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Misogi-no-Gyo
06-12-2009, 04:41 PM
I have never claimed to be a wise man... well, that maybe not entirely correct. However, I have never claimed to be a teacher or any real sword method outside of the betterment of solo work on one's own understanding of internal and external movement... etc. As such, I am seeking comments about the relationship between real sword work and what I like to call the fantasies of Saturday morning cartoon avengers, which I have nicknamed as, Wacky-sticks often seen in most and I mean about 99% of the sword demonstrations by anyone outside of any authority coming from one of the various, but well-recognized schools of such training. Hopefully the comments will come from those who actually study the use of the sword beyond mere Iaido, which I am not criticizing in any fashion, but would like to at least differentiate that from those who are really cutting and or fully delving into kumitachi outside of the aforementioned wacky-stick methods and practices.

I offer this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX3OV-8bGXE&feature=channel_page) I came across on the web for consideration and a starting point of discussion. I know not the author nor the practitioner, nor am I claiming any understanding or viewpoint about the demonstration in any way. The conversation I am seeking is not about this particular video, only about Aiki-Ken style demonstrations and practice methods versus actual kenjitsu, or other methods of training, practicing and demonstrations.

Thank you in advance for your comments and contributions.

Best in training to all...

.

Nick
06-12-2009, 05:39 PM
To put it as briefly as I can and save your having to read a long reply: Aikido sword work is used to refine aikido and it does that very well. However, its martial efficacy when compared to traditional kenjutsu is unfavorable at best.

Nick

Rob Watson
06-12-2009, 08:30 PM
I recall a quip about the sword work in Yanagi ryu in which it was stated that they use only live blades because iaito or bokken do not give the appropriate feeling of shinken during training. Of course I could be way off base out here in the cheap seats. Makes one wonder about using bokken for anything beside smashing nuts (ahem, like walnuts, etc).

Rennis Buchner
06-12-2009, 09:35 PM
I recall a quip about the sword work in Yanagi ryu in which it was stated that they use only live blades because iaito or bokken do not give the appropriate feeling of shinken during training.

Nothing against Yanagi-ryu intended but what they do is by no means representative of what actually happens here in Japan training-wise in most kenjutsu based ryuha.

Best,
Rennis Buchner

Aikibu
06-13-2009, 04:37 PM
Sorry Shaun but I don't see any Aiki-Ken(jitsu) in that video just allot of posturing. If the excuse was that it was a "demonstration" video Well...

Since everything in our Aikido eminates from the sword We emphasize it allot.

Both Uke and Nage in that Y-Tube did not even know how to cut and if thier Bokken had actully connected they would have been knocked right out of thier hands or hurt thier elbows. LOL

William Hazen

ChrisHein
06-13-2009, 06:04 PM
No one alive fights with live swords anymore. So everything we do in any martial arts could rightfully be called "Wacky-sticks" if that's what you want to call it.

You can look to koryu martial arts, which in theory pass down traditional sword fighting methods, from people who actually fought with swords. You can try simulations with sword like things, action flex, shinai etc. But really no one knows anymore.

Until some form of live sword fighting comes back into vogue, it will all be "Wacky-sticks" or an estimation. You might feel that some have better estimations then others, but that's just your guess as a non-sword fighter. No more or less valuable then their guess as non-sword fighters.

Unless you want to start fighting with a sword, you can never be a sword fighter, natures rule not mine (stolen from Mr. Miyagi).

Keith Larman
06-14-2009, 12:45 AM
I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. There are things we know without having to resort to actual sword fights. For instance, proper grip, proper cutting methods, etc. Give the average aikidoka a real sword and stick them in front of a soaked tatami and most will not be able to cut cleanly (and yes, I've done this more than once). Elbows out, improper tenouchi, improper hasuji, no draw during the cut, and on and on. So comments like "Until some form of live sword fighting comes back into vogue, it will all be "Wacky-sticks" or an estimation." is much like saying "well, the air is really polluted so it doesn't matter if I smoke". No, it does matter. This isn't an either/or thing. There are things we do know about proper cutting that can be *easily* demonstrated. And most every aikidoka I've had over to my place and given them a sword and a bunch of rolled tatami to cut have walked away with the realization they had work to do. Myself included.

Of course I've also seen guys cut targets really well. But they do it *completely* differently than they cut with their bokken. They shouldn't.

I've seen many aikidoka do "cuts" that would a) never reach the target (they never hit anything hence they have zero experience closing distanct), b) utilize zero extension (hence the other guy who does extend will kill you), c) have zero power in their cuts. And on and on... But some are kinda pretty in a flowing sort of way. And if that is your criteria... There you go.

All that said I think there is most certainly a place for much of what is done in Aikido, even with bokken. To the extent of teaching more about empty hand technique I have zero problem. But Japanese swordsmanship is an exacting activity with a lot going on. No, we may not be able to answer the question whether practitioner A or practitioner B is "better". But we can look at much of what is done on a purely technical basis and *easily* determine that some things are ineffective, poor cutting techniques, or would damage/destroy a blade (poor hasuji, etc.). So for some of us it is critical to learn how to properly cut, move, etc. with a sword. And by that I mean learning a lot of those details. You can't wave it away as being somehow archaic therefore anything goes. There are many things demonstrably bad about how a lot of people do things. Now if they're not claiming to be using the bokken as a real sword, well, fine, it's just a training tool. But if they're using the bokken to replicate a real sword then there are things we can to this day say with certainty are good or bad. The slappy, dropping the tsuka with elbows out like wings thing is most certainly terrible form because it results in *terrible* performance of the weapon through a target. Not to mention the lack of extension, reach, power, etc.

Carsten Möllering
06-14-2009, 04:26 AM
Hi

I experienced it to be a difference to have an aikido teacher who is also teacher of a koryu.

Our swordwork changed. Not the kata but the "details".

Carsten

ChrisHein
06-14-2009, 12:09 PM
Keith,
Have you ever seen someone who's trained in boxing fight their first fight?

On the bag, they may hit quite well. They may do bag drills like a champ. They have great footwork, and excellent timing. However most of the time, the first time they actually box with someone all that goes out the window and they look like they've never trained in a boxing gym.

What I'm getting at here is that the pressure of the actual fight makes things very different then they may seem from the sidelines. I'm not saying that you can't learn things about the sword (proper grip, ways to cut, timing, footwork etc.). I'm just saying that you can not become a sword fighter with out fighting.

Since none of us are sword fighters we are all just making estimations about what we need to do if in a sword fight. I think everyone who gets down and works with a sword has an honest opinion. Some opinions might seem good, and some opinions might seem bad, but they are all just opinions. We can't judge anyones success rate from their training methods. We can't do this because no one fights to the death with live Japanese swords any more.

Keith Larman
06-14-2009, 04:08 PM
No doubt Chris. But if you train for a boxing match you'll hopefully do some heavy bag work and learn how to hit correctly first. And that is a world of difference from someone who has never hit a heavy bag, sparred, or even worked on a speed bag.

ChrisHein
06-14-2009, 04:24 PM
No doubt Chris. But if you train for a boxing match you'll hopefully do some heavy bag work and learn how to hit correctly first. And that is a world of difference from someone who has never hit a heavy bag, sparred, or even worked on a speed bag.

No arguments there.

In relation to this thread, I think asking the difference between "aiki-ken" and reality is a moot point. In "reality" no one fights with swords anymore. Every school has it's opinions, but no one has proof that what they do in a sword fight is more then opinion.

Keith Larman
06-14-2009, 05:06 PM
Well, let's strain the analogies. Let's say you've got the average Joe who trains at a boxing gym, who spars, who works the heavy bag, all with a trainer who emphasizes proper form in punching, movement, etc. That person can easily demonstrate proper form while striking a heavy bag hard. That person can deliver powerful strikes with precision quickly and efficiently. They may fall apart in a real fight, but their technique is good and obvious to anyone who has boxed.

Now compare that person to the person training at the local health club where they do something along the lines of "tae bo". The strike nothing harder than air. Again, no need to put them in the ring. Just watch. Maybe they would fall apart in the ring as well. But they'd likely end up with a "boxer's fracture" if they tried to hit a heavy bag with any force.

I'm not talking about "who's kung fu is better". I'm talking about the basic skill required of using a particular weapon correctly. It ain't "anything goes".

While swordsmanship may be archaic to you in the sense of no longer being used for real (although that's not strictly correct either unfortunately), regardless of all that the weapon carries some requirements for effective use. That is not something open to debate -- I repair the damned things all the time from when they sustain that damage. I see scuff marks on blades from "backyard cutters" vs. trained JSA students. And I'll tell you, there is a profound difference just in the grouping, angle, etc. of the scuffs. That's not even looking at them holding the blade - - just looking at the aftermath and the effects on the blade. Untrained tend to have scuff marks at various angles over a wider area of the blade. I see more bends. More chips. More problems.

Much of traditional training involves learning to use the weapon correctly, something many doing aikiken most certainly do *not* do. The elbows being out on many show that they're simply not holding it correctly. This is not an "opinion". It has to do with getting your body behind the weapon so you can generate more power, stay behind it, guide it in a straight line and ensure the blade's entry angle is correct. The grip is the most obvious thing many get wrong -- they simply don't "wring" out the tsuka enough or hold it correctly. Like I said, this isn't "just" opinion as to the correct way to hold it -- there are variations among the various koryu schools about proper grip, but those details of difference are relatively minor compared to many things held in common.

Many doing Aikido I would agree are just "stick wavey" because they simply do not have even the basics of grip. They aren't wielding a sword in any remotely effective manner. To me it is like looking at an actor pretending to play piano. One glance at their hand position on the keys and anyone with piano training *knows* they have no experience. And being a jazz nut and having been lucky enough to have seen many of the greats play in small clubs I can say that even those who were relatively self-taught still have the basic hand positioning down --- you simply can't do much more than basic stuff unless you do certain things to allow more advanced playing. There is no doubt they know what they're doing and that they can play for real.

There are those who are very serious about bokken work who have solid sword training within aikido. And they tend to hold and move somewhat differently. It shows and it is obvious to those who train in those things. Just as it is obviously when someone has never trained with a 'real' sword and experienced what an effective cut is like.

ChrisHein
06-14-2009, 06:16 PM
Keith your point is well made and taken. This point however addresses only cutting. There is much more to a sword fight then simply the cutting.

Take Kendoka for example. Not many Kendo schools practice cutting. However they still practice sword. If you compare the cut of an average Kendoka to that of the average Kenjutsuka (who cuts regularly) I'm sure the Kendoka will be found lacking.

However if you put bogu on the Kenjutsuka he would equally be found lacking if he did shiai with the Kendoka. They are each focusing on different aspects of sword. They each have different practices and techniques. They are both simply sharing their opinions about the use of a sword in a fight.

I have studied Saito sensei's Aiki ken at length. I have studied Kendo for the last year under two Kendo renshi. I have done live sword cutting, and gleaned as much information from those I've met who study Kenjutsu, as possible. They all have different opinions of what is important in sword fighting. Sometimes dramatically different opinions that are contradictory. It's hard to say who's right and who's not because none of them have been in a sword fight, or have students who have been. They just share their educated opinion.

I wouldn't study Tamishigiri from someone who couldn't cut, because cutting can be demonstrated. However if I am interested in sword fighting, I can only use my opinion about what is valid or not valid, because there is no proof to be had. What works in "reality" is unknown.

Kent Enfield
06-14-2009, 06:53 PM
If you compare the cut of an average Kendoka to that of the average Kenjutsuka (who cuts regularly) I'm sure the Kendoka will be found lacking.The what? What the heck is the average kenjutsuka? And does the average kenjutsuka actually do tameshigiri regularly?

The cutting mechanics of Katori Shinto Ryu aren't the same as those of Kashima Shin Ryu aren't the same as those of Hokushin Itto Ryu aren't the same as those of Shinkage Ryu . . . Sure, you can generalize, but I'd bet for every point there's at least one group out there that does it differently. Talking about the cut of the average kenjutsu practitioner is akin to discussing the reproductive organs of the average human.

Tameshigiri seems to be regular practice for only a few koryu as well as the Toyama Ryu family.

Now, besides having god-awful mechanics from the point of view of simply cutting, most of the aikido "swordwork" I've seen is full of gaping suki and demonstrates a poor understanding of maai--often these two are related.

ChrisHein
06-14-2009, 07:27 PM
My point was simply someone who studies cutting is a better cutter then someone who doesn't.

And that cutting isn't all there is to fighting with a sword.

Keith Larman
06-14-2009, 07:28 PM
Well... was going to type some more, but it would be for the most part redundant with Kent. So, what Kent said up above. :) And I was just looking at one small aspect -- the mechanics of cutting.

I'd also emphasize that while each group out there does things "differently", they are still (generally) internally consistent. You don't take one aspect from one and attach it to some other aspect from another. All sorts of interesting variations occur but in the end there is (usually) an internally consistent and coherent basis for most of what each group does. So they will disagree (sometimes quite strongly) about how things should be done. That is normal and natural given the differences. But usually they have a fairly solid foundation of basics like how to hold the weapon correctly.

Keith Larman
06-14-2009, 07:31 PM
No one alive fights with live swords anymore. So everything we do in any martial arts could rightfully be called "Wacky-sticks" if that's what you want to call it.

You can look to koryu martial arts, which in theory pass down traditional sword fighting methods, from people who actually fought with swords. You can try simulations with sword like things, action flex, shinai etc. But really no one knows anymore.

Until some form of live sword fighting comes back into vogue, it will all be "Wacky-sticks" or an estimation. You might feel that some have better estimations then others, but that's just your guess as a non-sword fighter. No more or less valuable then their guess as non-sword fighters.

Unless you want to start fighting with a sword, you can never be a sword fighter, natures rule not mine (stolen from Mr. Miyagi).

Chris:

This is the post I was responding to. I simply do not agree that it is all "wacky-sticks or an estimation". And it isn't about a "guess" as a "non-sword fighter" (because we don't fight with swords for real anymore). If someone holds the thing totally wrong, can't reach the target, and has feet of lead then they simply aren't very good. We know that for sure... And that we can (and should) improve if we are to use these weapons as anything more than "wacky-sticks".

Misogi-no-Gyo
06-14-2009, 11:39 PM
No arguments there.

In relation to this thread, I think asking the difference between "aiki-ken" and reality is a moot point. In "reality" no one fights with swords anymore. Every school has it's opinions, but no one has proof that what they do in a sword fight is more then opinion.

Thank you to all who have so far contributed to the thread. I am happy to take a step back and get involved in a thread where I have nothing really to contribute because in truth, I have no real knowledge of the subject. Sure I have practiced bokken suburi (3000 to 5000 cuts daily) and kumitachi for twenty years but I have never trained in Iaido, nor performed even the most basic forms of tamashigiri. I was fortunate to take a very informative seminar with Mike Skoss which I much enjoyed. I also have a real appreciation for the movements of Kuroda, Nishio, James Williams, Ellis, Amdur and Toby Threadgill Senseis, and of course, Big Tony Alvarez, all of whom I have had the pleasure to see, meet and talk with to some small extent. However, outside of being able to use the bokken as a way to better understand movement, demonstrate proper connection, extension, footwork and grounding, and running students ragged with the old Tenshin Dojo 45 minute suburi death camp, I wouldn't say I was in any way qualified to add anything of substance here.

As for Chris's point, above, I wasn't so much interested in Kenjutsu from a "fighting" perspective, as I am an Aikidoka at heart and we don't fight in that sense. I am more interested in a comparison of training methods towards an effective understanding of the use of the bokken as a weapon. My understanding is that outside of duels to the death, sword schools would compete to resolve the "Which style was the best" issues using bokken which would less often lead to the death of any of the competitors.

Best in training to all....

.

Kent Enfield
06-14-2009, 11:50 PM
You don't take one aspect from one and attach it to some other aspect from another.
This is a critical point! And unfortunately one that gets overlooked quite often. Just because the combination of elements A1, A2, A3, and A4 is great and so are the combinations B1 to B4, C1 to C4, and D1 to D4, that doesn't mean mixing A1, B2, C3, and D4 is going to get you anything worthwhile. Budo is not a combo platter in a Chinese restaurant.

philippe willaume
06-15-2009, 05:07 AM
Well it is the egg and chicken story

Aki-ken is there to enhance you body movement but to get the enhancement you need to understand ken enough to make the it really worth your while.

If we take the 1st kumi tachi
Starting from the cross/bind
Tori raise to cut
Uke thrust to the belly/chest, does not matter as long as the point is bellow the shoulder of tori, which is open and in range and move to the side to finish the gut cut and get out of the way of the tori strike. The gut cut finishes in an ox guard which provide protection against tori vertical or either circular strike and open tori ura side.
(In German fencing this is changing through,

Tori gather back and control the centre with his sword. That blocks any of uke possible thrust and open up a direct line of attack for uke

The only option left to tori is renzuko to the outside, to create a new centreline an attacking uke outside, forcing uke to move as the out side is vulnerable and that the attack gets tori outside of uke thrusting range.

Uke counter cuts, setting up and other thrust

Tori renzuke the other way to escape the thrust and take advantage of uke perceived new direction to cut from behind uke’s cut

Uke counter cut to win either with the cut or a thrust.

It is exactly like for the open hand practice, torri need to try to get uke, whilst staying within his owns space and not over committing, otherwise it does not really make sense.

phil

philippe willaume
06-15-2009, 05:18 AM
I recall a quip about the sword work in Yanagi ryu in which it was stated that they use only live blades because iaito or bokken do not give the appropriate feeling of shinken during training. Of course I could be way off base out here in the cheap seats. Makes one wonder about using bokken for anything beside smashing nuts (ahem, like walnuts, etc).
Yes it is true that a shinai or a bokken do not really behave like a live blade an to an extend this can is true for iato or blunted sword.

Using a live blade for from or paired practice has some undisputable value.
That being said you do need you shinai and your fencing mask/kendo helmet to make sure that you have the functionality of the strike.

phil

DH
06-15-2009, 12:59 PM
No one alive fights with live swords anymore. So everything we do in any martial arts could rightfully be called "Wacky-sticks" if that's what you want to call it.
...You can look to koryu martial arts, which in theory pass(ed) down traditional sword fighting methods, from people who actually fought with swords. You can try simulations with sword like things, action flex, shinai etc. But really no one knows anymore…..
….Until some form of live sword fighting comes back into vogue, it will all be "Wacky-sticks" or an estimation. You might feel that some have better estimations then others, but that's just your guess as a non-sword fighter. No more or less valuable then their guess as non-sword fighters.
You're making a statement that since no one fights with live swords anymore everything out there is equal or equally whacky and all knowledge is equally questionable. This comes from your own personal explorations and limitations I would guess. Therein in lies the problem with personal discovery. Your field of vision is only as far as YOU can see. Many times people don't have the benefit of broader realizations. It can be very eye-opening.
I would NEVER dismiss the knowledge soldiers brought back. debriefing is a good thing. Old knowledge, for the use of old weapons is just as viable and ageless.

Example of modern comparison:
Would you state you can walk in to the ring with your aikido against Rickson Gracie cause "Its all the same. No one is REALLY fighting…its just a sport!”
Yes? No? I don't think you would. Why? Because YOU are aware of the outcome due to your research and current understanding from exploring BJJ and MMA. In short, you are educated in that venue.
May I suggest you do some research among some senior Aikido teachers about their own experiences with certain Koryu arts adepts and training methods. There is a body of knowledge about weapons and their use held in certain Koryu arts that rival the model of an aikidoka going up against Rickson Gracie. The skill potential for the outcome would be just as skewed and the outcome just as predictable.

Old versus new and who knew
Did Ueshiba ever fight anyone with a live sword?
The men who were responsible for many Koryu did
And some died for the knowledge the gleaned over many years.
While I appreciate the use of aiki weapons to enhance the aikido way of moving I think it’s an error in judgment for someone to equate their own current awareness, knowledge and understanding to men deeply immersed in weapons skills, learned from men who knew exactly what they were doing.
Were I to have to go to battle tomorrow I am fairly certain I would begin by training with my buds who are or were active duty Spec ops to teach me how to survive before I would go to someone who has not BTDT. I think it’s a mistake to dismiss knowledge and experience in a certain venue.
I have seen Aikido teachers (who do Iai and aiki weapons) last all of about ten seconds- with certain Koryu people. Meaning I have seen qualified Aikido teachers who stood their virtually stunned- I mean "deer in the headlights" "had no idea what to do" "Dead On Arrival" speechless facing Certain Koryu people.

Last, there is a very fine line between what you can do with a live sword and a bokken if you know what you are doing. The skills do cross over. Case in point: There are many schools who do not test cut. Yet I have seen guys who have trained for years with just a bokken, then walked up and started cutting trees, donned armor and started going at it full speed, with no changes whatsoever in their approach. The reason is that there are Koryu teachers who knew exactly what they were doing as their arts progressed and they established training modalities and principles. They had the benefit of real world experience when they did so. They were also very rational about things, and didn’t need to experiment in some garage (or in my case a barn) to try and re-create a semblance of reality. With Koryu as opposed to aiki weapons- it’s a matter of degrees- bred in from trail and error- back when they WERE fighting with real swords and mistakes mattered.
Anyway, I tip my hat to their hard work. It is most certainly different from aiki weapons and I think you would need to train in certain of the Koryu to really have a feel for what that means. There are many Aikidoka who have done so.
Good luck in your training
Dan

Rob Watson
06-15-2009, 04:32 PM
I like the story about Segal vs Draeger while trying to get the gig as fight coordinator on some movie (Red Sun?) and they crossed 'swords'. Segal was beat so many subtle ways that he didn't even know it. Powering through a move with someones blade on your wrist usually results in loss of a limb-not so in bokken work so it is easy to miss something that might actually have killed you. If you don't know what to look for you likely won't be able to see it ...

I have no idea if this is even fair because I have no idea about Segals sword work but at least he is aikidoka.

Rob Watson
06-15-2009, 04:38 PM
Yes it is true that a shinai or a bokken do not really behave like a live blade an to an extend this can is true for iato or blunted sword.

Using a live blade for from or paired practice has some undisputable value.
That being said you do need you shinai and your fencing mask/kendo helmet to make sure that you have the functionality of the strike.

phil

I was thinking more about the change in ones attitude when facing a live blade as opposed to the mechanical issues. Facing someone intent on cutting you who is well equipped is completely different then playing with wooden replicas.

I can tell you from first hand experience that years of training in the dojo with wooden weapons and even live knife blades did not compare to being attacked by a drug crazed person with an 8 inch chefs knife.

George S. Ledyard
06-15-2009, 04:57 PM
To put it as briefly as I can and save your having to read a long reply: Aikido sword work is used to refine aikido and it does that very well. However, its martial efficacy when compared to traditional kenjutsu is unfavorable at best.

Nick
If "aiki sword" was actually developing ones ability to do sword work with "aiki". which most sword work I see does not, then it would me martially effective.

Sword can be summed up fairly simply, cut the other fellow before he cuts you. Classical sword styles develop real swordsmen, Aikido sword does not, nor is it trying to. Like the empty hand work in Aikido, aiki sword is about connection. It requires sensitivity, a relaxed body and mind, and speed enough that one can take advantage of a perceived opening in the instant it is perceived.

If one were to develop these things sufficiently, one could, in theory, give a real swordsman a time of it because in a real confrontation with blades it is likely to be over on the first cut. One, the other, or both are finished on the first pass. So having lots of technique under ones belt, understanding all sorts of tricks, understanding of various timings etc. still, in the end comes down to cutting the other guy first.

As has been discussed many times before, it is impossible to attack without creating an opening. O-Sensei's sword was about not being open. It was about being so connected that any attacker, no matter how skilled, would find himself unable to attack because there simply was no opening.

So aiki sword work that focuses on developing that sort of connection would be "effective" martially. But the fact is, very little sword work actually does this. Even most of the so-called "classical" styles are either bogus styles or have bogus teachers. There simply is not much true koryu around. If you wish to find those folks, go to Koryu Books (http://www.koryu.com/). Almost all the real folks are represented somewhere on their site.

In my opinion, "aiki sword" work should focus primarily on the mental side of the practice while keeping the technical side fairly simple. Longer forms with lots of back and forth do train you to relax if you start to train at a faster pace... you simply won't be able to respond fast enough if you have tension. But don't mistake what is going on in aiki sword for what is going on in koryu training. If you want to be a swordsman, study a sword style. If you want to do sword that makes your Aikido better, keep it simple, keep it intense, and focus on connection.

By the way, that clip was bad... sorry, but it was. Hope the guy in questions isn't on the forums...

Aikibu
06-15-2009, 04:59 PM
I was thinking more about the change in ones attitude when facing a live blade as opposed to the mechanical issues. Facing someone intent on cutting you who is well equipped is completely different then playing with wooden replicas.

I can tell you from first hand experience that years of training in the dojo with wooden weapons and even live knife blades did not compare to being attacked by a drug crazed person with an 8 inch chefs knife.

Perhaps...That would be a frightening experiance even if you were armed with a "live sword"

Were you armed with a bokken?

Mushashi killed opponents armed with a "live sword" with a "wacky stick"

In my experiance you can easily tell who practices with weapons from someone who does'nt.

In fact IMO it's MUCH EASIER to teach the core technical principles of Aikido with a bokken than with just grabbing Nage's wrist.

Thats the "reality" as Dan Shaun and others here have explained (much better than I LOL)

William Hazen

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16300

PS This excellent piece just posted by Sensei Stenudd today explains the importance of "sword work" much better than I have...:)

DH
06-15-2009, 05:07 PM
Excellent post George...as usual.
I was going to address that side of the equation-but thought I would get folks angry.
Since you brought up bogus Koryu versus the really good teachers and methods;
What is "real" aiki to be used in aiki weapons versus what is, for the most part, *bogus* aiki weapons. there is no aiki to be fun. Blending will not even being to cut it -pun intended.
Controlling their center at a touch is meant to go right to the tip of your sword or spear.

I was thinking more about the change in ones attitude when facing a live blade as opposed to the mechanical issues. Facing someone intent on cutting you who is well equipped is completely different then playing with wooden replicas.

I can tell you from first hand experience that years of training in the dojo with wooden weapons and even live knife blades did not compare to being attacked by a drug crazed person with an 8 inch chefs knife.
Well, I have been stabbed and sliced three times and I can appreciate the level of intensity from those experiences and others, but I never really got an adrenaline dump from it, just kept working and moving.
I have determined that there is Koryu training that is real enough to create certain stress factors I am looking for and working through and that it works in freestyle to deliver in unexpected ways, and its a hell of a lot of fun to boot.;)
It is worth noting that there are a guys who's level of being "on" while doing classical weapons is really quite something. For some of them it's immediate and sustainable. I'm not really concerned about "how" real someone judges it to be. I think we all have to determine our own standards of measurement or increments of degrees of reality.
Cheers
Dan

philippe willaume
06-16-2009, 04:55 AM
I was thinking more about the change in ones attitude when facing a live blade as opposed to the mechanical issues. Facing someone intent on cutting you who is well equipped is completely different then playing with wooden replicas.

I can tell you from first hand experience that years of training in the dojo with wooden weapons and even live knife blades did not compare to being attacked by a drug crazed person with an 8 inch chefs knife.

Yes that is true
And one could almost believe that shinai and bokken where created so that you could be attacked with love and passion so that facing a live blade would not be so psychologically traumatic.;)

It just happen that the aiki-ken I practice (paint brush type of cut) is the way to cut when you rely on tip velocity to cut i.e. a chop as opposed to the more commonly known chop-slice.
You see a katana is really similar to a medieval Messer if you use it one handed and a gross Messer if you use it two handed, Chopping is the way to cut in my style of medieval fencing.
And amazingly enough, the technique we do in aiki ken are found in medieval long sword and the jo technique are found in half-swording.

Yes we do miss things to be a fully fledge sword style, but really after we start from the cross, if it does not work or there is hole in it, it is because it is not done right.

Phil

Rob Watson
06-16-2009, 03:03 PM
SNIP

It is worth noting that there are a guys who's level of being "on" while doing classical weapons is really quite something.
Dan

True, but few and far between. Any random person with intent and a live blade is way more 'fun' than the typical MAer (whatever that is) with wooden replicas (Musashis kill record aside).

My point was it is rare to be able to train with the intensity the matches the 'real deal'. When you find it there is no mistaking that it is something special and completely different.

Sorry to hear about the slicing and such .... I was unarmed and managed to prevail with no real damage to either party. My encounter was over before there was time for adrenaline dump (it kicked in after the fact pretty good tho!).

Aikibu
06-16-2009, 03:56 PM
True, but few and far between. Any random person with intent and a live blade is way more 'fun' than the typical MAer (whatever that is) with wooden replicas (Musashis kill record aside).

My point was it is rare to be able to train with the intensity the matches the 'real deal'. When you find it there is no mistaking that it is something special and completely different.

Sorry to hear about the slicing and such .... I was unarmed and managed to prevail with no real damage to either party. My encounter was over before there was time for adrenaline dump (it kicked in after the fact pretty good tho!).

Agreed..Few people I have met (me included quite allot more often these days) train with the intensity of life and death in mind.

My point was... at a point were you match intensity with your opponent What prevails? I am sure weapons can be a huge factor sure...But beside a huge dose of luck...What factors make one prevail in "reality"

I myself have experianced reality a few times without a Bokken or live blade. In hindsight I am happy that my Aikido Practice emphasizes "Aikido is the Sword"
and as a result I found my practice was very helpful. :)

William Hazen

philippe willaume
06-17-2009, 04:27 AM
Agreed..Few people I have met (me included quite allot more often these days) train with the intensity of life and death in mind.

My point was... at a point were you match intensity with your opponent What prevails? I am sure weapons can be a huge factor sure...But beside a huge dose of luck...What factors make one prevail in "reality"

I myself have experianced reality a few times without a Bokken or live blade. In hindsight I am happy that my Aikido Practice emphasizes "Aikido is the Sword"
and as a result I found my practice was very helpful. :)

William Hazen
Hi William
I think lots, not say most, of tactical methods are directly transferable from fencing to hand to hand.
English bare knuckle pugilism (pre the-not-so-divine marquis) is thought to have been very close to fencing.

Most of you potential SD opponents will try to bypass you defence as you bypass the point of your opponent in fencing.
Beside duelling (I.E fighting conservatively from an organised position) is time consuming regardless of the weapon (as long it is not a projectile weapon that is) and that is not really in tune with the objective of your average SD customer.
phil

Rob Watson
06-17-2009, 04:35 PM
'whaky sticks' or reality? See anything that one does while practicing aikiken? I do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHWsMLJ9azI&feature=related

'whaky sticks' or reality? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN6FYoGCvBo&feature=related

Aikiken kumitachi #1 looks to be a 'rip off' from KSR (Kashima) along with maybe a few others of the kumitachi. After all someone of note did sign the enrollment books of the school, no?

The outer form means almost diddly compared to what is going on inside of one head during the 'execution' of the form.

Have we been suckered by a troll?

Rob Watson
06-17-2009, 04:38 PM
SNIP

What factors make one prevail in "reality"

SNIP

William Hazen

The one with the bigger saya ...

Who can say two are equal? Clearly the winner will be called superior or at least lucky.

Demetrio Cereijo
06-17-2009, 05:18 PM
Aikiken kumitachi #1 looks to be a 'rip off' from KSR (Kashima) along with maybe a few others of the kumitachi. After all someone of note did sign the enrollment books of the school, no?

The outer form means almost diddly compared to what is going on inside of one head during the 'execution' of the form.

Have we been suckered by a troll?

Please don't mistake Kashima Shin-ryū with Kashima Shintō-ryū. Different Arts.

This is Kashima Shintō-ryū: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PvEegZ1XAE

Rob Watson
06-17-2009, 10:11 PM
Sorry to be confusing ... the clip is not Kashima Shinto Ryu (which O'Sensei gave keppan) but is of Kashima Shinryu - I thought the clip title was self explanitory in this respect.

I gave that clip as an example of 'old school' versus aikiken which shows quite a few moves I've seen replicated in aikiken work. Coincidence or me seeing more than is there ... up to others to decide.

Carsten Möllering
06-18-2009, 01:18 AM
Moin
I gave that clip as an example of 'old school' versus aikiken which shows quite a few moves I've seen replicated in aikiken work. Coincidence or me seeing more than is there ... up to others to decide.
My aikido teacher is also sensei of the German shibu of TSKSR. It has nearly nothing in common with aikiken.
There is no shomen uchi e.g..

In our weapon practice we do the Inaba offshoot of KSR. It is quite different to aiki ken.
You don't blend with your partner but cut just trough him e.g..

We also do aikiken.
Which was created after aikido already existed.

Greetings
Carsten

Rob Watson
06-18-2009, 11:43 AM
Moin

My aikido teacher is also sensei of the German shibu of TSKSR. It has nearly nothing in common with aikiken.
There is no shomen uchi e.g..

In our weapon practice we do the Inaba offshoot of KSR. It is quite different to aiki ken.
You don't blend with your partner but cut just trough him e.g..

We also do aikiken.
Which was created after aikido already existed.

Greetings
Carsten

The first clip is Kashima Shinryu simply for reference.

The KSR (Kashima Shinryu) you mention is ostensibly the same school but maybe you better double check with Inaba sensei about that.

Aikiken most certainly does have relations with Kashima Shinto Ryu (Shinto Ryu ans Shinryu are different http://www.koryu.com/guide/). I never mentioned TSKSR (which is Katori Shinto Ryu).

Perhaps I was misleading in my comment about seeing commonalities in the KSR clip. I do not mean to imply that aikiken comes from KSR in any way. I mean't that I see several moves that I do and have seen my instructor do in our practice of the aikiken that are seen in that clip . This does not mean anything in particular except the outer form is similar but also no doubt the inner aspects are difficult to discern from video.

Carsten Möllering
06-18-2009, 02:04 PM
Hi
The KSR (Kashima Shinryu) you mention is ostensibly the same school but maybe you better double check with Inaba sensei about that.
Kunii Zenya was the teacher of Inaba Minoru. So it is the same school. But it isn't officially recognized by Seki Humitake shihanke, so I call it the "the Inaba offshoot" or the "Inaba derivat" of KSR.
Yamaguchi was influenced by it and his student Christian Tissier who also studied it teaches this kenjutsu to us.

I never mentioned TSKSR (which is Katori Shinto Ryu).Well, but you posted a clip of Sugino Sensei of TSKSR, who was (as his son Yukihiro actually is) the katori teacher of my aikido Teacher:...
'whaky sticks' or reality? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN6FYoGCvBo&feature=related
...

Perhaps I was misleading in my comment about seeing commonalities in the KSR clip. I do not mean to imply that aikiken comes from KSR in any way. I mean't that I see several moves that I do and have seen my instructor do in our practice of the aikiken that are seen in that clip . This does not mean anything in particular except the outer form is similar but also no doubt the inner aspects are difficult to discern from video.
I think it's especially the inner aspects which are crucial.

Greetings,
Carsten

Rob Watson
06-18-2009, 04:41 PM
Aiki weapons but not Iwama (I mistakenly thought aikiken=Iwama) ??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfGJpRwQWos&fmt=18

Primary influences are said to be via Inaba as well (I'm not too well informed about this so ...)

W'hacky sticks'? Many are confounded by Yamaguchi shihans aikido/aiki.

Rob Watson
06-18-2009, 04:54 PM
[QUOTE=Carsten Möllering;232991SNIP
Well, but you posted a clip of Sugino Sensei of TSKSR, who was (as his son Yukihiro actually is) the katori teacher of my aikido Teacher:

SNIP[/QUOTE]

Quite right. As another example of a 'real' sword school. I made no comment about TSKSR other than that implied by most posting of the clip.

I do recall from the aikiexpo/friendship videos from Stan Pranin that Sugino sensei was quite distressed that he was never able to fulfill O'senseis request to come teach.

My reason for posting the clip is for those with little or no exposure to 'real' swordsmanship the clip shows a master at work to give a reference point. I feel no hesitation in using such as a reference point despite my absolute lack of any experience in 'real' swordwork.

Actually both clips are the same in this respect (a a reference). The value of such a reference is limited due to the complexity of extracting the internal aspects from the outward form which is the heart of the matter of aikiken vs. 'whacky sticks' and related inquiries.

The Yamaguchi sensei clip is a perfect example of this problem given the high level of aiki (internal) expressed throughout his execution. I think you will agree that the outer form is quite similar to Kashima Shinryu as expected given the history.

Kent Enfield
06-19-2009, 01:17 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfGJpRwQWos&fmt=18This is a fine example of what I wrote about earlier As aikido, it's pretty nifty, but as sword it's got flaws.

During the kumitachi segment, shitachi really smothers uke's cut, and riding the reversal is neat. However, it looks like about half the time he brings uke's sword to the inside of his right leg. If uke just continued around in the direction he's being taken, he'd have a good chance to cut all sorts of important things, like the tendons above the knee or the femoral artery.

Carsten Möllering
06-19-2009, 02:26 AM
T... it looks like .. a good chance to cut all sorts of important things, ...
Yes it looks like.
But it only looks like.

The first thing, ukedachi tries when we practice this, is to get the leg of shidachi.
If the technique is done correct there is no way.

It only looks like ...

Greetings,
Carsten

Kent Enfield
06-19-2009, 02:50 AM
Yes it looks like.
But it only looks like.So what prevents uke from cutting the leg? In the video posted, uke often has a clear line to the leg (see 0:42) and less distance to cover than shidachi does to any target available to him.

philippe willaume
06-19-2009, 03:23 AM
So what prevents uke from cutting the leg? In the video posted, uke often has a clear line to the leg (see 0:42) and less distance to cover than shidachi does to any target available to him.
For 0:42
I believe the answer to your question it is the pressure on uke sword,
This is the same idea as winden in medieval fencing.

If uke were to attack the leg, just continue the pressure with a forward motion that will deflect and shorten the strike and open the body,
As well that pressure will create enough time for nage can pass the exposed leg back to give to his attack


phil

ChrisHein
06-19-2009, 10:33 PM
Aiki ken v.s. reality.

I just found a great example on youtube of the difference between concepts/theory and fighting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEsMuvBwdDk

In the beginning you can tell it's just two Judoka going at it, with shinai. Basically you could say they are playing "whacky-sticks".

Then you start throwing Kendoka in to do jikeiko and we see something strange happen. The Kendoka clearly have better movment and skills with the shinai. However the pure violence of action, and power of the Judoka often win him the bout, or end in mutual strikes.

Fighting and training are different animals, until you've done both it's hard to understand this. As David Skaggs likes to say: "in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is".

