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Tsunemori
09-27-2011, 12:16 PM
Hi,
Can anyone tell me about real sword fighting and Aiki ken.
Is there any similarty between kenjutsu and aiki ken?
Thanks

Michael Hackett
09-27-2011, 12:38 PM
They are similar in that both use a Japanese sword of some sort. In my mind they are analogous to softball versus baseball. Aiki Ken is practiced to inform emptyhand aikido and kenjutsu is the practice of swordfighting.

Tsunemori
09-27-2011, 12:59 PM
Ok. I didnt play softball or baseball :)
Is it possible to use Aiki Ken in real sword fighting?
Does anyone has expirience in some ken jutsu or koryu?

Cliff Judge
09-27-2011, 01:29 PM
No, aikiken would not serve you in a real swordfight. The reason for this is really that aikiken systems evolved during times when real swordfights don't happen so there are areas of instruction that are just not pertinent. You don't need to understand how long it will take someone to die if you cut them in various places, for example. You don't need to know how to get past armor or deal with your own armor.

Koryu sword training uses kata that have layers of instruction that are peeled away like the skin of an onion as the practitioner grows in understanding over the course of years of study. Aikiken takes some of these layers and disregards others.

Mark Gibbons
09-27-2011, 01:30 PM
"Real sword fighting"? Is there some highly restricted war going on somewhere I haven't heard of? I never get those memos. :)

What do you mean by that term?

Mark

Richard Stevens
09-27-2011, 01:45 PM
Ok. I didnt play softball or baseball :)
Is it possible to use Aiki Ken in real sword fighting?
Does anyone has expirience in some ken jutsu or koryu?

Aren't sword fights pretty hard to find these days? :confused:

jester
09-27-2011, 01:45 PM
Is there any similarty between kenjutsu and aiki ken?

Nope.

Tsunemori
09-27-2011, 01:52 PM
No one is going to fight with the real swords :-))
But what I meant is this:
Is Aiki Ken just a form which is not useable with real katana.
Or can it bee zsed with real katana?

grondahl
09-27-2011, 01:58 PM
No one is going to fight with the real swords :-))
But what I meant is this:
Is Aiki Ken just a form which is not useable with real katana.
Or can it bee zsed with real katana?

Another thing to reconsider is that there are many different forms of aiki-ken. Some more like traditional sword arts than other. Nishio stylists even train a aiki-version of iaido (Aiki Toho) that probably can be trained with a real katana if that´s what you´r intrested in.

Tsunemori
09-27-2011, 02:03 PM
I am thinking about Iwama Takemusu Aikido...
But and others opinions are welcome :-))

kewms
09-27-2011, 02:03 PM
I have seen aikiken demonstrated with metal blades. (Iaito in this case, not shinken.) All the forms "work."

I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you have a fair amount of experience with blades, though. First, you'll bash the heck out of the blades and make their owner very unhappy unless you know what you're doing. And second, if you use live blades without a great deal of care, you're very likely to hurt someone.

If you want to study the use of blades, study a sword art.

Katherine

Mark Gibbons
09-27-2011, 02:20 PM
No one is going to fight with the real swords :-))
But what I meant is this:
Is Aiki Ken just a form which is not useable with real katana.
Or can it bee zsed with real katana?

There are some people practicing aikido that can be trusted "real" katana. They usually have training outside of aikido. Most of us, especially me, should never be allowed near anything with sharp edges. So, we do aikiken with boken and simulate knives with tantos. That's a huge difference no matter how seriously you try to simulate the real thing. Most folks can use a sword, surviving a hostile encounter is a completely different matter.

The aikiken training I've seen really doesn't compare well with European fencing classes as far as training in using a weapon. My exposure is very limited though. If I wanted to really learn to be the toughest thing around with a really sharp blade, I'd first sit down, have a drink and stop watching old Japanese movies. Then I'd try to return from fantasy land.

Regards,
Mark

Allen Beebe
09-27-2011, 02:29 PM
I often find these discussions baffling. First of all because many individuals seem to assume that there is some universally agreed upon definition for the term "aikiken" and they know what that is. I find this difficult to believe because Aikidoka's usage of the (generally) bokuto based art when used at all, is usually only uniform to a particular teacher and there is tremendous variety among teachers. So the more practical question seems to me to be, is "so and so teacher's ken" as viable as ken jutsu. Once again though this question artificially lumps all Ken Jutsu into a singular category. Schools of Ken Jutsu run from soup to nuts.

Then there is the the assumption that Aiki Ken and Ken Jutsu could be compared qualitatively via some sort of combat venue disregarding the variables of the nature of the combat venue and the variability of participants. This assumption simply doesn't make sense. I individual on the edge of death who studied Ken Jutsu all their life could conceivably be defeated by a strong healthy person who had no training in anything . . . and we are to assume then that no training is better than a lifetime of training because the in individual on the edge of death decided to "check out" at that time?

A common assumption is that if I just join the World Champion Football team I will become a world champion . . . and I think we can see the flaw in that reasoning. I may not be World Champion material AND the World Champions of last year may not be the same this year. (Sure there are trends. That seems to be a more reasoned approach to look at.)

Finally, and most contentiously, we read about the Aiki masters WHO HAD SOME KEN BACKGROUND (not ones with zero ken background) being lauded by some as masters of ken. But then those same individuals were lauded by some as masters of Jujutsu as well.

Who do we know TODAY with Aikido that is lauded by those outside the art as masters of Jujutsu? Perhaps we no longer hear of masters of Ken within the art for the same reason. Perhaps even though there has been some technical knowledge handed down (And I realize that there is a unbelievably broad continuum of what has been handed down.) for both taijutsu and buki waza, perhaps the difference that MADE the difference is now predominantly missing.

BTW, I am unaware duals taking place with swords recently, but then again that is assuming that one plans to use their ken in a dueling situation . . . there are many other situations in which a ken might be used and there are arts that generalize and arts that specialize in individual or various situations.

To me it is an overly broad question receiving overly broad answers.

Just some lunch time thoughts.

Allen

Tsunemori
09-27-2011, 02:45 PM
English is not my first language so it is dificult to express myself.
I had oportunity to hold a real katana (mine friend bought it recently) and i was suprised how is diferent from the bokken i am used to.
I dont think that i could doit things with katana what i am doing with bokken (in kumitachi or awase...). It so hard to handle it .
Someone said Fantasy land, so mine question is this:
Is it Aiki ken fantasy land and some romantic wiev on samurai fights or i just mised the point.
Is here some peoples who is doing something like Kshima shinto ryu , Muso shinden Ryu.....

Demetrio Cereijo
09-27-2011, 03:00 PM
Is it Aiki ken fantasy land and some romantic wiev on samurai fights or i just mised the point.
Aiki ken (Iwama style) is not swordmanship. It's purpose is not about learning how to use a japanese sword in combat.

grondahl
09-27-2011, 03:23 PM
Aiki ken is a another tool to help you understand the principles of aikido. I would say that aiki ken is to kenjutsu as aikido taijutsu is to regular martial arts.

kewms
09-27-2011, 03:55 PM
English is not my first language so it is dificult to express myself.
I had oportunity to hold a real katana (mine friend bought it recently) and i was suprised how is diferent from the bokken i am used to.
I dont think that i could doit things with katana what i am doing with bokken (in kumitachi or awase...). It so hard to handle it .

Yes, it is very different. Learning to handle a sword properly would be excellent training for you and would greatly enhance your aikido.

Katherine

Tsunemori
09-27-2011, 04:25 PM
Thanks everyone...
Domo arigato gozaimashita...

Carsten Möllering
09-28-2011, 07:09 AM
In our line we learn both:
aiki ken and a ken jutsu.
It teaches different things.

Cliff Judge
09-28-2011, 08:25 AM
FWIW, good kenjutsu training is an excellent aid to understanding aikiken.

Allen Beebe
09-28-2011, 09:29 AM
I have read many times that Aiki Ken's purpose is to illustrate the "the Principles of Aiki." Some questions immediately come to mind for me.

Is Aiki Jo's purpose to illustrate "the Principles of Aiki?" If so, are the principles illustrated different from the Ken? If not, why the redundancy? If not, what is the difference?

