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10-29-2003, 11:51 AM
Hi everyone!

Im after some info....

How many of you train in sword arts aswell as your aikido? Whether it be iaido or some form of kenjutsu? (sorry im not very knowledgeable about sword schools etc :freaky: )
Those of you who do....do you find that it helps in any way or compliments your aikido?

Im just asking because recently ive begun feeling like I would like to learn more weapons work because where I train we dont get much opportunity to practice aiki ken or jo.

And finally....does anyone know of any school, of the types mentioned above or similar, that is situated in the north east of England? Newcastle or Durham way? I would also like to explore some jodo if possible but I dont know how avaiable classes in such things are? Anybody got any ideas? :)

Thanks for reading....


Chuck Clark
10-29-2003, 12:04 PM
Mr. Thompson,

Aikido is a cutting art. Learning a classical sword and stick art will definitely improve your aikido. Your posture and movement, not to mention your ability to understand targeting, distancing, and timing of your techniques will be greatly enhanced.

It is important that you find a teacher that is legitimately connected with a traditional ryu ha rather than someone that is doing some eclectic system. Iaido by itself will help with some parts of your paractice but not others, in my opinion.

Good luck.

10-30-2003, 05:38 AM
Thanks, thats good advice but how do I distinguish between a legitimate teacher and a Mickey Mouse one? :freaky:

Any help would be appreciated :D

Stay safe!


Kensho Furuya
10-30-2003, 08:01 AM
I have spent a few years in Kendo, Iaido and Battodo. Good, competent teachers are very hard to find and few between. Usually, we need to see who your teacher's teacher was and who his teacher was. . . . Very good teachers all have a good lineage and background being raised by one or another of the few very prominent teachers of the arts. Most instructors of Battodo are in some ways eventually connected with Nakamura Taisaburo or in Iaido, can trace their lineage back to Nakayama Hakudo, for example. . . . . . . just as many prominent Aikido eachers today trace their background back to O'Sensei or 2nd Doshu. . . . . . It is a little different if you are taking from a specific, older school of Iaido.

Finally, if you observe the teacher and his students, I think you can get a "gut-feeling' if the teacher is competent or not. Another way, may be to ask around and hear what they say about the teacher and his reputation. If you have specific questions, you can contact me and I will try to help you out or investigate for you, if you like.

Iaido and Aikido compliment each other but do not expect them to be the same in methodology. At the beginning, I think you will see that they actually contradict each other in many points. I recommend that you practice both Aikido and Iaido as totally separate arts or I think that it will lead to confusion. I teach Iaido& Battodo in my dojo but I teach it as a separate arts and do not try to mix things up-but I am a kind of purist in this respect. Hopefully, somewhere in the students training, the wisdom of both arts will eventually merge. Good luck and I hope you find a good teacher.

Dario Rosati
10-30-2003, 10:49 AM
Hi Cristopher,

My Sensei is 3rd Dan Aikikai and 5th Dan Katori Shinto Ryu, and as you, I'm very tempted to start training in Katori, too (Katori is a very traditional school in which you train with various weapons, from wakizashi to naginata, bo and katana).

I can't explain you why since i'm a beginner in Aikido but watching my sensei and a "pure" aikido sensei, even with a higher rank, makes many people think that my sensei has a much better, "martial" aikido.

I know it's matter of personal taste, but this is why I choosed him as Sensei and not others, higher ranked senseis.

And very important, he often during aikido classes shows aikido techniques both in unarmed way (the classic aikido we may say) and with katana/bo hanged at his hakama, and for example uke grabs the sheated weapon instead of wrist but tori does the same aikido technique using the sheated weapon instead of one arm/hand...... this leds to a much better understanding of many techniques, IMHO, and shows perfectly how well aikido and sword/bo play fit extremely well toghether in "combat" situations.

Almost any senpai (> 4 kyu) in my class train in both arts and I frankly think that this makes their aikido better than pure aikidokas of the same rank, even at my beginner eyes... so yes, if you have the chance, do it!


Nick Simpson
10-30-2003, 12:39 PM
Hey Chris, check out the british kendo association's website. They have a couple of Iaido classes in the north east, one in cullercoats for definate and one in darlington that also teaches jodo and kendo.

10-31-2003, 06:33 AM
I train in aiki no ken, as well as aiki no jo, these are the weapons systems along with taijutsu that makes up aikido in Iwama.Aiki ken is very different to all other japanese sword schools. there are big difference to foot work ie HANMI. and the cuts are diff too.I always wondered why other aiki styles either do not have weapons or chose another school to complement there taijutsu. I guess alot is to do with Osenseis students who were with him before the iwama years ie before he truly developted aikido with the weapons. and also there where a lot of hombu deshi that nevered trained in IWAMA so the never so the ken and jo side .. what do you guys think?