George S. Ledyard
06-20-2009, 07:15 PM
Aiki ken v.s. reality.

I just found a great example on youtube of the difference between concepts/theory and fighting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEsMuvBwdDk

In the beginning you can tell it's just two Judoka going at it, with shinai. Basically you could say they are playing "whacky-sticks".

Then you start throwing Kendoka in to do jikeiko and we see something strange happen. The Kendoka clearly have better movment and skills with the shinai. However the pure violence of action, and power of the Judoka often win him the bout, or end in mutual strikes.

Fighting and training are different animals, until you've done both it's hard to understand this. As David Skaggs likes to say: "in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is".

This looks a lot like Araki Ryu vs Kendo... go straight to the center and crush your opponent, batter his defense until it collapses.

Aikibu
06-20-2009, 08:07 PM
Aiki ken v.s. reality.

I just found a great example on youtube of the difference between concepts/theory and fighting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEsMuvBwdDk

In the beginning you can tell it's just two Judoka going at it, with shinai. Basically you could say they are playing "whacky-sticks".

Then you start throwing Kendoka in to do jikeiko and we see something strange happen. The Kendoka clearly have better movment and skills with the shinai. However the pure violence of action, and power of the Judoka often win him the bout, or end in mutual strikes.

Fighting and training are different animals, until you've done both it's hard to understand this. As David Skaggs likes to say: "in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is".

I am sorry Chris but what I am missing here? Where is the "pure violence of action" and what exactly does that mean in this video...

Notice there are no tsuki/atemi with Shinai or fists among many other things that are lacking in this video...

This is just two guys a wacking...and While I agree fighting and training are different realities if you're not training to fight or as we put it learning to restore harmony... Then you're not practicing a Martial Art...Right??? :)

Sincerely,

William Hazen

ChrisHein
06-20-2009, 08:37 PM
The point here is, these Kendo guys were taken by surprise when someone using non Kendo tactics comes at them with a sword.

They are not used to fighting in this manner. They have never done this kind of fighting before. Same is true with anyone who has never fought with a live sword. When someone comes at them, with over 2 feet of steel, trying to kill them, there ideals are going to fall apart. And likely they will end up doing as poorly as someone who doesn't train.

You can't compare idealized martial arts with actual fighting or as some might like to call it "reality".

In this situation the two guys just wacking,did pretty well against people who have been training in Kendo. This video holds a great lesson for most martial artists.

Kent Enfield
06-20-2009, 08:43 PM
Then you start throwing Kendoka in to do jikeiko and we see something strange happen. The Kendoka clearly have better movment and skills with the shinai. However the pure violence of action, and power of the Judoka often win him the bout, or end in mutual strikes.No.

What you have there is an ass being struck, ignoring it, then repeatedly pounding away ato uchi and thinking he's "winning" because his partner isn't doing the same.

Aikibu
06-20-2009, 08:53 PM
No.

What you have there is an ass being struck, ignoring it, then repeatedly pounding away ato uchi and thinking he's "winning" because his partner isn't doing the same.

Uhhh Yeah...No disrespect to Sensei Hein but thats what I am seeing too...

William Hazen

ChrisHein
06-20-2009, 09:35 PM
No.
You are making a value judgment and not looking at what is happening.

What we see here cannot be judged by the rules of Kendo anymore then it can be judged by the rules of Judo. What we are seeing here is not Kendo. What we are seeing here is a sparring session between people trained in different arts.

The Kendoka do many times get the initial strike. But the Judoka doesn't do bad either, especially as the matches go on. This is a shinai fight, so it's hard to say what would happen with other weapons, so I won't even try to speculate.

What is clear is that the Kendoka do not have the upper hand. In fact they look frazzled and overwhelmed by the shear force and power of the Judoka. This kind of fighting is clearly out of the norm of their training, and they were not ready for it.

Josh Reyer
06-21-2009, 12:20 AM
The Kendoka do many times get the initial strike.Then everything that happens afterward is irrelevant. Kent is not looking at this through kendo eyes, he's looking at it through the eyes of what would happen with real swords. This isn't a free sparring match a la the Dog Brothers, with a mutual understanding of principles governing the situation. The kendo guys are approaching this through the use of the edged weapon, while the judo guy is just whacking away with his bamboo stick. The kendo guys train not to just go wildly whacking in because with edged weapons that gets you killed, as the judo fellow amply demonstrated.

ChrisHein
06-21-2009, 06:06 AM
However they don't train with real swords, and none of these guys have ever been in a "real sword fight". It's all just speculation if you want to say what would happen with a real sword.

How do you know what would happen if you hit the wrist the way a Kendoka does with a real sword. No one knows. I assume (we all know what that does) that the wrist would be cut, but how bad, I don't know. Maybe bad enough that the wrist couldn't be used, maybe, maybe not so bad that the guy fighting couldn't stay focused long enough to deal a death blow himself.

We enter onto a slippery slope when we start guessing about stuff that none of use know about. When we start asking questions like "what happens in reality" is a hard question to answer when none of us really know.

In this you would guess that guys who fight with bamboo swords could run circles around guys who don't fight with bamboo swords. This video shows that this is not the case. We all have what we think would happen, but that doesn't make it so.

Kent Enfield
06-21-2009, 06:59 AM
How do you know what would happen if you hit the wrist the way a Kendoka does with a real sword. No one knows. I assume (we all know what that does) that the wrist would be cut, but how bad, I don't know. Maybe bad enough that the wrist couldn't be used, maybe, maybe not so bad that the guy fighting couldn't stay focused long enough to deal a death blow himself.That's is a specious argument at best. Because it's not a real fight with real weapons, no one can say with 100% certainty and accuracy what exactly would happen. Okat, but you seem to conclude that because we are not 100% sure what would happen, we can assume anything we want would happen. I've never cut a person, but I can tell you what happens when this kendoka hits a rolled tatami omote with a sword they way he would hit a wrist with a shinai. The top part of the tatami omote falls on the floor.

But that's not the point. The point is that the other guy completely ignores strikes from the other person's simulated sword to deliver his own blows after being struck. Sure, maybe he'd still be alive. And conscious. And able to hold onto his weapon. But maybe (probably) not. Hoping the other persons blows are ineffective is a really, really stupid strategy to implement.

In this you would guess that guys who fight with bamboo swords could run circles around guys who don't fight with bamboo swords. This video shows that this is not the case.That is exactly what the video shows, unless you assume that shinai are only shinai, which is daft. Only an idiot would train to fight with shinai as shinai. They're designed specifically to make it harder to seriously injure people. They're force dividers, not multipliers.

Rennis Buchner
06-21-2009, 08:39 AM
I find a lot of these arguments that "we don't know how bad the damage would be because we haven't done it" to be rather weak. Things like "oh, if the hasuji is off it might not be such a serious cut" and such to be rather absurd. You know what will happen? Some pretty serious damage will happen, regardless of how perfect the technique is or not. This idea that it is so hard to inflict damage with a three foot long piece of sharpened steel and EVERYONE cut or stabbed is going to go on fighting to the last breath just like you hear in the war books just seems more than a bit out of touch with reality.

I am particularly touchy on this topic today in light of something I stumbled across earlier today on the net. I stumbled across what I thought was a documentary clip about the assassination of Inejiro Asanuma in 1960. For those that don't know he was a politician who was killed on television by a 17 year old right winger who ran on stage and stabbed him with a wakizashi (there is a very famous picture of the event just after Asanuma fell back and the blade came out that many of you may have seen). Much to my surprise (although with in internet what it is, I shouldn't have been) it was the actual footage of the assassination, complete with slow motion replay. The kid just ran up and stuck the wakizashi into his side all the way up to the hilt with no problem. No technique necessary. Asanuma just fell over and was dead soon after. This is what happens when you get stuck with a sword, no speculation needed, it's the real deal.

As for the guys in the video, I think both sides have something to learn. For one, the judo guys were dead more often than not. Now depending on the attack the kendo practitioners landed, it might not stop the judo guy right away. Shock and trauma have a tendency to occasionally make people do some pretty amazing things (ala the stories you read in the war books). I recall reading that some ryu's teachings (this was in a book, so I'm not giving up anyone's secrets here) that a cut to the wrists will probably not stop the incoming blow, even if you completely take their hand off, but a trust to the stomach will almost always stop someone dead in their tracks. Have I tried it? No, but I'll take their word on it. So maybe in some cases the judo guys could have fought on a bit longer. With that said, the majority of the time they would have been dead on the spot, pretty soon after or at least maimed for life. In any case, the judo guys seemed to have no awareness at all of that fact and basically ignored it, in many cases they even impaled themselves on the other guy's sword for them. That point alone makes a fair amount of what they did afterwards a moot point. In fact for them it seemed that regardless of the number of times struck or stabbed, it wasn't over until the other guy was on the ground.

Now as for the kendo guys, I would also agree that they aren't so good at dealing with follow up pressure after a successful attack. Given what they train to do, that is no surprise really. But with that said, I think in many cases all they had to do was run away for a bit and nature would have taken care of the other guy, where as if they stayed in the thick of it, yes they might very well have been killed. If they wanted to train for the "real situation" they might want to include some extra work on the guy who "isn't going out without a fight", but I think the bulk of the time, the other guy would have been lying on the floor in shock, like Asanuma was for real just before he died.

A bit grumpy on this topic today,
Rennis Buchner

Josh Reyer
06-21-2009, 08:55 AM
However they don't train with real swords, and none of these guys have ever been in a "real sword fight". It's all just speculation if you want to say what would happen with a real sword. I'm afraid you miss my point. It's entirely possible that the kendoka in this video would absolutely suck in a real sword fight; it really doesn't matter. What does matter is that they are approaching this particular encounter with shinai through the theory of sword use. Their goal is to strike their opponent first with the part of the shinai that approximates the optimal cutting edge of the sword. In this they succeed. The judo player, OTOH, is approaching this encounter through the theory of whipping his bamboo stick at his opponent no matter what. You could say that in this he succeeds. But since both players are playing by completely different rules, you can't say much else.

Your statement here: The Kendoka do many times get the initial strike. essentially contradicts this statement: This kind of fighting is clearly out of the norm of their training, and they were not ready for it. Against an unfamiliar opponent using an unorthodox style, they successfully executed in the combat idiom they train. Given what I've seen of kendo keiko (much different from shiai), were the kendoka to abandon that idiom and all sense of decorum and reigi simply to rush in and bash their opponent with their bamboo stick, I think you'd be surprised at the difference in performance.

Just one example, kirikaeshi (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaXzUze9UcY).

The judoka is also very lucky that his opponents had the graciousness to forego mukaezuki everytime he rushed in.

ChrisHein
06-21-2009, 01:35 PM
Personally I don't feel that discussions about not knowing what would "really" happen if someone is hit with a weapon weak, and neither does anyone else who seriously contemplates weapon use.

You simply don't know, ask any police officer or solder who has unloaded a magazine into a man who just keeps coming an ends up stabbing him. It happens, much more frequently then the weapon user would like. There is an account in contemporary knife fighting of a knife fight going on for over 2 min, both men sustaining dozens of wounds, some quite serious, and both survived.

You never know what would happen, so to just make the assumption that you are going to touch someone with a sword and they are going to fall down is lacking realistic thought.

We are all just throwing conjecture around (myself included). And that is the answer I was getting at in regards to the original posted question. No one knows what would happen in reality, we all just have opinions. So regarding anyones weapons forms as "whacky-sticks" is arrogant, and lacks understanding of our true situation as martial artists.

The Kendoka did not do well. They fell down on the ground, they dropped their shinai, they turned their back, they put up their hands. If you want to talk about theories of "what would happen in reality", what do you think would happen if they were facing a sword?

My point here is not that Kendo is bad. I like Kendo, I train in Kendo. There are things that Kendo has to offer that are wonderful. My point is that none of us know what would happen in reality. This is because none of us are sword fighters (outside of our fantasies).

philippe willaume
06-22-2009, 04:15 AM
Hello
Of course we know what happen when you hit someone with a sword, Fiore said that he prefers top have to fight 5 judicial duel than a fight with a long sword and without armour because it just take one mistake and one blow.

Regardless of what a 15th century Italian fencing master has to say, several people in the HEMA world, me included, had a go at cutting fresh carcass. You need very little force to cut fresh bones and tissues with a two handed weapon.
Since for us the blade is just a piece of homogeneous steel, we can not disrespect the blade by using on meat like butchers. And it does really help students in the way they strike.

To cut a hand at the wrist a simple one handed throwing of the blade, not event a proper cut, is more than enough, in fact it can go through 4 pig’s feet in a glove.

Two handed swords damage wise are only second to pole weapons as far as cutting wound track as concerned. Handguns riffle knives and even single handed swords are far behind.

It is pretty safe to say that you hit someone with a two handed sword, he will end up in two parts.

Now it is clear that both players in the video accepted the strike, ignored it and proceed to whack the others or somewhat believed they could suck it up like a punch and close in to wrestle.

That works both ways and that is why Chris does have point here, I have spared against a few kendoka, and they really do not have the concept of protecting themselves during or after the attack. It is all well and good to kill your opponent but from test cutting experience, you do not what to be on the path of the sword when it falls, regardless if its user is already dead.
That is not present in Kendo, and kendo practitioner does have a harder time to adapt to that or to counter in opposition than adapting to short edge strikes, which are very alien to them

Phil

Chicko Xerri
06-22-2009, 05:37 AM
George explains the reality of this thread very well.

As with Aikido, fixating on techniques and forms limits the outcome.
The reality is, "when he attacks I have already defeated him"
"when he attacks my sword has already cut him"
It generally takes at least 3o+ yrs of regular Aiki training before one begins to feel the sensations in this phenomenon, to be able to connect in perfect time with the Ukemi produced through the movement.

philippe willaume
06-22-2009, 06:09 AM
George explains the reality of this thread very well.
The reality is, "when he attacks I have already defeated him"
"when he attacks my sword has already cut him"
It generally takes at least 3o+ yrs of regular Aiki training before one begins to feel the sensations in this phenomenon, to be able to connect in perfect time with the Ukemi produced through the movement.

Really :confused:
so a boxer that jabs in opposition has 30 years of aikido then?

phil

Chicko Xerri
06-23-2009, 12:26 AM
I apologise to have confused you with my response to Georges explaiation. Perhaps when I get a little older I may understand further, deeper.
Osensei spoke of seeing the future in the origin of an attack. Watching time and the opponents movement slow, while Himself moveing freely in and around, seperate from that relative movement. But again it generally takes 25 or 35+ yrs of uninterupted Aiki study to manifest this phenomenon. If you are perseptive.
Oh! and of course, not to fixate on techniques.
To overcome an opponent with techniques, sword techniques or otherwise is in the catigory of Martial Arts. Aiki it seems to me is beyond the Martial Arts..
Cheers.

philippe willaume
06-23-2009, 03:57 AM
I apologise to have confused you with my response to Georges explaiation. Perhaps when I get a little older I may understand further, deeper.
Osensei spoke of seeing the future in the origin of an attack. Watching time and the opponents movement slow, while Himself moveing freely in and around, seperate from that relative movement. But again it generally takes 25 or 35+ yrs of uninterupted Aiki study to manifest this phenomenon. If you are perseptive.
Oh! and of course, not to fixate on techniques.
To overcome an opponent with techniques, sword techniques or otherwise is in the catigory of Martial Arts. Aiki it seems to me is beyond the Martial Arts..
Cheers.

Thanks, to be fair I was purposefully facetious.
I agree with your argument, I only disagree with the 20+ years to get it, let alone 20+ years of aiki.

You see that is exactly the basis for countering in opposition, you will find that in almost all sword system that is worth is weight in peanuts. Even rapierists do it, and rapier is really a poor excuse for a weapon.
It is much more crucial with weapons because you can not tank it out, so you do rely on time and place and to get it right you need to tune to your opponent.
Prehempting him is a bit of a misnomer, assessing what he is doing very early in his move is a more accurate description.
the whole 15th century Lichtanauer fencing is based around that.

If I put you on a horse with a full plate and lance and tell you the tilt is that way.
It will be overwhelming, it will happen in a flash
But with experience, you will have put you lance to the arrest; put your lance tip over his head, and corrected any wideness even before you enter the tilt, you will feel that you have all the time in the world to hit him, in fact you even have enough time to deflect his blow and hit him and the run takes 3-4 second max.
In a nut shell experience enables you to recognise the situation earlier and hence act upon it sooner.

Phil

Michael Fitzgerald
07-26-2009, 04:44 AM
No arguments there.

In relation to this thread, I think asking the difference between "aiki-ken" and reality is a moot point. In "reality" no one fights with swords anymore. Every school has it's opinions, but no one has proof that what they do in a sword fight is more then opinion.

Would you say that the same could be said for Aiki-Do? (assuming that the practitioner is not out there, in reality, fighting with Aiki-Do [or at all])? not a challenge at all- just trying (perhaps clumsily) to illustrate that training is not fighting and vice versa, no matter what discipline we are talking about.

ChrisHein
07-26-2009, 02:56 PM
Would you say that the same could be said for Aiki-Do? (assuming that the practitioner is not out there, in reality, fighting with Aiki-Do [or at all])? not a challenge at all- just trying (perhaps clumsily) to illustrate that training is not fighting and vice versa, no matter what discipline we are talking about.

Yes. Martial artists study physical conflict, or fighting. But they are not necessarily fighters. In fact in the case of Aikido, the vast majority are not fighters.

Historians are not pirates or cowboys or knights, they simply study them.

Michael Fitzgerald
07-28-2009, 03:31 AM
Yes. Martial artists study physical conflict, or fighting. But they are not necessarily fighters. In fact in the case of Aikido, the vast majority are not fighters.

Historians are not pirates or cowboys or knights, they simply study them.

yes yes- we are on the same page (literally and figuratively) with regard to not necessarily being fighters- although I would say that martial artists in general would not study physical conflict in the same way as say a hoplologist might- but that point is in danger of straying off topic.

I will go back then and re-read, as I think I interpreted the conversation incorrectly so far. I had thought that the conversation on no 'real' swordsmanship was implying that this was peculiar to the practice of sword arts- rather than across the board for any MA that practices potentially lethal techniques.
As I said though- I will go back over the thread.

thanks very much for responding! hope to chat to you again in future.

Michael Fitzgerald
07-28-2009, 03:40 AM
BTW Chris- I love your website- excellent, and thanks for having it out there for people.

DH
07-28-2009, 06:46 AM
Yes. Martial artists study physical conflict, or fighting. But they are not necessarily fighters. In fact in the case of Aikido, the vast majority are not fighters.

Historians are not pirates or cowboys or knights, they simply study them.
Then fix it!
While it is true that the only way to learn how to fight is to fight-there are also too many out there re-inventing the wheel, and or repeating mistakes and arriving at false conclusions based on their own inadequacies. Further, that they are trying to introduce things into their art that do not belong-in a misguided attempt to fix what is broken- without ever really understanding just "what" was broken to begin with.

When does a modern fella "messing around" with a weapon he clearly knows little about using-in which his every move offers openings you could drive a truck through ever going to arrive at a conclusion on how to defend against someone who would leave little to no openings? How would a year of the training with the former stack up with one day of training with the later?
All the modern fella messing around will really do is feel good about his research until the day someone comes along who knows the weapon inside and out and hands him his head. The more things change-the more they stay the same.

