to use live blades, particularly with unfamiliar ukes. I have seen so many airborne tanto and bokken as a result of over-enthusiastic blocks or careless handling.

I have fortunately never had to deal with a real-life knife attacker. I suspect that the results would not be nice and clean like they are in the dojo (whichever way the encounter went!).

Alex

Marie Noelle Fequiere
04-17-2007, 12:42 PM
IMHO, live blade exercise is just nuts. Only two kinds of people do this: those that have been cut, and those who are going to be cut. There is no upside to this. Enough adrenaline should be available without resorting to an additional element of risk. Not only this, but you'll have a hard enough time controlling yourself to the degree necessary for this type of activity. What about the person holding the knife? How much can you control him? Really want your life depending on him? Don't become a statistic...

This is exactly the reason why this is not a game. A responsible Sensei will choose very carefully the student who will be handling the weapon. It will always be a senior student, whom the instructor will trust for being able to stop the attack if uke is not executing his/her defense properly. The responsible Sensei also knows his students. He will manage to take time to brief Tori about his next "victim".
And finally, the blade will turn out not to be that sharp, anyway.

L. Camejo
04-17-2007, 01:36 PM
And finally, the blade will turn out not to be that sharp, anyway.Great comments so far. The above caught my eye though.

I think when we are talking about human flesh a blade being "not that sharp" does not add much of a safety factor, if any. Especially if it is being used properly. This gets exponentially worse if the blade we are talking about is a sword. I recently did some tameshigiri training under the guidance of a Japanese Kendo Yudansha. I was able to cut cleanly through a target with a dull iaito, a strike which the Yudansha indicated would cut cleanly through a human wrist. I was quite shocked to hear that proper power placed behind a dull weapon could have this effect.

Luckily the attacks used with "not that sharp" blades are not attacks aimed to kill, but a slip with a "not that sharp" blade has potential for severe damage.

Just my 2 cents.
LC:ai::ki:

Fred Little
04-17-2007, 01:59 PM
Having personally witnessed two different incidents involving wooden blades and eyes -- thankfully with no long-term consequences in either case -- in which the weapon was being wielded by a very senior and very capable practitioner, I would go so far as to say that any notion that a senior student's skill is sufficient insurance against a junior student's lacks is a very good precondition for a very bad injury.

Best,

FL

Keith Larman
04-17-2007, 06:52 PM
Great comments so far. The above caught my eye though.

I think when we are talking about human flesh a blade being "not that sharp" does not add much of a safety factor, if any. Especially if it is being used properly. This gets exponentially worse if the blade we are talking about is a sword. I recently did some tameshigiri training under the guidance of a Japanese Kendo Yudansha. I was able to cut cleanly through a target with a dull iaito, a strike which the Yudansha indicated would cut cleanly through a human wrist. I was quite shocked to hear that proper power placed behind a dull weapon could have this effect.

Luckily the attacks used with "not that sharp" blades are not attacks aimed to kill, but a slip with a "not that sharp" blade has potential for severe damage.

Just my 2 cents.
LC:ai::ki:

Just to chime in on this aspect... Draw-cut swords do not need to be razor sharp to cut and do serious damage. My customers all want to have "scary" sharp blades and that's cool if the target being cut is soft, wet tatami. But the best cutting blades are vastly more than just the edge and edge angle. One I did recently for a senior instructor in a sword style. Yes, it was sharp. But the overall geometry was very traditional and he was quite surprised at how well it cut on a variety of targets, even feeling better than thinner blade he owned that were "supposed" to be the sharpest stuff out there. The reasons are complex, but the overall cross section of the blade plays an enormous roll in all of this. And people have been seriously injured with "unsharp" iaito including deep cuts. A well performed cutting motion with even a dull blade can have devastating consequences.

I walked out of a demo one day because the sensei kept grabbing the tanto (apparently a live but dull blade) with his bare hand on the blade and over the edge. I would love to see him do that with any real tanto with a decent edge. Just a quick tug on the blade and he would be looking at a handful of stitches. I just couldn't watch.

