The tanto in Shodokan Aikido

shodokan tanto 300x223 The tanto in Shodokan AikidoIn the martial arts of kendo and iaido one uses a shinai (bamboo sword) for general practice. In shodokan aikido we use a tanto (short dagger). As in kendo and iaido, you have to train with a measure of safety hence the use of a soft sponge rubber substitute.

The tanto is 30 cm long and made of sponge rubber enclosed in a black canvas cover. At one end it is covered with a white piece of material (usually leather), which continues down the length of the tanto. The white end represents the point and the strip represents the back of the tanto (not the sharp edge!).

Gripping the tanto for safety; hold with your little finger flush to the tanto and all your other fingers curled, i.e. none pointing forward.

Passing the tanto over; grip at both ends with your thumb and index fingers, the white strip pointing towards your partner. Your training partner will take grip as well with thumb and index finger of both hands.

Why so specific, you might ask! Firstly if you are training avoidance with someone who is only just learning the skills of timing and focus, your fingers need to be kept safe! Secondly, in all martial arts there is an element of awareness, mental focus being trained. If you can maintain your focus enough throughout training, enough to know when someone is about to hand you the sharp end of a knife, you’re training well!


  1. I’m glad you have finally published this. Saves us explaining it over and over again.

    One thing still bothers me though. It the white end is the sharp point, isn’t it logical to assume the white strip is the sharp blade?

  2. If you’re thinking of it as a weapon, I agree it seems logical. When you look at it as a training tool, then you can make educational rules to keep people aware!