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Aikido Training With Tanto Knives

Updated on March 15, 2018
vineliner57 profile image

Hello everyone, my name is Hal. A lifelong sports participant and fan, the spiritual aspects of martial arts have always intrigued me.

Aikido Tanto Knives - A Look Forward and to the Past

Today's tanto knives come in a wide variety of blade lengths and styles, including the traditional fixed blade as well as folding and butterfly types.

What is your favorite style of knife? You might prefer Bowie knives, daggers, buck knives, or even butterfly knives.

What is it that you like most about your favorite style of knife? Is it the way that it looks? Or does it perform better than other types of knives?

If you own a knife, what was the reason for getting one? For protection? Do you use it during the work day? Do you need one for hunting or fishing?

Knife lovers have been buying tantos for many years.

This is because of their Japanese sword-like looks, superior point strength, and ability to hold a razor sharp edge.

Let's take a quick look at the history and some of the characteristics of the tanto knife.

Wooden Training Tanto
Wooden Training Tanto | Source

Tanto Knife Basics

The tanto is basically a Japanese short sword or dagger, with a blade of varying length, anywhere from 5" to 12". The traditional length is just under 12" (about 30cm). Blades that were bigger (13" to 14") were referred to as ko-wakizashi, or "small short sword".

The tanto weapon was originally designed as a single-edged blade with a curved shape, having an angled grind from the edge to the tip.

The blades were designed to be heavier and stronger than other knife styles of the time.

It was often used on soft targets in addition to armor. It was thought to be a favorite weapon of the samurai as it is extremely effective when used in close quarter fighting and was a secondary weapon that was kept on him at all times.

Home Made Wooden Tanto

Tanto Knife Styles

Tanto styles and uses differ by blade shape. The best known are listed:

* Kaikan - short tanto with small guards, favored by women.

* Kissaki-moroha-zukuri - having a very long and sharp point (o-kissaki).

* Shobu-zukuri - with a blood groove and ridge line.

* Hira-zukuri - designed for slashing and piercing it has a flat, narrow and thick blade.

* Moroha - the infamous double edged tanto. These are quite rare and hard to find.

Whenever used on the battlefield, the main advantage of the tanto has been its ability to to go through the armor of an opponent in close quarter combat. Tantos with long, narrow blades as well as thick spines were ideal for this. The killing point was directed under or through the armor.

Traditionally tantos were carried in a wide cloth belt called an obi. It was placed with the edge up and the handle turned to the right to aid a quick draw.

The tanto was generally located alongside the wakizashi (short sword) in samurai homes. Females had been trained how to use the tanto to protect themselves or, if violated, to end their own lives.

Sharpening a tanto knife is the most difficult compared to sharpening just about any knife. You need to remember that tanto cutting edges have two separate angles.

The main grind is the long straight cutting edge. The secondary grind is the smaller part of the blade which curves upward. Whenever you sharpen a tanto knife, you will need to adjust the angle accordingly for the two different grind styles.

Back To My Wooden Tanto

Top 5 Reasons People Love Tanto Knives

Here are five of the top reasons folks prefer tanto knives over others:

1. It has a thin yet extremely durable point.

Most knives have thin points. Although great for puncturing and stabbing, these knives can be somewhat vulnerable to breaking or cracking.

Bowie knives, daggers, and talon point knives are a few examples of thin pointed knives that will break if misused enough. Tantos have a point that is thin enough to puncture or stab, yet is reinforced making it thick enough to withstand abuse.

2. Tantos have a razor thin cutting edge.

Don't be fooled by the blade design. Tanto knives are made with thick enough spines to withstand a lot of abuse. Yet they are hollow ground, which means that the thick spine tapers down to a razor sharp cutting edge.

3. Versatility.

Tanto blades can slice through leather, soft tissue, etc, and puncture armor, car hoods, and even flak jackets while still keeping a good sharp tip and blade edge.

4. They are awesome to look at.

You can find numerous blade lengths and handles with a wide variety of stylish looks. There are also some cool looking butterfly tantos on the market.

5. Tantos are great for self-protection.

Originally used by the samurai class men and women for protection, tantos have a rich history in personal protection and safety. Today's tanto knife is easy to carry and conceal, making it excellent for self-defense.

Modern Fixed Blade Tanto Knives

Today's Version of the Japanese Classic.

Some of the more popular brands of tanto knives currently on the market are made by Ka-Bar, Smith & Wesson, Paul Chen, and Cold Steel.

Most tantos are of the Americanized style. Similar to the Japanese tanto, the Americanized version has a high point in-line with the pivot. However, the difference is that the Americanized version has a front edge that meets up with the bottom edge at an obtuse angle, as opposed to a curved edge to meet it as the Japanese tanto does.

A flat grind is used to craft the knife, resulting in a very thick and extraordinarily strong point. The thick area helps to absorb the impact from piercing blows, since cutting through piercing armor was the original use for the tanto.

If there is one negative aspect of the tanto, the blade design on the cutting surface area is sacrificed to gain tip strength. This great strength and penetration make tanto blade knives excellent for their tactical applications as well as versatility.

There is one important question worth asking when deciding on your new knife: Is your future weapon battle-ready or simply decorative?

In looking for a high-quality tanto, aim for battle ready over decorative wall hangers. The reason being is you will find much higher quality on a battle ready tanto compared to one that's mainly for show.

If the blade is not made from at high carbon forged or folded steel, then it's most likely just stainless steel. Stainless steel is okay for most decorative knives, but just won't do when it comes to a tanto knife that's going to be used in the dojo or on the street.

Fixed Blade Tanto Knife
Fixed Blade Tanto Knife | Source

Folding Blade Tanto Knives

The Japanese tanto is basically a knife or dagger, therefore it is excellent for use in self-defense. In ancient times, women kept a small one in their obi (sash) for protection.

Women of today have a wide variety of folding-blade and smaller fixed blade tantos to choose from for self-protection. They can be easily carried in a purse or handbag or just as easily concealed on the body.

Original tantos were rarely carried by commoners. Compared to today, larger folding and fixed blade tantos are favorites of military special forces and police units around the world. They can be easily carried on a belt and deployed rapidly for quick use as well as functioning extremely well as a utility knife.

Boker Plus Armed Force Tanto Folder II
Boker Plus Armed Force Tanto Folder II | Source

Training With Wooden Tanto

Tanto Knife Poll

What Do You Like Most About Tanto Knives

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Would You Consider Purchasing a Tanto Knife?

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What is Your Favorite Knife Style?

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© 2010 Hal Gall

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    • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Gall 

      6 years ago from Bloomington, IN

      @lesliesinclair: They are more for personal protection.

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      6 years ago

      I like the shape of the first knives shown, but wonder what is their main use, aside from cleaning and boning game?

    • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Gall 

      6 years ago from Bloomington, IN

      @anonymous: Especially with the supposed zombie threat...:)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Survival Knife for example would be really useful to have around again great quality have enjoyed reading about them.

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      6 years ago

      Had not heard of Aikido Tanto knives before.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These knives look classy and high end, can be used for a long time without losing the sharpness.

    • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Gall 

      7 years ago from Bloomington, IN

      @sukkran trichy: Thanks for browsing!

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      7 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      point of these tanto knives offers great strength and penetration. thanks for the info


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