View Full Version : When should a beginner learn the jo, bokken?

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tim evans
09-23-2009, 08:16 PM
Just wanting to know when should a beginner begin weapon work.

09-23-2009, 08:30 PM
My first lesson with the Bokken was about a month into my training at the dojo picnic. But was only invited into the weapons class about a month or so ago about 3 months into my training. I think it really depends on the individual and what the Sensei feels is right for them.

Had my first class with the Jo last night and really enjoyed it.

09-23-2009, 08:50 PM
From my previous experience as one student to another, i have to say practicing with a bokken, at least for extention practice, should begin from very early on.It helped me visualize the purpose of techinique and the meaning of the tegatana, as well as a good practice for balance and to strengthen the wrists and formarms!

09-23-2009, 09:54 PM
Day one, if possible.

Darryl Cowens
09-23-2009, 10:19 PM
I think I used a Jo on the first night.. I've even had a Jo put in my hands during a stance to correct my hand placements leading into a non weapon technique... ;)

Keith Larman
09-23-2009, 10:32 PM
When your sensei teaches it...

09-23-2009, 11:48 PM
Concur on Day One....

Practice Practice Practice

Cutting Cutting Cutting. :)

William Hazen

Janet Rosen
09-24-2009, 03:19 AM
Another vote for day 1.....

09-24-2009, 06:24 AM
When your sensei teaches it...


Mark Freeman
09-24-2009, 07:31 AM
When your sensei teaches it...

The right answer!

My own experience is counter to those who champion day 1 for weapons training. My teacher has a highly structured introduction to weapons, which means I didn't get my hands on a weapon for quite a while. At the time I couldn't see the reasoning and my impatience was based on my desire to learn as much as I could as quickly as I could.
Looking back after a number of years I can appreciate why he delays the weapons work.
The beginner to aikido invariably has mediocre mind body co-ordination at best. In fact some new students I've had are almost a danger to themselves. Putting a weapon in their hands would only compound their problem:eek:



09-24-2009, 10:19 AM
I think mine was after two months as weapons are taught mainly during weapons class and the first two months I did the beginner only classes. I may have done some throws with weapons, but I didn't actually do any kata or anything like that.

09-24-2009, 10:51 AM
To clarify my answer a bit...on the "When should you learn bokken and jo...

1.It is an integral part of our practice from day one

2. Don't solely depend/wait on your Sensei to teach you anything... and in terms of an analogy...There are those who are only interested in passing the next "test" and then there are those who wish to truly understand what they're being taught and improve themselves...Always be mindful and respectful of your Sensei's knowledge and experience.

As the founder of Aikido said himself...Be a seeker... not just a student....

Remember it's your practice... and not just your Sensei's expression of the "curriculum"

Aikido for me is ultimately about what I decide make it...Something to do a few times a week or a way to live my life...Over the years I have fluctuated between the two... Keep that in mind...Whatever you decide to do with your practice is entirely up to you.

Good Luck with your Aikido Journey. :)

William Hazen

Lyle Laizure
09-24-2009, 01:26 PM
What is taught, whether weapons or empty hand etc is at the discresion of the instructor in charge. Depending on the instructor weapons training may not be introduced to new students for some time. I can't remember when I was introduced to weapons training but I start my students on day one for most. If a student has a lot of diffiuclty with coordination I find a weapon can help but if the student is a danger to him/herself then perhaps not.

Whether or not a student should train weapons I beleive should be left up to the instructor. At the same time who among us has strictly adhered to what we are told to do by an authority figure. It's human nature to want to do what we are prohibited from doing. The forbidden fruit is far too tempting to ignore. Our judgement becomes clouded and like so many young people we want what we want with little or no thought for the consequence. Safety should be the first concern to determine whether or not someone should train with or without weapons.

I think I have wandered some from the topic, if so, I apologize.

Keith Larman
09-24-2009, 01:36 PM
When your sensei teaches it...

Let me expand on this a bit...

There are two primary perspectives here. From the point of view of a new student you should be listening to your instructor. If there is an area of interest, by all means ask about it. But a beginner is in that enviable position of knowing nothing hence should be paying attention to those who ostensibly know better. So the answer in this case is when your sensei starts you on weapons.

The other primary perspective is that of instructors. When weapons are introduced depends on curriculum, style, instructor, etc. So many people here who are instructors will differ to some extent on this issue. People are different, styles are different, intentions are different.

But all that said Mr. Evans was not asking the question as an instructor, but asking when a student, as a beginner, should start on weapons. Well, unless he happens to be one of our students none of us can answer that question for him.

If the question is really about when weapons *should* be introduced to new students, well, I know there are a lot of opinions as to how and when those things should be done. My opinion on this issue as a guy with a reputation for being absolutely in love with weapons work is surprising to most -- not day one. I want to see students learn how to stand up straight, keep their balance, learn to take basic falls, and generally learn to do all that without hurting themselves. I want to see some body skills and control. Being able to stand with their hands at their side and deal with simple pushes and tests is a good starting point even for a swordsman. There is a lot of time. But once they're relatively competent in staying healthy and safe in beginning practice, sure, start introducing weapons.