Is Aikido's waza's purpose to illustrate "the Principles of Aiki?" If so, are the principles illustrated by waza different from the Ken and Jo? If not, why the redundancy? If not, what is the difference?

O-sensei practiced with other weapons and weapon (like) objects, do these illustrate "the Principles of Aiki" as well? If so, are the principles illustrated different from all others. If so how are they different. If not, why the redundancy?

If so many people agree that Aiki Ken "illustrates the principles of Aiki" or "Aikido," than it occurs to me that many (most?) people pointing to this fact must be able to share the universally agreed upon "Principles of Aiki or Aikido" that they so often refer to.

Would someone care to list the principles that are referred to by both those inside and outside the art? They seem to be commonly known. For communication's sake and for a common understanding of the core of the art it would be very helpful to have a list of these principles posted.

Thanks in advance!

Allen

Allen Beebe
09-28-2011, 09:35 AM
Oh yeah, just a thought . . .

If Aiki Ken, Jo, and Taijutusu have no martial veracity and are not meant to have any martial veracity but specifically intended to illustrate the commonly known (soon I'll know too I hope) "Principles of Aiki," then it follows that Aikido would have no martial veracity unless of course the "Principles of Aiki" were had martial veracity.

It occurs to me that this observation would kill all "is Akido an effective martial art" threads and the fact that the "Principles of Aiki" are well known should kill many others as well.

It would at least answer a lot of common questions.

grondahl
09-28-2011, 09:42 AM
Oh yeah, just a thought . . .

If Aiki Ken, Jo, and Taijutusu have no martial veracity and are not meant to have any martial veracity but specifically intended to illustrate the commonly known (soon I'll know too I hope) "Principles of Aiki," then it follows that Aikido would have no martial veracity unless of course the "Principles of Aiki" were had martial veracity.

It occurs to me that this observation would kill all "is Akido an effective martial art" threads and the fact that the "Principles of Aiki" are well known should kill many others as well.

It would at least answer a lot of common questions.

I alluded to that in post nr 16. There is always the "that´s not how you handle a sword"-reaction regarding aikiken from within the aikido community, but it´s not like aikido is known for it´s excellent unarmed fighting ability either.

Peter Goldsbury
09-28-2011, 09:51 AM
Hello Allen,

Have you ever come across the phrase 論議の花を咲かせる: rongi no hana wo sakaseru: to let the flowers of argument bloom? It is a very important part of Japanese meetings and of AikiWeb discussions. This thread is a good example.

Best,

PAG

Oh yeah, just a thought . . .

If Aiki Ken, Jo, and Taijutusu have no martial veracity and are not meant to have any martial veracity but specifically intended to illustrate the commonly known (soon I'll know too I hope) "Principles of Aiki," then it follows that Aikido would have no martial veracity unless of course the "Principles of Aiki" were had martial veracity.

It occurs to me that this observation would kill all "is Akido an effective martial art" threads and the fact that the "Principles of Aiki" are well known should kill many others as well.

It would at least answer a lot of common questions.

Cliff Judge
09-28-2011, 09:52 AM
Allen, with all due respect, you've just asked a number of rhetorical questions that you don't believe anyone can provide adequate answers for. In some circles this is called trolling. It obscures what your actual thoughts are on the matter, which would probably greatly benefit this thread if you offered them more gently.

Are you suggesting that aikiken and aikijo systems are meant to actually be effective in actual combat? Or are you lamenting the fact that you constantly hear the refrain "these sytems are meant to illustrate / explain / demonstrate principals of aikido," but you do not hear adequate explanations of what these principals are and how they are demonstrated? Or something else?

graham christian
09-28-2011, 09:55 AM
I don't agree with the view of any Ken work is not real. If done to a high standard then it would be a match for any other sword art. It all depends on the person doing it.

Regards.G.

lbb
09-28-2011, 10:07 AM
Oh yeah, just a thought . . .

You've had several.

The line about how weapons training is supposed to inform your empty-hand practice is, unfortunately, a bit of a platitude much of the time. That is, it's true, but it's also something that people repeat without really thinking about, much less seeing the connection to what they're doing. It's like an old Bill Cosby joke in which kids in kindergarten are taught that one and one is two. Kid's reaction: "One and one is two! Great, that's amazing, yes sirree...what's a two?"

So, it seems to me that weapons training can only inform your empty-hand training by starting with martially effective/valid weapons techniques, and then going from there. If instead you have a situation where people are told to pick up this wooden thing, and then they're told the line about how it's supposed to inform their body art, most likely they'll try to make motions that mimic what they think they're supposed to be doing in body art, only now they're holding this stick. IMO, this is exactly backwards.

grondahl
09-28-2011, 10:17 AM
Regarding the shared principles between taijutsu and bukiwaza (aikiken/aikijo). I train in Iwama-style aikido and more or less all movements in our taijutsu is in the bukiwaza-curriculum.

Some aspects of "aikido as I know it" (lots of stuff missing there) is easier to train with aikiken (hanmi, breathing, power generation, posture, maai, awase, keeping centerline). That said, Iwama aikiken is rather clumsy, I see it as "bukiwaza done as taijutsu" where as for ex Nishio-stylists feels like "taijutsu done as bukiwaza".

Keith Larman
09-28-2011, 10:17 AM
Allen, I'll be the sacrificial lamb and get the ball rolling... ;)

I was taught that aikiken and aikijogi should be seen along the same lines as the aiki taiso. The aiki taiso is intended to be a solo exercise to help one develop "aiki". Of course we hear phrases like "to get our ki flowing" and stuff like that which is not necessarily all that descriptive in any sort of scientific fashion. However, what was impressed upon me was that the aiki taiso are not to be done as warm ups, not as just movements, but as discrete methods of developing both the body to do "aiki" as well as developing better awareness of what is going on in your body. As we are a Ki Society offshoot, these things are assessed via tests to see if we are exhibiting our four principles to unify mind and body. So the taiso are to help us develop our abilities. And I was told that the aiki jogi and aiki kengi were intended for the same purpose -- additional "exercises" if you will to develop the same things. So we test for unification of mind and body thoughout these "kata" of sorts. We strive to keep one-point, etc. as we do the movements. Our stated goal is to better develop our understanding of "aiki" within our own bodies.

So, as with the aiki taiso add a stick with it's associated movements and style and you have new movements, new things to learn. Same with adding in a wooden sword with it's own associated movements and requirements simply gives another means to test ourselves, to develop, to improve.

So FWIW I view them not as kenjutsu or sojutsu or whatever. They are solo exercises to allow us to better develop that elusive feeling of aiki. So we focus on balance, relaxation and control while trying to develop the ability to strike/cut/thrust with power. For me it is being able to deliver a powerful strike with the jo, for example, while maintaining good form. That means the strike is using the as much of the body structure as possible to deliver that strike. Not swinging with the arms, but learning to connect throughout the body and use the ground, your legs, core, and arms with each strike. And then this is done from a variety of directions, angles, and styles that forces you to learn more ways of being powerful while maintaining the principles. Currently I'm still working on loosening up those tight hips. It's like a point of power constipation for me -- everything gets clogged up in the tightness there. But that's getting better slowly...

So, for me it is about learning how to generate powerful movements.

And it is not redundant between ken and jo as each weapon is used differently. Hence different movements. Hence different ways of using the body. Hence different types of "tanren" in each case.

But I'm also the obsessive guy who beats the daylights out of a sawhorse and a large persimmon tree in my backyard daily with both ken and jo. I've busted a number of the weapons over the years.

Speaking only for myself and my understanding.

Okay... Fire away...

Keith Larman
09-28-2011, 10:21 AM
And I left out one thing... The way I think about aiki in terms of jo and ken is developing "oneness" internally to allow me to perform all those movements.

How all that "informs" my Aikido in general is I think rather obvious. How can I possibly attain "oneness" with the big, bad, hairy attacker if I'm not "one" internally before they attack... So removing all that slack from my body before before contact. Can't get out their slack if I've got it in me. So we go back to those four principles things...

Janet Rosen
09-28-2011, 10:23 AM
How all that "informs" my Aikido in general is I think rather obvious. How can I possibly attain "oneness" with the big, bad, hairy attacker if I'm not "one" internally before they attack... So removing all that slack from my body before before contact. Can't get out their slack if I've got it in me. So we go back to those four principles things...

