New Video Series In The Works!

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Katana 101

 This upcoming series of articles will focus on the katana. From the very basics of the weapon to teaching some Kenjutsu, I hope to bring you loads of great information. Keep checking back for updates to what is sure to be a great series!


Body Weapons - Spicing Up Your Taijutsu!

 Some of the taijutsu training that I see focuses on only a few of the body weapons that our art possesses. The different body weapons are usually taught, briefly explained, then virtually unused. The fudo ken (clenched fist) is the weapon primarily used in most of what I've seen, be it demonstrations of techniques, drills, etc. Train as best suits you, but I do feel that training with all of the weapons is essential so as not to limit yourself. Please keep in mind however that I am not suggesting all Ninjutsu students and instructors are doing this, only some that I have seen, and I doubt I can account for all of what they teach. It is simply a humble observation.

 To quote Soke Hatsumi's book "Ninjutsu - History and Tradition"

 "The martial skill of taijutsu is a generalized total body method of dealing with situations that demand response. As such, it is not a specialized system or art form restricted to punches, throws, or holds alone. The total body is used as the defensive weapon."

 That being said, here are some explanations of the basic body weapons. The first listings include some pictures because they are mostly specific hand positions. The rest are pretty much self explanatory.

  Shitan Ken - (Thumb Pressure Strike)

  Used to hook and grab into softer sensitive areas like the face, neck, etc.

  Kiten Ken - Shuto Open Hand Strike (as in Omote Shuto, Ura Shuto)

 Rather than flicking out and back this strike uses the body's motion to knock the opponent off balance. The neck, head, and clavicle are good targets for this weapon.

  Shako Ken - Claw Strike

 Used for softer targets of the body, hitting with the open palm then raking or digging in with the fingers.

  Shishin Ken - Finger Needle Strike

 Another soft target weapon. Used for striking the neck, face, underarms, etc.

  Shikan Ken - Extended Knuckle Fist

 With this weapon the hand is usually closed until the moment of impact when it opens into shikan ken, driving the knuckles into the target. This can be used anywhere you might apply fudo ken (a punch).

  Shito Ken - Thumb Strike

 Striking with the "point" that the thumb and pointer finger make, this weapon is good for softer or harder targets and can be used to press into sensitive areas and pressure points or to strike at them.

  Fudo Ken - Clenched Fist

 This is the most basic (at least in my opinion) hand strike. It is pretty much just a clenched fist used for punching. Although I do not mean to play it down by any means, it is very effective against nearly all body targets. Thus it is very basic, but also very utilitarian.

  Kikaku Ken - Head Strike

 Commonly known as "head butting" this strike is pretty straightforward in it's uses. Though it can be used in all directions and not just forwards like the common "head butt". (Please exercise caution with this technique as it could cause severe head trauma if misused)

  Shuki Ken - Elbow Strike

 A good weapon to use if you find yourself too far to your opponent's inside for punching. The elbow is a very hard bone and can strike with great force if applied properly.

  Sokki Ken - Knee Strike

 Again, like the elbow, the knee is good when you are too close for kicking or when the angle is awkward. Many other martial arts use the knee, with devastating effects.

 I will leave kicks and foot weapons for another article, but this should give you a further understanding of the various taijutsu weapons. Remember the quote from earlier? Any part of your body if it applies to the situation (even if it's biting your opponent! although I would leave that out of your drills...) is a taijutsu weapon.

 If you would like further explanation of any of the above or have more to add, please leave a comment!