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- "We will fight in Tankathlon!"
- ―Shizuka Tsuruki
Tankathlon (タンカスロン, Tankasuron) is the fictional martial arts of the spin-off manga Girls und Panzer: Ribbon Warrior (ガールズ&パンツァー リボンの武者, Girls und Panzer: Ribbon no Musha).
Tankathlon is an unofficial form of martial arts, like Sensha-do it uses tanks as weapons, however it lacks Japan Senshado Federation's (JSF) regulations and approval rules, traditionalism and values of it, which makes it marginalized among senshado practitioners and seniors. It involves two opposing teams, each possessing their own set of tanks, combating in Flag Battle matches, the only type of match known for now. During the first Tankathlon matches bogus tanks were used.
Many school carriers senshado teams are adopting tankathlon for various reasons, which are: lack of a big arsenal, practicing matches, different in-battle challenges, interest in this type of setting.
While some schools use their real name other more prestigious school practicing under an alias for not compromise themselves in an unofficial sport.
As tankathlon is unconsidered by the JSF, it has its Tankathlon Committee, they are responsible to set the opponents, the matches' date, place and any other matter involving the event, however, unlike JSF they will not cover the costs for repairing the damages caused to structures or viewers and others conditions included in Senshado Competition Regulations.
For now, there is only one known rule, where the tanks' weight must be below 10 tons, limiting the battle for light tanks and tankettes only.
The lack of rules allows the matches to unofficially happen anywhere, both in rural settings, where viewers can stay in the middle of the battlefield watching if they want and in urban areas, where the citizens/viewers are in the middle of the match. It is the total responsibility of the viewers to ensure their own safety against being hit by a tank or shells.
Tank shops only sell products sanctioned by the Senshado Federation, when Rin and Shizuka go to buy some equipment so they can upgrade the Type 97, Rin doesn't find anything related to tankathlon. However, Shizuka demands for the shop owner to provide tankathlon materials and supplements, he then leads them to the basement of the shop with a huge area dedicated to tankathlon. The shop owner also explains the JSF is being annoying regarding tankathlon materials lately, implying that the JSF heavily regulates the materials and equipment used in Sensha-do as a whole. It is unclear whether all tank shops have similar hidden stashes or limited to some particular shops.
- Main article: Cauldron Tournament
The Cauldron is a Tankathlon Tournament organized by Darjeeling.
- Kuromorimine, Pravda & St. Gloriana are the only schools to be represented by two separated teams: Chindits (led by Orange Pekoe) & Guy Fawkes Team (led by Darjeeling) for St. Gloriana, Nibelungen Team (led by Maho) & Schwarzwald Kampfgruppe (led by Erika) and Katyusha's Volunteer Army (led by Nina) & Polite Girls (led by Katyusha, Nonna & Klara) for Pravda.
- The name of "The Cauldron" is the reference of the name of the place during Battle of Gazala, where Rommel's Afrika Korps with Italian divisions stationed their defense against the counterattack of British XIII Corps.
- All teams that don't use their true name use one that reference the country they represents:
- Centipede Team: The Centipede is one of the symbols that Takeda Clan, from which Shizuka's family descent, used as a crest.
- Chindits: Chindits were a British India special force, created by Orde Charles Wingate in 1942, that served behind Japanese lines during the Burma Campaign from 1942-1945.
- Fifth Republic Platoon: The Fifth Republic is the current French system from which former General Charles De Gaulle, which is Asparagus's name inspiration as one of De Gaulle's nickname was "The Great Asparagus" due to his extreme height (196 cm), was the founder and first president.
- Flying Tankers: This an hommage to the 1st American Volunteer Group that fight under Chinese Air Force from December 1941 to July 1942 who were nicknamed "Flying Tigers" recognizable from the Shark face nose-art on their planes.
- Guy Fawkes Team: Guy Fawkes was an English Catholic who was involved in the failed Gunpowder Plot on November 5th 1605 which consisted of blowing up Westminster Palace. On 21th century a contemporary version of Guy Fawkes mask became a symbol of anarchism and anonymity since the film adaptation in 2006 of the 1982 graphic novel V for Vendetta. That's why Darjeeling wore one to stay anonymous.
- Katyusha's Voluunter Army: It's maybe a reference to one of the anti-Bolshevik factions during the Russian Civil War. One supported by the Entente the Volunteer Army and the other (unofficialy) supported by Germans the West Russian Volunteer Army.
- Nibelungen Team: The name is a reference to Richard Wagner's opera "Der Ring des Nibelungen". While Maho's disguise is a reference to Zorori from the manga Kaiketsu Zorori.
- Polite Girls: Their name and the fact that Katyusha, Nonna & Clara are masked are a reference to the Little Green Men during the Ukrainian Crisis also known as Polite People during the annexation of Crimea because of their politeness toward the civilians on occupied area.
- Schwarzwald Kampfgruppe: The name is both a reference to various German combat groups known as Kampfgruppen during WW2 and a reference to the Black Forest (Schwarzwald in German) that sits in South West of Germany.
- Oni: The name came from a Japanese powerful supernatural demon. This reference to the fact that Team Oni once wrecked the European Sensha-do competition with their brutal style, driven by the thirst of victory. It also an expression to suggest that the team is invincible, able to outperformed both Shiho Nishizumi and Chiyo Shimada in their younger years.
- Maho's Panzer II has a bucket hanged on its main cannon. This is a reference to her memory when she and Miho goes fishing riding it during their childhood moments.
- Ooarai Sensha-do Team participating in The Cauldron in one or another way:
- Duck Team, as the only Ooarai team with light enough tank to participate, joins The Cauldron as one of the player, being in Blue Team with Nishizumi Mask, Tategoto, and Schwarzwald Kampfgruppe.
- Yukari Akiyama become one of the staff of Asparagus, as The Cauldron administrator.
- Leopon Team works in the Repair Center in the middle of the battlefield, initially, with the would-be Team Oni before their eventual appearance.
- Anteater Team works as dust-off safety crews, using Kuromorimine's Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 Drache.
- Hippo Team in Round 1 splits into teams A (Caesar and Oryou) and B (Ervin and Saemonza) and acts as youjimbo for Anzio and Katyusha's Volunteer Army accordingly.
- Anzu Kadotani, Hippo Team, and the rest of Anglerfish Team can be seen as one of the VIP's spectators during Round 2. Or are they?
- Despite Koume's remarks on their Blue Team is in disadvantages in number due having two one-tank teams, Blue Team is not the team with the least members in Cauldron. Red Team and Pink Team has the least number of tanks with 8 tanks. All other teams (including Blue) has at least 10 tanks in their posession (Blue Team itself has 10 tanks). And like Blue Team, Red Team also has two one-tank teams (Centipede Team and Flying Tankers). The only major disadvantages Blue Team has is their position in the central map, which made them an obvious target by any other team.