View Full Version : Verboten: Weapons in Class

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Choku Tsuki
10-23-2002, 01:24 PM
Preparing to relocate to the modern facility downtown, the YMCA informed all relevant classes that no longer would any practice using weapons of any kind be allowed.

This impacts fencing more than aikido, and aikido more than judo. Of course it protects the YMCA; this much is clear.

Weapons training is integral to aikido. How do we pursue our aikido training under these constraints?

If we tie ribbons to our jo we could call our class rhythm gymnastics. Ping pong without the paddles, ball and table could be practiced with tanto and we could practice knife take-aways.
We could but it wouldn't be right.

Creative thinkers out there we need your help. Thank you.


10-23-2002, 01:40 PM
Are there any public spaces in which you could hold weapons practice? Of course, with winter coming on (I think we have a high of 32 today...), that might be a bit difficult.

-- Jun

10-23-2002, 02:00 PM
Hi !

You have my sympathy,

when your'e familiar with weapons you can do

it by visualising,but if you are training newbies I don't know how - broomsticks ?

wish you the best.

yours - Chr.B.

10-23-2002, 02:04 PM
Jun is right--lots of clubs and dojos do weapons in other places.

Also right about weather being important..

But local public high schools or middle schools might let you use their gymnasiums.


10-23-2002, 03:49 PM
How about gymnastics with sticks (in japanese?)

, or just call it BukiWaza practice, and describe it as "forms with implements"

What are the constraints on the creative solutions you seek?

I mean you could just call it Aikido and not make any specific comments to the weapons, as well as bring your own stuff in a bag.

10-23-2002, 07:45 PM
Hi !

A great reply Alfonso !

Since there are no loud cracks and no actual hits and hurts it probably could pass as such,very reminicent of the history

of some Tai Chi styles that had to look like gymnastics because the training in martial arts were forbidden.

yours - chr.B.

10-23-2002, 08:10 PM
Is talking with the YMCA management already out of the question?

Maybe you could ask the decision maker why they decided to disallow weapons practice in new facilities.

Perhaps they had a previous experience where a careless student smashed some equipment (and they don't want the same happening to the new facilities), or accidentally injured another gym patron or stuff like that.

From there you can present counter-arguments like saying aikido doesn't do weapons sparring like kendo. Or, you could even adjust your weapons training so that you only use up the middle of the mat, well away from the sides so that no equipment (or spectator) will be in any danger of accidental damage.

It depends on their reason for disallowing weapons practice. Hehe...you are nage in this case, and YMCA is uke. You do the technique depending on what "energy" they are using.

But if negotiations are out, then the previous suggestions of requesting access to a school gym or outside training (at least during summers) seem to be the best.

Good luck!

Kevin Wilbanks
10-23-2002, 09:37 PM
That sounds typical to me. YMCA has become a sort of pablum of the exercise and recreational facility world. It's all rules, regulations, bureaucracy, and decisions made by generic middle-manager types. Banning Aikido weapons training is beyond absurd. Forward and backward rolls are far more dangerous.

Kevin Wilbanks
10-23-2002, 10:09 PM
BTW, I wouldn't try to ply the argument that falling is more dangerous than weapons, or you'll likely get your whole club banned.

I talked to the manager at the biggest, best Y in town about training opportunities. Despite the fact that he was completely refurbishing his gym with expensive machines in accordance with some new national YMCA fad program, he rejected the idea of putting in an Olympic lifting platform out of hand. He insisted it was too dangerous, and there would be too many injuries. He has obviously never seen an actual injury statistic in his life. By far the most injurious exercise activity is group exercise classes such as aerobics and Tae Bo - which of course they were loaded with. Olympic lifting is ridiculously safe by comparison. From where I was standing when he told me this, I could easily point out a half-dozen major safety problems with his lifting area simply attributable to poor layout, planning, and maintenance, not to mention the overwhelming preponderance of fixed-movement-path machines which invite overuse injuries. You should have seen his eyes when I suggested climbing ropes, pegboards and hanging rings. Trying to talk sense to someone like that is just a waste of effort.

10-23-2002, 10:41 PM
You couldn't just "accidently" lock the door during weapons practice?

10-24-2002, 09:07 AM
I'm not too sure how many of the above responses have been in jest, but it seems odd to me that although Chuck mentinoed the possibility of disguising and/or hiding their use of weapons during their training that, to him, "We could but it wouldn't be right."

I'm wondering if the sensitivity in having "weapons practice" isn't also due to the location (New York City) of the YMCA.