Keith Larman
09-24-2009, 01:42 PM
And Mr. Hazen does point to an important point -- we are not passive receivers of knowledge as students. A good student is proactive, involved, and critically involved in his or her own education. There is nothing worse than looking over a class and seeing a row of people with sort of "bovine" stare of mental shutdown... The sort of "push it into my head for me" attitude is very discouraging for the instructor.

But again this is also a side issue to the original question. Ask your sensei. If he or she has a plan, cool, pay attention, work hard, and struggle along enjoying being a beginner. If on the other hand you think they don't know what they're doing or they have no method to their madness, why are you there in the first place?

Janet Rosen
09-24-2009, 02:01 PM
I had trained for periods in a couple of dojo that don't stress or really offer weapons and since I took to weapons early on in my training I was grateful that I knew enough kata by then to continue practicing at home.
I was a slow and confused beginner. But weapons being part of it didn't add to the problems and I think really helped in so many ways.

Rob Watson
09-24-2009, 05:56 PM
My single greatest regret is not taking advantage of the weapons training offered way back when I was working on 5th kyu. At the time I just wasn't interested ...

I'm interested now. Maybe it is best to start when there is an interest.

09-24-2009, 06:19 PM
Day one, if possible.

X3 on day one.

John Bevard
09-24-2009, 06:39 PM
I asked my sensei if there was a certain level to start weapons. He told me that if I showed up to class, he'll put a jo in my hands. I responded, and showed up to a weapons class before my first empty-hand class. I think the training of each affects the other.

Linda Eskin
09-24-2009, 07:17 PM
At our dojo there are open-hand classes, and weapons classes, and beginners can show up to either/both. So "When your sensei teaches it" (which I agree with in principle) doesn't apply. You can show up starting on day 1, if you like.

I agree that each kind of training supports the other. I would start with weapons fairly early on - don't wait until you are "good enough" (whatever that means to you) before trying a few weapons classes.

09-24-2009, 07:46 PM
My very first class (about 2 months ago now) was entirely with the jo.

09-24-2009, 11:16 PM
I asked my sensei if there was a certain level to start weapons. He told me that if I showed up to class, he'll put a jo in my hands.

Sounds like your Sensei is Tom Huffman. :)

I responded, and showed up to a weapons class before my first empty-hand class. I think the training of each affects the other.

An excellent observation.

William Hazen

John Bevard
09-25-2009, 01:16 PM
Yes, my Sensei is Tom Huffman :D . I hope I don't test his patience too much with my lack of ability so far, but he has me hooked.

Anway, the other advantage I see is that the weapons (so far) seem to be easier for me to remember at home when I practice. Weapons also seem to be nice for solo practice.

09-25-2009, 10:42 PM
Yes, my Sensei is Tom Huffman :D . I hope I don't test his patience too much with my lack of ability so far, but he has me hooked.

Anway, the other advantage I see is that the weapons (so far) seem to be easier for me to remember at home when I practice. Weapons also seem to be nice for solo practice.

Lucky You...You're in good hands with Tom and Tom trained directly with Nishio Shihan for quite a few years. So yes.... Weapons are Perfect for Solo Practice and the more you use them... The better your Aikido Practice will be...:)

William Hazen

Josh Reyer
09-26-2009, 12:25 AM
Kendo/Kenjutsu and jodo/jojutsu students start with weapons from day one, with the intention of learning posture, body control, etc. I don't see why it would be different with aikido. Of course, Keith makes a good point -- my first aikido class was all ukemi. So I could see ukemi being day one, and some weapons work being day two...

10-04-2009, 10:40 PM
I think Aikido should start from day one even if it just 10 minutes of the class

Amir Krause
10-05-2009, 05:28 AM
In my case. I faced with contradictions:

When teaching us (the "veterans") to teach, my Sensei suggested teaching weapons after about a year of practice, so the student will have time to learn coordination with just his body and no weapon to focus on.
When I started learning, I got the Jo after less then a month and starting doing "walks", "stances" and basic strikes and blocks while advancing\retreating. I continued practicing the Jo and advancing in it, including "Jo Randori" (similar to a light sparring of Jo Vs Jo, except the point is not to spar - rather to learn). I only started practicing the boken several years later.

When a Shihan of the style (Korindo) was invited to a seminar, he indicated he believes in weapons training from day 1.

My own conclusion was that most teachers, seem to adhere to the way they were taught. My Sensei started with Judo for many years, and only then came to Korindo Aikido. The Shihan I wrote about, had learnt multiple weapons styles of Koryu prior to joining Korindo.

I think any generalization here would be presumptuous. Each student has the right time for him, depending on the teaching style of the particular Sensei. There is not a single "right" or "wrong" here, for each should go his own way.


11-02-2009, 03:43 PM
weapons for solo practice and to "open" the body, if you can from day one, just take to not to get in the way for the curriculum of the dojo you are attending to.

Darryl Cowens
11-02-2009, 09:24 PM
If it helps, we have a couple of foam knives just for the beginners to go with the wooden knives when we train... ;) ... Don't have foam bokken or jo though :P