11-01-2003, 08:27 AM

I've taken 1 (one) lesson of Kenjutsu. 1hr. About 6 months ago now.

It seems to have perminantly changed my footwork re: entering. For the better.

(I think the idea of being whacked upside the head with a sword made me more attentive on the day)

sword arts = a good thing

11-02-2003, 05:35 AM
Hi Steff.

I always thought that Iwama weapons came from Saito. I think other deshi also use weapons forms to transmit knowledge of Aiki, like Chiba, Saotome etc.

I'm not sure but didn't Rod Kobayashi (Tohei student) also have weapons in his form of Ki Aikido?

As to the main subject about weapons being good for a person's aikido, I agree.

Kensho Furuya
11-02-2003, 10:03 AM
I should like to point out here, least we forget, that swinging a bokken and using a real sword is very, very different - totally different. I have seen many people who have done suburi with a bokken for years but when they first pick up a real sword, they can barely move. In addition, a mogito or practice sword is totally different for a real sword with a real edge. And again, there is considerable difference between a sword of average quality and a fine quality blade and a "wazamono" or blade well-known for its cutting ability. All very much different in feel and usage.

Also, in the way we use a bokken as I observe generally in Aikido practice, more often than not, does not resemble in any way, the method to properly cut with a real sword.

Usually, in Aikido sword practice, we are often too distant where the sword actually makes contact (broken ma-ai) and we do not make a full cut but stop mid-way. Of course, this is for "obvious" safety reasons, but, we should always, keep in mind, that this compromises the sword technique and training in the most extreme way. To deflect a cut which stops mid-way or is too distant to reach its target is totally on the other side of the spectrum of deflecting a cut which is on target and is in full power with follow through. You will instantly discover that your methodology and interpretation of the technique must change drastically. All in all, we must distinguish between using the bokken as an interpretive tool towards enchancing our Aikido training or as something which resembles authentic sword technique which we can incorporate into our Aikido practice as a viable martial art. Otherwise, using the bokken can be oftentimes like learning to swim without ever entering the swimming pool.

11-03-2003, 05:47 AM
First of all thankyou everyones for the really interesting advice! Im in general agreement :D
Usually, in Aikido sword practice, we are often too distant where the sword actually makes contact (broken ma-ai) and we do not make a full cut but stop mid-way. Of course, this is for "obvious" safety reasons, but, we should always, keep in mind, that this compromises the sword technique and training in the most extreme way.

Ive found that when we are training to defend ourselves againt bokken there is a severe lack of commitment in attacks made by people wielding the bokken. Ive found this right through the grades up to the higher dan's we have in our organisation. The one that sticks out is when people attack with yokomen whilst bokken wielding.

Ive always attacked so that the last 6 inches or so of the weapon will contact with my partners neck and I attack whilst moving forward...this i find to be the most 'realistic' in the dojo. However ive found almost everyone else either stands still and simply moves the bokken to one side to expose the tricep of their leading arm and waits for someone to do technique on them or they attack whilst moving forward but the attack is made so close to tori that it is more akin to an elbow to the head rather than a yokomen with a bokken. I find it all very very frustrating


but it is loads of fun when you train with someone who thinks they know what they are doing and when you attack 'realistically' the end of the bokken has nearly reached their neck before they have moved :D the looks on some peoples faces!

Anyone else found this at all?


kung fu hamster
11-03-2003, 07:18 AM
I've found that it took over a year for the nail to grow back after my thumb got smashed with a bokken. Some people can handle the pace of full force bokken swinging, but I'm not there yet.


11-03-2003, 11:14 AM
I've found that it took over a year for the nail to grow back after my thumb got smashed with a bokken. Some people can handle the pace of full force bokken swinging, but I'm not there yet.

ouch :freaky:

11-03-2003, 12:30 PM
That does bring up an interesting point Linda,

I assume then, that like most Aiki-ken practitioners you do not have a hand-guard (tsuba) on the bokken. The tsuba does usually prevent accidental contact (certainly not techniques directed to the hands Ė which should not be made with full force unless hand-padding is used, ala kendo).

I suspect that as Kensho has mentioned most Aiki-ken practice is not usually full force and close ma-ai, which is why they do not perceive the need for a tsuba on the bokken.

Do any Aikido schools use the tsuba on the bokken?

Why donít they? Just because O-sensei didnít? Is there a real reason, or is it just appearance thing (a prideful, I donít need no stinkiní hand guar Ė ouch!!!).

11-03-2003, 12:43 PM
Do any Aikido schools use the tsuba on the bokken?
I have a couple of bokuto which have tsuba on them -- one that I put on afterwards (a hide tsuba that jodo practitioners use) and another which came with a thick, wooden tsuba (one of those heavy Kashima style bokuto). I've used both during aikido weapons sessions.

