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Why tanto in randori but not in practice?


We have been told often by our aikido instructors that Tomiki's aikido was particularly aimed at randori - that is, developing a way for aikidoka to pressure test their skills with a viable randori system.  And I do think that is characteristic of Tomiki's aikido... to a point.
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But go with me down this line of thought...
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Tomiki was out to come up with a way for aikido guys to do real randori - not taking turns being uke for each other, but both guys trying to apply aikido skills at the same time against a skilled player.  To make the game interesting and productive, Tomiki had to get the players to give each other real attacks because aikido guys when they don't want to be thrown by other aikido guys stop exerting and withdraw their energy. So he made uke's attacks count for points.
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But why did he put the foam knife into the mix?
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Why not leagalize punches, like in a karate contest? Aikido folks deal with punches.
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Why not a shinai, like in kendo? Aikido folks deal with swords.
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Why not a padded stave, like in the old-style European quarterstave matches still popular around Tomiki's time?  Aikido folks deal with jo staves.
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Heck, those pre-war aikido guys even played with bayonets like in jukendo - why not have randori matches against a guy armed with a juken?
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What is it about the tanto that of all the weapons that the old aikido guys played with - what made tanto particularly suitable for randori?
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And if tanto was so particularly suitable an instrument for the randori that would be central in Tomiki's aikido, why is the tanto not more prominent in the rest of our practice?
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What I mean is this - we learn all of our aikido empty handed against empty-handed ukes who are making empty-handed attacks.  Then at some point the tanto is thrown in almost as an afterthought - a little bit of knife evasion practice, some junana with a knife, and a pretty minimal nod to tanto skills in a couple of the Koryu no kata.
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If randori (with a knife) is supposed to be so central to our aikido, why don't we do all of our training from day-1 with knives? Ukemi with a knife, taiso (tandoku and sotai dosa) with a knife, junana and owaza and urawaza with a knife, suwari with a knife... Tanto Everything Aikido.

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True, there's nobody telling us we can't practice that way - but (almost) nobody does practice that way.
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Another sort of aside - I wonder what would happen in a tanto match if you gave both guys a foam knife and allowed both guys to score with the blade or with aikido techniques?  Or maybe a hybrid of tanto randori and hat randori where either guy could score with the knife, the hat, or aikido techniques??



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Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com