Since weapons training has less requirements as far as training space goes (ie mats not necessary), an alternative location should be easier to find. As Jonathan pointed out, you might be able to use a gymnasium at a local school as a supplemental training location in addition to your taijutsu training at the YMCA.

-- Jun

Brian H
10-24-2002, 11:52 AM
Bring copy of "Art of Peace" to meeting with YMCA manager. Just the title will help.

Call everything by proper name. "We wish to hold classes with boken and jo." Not "We wish to hold a class is the use of Japanese weapons."

Point out that that classes focus on defending against weapons and not on using them.

Remark that tanto-dori with bananas could be messy.

Point out all boken and jo are wood not "real" weapons. (ignore the fact that a jo is a "live" unaltered weapon)

Argue that their solution (no weapons) is not a response to a problem (the lack drive-by attacks with jo)

The fact that many Law Enforcement Officers study Aikido (and may at your dojo) would be good to point out. This training serves the greater good for both Police and citizen alike.

10-24-2002, 12:58 PM
Hey, i was thinking of the Tai-Chi situation. I knew of a person who had do resort to this in Chile. Bad story anyway.. it ended up in bad blood all around.

In any case, the problem is probably not the Y people/person, but the typical liability concern of the insuring company.

Go try and argue with them..

Choku Tsuki
10-24-2002, 04:25 PM
Thanks for your replies. Here's a little background for completeness sake.

Two years ago one of the gymnastics teachers tore his ACL in an accident. That class was canceled, management huddled, then decided a surcharge for all martial arts would be required. Not yoga, not gymnastics, just martial arts. This was part of the Y's plan for self-protection in case of lawsuit.

Bad decision. Student attrition due to low moral was just part of it. Kevin Wilbanks statement about YMCA's in general is spot-on.

At the meeting, the 'no weapons' rule would not have come out except I asked about headroom. I wonder what other surprises are in store. Sigh.

Also they didn't understand karate doesn't require mats. If ignorance is bliss then, well, management is happy with this across-the-board prohibition.

They won't discuss the issue. They have no idea what we do, nor do they have any interest.

But I should try again. I am just discouraged at this point by the futility of reasoning with them thus far.

Thanks for the help and encouragement, the ideas too.


Neil Mick
10-24-2002, 04:35 PM
Excellent response, Brian: BTW.

What about holding a demonstration? If they seem uninterested, simply post fliers for an "Open house," specifically making sure a flier gets on the director's desk.

Don't mention martial arts, or weapons, in the flier. Just make sure that the demonstration has jo-dori in it, and not in all of it.

Nick P.
10-24-2002, 07:27 PM
Maybe this is an opportunity to see what not having weapons does for your collective training? Think of it is as a short-term experiment, and when you find a solution continue monitoring the changes (or lack of) in how you all train.

Hope this a silver-lining you hadn't thought of yet.

Good luck!

Bruce Baker
11-01-2002, 02:20 PM
We were talking about this term of 'weapons' in June when John Stevens sensei came to Philadelphia.

We don't use or carry weapons, but we practice with sticks forms of Aiki-ken, and Aiki-jo.

In this format, the use of sticks is no less a tool to understand the movements of Aikido, than a practice dummy for CPR.

In this vein for use of sticks, not weapons, our practice is no more dangerous than a baton twirler or the color guard practicing with flags or wooden rifles for color guard drills.

If a compromise cannot be worked out, then maybe it is time to find another place to practice.

Our club uses a room in the Catholic Community Activity Center, maybe that is another thing to look into if you have a Community Center nearby?

11-01-2002, 02:50 PM
This impacts fencing more than aikido, and aikido more than judo. Of course it protects the YMCA; this much is clear.

As a fencing teacher please imagine loads of explicatives: &%$^&%#*(&^%&$#@@$^!!!

Pretty much screws fencing to the wall and...

Anyway, I wouldn't waste my time trying to change the false opinions of the YMCA. Best to move the weapons elsewhere. Then, if the Y continues to become even more irrational you'll have your foot in the door (or park) to relocate altogether.

An aside: some of my students are a family (father, son and daughter). When daughter was moved into the dorms at University the father noticed other kids unloading bats, hockey sticks, etc. but when it came their turn to unpack the foils Public Saftey came and confiscated the "dangerous weapons", and should she ever want to drive across the river for practice she'd first have to get to PS and go through the machinations of checking out her weapon!

trying very hard to be the :circle: