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Paula Lydon
04-14-2004, 04:32 PM
~~At my dojo we have certain weapons kata to perform during dan tests, also disarming uke with different weapons. I've noticed over the years that the majority of dan test candidates, instead of consistantly working with the kata and weapons, pretty much cram for the test and then drop off from weapons class not long after. I've never thought much of this practice and was wondering how it is in your dojo. If it's like this, what do you think of it?

~~ I feel that you should practice what will be required as soon as you are aware of it so that you are not just 'getting through', because what does this say of your abilities during a test. Quickly gotten, quickly lost. Also, it seems that a student should keep up with and improve upon all the material required for the rank they hold. This way they continue to deepen their understanding and are compitent to pass it on at whatever point that it's asked of them.

~~Just some thoughts...

Anders Bjonback
04-15-2004, 09:53 PM
Huh. I didn't really notice that. I also hear the same thing about randori.

With me, I just think swords are cool anyway, and I get to learn how to use one without going through things like hurt fingers, etc, that kendoka and other martial artists probably have to go through. So, although I don't know if it's the "real thing," I still get to think, "Boy this is cool."

George S. Ledyard
04-16-2004, 12:03 AM
~~At my dojo we have certain weapons kata to perform during dan tests, also disarming uke with different weapons. I've noticed over the years that the majority of dan test candidates, instead of consistantly working with the kata and weapons, pretty much cram for the test and then drop off from weapons class not long after. I've never thought much of this practice and was wondering how it is in your dojo. If it's like this, what do you think of it?

~~ I feel that you should practice what will be required as soon as you are aware of it so that you are not just 'getting through', because what does this say of your abilities during a test. Quickly gotten, quickly lost. Also, it seems that a student should keep up with and improve upon all the material required for the rank they hold. This way they continue to deepen their understanding and are compitent to pass it on at whatever point that it's asked of them.

~~Just some thoughts...
Hi Paula,

I noticed exactly the same thing. Shodans who look like they have trained for five years on their empty hand and crammed for five months on their weapons work. I got tired of it so we instituted weapons requirements for all the kyu ranks. People are responsible for some weapons work starting right at sixth kyu. Now they will know everything they need to know for the organization's Nidan Test by First Kyu which gives them a few years to actually perfect their technique before they have to test in front of the big guys. It's worked very nicely I think.

thatoldfool
04-16-2004, 12:46 AM
I've noticed the same thing, shodan candidates cramming for weapons. However, depending on one's affiliation...how malleable is the test curriculum? I'm with USAF, Aikikai, and to the best of my knowledge, the tests are standardized, and a dojo couldn't "just" start adding things to tests.

Can anyone confirm this?

George S. Ledyard
04-16-2004, 03:25 AM
I've noticed the same thing, shodan candidates cramming for weapons. However, depending on one's affiliation...how malleable is the test curriculum? I'm with USAF, Aikikai, and to the best of my knowledge, the tests are standardized, and a dojo couldn't "just" start adding things to tests.

Can anyone confirm this?
Our test requirements are standardized in the ASU, but who is going to criticize an instructor for asking for more on a kyu test than the standard?

John Boswell
04-16-2004, 09:40 AM
Our test requirements are standardized in the ASU, but who is going to criticize an instructor for asking for more on a kyu test than the standard?
Tests are standerized in the AAA with weapons requirements along the way. Additionally, Sensei Riggs has printed out the test requirements from Aikikai Hombu and has warned that anything expected of them should be expected of us on our kyu tests. It's good! Keeps me thinking and looking back at the requirements for all other organizations so I know what to prepare for... just in case.

Besides, we're all here to LEARN Aikido. That means all of it. Why limit yourself to just what is asked of you on any given test? :D

Nick Simpson
04-16-2004, 11:19 AM
In our organisation we have weapons at 5th kyu starting with 3 bokken suburi working up to tachi dori, tanto dori, jo waza, all 7 bokken suburi, 20 jo suburi and the jo kata for 1st kyu/shodan. Seems like a good way to build it up over a period of time rather than just adding it for dan grades. Man does my jo suburi suck though :P

Nick P.
04-16-2004, 01:08 PM
If the dan-testers are cramming just before tests, and not carrying on afterwords, would the Sensei not address this if it irked her/him (like George mentioned above)?

senshincenter
04-16-2004, 01:45 PM
Isn’t the whole problem the very nature of the exam? Isn’t the exam just so totally out of place with Budo that no matter what you do you can never address all of these various subversions and excesses of the Way? That is to say, or to suggest, that the use of exams as a means of determining proficiency of an art actually leads to a predetermination of said art being totally killed. The deshi who makes it through such a system and remains true to Budo is actually the anomaly of such a system – they are the exception to the rule. The deshi that “crams” and/or has any of the mentality that underlies the will and capacity to cram is, in my opinion, not the wandering sheep that has gone astray but the end result of a institutional practice that is totally misapplied and misplaced.