Yep :)

DH
09-28-2011, 10:34 AM
Seen on the whole as opposed to individual anecdotes of select teachers:

The principles of aiki- as discussed by Ueshiba-and their relevance to the generation of aiki by sustaining in/yo is immediate, practical, mechanical and almost mundane.

The so called "principles of Aiki" by those that re-invented Aikido, seem to have no relevance within the framework of the traditional martial arts. Their weapons use is as divorced from the traditional model as their empty hand arts. From a classical perspective of in yo, and moving from center; Aikido and aiki-weapons seem distinctly modern and more akin to the understanding seen in sports.
I suspect that just as his own students did not understand his discussions and mistranslated them, they did not understand how he generated aiki his movement either, and mistranslated that as well.
Kono: Sensei why is it we cannot do what you do?
Ueshiba: Because you do not understand In yo ho.

I would say that power in and of itself is no evidence of anything meaningful. Killing with classical weapons requires little power. It is far more important to understand how to wield them powerfully...with as little power as needed. over a prolonged period of time, under stress. This is best done internally and externally by developing a bujutsu body through in yo ho.
Dan

phitruong
09-28-2011, 10:37 AM
Currently I'm still working on loosening up those tight hips. It's like a point of power constipation for me -- everything gets clogged up in the tightness there. But that's getting better slowly...
...

i heard that fiber will help with the constipation, but using a long piece of wood is a bit extreme. :D

oh ya, agree with the rest of your posts.

Cliff Judge
09-28-2011, 10:38 AM
I have had a couple of thoughts about why aikiken exists in the brief time I have been studying koryu swordwork and I thought I might throw them out there.

First, i think the cultural significance of the sword to Ueshiba and his early students cannot be overstated. Handling bokken and treating them as though they were live blades lent a seriousness and weight to the training, it emphasized it as a matter of life or death.

Many people say that "Aikido is based on the sword" or "Aikido is based on the movements of the sword" or something like that, as though this is literally true, that all of our techniques were at one time techniques of some sword school. Well we have established that Ueshiba had broad sword knowledge but the depth of that knowledge is questionable. I think the deal is that Aikido is based on the spirit of the sword. It is not pugilism, it is not wrestling. In a sword fight, you don't allow yourself to get cut so you can get into a more advantageous position, and you don't plan a long string of feints and blocks angling towards a "checkmate" win. I don't think that's what O Sensei wanted us to be doing.

I am not sure how correct I am, but I have this belief that swordwork was sort of ambient culturally among the early Aikido community and so it was a visual / somatic "language" that could be used to demonstrate concepts easily, and that's why O Sensei would pick up a bokken to show something. Stuff on the order of "he attacks, but you are already over here doing this" or "this spacing leaves you in danger, but over here you are safe" or "you can control your partner's balance even if you are only touching swords."

And from there we have shihan stringing together kata out of things like this. Or pulling them directly from existing ryu as some of Saito's kata are.

But along the way, some kenjutsu is dropped or emphasized differently. For example, in my experience getting people to move their bodies through the kata is first, and good, powerful cutting is somewhere down the line. You need to view the bokken as a live blade, of course, but at the end of the day you don't need to know how to cut through armor or bone.

Again, speaking from relatively brief experience here but in aikiken, it is pretty neat when you and your partner are connected and flow through the kata as one, but my koryu training at the moment places a premium on not connecting with the opponent, not giving them your rhythm or timing, because they could trap you.

I have problems with Aikido taisabaki asserting itself in sword training, because it tends to put me way too deep. The aikiken I practice calls for entering and cutting the head or neck; the kenjutsu I practice calls for keeping range and cutting wrists.

And physically connecting through the sword? My school at my level tells you that you are dead.

A lot of this may be simply due to the way I train Aikido and the way I train sword and may be different for others. My koryu is very specific about foot position, maai, and timing; my Aikido training has required me to figure out more of this myself to see what works in different situations.

Cliff Judge
09-28-2011, 10:49 AM
So, it seems to me that weapons training can only inform your empty-hand training by starting with martially effective/valid weapons techniques,

The thing about this is, koryu training tends to involve years of practicing techniques before you learn how or why they are martially effective or valid. Or there is a story about their martial validity at the outset, and then later on you are shown that you have actually been practicing something completely different.

I agree that within the context of any system of aikiken, you need to be able to pressure-test the kata and figure out how they would work in a more fighty situation. Shinai are really fun for this.

kewms
09-28-2011, 11:11 AM
So, it seems to me that weapons training can only inform your empty-hand training by starting with martially effective/valid weapons techniques, and then going from there.

Yes, absolutely. I've been fortunate enough to have teachers who do exactly that, and it makes a world of difference.

Katherine

kewms
09-28-2011, 11:21 AM
Many people say that "Aikido is based on the sword" or "Aikido is based on the movements of the sword" or something like that, as though this is literally true, that all of our techniques were at one time techniques of some sword school. Well we have established that Ueshiba had broad sword knowledge but the depth of that knowledge is questionable. I think the deal is that Aikido is based on the spirit of the sword. It is not pugilism, it is not wrestling. In a sword fight, you don't allow yourself to get cut so you can get into a more advantageous position, and you don't plan a long string of feints and blocks angling towards a "checkmate" win. I don't think that's what O Sensei wanted us to be doing.

Thinking of it in these terms also puts the whole "non-resistance" thing in a totally different light. No one "resists" a live blade. And if you have a live blade in your hands, the idea that you can respond to strength and pushing by going somewhere else becomes a lot easier to understand.

The Japanese sword is a very elegant weapon. I think O Sensei wanted to bring that feeling to his art as well.

Katherine

lbb
09-28-2011, 11:59 AM
The thing about this is, koryu training tends to involve years of practicing techniques before you learn how or why they are martially effective or valid.

Yep. No easy or simple answers there.

Allen Beebe
09-28-2011, 05:56 PM
Hello Allen,

Have you ever come across the phrase 論議の花を咲かせる: rongi no hana wo sakaseru: to let the flowers of argument bloom? It is a very important part of Japanese meetings and of AikiWeb discussions. This thread is a good example.

Best,

PAG

Hi Peter,

Sorry, no time to write now. I have a favorite column to read!! ;)

Best,
Allen :D

Gerardo Torres
09-28-2011, 06:25 PM
I have read many times that Aiki Ken's purpose is to illustrate the "the Principles of Aiki." Some questions immediately come to mind for me.

Is Aiki Jo's purpose to illustrate "the Principles of Aiki?" If so, are the principles illustrated different from the Ken? If not, why the redundancy? If not, what is the difference?

Is Aikido's waza's purpose to illustrate "the Principles of Aiki?" If so, are the principles illustrated by waza different from the Ken and Jo? If not, why the redundancy? If not, what is the difference?

O-sensei practiced with other weapons and weapon (like) objects, do these illustrate "the Principles of Aiki" as well? If so, are the principles illustrated different from all others. If so how are they different. If not, why the redundancy?

If so many people agree that Aiki Ken "illustrates the principles of Aiki" or "Aikido," than it occurs to me that many (most?) people pointing to this fact must be able to share the universally agreed upon "Principles of Aiki or Aikido" that they so often refer to.

Would someone care to list the principles that are referred to by both those inside and outside the art? They seem to be commonly known. For communication's sake and for a common understanding of the core of the art it would be very helpful to have a list of these principles posted.

Thanks in advance!

Allen
Hi Allen,

Those are some good questions some of which I ask myself. To this day I don't understand the point of some of the "aiki weapons" training I see being done around, with a few notable exceptions: Some teachers like to demonstrate a technique, say katatedori ikkyo or shihonage, while holding a bokken to illustrate the clean "cutting" lines of a technique. I think this is a nice visual teaching aid that helps "clean up" techniques. I've also seen shinai drills and such used to train mental aspects (sanshin, musubi, etc.). Then again I don't know if these are examples of "aiki weapons" or whether there are underlying aiki principles across these practices. Various shihan complemented their aikido training with various iai and ken training. Their philosophies and technique vary a lot, so perhaps it's my limited exposure but I honestly don't know of a common thread that links these practices to "aiki", i.e. what makes them "aiki".

Ueshiba purportedly trained in some classical forms and made things his own, "in aiki we do it this way…" So he infused some actual weapon techniques with aiki (that he already had?). Unless this was a practice for him alone, I would expect any weapons practice in aikido to actually help me train and develop aiki (among other martial aspects, if possible). Even though the applied principles might be the same I would expect aiki weapons training not to be redundant efforts of empty-hand training (weapons should pose an extra challenge, after all weapons are dangerous / great equalizers; and manifesting power through elbow, hand, ken, jo, spear… imo should start to get increasingly more challenging, not to mention weapon movements can get more complicated than empty-handed ones).


So, it seems to me that weapons training can only inform your empty-hand training by starting with martially effective/valid weapons techniques, and then going from there. If instead you have a situation where people are told to pick up this wooden thing, and then they're told the line about how it's supposed to inform their body art, most likely they'll try to make motions that mimic what they think they're supposed to be doing in body art, only now they're holding this stick. IMO, this is exactly backwards.
The thing about this is, koryu training tends to involve years of practicing techniques before you learn how or why they are martially effective or valid. Or there is a story about their martial validity at the outset, and then later on you are shown that you have actually been practicing something completely different.
I agree that within the context of any system of aikiken, you need to be able to pressure-test the kata and figure out how they would work in a more fighty situation. Shinai are really fun for this.
I tend to agree with Mary's and Cliff's view that the aiki ken/jo kata should be martially sound in order to adequately inform the taijutsu efforts. I would not limit martial efficacy to partner interaction (ma-ai, metsuke, etc.) but extend it to how the weapon is wielded (transfer power to the hands and out to the contact area), the role of waist vs. hips, weighting, etc., as all this translates to body arts. That said, my main issue with some of the aiki weapons I see is that the way they wield the weapons, move, cut, etc., is in direct opposition to how I understand aiki should be manifested or trained, not to mention being martially unsound (based on my experience). I can entertain the idea that "this [aiki ken/jo] is not supposed to be sword fighting", OK, but then I wonder, how is doing weapons like that going to help me get aiki?

Interestingly enough, in my brief experience with classical weapons, I find that the performance requirements of these "fighting arts" are a lot more congruent with the idea of moving from the center, balance / in-yo, and efficiency associated with aiki (I'm not saying there's "aiki" inherent in any school I'm familiar with, only that its teachings on weapons handling and movement are not in direct opposition with aiki as I understand it, in fact they bond and aiki complements it quite nicely).

Allen Beebe
09-28-2011, 06:31 PM
Hi Cliff,

Allen, with all due respect, you've just asked a number of rhetorical questions that you don't believe anyone can provide adequate answers for.

But I could be wrong, so better to ask than not to. If I'm not wrong, maybe my query will prompt those that with formulaic answers to reflect whether they understand their own responses with any depth. I'm quite pleased with the majority of responses most seem seem sincere and thoughtful.

In some circles this is called trolling. It obscures what your actual thoughts are on the matter, which would probably greatly benefit this thread if you offered them more gently.

If you knew that I wrote my post with my lap top on my lap while performing my "morning constitutional" you'd probably be convinced that I was trolling. I find that when I am "gentle" most folks don't understand my meaning. I tend to favor blunt and true over gentle and false or obscure. I am also aware that these are not mutually exclusive. As an aside I find our society in general confusing these things with one side adopting the philosophy of "Don't tell me the truth if it hurts my sensibilities." and the other philosophy being "I'm going to hurt your sensibilities and that PROVES what I'm saying is true." I figure the truth is the truth, it has little to do with being offensive or being offended. Thanks for calling my attention to your concern though. It is duly noted!

As for what I have to share . . . I think I've done about as much as I can on a forum. I think there is no one unified thing called Aiki Ken that we can coherently talk about. Therefore, it seems to me, to be silly to make value judgements and general statements about something that cannot be coherently talked about. What I would guess can be done is now being done. That is, some folks are talking about what THEY do and CALL Aiki Ken. Not surprisingly there is a broad continuum from "an extension or elaboration of what I consider to be the core of Aikido" to "Koryu Kata as taught to me by teacher X, who was qualified to teach that Koryu Kata."

I still think that if Aiki Ken is illustrative of Aiki Principles those principles should be able to be enumerated. Wouldn't that be an interesting and edifying conversation?

Are you suggesting that aikiken and aikijo systems are meant to actually be effective in actual combat? Or are you lamenting the fact that you constantly hear the refrain "these sytems are meant to illustrate / explain / demonstrate principals of aikido," but you do not hear adequate explanations of what these principals are and how they are demonstrated? Or something else?

As I wrote above, I am suggesting that SOME Aikiken and Aiki jo systems are meant to (or at least conceived as being) actually be effective in actual combat, and SOME Aikiken and Aiki jo systems are not. There is evidence enough of that on this thread. (BTW, I believe that just because most individuals conceive of Koryu Ken Jutsu as being conceived of as being effective in actual combat doesn't mean that they ARE in FACT actually what they are conceived to be . . . today or in the past. There are a LOT of Koryu do we know for a fact that they all were "super cool" in combat? How should we know any better for Koryu today, than we do for any other system? And of course there are other factors that just a "system" alone.)

And, yes, if the principles were common place (for example I am aware of the Ki Principles) they should be easily pointed to I should think. Let's start pointing. Maybe (probably) there are diverse lists. Still, a comparison would be interesting.

I would think that these would be Aiki principles. So that should be interesting and informative as well.

Thanks,
Allen

Allen Beebe
09-28-2011, 06:40 PM
Allen, I'll be the sacrificial lamb and get the ball rolling... ;)

I was taught that aikiken and aikijogi should be seen along the same lines as the aiki taiso. The aiki taiso is intended to be a solo exercise to help one develop "aiki". Of course we hear phrases like "to get our ki flowing" and stuff like that which is not necessarily all that descriptive in any sort of scientific fashion. However, what was impressed upon me was that the aiki taiso are not to be done as warm ups, not as just movements, but as discrete methods of developing both the body to do "aiki" as well as developing better awareness of what is going on in your body. As we are a Ki Society offshoot, these things are assessed via tests to see if we are exhibiting our four principles to unify mind and body. So the taiso are to help us develop our abilities. And I was told that the aiki jogi and aiki kengi were intended for the same purpose -- additional "exercises" if you will to develop the same things. So we test for unification of mind and body thoughout these "kata" of sorts. We strive to keep one-point, etc. as we do the movements. Our stated goal is to better develop our understanding of "aiki" within our own bodies.

So, as with the aiki taiso add a stick with it's associated movements and style and you have new movements, new things to learn. Same with adding in a wooden sword with it's own associated movements and requirements simply gives another means to test ourselves, to develop, to improve.

So FWIW I view them not as kenjutsu or sojutsu or whatever. They are solo exercises to allow us to better develop that elusive feeling of aiki. So we focus on balance, relaxation and control while trying to develop the ability to strike/cut/thrust with power. For me it is being able to deliver a powerful strike with the jo, for example, while maintaining good form. That means the strike is using the as much of the body structure as possible to deliver that strike. Not swinging with the arms, but learning to connect throughout the body and use the ground, your legs, core, and arms with each strike. And then this is done from a variety of directions, angles, and styles that forces you to learn more ways of being powerful while maintaining the principles. Currently I'm still working on loosening up those tight hips. It's like a point of power constipation for me -- everything gets clogged up in the tightness there. But that's getting better slowly...

So, for me it is about learning how to generate powerful movements.

And it is not redundant between ken and jo as each weapon is used differently. Hence different movements. Hence different ways of using the body. Hence different types of "tanren" in each case.

But I'm also the obsessive guy who beats the daylights out of a sawhorse and a large persimmon tree in my backyard daily with both ken and jo. I've busted a number of the weapons over the years.

Speaking only for myself and my understanding.

Okay... Fire away...

Tohei's system is the one system that came to mind immediately that has a core, commonly referred to and held, set of "Ki principles" if not "Aiki Principles" that could be pointed to as the "Ki Principles" being demonstrated with their "Ki Ken and Jo."

I had that in mind when asking for the rest of Aikido's Aiki Principles. If Aiki Ken is illustrating Aiki Principles those principles must be known and can be communicated easily.

I doubt the question would have been considered offensive if the answer were immediately obvious (as it is in Tohei's system) and as alluded to by those indicating that Aiki Ken points to a known set of Aiki Principles.

BTW, I won't be firing at you since you will see my Ki bullet of intent and run behind me!! Ha! Ha! Can't fool me with your waskally Aikido bunny tricks!!! :o :p

Take care,
Allen

Allen Beebe
09-28-2011, 06:46 PM
Seen on the whole as opposed to individual anecdotes of select teachers:

The principles of aiki- as discussed by Ueshiba-and their relevance to the generation of aiki by sustaining in/yo is immediate, practical, mechanical and almost mundane.

The so called "principles of Aiki" by those that re-invented Aikido, seem to have no relevance within the framework of the traditional martial arts. Their weapons use is as divorced from the traditional model as their empty hand arts. From a classical perspective of in yo, and moving from center; Aikido and aiki-weapons seem distinctly modern and more akin to the understanding seen in sports.
I suspect that just as his own students did not understand his discussions and mistranslated them, they did not understand how he generated aiki his movement either, and mistranslated that as well.
Kono: Sensei why is it we cannot do what you do?
Ueshiba: Because you do not understand In yo ho.

I would say that power in and of itself is no evidence of anything meaningful. Killing with classical weapons requires little power. It is far more important to understand how to wield them powerfully...with as little power as needed. over a prolonged period of time, under stress. This is best done internally and externally by developing a bujutsu body through in yo ho.
Dan

Okay. So you know a few things about Aiki and Koryu, and you keep bringing up that Ueshiba guy . . .but can you e-mail a schedule????? THAT would really impress me! :D

Sincerely,
Allen

Allen Beebe
09-28-2011, 06:51 PM
I have had a couple of thoughts about why aikiken exists in the brief time I have been studying koryu swordwork and I thought I might throw them out there.

First, i think the cultural significance of the sword to Ueshiba and his early students cannot be overstated. Handling bokken and treating them as though they were live blades lent a seriousness and weight to the training, it emphasized it as a matter of life or death.

Many people say that "Aikido is based on the sword" or "Aikido is based on the movements of the sword" or something like that, as though this is literally true, that all of our techniques were at one time techniques of some sword school. Well we have established that Ueshiba had broad sword knowledge but the depth of that knowledge is questionable. I think the deal is that Aikido is based on the spirit of the sword. It is not pugilism, it is not wrestling. In a sword fight, you don't allow yourself to get cut so you can get into a more advantageous position, and you don't plan a long string of feints and blocks angling towards a "checkmate" win. I don't think that's what O Sensei wanted us to be doing.

I am not sure how correct I am, but I have this belief that swordwork was sort of ambient culturally among the early Aikido community and so it was a visual / somatic "language" that could be used to demonstrate concepts easily, and that's why O Sensei would pick up a bokken to show something. Stuff on the order of "he attacks, but you are already over here doing this" or "this spacing leaves you in danger, but over here you are safe" or "you can control your partner's balance even if you are only touching swords."

And from there we have shihan stringing together kata out of things like this. Or pulling them directly from existing ryu as some of Saito's kata are.

But along the way, some kenjutsu is dropped or emphasized differently. For example, in my experience getting people to move their bodies through the kata is first, and good, powerful cutting is somewhere down the line. You need to view the bokken as a live blade, of course, but at the end of the day you don't need to know how to cut through armor or bone.

Again, speaking from relatively brief experience here but in aikiken, it is pretty neat when you and your partner are connected and flow through the kata as one, but my koryu training at the moment places a premium on not connecting with the opponent, not giving them your rhythm or timing, because they could trap you.

I have problems with Aikido taisabaki asserting itself in sword training, because it tends to put me way too deep. The aikiken I practice calls for entering and cutting the head or neck; the kenjutsu I practice calls for keeping range and cutting wrists.

And physically connecting through the sword? My school at my level tells you that you are dead.

A lot of this may be simply due to the way I train Aikido and the way I train sword and may be different for others. My koryu is very specific about foot position, maai, and timing; my Aikido training has required me to figure out more of this myself to see what works in different situations.

Nice post. So doesn't it make sense that studying a Koryu will teach you a specific Koryu, and something about Koryu in general and, of course, that will influence one's view of . . . everything, including Aikido, to some extent. But all Koryu are NOT the same and therefore a Koryu's given influence (positive, negative, neutral) on one's Aikido will depend a whole long on whether or not a given koryu is amenable to Aiki which is what the Do is supposed to be about?

Thanks,
Allen

Allen Beebe
09-28-2011, 07:07 PM
Hi Allen,

Those are some good questions some of which I ask myself. To this day I don't understand the point of some of the "aiki weapons" training I see being done around, with a few notable exceptions: Some teachers like to demonstrate a technique, say katatedori ikkyo or shihonage, while holding a bokken to illustrate the clean "cutting" lines of a technique. I think this is a nice visual teaching aid that helps "clean up" techniques. I've also seen shinai drills and such used to train mental aspects (sanshin, musubi, etc.). Then again I don't know if these are examples of "aiki weapons" or whether there are underlying aiki principles across these practices. Various shihan complemented their aikido training with various iai and ken training. Their philosophies and technique vary a lot, so perhaps it's my limited exposure but I honestly don't know of a common thread that links these practices to "aiki", i.e. what makes them "aiki".

Ueshiba purportedly trained in some classical forms and made things his own, "in aiki we do it this way…" So he infused some actual weapon techniques with aiki (that he already had?). Unless this was a practice for him alone, I would expect any weapons practice in aikido to actually help me train and develop aiki (among other martial aspects, if possible). Even though the applied principles might be the same I would expect aiki weapons training not to be redundant efforts of empty-hand training (weapons should pose an extra challenge, after all weapons are dangerous / great equalizers; and manifesting power through elbow, hand, ken, jo, spear… imo should start to get increasingly more challenging, not to mention weapon movements can get more complicated than empty-handed ones).

I tend to agree with Mary's and Cliff's view that the aiki ken/jo kata should be martially sound in order to adequately inform the taijutsu efforts. I would not limit martial efficacy to partner interaction (ma-ai, metsuke, etc.) but extend it to how the weapon is wielded (transfer power to the hands and out to the contact area), the role of waist vs. hips, weighting, etc., as all this translates to body arts. That said, my main issue with some of the aiki weapons I see is that the way they wield the weapons, move, cut, etc., is in direct opposition to how I understand aiki should be manifested or trained, not to mention being martially unsound (based on my experience). I can entertain the idea that "this [aiki ken/jo] is not supposed to be sword fighting", OK, but then I wonder, how is doing weapons like that going to help me get aiki?

Interestingly enough, in my brief experience with classical weapons, I find that the performance requirements of these "fighting arts" are a lot more congruent with the idea of moving from the center, balance / in-yo, and efficiency associated with aiki (I'm not saying there's "aiki" inherent in any school I'm familiar with, only that its teachings on weapons handling and movement are not in direct opposition with aiki as I understand it, in fact they bond and aiki complements it quite nicely).

Dear Gerardo,

Thank you for your sincere post. Yes I agree there is great diversity. In fact I find no universally defined definition of "Aiki" among "Aikido" Shihan. How can be begin to talk about Aiki Ken and Jo and/or other weapons and how they illustrate Aiki Principles when we can't even seem to settle on a definition and understanding of what "Aiki" is precisely? I further agree that, failing in that, how can we possibly know that we are training Aiki or its principles in our weapons work without a working definition? In fact, we might BE training Aiki and not recognize it because we don't know what Aiki is! This being the case, it isn't surprising to find individuals, some Shihan, some not, training in this or that (Koryu Weaposn, Western Weapons, etc.) and thinking, "Well this works really well, it must be Aiki." But is this true? One can't say definitely whether "what works really well" in a Koryu, for example, is in fact the Aiki that we are supposed to be developing and the principles that apply, without a well understood meaning of what Aiki is in the first place.

