Weapons Program

The hand techniques we use in Aikido evolved from weapons practice over many centuries. Our weapons techniques improve our understanding of these hand techniques. The principles of attack, grip, evasion and control can all be seen in the weapons program. Studying weapons techniques can be challenging and exciting on its own, but even for beginners, some weapons training will contribute to your understanding and application of Aikido.

Weapons Used

Tanto (wooden knife)

The tanto is a wooden knife. Many Aikido techniques can be used effectively against a knife. Our study includes empty hand disarms as well as use of the tanto against another weapon such as bokken or tanto. Several solo techniques emphasize the correct handling of the weapon, correct form of attack and changes in direction. At advanced levels in Aikido it is necessary to defend against the tanto in free style training.


The bokken is a wooden version of the traditional Japanese sword. Styles of sword techniques are many and varied. As with the tanto, our training covers basics in handling the weapon, attacks, disarms, and defenses. Many of the origins of Aikido can be observed in the bokken techniques and some teaching will serve to emphasize the relationship between our hand techniques and the weapons style they originated from. At advanced levels in Aikido it is necessary to defend against the bokken in free style training


The Jo is a wooden staff approximately the height of your armpit and about 1 inch in diameter. Jo techniques include solo forms, techniques with a partner as well as defenses from attack with a staff and defending with a staff.


Bring your weapons to every class. Regular Aikido classes may contain a weapons component at any time.

Weapons should be placed on the floor (off the mat) at the edges of the mats. Weapons should always be placed such that the handle is toward O’ Sensei’s photograph, blades facing away from the mat. Place the smallest weapon closest to the mat, largest further away. Typically the weapon closest to the mat is the tanto, then bokken, then jo.

Avoid stepping on or over someone’s weapons.

Do not borrow someone else’s weapons (including club weapons) without asking permission.

Keep weapons away from the areas of the mats where students and instructors typically step onto the mat.

As much as possible, treat the bokken and tanto as you would a real weapon. Never lean on your bokken, avoid grasping the blade.

If you line up with one or more weapons, place them to your left side for the bow, smallest closest to you, handle toward O’Sensei, blade facing away from you. Always take your weapons with you at the end of class.

The above information is also available in our Weapons Brochure!

This document contains a few tips on looking after your Aikido Weapons

Weapons Syllabus and Videos