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Old 05-22-2005, 12:17 PM   #63
Stefan Stenudd
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Dojo: Enighet Malmo Sweden
Location: Malmo
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 538
Tantodori, defense against knife

This thread has clearly moved into the subject of tantodori, defense against knife attacks. Any chance of having the thread renamed or moved to a proper headline?

Sometimes, when I ask the students in the beginning of a class what they would like to practice, in nine out of ten cases they say tantodori. Clearly, it is not practiced enough in most dojos.

Now, attack by knife is something that people can experience in their lifetime - and it can easily become lethal - so I try to treat the subject seriously also in the dojo. I don't want my students to learn something in the dojo that increases instead of decreases their risk in an outside-dojo situation. I hope I succeed, but I would not dream of stating that I am sure of it.

I believe that there are basic, almost mathematical, aspects to any self defense situation: It depends on your training, and that of your attacker. You can apply figures of probability. A weapon immediately increases the odds for the one carrying it, but it never eliminates other aspects of the situation.
I guess that no one would argue that simple fact, although people calculate the probability differently.

Miyamoto Musashi made a very interesting statement about shotguns in his Go Rin no Sho: The disadvantage of the gun, and it's a great one, is that you usually don't see where the bullet hits, if it misses the target - so you have trouble adjusting, in the heat of combat.
Any weapon carries with it a strength to the one using it, but also some weakness - mostly a dependence on the weapon, and an inability to use other means than that.
Those who are very experienced with such encounters, know how to exploit that weakness.

A friend of mine said something quite profound about defense against knife: If you are scared of getting cut at all, then you will probably be fatally cut. Many people tend to pull back their arms, when facing a knife, not to get them cut. So, their bodies are exposed. A costly reflex.

For the aikido student, I strongly believe that aikido - well trained - includes decent (there is no such thing as perfect) defense against knife. You have to have practiced it substantially, though, to trust it in an outside-dojo situation - and still, the probability calculation rules, so that a skilled knife-attacker is quite difficult to defeat even for the very advanced aikido student.

When teaching tantodori, I strongly suggest every teacher to get more "realistic" than might be the case otherwise, not to accidentally foster weaknesses in the student. It is also essential to seriously consider the difficulty of it.

Maybe the conclusion about tantodori is simply: It can be done, but it's not easy.

I have some material on tantodori on my website, but it's mostly about disarming uke, after the technique is done. I am sure that some of you find my instructions ridiculous. If you're interested, here it is:

Stefan Stenudd
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