View Full Version : When to do weapons training.

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12-19-2000, 10:53 PM
Only to satisfy my own personal curiosity about the world of Aikido and Iaido; please do not take my inexperince out of context.

We practice Aikido 2 days a week (although I often <learn> once a month), Jodo once a week and Iado once a week. I find that due to it's inherent fluidity, Aikido takes much longer to learn. Iaido has basic katas that create the forms and we use these katas for study towards our Aikido and this (eventually) leads to better Aikido technique.

However, in visiting some other dojos and reading some posts, it seems different dojos teach weapons at different level, and sometimes do not teach Iaido at all. When, normally for you, is it traditional or called for you to learn Iaido? Am I just lucky that my Sensei wishes to teach these classes?

Also, I have read about O'Sensei requiring Hakama to be worn for practice. We do wear Hakama for Iaido, Jodo, and Aikido at certain levels (5th Kyu), which seems to be a way of torture which forces you to move properly and/or learn to roll better. Does everyone wear Hakama in every form of Aikido or does it depend on the Sensei?

Again, I am only curious as to what is out there and why or how so much diversity exists from a single martial art created by a single individual. I have seen that other arts like Tae Kwan Do are almost cookie cutter-like in their ability to replicate themselves (as was its design when created), but why is there not one Aikido basic style, teaching, etc?

Thanks for your input!

Tony Peters
12-26-2000, 11:58 PM
In answer to you question about Iaido and Aikido I will say you are lucky. Most Aikido dojo's don't practice any weapons and those that do limit themselves to Aiki weapons. Iaido teaches some very good movements with a sword that lend a great deal of dicipline to aikido (which many styles lack IMHO). Jodo is a much more reality based weapons system that the Aiki jo and as such it teaches a bit more of what you can really do with the stick. The Downside to adding these systems into aikido is that while they compliment Aikido neither is very Aiki and depending on which ryu you are studying both are likely complete arts in and of themselves; which requires you the practicianer to bring these disparate art together yourself. The place this becomes most difficult is in the stances of the weapons art compared to Aikido (for me it's Jodo). As a practicianer of both MJER Iaido and SMR Jodo I can say that the philosophy behind these systems is not at all in line with aikido. It has taken a while for me to reconcile Koryu philosophy's with what I learned in Aikido. More and more lately Dojo's are incorporating weapons into their cirriculum, this is in general a good thing though the basis for the weapons techniques is very important; Saito sensei's weapons are probably the most well know and the most established but there are other valid systems. There are also unfortunatly folks who are just jumping on the boken/jo bandwagon and that can be dangerous. I was lucky every dojo that I've practiced in makes weapons a pert of the learning pretty much from day 1.
Hakama is pretty much a Style specific thing ASU puts folks in Hak early, Aikikai has them wait until Shodan. There are variations on this theme, Yoshinkan doesn't have anyone but the senior sensei in a Hak (I think).
The reason for the vast differences in what aikido looks like is that while O'sensei did create the art he did it over a large period of time. Different students at differant times learned differant things. Also he never codified his art...he left that to his student...All of them. So what you have is people who learn aikido while it was evolving from the creator. There was a vast difference in his technique in 1940 vs his technique in 1960. Couple that with the fact that grappling arts are much more body specific than punch/kick arts and you might as well be trying to judge Southern BBQ they all taste good but it comes down to which one tastes best to you

[Edited by Tony Peters on December 27, 2000 at 12:05am]

Matt Banks
12-27-2000, 05:37 AM
In your question about if there are any kata's in aikido. Well the style I practice Yoshinkan Aikido is taught to the Tokyo riot police, and is a very hard style of aikido. We practice kihon dosa at the begining of every lesson which is I suppose a kata. In this we practice the fundamental basic movements in aikido in a non stop kata form. The whole class practices it in time bothe in left and right kamae. This allows 'shuchu ryoku' to be developed or focused power in the hips, making ones tecnique very powerful.

You will find many differences in styles of Aikido. One piece of Advice I would give is try to stick to a school of Aikido which has as close a lineage to the main schoold of aikido as possible. Im not saying your style isnt any good I dont know the style you practice but try to stick to schools like Yoshinkan, Aikikai, Ki etc etc

12-27-2000, 04:57 PM
Matt Banks wrote:
You will find many differences in styles of Aikido. One piece of Advice I would give is try to stick to a school of Aikido which has as close a lineage to the main schoold of aikido as possible. Im not saying your style isnt any good I dont know the style you practice but try to stick to schools like Yoshinkan, Aikikai, Ki etc etc

I don't see any reason for this admonition. There are folks out there who are independent of the main branches who do a damn good job and there are folks who are a part of these schools that don't. Just because you practice Yoshinkan doesn't mean you have good Aikido or that you are a better person and it almost never says anything really meaningful about what goes on in an individual dojo beyond technical differences and where some money goes.

It's the teacher that makes the difference.

My comments are not specifically directed towards Yoshinkan. Feel free to apply them to any branded Aikido.