-- Jun

kung fu hamster
11-03-2003, 12:45 PM
At that time we didn't use tsuba (my accident happened while practicing bokken tai sabaki, I tried to bring my bokken overhead to guard but my distance or timing was off, and my thumb somehow was between bokkens as it was struck from above, near the hilt). Now we are practicing a different style and we definitely need tsuba for the new bokken exercises we're learning.

Ron Tisdale
11-03-2003, 12:52 PM
We (doshinkan aikido) practice both with and without tsuba, but mostly without. I'm not sure of the reasons why not to use one, but I am intimately familiar with the reasons why you use one (and I've got the bruises to prove it!).


Nick Simpson
11-03-2003, 05:55 PM
We do some paired bokken work sometimes and mostly without Tsuba (only because we always forget to bring them), nobodies ever been injured but I whacked my sensei's hand once by accident, Oops!

I was taught to take yokomen from a jodan/shomen position, raising the sword to the forehead and then cutting yokomen, rather than telepgraphing the strike by taking the sword to my shoulder. So it actually looks as if its going to be a shomen strike but then changes into a yokomen strike. I once accidentally pulled a yokomen at one of the senior instructors of our organisation when using a bokken (No idea why I did that, poor stupidity I guess), he told me the errors of my ways and I never made that mistake again.

11-04-2003, 01:58 AM
When we do bokken work we never use tsuba....and im not really sure why although ive found that sometimes when you buy a bokken which has a tsuba the grip of the bokken isnt long enough for my hands because the tsuba cuts the distance short :confused: maybe this is why people take them off? so people can 'lengthen' the handle of their sword to suit the way they hold a bokken? Surely if you were to buy a real ken or have one made then traditionally you would comission one which had the correct length grip for you and you alone.....however I dont know anyone who has had a bokken custom built...yet :)

Its funny because most people I know buy their bokkens from 1 of maybe 5 or 6 shops and the bokkens themselves are all much of a muchness and all come complete with tsuba. However everyone one i know takes the tsuba off straight away! Its the first thing they do! Whether this is 'sheep' mentality or not I dont know but I know I prefer to train without a tsuba....I find it gives you a better idea of how close your partner is getting to clobbering your hands!......more scary without a tsuba to protect! :eek:


11-04-2003, 01:15 PM
Thanks for answering the tsuba question folks Ė I was curious if I was the only one that noticed it.

Jun, does anyone else in your dojo use the tsuba, or is it just a personal choice by you (and did your choice come from a smashed finger too)?

In the dojo I have never seen the tsuba used (nor used it myself).

Outside of class, when my buddies and I got into more ďseriousĒ awase kata and waza with the bokken (with some speed) Ė it only took two smashes of the fingers to convince us to use the tsuba all the time. I find that the most common (and most easily avoidable) finger smash is caused by the sliding of swords when they touch because the bokken are varnished and slide very easily. For instance if I parry my opponents blade (ala the ikkyo movement with the sword against a shomen-uchi strike), even if I remain still after the parry, his forward movement slides the two blades together (which stops at the tsuba if there is one Ė the fingers if there isnít).

Kensho Furuya:

Do you have a tsuba on your bokken?

Anyone practice at a dojo where everyone uses the tsuba?

Its funny many of us donít, yet we donít know the reasons why we donít (or even if there is a reason).

11-04-2003, 01:35 PM
Jun, does anyone else in your dojo use the tsuba, or is it just a personal choice by you (and did your choice come from a smashed finger too)?
It's not a dojo-wide mandated thing. There are some other folks who use bokuto with tsuba, although I don't know their motivation.

The reason why I have these bokuto with tsuba (amongst others which do not have tsuba) is that some movements (eg hikiotoshi from a jo, the aishin kumitachi in Kashima) really require the tsuba. However, I'll say the most of the time in regular aikido kumitachi/ken-tai-jo stuff, I'll use a Yagyu style bokuto.

-- Jun

11-04-2003, 02:40 PM
In my dojo bokken are about as common with as without tsuba. Myself, I have one good heavy one with a tsuba that I started out with. But then when we started doing a lot of Nito work I picked up a cheap and lighter pair. These I kept without a tsuba for the simple reason that they fit better in my allotted rack space. Recently I've had a few close calls and I'm now working with a tsuba on each of my bokken. And just the other night someone next to me splintered a tsuba all over the mat. If that had been flesh and bone instead of wood ...

On the other hand, I've noticed that when I work tsuba free I'm a lot more careful about how I position myself and my bokken to keep my fingers protected.