Time is a precious thing. I would suggest finding people who really know what they are doing with a weapon in their hand and asking if you can try your stuff on them, ask to experiment. You might find that one day of work, with some seriously capable people might be worth 5 years of weekly training...in the wrong direction.
I will only say I know a whole bunch of Aikidoka who tried various versions of what is being discussed here, who went on to meet men who train with classical weapons and freestyle experiment with those principles who will say "Amen" to that.

False conclusions abound. Case in point the video with two judo guys using shinai to prove they could get inside a sword strike. Let’s introduce an electrical stun gun charge to the monouchi of the shinai and place it in the hands of someone really capable and see how well the Judo guy gets "inside" of that.
I have no words for someone being stupid enough to take the presence of a three foot razor blade so lightly that he can charge into one-so lets give him a "charge" back .
Then again watching the fella wielding it -I wouldn't take him seriously either. But all that does is point back to the thrust of my post; inadaquete players questioning the veracity of methods they know litte about and arriving at false conclusions and reinventing a wheel that won't hold up to scrutiny from capable men.

I applaud the idea of experimentation, I just question the parameters. I think many of us are capable of coming up with solutions- but few are really thinking it through and seriously doing the work. There are better solutions to this question than what is being presented here.
It starts with "the who" in who is wielding the weapon.
Then you can begin with some really challenging training and experimentation. Anything else is a waste of time.
Cheers
Dan

Michael Douglas
07-28-2009, 07:40 AM
No.

What you have there is an ass being struck, ignoring it, then repeatedly pounding away ato uchi and thinking he's "winning" because his partner isn't doing the same.
I agree and disagree with Kent. Mostly agree.
We see LOTS of asses being struck, the stripeys against the skirteys (I cannot say Judoka v kendoka, there is no indication WITHIN the video of such) and they are all doing things unlikely to happen in a REAL SWORDFIGHT.
But Kent you're much much righter than Chris, in my opinion.
During the video there must be only 5% of the action valid in a REAL SWORDFIGHT context, 95% happens after some decisive blade contact which is totally ignored. Bunch of prats, the ref is awful too.

This is so very true too ;... I have spared against a few kendoka, and they really do not have the concept of protecting themselves during or after the attack. It is all well and good to kill your opponent but from test cutting experience, you do not what to be on the path of the sword when it falls, regardless if its user is already dead.
That is not present in Kendo, ...

jxa127
07-28-2009, 07:57 AM
... inadequate players questioning the veracity of methods they know little about and arriving at false conclusions and reinventing a wheel that won't hold up to scrutiny from capable men.

I love this description! I'll even happily confess to being one of the inadequate players from time to time...

ChrisHein
07-28-2009, 11:23 AM
I agree Dan. It would help a lot if all those who claim to know so much would actually put out some information instead of trying to be mysterious.

Going and fighting with people who actually fight did lots for my training. I know some others out there have done similar things, but they are not sharing. Video's might be a good way to get the ball rolling. Even if they are not a complete way to learn something, they might give interested parties something to work with, or interest them enough to go out and work with the people making the videos.

Mostly we all just throw our ideas around, which is good, but VERY limited. I have heard said many times in the past that video will not offer complete understanding of what is happening, but it is much less limited, in my opinion, then arguing over the internet.

Rob Watson
07-28-2009, 06:04 PM
SNIP
My point was... at a point were you match intensity with your opponent What prevails? SNIP
William Hazen

I've been thinking about this quite a bit ... Basically I just imposed my will and refused to allow things to proceed except the way I wanted. Can't really explain it any other way.

DH
07-31-2009, 01:06 PM
I agree Dan. It would help a lot if all those who claim to know so much would actually put out some information instead of trying to be mysterious.

Going and fighting with people who actually fight did lots for my training. I know some others out there have done similar things, but they are not sharing. Video's might be a good way to get the ball rolling. Even if they are not a complete way to learn something, they might give interested parties something to work with, or interest them enough to go out and work with the people making the videos.

Mostly we all just throw our ideas around, which is good, but VERY limited. I have heard said many times in the past that video will not offer complete understanding of what is happening, but it is much less limited, in my opinion, then arguing over the internet.
Of those I know capable of actually doing the work-not just talking about it-NONE would ever do a video in the first place and are VERY picky about who they share it with to boot! It's just the way of it. You can kick the messenger or dig around and find people to train with and eventually become one of them.
The current path I see you on in your videos just won't ever get you there. You are re-inventing the wheel with many false parameters. I don't know what else to say. I hope you can read my intent correctly when you ask for public opinions. I wish you well...like I said to you on several occasions, "I admire your mindset- not just the methods being shown." Weapons are a whole different enironment.
Good luck in your training
Dan

ChrisHein
07-31-2009, 04:40 PM
Of those I know capable of actually doing the work-not just talking about it-NONE would ever do a video in the first place and are VERY picky about who they share it with to boot! It's just the way of it. You can kick the messenger or dig around and find people to train with and eventually become one of them.
The current path I see you on in your videos just won't ever get you there. You are re-inventing the wheel with many false parameters. I don't know what else to say. I hope you can read my intent correctly when you ask for public opinions. I wish you well...like I said to you on several occasions, "I admire your mindset- not just the methods being shown." Weapons are a whole different enironment.
Good luck in your training
Dan

Most people I encounter that don't want to show what they are doing are simply hiding their inadequacy.

stan baker
07-31-2009, 07:37 PM
Hi Chris,

Dan is not most people

stan

DonMagee
08-02-2009, 12:37 AM
I find this thread funny, maybe because it's 1am.

It starts with aikidoka saying you can't learn how to sword fight without aliveness, and ends with aikidoka responding to videos saying "But nobody attacks like that!!"

The irony is overwhelming.

DH
08-05-2009, 10:02 AM
I find this thread funny, maybe because it's 1am.

It starts with aikidoka saying you can't learn how to sword fight without aliveness, and ends with aikidoka responding to videos saying "But nobody attacks like that!!"

The irony is overwhelming.
Don
Since mine was the ending commentary I assume you meant me? I am not an aiki weapons guy. So my comments were not coming from that particular point of view.
Dan

jonreading
08-05-2009, 11:57 AM
Having been embarrassed regularly by aikiken and other sword arts, I agree with Ledyard Sensei about his comment on the simplicity of sword play. Cut your opponent first...

I would separate swordplay from aikiken using an analogy of an athelete. For example, a spectacular baseball slugger may be a poor hitting coach because while the slugger unquestionably possesses the ability to hit a baseball, he may lack the ability to effectively communicate that learned skill to another player. In the same sense, a great swordsman who cannot effectively communicate her skill to another swordsman cannot maintain an art.

I think aikiken is an instructional endeavor moreso than a killing art, which may be the key difference. I don't think either are obsolete and I regularly derive excellent training from sword work.

As a side comment - many aikido people learn aikiken because it is required for a black belt and they do not look further into it. These people should not be the source of our discussion about the effectiveness of aikiken. I have never felt like "wacking sticks" when I have worked out with people who know what the %#$^ they are doing with aikiken.

DonMagee
08-06-2009, 03:30 PM
Don
Since mine was the ending commentary I assume you meant me? I am not an aiki weapons guy. So my comments were not coming from that particular point of view.
Dan

Not really, just an overall feel from reading the thread. I wouldn't say I was commenting at a individual post or person.

dalen7
09-09-2009, 02:02 AM
No one alive fights with live swords anymore.

Fencing is pretty close. They have the little lights that go off when they hit and everything. :)

Peace

dAlen

Mark Uttech
09-09-2009, 08:42 AM
Onegaishimasu. For what it's worth, someone was killed by a sword-wielding nut just a few months ago only 10 miles from my dojo.

In gassho

Mark

Abasan
09-09-2009, 09:28 AM
People get killed by a speeding car everyday too. No offence but some nut with a sword killing people is not relevant. That said, I'm sorry to hear the news.

Erick Mead
09-09-2009, 10:45 AM
I think aikiken is an instructional endeavor moreso than a killing art, which may be the key difference. I don't think either are obsolete and I regularly derive excellent training from sword work.One of our guys with jujutsu background was very appreciative the other night when I worked through several movements beginning wholly with the sword as simple aiki-ken awase and then moved to the same tai-jutsu movement in aikido techniques. He said it helped him understand the movements better to see them in a larger framework and with the nature of the connection and control by grip eliminated, the reasons for the manner of movement and connection became clearer for him

Mark Uttech
09-10-2009, 01:30 PM
People get killed by a speeding car everyday too. No offence but some nut with a sword killing people is not relevant. That said, I'm sorry to hear the news.

Onegaishimasu. Not relevant? Ok how about Rwanda in 1994
where 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered with machetes in 100 days?

In gassho,

Mark

Abasan
09-10-2009, 11:46 PM
Mark, Rwanda is out of context. That was genocide. Sure some were using machetes, but be assured assault weapons were there to make sure the initial force pretty overwhelming. In that situation, martial arts may not give you any real advantage. Put an armed special forces guy in that situation and he'll most likely die too.

Having said that, I'm not discounting the need to train against sharp weapons. Its just that we try out of our way to fit things on why we have to train vs this weapon or that when the main benefit derived from good martial arts training is calmness, awareness and .... (fill the blank with your specific training focus).

I meant no offence.

otomo
01-01-2010, 09:36 AM
To reply to the TS.

That's not a real life application a technique, a mere set of katas intended for training, not self defense against an street attacker using a shinken.

I don't really quite get what's your problem with aiki-ken, why do you compare it to kenjutsu? The fact is, no one can be a "real" sword fighter anymore, nobody uses swords, you can't carry a sword for self defense, and most important of all, using sword against a gun = death.

Unless as you say, you live in a warped saturday morning cartoon reality and you think you will deflecting bullets and cutting the guns in half with your sword.

Are there many real life application in aikido for a real life, street wise, self defense situation?

What are we training? self defense or martial arts? anybody training martial arts for self defense are in for a world of danger.

Melchizedek
01-03-2010, 05:18 AM
Hi hope we learn from this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NHrGc36Hu8&feature=rec-rn-2f-2-HM

Chill

Toby Threadgill
01-04-2010, 12:57 PM
Hello,

After reading thru this thread I have little to say beyond this:

Aikiken is what it is. It is intended to improve ones aikido but it is not swordsmanship. It is not intended to be swordsmanship so it is unfair to saddle it with such a purpose.

Trying to make the case that we in koryu kenjutsu don't know what happens in sword combat, demonstrates simple ignorance of the subject. If you want to learn what happens in combat with a Japanese sword, join a koryu kenjutsu school. After about 5 years of training, trust me, you'll have changed your mind. ...The stories I could tell......

Anyone who ever met Takamura Sensei face to face, immediately noticed the scars all over his body and face from fighting with sharp swords. He died in 2000 at age 74. Back in my fencing days I knew a very scarred up group of old Hungarian and Italian swordsman that still fought with sharp rapiers and epee's. The last I heard two had been run clear thru accidently but did not receive a life threatening injury.

So, although uncommon, there are people who still really fight with sharp swords and some of us do know what flesh looks like after even a light encounter with sharp steel. Some people also understand the psychological stresses of real combat with a blade.

Let me emphasize, this is not some macho pissing contest. I'm saying that just because you don't know something directly, doesn't mean you should make the assumption that others don't. It's a far crazier world out there than many realize.

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

ChrisMoses
01-04-2010, 02:16 PM
So, although uncommon, there are people who still really fight with sharp swords and some of us do know what flesh looks like after even a light encounter with sharp steel. Some people also understand the psychological stresses of real combat with a blade.


Nurse: "So what happened to his arm?"
Student X: "We was sword-fightin!"

;)

Eric Winters
01-04-2010, 03:45 PM
Hello,

Aiki-Ken and Aiki-Jo in the Iwama tradition was never meant to be real kenjitsu. Morihiro Saito Sensei and Pat Hendricks Sensei mentioned fairly often that it was for developing better taijitsu only. I have trained in battojitsu before and it is very different. I used my aiki principles for sparing and they worked well but I would never fight a real swordsman if I had a choice.

Best,

Eric

Toby Threadgill
01-04-2010, 03:55 PM
Nurse: "So what happened to his arm?"
Student X: "We was sword-fightin!"

;)

Chris,

You are a very bad man. I had forgotten that you knew THAT story.
;)

Toby

Chris Covington
01-04-2010, 04:33 PM
I've cut two people with swords in my life and one of them was me. The other was a ninja buddy of mine who wanted to show me some jutte waza from his ninja group (I think we was Genbukan or Jinenkan at the time... he swaps ninja clubs all the time). Anyway, he pulls out a sword and tells me to cut shomen. I do and just hold the sword out there in a high chudan. He jumped out of the way and locks the sword in his jutte. He twisted the jutte some odd direction and lays his thumb wide open. I'm still just standing there in chudan. :crazy:

Anyway, I think Toby is right about crazy stuff out there. There are still dueling clubs in Germany that fight with sharp swords. Bull fighters still kill bulls with swords. I've seen belly dancers balance a sword on their head while they dance. There are a bunch of reason to use a sword and not all are for killing people and that doesn't make one any better than another. Just different... It isn't fair to judge one art against another if they have very different goals. I put my money on the belly dancing girls every time though :D

Michael Hackett
01-04-2010, 06:18 PM
I've seen three or four LE training films showing some deranged or drunken knucklehead swinging a "samurai sword" around and refusing to drop it when confronted by uniformed officers. Given all the circumstances, I doubt that these were quality swords, by the way. The sword technique wasn't any better either. The shotgun waza and TASER waza was excellent though, reminding me of the old adage about not bringing a knife to a gunfight.

I've never faced a sword-wielding suspect in the field; a couple of guys with knives and one character with a recurve bow and hunting arrows. I'm fairly confident that I wouldn't try shinken dori if I were.

Keith Larman
01-05-2010, 10:00 AM
Nurse: "So what happened to his arm?"
Student X: "We was sword-fightin!"

;)

A friend of mine (godan MJER) shoved his very nice shinshinto sword back through his forearm during a kata. His angle was off a bit and the tip caught slicing into and out of his forearm. Everyone who knew stayed very quiet (Best Schultz voice: "I know nothinnnnnng.").

Moral of the story: Only train with reserved, quiet, discrete people who do their best not to upset the hospital staff.

I.e., don't train with Texans...

Keith Larman
01-05-2010, 10:06 AM
And just to add an observation... I've seen people do things in Aikido with bokken that make me want to get one of my swords out and see how that works with a real one. There would be a *lot* of people out there missing body parts, usually due to their own really, really bad habits. Too much time with bokken and none with a real sword.

And as a guy who trains in it I'll add to the chorus -- it is about learning movement, distancing, aiki, etc. It is about improving your aikido. If you want to learn swordsmanship, go somewhere to learn swordsmanship that teaches swordsmanship. Personally I think it is a good thing to learn to use it correctly. It filters back into the work with the bokken in Aikido. I just wouldn't suggest thinking it goes the other way -- swords are vastly too specialized a weapon. They have their own rules.

ChrisMoses
01-05-2010, 10:36 AM
Moral of the story: Only train with reserved, quiet, discrete people who do their best not to upset the hospital staff.

I.e., don't train with Texans...

LOL

About eight (good grief has it been that long...) years ago I snapped my ulna in half during randori at the end of class (my fault, drove home the point that te-gatana is a metaphor not a reality). A dojo mate splinted it with two wooden tanto, she was a medical professional so she did me up right. I didn't bother changing out but headed to the hospital with her. Got there and finally got to talk to a doctor. "Well I was going to ask how this happened, but I'm guessing you weren't at a pajama party..." he says. After complimenting my friend on the splint (she was an EMT for a while) he started unwrapping it. When he got to the tanto, he paused, and slowly handed them to my friend, "I bet you want these back..."

I also cut the front of my knee about 10 years ago doing kiri otoshi tameshigiri. I was paying attention to the cut and not my footwork and cut in a hanmi (a no-no in my battojutsu style). I over cut, and went clean through the target and wacked the front of my knee with the tsuba. I looked down and there was about a 1.5" slice in my hakama. I pulled it up and there was a matching 1.5" slice in my dogi pants. I pulled my dogi pants up and there was another matching 1.5" scalpel clean slice right across the top of my knee. I ran inside and put two butterflies across the cut. The cut was so clean that it healed up in three days with no stitches. :crazy:

Those things be crazy sharp.

Alec Corper
01-05-2010, 10:57 AM
At the risk of being jumped on, here is the other side of the story. I took up Shinkendo and practised fairly seriously for 7 years. i have much respect for Obata kaiso's art, and whatever peoples opinions of koryu vs. gendai he is IMHO a master swordsman. Howver I came to a point where i felt it did not add to an overall flow and blend which i was personally seeking in my aikido. The attitude of enter and cut is something I now try to study and implement under the guidance of Hiroshi Kato sensei. His swordwork is Aikiken and yet it sometimes gives me a more realistic sense of flowing with the sword as a part of my body and an extension of my irimi, rather than using a weapon. I believe the idea of "sword. body and ki as one" is the essence of the study.

George S. Ledyard
01-05-2010, 11:08 AM
At the risk of being jumped on, here is the other side of the story. I took up Shinkendo and practised fairly seriously for 7 years. i have much respect for Obata kaiso's art, and whatever peoples opinions of koryu vs. gendai he is IMHO a master swordsman. Howver I came to a point where i felt it did not add to an overall flow and blend which i was personally seeking in my aikido. The attitude of enter and cut is something I now try to study and implement under the guidance of Hiroshi Kato sensei. His swordwork is Aikiken and yet it sometimes gives me a more realistic sense of flowing with the sword as a part of my body and an extension of my irimi, rather than using a weapon. I believe the idea of "sword. body and ki as one" is the essence of the study.

Most Aikido practitioners who do weapons, especially sword, cannot adequately tell you how what they do directly ties into their empty hand. To my mind, if it's aiki sword or aiki jo, then the principles at work are identical to those at work in the empty hand. One should delineate what those are. If not, then probably what is going on is a bunch of "stick whapping" and really has no relation to the empty hand.

At a seminar I taught once, I was breaking down a set of Saotome Sensei's forms at a level of detail that the attendees were clearly not used to. One stated that he wasn't doing sword to actually be a swordsman, he just wanted to make his empty hand better. I challenged him to tell me how doing bad sword could possibly make his empty hand better.

Alec Corper
01-05-2010, 11:33 AM
Most Aikido practitioners who do weapons, especially sword, cannot adequately tell you how what they do directly ties into their empty hand. To my mind, if it's aiki sword or aiki jo, then the principles at work are identical to those at work in the empty hand. One should delineate what those are. If not, then probably what is going on is a bunch of "stick whapping" and really has no relation to the empty hand.

At a seminar I taught once, I was breaking down a set of Saotome Sensei's forms at a level of detail that the attendees were clearly not used to. One stated that he wasn't doing sword to actually be a swordsman, he just wanted to make his empty hand better. I challenged him to tell me how doing bad sword could possibly make his empty hand better.

Totally agree, however I question the idea that "real" swordsmanship improves aikido more than properly understood Aikiken. I believe, from experience, that many aspects of unarmed combat derive from lessons learnt in armed combat, most importantly that survival is often measured in a "hair's thickness". Precision, timing, distance, rythym, postural alignment, focus, relaxation, etc., etc.
I also agree that "stick whapping", whilst lots of fun for the testosterone impaired, bears little relationship to empty hand, it also bears virtually none to swordsmanship. Thus I can only conclude that those who don't learn much from aikiken would probably not learn much from working with a shinken. Those who are serious, shin ken, would learn with a chop stick.