It is curious that we cannot let go of the exam – how in even light of it ongoing failure to remain consistent with its own agenda and purpose we have done little to nothing to modify it, such that it might be better applied and/or better able to address the subversions and excesses that are its inevitable end results. We seem willing to only shift things around - settling for postponement instead of solution.

dmv

SeiserL
04-17-2004, 10:33 AM
We train in weapons every Friday. Coming from and FMA background, I am always playing with weapons.

IMHO if you feel the need and desire to train consistently, I would agree. It doesn't mean your right or better, just that I agree. If others wish to cram, well that's their choice and cramming tends not to produce long term memory or skill retention. Its not that its wrong, its just that I don't agree.

Pay attention more to your own training than wasting your time noticing and judging what others are doing and you will progress even faster.

dan guthrie
04-18-2004, 01:52 PM
I've enjoyed my dojo's weapon's training classes from the very first day. I only had about two months of training but they allow everyone to participate. I'm still very new but I believe weapons are completely voluntary for all levels.

IMHO it's better to leave these classes for the enthusiast rather than force everyone to become proficient in something they don't enjoy. Martially speaking: aikido without weapons is like petting a bald puppy but that's my opinion.

It's taken me two or three months to come to grips with the idea that aikido just doesn't appeal to everyone. I still don't understand how anyone can come to four classes and then stop. Maybe that attitude is valid within aikido as well.

I encourage my fellow students, all of whom are higher ranking, to come to weapons classes. Most of them have never been, but that's their choice.

Duarh
04-18-2004, 03:00 PM
I for one wish weapons and open-handed rank was separate. Not everyone can manage the additional time commitment that a weapons class (or two) per week takes - I haven't done weapons in a year because I've class on the night we practice. Also, not everyone enjoys it - I for one enjoy open-handed practice way more than weapons class, although I _can_ enjoy weapons class now and then.

I know this is an infamous debate, but I don't really think that practicing weapons is absolutely necessary for your progress in aikido. It may help with certain aspects and speed the learning of certain things up - but it also takes time. I've seen quite a few quite proficient aikidoka who aren't that good at weapons at all. Saying you have to learn weapons to learn (open-handed) aikido is like saying you need to learn to drum before you learn to play the piano - yes, drums came first, and yes, it'll help, but it's by no means necessary.

Ron Tisdale
04-19-2004, 11:02 AM
Buki waza are integrated both in our kyu testing (from 9th kyu on) and in our classes. While we do have additional seminars on the various Buki (tanto, jo, bokken) we also are taught some amount of buki waza in many classes. Even though buki waza are still a weak point of mine, I prefer this integrated approach, as without it, I'd be even worse.

There is still a certain amount of 'cramming' when it comes to test preparation, as the tests are very rigorous, and the movements with buki are very specific (as with our empty hand technique). I do have some concern with the 'cramming' method...but that is mostly handled differently by different individuals. My own approach for now is to try to make the test technique periods and to learn as much as I can without even thinking about testing. So far, this seems to be working...we'll see if and when I ever test again. :)

Ron

ajbarron
04-19-2004, 04:19 PM
Weapons are a love hate relationship for me.

Starting Aikido late in my career, left right relationships have also been a challenge. Our Sensei, Yasuhisa Inaba 6th Dan Aikikai (for more info see www.calgaryaikikai.com) teaches a strictly weapons class each Friday night. This has been on going since I started over four and a half years ago. Since that time he has incorporated more weapons into the regular classes to help us understand the relationship not only between the weapons and hand techniques, but also the maai , “positions of safety” for the lack of a better term, and the proximity to deliver a technique from.

We usually have one or two weapons seminars each year. These three-four day intensives though mentally fatiguing, help to pattern the reflexive movements. Notice I did not say learn or memorize the movements, as I have found that I forget them easily without regular practice, but gradually over the past few years retained more and more.

Why is there a love hate relationship between weapons and myself probably comes from the frustration of the precision on the techniques (similar to that of good hand techniques) so I don't wack someone. They do look easier when done by those who have trained for 10 to 20 years longer than me, but I still dream of wielding my bokken like Obi Wan Kenobi.

Cramming is a reality of testing but perhaps if the word studying had been used instead it would not wield the same stigma. I will certainly be cramming for my next test as this is when I try to hone the techniques for that level. Following the test I can then relax and really learn them properly!

That's MHO.

P.S. My kids think weapons are cool. The rest of aikido to them is just dancing!!!!!!

Largo
04-20-2004, 01:09 AM
I thought that this was about using a plunger as a weapon

Ron Tisdale
04-21-2004, 04:23 PM
Hey Paul, you haven't ever worked for the NYC police dept., have you?

Ron :)