What is the right way to hold the Tanto?

What is 短刀 ?

There are two well known ways of holding the Tanto, as seen in several Tanto dori. The question that follows is which side the sharp side should point to. I can tell you from experience that are different opinions out there.

Before I go into the different ways, I will start by explaining the Kanji, as you are used to. 短刀 (Tanto) means short sword or dagger. If you analyse the Kanji seperately it does not really get any more exciting. 短 means short and 刀 means sword. What might be fun to know (but does not get you anywhere I suppose) is that the character for 短 consists of two elements. The left part 矢 means arrow and 豆 means bean. So like I said, I suppose it does not get you anywhere.. 

If you are creative you can hold a Tanto perhaps in more than two ways, but basically there are two forms.

No. 1: Hold the Tanto with the blade at the side of the thumb. 
No. 2: Hold the Tanto with the blade at the side of the small finger. 

Which side should the sharp side point to? Both ways have their respective advantages and disadvantages and opinions differ on the topic. I will share the different ways without any judgement. In the video, I will also mention these advantages and disadvantages and I will explain the connection between the Tanto and the sword.

The relation between Tanto and Sword

No. 1 - Tanto at thumb side

1.a Sharp side up 

You cannot block on top of the knife. However, if you have a knife with a double edged blade this argument does not hold.

1.b Sharp side down 

Stabbing and cutting is possible without altering the grip.

No. 2 - Tanto at small finger side

2.a Sharp side inside 

If the sharp side is pointing toward you it is easier to cut through tissue.

2.b Sharp side outside 

If you bring the Tanto more towards you, your arm will become a blade. 

Placing the Tanto back in the Saya

The Tanto is - in case of using a steel one - sheathed in the Saya. You have to take it out for training, but also have to put it back in. In the photo series and in the video I demonstrate a method that you can use to sheath your Tanto while maitaining Zanshin.

Saturday 6 August the Walkthrough of Chinto will be posted online

In this blog you will find:

  • Step by step pictures of Chinto.
  • Names of stances and techniques of each movement.
  • A video containing a walkthrough of Chinto, in which I demonstrate the Kata slowly and mention several keypoints.