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Knife Fighting: Part of Taiho Jutsu?

Knife-Fighting and Taiho-Jutsu are terms that require a working definition for purposes of this article. When speaking of knife-fighting, we are not referring to a martial artist simply “transferring” techniques from his/her art to knife use. Nor are we speaking of an individual, formally trained in martial arts or not, employing a knife in a haphazard manner. Rather, we are defining knife-fighting as one of the various formal arts/systems which utilize the knife as the primary weapon in a systematic fashion (e.g. military systems, Tanto-Jutsu, Filipino styles). A knife-fighter is defined as one who has been trained in a style or system as stated above, or one who, experientially, has learned the techniques and uses them in a systematic fashion.

Taiho-Jutsu, for our purposes, is defined as that course developed for police in Japan in 1947, including the modifications to that five week course as seen in the 1960s. Further, some of the “newer” Taiho-Jutsu courses seen today may qualify as well.

A vital part of Taiho-Jutsu training is learning to defend against both committed knife attacks (e.g., upward, downward, straight lunge), as well as those attacks by an experienced and skilled knife fighter. A law enforcement officer may certainly use a firearm,


baton, or mace against these lethal attacks, and s/he may choose to defend against the knife using no weapon. However, should a knife against a knife or any other weapon, be part of the Taiho-Jutsu course?

Let us assume a folding tactical knife was standard issue to the officer, and s/he chose to use it against an assailant, armed with a knife or other weapon. Would this smaller issued knife fare well against a larger Bowie or other large fixed blade knife? What could be the outcome if an officer chooses to use his/her knife against someone armed with a baseball bat or tire iron? One could imagine the ramifications if an officer felt threatened to the point where s/he opted to throw the knife at the assailant. Whether these scenarios reflect wise decisions or not, the consequences and end results, practical and legal, could be devastating.

It seems that, given the information above, coupled with the amount of time it would take to properly train an officer to be efficient in almost any system of knife fighting, knife-fighting should not be included in the basic Taiho-Jutsu curriculum. Despite the fact that a very small handful of agencies are issuing knives to their officers, the decision could prove disastrous.

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