12-29-2000, 01:53 PM
Both dojos I have been a member of are aikikai affiliated and follow Kanai shihan most closely (USAF east). Both teach iaido but seperately from aikido and I never personally signed up for the iaido classes. Both also have weekly weapons classes where jo and bokken are taught, as a part of the aikido curriculum. Iaido students all wear hakama, in aikido we wait until shodan.

12-29-2000, 03:52 PM
Matt Banks wrote:
...It's the teacher that makes the difference...

Really? I always thought that it was the student who made the difference.

Richard Harnack
01-01-2001, 05:17 PM
When I first started training in 1976, weapons training did not occur until sometime after Sankyu. As it was explained to me at that time, this was because it took the Aikidoka at least two years to get the basic body movements down well enough to begin to appreciate weapons training.

Presently, I start students with bokken training prior to their rokkyu examination, and their jo training prior to their gokkyu examination. My reasoning is that they will need all the time they can get to adequately train their ability to handle the bokken and jo so as to do a credible job in shodan.

As a consequence, my students have the basics fairly well in hand by the time they are preparing for shodan. This allows them to focus on ki development, flow, technical precision and all those other intrinsic qualities needed to do somehting more than "cookie cutter" ken and jo gi.

My only problem with "weapons training" is the term "weapons training". Yes I know the bokken and jo are weapons, however, from my perspective within Aikido, and attempting to follow the principle of katsujinken in my training, I have difficulty with the term.

We seem to be stuck with it for now, and I do take time in class to explain how I view this.

Anyone out there have a better term?

01-04-2001, 09:41 AM
there is a caveat to certain weapons systems being added to aikido training. aiki ken and aiki jo are there to teach us aiki principle not to be master swordsmen or the master of the jo. There are a lot of people training in one of the aforementioned and calling it Jodo, or iaido, or kendo when in reality they are learning a hodgepodge or eclectic ideas, although some others are teaching pure Jodo, and pure Iai. therein lies the problem. Mixing a classical art with a modern art, that have two different underlying philosophies and expecting a students mind to be able to incorporate all the different movements. at the beginning stage for some it is hard to understand the difference between tenkan and pivot, right from left, add everything else in, thinking we are broadening the student we are tending to trap them, as they never fully understand one in its relation to the others. Some can, a lot can't. the forgetting curve in weapons trianing is quite high from what I've seen. If you are a student who can make it work you are doubly or maybe triply blessed, if you are a talented instructor who can make it work, you are a rare exception and a treasured find. If you are niether, just train and it will all come to you....

Tony Peters
01-08-2001, 09:42 PM
As both Dan and Richard said in aikido the boken and jo are tools to expand your understanding of Aiki not weapons to learn how to master. Classical Ryu tend to advance moving off the line as necessary but there is very little of the redirection and receiving that is so much a part of aikido and the other aiki related arts. Finding a true Iaido instructor is relativly easy in the US. Not true for Jodo, I doubt there are more than 12 true teachers of Jodo total between both factions in the US and only one Menkyo Kaiden (teacher qualified to give out rank) regardless. There are some folks who have had the Kendo Seitei Jo Kata however since that is at best a system taught to folks who play games (sorry but most of the martial intent is lost in the seitei kata's and the way they are performed) one isn't learning much there except how to swing a stick (just MHO mind you). You really are better of with straight aiki-jo unless you are with one of these teachers. The crossing/mixxing of philosophies is what will likely be the biggest problem for most people though.

03-19-2019, 03:40 PM
Good read on the subject:


Erik Calderon
03-19-2019, 07:54 PM
Please check out my blog, I just wrote a nice article about Weapons training in Aikido: http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/escalderon-11627/do-we-use-weapons-in-aikido-5350/

04-13-2019, 07:28 AM
Weapons including paired practice and weapons taking is practiced in our dojo regularly. Students start learning the basics of these things early on. Our testing requirements include weapons beginning at 5th kyu. By the time we have to get up for a dan test students are quite familiar with the required kata.

05-18-2019, 02:27 AM
The link between tachi waza and bukiwasa can't be understood unless you learn a proper system with a clear pedagogy in it.

For instance the link between katate gedan gaeshi and ikkyo is obscure unless you practice a system, a grammar that will reveal its underlying logic with time, questionning and keys of decoding - for it is heavily crypted. Needless to say that the teaching of the different arts O sensei learnt is integrated in a syncretic way that makes his eventual synthesis fundamentally different with the primary systems (jo or iai, jodo, Hozin, Yagyu, etc), whilst integrating many aspects of them (one interesting study is to find out what has not been kept ;). )

Properly taught the kata (I include suburi) has many functions / benefits:
- grammar and conservatory (like a thesaurus)
- training and conditioning of the practitioner
- transmission, so that the knowledge is passed with as little loss as possible.

There are very few competent teachers around; as I sometimes say, Aikido has become a matter or archeology... Good search :)

07-26-2019, 10:21 AM
we do weapons every class (all levels)

mike costley
08-03-2019, 03:45 AM
Weapons training can be an essential tool for helping new students “see” such things as distance and timing, as well as giving an increased sense of seriousness.