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Tanjo "Sword Stance" Techniques

The descriptions below, and accompanying photographs and video, present the ParaCombatives Tanjo ‘Sword Stance’ techniques as developed by John Lewis.

Tanjo "Sword Stance" Techniques video (3.7 MB)

In addition to techniques of blocking, deflecting, striking, throwing, joint locking and choking with the tanjo, these techniques provide a methodology for using the stick to continuously strike one or more opponents. The strikes in this set attack the opponent with both ends of the stick and various positions along the length of the shaft, all while incorporating smooth transitions from strike to strike, movement forward, back and to the angles, and a framework for allow us to use the length of the weapon to strike our opponent without getting close enough for him to strike or grab us. With the incorporation of fluid movement we can pursue a retreating opponent or reposition ourselves to continue striking an advancing opponent without allowing him to close the distance between us and reducing his opportunity to secure the weapon.

There are several key principals in this set of techniques. First, we endeavor to keep the end of the stick away from the opponent except for the instant when we strike. We do this to reduce his opportunity to grab the stick and we therefore reposition the weapon between strikes by use of rotations which take place to our side, behind our back or above our head, not in front of our body. Second, these strikes are designed to be very quick and controlled, allowing us to nimbly recover from any misses and to continually change the location of our strike so that our opponent cannot effective block. Lastly, we further improve the effectiveness of these techniques by deploying them in a way that conceals their target until the last possible moment. For example, with the stick held at the right side of our head we can just as easily strike the opponent’s lower right leg as strike the left side of his head.

The text below describes each of the techniques as depicted in the attached photographs. The accompanying video illustrates these techniques and the transitions between them.

Tanjo 1 & 2 – Starting position for the sword stance: one hand at the hip about 8” down from the end of the stick, other hand covering the end of the stick. Note that the weapon is not visible to the uke.

Tanjo 3, 4 & 5 – First strike involves beginning in the starting position and moving the stick toward the opponent by about 12”, leaving it parallel to the ground. From there we release the stick with the last three fingers of our right hand, leaving a loop of our right index finger and thumb to secure the weapon. We then pull back on the handle end of the stick pivoting the striking end up and into opponent’s groin. This move is effective when done with a step forward – if we are closing on a retreating opponent he will likely retreat by first moving his head, leaving his groin more exposed. The stick is quickly returned to the starting position.

Tanjo 6,7 & 8 – This technique is much like 004, with the exception that we raise our right hand higher, pull our left hand back further and pivot the stick higher, striking the opponent’s throat or face. This technique is effective against an advancing opponent – the uke is likely to be moving forward head first. The stick is quickly returned to the starting position.

Tanjo 9, 10 & 11 – As described in the introduction above, when we want to transition between strikes we do so by moving the stick while it is off to our side, above us or behind us. This photo shows how we transition from the sword stance starting position to many of the other strikes. We raise the stick from our waist, keeping the weapon behind us and open our right fingers allowing the shaft to pivot on the first knuckles at the base of our right hand fingers. This pivot is critical for the speed and control of these techniques and it is accomplished by maintaining dynamic pressure on the stick: the knuckles push against the shaft while the hand at the handle end forces the stick against the knuckles. Those concepts, and lots of practice, will make for fast, controlled, and fluid transitions from rest to strike and between all of the strikes.

Tanjo 12, 13 & 14 – Here we continue rotating the stick from behind us and resecure with our right hand once the weapon has rotated 180 degrees at the knuckles. This position prepares us for several strikes; the key is that from here our left hand will supply the power for our strikes and our right hand will steer the strikes. In other words, our right hand only rotates as the left hand pulls back, snapping the striking end against our target, quickly pulls back moving the striking end out of opponent’s reach; the right hand can then rotate to a new angle and the left hand can snap another strike.

Tanjo 15 & 16 – Here we continue the motion described above and snap a strike to the top of the opponent’s head.

Tanjo 17, 18 & 19 – This is a strike to the left side of opponent’s head from the position described in photos 12 - 14.

Tanjo 20, 21 & 22 – This is a strike to the right side of opponent’s head from the position described in photos 12 - 14.

Tanjo 23, 24 & 25 – Here we strike to the opponent’s left knee from a variation of the position described in photos 12 - 14. In this variation we move our power and steering hands to the level of our waist before snapping our strike.

Tanjo 26, 27 & 28 – From the same position described in photos 23 - 25, we rotate the striking end of the stick up and towards ourselves, above our head, before striking to the outside of opponent’s right knee.

Tanjo 29, 30 & 31 – We can also strike with the handle end of the stick to the face, throat, torso or groin. We leave at least 6” of stick exposed at the handle end of the weapon and keep our right hand at least 6” up from the other end of the stick, pressed close to our body. We do this so that as we move the stick forward we can also move our body forward and attack with the force of our body, not just our arms. The raised left arm can also block incoming attacks.

Tanjo 32, 33 & 34 – With an opponent to our side or close rear, we can draw the handle end up, keep our right hand tight to our body to help us control the shaft, and then drive the striking end down onto the top of opponent’s foot.

Tanjo 35 – Here we prepare for the pugil strik. From our starting position we draw our right hand down to within 12” of the striking end of the stick and bring our left hand 12” down from the handle end as we move the stick out in front of us.

Tanjo 36 - 41 – From the position described in photo 35 we can rotate either end forward, striking (in a rowing motion) to opponent’s head or neck, keeping our elbows tucked to maintain more positive control of the stick.

Tanjo 42, 43 & 44 – From the starting position we can also bring the stick up and forward, so that it is still parallel to the ground but with the striking end now under our arm against our ribs, we then drive straight back to thrust the striking end into the torso of an opponent who is at our rear.