Tantojutsu – Japanese Martial Arts focused on the Tanto
Tantojutsu is a martial arts focused on the Japanese Tanto (or knife). It is traditionally taught in the martial arts of Kenjutsu, Ninjutsu, Aikido and Budo/Bujutsu. Tanto techniques are best suited to close quarter combat due to the size of the blade. However, Tantojutsu students also learn blocking techniques against longer weapons (particularly the Katana). In Ninjutsu, the small size of the Tanto also makes it an ideal surprise weapon.
A good advantage of the Tanto against longer weapons is speed. The shorter blade reach makes it much faster to attack an opponents target area once you have slipped beneath/evaded his attack. Traditional Tantojutsu techniques place a lot of emphasis on attacking the easiest to reach targets of the body (especially parts of the arm). Students often utilize a simple one handed grip on a concealed Tanto combined with empty hand blocking techniques in order to disable an opponent during training.
Tanto are also highly effective throwing weapons in the hands of an expert. As with most Shinken, beginners will start off with wood or rubber Tanto and when proficient, they will move on in order to train with live blades.
As a side note – In Ancient Japan, the art of Tantojutsu was (like Naginatajutsu) one of the martial arts traditionally learned by Samurai women.