One question, though. Am I the only person who parks a shoto on the right side of my obi so that I can draw it with one smooth motion?

kung fu hamster
11-04-2003, 02:44 PM
Just to clarify, we did not switch styles and start using tsuba because of a smashed finger. My comment was merely an observation of the sort of thing that can result from committed bokken attacks (with me, anyway!).

Kensho Furuya
11-04-2003, 03:03 PM
I have made rather an extensive study of bokken over the years. I have samples of bokken from the mid-Edo Period and even one made in the 1850's out of a long, single piece of whale bone - very heavy and very strong. I seems that the use of the tsuba on the bokken began around the 1840's, around the same time sword practice was permitted and practiced by the non-Samurai class. Early tsuba were made from wood, sometimes, many layers of thick cloth tightly sewn together were used and often, toughened rawhide or leather was used. Occasionally, they were lacquered to preserve and strengthen them. Usually, use of the tsuba depends on the particular school of swordsmanship. I follow the older custom and do not use a tsuba on my bokken in practice.

In kumitachi, the "uke" side is very important in practice just as it is to have a good uke in normal Aikido training. In traditional schools of swordsmanship, in kumitachi demonstrations, it is the senior who takes the role of the "uke" side to prevent injury or mishap. In one kumitachi, I almost got my thumb cut off. I was lucky but there is a little scar there to remind me to be very careful and aware each time I practice. The tsuba did not do much good - especially when the cut comes at an angle to your sword. Thanks!

Upstanding Dragon
11-04-2003, 05:36 PM
Hi Chris,

My instructor, John Atkin can teach traditional sword work, there's a lot of Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan schools.

He's very good with weaponary, both traditional and modern.

Thats in Newcastle city centre, a few mins away from monument.

Best wishes!


11-05-2003, 03:57 AM
Hi Christopher. I do Nishio-ryu aikido, which includes ken-tai-ken (sword against sword) and ken-tai-jo (sword against 'stick') techniques to build an understanding of the foundation for aikido AND to practice maai. We also have the oportunity of doing Aiki-to-ho which is a variant of iaido created by Nishio sensei based on the movements of Aikido. I sincerely believe that doing sword works seriously increase your ability in aikido - if done properly. Just practicing a 'regular' iaido-style will teach you a lot, but it might have a differet emphazis than that of aikido. If you want to give it a go, then either come to Denmark during easter. We have a seminar with Arisoue-sensei (student of Nishio sensei) and I will almost gurantee that you wil get a chance to do both to-ho and ken-tai-ken/ken-tai-jo. Another posibility is to look out for any seminar with Shishiya-sensei. He gives 4-6 seminars in Sweeden, Germany and Tchekoslovakia each year. He too is a student of Nishio-sensei, and he has very lovely to-ho. Mind you some senseis might disagree that what Nishio-sensei does is good aikido, but in as far as I can tell there is a really clear relation between his aikido-techniques and his weapons-working. Anyway - you are welcome to come look for yourself.

The easter-seminar will be announced on http://www.aikikai.dk and seminars with Shishiya sensei will be announced on his web-site, which for some reason is only in japanese right now...: http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~bk2i-ssy/

Hope this helps

11-05-2003, 05:57 AM
Thaks Stefan! Thats great news...any idea where I can get info on classes/times etc? Your web page link doesnt seem to work? Maybe I could come check you lot out sometime? I train only minutes away form you on a thursday anyway....in Eldon Square! Its a small world! :D

And thanks Jorgen too :D i'll definetley check it out...lokk out for me sometime next year maybe :D

Best regards


Upstanding Dragon
11-05-2003, 04:48 PM
Hiya Chris,

There's loads of classes at the AFC, John mainly teaches Ninjutsu and Advanced Fighting (Geoff Thompson's system).

Bujinkan Ninjutsu is on

Wednesdays, 7pm til 8:30pm

Fridays, 6pm til 7pm

Saturdays, 12ish can't quite remember

There's a traditional weapons class on Wednesday evenings 8:30pm til 9:15pm

Currently we're working with Tonfa.

Apparently the did Sword a while ago, unfortunately I missed that.

As I say, lot of traditional Kenjutsu within Bujinkan, but no actual Sword specific classes. However I do recomend you come along, have a chat, see what he can do for you :)

Maybe a private lesson, or I believe they do weaponary on Fridays at the moment in the Ninjutsu class...

Hope this helps, bye for now mate :)


11-08-2003, 03:15 PM
I'm not sure but didn't Rod Kobayashi (Tohei student) also have weapons in his form of Ki Aikido?
Yes, we do.
however I dont know anyone who has had a bokken custom built...yet

I have.


11-10-2003, 01:19 AM
And thanks Jorgen too :D i'll definetley check it out...lokk out for me sometime next year maybe :D
Okay Christopher! Will do :) Mail me if you have any questions.