Toby Threadgill
01-05-2010, 03:41 PM
I question the idea that "real" swordsmanship improves aikido more than properly understood Aikiken.

Mr Corper,

I hope you did not get that impression from anything I wrote. I think I've been very clear. I see aikiken as a specialized system created to advance and support the understanding of aikido principles. Furthermore, not all kenjutsu traditions may be conducive to supporting aikido principles because their core principles may be in conflict with those of aikido. When I observe Jigen ryu, for instance, I do not see an art that would be particularly valuable to an aikidoka. Jigen ryu just doesn't operate in the same physical plane as aikido.

In most koryu-sogo bujutsu schools (comprehensive martial systems) you might find things a bit different. The foundation of a sogo bujutsu is almost always kenjutsu. Consequently, the associated taijutsu/jujutsu system stands on the same basic movements and physical principles utilized in the schools kenjutsu. In fact, all the different systems taught in a sogo bujutsu will embrace one set of cohesive principles, whether you are wielding a sword, spear, knife or executing a jujutsu technique. So, "real" swordsmanship would only be valuable to an aikidoka if that sword system embraced complimentary principles, and since aiki originated in Japan as a principle of swordsmanship, there are numerous systems of kenjutsu that aikidoka enjoy as complimentary study.

So, you may be misunderstanding. I don't think anyone is claiming kenjutsu is superior to proper aikiken as a comprehensive part of aikido training....unless as an aikidoka you also want to be a swordsman. The controversy occurs the other direction, when someone doing aikiken, mistakenly believes aikiken to be "kenjutsu" and believes themselves to be a qualified swordsman.

I have many aikidoka with top notch experience in aikiken now training with me in TSYR. One is the US Chief Instructor of JAA. Others are from Shirata's Aikido system and Iwama style. Without exception, they will all tell you exactly what I am saying. Aikiken is an excellent training device for aikido, unless an aikidoka desires to go farther in their understanding of swordsmanship. If that is the case, they should search out a system of koryu kenjutsu, but that system should embrace principles complimentary to those in aikido, otherwise you face the challenge of learning two arts with conflicting principles.

Respectfully,

Toby Threadgill

Aikibu
01-05-2010, 06:58 PM
Most Aikido practitioners who do weapons, especially sword, cannot adequately tell you how what they do directly ties into their empty hand. To my mind, if it's aiki sword or aiki jo, then the principles at work are identical to those at work in the empty hand. One should delineate what those are. If not, then probably what is going on is a bunch of "stick whapping" and really has no relation to the empty hand.

At a seminar I taught once, I was breaking down a set of Saotome Sensei's forms at a level of detail that the attendees were clearly not used to. One stated that he wasn't doing sword to actually be a swordsman, he just wanted to make his empty hand better. I challenged him to tell me how doing bad sword could possibly make his empty hand better.

Excellent Post Sensei and I agree Sensei that most cannot explain "Aiki-Ken"... Those who practice Shoji Nishio's expression of Aikido however understand the importance of "Aiki-ken"

Quite simply..our Aikido will not work without a firm understanding of weapons be it Bokken Jo or Katana
Every Aikido principle we're taught is based on the sword..From how to move all the way to pinning your uke. Our Tai-jitsu is done expressly as though you have a sword in your hand. In fact your arm and uke's arm are nothing more than extensions for the sword.
When I attend outside Aikido Seminars the difference in our approach to Tai-Jitsu because of our emphasis that "Aikido is the Sword" is really obvious.

So "in reality" our Aikido is an expression of our Sword not The Sword is an expression of Aikido.

Shoji Nishio's representative in the US Koji Yoshida Sensei continues to improve upon this philosophy.

As usual Stan Pranin's interviews with Shoji Nishio Shihan provide more insight than I can. :)

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=397

I really hope to get to one of your seminars soon. I have not seen you since the last Aiki-Expo.

William Hazen

Alec Corper
01-06-2010, 03:15 AM
So, you may be misunderstanding. I don't think anyone is claiming kenjutsu is superior to proper aikiken as a comprehensive part of aikido training....unless as an aikidoka you also want to be a swordsman. The controversy occurs the other direction, when someone doing aikiken, mistakenly believes aikiken to be "kenjutsu" and believes themselves to be a qualified swordsman.

Mr. Threadgill, I do not know you personally but I know your credentials and have seen you demonstrate your art. I have no argument with what you say, in fact, after working with Obata sensei for some years, i completely agree that there are far too many Aikidoka and even instructors who state that what they do is a sword based art but show little understanding of what a real sword is or how it behaves. Your point about some koryu systems having little bearing upon aikido is also what i am alluding to in response to some peoples sweeping statements that using a sword will improve aikido. As you say that depends on the aiki principles involved, (or not, as the case maybe). I have a tiny experience with Katori Shintoryu which tells me that a more complete weapons system would most likely have more bearing upon aiki arts than a purely sword based practise. There is currently a growing number of karate practioners who believe that many not understood movements in kata are actually ura forms of weapon arts. When these movements are dispensed with by modern practioners due to the overly utilitarian mindset, training aspects of whole body practise are lost. However mindlessly repeating a movement that cannot be related to either it's combat origin or it's body training value is pointless. I see this in both aikiken and some swordwork as well.
with respect, Alec Corper

otomo
01-14-2010, 07:08 PM
The shotgun waza and TASER waza was excellent though, reminding me of the old adage about not bringing a knife to a gunfight.


LOL!!! too true, too true :rolleyes:

edshockley
02-02-2010, 10:22 AM
I apologize for entering the post so late and have found the discussion fascinating. As an instructor of aiki-weapons I am perhaps more generous in my thinking. Nizam Taleb sensei is fond of saying that "the sword is subtle..." Cutting through water soaked mats is a useful representation of flesh and bone. Practicing against a tire helps stabilize one's cut. Still, were someone to give young Muhammad Ali a sword I would be inclined to run. His reflexes might mitigate any knowledge that his opponent has. At our dojo we continually examine the "martial logic" of a kata or technique and practice fluid variations so that the final cut is decided by who executes their movements most effectively rather than the prescribed roles of uke and nage. Still, as was stated by many posts, the purpose of aiki weapons is to reveal weaknesses in hand technique. The combination of the focus that a stick descending toward one's head commands and the obviousness of a misaligned sword are a complete raison d'etre for the art, and attempts at comparing its efficacy in "real" battle versus other sword arts are negated (in my mind) by the "ali effect."

Toby Threadgill
02-02-2010, 10:15 PM
I apologize for entering the post so late and have found the discussion fascinating. As an instructor of aiki-weapons I am perhaps more generous in my thinking. Nizam Taleb sensei is fond of saying that "the sword is subtle..." Cutting through water soaked mats is a useful representation of flesh and bone. Practicing against a tire helps stabilize one's cut. Still, were someone to give young Muhammad Ali a sword I would be inclined to run. His reflexes might mitigate any knowledge that his opponent has.

Mr Shockley,

Sorry but that has not been my experience at all. I teach kenjutsu all over the world and have had direct experience with world class competitive athletes who have chosen to pick up swords. Their first experience at attempting to handle a sword is usually quite disconcerting. On only one occasion has a world class competitor I know picked up a sword for the first time and not looked completely maladroit. Even then this individual would not have been competent enough in its handling to engage a trained adversary. To assume that physical prowess in one arena necessarily transfers to another might seem logical but in my experience with swords, such thinking belongs in fanciful fairy tales or celluloid blockbusters. Not one person I have met who excelled in a empty handed art like karate or kickboxing had the intuitive skills to pick up a sword and demonstrate a level of practical ability that could threaten even a moderately trained swordsman. There are simply too many differences between the paradigm of pugilism and edged combat.

No matter how romantically desired, the fact remains that the Tom Cruises of the world successfully engaging a samurai after limited exposure to kenjutsu is the perview of Hollywood fantasy, not reality.

Ali vs Yojimbo = One very dead boxer.

:) (Tongue firmly in cheek)

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

MM
02-03-2010, 06:41 AM
Still, as was stated by many posts, the purpose of aiki weapons is to reveal weaknesses in hand technique.


It's been printed that Ueshiba would "study" a sword art, then say something to the effect of, this is how to do that with aiki. Toss in some information about Daito ryu aiki being a body skill that Takeda passed on to Ueshiba. Put it together and I would think that "aiki weapons" is how one who has aiki (the body skill) would actually use a sword differently than other sword arts that do not have aiki. That would be one purpose of aiki weapons.

Another purpose would be to actually use weapons with aiki (again, the actual body skill), which is significantly harder than training a body to use aiki. (And this type of skill does help to explain why top kendo people went to Ueshiba to learn "taisabaki".)

IMO,
Mark

Josh Reyer
02-03-2010, 07:32 AM
Yet another possiblity is "this is how we do it in aiki" was perhaps just another example of a man seeing the surface of something, and without penetrating to its depths started to "fix" it. After all 8:05 to 8:28 of this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxhOwrQUYgQ) does not show a man with an overabundance of skill with the sword.

MM
02-03-2010, 10:05 AM
Yet another possiblity is "this is how we do it in aiki" was perhaps just another example of a man seeing the surface of something, and without penetrating to its depths started to "fix" it. After all 8:05 to 8:28 of this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxhOwrQUYgQ) does not show a man with an overabundance of skill with the sword.

No argument about Ueshiba seeing the surface and not penetrating the depths. I don't think he wanted to, which is why he merely watched and then stated how he'd do the same thing with aiki. But the aiki he meant was Daito ryu aiki. Ellis writes about this skill and koryu in his Hidden in Plain Sight book. I don't believe it was that common -- hence my comparison for Ueshiba using aiki versus sword arts that didn't have aiki. But, I should have said, people in sword arts that didn't have aiki. While not common, that doesn't mean non existent. :)

Rob Watson
02-03-2010, 03:20 PM
I apologize for entering the post so late and have found the discussion fascinating. As an instructor of aiki-weapons I am perhaps more generous in my thinking. Nizam Taleb sensei is fond of saying that "the sword is subtle..." Cutting through water soaked mats is a useful representation of flesh and bone. Practicing against a tire helps stabilize one's cut. Still, were someone to give young Muhammad Ali a sword I would be inclined to run. His reflexes might mitigate any knowledge that his opponent has. At our dojo we continually examine the "martial logic" of a kata or technique and practice fluid variations so that the final cut is decided by who executes their movements most effectively rather than the prescribed roles of uke and nage. Still, as was stated by many posts, the purpose of aiki weapons is to reveal weaknesses in hand technique. The combination of the focus that a stick descending toward one's head commands and the obviousness of a misaligned sword are a complete raison d'etre for the art, and attempts at comparing its efficacy in "real" battle versus other sword arts are negated (in my mind) by the "ali effect."

So far in the dojo I've never even touched a live blade .... well , maybe once. After a solid whack square in the forehead with a bokken and suffering no ill effects I got much better at my technique. I don't think I'll repeat that with a live blade nor let Mr. Threadgill go after me with a bokken either. Well, OK Mr. Threadgill can go after me with a bokken but only if he promises that it will be a learning experience (and not really hurt that much).

Carl Thompson
02-03-2010, 08:12 PM
After all 8:05 to 8:28 of ...this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxhOwrQUYgQ) does not show a man with an overabundance of skill with the sword.

Hi Josh,

Could you clarify what makes the sword-work in this section of the clip less than overabundant in skill?

Thanks

Carl

Josh Reyer
02-04-2010, 12:56 AM
Hi Josh,

Could you clarify what makes the sword-work in this section of the clip less than overabundant in skill?

Thanks

Carl

Very little whole body integration. He cuts with the hands, jerking his head back. His lower body is not stable, it's almost as if the sword's pulling him, rather than him cutting with the sword. He does a couple flourish-y one handed sweeping cuts that don't have proper hasuji. Some of his cuts are rushed and abbreviated. Plus he's doing a long solo sword kata, something that is virtually unheard of koryu kenjutsu, and as far as I know, does not exist in any of the arts he may have been exposed to (Ono-ha Itto-ryu, Jikishinkage-ryu, Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, Kashima Shinto-ryu, and Kendo). The way it abruptly stops leads me to suspect that he was making it up extemporaneously, although the form would eventually be solidified enough to be passed on to Shirata, who did something very similar.

All that said, paraphrasing Rufus from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, "He does get better."

Carl Thompson
02-04-2010, 03:26 AM
Thanks Josh.

The observation regarding his body movement seems quite significant. My concern was not so much the idea that it wasn’t good kenjutsu. In that respect I liked this comment:

Aikiken is what it is. It is intended to improve ones aikido but it is not swordsmanship. It is not intended to be swordsmanship so it is unfair to saddle it with such a purpose.

However, the integration of the body... again I want to look at the purpose of what he is doing in the clip. I’ve seen the video before and initially thought it looked like a nascent happogiri but because of the fervour and abandon of its execution I am also reminded of the twenty-eight cuts ceremony in which the founder would cut seven times from the points of the compass. Could the demonstration in this clip be more related to kagura-mai?

Thanks again for your reply

Carl

TomW
02-04-2010, 08:19 PM
.... The way it abruptly stops leads me to suspect that he was making it up extemporaneously, although the form would eventually be solidified enough to be passed on to Shirata, who did something very similar.

I assume this is what you're referring to: video clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hl8_CPKcI4)

Allen can speak more definitively on this (if he chooses) but there is no connection between what Ueshiba did in the 1935 Asashi News film and what Shirata Sensei did in the above video.

Allen Beebe
02-05-2010, 01:29 AM
I have purposefully chosen not to participate in this discussion because a) defining Aiki Ken seems about as slippery (and as ultimately doable) as defining Aikido,* and b) those definitions seem to me best left to the the individual most closely associated with the terms.

As for what I was taught by Shirata sensei, I find it strikingly similar, if not identical, to what I've been taught by Threadgill sensei. I was taught some kata that are unique to our school and many kata that are directly derived from older Koryu. As with the taijutsu I learned, there was no mistaking the intention or ultimate purpose of their execution. While not aiming, or claiming, to be a complete school of Kenjutsu, Kenjutsu (and other weaponry) is included to at once synergistically inform and educate the body and mind to realities faced and the skills demanded while being operational within that context.** Further similarities exist as both arts do this while necessarily and simultaneously putting equal emphasis upon their respective spiritual cores which are fundamental to each art's identity.

Of course Threadgill sensei is best qualified to comment on the Kenjutsu, and other elements that comprise Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu. Unfortunately Ueshiba Morihei is no longer able to do the same for Aikido so we are left with his writings, what direct students gleaned from his teaching, and other far more distantly related opinions.

As I mentioned at the opening of this post, I have, to date, purposefully chosen NOT to participate in this thread as I *personally* don't find such discussion particularly productive. I reluctantly post now due to an amalgam of comments that seemed to me to call for a response of some kind on my behalf. However, all of my comments can, and should be, taken for what their worth.

All the best,
Allen

*In other words, many of us will assume 1) we know what we are talking about, and 2) that we are talking about the same thing, while in reality we almost certainly are not!

**BTW success in this type of training naturally calls for a teacher uniquely qualified to pass on such knowledge. I think it readily apparent that knowledge of the specific body skills, tactical and psychological components etc. associated with such training obviously doesn't just "fall out of the sky upon someone" just because they pick up a stick or a sword. Consequently, I think that the knowledge is either there to be had, or it isn't. "Props" are secondary exemplars, not the containers of knowledge. Furthermore, as for arts that grew synergistically as a product of an amalgam of complimentary inputs, I think one can see that once the root wisdom/knowledge is gone, it's gone. Any attempt at reconstruction via a collection of similar props will at best be similar and not "of the original." In other words, a direct progeny is, by definition, the product of the forebears' and not just from something genetically similar, much less something dressed alike.

Toby Threadgill
02-05-2010, 01:17 PM
Hi,

A quick clarification is in order. The term aiki-ken is rather problematic itself because no one has provided a clear definiton of what it is.

There are aikidoka swinging bokken with no exposure to genuine kenjutsu. There are aikidoka swinging bokken with real, albeit limited exposure to genuine kenjutsu. Then there are aikidoka swinging bokken who hold actual teaching licenses in kenjutsu.

Are they all doing aiki-ken or are only some of them doing aiki-ken? Interesting question for you aikidoka out there to ponder?

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Aikibu
02-05-2010, 03:26 PM
Hi,

A quick clarification is in order. The term aiki-ken is rather problematic itself because no one has provided a clear definiton of what it is.

There are aikidoka swinging bokken with no exposure to genuine kenjutsu. There are aikidoka swinging bokken with real, albeit limited exposure to genuine kenjutsu. Then there are aikidoka swinging bokken who hold actual teaching licenses in kenjutsu.

Are they all doing aiki-ken or are only some of them doing aiki-ken? Interesting question for you aikidoka out there to ponder?

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Pondering Awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! :)

George S. Ledyard
02-08-2010, 01:17 PM
Hi,

A quick clarification is in order. The term aiki-ken is rather problematic itself because no one has provided a clear definiton of what it is.

There are aikidoka swinging bokken with no exposure to genuine kenjutsu. There are aikidoka swinging bokken with real, albeit limited exposure to genuine kenjutsu. Then there are aikidoka swinging bokken who hold actual teaching licenses in kenjutsu.

Are they all doing aiki-ken or are only some of them doing aiki-ken? Interesting question for you aikidoka out there to ponder?

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

I would say that Saito Sensei's sword work would have to define what might be called "orthodox" aikisword. He was a tremendous systematizer of the vast repertoire of O-Sensei's sword work.

On the other hand, not everyone in Aikido followed Saito's system. Tamura, Chiba, Nishio, and Saotome Sensei's didn't.

So to my mind, aiki sword is sword done utilizing the same principle as empty hand. The sword is an extension of the body. Control of the opponent's blade is done using the same principles as empty hand ikkyo. In other words you run a spiral that allows you to rest your body weight on the opponent, or in this case his sword. It is about controlling the space that the attacker needs to be in to successfully cut you. Taking that space before the attacker can take it. Aiki sword should be the study of "irimi" mental and physical.

I think that, if one can;t say exactly how the sword work you are doing relates to an equivalent empty hand principle, then one isn't doing Aiki sword, regardless of whose style it is. It is just as possible to do sword work with no aiki as it is to do ordinary Aikido with no aiki. O-Sensei used to come out of his office and yell at the students for doing what he called "stick whacking" (whatever the Japanese equivalent is).

I once read an interview with Kanai Sensei in which he said something along the following lines... In kenjutsu you train to the point which your body becomes one with the sword. In aiki sword you train until the sword simply becomes an extension of your body. I think I understand what he meant and I agree up to a point but I think that, in the end both Aiki ken and kenjutsu strive to make the sword an extension of the mind, so on that level they should come together.

If Aiki sword work is done properly, I think that it should be something an experienced kenjutsu practitioner would look at and go "that's great, up to a point..." What we do isn't kenjutsu but it should look solid to anyone who does sword, just not complete. If it doesn't it probably isn't good aiki ken. Way to much sword work in Aikido is just stick whacking with no sense of how it relates to empty hand.

JW
02-08-2010, 09:45 PM
I feel like Threadgill sensei's important question still stands-- but in light of Ledyard sensei's points, it could be expressed in another way: functionally, rather than experientially.