Ecosamurai
04-18-2007, 05:45 AM
We use live tanto for yudansha exams, but I've already covered the reasons why previously, suffice to say we are not trying to recreate a realistic environment but have other reasons.

Anyway, funny thing happened last night at training. Using a wooden knife I was teaching our beginners tantodori to some white belts. One of whom had done ninjitsu before and was treating it a bit like a shuriken (i.e. thought that throwing it at the other person was what we were trying to do). I explained that we wanted to make sure we didn't disarm ourselves and that if I had the knife concealed he wouldn't know what was coming anyway. I demonstrated this by stepping in and starting a shomenuchi by cutting up towards his neck (the intention being to make him move his head backwards and so expose his throat). He responded by reflex I suppose and stepped in and punched me in the stomach, so I stopped the attack before it made contact with his head (it was obvious that he wasn't paying attention to what I was doing and I didn't want to hurt him). I stopped the tanto and then he actually jerked his head forwards into the blade.

I stopped the attack before it made contact and he headbutted the knife..... :eek:

Mike

philippe willaume
04-18-2007, 07:42 AM
To be fair paired technique with live blade is relatively safe. Yes accident can always happens, but parried practice
Even if the attacker had the choice of the technique, we know the side it is coming from, that there will be no feint, most of the time attacks are started out of distance and the attacker is striking out of his space. (But most of our attacks are, even with open hands).

Making sure that last to bit do not happen naturally and the will make thinks a bit more leery but still feasible.
I think that having our opponent staking outside of the is space is what we want to create but we should create it and when we get it for free we should know why we get it for free.

I have been doing medieval fencing for as long as I have been doing aikido, and so far I am not aware of a safe way to spare with a live blade (other that being armoured with defeat the purpose) regardless of the context.

You do not need a Shiken a shinai (and a fencing/kendo helmet will do the trick perfectly). And instead of being split in half, the worst most likely injury you risk is a broken collar bone, so your opponents can almost welly you to his heart content.
But that is sparing not form work. Sparing is there to so how you what you did not understand in form-work.

My understanding of form work and paired practice is really there to make understand how it works. So of course we are going to place ourselves in situation where it is going to work.
If we go back to the bokken, a fight is very rarely start in a bind like we do (ie with the weapons crossed), even with thrust/no cut to speak of weapon like small-sword or late spanish rapier. It is just a convenient way to start and make the output of our opponent consistent enough.
I feel like it is the same with any weapon we use in aikido.

phil

Dennis Hooker
04-20-2007, 02:17 PM
If you want to check your skill level or that of a person testing let the attacker use a water soluble marker preferably in red. Go at it for real and then count the cuts on nage when your done.

ficklampa
05-09-2007, 12:43 PM
i have hear that stories that they use bokkens.
and people actually died, thus they started training with shinai.

Ron Tisdale
05-09-2007, 02:01 PM
I stopped the attack before it made contact and he headbutted the knife.....

Damn Ninjas....Makes you wonder how they survived all these years! ;)

B,
R

Ron Tisdale
05-09-2007, 02:05 PM
Having personally witnessed two different incidents involving wooden blades and eyes -- thankfully with no long-term consequences in either case -- in which the weapon was being wielded by a very senior and very capable practitioner, I would go so far as to say that any notion that a senior student's skill is sufficient insurance against a junior student's lacks is a very good precondition for a very bad injury.

Best,

FL
Reminds me of a lot of blood at one of the aiki expos from a "miss" with a bokken...even a bokken can draw quite a bit of blood. No eyes involved in that one though...scalps just bleed like crazy! :eek:

B,
R

Lan Powers
05-09-2007, 11:07 PM
If you want to check your skill level or that of a person testing let the attacker use a water soluble marker preferably in red. Go at it for real and then count the cuts on nage when your done.

Used to play with friends that way all the time....both having markers and working on all the good stuff (timing, distance, etc.)
Very revealing (and a hell of a lot of fun too, if you like that sort of thing.);)
Lan