Or

In another teaching model one might have one do any number of things not really knowing what one is doing and then hopefully on some lucky day one might just happen to manifest Aiki while their teacher is in view and in the mood to point out that, "That right then and there, was Aiki." Of course that wouldn't help for group discussion much.

Thanks again. Hang in there and keep thinking, and training,
Allen

Cliff Judge
09-29-2011, 09:36 AM
Nice post. So doesn't it make sense that studying a Koryu will teach you a specific Koryu, and something about Koryu in general and, of course, that will influence one's view of . . . everything, including Aikido, to some extent. But all Koryu are NOT the same and therefore a Koryu's given influence (positive, negative, neutral) on one's Aikido will depend a whole long on whether or not a given koryu is amenable to Aiki which is what the Do is supposed to be about?

Thanks,
Allen

So true! Very good point.

I haven't been training in koryu for long enough to understand how it interacts with my Aikido training. I may be remiss in generalizing to all koryu training the things i experience at the beginner level in mine.

However, there is something really fascinating about how you start training koryu and its like "today's topic: how to cut a man open and watch him die."

None of this "we're going to become one with our partner and end the conflict without fighting," or "let's develop martially effective technique that aligns the heavens and the earth." These are the kind of ideas that attracted me to Aikido in the first place, and I am committed to them, but the thing is, they are daunting. I am not sure i am going to ever really know how to do these things, see the forest for the trees, recognize that I am touching an elephant, etc.

But with koryu, you find a good teacher and trust the process. You don't start out picking up a piece of wood, being told that you are supposed to consider it to be a live blade, and now you are going to work out how to win without fighting. it starts with learning how to walk up to somebody and end his life. After awhile you learn how to end conflicts before they start etc but that's where they all seem to begin.

Should we approach aikiken training with this spirit at the beginning? I think the answer should be yes, but some people can't handle it. Their eyes get real big and you can see them going "perhaps I should change my schedule so I can stay late at the dojo on open mat night instead of weapons night."

lbb
09-29-2011, 01:59 PM
I tend to agree with Mary's and Cliff's view that the aiki ken/jo kata should be martially sound in order to adequately inform the taijutsu efforts. I would not limit martial efficacy to partner interaction (ma-ai, metsuke, etc.) but extend it to how the weapon is wielded (transfer power to the hands and out to the contact area), the role of waist vs. hips, weighting, etc., as all this translates to body arts. That said, my main issue with some of the aiki weapons I see is that the way they wield the weapons, move, cut, etc., is in direct opposition to how I understand aiki should be manifested or trained, not to mention being martially unsound (based on my experience). I can entertain the idea that "this [aiki ken/jo] is not supposed to be sword fighting", OK, but then I wonder, how is doing weapons like that going to help me get aiki?

I have no idea. I came to aikido from other martial arts, including shindo muso ryu jodo, so I will never have the "pure" aikido perspective. I think I do a pretty good day-to-day job of emptying my cup, but it's true, there are certain aikido concepts that I can only understand from my experience with weapons. Kokyu is one of these. We never used the word when I was training in shindo muso, but it seems to me that when people talk about "kokyu", they're talking about the...what to call it? tension? mutual presence? I hate to say "connection", because that gets people thinking right away about a physical connection, and in jodo, the moments of actual physical connection were mostly fleeting -- yet for the entirety of the kata, there was this thing between you and your opponent, and God help you if you screwed it up.

And "blending", that's another. We never talked about "blending". We talked about taking openings, responding to techniques, etc. I think the martial roots of aikido must have had this in mind when talking about "blending", rather than some ethereal let's-all-dance-together-in-harmony becoming one with the universe. But I don't have any idea if any of that is true.

grondahl
09-29-2011, 02:21 PM
Kokyu is one of these. We never used the word when I was training in shindo muso, but it seems to me that when people talk about "kokyu", they're talking about the...what to call it? tension? mutual presence? I hate to say "connection", because that gets people thinking right away about a physical connection, and in jodo, the moments of actual physical connection were mostly fleeting -- yet for the entirety of the kata, there was this thing between you and your opponent, and God help you if you screwed it up.

I think that would be musubi, (like in Ki musubi no tachi).

And "blending", that's another. We never talked about "blending". We talked about taking openings, responding to techniques, etc. I think the martial roots of aikido must have had this in mind when talking about "blending", rather than some ethereal let's-all-dance-together-in-harmony becoming one with the universe. But I don't have any idea if any of that is true.

The aikiken/aikijo I´ve learned talks about openings, responding to techniques and rather use awase as method to exploit openings.

I actually think that the version of aikiken/aikijo I learned is logically sound in it´s own universe, it just halters when compared to better stuff. But I would say more or less the same thing regarding the taijutsu.

Allen Beebe
09-29-2011, 10:45 PM
Well now, Aiki Principles aside, this brings up a very good point. When I was taught Ken by my Aikido teacher there was no mincing about. It was clear what was going down. The Ken cut down a man . . . period. As we trained and got better it was clear what was going on as well, a man got better at enabling the Ken to cut down a man . . . period. It was technically true, pure, efficient and beautiful. At the same time it was cold, heartless, merciless and raw. The human implication was clear. And with this sincere practice one realized the very real implications for all involved, the likelihood of death for either parties and the reality of psychological trauma for both parties and their survivors. One was not excused to create some romantic fantasy about what was happening. What was happening was ugly and would have lasting implications far beyond the comprehension of participants. Here, paradoxically, is the redemptive value of such practice. At some point one must either, a) realistically face the consequences of one's decisions and actions and accept them as unavoidably necessary to achieve some purpose deemed higher or more important than the consequences of what would inevitably take place, or to avoid an even greater disaster (this requires courage to do in actuality, not a gung-ho "they told me to" attitude or blissful ignorance) or, b) work tirelessly to "win without fighting" by creating the circumstances such that such an eventuality is avoided in the first place without compromising the "greater good," or c) face the fact that one is a coward and chooses to bury their head in fantasy, ignorance and/or delusion and simply choose to pretend to be ignorant of the consequences of such a choice.

How delusional is it to swing a stick pretending it is a sword, bringing it into "play" against another human, and pretend in doing so one is practicing the "Art of Peace?" Following that logic it seems reasonable to give our children nuclear detonator keys, have them practice releasing warheads to incinerate millions, and call THAT the Art of Peace, thinking that the "blending of the key with the lock" would somehow instill in them a sense of harmony.

No! I think it is important to bravely face the consequences of our individual and collective decisions. Preferably it would be important to do this BEFORE actions are taken so that actions are taken in a thoughtful manner, but certainly it is important to do so after they are . . . or we are destined to plow into the now ignorantly and irresponsibly.

O sensei called for courage and valor along with truth, goodness and beauty. I believe he knew that courage and valor are essential qualities necessary for those that pursue the truth, goodness and beauty that are the qualities of peace.

Allen

So true! Very good point.

I haven't been training in koryu for long enough to understand how it interacts with my Aikido training. I may be remiss in generalizing to all koryu training the things i experience at the beginner level in mine.

However, there is something really fascinating about how you start training koryu and its like "today's topic: how to cut a man open and watch him die."

None of this "we're going to become one with our partner and end the conflict without fighting," or "let's develop martially effective technique that aligns the heavens and the earth." These are the kind of ideas that attracted me to Aikido in the first place, and I am committed to them, but the thing is, they are daunting. I am not sure i am going to ever really know how to do these things, see the forest for the trees, recognize that I am touching an elephant, etc.

But with koryu, you find a good teacher and trust the process. You don't start out picking up a piece of wood, being told that you are supposed to consider it to be a live blade, and now you are going to work out how to win without fighting. it starts with learning how to walk up to somebody and end his life. After awhile you learn how to end conflicts before they start etc but that's where they all seem to begin.

Should we approach aikiken training with this spirit at the beginning? I think the answer should be yes, but some people can't handle it. Their eyes get real big and you can see them going "perhaps I should change my schedule so I can stay late at the dojo on open mat night instead of weapons night."