What is aikiken, when there are:
-Aikidoka doing legitimate kenjutsu for kenjutsu's sake
-Aikidoka doing legitimate kenjutsu as a way of exploring aiki concepts
-Aikidoka doing movement that falls short of fully solid kenjutsu, but are legitimately exploring aiki concepts
-Aikidoka whacking sticks, claiming to practice aiki concepts, but not being able to elaborate on that claim

...among the other obvious combinations.
Lots of aikidoka (like me) would probably be not qualified to determine which category he is in.
--JW

Toby Threadgill
02-08-2010, 11:39 PM
Hi,

I think Ledyard sensei provided a very lucid and insightful answer to my question. It was exactly what I was hoping someone would say. Ultimately the delineations I outlined are irrelevant. What is relevant is whether the bokken is manifesting aiki principles in a manner that is consistent with aikido taijutsu waza. I think this is an important distinction for every aikido practitioner to keep in mind when he picks up a bokken. Aiki-ken is not kenjutsu because its not trying to be kenjutsu. Aiki-ken and kenjutsu are separate arts with significantly different goals.

There is a certain unfair snobbishness among some kenjutsuka who observe aiki-ken and always find it lacking. Any critical observations related to aiki-ken should not be related to practical swordsmanship, but instead be related to the absence of clearly expressed aiki taijutsu principles in the execution of technique. Since many kenjutsuka have little familiarity with aikido, their criticisms are unfounded. The presence of realistic sword handling may be seen as a superior manifestation of aiki-ken by some, but it should not be deemed mandatory because such skills are not necessarily part of aiki-ken's training goals.

So...Aiki-ken vs Reality? Mostly irrelevant....

Thank you Ledyard sensei, for such a insightful response to my public musings.

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Chuck Clark
02-09-2010, 12:19 PM
Just poking my nose in at this point to comment:

This thread is an excellent example of what I like to see and learn from and take part in on the web... Thanks and appreciation to everyone that can and do take part.

Allen Beebe
02-09-2010, 04:45 PM
I would say that Saito Sensei's sword work would have to define what might be called "orthodox" aikisword. He was a tremendous systematizer of the vast repertoire of O-Sensei's sword work.

He was a tremendous systematizer of the vast repertoire of O-Sensei's sword work in a particular given time and place. And, as always, do we have evidence that O-sensei cared about having his . . . anything . . . systematized? It would seem not when he declares "There is no kata in Aikido" Which would explain why . . .

On the other hand, not everyone in Aikido followed Saito's system. Tamura, Chiba, Nishio, and Saotome Sensei's didn't.

They are not bad students of the "system" they just recognize there is no tomb of truth that defines orthodoxy.

So to my mind, aiki sword is sword done utilizing the same principle as empty hand.

What principle is that? Would it be Aiki?

It is just as possible to do sword work with no aiki as it is to do ordinary Aikido with no aiki.

So the defining characteristic that sets Ken jutsu and Ju (tai) jutsu apart from Aiki-ken, and Aiki tai/ju jutsu is Aiki.

Seems clear enough and the verbiage seems to be ostensibly condoned by O-sensei since he presumedly used the terms as referents to what he did . . . with Aiki . . . didn't he?

And there is Aiki-jo, Aiki- yari, Aiki-naginata, Aiki pig sticker, Aiki Kua (Japanese Hoe), and Aiki-mochi hammer (I forget what they are called but remember O-sensei had to have his hoe and hammer specially made because he'd blow apart regular ones.)

So problem solved!

And we all know what Aiki is right? I mean most of the participants in this forum teach Aiki . . . something, right?

(Of course everyone agrees that Aiki isn't kata or some predefined waza because as O-sensei so famously stated "there is no kata in Aikido." Whereas Aiki is most definitely 90% or 70% atemi (depending on who one asks) because O-sensei said that Aikido is 70-90% atemi. I guess the other 10-20% of Aikido is Love because he said that too . . . unless of course one is striking with Love in which case Aikido could be 70-90% love/atemi and 10-20% something else. Maybe the other 10-20% is Joy because in O-sensei's word play Ai=Love and Ki=Joy, so it probably is 70-90% striking/love, and 10-20% Joy! And it is a very strong love too because when O-sensei was first asked to write rules for the Hombu he wrote something along the lines of "One strike can kill in Aikido . . . ")

Oh boy, I'm beginning to tire myself out.

Well, anyway, at least we have the Aiki thing nailed down! Everyone can see that. Even folks outside Aikido can see that!

:straightf

MM
02-09-2010, 06:07 PM
Well, anyway, at least we have the Aiki thing nailed down! Everyone can see that. Even folks outside Aikido can see that!

:straightf

Actually, (and seriously), I think everyone can debate aiki online (especially those who don't have it) ...

But in the hands of someone who has an appreciable level of skill in aiki, it only takes a very short time with direct hands-on experience to come to an understanding of what aiki really is -- all debate is gone.

Refer to my post #105 here.
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=251550&postcount=105

Spirituality ... that's a whole different topic...

Allen Beebe
02-09-2010, 06:43 PM
OK, so let's just go nuts and start asking more questions . . .

If Aikido isn't a full system of Ken, Jo, Yari, Naginata, Tanto, Ju, etc. Jutsu and it shouldn't pretend to be . . .

And if it is a Do but it isn't a Ken Do, or a Jo Do, or a Ju Do . . .

If it is strictly speaking an Aiki Do . . .

And if that Aiki Do wasn't just another "new religion" which were so abundant at the time, but rather a proven means providing martial advantage significantly different from those provided and taught in the many, many other competing (and I mean competing in the physical as well as the commercial sense) dojo at the time. .

That would explain why, in O-sensei's time, there were notable Kendo/jutsu ka, Jodo/jutsu ka, Judo/jutsu ka that took pains to study under him and called him sensei. . .

It doesn't explain what that "Aiki" was that was so unique. And judging from what gets the most "hits" on Aikido forums these days today's "Aiki" doesn't exactly inspire confidence in its practitioners nor admiration and desire from outside observers. Perhaps todays "Aiki" is different?

If this weren't so, threads such as "Aiki (insert name here) vs Reality" probably would not exist. Rather, discussions would probably be more along the lines of, "I don't care what you call it . . . where can I learn THAT!"

It is a open secret that in O-sensei's time (of actively teaching) individuals regularly came to the dojo and "questioned Aiki" in a concretely physical way. Often these "questions" were answered by students of O-sensei under his supervision. I know of no time when these guests were "disappointed" with the answer they received. (Although I can understand how such incidences might wish to be quickly forgotten if they occurred.) My understanding is that if an injury resulted the student would be publicly scolded and then privately complimented for representing the dojo. These were students of O-sensei. Perhaps they relied upon their previously acquired skills? Or perhaps they actually got a little "Aiki" from their teacher as represented by stories of Tomiki, Shioda, etc? What happened between now and then?

What happened between the time when O-sensei wouldn't hesitate to face off with a military Kendoka who questioned his ability with a sword, best the man, and then experience a spiritual epiphany to top off the day, and the time when Aikidoka publicly question their art's veracity and have to have the specifics of their art explained to them by those outside the art? What happened?

If O-sensei hadn't had, what he called "Aiki," would he have been able to to attract the individuals he did with his rather obscure religious lectures? Could he have done it with "principles" prevalently shared with other Budo? Could he have done it if he couldn't walk his talk?

I'm told that Aikido is on the decline. What is the difference between Aikido when it was on the incline and Aikido today?

Allen Beebe
02-09-2010, 06:56 PM
I posted without seeing Mark's Murray's post.

However, I think if one knows even a little of Aikido's history one wouldn't doubt Mark when he says:

"But in the hands of someone who has an appreciable level of skill in aiki, it only takes a very short time with direct hands-on experience to come to an understanding of what aiki really is -- all debate is gone."

We read it over and over again from those that encountered the Aiki greats!

So what? Were all those guys lying? Were all of those guys push overs? Were they all swayed by the eloquence of these individual's persuasive (unintelligible) words?

". . . And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if "Aiki", he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if "Aiki", perhaps, means a little bit more." (Thanks Dr. Seuss!)

JW
02-09-2010, 07:17 PM
What makes taijutsu so special that we can say, "It's ok to have fake/improper sword work as long as we are improving our taijutsu with it" anyway?

I'm ready to get behind "it's not about the sword work," but only because I am ready to get behind "it's not about the taijutsu either."

If we are on the mat to learn aiki, then ok. But aiki can be used in partner dance as much as it can in martial arts. If we are going to use it in a martial setting, then why should we settle for less than correct martial practices? I'm in favor of aikiken being critiqued by kenjutsu folks and being made correct kenjutsu.
Then, if had at first been incorrect kenjutsu but with aiki, after this correction it could become correct kenjutsu with aiki. If we are going to teach sword, we should teach sword.

Same with the jujutsu, it shouldn't be a joke to anyone. Mediocre jujutsu with aiki at the heart isn't as good as good jujutsu with aiki at the heart. And there shouldn't be different standards for empty hand vs weapon. My opinion.
--JW

Toby Threadgill
02-09-2010, 11:32 PM
Okay,

Who put the quarter in Allen Beebe? I didn't.....

II'm ready to get behind "it's not about the sword work," but only because I am ready to get behind "it's not about the taijutsu either."

If we are on the mat to learn aiki, then ok. But aiki can be used in partner dance as much as it can in martial arts. If we are going to use it in a martial setting, then why should we settle for less than correct martial practices? I'm in favor of aikiken being critiqued by kenjutsu folks and being made correct kenjutsu.

If we are going to teach sword, we should teach sword.

Sometimes I think people jump into a discussion without gettiing a sense for the flow of the whole thread..........

So......Jonathan,

Do you believe Ueshiba intended aikido to include authentic kenjutsu training?

Are you suggesting all aikido instructors should be teaching aiki-ken that is the same as authentic kenjutsu?

If you are, I believe you are on pretty shaky ground.

As far as I know Ueshiba never represented aikido as including actual kenjutsu training. Ueshiba himself was not a competent kenjutsuka and never formally studied kenjutsu in any depth. Did Ueshiba draw or employ a shinken regularly? If not, I propose he was uninterested in kenjutsu beyond employing a bokken to demonstrate and emphasize complimentary principles to those utilized in aikido taijutsu waza. If that's the case then it IS predominantly about taijutsu. Face it, aikido like Daito ryu is a taijutsu based art. It is not a sogo bujutsu.

If you want to be a aikidoka who is also a competent swordsman, thats fine and dandy...... Train in kenjutsu in addition to aikido. But what if you just want to be an exceptional aikidoka and could care less about kenjutsu? Aiki-ken can be an important training aid. Correct me if you think you have evidence to the contrary, but from everything I've read, I would conclude that those who trained closest with Ueshiba in aikido do not believe he demanded his creation include actual kenjutsu training....hence the existence of aiki-ken as a distinct area of study separate from kenjutsu.

I know cross country skiers who train on specialized roller skates to improve their endurance and skiing technique. They are not interested in roller skating per se. Roller skates are just a tool uitilized in pursuit of a different end. It can be the same with aiki-ken. Aiki-ken can be an indispensable tool utilized to create an exceptional aikidoka. There's also nothing wrong with kenjutsu being employed in the same way, but the claim that for aikido to be used in a martial setting, it must include authentic kenjutsu seems unsupportable. I simply see no evidence that kenjutsu is mandatory in the creation of an exceptional aikidoka.

I feel like a broken record.....

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Josh Reyer
02-10-2010, 01:20 AM
Sometimes I think people jump into a discussion without gettiing a sense for the flow of the whole thread..........Well, let me offer my take as someone who's been part of the flow of the whole thread.

Do you believe Ueshiba intended aikido to include authentic kenjutsu training?I do not believe that it was Ueshiba's intention that aikido incorporate anything that had the distinct character of an authentic ryuha. I do believe, however, that it was his intention to incorporate effective swordwork into his aikido, swordwork that followed the principles of combat as he saw them. I took the liberty of being critical of Ueshiba's performance in the Asashi Shimbun film earlier, let me now state for the record that I don't think any kenjutsu practitioner in the world would look at Ueshiba's later films and find any fault with his swordwork. For Ueshiba, at least, "aiki-ken" represented a perfect expression of his view of budo, in body, mind, and deed, with a sword.

Are you suggesting all aikido instructors should be teaching aiki-ken that is the same as authentic kenjutsu?In my experience with teachers teaching aiki-ken (essentially students of Saito, and what I have read of Nishio), not one of them ever said anything to the effect that "In real kenjutsu, this would be ridiculous, but this is aiki-ken, so it has such-and-such purpose." Everyone of them believed, or at least maintained, that they were using the sword soundly, in accordance with the principles of swordsmanship, and the combat paradigm of aikido. I believe such aiki-ken is an attainable goal.

As far as I know Ueshiba never represented aikido as including actual kenjutsu training.He represented it as containing the "riai" of the ken, jo, and empty hand. If it has the riai of the sword, aiki-ken should not be "bad swordsmanship". It may be incomplete, as Mr. Ledyard alluded to earlier, but not "bad".

Ueshiba himself was not a competent kenjutsuka and never formally studied kenjutsu in any depth. Did Ueshiba draw or employ a shinken regularly?Ueshiba did not plumb the depths of a particular ryuha, no. But we know that swordsmanship was considered an integral part of his study. We know that he used some dabbling in Kashima Shinto-ryu and Yagyu Shinkage-ryu to further his own personal research. We can probably assume that he picked up similar smatterings of Jikishinkage-ryu and/or Ono-ha Itto-ryu from Takeda, since he attested to picking up smatterings of Hozoin-ryu from the same. Hell, that's if we don't believe that the (unlikely) theory that Takeda was licensed in the Edo line of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu and explicitly taught that to Ueshiba, to the point of giving him an official license in it.

We know that Ueshiba shared his distilled knowledge of swordsmanship with his pre-war and immediate post-war students, and that he encouraged his later post-war students, such as Nishio and Chiba, to take up the study of iai, ostensibly to aid in their understanding of their taijutsu. According to Shioda, his last "test" with Ueshiba included a taijutsu and a ken portion, the latter being something at least similar to a sparring match. In light of all that, I don't think we can assume that swordsmanship to Ueshiba was simply employing a bokken as a teaching tool.

The distinction between aiki-ken and "kenjutsu" should not be that aiki-ken doesn't have to be real or practical because it's simply an aid to the taijutsu, and "kenjutsu" is purely concerned with whatever that particular ryuha is concerned with. The distinction should be that aiki-ken is swordsmanship (kenjutsu, if you will) grounded in the combat paradigm of aikido, including such things as aiki (however one wants to define it) as well as such principles as irimi-denkan and/or irimi-issoku, and so on, while other kenjutsu is concerned with whatever that particular ryuha is concerned with.

Speaking now only of Saito-style aiki-ken, by Saito's own words and claims, there must be a proper "riai" -- a joining of inherent principles -- between ken, jo, and tai. Jo and tai inform and augment the ken, ken and tai inform and augment the jo, and ken and jo inform and augment the tai. In order to have the "riai", you have to have the "ri" -- the essential reasoning and principles. If your ken doesn't have the "ri" of the ken, then you don't have any "riai".

That said, in my opinion, in Saito Morihiro, at least, there was this "riai". Some of the work of his students may not have always fulfilled the "ri" of the sword, but from what I've seen his own aiki-ken always seemed good, and integrated with his jo and tai. Nor in any of his writings on aiki-ken have I seen anything that struck me as wrong or weird. The only thing I think is odd is the tachi-dori stuff, but of course that's endemic throughout aikido.

Walker
02-10-2010, 01:46 AM
". . . And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if "Aiki", he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if "Aiki", perhaps, means a little bit more." (Thanks Dr. Seuss!)

They seek it here, they seek it there, they seek it bloody everywhere. Is it in Ten, is it in Chi, that damned elusive "Real Aiki".

Carl Thompson
02-10-2010, 03:47 AM
Excellent posts from Toby Threadgill and Josh Reyer
The distinction between aiki-ken and "kenjutsu" should not be that aiki-ken doesn't have to be real or practical because it's simply an aid to the taijutsu, and "kenjutsu" is purely concerned with whatever that particular ryuha is concerned with. The distinction should be that aiki-ken is swordsmanship (kenjutsu, if you will) grounded in the combat paradigm of aikido, including such things as aiki (however one wants to define it) as well as such principles as irimi-denkan and/or irimi-issoku, and so on, while other kenjutsu is concerned with whatever that particular ryuha is concerned with.
Just some thoughts...

In a purely sword-based art, if you lose your sword, you can no longer practice your art. Aiki-ken uses the sword but if you take the sword away, the dynamic principles remain the same. Also, when you practice without the sword, the sword is "still there".
If you want to be a aikidoka who is also a competent swordsman, thats fine and dandy...... Train in kenjutsu in addition to aikido.
Josh mentioned aikido principles such as "Aiki" (however defined).

One problem I have with any "Aikido VS whatever" discussion is this: It seems to me that aikido isn't VS anything. The whole point is to avoid a VS situation. It's not your power with the sword/jo/body VS the other guy's. If you do well, you are able to create the non-VS situation and sort things out. If you don't, you don't. More likely you'll get a mixed bag. The training as I see it (with or without weapons), is a study of how to get into that non-VS situation. How testing comes into that (resistance, sparring, competition etc) is another debate, but can we call it kenjutsu when it's done with a sword...?

Charles Hill
02-10-2010, 03:52 AM
Just to throw a little gas on the fire...:)

The story goes that Ueshiba actually used his sword to kill people whilst on that Omoto-kyo fiasco in Mongolia. And this was before the 1936 film. How many kenjutsu teachers can say that?

Josh Reyer
02-10-2010, 06:49 AM
Just to throw a little gas on the fire...:)

The story goes that Ueshiba actually used his sword to kill people whilst on that Omoto-kyo fiasco in Mongolia. And this was before the 1936 film. How many kenjutsu teachers can say that?Do you have a source for that? The only thing I've heard, from horse's mouth (http://aidp.sweb.cz/ueshiba.htm), was that he was involved in a fire fight, during which he used a Mauser.

In a purely sword-based art, if you lose your sword, you can no longer practice your art.I disagree with that.

Carl Thompson
02-10-2010, 07:49 AM
From Josh's link:
As I remember. . . Deguchi Sensei went to Mongolia in 1924 in order to accomplish his goal of a greater Asian community in line with the national policy. I accompanied him on his request even though I was asked to enter the Army. We traveled in Mongolia and Manchuria. While in the latter country, we encountered a group of mounted bandits and heavy shooting broke out. I returned their fire with a Mauser and then proceeded to run into the midst of the bandits, attacking them fiercely, and they dispersed. I succeeded in escaping danger.
From an old thread I remembered:
In 1924 as body guard for Deguchi Onisaburo, Ueshiba traveled to the Mongolia to set up a "utopian society." He and the others of his party are held prisoner by the Chinese military for plotting the overthrow of the existing government. By one account (according to Shioda Gozo as related to him by Ueshiba Morihei) during this "adventure" Ueshiba engaged in lethal combat using a sword from horse-top and learned that a sharp blade doesn't slice well after repeated use due to an accumulation of body fat and therefore thrusting is a more expedient means of dispatch.

