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A bokken is not a proxy sword. It is made of wood, contains no finely honed edges to cut with and no sharpened point to thrust and puncture with. As such, I am able to use the bokken in ways that would be unwise to attempt with a sword.
Bokken practice affords me the opportunity to perfect my movement, strengthen my center, condition my body and perform complex motions while employing all my tools simultaneously. Working with the bokken from the inside has had a profound impact on my approach to teaching/learning Aikido and my technique.
I don't teach the bokken katas I learned in Kokikai. In fact, I have dispensed with katas altogether. Instead I employ short 3 or 4 step forms that I make up as I go along. Some contain simple transitions between strikes and parries; others are much more intricate. We practice them for a while, concentrating on the motion, not the specific blows and blocks. We'll then move on to something else. I tell my students to forget the specifics and feel the dynamic that arises between them and their weapons. I don't want them memorizing long sequences of prearranged movements. This kind of rote learning stifles spontaneity and creativity. The student concentrates on learning the moves and as a result loses the meaning of the motion that connects the individual techniques.
In bokken practice the emphasis is on the motion and locating and occupying the center that is common to both the me and the bokken. This gets really interesting in multiple person drills where the geometry of the motion becomes more complex.