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Tanto (safety against slipping)
Just Passing Through
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I recently attended a knife fighting class and was given a briefing on what should I look for when buying a knife for combat. One feature caught my attention:

The knife should have a guard (as in a ridge where it can prevent your fingers from sliding to the blade in case you stab something tough/hard). So I thought about the tanto. Yes some have a tsuba, but some don't. What more, there are some with a SMOOTH handle. (should I be saying tsuka instead of handle?).

Well anyway, I need your thoughts on this. Do handles with some grip, like on a katana have enough friction to stop the person from cutting his/her own fingers when stabbing. If so, then what about the ones with smooth handles?

Posted on: 2009/3/15 3:03
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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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Quote:

Peter Davidson wrote:
I recently attended a knife fighting class and was given a briefing on what should I look for when buying a knife for combat. One feature caught my attention:

The knife should have a guard (as in a ridge where it can prevent your fingers from sliding to the blade in case you stab something tough/hard). So I thought about the tanto. Yes some have a tsuba, but some don't. What more, there are some with a SMOOTH handle. (should I be saying tsuka instead of handle?).

Well anyway, I need your thoughts on this. Do handles with some grip, like on a katana have enough friction to stop the person from cutting his/her own fingers when stabbing. If so, then what about the ones with smooth handles?


Well, I would first decide WHY you want to carry a knife. If it is strictly for combat, then you need to consider the legal ramifications - especially in regards to concealed weapons laws. Most people I know who carry folding knives use ones that have the clip. Where I live, having a knife clipped inside the pocket (clip is exposed but the knife is in the pocket) is not considered concealed and affords relative ease in retrieval and single hand blade presentation.

However, almost no folding knives have tsuba (hilt), so there is a risk of the hand sliding forward onto the blade. These knives really are not made for puncturing, but for cutting/slicing.

Tanto are great for thrusting. The straight spine allows for absorbing of the impact of a thrust into a hard target. However, the minimal (or non-existant) curve makes slicing strikes more like hacking, unless you pull the blade even more across the target.

There are many knives out there which are a fine balance of thrust and slice functionality. Don't limit yourself to Japanese tanto. Look at military knives and other such items which are made to be multi-purpose. There are many great manufacturers and I recommend doing a thorough research from a variety of sources.

But, again, you have to consider the legal issues and specific reasons to carry such weapons. Most likely, you will probably need your knife for many other uses other than carving into a human being (I just had to use mine at a benefit crab feed!).

As far as slipping, this is something many people don't realize. Having a blade exposed in a fight is sure to bring blood (cut fingers from grappling, etc). Blood is like a thick lubricant (slimy when wet, sticky when drying). This makes holding a blade (or anything/anybody else) very difficult, even with a tsuba/hilt. It's also very messy, very traumatic and can carry a vast amount of health risks (TB, HIV, etc).

There is a reality to such things that I fear many do not either realize or take seriously enough (that's my opinion, of course).

Posted on: 2009/3/15 5:10
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Darren Dumas

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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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It boils down to how you hold the knife. But, I would bother carrying one unless you need to cut rope on a daily basis or need it for your job.

Carry a pen and paper or better yet a camera phone.
That way you can stetch the attacker or photograph the attacker for the police when you use common sense and either walk away or use advoidance. Read the atmosphere and keep yourself out of situations in which you would have to use a knife.

Posted on: 2009/3/15 15:22
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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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I'm not sure if they actually know or not but I will try to help you. To actually answer your question, the butt of the non-tsuba or slippery ones should be in the center of the palm. Like the way kendoka use their left hand to hold a shinai. The palm reinforces it from slipping. Some knifes are designed better for slashing while others for thrusting. There are special grips to solve the slippage problem.

Posted on: 2009/3/15 19:38
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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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Without straying too far from the original question...

Darren has provided some very good points, as have the other posters. The use of the tool should be considered as well as legal implications & the fact that one is more likely to draw a blade if they are carrying one. This will likely provide the carrier with a false confidence as well as esculate a confrontation as soon as you draw the knife. I know that I'd treat a situation much more seriously if a knife were drawn on me.

You would also want to consider why you're carrying a weapon, if the tool has other uses in your life (ie handy pocket knife, keychain flashlight, belt, pen, cell phone, etc) or are you carrying the item strickly for self defence (ie there are many things that you commonly carry that could be utilized for self defense unless you are in a dangerous area you may feel a little foolish lugging around weapons. I would suggest not carrying something for self defense unless it has another primary purpose, try explaining to the cop why you have the item on you (I had 2 friends who, in the middle of a canadian winter, had listed as evidence: hats & gloves. Confiscated: 1 pocket knife, 1 small flashlight. Due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.)

---

I'll do you the favour and avoid the 'ask your instructor' comment... You asked a very good question ... what it comes down to is that this is a combat art and you need to ask such questions to grasp the reality of a combat art and the effects of your actions.

In my humble opinion: you cannot learn taijutsu from a video. You need an instructor who either travels to Japan or who trains under someone who does that way any questions that are raised can be esculated until they are answered. ie if I were asked a relevant question and did not know the answer I would ask my instructor, if he were unable he would ask it on his next trip to Japan.

---

To answer your question:

Short Answer: The butt of the knife is supported by either the palm, the thumb and/or forefinger, or the pinky and/or ring finger depending on how one is holding the knife and the knife in question.

Long Answer: The above grips all work for the tanto, etc. But further to Darrens comment would be how one is cutting/stabbing and the target in question, you'll notice that the cuts in our art tend to follow anatomy. If you look at the protection offered by some of the worlds armours (specifically Japanese yoroi as it covers vitals without compromising range motion) you can identify many of the targeted areas. The quatlity of the blade ie a ninja-to would not be used in the same way as a high quality katana.

Posted on: 2009/3/16 8:46
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Jon
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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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Even "non-slip" handles tend to slip.

Train with olive oil on your training blade handle, this will add much realism to your training. The oil represents sweat and blood.

Also remember, 9 out 10 knife attacks, the knife is never seen by the victim.

So, the question is, when do you draw your blade?? when another weapon is visible or under the assumption (police and military training) that there is a weapon??

Another point, when a person carries a weapon they tend to rely on it more than common sense. A good example is in the EP (executive protection) arena, an agent tends to reach for his weapon before he covers the principle.

To answer the original question, you should look at the Triumph made by CRKT, its a great CQC blade.

Posted on: 2009/3/16 9:12
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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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"
Even "non-slip" handles tend to slip."

This reminded me of the article in Sanmyaku by General Kemper, on trusting your equipment. Well said.

EDIT added link

Posted on: 2009/3/16 16:56
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Ari Julku
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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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Quote:

Peter Davidson wrote:

Well anyway, I need your thoughts on this. Do handles with some grip, like on a katana have enough friction to stop the person from cutting his/her own fingers when stabbing. If so, then what about the ones with smooth handles?


Katana have tsuba to prevent hands slipping past the habaki and onto the blade.

Posted on: 2009/3/16 18:21
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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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If you do not have a stopper (like Tsuba) you always have the risk of cutting your self. What can prevent it? Experience! A new butcher cuts him self a lot but an experienced butcher hardly cuts himself eventhough he uses a regular knife without a Tsuba

Posted on: 2009/3/16 18:40
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Re: Tanto (safety against slipping)
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I've never heard that the tsuba on a katana was there to prevent slipping onto the blade. That's interesting makes me wonder why a lot of sword schools when the thrust put their hands on the hilt.

Posted on: 2009/3/16 23:16
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