View Full Version : Bokken suburi "problems"

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Ta Kung
12-05-2002, 11:18 AM

When doing suburi with bokken, you're supposed to "freeze" your strike when it is aligned horizontaly with the mat (at least in Iwama ryu, I've seen other styles that does the suburi differently).

Anyhow, when I stop my bokken, it always "shakes" a little bit. But when my sensei does it, even with lots of speed, he always manages to stop it without it "shaking" at all. :confused: It's just like hitting pause on a movie. :freaky:

Question: Does anyone have a good tip or, even better, a good exercise to improve my suburi? I know time will make me improve, but I want some hints anyway.



12-05-2002, 11:30 AM
Question: Does anyone have a good tip or, even better, a good exercise to improve my suburi?
Not to play on the word "tip," but one thing I do is extend my awareness into the tip of the weapon rather than at its hilt -- kind of like the way you'd think about the tip of your pen as you're writing or the tips of your chopsticks as you're picking a piece of food up.

Another tip I've received in the past which has helped is to use that inward "wrigning" feel with your hands at the end of the strike -- kind of like putting the "V" between your thumb and index finger at the top of the bokuto. It's slight, but it seems to help people.

Lastly (and this is more vague than anything else), rather than trying to stop the bokuto with your hands/arms/shoulders, stop it with your center. If you think about it, you're trying to move the bokuto with your center -- why not stop it with such, too?

Do other folks have more throughts for Patrik?

Hope that helps.

-- Jun

Larry Feldman
12-05-2002, 01:02 PM
Any exercise that strengthens your forearms will help.

12-05-2002, 01:22 PM
I was always taught to squeeze with the last two fingers upon reaching the bottom of the sword cut. Works for me.

Ta Kung
12-05-2002, 02:23 PM
Any exercise that strengthens your forearms will help.

I've got forearms like Popeye, so that isn't what's lacking... :D

Thanks for the tips, Jun & Rachel. I'll give it a try next time I'm in class. More tips on this subject are welcome (if there are any)! ;)

12-05-2002, 02:34 PM
Many times I notice that tension and posture problems are what cause the shaky kissaki. Check how your balance is set and whether your shoulders are relaxed at the of the cut.

Practice was the main thing for me. Continual practice made me finally get comfortable with the bokken. Once that happened it felt like it was part of me and easy to control.

12-05-2002, 03:30 PM
-Keep One Point

-Relax Completely

-Keep Weight Underside

-Extend Ki

Let the Bokken drop naturally- using gravity.

As Jun already noted - use the Bokken's tip as your guide. I bring it up again 'cause it's a fundamental difference from the common thought (was mine. LOL) of the handle as the important part.

henry brown
12-05-2002, 03:49 PM
Don't grip it too tight. It makes your entire shoulder-arm etc prone to shiver when you stop. The grip should be just strong enough to resist someone pulling the sword straight out. It feels pretty loose!

Of course, if you try sword cutting techniques like Toyama-ryu, you will find out that aikido subori is completely different.

Bruce Baker
12-06-2002, 10:24 AM
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

There is a mental attitude that goes along with the physical manifestation of bringing the swing of a the bokken to an appropriate end, but there is also a simple physical exercise that allows it to happen.

Fishin rod cast.

Too simple?

Well, when you cast a fishing rod to send out the line so the hook will go into the water, do you cast it to the ground to go out into the water? Into the water right? Do the same with the Bokken!

The mechanical support mechanism of your final stopping point or stop position of your hands has a lot to do with it too. There is almost "no strength" involved in this process. It is all technique.

Where ever the tip of the bokken ends up, that is where you are casting to.

Pay attention to your hand motion, as the wrists do most of the casting even though the arms are moving to accomondate the final destination of the strike, you still need to add more body control, less arm control.

Just as you remove an axe from a stump, you would use your body to raise and remove, or use your body with a bokken to carry the energy.

Try the rocking chair exercize. Sit in a rocking chair as you practice with your bokken, rock back and forth, using the motion of the rocking chair as your body motion, and see if you can strike gently, as if you were cutting a cube of jello half way through without cutting all the way through.

Try this and get back to me.

Either this, or maybe with those Popeye arms you need to get 2000 -3000 cuts to get the feeling of no strength, all technique?

Eventually, you will see the pivot motion contained in the left hand, and the casting motion contained in the right hand.

At that point, it is a matter of relaxing to let the practice of repetition teach you what you need to know.

12-06-2002, 12:02 PM
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
And you wonder, Bruce, why people call you arrogant and condescending.

Bruce Baker
12-14-2002, 05:28 PM
Maybe I am, but at least, I have an answer that is reinforced by the teachings of more than one aikido teacher with over thirty years in aikido, and a couple of shihan, from various seminars and lessons.

Better than whining and crying all the time.

Get over Andy. You have your own personality problems to deal with, I suggest you, at least, try to deal with them.

If you think that was arrogant and condescending, get on my bad side and find out how bad I can really be?

Boy, I am gonna get in trouble for that one.

I feel like the mean widdle kid Red Skelton used to play. He would say," Ooooh, if I dood it I get a whippin' ... I dood it!"

Really Andy, get some humor, would ya?

