Dealing with a Tsuki attack from the front involves standard movement. The key elements being of course timing and moving into “Tanto Maai” which as Unsui Sensei (often) reminds us is,
“Virtually the same as if you were unarmed. The Tanto is very short.”
Responding to a Tsuki attack to your back requires all of the above, but you lack the ability to visually detect your opponent. Clearly what is called for here is sensing the 殺気Sakki, literally the “killing intent” of your opponent. As before,
“It is essential to not only move at the right moment but to not end up in a disadvantageous point. If you are too far away to attack with the Tanto the opponent will cut you down on his second attack.”
The issue that remains is how to focus. The natural response is to focus all your attention on what is behind you.(upper illustration) This is an error.
“You cannot allow yourself to be captured by any one thing. You have to be aware of everything around you. By doing this you will actually be better able to detect the intent of the person behind you. ” (lower illustration)
The overall thinking behind this is:
“In a battle the number of opponents you will face and the length of time you will face them along with the weapons they will carry and their skill level are all things that are undecided. You have to train yourself to be aware of all that is going on around you while at the same time maintaining Mushin.”
So we trained with these concepts in mind. Quite difficult to say the least as half the room was slowly slinking up on the other half. All around were sounds of footfalls, launching attacks, Ki-ai, curses and so on….