A Call for Feedback

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.

Help Us

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:

  • 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.

Apply Now


Categories: Technique, The Lab

There are 18 comments

  1. Leon

    Hi there…
    My name is Leon. I Started with judo and ju jutsu (a long time ago).

    I have been practicing Aikido for 20 years +. I have mainly studied AIkikai aikido and more in depth Saito’s sensei’s method and curriculum. I added seminars with Chiba sensei, R.Mustard Sensei, Threadgyll sensei and many others. I had a good view on Hikitsuchi sensei’s legacy.

    Recently I have been studying weapons extensively among which: knife fitting. I’m attending a seminar in Paris in two weeks with Michael Janich (RMB/ Kali). And I plan to extend that studies with other experts (ACDS Belgium, Fred Perrin, etc).

    Your research is interesting in the sense that, theoretically, Aikido has everything to deal with knife fighting. For instance the defence against the “sewing machine” (which is 75% of lethal attacks in the US) is basically kata dori practice… even if there are multiple technical and psychological issues attached to it. So I’m interested to see where you arrive at with your research.

    Kind regards

  2. Ralph A. Kemmerlin, Sr.

    knife attacks can never be taught divorced from the space in which it operates. The dynamics of physical conflict is such that the student must be taught the proper use of the totality of the space they occupy at any given moment in time. Knife techniques are meaningless when taught in isolation and fell to take into account a number of factors that may assist the student. Direction, distance, density, and duration (the so-called 4 dimensions of physical conflict) are all essential teaching points in learning to masters space at any given moment in time.I wish you the very best in your ongoing research in managing reality-based short-blade encounters.

  3. Jason Rhodes

    I think the first place to start is to research how knife attacks today happen. YouTube is great place to start. Next, I would then slowly walk through some of those attacks to see where you could or could not utilize an aikido technique. Next, gradually increase the intensity and movement of the attacks and responses also include mass attacks situations. I studied Aikido for 10 years and when I started looking at knife I realized that incorporating ideas outside aikido is a must. This going to change the way you practice aikido. Kudos for having the courage to see a gap in training and attempting to honestly address.

    1. Josh Gold


      Thanks so much for the encouragement and sharing your thoughts on a technical development strategy. I think this is a good approach and we will try this method. We also have found that just beginning to build out a tanto-dori system and dealing with multiple, fast attacks has changed the way we think about and practice aikido.

  4. Jo Roman

    A wonderful idea; aikido is not alone in lacking a knife defense with real life application potential. Having started in TKD in my teens, followed by studies in Kung Fu, Isshin ryu karate, aikido and Defensive Tactics training I had my eyes opened after 20 years by FMA Guro Bobby Taboada and his students during a seminar. I have also recently practiced aikido (just passed my 6 th kyu test), and while I love the art IMO it needs revamping of its weapon defense techniques and strategies.
    I suggest studying the info on this link, as it can help as a primer to your plan :

    1. Josh Gold


      Thanks for the feedback and encouragement. I’ve seen that article. It’s a great resource for sure. We agree that a lot can be done in the aikido space to enhance and expand weapon defense techniques and strategies. All the principles of aikido are valid, but we believe a lot can be done to better align them to deal with contemporary weapons.

  5. Lynn Seiser

    Compliments and respect.
    You can find no one better than Inosanto and his people.
    I trained with the late/great Ted Lucuaylucuay in the OC (Santa Ana and Huntington Beach) in the late 70s and early 80s in kali/escrima/fma.
    I have over 22 year in Aikido and have a Yondan from Phong Sensei in Tenshinkai (Westminster Aikikai) and Sato Sensei (Aikido World Alliance).
    I have attended several seminar with you in Irvine and at the AikiExpo.
    I will follow the link and fill out the information for your consideration.
    Perhaps the best way to practice/train defense/reaction is to train in offense/attack/ambush … keep the 5 angles of attack inside the centerline box and see what happens … LOL
    Again, compliments and respect …
    Until again,
    Lynn Seiser PhD MFT
    Florida Gulf Coast

  6. Ryan

    THis is an excellent project. If I felt more qualified as a HEMA practitioner (my chosen style) I would try and contribute more from the HEMA tradition whether Fiore de Liberi’s dagger defense and use or the German sources such as Codex Wallerstein or Goliath. That said, I encourage you to reach out to the HEMA community as whole as a wide variety of groups and practitioners exist who may be interested in this project.

    Examples from Codex Wallerstein, keeping in mind some of these work based on the dagger being a thrusting dagger as opposed to one with an edge but many are applicable for any manner of knife:


  7. Aaron Chappell

    I was tagged in this article by a friend on Facebook and really encouraged to see you guys continuing to pursue development on this facet of your art!

    My background is Pencak Silat Pertempuran(www.silat.us), Multi-Dimensional Warriors (an eclectic combatives and weapons system based out of South Africa, http://multidimensionalwarrior.co.za/), and helping run an eclectic training group where various practitioners of martial arts can meet and discuss problems and scenarios for the last 5 or 6 years (we mostly have SE Asian MA guys come through but we’ve had everyone from LEO to former cage fighters filter in over the years). If you continue with this project or open up v2.0 for review I’d love to help in any way I can.

    One question I had: Are you mostly focused on SE Asian movement methodologies or are you also addressing the culturally driven usage of the knife by different criminal classes around the world? (i.e. American’s “Folsom Machine”, “Fake and Pick” type methodologies from Africa, and Central American “Libre-esque” criminal methods)

    1. Josh Gold

      Hi Aaron! Nice to meet you and thanks for your encouragement.

      Right now, our primary “in person” source is FMA based. However, our tanto-dori research group is comprised of practitioners of Eastern and Western knife styles as well as pure reality based self-defense systems.

      We’ve mostly been experimenting and gathering knowledge at this stage and have not fully committed to any specific methodologies but we welcome input from any qualified source.

      We will soon talk more about our strategic focus and how we can and should narrow it as much as possible for the time being. However, we are always interested in understanding common knife attack patterns and approaches used by actual criminals. Please send me us an email at dojo@ikazuchi.com and I can add you to the group. We’d love to add your perspective to the group.

      1. Aaron Chappell

        Email Inbound, I look forward to it.

        If you have an in to the Inosanto camp you might also lookup Marc Denny as I know he has worked a bit dealing with “The Folsom Machine”/Prison Rush/Sewing Machine type attacks.

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