12-14-2002, 06:39 PM
-Keep One Point

-Relax Completely

-Keep Weight Underside

-Extend Ki

Let the Bokken drop naturally- using gravity.
Dan Dinowich-san,

You must be from Ki no Kenkyukai or Shin-shin-toitsu Aikido (Ki Aikido). This is the best advice for everything actually. I'm actually under Aikikai, but I study with Ki no Kenkyukai also.

I have learned that natural movements are the strongest. The result of this, one can do a couple of thousand and one will still be able to do a couple thousand more - even if one is using "the oar" (suburi to). If one gets tired from suburi, chances are, it is done wrongly.

There are styles that depends on physical strength. Training the arms so they get stronger. In my case, no disrespect towards others, it is a waste of time. I've been humiliated many times by people half my size, very humbling experiences.

For people from Ki no Kenkyukai, the warm up that we do, circling (not exactly, but this is the closest I could describe it) our arms back and forth has its application in suburi. The way we let our arms fall naturally. Ikkyo or Kokyu undo is actually suburi without weapons.

Anyway, back to suburi. The result from Dinowich-san's "tip", from what I've observed the way I do shomen-giri suburi now:

The way I hold the bokken, the way my Sensei taught me, is actually like the way Musashi describe it. Gripping lightly with the last two or three fingers and the thumb placed lightly on the hilt. Like holding a gun, the index finger (trigger finger) is not gripping the trigger.

In the rest position, my elbows are pointing down - keeping "unbendable" arm, no undesirable tension on the arms, and the bokken is within the "one point" region. This helps me keeping one point, relax, and my weight underside.

I do not get captivated with the weapon. Instead I focus beyond it. I usually do this by looking far away. This helps me extend Ki. I only feel the bokken in my arms.

When lifting and dropping, notice I didn't say swing, the bokken. I kept my elbow in, pointing from downwards to forwards in a circular manner. It is hard and tiring to have the elbows pointing out.

I do not think that I want to swing hard nor do I think I want to cut or kill someone with the bokken. I just feel the natural movements of my arms, lifting and dropping. The feeling should be the same with or without the weapon.

This is not even the "tip" of the iceberg. There are more behind suburi than just swinging a weapon.

After learning this, now I know why Steven Seagal holds the sword kind of weird. After noticing my posture of holding the ken now, it looks similar to his. Looks weird and weak, but very powerful. Hey, I'm not in Aikido for the "cool" factor.

12-17-2002, 05:13 PM
Well, after examining my own method, the only concrete thing I could come up with was this: pick the spot where you want to stop; not just where the blade should stop but where the hands should stop. Then move from point A to point B.

Sorry I can't come up with any mechanical advise. I'm sure there are many things you can "do", however I find the mind control aspect of it more workable.

12-17-2002, 06:38 PM
the only thing i can say is not too descriptive but it can be a good thought as you practice...

let the bokken guide you and stop you...

"let the bokken stop, and (you) be the extention of it"...

it works once in a while for me..

ok, maybe to criptic...i know it sound silly but listen to it,.,.see what the bokken does.

Kent Enfield
12-17-2002, 07:02 PM
Darn it. I had written a nicely detailed explanation of proper grip, te no uchi, and swinging mechanics, but aikiweb deemed to log me out, so it disappeared. Here's the short version.

1) Make sure your grip is correct. There are a myriad of details here and they're all important, so check with your sensei if you don't know.

2) Make sure you apply good te no uchi (the combination wringing-squeezing action Jun mentioned).

3) Don't try to apply power all the way until you want to stop. Let the sword coast for a small bit.

The one piece of advice that people have given with which I strongly disagree is just letting the sword fall. While this probably makes it easy to "cut" straight and stop the sword cleanly, your cut will be slow and ineffective, as well as close to your own body. Even those sword schools that do cut close (as opposed to the extended cutting style of kendo, the various Itto Ryu, the Hayashizaki iaido and battojutsu schools, among others) do not just let the sword drop. You have to actually swing down (out is a better way of thinking of it for a lot of people) applying force. Obviously over muscling it (using the wrong muscles or the right muscles in the wrong combination) is no good, but you still need to use the muscles of your lower body, back, and forearms.

kung fu hamster
12-18-2002, 10:42 AM
I think I read somewhere that if you do 10,000 cuts in a day, your motions will hone down to the bare essentials necessary to cut correctly. Afterwards you may look like a turtle, but at least you could tell yourself that you spent time training. :)

09-12-2004, 06:07 AM
You need more time ....may be 50 years ha-ha-ha.
Don't worry . Don't think about this whole the time . You need to forget this problem for while and.......PRACTICE
Peace, Love & Cash

09-12-2004, 09:01 AM
IMHO, if you swing a bokken with breathing(exhale), it'll help you. If you step forward while swinging a bokken, back foot should move on and stop with your bokken. It's exactly as same as shomenuchi.


Hanna B
09-14-2004, 06:25 AM
Maybe I am, but at least, I have an answer that is reinforced by the teachings of more than one aikido teacher with over thirty years in aikido, and a couple of shihan, from various seminars and lessons.

As opposed to the rest of us, I assume.