Carl Thompson
02-10-2010, 08:05 AM
I disagree with that.
I think we could be splitting hairs, but assuming an art is 100 percent based on having a sword, at least on a technical level, how are you going to use that art? I accept that certain skills (coping with the stresses of combat, concentration, strategic thinking etc.) that you gain from most martial arts will always translate into others, but if most of your repertoire revolves around having a sharp extension to your body, surely there are severe limitations to performing it when that extension is gone?

George S. Ledyard
02-10-2010, 09:34 AM
They seek it here, they seek it there, they seek it bloody everywhere. Is it in Ten, is it in Chi, that damned elusive "Real Aiki".

Aiki is the art of rendering your opponent helpless with laughter so you can control him... You and Allen cracked me up.

Allen Beebe
02-10-2010, 10:03 AM
Well, let me offer my take as someone who's been part of the flow of the whole thread.

I do not believe that it was Ueshiba's intention that aikido incorporate anything that had the distinct character of an authentic ryuha. I do believe, however, that it was his intention to incorporate effective swordwork into his aikido, swordwork that followed the principles of combat as he saw them. I took the liberty of being critical of Ueshiba's performance in the Asashi Shimbun film earlier, let me now state for the record that I don't think any kenjutsu practitioner in the world would look at Ueshiba's later films and find any fault with his swordwork. For Ueshiba, at least, "aiki-ken" represented a perfect expression of his view of budo, in body, mind, and deed, with a sword.

In my experience with teachers teaching aiki-ken (essentially students of Saito, and what I have read of Nishio), not one of them ever said anything to the effect that "In real kenjutsu, this would be ridiculous, but this is aiki-ken, so it has such-and-such purpose." Everyone of them believed, or at least maintained, that they were using the sword soundly, in accordance with the principles of swordsmanship, and the combat paradigm of aikido. I believe such aiki-ken is an attainable goal.

He represented it as containing the "riai" of the ken, jo, and empty hand. If it has the riai of the sword, aiki-ken should not be "bad swordsmanship". It may be incomplete, as Mr. Ledyard alluded to earlier, but not "bad".

Ueshiba did not plumb the depths of a particular ryuha, no. But we know that swordsmanship was considered an integral part of his study. We know that he used some dabbling in Kashima Shinto-ryu and Yagyu Shinkage-ryu to further his own personal research. We can probably assume that he picked up similar smatterings of Jikishinkage-ryu and/or Ono-ha Itto-ryu from Takeda, since he attested to picking up smatterings of Hozoin-ryu from the same. Hell, that's if we don't believe that the (unlikely) theory that Takeda was licensed in the Edo line of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu and explicitly taught that to Ueshiba, to the point of giving him an official license in it.

We know that Ueshiba shared his distilled knowledge of swordsmanship with his pre-war and immediate post-war students, and that he encouraged his later post-war students, such as Nishio and Chiba, to take up the study of iai, ostensibly to aid in their understanding of their taijutsu. According to Shioda, his last "test" with Ueshiba included a taijutsu and a ken portion, the latter being something at least similar to a sparring match. In light of all that, I don't think we can assume that swordsmanship to Ueshiba was simply employing a bokken as a teaching tool.

The distinction between aiki-ken and "kenjutsu" should not be that aiki-ken doesn't have to be real or practical because it's simply an aid to the taijutsu, and "kenjutsu" is purely concerned with whatever that particular ryuha is concerned with. The distinction should be that aiki-ken is swordsmanship (kenjutsu, if you will) grounded in the combat paradigm of aikido, including such things as aiki (however one wants to define it) as well as such principles as irimi-denkan and/or irimi-issoku, and so on, while other kenjutsu is concerned with whatever that particular ryuha is concerned with.

Well stated and in complete alignment with my experience of the presentation and understanding of the purpose and practice of ken (and other weaponry) taught by my sensei, one receptor of Ueshiba's "distilled knowledge of swordsmanship" from the pre-war period. Certainly when Ueshiba sensei taught military personnel during this period it was for a particular purpose and those lessons did include the practice of weaponry.

Speaking now only of Saito-style aiki-ken, by Saito's own words and claims, there must be a proper "riai" -- a joining of inherent principles -- between ken, jo, and tai. Jo and tai inform and augment the ken, ken and tai inform and augment the jo, and ken and jo inform and augment the tai. In order to have the "riai", you have to have the "ri" -- the essential reasoning and principles. If your ken doesn't have the "ri" of the ken, then you don't have any "riai".

That said, in my opinion, in Saito Morihiro, at least, there was this "riai". Some of the work of his students may not have always fulfilled the "ri" of the sword, but from what I've seen his own aiki-ken always seemed good, and integrated with his jo and tai. Nor in any of his writings on aiki-ken have I seen anything that struck me as wrong or weird. The only thing I think is odd is the tachi-dori stuff, but of course that's endemic throughout aikido.

While Shirata sensei's weapons practice was different in many ways from Saito Morihiro sensei's, the idea of "riai" was certainly present and emphasized and I think there certainly was an appreciation of the continuity from Ueshiba to Saito sensei by Shirata sensei seeing as his dojo was one of the few he frequented for training. This is made even more significant when one considers that Saito sensei was most definitely a chronological kohai to Shirata sensei.

Considering Toby's "quarter comment," perhaps my posts may have come off as "overly exuberant." However, with several decades of Aikido under my belt, I know what I experienced and what I was taught by my teacher. I know he had far more than a passing familiarity with the actuall usage of the Ken (Yes, the shinken as well as a bokken, both inside and outside of the dojo.) I know he attributed what he taught to his teacher. I understand that that knowledge may not be adequately represented by his students (me included) but that doesn't discount the original understanding. I understand that other teacher's understanding of Aiki-ken probably is different or even non-existant (Many teachers don't teach weapons. Many for good reason, they weren't adequately taught weapons!) That is why I stated in my first post that to even have this discussion is probably close to impossible, and doomed from the beginning because of this disparity of experience and understanding.

I suppose what gets me cranked up (why I re-posted) is when definitive statements are made that stand in direct contradiction to my experience and what I was taught. Specifically that was, if you are going to do something, do it for real whether it be martial or spiritual. (Real being defined as: It functions in the assumed context.) I have found this to be a high standard, but a worthy one that continues to take my lifetime to pursue.

Please notice that, while George and I may not agree on everything (He likes caffeinated coffee A LOT, and I like decaffeinated), I don't have a problem with George's post at all. He said, "To my mind . . ." "I think I understand . . ." "I think it should be . . . " He can make statements about his experience with his teacher and Aikido definitively. That is HIS experience. He can state his opinion definitively. That is HIS opinion. (One which I certainly listen to BTW. George is a thoughtful person with a wide breadth of experience.) What he didn't do here, or at least I never noticed it, is categorically define Aiki-ken or its purpose.

As I stated in my first post. I think that defining what Aiki-ken is should reasonably be left to O-sensei. Beyond that, it seems to me that, everybody else can only simply offer their interpretations of what O-sensei meant.

But I repeat myself. Taking a chill pill . . . or at least a cup of decaffeinated coffee . . .

:freaky:

Allen

JW
02-10-2010, 11:28 AM
Sometimes I think people jump into a discussion without gettiing a sense for the flow of the whole thread..........


OK, touché. I guess I lost track of the thread, and I am still learning when to keep my mouth (keyboard) shut. I will start a new thread to pursue what I am thinking, something about the importance of the sword to aikido or aiki or something like that. But your points here are well taken, and I agree with what you said, apparently more than it sounds like. Apologies for hijacking the thread.

Also-- NOT for the sake of continued discussion in this thread-- just because my above posts apparently make me look like a jackass, I want to say briefly where I was coming from so that I retain some semblance of coherent value to aikiweb forums:

1. I know blades and bokkens are different. I don't want aikidoka to be concerned with for instance the inside/outside asymmetry of a sword (example of sword arts and aikiken having legitimate hardware difference), but when a swordsman looks at one of our kata and says, "a real swordsman would have easily cut the knee and ended it," or "that's not even close to how a sword is swung," that's just embarassing.
2. I understood O-sensei to be an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD swordsman. This is what teachers have told me, it is what I have seen lots of the aikido community to believe, and it seems to be supported in history (Mark Murray is fond of mentioning that real swordsmen came to him to study).
3. Many believe (as did my teachers in the Saito line where I started aikido training) that aikido taijutsu is "based on sword work." This doesn't have to mean one swordsman invented the taijutsu kata based on his sword skills. But we have been taught that somehow, the body and ki movements in real Japanese sword arts have sustained or given rise to the essence of what we study in aikido. Thus if we are in fact doing "fake" sword work, one kind of feels cheated.
4. O-sensei did have a role (Ellis Amdur called it "almost vampiric" IIRC in his usaikido podcast) for his followers-- but it apparently didn't focus on accurate preservation of his own technical skills. Case in point, where is aiki in modern aikido.. where is even basic kokyu? My point is that if his understanding came from accurate, legitimate sword usage, and his students (our teachers) didn't learn it accurately, should we fill in the gap or be doomed to whacking whacky sticks?
5. To me, "shaky ground" is our teachers in legitimate aikido lineages telling us that our founder was a great swordsman, and sword work is somehow at the root of what we do, all the while our "sword work" is not grounded in actual sword work. We don't need to be top-notch swordsmen, but what we do technically should be a reflection of what real swordsmanship is about. So yes, sword arts or sogo bujutsu arts should be the source of sword mastery, but if swords really are important in aikido, aikido should at least show the basics (if not the intricacies) of real technique.

Again though, this is just what I was thinking before, but your points are well taken, thanks!
--Jonathan Wong

MM
02-10-2010, 11:43 AM
2. I understood O-sensei to be an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD swordsman. This is what teachers have told me, it is what I have seen lots of the aikido community to believe, and it seems to be supported in history (Mark Murray is fond of mentioning that real swordsmen came to him to study).
--Jonathan Wong

Er, well, not quite what I meant. :)

What I state is that top kendo people came to Ueshiba to learn taisabaki. There is quite a difference between that and stating that Ueshiba was an exceptionally good swordsman.

For the former (tai sabaki), I would have to guess that aiki played a significant part.

As to the latter (exceptional swordsman), I'll defer to my seniors to judge Ueshiba's ability. For me, I think I'm a bit like Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta in this scene from The Mask of Zorro:

Don Diego de la Vega: Do you know how to use that thing?
Alejandro Murrieta: Yes. The pointy end goes into the other man.

Toby Threadgill
02-10-2010, 11:48 AM
Josh, Allen,

I think I agree with everything you guys have put forth. I've had a lot of exposure to aiki-ken since a great many competent aikidoka are students in TSYR and I teach so many seminars to aikidoka. As George can attest to, the integration of sword and taijutsu is almost always the subject of the seminars I am asked to teach to akikidoka.

FWIW I have aikido students in TSYR with longtime experience in the aikiken of Saito, Saotome, Tomiki and Shirata (hi Allen). When properly understood I find very little difference between the application of principle in aiki-ken and kenjutsu. Its in the nitty gritty that most of these aikido students start to comment on the differences. Aiki-ken is only a snippet of the greater skills and knowledge demanded in an actual kenjutsu curriculum but that has nothing to do with quality or depth of the snippet. It should be the same.

Lots of good stuff here, including Doug Walkers poetry...

Regards,

Toby

Allen Beebe
02-10-2010, 01:24 PM
Hi Toby,

I'm happy to hear that we seem to be coming to some sort of understanding. Still, I curious when you state:

When properly understood I find very little difference between the application of principle in aiki-ken and kenjutsu. Its in the nitty gritty that most of these aikido students start to comment on the differences. Aiki-ken is only a snippet of the greater skills and knowledge demanded in an actual kenjutsu curriculum but that has nothing to do with quality or depth of the snippet. It should be the same.

Are you stating this from the perspective of an individual with a Menkyokaiden in particular school of Jujutsu which contains elements and teachings from various Koryu Kenjutsu? Or, is it understood that the Buki makimono awarded at the Menkyokaiden level of Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu is equivalent to, or the same as, a Menkyokaiden in one or more of the Kenjutsu schools that influences Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu? Or, is Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu considered a Kenjutsu school unto itself, a unique amalgam of its predecessors like some other Koryu Kenjutsu Ryu? (It seems like that should be important for me to understand. I thought I did at least.)

My confusion is this: If the former is the case, how is TSYR so very different from Daito Ryu or Aikido that reportedly did the same? (Takeda Sokaku was certainly licensed and was a Ken guy before "bringing home the bacon" with Jujutsu which was far more marketable at the time and probably still is. Ueshiba Morihei's Ken credentials are far less clear but the influence is there nevertheless. Both of these individuals passed on some Ken practice (to certain students at least) presumedly for some reason. I learned that it was because I was supposed to both think and in most ways physically operate in the manner of a swordsman because it is the basis of how one operates with a sword and is one's only hope (little that there may be) of operating effectively without one in an armed confrontation (perennial assumption), especially when more than one individual is involved (also always assumed).

Certainly there will be differences between the two in what was valued and taught and the degree of transference over generations. Wado comes to mind as perhaps a parallel to some lineages of Aikido that faithfully reproduce what their teachers taught while what their teachers taught may not necessarily be the cleanest (or most legitimate lineage wise) conduit of formerly legitimate input.

I hope I'm expressing my question clearly. And, for those Dan Brown fans trying to read between the lines of my writing, I think there is plenty that many can learn from Toby and TSYR. I am a student after all. I didn't join TSYR to learn Ken though, that's just cream. In fact, I don't think I observed or began learning any of TSYR Ken work until after I joined TSYR. Unlike those that joined because they were "Wowed" by Toby's jujutsu, I was most interested in the promise of TSYR's methodology for bridging kata/waza practice to free practice. I only found out later what other fun stuff was inside and am still discovering! :D

[For the sake of clarity, Toby has never, to my knowledge, observed my Aikido or Aiki-ken work. And that is fine with me. My time with Toby is best spent learning from him what he is undeniably most qualified to teach, Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu! Although, I have to say breakfasts aren't anything to complain about and the occasional Yugoslovian (or was it Hungarian?) Rot Gut isn't too bad either at 3am . . . :dead: ]

Lots of good stuff here, including Doug Walkers poetry...

Please don't encourage him! :p

Bye,
Allen

Allen Beebe
02-10-2010, 01:25 PM
Should I have written Menkyo Kaiden instead of Menkyokaiden? Romaji stinks!

Toby Threadgill
02-10-2010, 03:22 PM
an individual with a Menkyokaiden in particular school of Jujutsu which contains elements and teachings from various Koryu Kenjutsu? Or, is it understood that the Buki makimono awarded at the Menkyokaiden level of Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu is equivalent to, or the same as, a Menkyokaiden in one or more of the Kenjutsu schools that influences Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu? Or, is Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu considered a Kenjutsu school unto itself, a unique amalgam of its predecessors like some other Koryu Kenjutsu Ryu? (It seems like that should be important for me to understand. I thought I did at least.)

Hi Allen,

To clarify....

Matsuoka Katsunosuke, the founder of Shindo Yoshin ryu was a fully licensed instructor of Jikishinkage ryu, a student of Hokushin Itto ryu and Hozoin ryu. In fact he was so strong and respected for his swordsmanship that he taught kenjutsu as a member of the Bakafu Kobusho and engaged in armed combat as a member of the famed Seieitai. Matsuoka also temporarily functioned as the Jikishinkage ryu hombu cho when Kinkichi Sakakibara was ordered to personally act as bodyguard to Tokugawa Iemochi. So, unlike a guy like Ueshiba, Matsuoka was a formally trained and highly regarded kenjutsu instructor and samurai.

Matsuoka intended SYR represent a complete sogo bujutsu and be militarily applicable. To characterize SYR as a taijutsu school with weapons study an addendum would be to misinterpret what it is and how it came to be created. The complete TSYR / Buki no Mokuroku comprises 132 kata. This is quite comprehensive and dwarfs the curriculum in many koryu kenjutsu schools. Just last month I was talking to Meik Skoss about TSYR in New Jersey. He was shocked at the number of kata we practice. According to him very few sogo bujutsu or kenjutsu schools comprised the size of curriculum TSYR does.

So....I guess the answer would be yes to your second question. A TSYR menkyo kaiden representing the buki no mokuroku would in fact be equivalent to that of many stand alone kenjutsu schools. Consequently, TSYR is very different from Aikido or Daito ryu. The classical weapons syllabus interwoven with the taijutsu curriculum can stand alone as a complete and comprehensive weapons system.

[For the sake of clarity, Toby has never, to my knowledge, observed my Aikido or Aiki-ken work. And that is fine with me. My time with Toby is best spent learning from him what he is undeniably most qualified to teach, Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu! Although, I have to say breakfasts aren't anything to complain about and the occasional Yugoslovian (or was it Hungarian?) Rot Gut isn't too bad either at 3am . . . :dead: ]

LOL.... Ahh, those Hungarians and their libations.....

Actually you demonstrated a bit of your aiki-ken to me once when you were surprised at some of the parallels you were seeing in the TSYR shoden kumitachi. It was by no means a comprehensive demo but it did illustrate some of the body dynamics apparently employed by Shirata. The snippet I saw did not disappoint as I've always held Shirata in high esteem. The questions is, did Shirata ever study swordsmanship outside aikido? Watching Ueshiba and Shirata I see fundamental differences in their sabaki. Shirata was a good friend of Kiyoshi Nakakura if I remember correctly....

Toby

Allen Beebe
02-10-2010, 04:02 PM
Toby,

Thanks for the clarification. I'm glad I asked.

(In my best Keanu Reeves voice, "I'm learning Kenjutsu!" :cool: )

Yes, my understanding is that Shirata sensei studied with Nakakura Kiyoshi at the Kobukan. (That would have been Kendo I suppose.) It is also my understanding that he had engaged in the study of some form Ken prior to his tutelage under Ueshiba sensei. Unfortunately, I'm still piecing together what came from where . . . it isn't easy.

Tracing the lines of my TSYR training is much easier. My TSYR teacher is still alive and he likes to do research.

All the best,
Allen

Walker
02-11-2010, 12:19 AM
:hypno:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_sINQ4Fxzw

David Board
02-11-2010, 09:45 AM
First I apologize for cross posting but wasn't sure how to insure a comments from both lines of discussion without posting in both threads. If this steps on toes, my apologizes...

Anyway, in this thread some folks seem to be arguing that aikido is not a complete (weapons systems (forgive the short-hand, I do understand that this is not completely correct).

In the Ikkyo PIn thread:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17676
There are those that seem to be arguing that aikido is not a complete open hand system.

As a beginner I was hoping that someone would mind relating these two lines of thoughts. I was going to ask if you could resolve the conflict between these two thoughts but I don't see a conflict. It is more that as a beginner I find the two lines of thought to not completely meet. I'm hoping that those with more experience can help me make the connection better (I can do it but it involves Duct Tape, bailing wire and piece of chewing gum).

Allen Beebe
02-11-2010, 06:14 PM
David,

I'm not going to pose as an expert but I think you are observing a problem of semantics that isn't likely to be solved any time soon.

For example, what defines a complete weapons school or a complete non-weapons school? I don't think that has been clearly defined or agreed upon.

