We’re looking for martial arts instructors with knife expertise (from any art) and aikido practitioners to give feedback on a series of new tanto-dori (knife defense) techniques and training methods we’ve been developing.
You can learn more about the project below. We look forward to receiving feedback and guidance from the community on our early stage efforts in this area.
The Story Behind the Research
Tanto-dori has been a part of aikido throughout the history of the art. However, the knife is mostly used as a symbolic training tool to teach timing, distance, and entering principles.
After gaining exposure to a fully developed and battle tested knife system through our exchange program with the Inosanto Academy, Matsuoka Sensei and Ikazuchi Dojo has decided to explore this facet of aikido more deeply. After a period of immersion, we began to explore ways to use our aikido-based movement principles and training methods to expand and improve our knife defenses.
What we’ve done
We are still at the beginning stages of our research and testing, but here’s what we’ve done so far:
- Experienced Confusion: Our initial training experience with Dan Inosanto Sensei, Jeff Imada, and other instructors at the Inosanto Academy was quite overwhelming. The vast array to techniques and their radically different training methods caused us a bit of confusion. It took us some time before we felt confident even beginning to apply our new found knowledge to our aikido and we still feel almost like kindergarteners in this area. Even so, we believe our limited (but growing) knowledge has already allowed us to significantly improve the depth and effectiveness of standard aikido-based tanto-dori practice.
- Define strategic approach: Once we felt we had a baseline level of knowledge, we decided to put some structure behind our efforts. We defined objectives and set strategic priorities for the development of a new set of aikido-based tanto-dori training methods and techniques.
- Vulnerability Analysis: We invested the time to do a fairly comprehensive review of traditional aikido tanto-dori techniques with a goal of identifying their strengths and weaknesses. We found that a number of traditional aikido-based responses are effective and powerful, but many have little practical value and can expose the defender to dangerous vulnerabilities.
- Technique selection and adaptation: Based on our vulnerability analysis, we selected a small set of techniques to work with that required little to no modification to serve as a starting point.
- Establish training methods and systems: We decided to embrace traditional aikido training methods, but to also include more free-form flow training. Once a baseline level of competency is developed with students, we began to explore practice formats that allow the attacker to employ a series of follow-up attacks and to actively counter defensive responses. The kind of attributes these training methods develop are invaluable. This experience has given us crucial insights into ways we can bring a new dimension (and perhaps greater effectiveness) to our empty-handed aikido practice.
- Testing: We’ve begun testing these new techniques and training methods with a subset of our students in workshops and weapons classes. With only a couple months of testing, we’ve already gained valuable perspective on the learning process and have insights into how to improve our instructional methods.
We are in the early stages of developing an expanded aikido based tanto-dori system. We want feedback on our version 1.0. The earlier we get informed feedback, the faster we can iterate and improve our technical approach and training methods.
We’re looking for martial artists to help with the following:
- Receive and watch a free screener copy of our Tanto-Dori Concepts video series. The series contains videos of Matsuoka Sensei’s R&D sessions and a series of short instructional videos led by Josh Gold.
- Give feedback on techniques, training methods, and instructional quality via an online survey.
If you fit in one of the following categories and would like to participate, submit a request for a free screener copy here.
- Martial Arts Instructors: If you are an experienced instructor of aikido, kali, krav maga, or another art that has a significant focus on knife combat, we’d love to get your feedback.
- Aikido students: We want to get feedback, especially on clarity of instruction from aikido students of all levels. If you’ve been practicing for one month or 10 years or more, we’d love to have your input.
We will accept 50 participants for this project. Apply now and we’ll follow up with you in the very near future.
We are excited to tap the collective experience of our community and use it to drive improvement and innovation.