JO
09-30-2011, 07:36 PM
As a member of Mitsunari Kanai's lineage, I have asked myself many of the questions covered in this thread, but with regards to iaido rather than kenjutsu. My main teachers were all students of Kanai Sensei and he is the source of most of the aikiken forms I learned. My teachers all trained in iaido with Kanai, though I have never taken it up. He touches on many of the topics touched on in this thread in this interview:

http://www.peachtreeaikikai.com/Explore/IaidoKanaiSenseiInterview/tabid/81/Default.aspx

On the uniqueness of O-sensei's sword practice:
" Haga Sensei told us that O-Sensei’s sword technique was something “different”, and he did not understand it well. He seemed to feel that O-sensei had something special but he didn’t know what it was. "

On weapons training in aikido and training with a real sword:
" In Aikido, when you advance to higher grades, i.e. second-kyu and above, you learn Buki Tori (techniques to take away weapons). However, generally speaking, students do not actually learn how to handle weapons. Students are not taught how to attack correctly with a weapon or how to cut with a sword. So in that sense, it is good for students to experience using a real sword. If you actually practice with a real sword, and understand how to cut with a sword, you know how to attack with a sword. Unless you know how to attack with a weapon you cannot, in a real sense, do Buki Dori, especially Tachi Dori. In this context, I think there is a relationship between Iaido and Aikido."

and " It is easier to concentrate your mind when doing suburi with a real sword. In this sense, Iaido is really good. To do suburi with a real sword is very healthy for the mind. I really like it. Similarly, it is easier to concentrate your mind, or unify your body and mind, when you are holding a real sword. You concentrate your mind in the tip of the sword.

There is a difference between doing suburi with a real sword and with a bokken. When doing suburi with a real sword you become aware of the cutting line of the sword edge. This sharpness makes your concentration much more sharp."

And on the principles of aikido and how they transend specific forms:
"In the past, I viewed other Budo such as Judo, Karate or Kendo as entirely different from Aikido. And I used to feel that it was odd or not proper to do them together in the context of Aikido. That was how I used to look at them. But once I better understood the theory of Aikido, I did not feel so reluctant. For example, if I apply a Judo technique, I apply it based on the theory of Aikido. To me, it is an Aikido technique. And when I use a sword, I do not feel I am doing Kendo. Rather, I feel it is a part of Aikido and, moreover, that it is already contained in Aikido. Recently, I increasingly have felt that kind of freedom and flexibility about Aikido. So in this sense, I think you can say Aikido is the total Budo.

I hesitate to say this because I mean it in a very specific way, and this idea can be easily misunderstood. Before one really understands what Aikido is, one should never mix it together with other Budo such as Kendo or Judo. This idea has nothing to do with mixing different martial arts together.

A correct understanding of Aikido’s fundamental principle, how it includes everything and transforms everything, requires great subtlety to appreciate and long and hard work to achieve."

My conclusion. Maybe I should consider doing some iaido to better understand the sword. Especially since I now have the responsibility of teaching the weapons class at my dojo. Don't know where I'd find the time though. Maybe it doesn't matter as long as I try to embody the aikido's fundamental principle. Too bad he didn't go into what he felt that was in this context.

Michael Varin
10-01-2011, 04:08 AM
I can't speak for anyone else, and I certainly have no real sword fighting experience, and I suspect that none of the previous posters nor any koryu people alive today have any either.

I train in Iwama weapons. Several years ago, after about five years of training I tried tameshigiri and had no problems making cuts or handling a katana. I found that the skills translated easily.

I also have a good friend who only had experience with Iwama weapons, and used a jo in Dog Brothers stick fighting (for those that don't know, this is full contact, no joke) with success. He felt many of the jo forms fit naturally.

We were both serious students of a very good teacher, but my point is many people commenting on the difference of various styles or systems have no grounding for their opinions.

HL1978
10-01-2011, 08:12 PM
Allen, I'll be the sacrificial lamb and get the ball rolling... ;)

I was taught that aikiken and aikijogi should be seen along the same lines as the aiki taiso. The aiki taiso is intended to be a solo exercise to help one develop "aiki". Of course we hear phrases like "to get our ki flowing" and stuff like that which is not necessarily all that descriptive in any sort of scientific fashion. However, what was impressed upon me was that the aiki taiso are not to be done as warm ups, not as just movements, but as discrete methods of developing both the body to do "aiki" as well as developing better awareness of what is going on in your body. As we are a Ki Society offshoot, these things are assessed via tests to see if we are exhibiting our four principles to unify mind and body. So the taiso are to help us develop our abilities. And I was told that the aiki jogi and aiki kengi were intended for the same purpose -- additional "exercises" if you will to develop the same things. So we test for unification of mind and body thoughout these "kata" of sorts. We strive to keep one-point, etc. as we do the movements. Our stated goal is to better develop our understanding of "aiki" within our own bodies.

So, as with the aiki taiso add a stick with it's associated movements and style and you have new movements, new things to learn. Same with adding in a wooden sword with it's own associated movements and requirements simply gives another means to test ourselves, to develop, to improve.

So FWIW I view them not as kenjutsu or sojutsu or whatever. They are solo exercises to allow us to better develop that elusive feeling of aiki. So we focus on balance, relaxation and control while trying to develop the ability to strike/cut/thrust with power. For me it is being able to deliver a powerful strike with the jo, for example, while maintaining good form. That means the strike is using the as much of the body structure as possible to deliver that strike. Not swinging with the arms, but learning to connect throughout the body and use the ground, your legs, core, and arms with each strike. And then this is done from a variety of directions, angles, and styles that forces you to learn more ways of being powerful while maintaining the principles. Currently I'm still working on loosening up those tight hips. It's like a point of power constipation for me -- everything gets clogged up in the tightness there. But that's getting better slowly...

So, for me it is about learning how to generate powerful movements.



I'll preface that I have had a single aikiken experience, but have 14 years of both Seitei/MJER iaido expereince and kendo experience.

Keith,

I think your post is rather on target with regards to what the whole point of that sort of practice is useful for. The waza themselves are not really all that important, even for kendoka who practice iaido. Its more of how to build the body. It seems like many others are going off on other tangents.

Its only recently that I had an experience where I learned how the cut itself through properly closing the body would result in it feeling as though my whole being slammed into my foot while cutting. It was quite different than how many discuss fumikomi in kendo. It wasn't merely slamming my foot into the ground with my leg, or a good push from the rear leg, or using the hips, or dropping my body lower into the ground. With regards to "whole being" im not saying it in a spiritual sense, but rather in a physical sense. Quite literally my whole body drove into the foot.

As for test cutting, its pretty easy to do. Most people can do it on their first try even with no experience. If you click on the link below and select the battodo video, and skip to the 3:10 mark you will see a local reporter trying it for her first time at our dojo. (Note I am not a member of the batto do class).

http://capitalareabudokai.org/

That isn't to say that her cuts are good, just that it isn't hard to do unless you have poor hasuji. One can watch that video as well and judge how much arm/shoulder is being used by the regular class.

Brian Beach
10-02-2011, 04:13 PM
I have read many times that Aiki Ken's purpose is to illustrate the "the Principles of Aiki." Some questions immediately come to mind for me.

Is Aiki Jo's purpose to illustrate "the Principles of Aiki?" If so, are the principles illustrated different from the Ken? If not, why the redundancy? If not, what is the difference?

Is Aikido's waza's purpose to illustrate "the Principles of Aiki?" If so, are the principles illustrated by waza different from the Ken and Jo? If not, why the redundancy? If not, what is the difference?

O-sensei practiced with other weapons and weapon (like) objects, do these illustrate "the Principles of Aiki" as well? If so, are the principles illustrated different from all others. If so how are they different. If not, why the redundancy?

If so many people agree that Aiki Ken "illustrates the principles of Aiki" or "Aikido," than it occurs to me that many (most?) people pointing to this fact must be able to share the universally agreed upon "Principles of Aiki or Aikido" that they so often refer to.

Would someone care to list the principles that are referred to by both those inside and outside the art? They seem to be commonly known. For communication's sake and for a common understanding of the core of the art it would be very helpful to have a list of these principles posted.

Thanks in advance!

Allen

What's the difference between the principles shown in different Aikido techniques - why not just one technique?

HL1978
10-02-2011, 06:07 PM
What's the difference between the principles shown in different Aikido techniques - why not just one technique?

