Let's face it martial artists, fighting is really hard. Our art essentially is a series of games with rules to let us work on the principles we see as valuable in conflict. But when it comes down to it, I do not go to the dojo to fight. I go to the dojo, in case I ever find myself in a bad situation I will have some tools to protect self and others. All martial arts run under a system of rules and assumptions. Because as Tomiki Sensei once wrote, "martial arts without rules is just violence."
As some of my readers, teachers and students might know I am currently engaged in training around the concept of finding aiki in tanto jujutsu. It is a shift in thinking from the typical aikido and judo throw-is-goal mentality. I have watched the array of art forms practice with knives. There is some great stuff out there, and predictably there is a lot of work that is incomplete.
I would like to start looking at the problems surrounding knife work. The first problem is that knife fighting is difficult.
I would like to take a look at two art forms today.
The first is a Russian group calling themselves tanto jutsu. They look karate based, or at least atemi based system of fighting. They have knife competitions to add to their striking. It looks to be a dizzying brutal affair. These guys don't mess about. The initial engagement looks like power cuts from a fencing style model. There is some interception with strikes and some grappling.
After watching this, we see how unclean the lines are in engagements. Things get pretty wild real fast. The one thing about this video to consider is that they are all matched opponents for a contest. They know the rules and have certain expectations from their opponents abilities. Also, while I am sure they are not looking forward to getting hit, there likely is not the fear associated with real blades. An interesting case study anyhow.
The second clip illustrating the difficulty of knife work comes from my own beloved art of Tomiki Aikido. Some branches of Tomiki Aikido are known for having a sporting competition as part of their training. It typically looks like a man getting battered by another man holding a pickle. The assault continues for 3-5 minutes with the knifeless man getting cut 100 or so times. However there are very specific rules about how the knife attacker can score points, so most of these cuts are ignored. After getting murderd for a while, the man getting stabbed might get a riough and tumble variation on a judo throw, and everyone tumbles to the floor.
I am not a big fan of this kind of training, but by no means does it look easy. Again we have two trained competitors squaring off, knowing the specific rules and capabilities of the other person.
Needless to say, developing the training and skills to successfully deal with such a difficult situation will be a challenge. The moral of the story, knife fighting looks hard, never get into one. It looks like a a good training challenge though.