If it were a simple matter of numbers of waza or kata that would simplify things . . . but I don't know of any definitive, universally accepted number. I can imagine the early Okinawan martial artists who practiced single katas for years being surprised to hear from the local strip mall black belt that their system is not complete because they only know and have trained a handful of kata whereas, "I practice dozens of kata every weekend!" It was brought to my attention just last night that the Aikido lineage I'm from has around a hundred or more ken kata and a large number of other weapons kata as well. (I never bothered to count them all.) I've never considered my Aikido lineage to be a complete weapons system. I never did because my teacher never dwelled on it. It was Aikido, it was what it was. On the other hand, I was recently informed that there are Koryu that I've always respected as complete weapons schools that have far less kata than I was taught. I suppose it is a matter of perspective and opinion. My perspective of my Aikido lineage won't change because my Aikido teacher hasn't changed. As of yesterday, my understanding of my teacher's perspective, and therefore my perspective, of the koryu that I practice has changed. Does any of that change how or what I practice? No!

If it were a matter of age it might be easier. For example if a school was know primarily for it's Jujutsu, and it was old enough, it might be thought of as a complete jujutsu school. However, my understanding is that there is no universally accepted hard and clear date defining "old." Nor is it my understanding that being "old" makes something complete. And, of course, there is the fact that there was in-fighting among the "old established" schools for legitimacy when they weren't "old and established."

If being militarily applicable defined a school a a complete weapons school or non-weapons school that might help although one would have to define "militarily applicable." Our modern military seems to be constantly redefining what is "militarily applicable."

One could look back in history and try to rely upon the laurels of one's "great" predecessors to provide proof of "completeness," and in fact many (if not most) martial arts do, but that seems a bit feeble and disingenuous in the end and, if history is any indication, possibly even dangerous.

Rather than looking for some form of outside approval, I suggest trying to find a "path" that speaks to you and that you enjoy. Then do it to the best of your ability. If you change your mind later, that probably won't be a problem.

Looking for "the complete or true martial art" is a bit like looking for "complete or true American Football." Some folks might seek to join the New Orleans Saints because they obviously teach and train the complete and true American football they proved it on the "grid iron." Others might seek to join the Pittsburgh Steelers because they have the most Super Bowl wins, so they must have "it." (Accept, like most teams, they've probably lost more games than they've won Superbowls.) Of course, one can pretty much easily see that just joining a team (like they would even have most of us :( ) isn't going to necessarily make us All Star material. Even if it did, in combat, I'm told, one often finds one's self metaphorically all dressed up in lineman's gear standing at the edge of the high dive platform.

Cheers,
Allen

David Board
02-11-2010, 07:14 PM
David,

I'm not going to pose as an expert but I think you are observing a problem of semantics that isn't likely to be solved any time soon.

For example, what defines a complete weapons school or a complete non-weapons school? I don't think that has been clearly defined or agreed upon.

If it were a simple matter of numbers of waza or kata that would simplify things . . . but I don't know of any definitive, universally accepted number. I can imagine the early Okinawan martial artists who practiced single katas for years being surprised to hear from the local strip mall black belt that their system is not complete because they only know and have trained a handful of kata whereas, "I practice dozens of kata every weekend!" It was brought to my attention just last night that the Aikido lineage I'm from has around a hundred or more ken kata and a large number of other weapons kata as well. (I never bothered to count them all.) I've never considered my Aikido lineage to be a complete weapons system. I never did because my teacher never dwelled on it. It was Aikido, it was what it was. On the other hand, I was recently informed that there are Koryu that I've always respected as complete weapons schools that have far less kata than I was taught. I suppose it is a matter of perspective and opinion. My perspective of my Aikido lineage won't change because my Aikido teacher hasn't changed. As of yesterday, my understanding of my teacher's perspective, and therefore my perspective, of the koryu that I practice has changed. Does any of that change how or what I practice? No!

If it were a matter of age it might be easier. For example if a school was know primarily for it's Jujutsu, and it was old enough, it might be thought of as a complete jujutsu school. However, my understanding is that there is no universally accepted hard and clear date defining "old." Nor is it my understanding that being "old" makes something complete. And, of course, there is the fact that there was in-fighting among the "old established" schools for legitimacy when they weren't "old and established."

If being militarily applicable defined a school a a complete weapons school or non-weapons school that might help although one would have to define "militarily applicable." Our modern military seems to be constantly redefining what is "militarily applicable."

One could look back in history and try to rely upon the laurels of one's "great" predecessors to provide proof of "completeness," and in fact many (if not most) martial arts do, but that seems a bit feeble and disingenuous in the end and, if history is any indication, possibly even dangerous.

Rather than looking for some form of outside approval, I suggest trying to find a "path" that speaks to you and that you enjoy. Then do it to the best of your ability. If you change your mind later, that probably won't be a problem.

Looking for "the complete or true martial art" is a bit like looking for "complete or true American Football." Some folks might seek to join the New Orleans Saints because they obviously teach and train the complete and true American football they proved it on the "grid iron." Others might seek to join the Pittsburgh Steelers because they have the most Super Bowl wins, so they must have "it." (Accept, like most teams, they've probably lost more games than they've won Superbowls.) Of course, one can pretty much easily see that just joining a team (like they would even have most of us :( ) isn't going to necessarily make us All Star material. Even if it did, in combat, I'm told, one often finds one's self metaphorically all dressed up in lineman's gear standing at the edge of the high dive platform.

Cheers,
Allen

Thank you for your answer. I debated about using the word complete and I think in the end I shouldn't have. Although I think your answer helped me define what Aikido is a bit better. I didn't think folks would interpret the question as looking for a complete martial system. I guess because I didn't think one existed. However let me try again to explain where I'm having to use the duct tape to get these two threads to join.

In this thread about weapons, folks are saying that the purpose of the weapon work is primarily to improve the open hand work (I don't think that quite captures what is being said by everyone).

In contrast, in the Ikkyo thread people are suggesting that the open hand techniques (or at least Ikkyo) are designed for you get to a point you can your weapon.

That suggests to me that you are trying to perfect techniques to use techniques that are designed to perfect the techniques to allow you to use the techniques designed to perfect the techniques that (I'm starting to chase my tail here).

I understand this is a caricature of what is being said but I am still having difficulty getting the two lines of thoughts to meet. To be honest it feels like I'm missing a third piece. Perhaps as I continue on I'll find that third piece.

Josh Reyer
02-12-2010, 12:13 AM
In this thread about weapons, folks are saying that the purpose of the weapon work is primarily to improve the open hand work (I don't think that quite captures what is being said by everyone).

In contrast, in the Ikkyo thread people are suggesting that the open hand techniques (or at least Ikkyo) are designed for you get to a point you can your weapon.

That suggests to me that you are trying to perfect techniques to use techniques that are designed to perfect the techniques to allow you to use the techniques designed to perfect the techniques that (I'm starting to chase my tail here).


Sounds like synergy to me!

Mark Raugas
02-12-2010, 10:27 AM
I have enjoyed reading this thread a great deal.

Allen writes:

On the other hand, I was recently informed that there are Koryu that I've always respected as complete weapons schools that have far less kata than I was taught.

I started my budo weapons practice [alas...] doing a lose derivative of Aikido sword practice which went far off the reservation and had bits and pieces of waza from different koryu thrown into it. We had, literally, hundreds and hundreds of kata, exploring every different combination of weapon in almost every conceivable scenario, and as a group of people actually doing a mix of Aikido, Judo, Jujutsu, and Karate [notice: no parent weapons arts], were quite proud of our sword practice. I wound up giving it all up when I realized it was all invented in the 20th century and mis-represented to me as being something older. After a bit of a break to decompress, I started training in koryu kenjutsu, and have noticed several things that contrast both with the sword practice I first learned and with some of the aiki-ken I have later observed. Now, I want to say up front that I think the sword-work I learned was probably terrible in comparison to what Saito or Shirata taught, but I think some general observations may apply to a discussion of Aikido-derived weapons practice in general. I will keep the discussion below as general as I am able.

Despite the sheer number of kata I had previously learned, despite the common themes and principles which were attempted to be woven through them, and the fact they we practiced them quite seriously and with a great deal of intent, they did not provide the very high level of development required at generic qualities needed for proficiency in swordsmanship. Specifically: timing, distance and perception of the center line, to the degree at which they are required to actually function well with a sword against someone who actually knows what they are doing. I had been blissfully unaware of the level of [I]precision required to actually function well against a trained swordsman. This likely can be summarized by the fact that we were modern jujutsu people attempting to do sword work, and practicing waza which seemed to work well with bokken, without an underlying appreciation for many of the physical qualities of the actual blade the bokken is supposed to represent. Whereas, members of sword traditions are acutely aware of these requirements, and have preserved that kind of institutional knowledge. The koryu I now practice have a much smaller (condensed, crystallized) number of kata which in my opinion do a much better job of teaching those ideas. Conversely, these fewer number of kata take longer to explore, because there is more encoded in each movement than in the practice I had originally been exposed to. However, they teach many more lessons to the student, more efficiently. The bar is simply held higher for each skill a person needs to manifest.

So, to the discussion at hand, a question about aiki-ken practice versus kenjutsu can also be about pedagogy, putting matters of completeness aside. This I think applies even to "good" aiki-ken, versus people going off the reservation and just making up stuff that feels good to them, or people who are well-intentioned and feel they need to add some bokken practice to their Aikido teaching since "Aikido comes from the sword" but don't have a lot of training under their belt. On a higher level, it also applies (maybe less so, admittedly) to people who are skilled Aikidoka and are attempting to preserve their teacher's teachings.

Once you master an art, as I assume Matsuoka did, my guess is that you likely can start with a small number of kata, understand the essence of what you practice, and then come up with ways to handle a wide variety of situations, inventing/channeling more examples of the art which are in line with the art you have inherited. That is the purpose of the art. At that level of skill, the master basically is the art -- as Ueshiba is Aikido, or Takeda is Daito-ryu, etc -- whatever he is chosing to do in a given moment. The level of expression might change from day to day (e.g., guy has a bad day), the name for what they are doing may be different, but the practitioner is using the tools he has developed in his practice and they have framed his understanding of combatives to the point where he operates as an expression of the principles of the art he has mastered. However, in one case, the teacher may come up with what he feels is a pedagogy for his students [maybe Matsuoka, as an example, teaching many kata], and in another, the teacher may just be exploring what is going on in his own body/mind/spirit without much regard for whether what he is doing can be communicated or is the best path to get to where he is now [maybe Ueshiba, as an example]. The latter case may be a masterwork to listen to, but does not teach you how to compose or perform. If it is an improvisation, it may not even be repeatable -- witness different uchi-deshi having different sword practices, depending on what was available to them at the time [Ueshiba Kisshomaru learning Kashima Shinto-ryu, another deshi learning a version of sangakuen from Ueshiba, etc]. Ueshiba seemed to have evolved beyond kata, but if the institutional knowledge preserved by kenjutsu tradtitions about just how important ma ai and center line and [whatever else] is not communicated, people practicing aiki-ken may never develop those qualities to the level required to beat someone like Matsuoka (or one of his student's student's students. . .). So, maybe Aikido needs more kata, with their inherent riddles (riddles with answers, though).

I agree, in that the purpose of aiki-ken may not be to beat a Matsuoka, that one can invalidate some of the above. However, I think that one would have to be clear then about aiki-ken not providing a good vehicle to teach ideas such as ma-ai, timing, hasuji, etc very efficiently. I want to reiterate that it is possible to be dedicated to one's training, and still just not know how refined those skills can be, and what is an efficient manner to develop them. But, then one would still need to explain how the sword practice benefits ones Aikido. [I do think Aikido discussion sometimes lends itself too easily to abstraction. If a person's aiki-ken lets them connect better to uke or nage, how? If the sword becomes connected with your body, how, and to what end? How is this related to 'aiki'?]

It may be the case, while the aiki-ken practiced by Aikidoka who are "twelve miles of bad road" are worth learning, as an expression of what those teachers feel aiki to be in the context of weapons work, they may not be the best vehicles for education, as they may not give the right emphasis to certain foundational aspects of weapons practice and instead try to connect too directly to jujutsu waza (e.g., doing shiho-nage or irimi-nage with a sword in your hand) or are practices which can become too abstract (e.g., an copy or echo of a koryu kata which has lost some of its precision or intensity or essence). It may be the case that when Ueshiba looks at someone doing kenjutsu, and pulls his uchi-deshi aside and says, "With aiki, we would do it like this", what he is doing is actually worse from the perspective of kenjutsu, but as someone who has developed his own quintessential level of skill, it is all he can possibly due, because he is so identified with the underlying principle or modality (aiki) he is trying to express. That is not to say that a person who is descendant from his practice can't be imbued with or taught with those qualities. For example, if the late Kanai did iaido, and thus understands hasuji and seme and other things, my guess would be that whatever aiki-ken he did would not be lacking in those regards. But, the question remains how you teach those points when a person only does jujutsu or aikido, without doing another art. Also, when even fundamental practices such as how you cut differ from tradition to tradition, how gently one must tread when trying to gain an understanding of fundamental ideas from another practice and transitioning it into one's aiki-ken.

Maybe there are specific questions one can still ask, in light of the above:


Is there a commonality across pre-war/post-war shihan who teach aiki-ken and the basic way in which they teach core movements such as kesa giri and kiri otoshi?

Although Ueshiba likely did not receive any licenses in kenjutsu, from reading about Aikido, it seems that he did practice a lot of suburi. What kind? Did he cut more like Itto-ryu, more like Shinkage-ryu, more like Kashima Shinto-ryu, more like kendo or (seitei gata) iaido?

Which kenjutsu ryuha have similar body movements (tai-sabaki) as Aikido? Do any? Or is aiki-ken entirely sword-work grafted onto an underlying jujutsu pattern of movement that is not optimized for long weapons?

What does Daito-ryu sword work look like? Not the Ono-ha Itto-ryu his son taught or the fact that Takeda had a license in Ono-ha Itto-ryu and visited many dojo, but the waza Takeda taught as part of Daito-ryu and Ueshiba may have learned from him in that context? Does any aiki-ken look like that, and if so, is that any more compatible with developing skill at Aikido, than, say, doing a copy of sangakuen?

Do Ueshiba's writings about "aiki" have any commonality with the way "aiki" is taught in kenjutsu traditions that have an idea going by the same name?


Just some thoughts and questions. Thank you all for the previous discussion as I have found it quite interesting.

Best Wishes,
Mark Raugas

Josh Reyer
02-12-2010, 11:51 AM
I think we could be splitting hairs, but assuming an art is 100 percent based on having a sword, at least on a technical level, how are you going to use that art? I accept that certain skills (coping with the stresses of combat, concentration, strategic thinking etc.) that you gain from most martial arts will always translate into others, but if most of your repertoire revolves around having a sharp extension to your body, surely there are severe limitations to performing it when that extension is gone?Limitations, indeed. I've always liked Yagyu Sekishusai's poem to the effect that even when you mastered muto-dori, it'll probably work 5 or 6 times out of 10. But I look at it this way. Let's say you have a fellow who does only a style of kenjutsu, no other arts. And you take away his sword and send him up against an opponent, any kind of opponent, armed with any kind of weapon, or even unarmed. In that fight he utilizes his understanding of maai, he generates striking power in the same way he's learned to with his sword, he moves his body the way he's been trained, he deals with angles of attack the way he's been trained, he uses what he has at hand, say, a flashlight, in the manner in which he's been trained to use, say, a kodachi. What is he doing, if not the art he has taken all this from? Keep in mind that in addition to the example of kodachi, a kenjutsu curriculum can include methods of disarming, joint-locks or holds, and/or even bare handed strikes.

One major reason why sword schools became so popular, even in the days when battlefields were largely fought over with guns, arrows, and spears, (indeed probably why Ueshiba sought to incorporate it anachronistically into his own art) is because the sword is a versatile tool for teaching general skills that can be applied to anything. The sword can thrust, and it can cut from just about any angle. It is long enough to be used at a far distance, but short enough to be effective at close-quarters as well. One learns to cut, but part of that is learning how to strike. Give our above kenjutsuka a jo, and he'll be able to use it effectively in the manner of his art. No, he won't necessarily be able to exploit the full potential of the jo, but he'll be able to use it. And as all he knows is his ryuha of kenjutsu, I don't think you could say he was suddenly doing jojutsu.

The sword is a medium; it's not the message.

Walker
02-12-2010, 03:26 PM
The sword is a medium; it's not the message.

Yeah, what Josh said. Two times.

earnest aikidoka
01-19-2016, 11:04 AM
Perhaps it's akin to a soldier and a sniper.

A soldier is trained to use all guns competently. So in a pinch, a soldier could use a weapon as general as a standard issue rifle, or a specialized sniper rifle. But a soldier can't outshoot a sniper in regards to long distance shooting, or any kind of shooting at all.

Similarly, an aikidoka is trained to move his body in a way that exploits his strengths against an opponent's weakness, and to do it in various ways. Either with bare-hands, or with weapons like staff or sword. Against other bare hands, or staff or sword. So in say a desperate situation such as combat, an Aikidoka could pick up a sword, and use it against a swordsman. But if you are talking about a situation where the aikidoka would be expected to use a specific blade in a specific manner, then that aikidoka will die.

The kenjutsuka is a sniper in that sense, he or she has trained from the beginning to use a sword specifically against other swords or weapons. An aikidoka is a soldier, he or see being trained in the principles of combat and how to apply that principle to other weapons in most situations. Just as a soldier can shoot a sniper rifle but can't be called a sniper. An Aikidoka can use a sword if necessary, but lacks the qualifications to be called a swordsman.

A sword is still a sword whether in the hands of a kenjutsuka or an aikidoka. It is still subject to the laws of nature, physics and bio-mechanics. However, a kenjutsuka is trained, in both body and mind, to maximize a blade's efficacy to the maximum, and exploit the inherent bio-mechanics of a sword to their advantage. This is a skill that goes beyond techniques. An Aikidoka is trained to exploit a different set of bio-mechanics, and while he could possibly apply that training against a Kenjutsuka, he can't hope to beat a kenjutsuka in a straight sword fight.

lbb
01-20-2016, 08:49 AM
FYI, Hansel, this is a six-year-old thread.

Erick Mead
01-20-2016, 09:43 AM
FYI, Hansel, this is a six-year-old thread. Really?

This website is a long-form conversation about an art dating back about 80 years -- itself formed in deep conversation with martial traditions dating back thousands of years -- and you quibble about a measly gap of six years in this part of that loooooong conversation ...

Perspective. ;)

earnest aikidoka
01-20-2016, 10:36 AM
FYI, Hansel, this is a six-year-old thread.

So? Its just old. It ain't closed.

lbb
01-20-2016, 11:36 AM
So? Its just old. It ain't closed.

So, the person you're responding to may no longer be reading. That's all.

PeterR
01-20-2016, 11:56 AM
Funny I always respond to the last posts since I last looked. Who ever reads the OPs.

rugwithlegs
01-22-2016, 11:50 AM
Well, it looks like the OP has quit the site altogether, but the name of the thread is an issue for me. Fine to talk about Aikiken versus Kenjutsu. The original clip is a bit of awase with some extra cuts tacked on the end, not sure I call it more real than Aikiken. Aikiken isn't necessarily representative of Aikido weapons practice.

I don't have a Kenjutsu background, but I know karate and Taiji forms have been badly transmitted, embellished, rewritten for competitions and public demos to entice new students. I have had people claim an unbroken lineage; I have never had someone tell me that this is exactly how a form was done four hundred years ago, and had it proven unequivically true. Not saying it doesn't happen, but four hundreds years of history might leave something divorced from reality too. Methods were not uniform. One story of Musashi was how he was devastating effective against an established school because he didn't move as the Ryu said he should. He did stuff wrong, and looked sloppy.