You can express the same principles to power many differnt waza. Or the waza kind of just happen as a result of those principles.

Cliff Judge
10-03-2011, 10:18 AM
I also have a good friend who only had experience with Iwama weapons, and used a jo in Dog Brothers stick fighting (for those that don't know, this is full contact, no joke) with success. He felt many of the jo forms fit naturally.

Geez. Did he kill anybody?

kewms
10-03-2011, 10:38 AM
What's the difference between the principles shown in different Aikido techniques - why not just one technique?

Because doing nothing but Ikkyo for 20 years would get really boring...

More seriously, the different waza show the principles from different perspectives, emphasizing different things.

Katherine

edshockley
11-02-2011, 05:14 PM
I am always disappointed when people paint any martial practice with a broad brush. The ability of each person to transfer lessons from bokken to katana is decided by their interest, innate ability and the quality of instruction. Within a single school the experience of students vary widely. At Aikikai of Philadelphia for example, I was introduced to Henry Smith Shihan (Chiba/Sugano weapons), Nizam Godan (Nishio/Seito weapons) and Paul Manogue Yondan Aikido (Yagyu Iaido master plus a bunch of other weapons training including Shioda Shihan) all in my first two days. In the intervening years I have studied with Gleason Sensei(Saotome influenced), John Stevens (Shabata), Dwight Epps (Crane Iwama interpretation) et al. My "aiki weapons" is unlike any of the other students in my school as well as unique from each of the schools that have seasoned my continuing study. The rambling point that I humbly submit is that we are best served to actively pursue whatever level of expertise we choose and abandon all judging of the illusory/intellectual merits of various weapons styles. The goal is always self mastery. Aiki weapons is a beautifully wide and flexible path.

Brion Toss
11-04-2011, 10:01 AM
I am always disappointed when people paint any martial practice with a broad brush. The ability of each person to transfer lessons from bokken to katana is decided by their interest, innate ability and the quality of instruction. Within a single school the experience of students vary widely. At Aikikai of Philadelphia for example, I was introduced to Henry Smith Shihan (Chiba/Sugano weapons), Nizam Godan (Nishio/Seito weapons) and Paul Manogue Yondan Aikido (Yagyu Iaido master plus a bunch of other weapons training including Shioda Shihan) all in my first two days. In the intervening years I have studied with Gleason Sensei(Saotome influenced), John Stevens (Shabata), Dwight Epps (Crane Iwama interpretation) et al. My "aiki weapons" is unlike any of the other students in my school as well as unique from each of the schools that have seasoned my continuing study. The rambling point that I humbly submit is that we are best served to actively pursue whatever level of expertise we choose and abandon all judging of the illusory/intellectual merits of various weapons styles. The goal is always self mastery. Aiki weapons is a beautifully wide and flexible path.

Amen brother,
Over the years I have practiced with a lot of Aikiken people, and a few koryu people, both in kata and in sparring. I have often presumed to be annoyed by a going-through-the-motions quality that is all too typical of Aikiken practitioners, and likewise presumed to be annoyed by a -we're-the-real-deal-because-we-have-a-lineage attitude of some koryu people. But broad brush strokes are a disservice to the truly talented people who can be found in Aikiken and in koryu.
To get back to the original question, I would urge the student to visit potential teachers, do some research, and do some thinking, before deciding what and where to study, just as for any other aspect of martial training. To dismiss Aiki weapons training would be to dismiss, for instance, Ledyard Sensei, who practices some very powerful stuff indeed. And to prefer koryu because, well, because it is koryu, might be to embrace a vitiated echo of a once vital art.

phitruong
11-04-2011, 11:25 AM
I am always disappointed when people paint any martial practice with a broad brush. .

what if folks paint with a bundle of small brushes which make a pretty broad stroke? i would be more disappointed if folks didn't. incidentally, i liked spray paint which cover more area and faster, and who care about the mess of generalization. :)

NTT
11-28-2011, 04:10 AM
I would like to question the word similarity that seems not to have been examined yet, in this thread.
I do Aikido and Kenjutsu.
Kenjutsu is a koryu art which means one has to learn it from a koryu, directly from the soke or an authorised teacher. Otherwise it is inspired by kenjutsu. Same as if you learn Aikido from a book, a DVD or a Kung Fu teacher.
The practice of Kenjutsu offers a taste quite different from Aikido as it has the flavour of its founder, in my case Musashi.
Musashi's art does move on in a different manner than Aikido.
Kenjutsu sprung from sword fight but more so from the experience of sword fighters who have thought and or meditated on their art.
Musashi wrote that his 60 first wins were due to lack of strength form his opponents or just mere luck for him. He won but did not consider his understanding of his art. This shows that kenjutsu is not mere sword fighting.
Aikiken is the fruit of Ueshiba sensei's understanding.
Thinking that all martial arts are to be compared on the level of fight is too restrictive.
In the Japanese way, one should practice and not compare. I see the reason of this in the fact that most of the people who practice compare what they know at the stage of their advancing along the way. One compares a leg when another compares the arm. Then they decide if the different bodies have similarities.
Kondo Katsuyuki sensei wrote that the day he had learn all the curriculum he got another understanding of Daito Ryu.
To see similarities between Aikido and Kenjutsu, one should learn through the curriculum of each and right through, to the end. Then if one has time and interest, one can then compare.
I am studying Aikido and Kenjutsu. At first, I had to maintain the identities of each. Now I go on studying. No time yet for the global sight and less comparison.

JJF
11-28-2011, 07:14 AM
Well... I have been training Kendo - and that probably dosen't qualify me to fight somebody else in a sword - match. Neither does my aiki toho training (a form of iaido by Nishio sensei) or my training in ken-tai-ken.. At least not compared to somebody that have dedicated themselves to studying ken-jutsu in a style oriented towards sword fighting. However I'm pretty sure I will fare a lot better than someone with background in boxing, karate (which I also did for five years) or parachuting.

The answer is - as it always seems to be - neither a sounding yes or no. It's somewhere in between... Training with bokken or even iaito in combination with aikido practice will no doubt give you skills that would be useable in a sword fight, but if being able to slay someone in a sword fight is your end goal, then other paths are likely to get you there faster.

Just like if your goal is to kill people then it would be better to hone your skills in firearms than in swords...

ryback
11-28-2011, 07:35 AM
In my opinion any effectiveness depends on the way one is training.In our dojo,the way we train in aikiken teaches us how to use the katana in a real fight,even though the chance of having such a fight is minimal.We practice with heavy bokken that is not very far from the feel of the real katana sword, and we also practice in iai-do katas with real, sharp, heavy "old school" katanas.The use of aikiken and aikijo is to help us understand and polish our tai-jutsu technique,nevertheless they are effective on their own...

NTT
11-29-2011, 08:39 AM
Just like if your goal is to kill people then it would be better to hone your skills in firearms than in swords ...
Well, becoming psychotic is the straigth way to learn to kill people. :(
Again, effectiveness is just one way of considering martial arts and it may be the first to come in the meeting of Aikido or Kenjutsu but one cannot stay stuck with it. Effectiveness embrasses much more than making someone yield to one's own will. It starts with knowing what is one's own will and what are the multiple paths to the realization of one's own will. Then one has to understand if they are worth the pain inflicted, to oneself in the training and to the other in doing the action. After one has to consider to what extent one wishes to push one's own will forward.
Being the most powerfull does not give instantly the effect one aims at. Effectiveness does not imply victory but attaining the effect one has in mind. Then what is in one's mind? Personnal will to the extent of being able to kill?
There must be limits. Or one ends up with becoming psychotic, etc. :crazy:
Practicing martial arts, Aikido or Kenjutsu or else leads us to learn what one really is aiming at and deepening the understanding of our mind.
Without such an inspection, one projects outside an ugly inside. :disgust:
As I see it, power does not make an army victorious, neither does it attain victory in a peaceful land. It just secures the weak from the feeling of their weakness.
If power submits to understanding, then it is a brilliant find and validates the search.
One has to meet Kenjutsu before declaring the aim is to kill fast and direct. The truth is rarely what is held as obvious. It requires a thorough study. Please study Kenjutsu. After, lets discuss.
In such depth, it may not differ from Aikido. :ai: