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Class Notes – Knife Round Up

July 24, 2015

If you noticed, in my last post on knife training, I went through the gogyo no kata (also known as the sanshin no kata) in classifying knife attacks we trained around. But I left out ku no kata, the last one. That is where I classified the last three knife scenarios we worked on in class.

  1. The attacker punches with the left hand, and when you block he grabs the sleeve  of your gi, pulls it down as he steps forward, and does an upward stab to your side or ribs.
  2. You punch, the attacker hooks your arm down and past him. His left hand grabs your sleeve around the elbow and pulls you forward as he stabs upward with the knife in a reverse grip.
  3. The attacker steps forward and grabs the lapel of your gi with his left forearm across your upper chest. His forearm chokes the movement of your shoulders, while he is free to stab to your guts, chest or wherever.

All these scenarios were worked out while wearing a gi jacket. Immediately the dynamics change. First, slashes are no longer that great a threat, and stabs are more appropriate attacks. More importantly, the sleeve grabs are a real problem. If your opponent grabs your wrist, you can use  the usual te hodoki waza to disrupt his attack and buy space to respond. Those te hodoki waza no longer work so well when the gi sleeve is grabbed instead.

For 1) and 2), we worked on blocking with the arm with the grabbed sleeve as well as with the other arm, since we can’t really anticipate which one we can actually get to use. If  your sleeve is grabbed nearer to the forearm you will need to block with the other hand, while if your sleeve is grabbed at the elbow you can actually block with the grabbed arm. 3)  is not very different from our usual ura gyaku starting from a conventional lapel grab. Now, even more than usual, the kuzushi is crucial. You can muscle your way into ura gyaku when there is no knife involved, but once there is a knife, you can be stabbed before you even know it. Then again, we can never really be sure that any opponent won’t have a knife, so it behoves us to use proper kuzushi at all times.

Side point – be careful when blocking the ura shuto slash. If you do not block at the elbow, your opponent can elbow down your blocking arm and resume the slash, or change the slash to the omote shuto vector.


2-3 lessons on the nastier side of knife work. Nowhere near enough, but better than nothing. I don’t know if I would ever return to this topic within the next 1-2 years (I still have loads to teach and work on in class), but what has been covered over the past 3 months of lessons is enough for you to 1) get a sense of what viable knife defence is like, and 2) give you some idea of what you may want to explore in this area.

The past 3 months have been spent on more practical material. The material, however, is more specific to knife defence. In this quarter we are going back to basics again, to learn general movements and habits that apply to a wider range of situations. For the beginners who turn up, the lessons will also build you in your conditioning and coordination. Keep turning up and keep training!

Junjie 俊傑
Bujinkan Ninjutsu


From → bujinkan

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