From Traditional Kata to Modern Reality: Exploring Knife Fighting in Kobudo

Apr 05, 2024

In this reflection, I share from a deeply personal and traumatic experience of being attacked and stabbed and exactly how this event shaped my perspective on knife defense as a martial arts instructor. I reflect on the need for responsible teaching and understanding of knife defense principles, emphasizing the importance of fitness over choreography and the four following principles to build a solid foundation for any traditional martial artist wishing to expand their knife fighting understanding.

As well, I step into the physiological and emotional aspects of life-threatening situations, emphasizing the need for realistic training methods and the understanding of pre and post-conflict period within the lifecycle of violence.

It's my goal in this episode to challenges the traditional approaches to tantojutsu (traditional Japanese knife technique) and highlight the overlap between traditional techniques and modern reality-based martial arts meanwhile stressing the necessity of quality instruction and commitment to training.

Principles of Knife Defense

• The importance of understanding physiological changes and emotional responses in life-threatening situations.
• The need for realistic training methods, such as sparring, kata, conditioning, education, and meditation.
• The significance of teaching knife defense and the practicality of moves, as well as distinguishing between ambush versus defense.
• Importance of teaching flinch response, freeze factor, control over breath, and handling lacerations during stressful situations.
• The need to limit complex movements and focus on simple movements in knife defense.

Fitness in Martial Arts
• The concern that fitness is not being taught in martial arts, where fitness means understanding how the body reacts during fights.
• Traditional kata training may not simulate physiological changes effectively and may not prepare for real-life stress.
• The need for gradual exposure to strenuous conditions during training to help identify body responses and override them.

Understanding Conflict and Post-Conflict
• The importance of understanding the life cycle of conflict in knife defense and traditional martial arts versus modern reality-based martial arts.
• Traditional martial arts align with modern reality-based martial arts in understanding the pre-conflict, escalation, and post-conflict phases, in contrast to focusing solely on the apex of conflict.
• In the post-conflict phase, the importance of self-triage, de-escalation, articulation of law enforcement, and understanding the biomechanics of lacerations.

... and much more

Thank you for visiting and supporting my work in preserving the Traditional Japanese Martial Arts of Jissen Kobudo at the Yasuragi Dojo. If you enjoyed this video, please continue to support by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

If you are interested in stepping further into my work, below are links to help you better understand the Yasuragi Dojo and opportunities that may help in your path in Kobudo study.

Once again, thank you for spending time here ~ Adam


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Dojo Newsletter:

The Yasuragi Dojo is a 501.c.3 non-profit school of Traditional Japanese Martial Arts, teaching the traditions of our teacher, Manaka Unsui and the International Jinenkan organization. Our Dojo preserves the arts of Ninpo, Jujutsu, Kenjutsu and Classical Weaponry. Collectively, our art is called Jissen Kobudo.

We have proudly served the Hudson Valley of New York since 1998, with our Dojo located in the hamlet of Mahopac. Our Dojo has served our global community of students and training groups through our online programs since 2007. If you are interested in joining our Dojo, please inquire directly for information.

About The Jinenkan: Developed by Lieutenant Colonel Fumio Manaka, the international Jinenkan organization is a complete martial art system characterized by it’s traditions of authentic Kobudō, the classical fighting forms of Japan’s Samurai.

00:00 Close brush with death in violent past.
03:23 Japanese knife defense teacher shares five principles.
08:53 Instructors should teach body's physiological changes in fitness.
09:58 Understanding stress and body's response in martial arts.
15:04 Traditional martial arts emphasize simple versus complex movements.
18:02 Traditional martial arts differ from reality-based ones.
20:34 Recognize adrenal dump, self triage, security understanding.
23:45 Become familiar with knives for effective training.
29:36 Biomechanical effects of knife injuries in martial arts.
32:32 Appreciation for time spent, encouraged deeper engagement.