View Full Version : Bokken handling

Please visit our sponsor:

11-23-2009, 10:07 PM
Today I was showed how to handle the bokken. My problem is that when I would give the bokken to somebody else, I would just hand them the bokken like it was a stick and not a sword. Could somebody explain how to hand the bokken to somebody else or give me a link that explains this procedure. I would be much appreciated.

Keith Larman
11-23-2009, 10:58 PM
Seriously, ask your sensei.

I work full-time doing Japanese style swords for martial artists, collectors, etc. I'm in the antique world, the modern sword world, and in the aikido world. I will say I've seen some variation on some of the subtle details of etiquette. To the point of saying that really the best idea is to talk with your sensei about what is considered correct in your environment and context.

There are basics, however, that are fairly consistent. Treat it like it is real. It is simply good weapons handling to treat all weapons including training weapons as if they're the real deal. I handle swords all day long every day and as a result I've quite strict about what I want to see. Slip ups are painful. And can be deadly. So I treat all of them as if they're real.

So with that in mind, think about what you do when you hand a bokken to someone by tossing it. Or pointing it at them edge or point first. Consider how dangerous/stupid it would be to do that if it were a real sword.

When you hand a sword to someone keep the edge towards yourself. Make sure they have a solid grip before letting go. And make sure you're "out of the way" of where the sword would drop if the other guy happened to let it go.

But... All that said... Ask your sensei about specifics they want to see. I've seen highly ranked martial artists that I respect greatly do things with bokken that would make me go ballistic if I saw it in a class I was teaching. So opinions vary. And how strict someone is can vary. As I said, my basic rule is to treat it as though it were real. But... Not all agree.

David Maidment
11-24-2009, 05:56 AM
Indeed, ask your sensei for their preferred way.

However, if you want a general method, I would present the sword with a more-or-less outstretched arm, holding the end/bottom of the tsuka (so that the recipient can grasp closer to the tsuba to get a good grip). Make sure that the blade is pointing towards yourself; I'm sure there's something of a sign of respect in doing so, as well as the obvious safety factor.

That's for swords. However, if I was passing a bokken to someone in the middle of class so that they could have a go (and then the person after them and the person after them, etc.), I would have it laid out flat across the palms of my hands, with my thumbs just covering the top. Edge pointed towards myself, so they're not grasping a metaphorical three foot razor blade with their open hands. Accompany it with a bow and allow the recipient to take the bokken from you in a similar manner.

11-24-2009, 10:04 AM
We do it a couple ways in my dojo. I would have to agree with David & Keith though, ask your sensei. Anyway, the two ways we do it in our dojo are

1.) Have both palms up towards the ceiling and rest the tsuka in your left hand and the "blade" resting in your right hand. The bokken should be parrallel to the floor. Make sure the cutting edge of the blade is facing you and don't wrap your fist around the blade. We lightly place our thumbs on the top of the bokken because it is in an imaginary saya (until we draw it). We then either hand it to them or some of us tend to rei slightly and hand it to them.

2.) Hold the bokken like you normally would in your right hand as if you were about to cut. Now, flip the bokken upside down so the tip is pointing at the floor (your hand should be in the same position as it was before) and the blade is now facing your partner. (For the next part, imagine you and your partner are in a square room with one wall to your front, to your back and one on each side.) Rotate your fist so your fingers are pointing down towards the floor, which puts the tip towards the right wall. Then move your fist towards the corner to your front right (about 45 degrees to your right from your partner). They can take the bokken from you without the blade or tip being pointed at them and the blade and tip is also away from you. Hope I explained that well enough for you to understand. HAHA.