Geoff “Tank” Todd is a unique figure in the field of close-quarters combat. Although he is largely unknown to American self-defense practitioners, his training resume is one of the most impressive in the tactical industry and his lineage reflects close, long-term relationships with some of the true legends of close combat. A lifelong student of close combat, Todd was the protégé of New Zealand’s most accomplished unarmed combat trainer, Harry Baldock. He is also the heir to Baldock’s Institute in Dunedin, New Zealand. Established in 1927, it is the oldest and most respected school of self-defense in the country.

03-todd-with-knives-cTodd’s voracious appetite for close-combat knowledge also took him far beyond the borders of his own country. Through diligent efforts, he earned the respect of two of the greatest close-combat instructors of modern times: the late Charles Nelson and the legendary Col. Rex Applegate. Todd’s regular pilgrimages to the U.S. to train with Nelson and his personal visits with Col. Applegate gave him extraordinary insights into their battle-tested tactics and a one-of-a-kind education in the field of close combat.

To validate and refine the skills he learned, “Tank” also worked extensively in the security industry, doing everything from “working the door” at nightclubs and special events to providing personalized bodyguard services for high-profile clientele. He is also the co-founder of the International Close-Combat Instructor’s Association (ICCIA), an organization dedicated to the research and promotion of armed and unarmed combat of which I have been a member since the early 1990’s.

Over time, Todd’s reputation caught the attention of New Zealand’s military and law enforcement communities. He is now well into his second decade as a chief instructor to Army Special Operations units. Which ones, you wonder? Out of respect for those units and Geoff’s relationship with them, I won’t say. However, having recently trained and taught with Todd and his staff in New Zealand, I’ve seen for myself that they are the real deal.

Todd Knife Designs
With a résumé like this, it’s not surprising that Todd has some pretty strong opinions on what constitutes a functional, practical combat knife. And thanks to an alliance with one of the UK’s oldest and most respected cutlery manufacturers, those ideas have been translated into steel in the form of two very distinctive fixed-blade knives: Todd’s “Green Role” knife and his “Black Role” knife.

Todd first began experimenting with knife design in the early 1990’s, commissioning Kiwi knifemakers Johnny Foxton and Dave Ross to render his designs in steel. Several years later, while Todd was working as a military consultant in the Middle East, he had the good fortune to meet Chris Hopkinson, the current owner and CEO of Samuel Staniforth Knives in England’s knife capitol of Sheffield. Samuel Staniforth Knives was founded in 1864 and has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality cutlery ever since. Over the years, they have produced a wide variety of knives, including World War II manufacture of the iconic Fairbairn-Sykes dagger.

Not surprisingly, Todd and Hopkinson began discussing combat knife design and soon began a formal collaboration to produce Todd’s knives commercially. The rest is history that is still in the making.

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