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feck
04-14-2005, 08:02 AM
Hi,

I'm fairly new to Aikido (5 months) and am just getting into weapons training. The quesiton i have is this, when new to practising with a bokken, would the person training, practise extremely slowly to better adjust to this training.
I notice that when practising ken suburi 1 that when swing the ken downwards that the ken wavers in mid flight. I have got into the practice of using one corner of a room to use as a guide to slice in a perfectly straight line, although this can only at present be achieved very slowly.

Has anyone got any tips on this.

thanks
feck

jss
04-14-2005, 08:48 AM
Your left hand/arm gives power to the strike, the right hand/arm is used for controling (the direction of) the strike.
If you use both arms for power and control, they'll interfere with each other, the result being the wavering of the strike.
Or at least that's my experience.

Ed OConnor
04-14-2005, 09:46 AM
Best mnemonic I've received is:

Body, hands(left then right), ken... in that order.

Also try training with only one hand on the weapon... then the other.

HTH.

Peace,
eD

DevinHammer
04-14-2005, 11:27 AM
Keeping the previous comments in mind, repetition is your friend. For most people that kind of motion is a bit foreign for a while. There is no "trick" or secret technique to making your strikes laser-straight, but each strike you make will shave a tiny bit off of those wobbles. Practice 100 of this strike and 100 of that strike and don't worry about it too much. As your muscles strengthen and get familiar with that motion, your control will gradually improve.

Walter Wong
04-14-2005, 12:22 PM
And do it slowly for awhile since you just started.

MaryKaye
04-14-2005, 01:14 PM
Check to make sure you aren't clutching your bokken with a death grip. It's difficult to cut straight if you are tense. This, too, will improve with practice, but paying specific attention to relaxing can pay off. As a side benefit, you can do more cuts with less physical pain if you aren't tense.

Mary Kaye

hobbit_marco
04-15-2005, 05:56 AM
Of course you learn it by doing it a lot (as stated above). Our teachers say you should also relax your shoulders and not bring them up to stop your ken. And also (again stated above), you should grip your sword lightly. because the more you clutch it, the more it can shake and wobble because you're putting force on it from the sides.

samurai_kenshin
04-19-2005, 10:29 PM
what style do you do, Feck?

RebeccaM
04-19-2005, 11:09 PM
Relax, repeat, and try not to think too hard.

Zoli Elo
04-20-2005, 12:35 AM
More happo giri, maybe?

As Ed OConnor mentioned indirectly: try moving while cutting; not cutting from static.

ruthmc
04-20-2005, 03:07 AM
I notice that when practising ken suburi 1 that when swing the ken downwards that the ken wavers in mid flight.
Has anyone got any tips on this.
Rather than concentrating on keeping the bokken straight, concentrate on what your arms do while you cut. When raising the bokken, bend your wrists first, then raise your elbows, and finally your shoulders. Relax your grip on the handle. When cutting, drop your shoulders, then your elbows, and finally your wrists, applying a slight wringing grip to the handle at the end. Do this slowly and aim for smoothness. Once your body has got it, you can increase your speed while maintaining the same order (wrists-elbows-shoulders-shoulders-elbows-wrists aka the bokken mantra ;) )

You should find that staying relaxed and sticking to the mantra improves the line of your cut.

Ruth

feck
04-20-2005, 10:18 AM
Hi people

Thanks for all the replies, have been helpful, and to samurai_zenshin, I practise Iwama-ryu style.

Thanks again everyone

feck

Kevin Kelly
04-20-2005, 11:35 AM
When gripping your weapons, you can also try gripping the hardest with your pinkies, that's what I was told anyway.

James Young
04-20-2005, 05:35 PM
In addition to other comments given here, try keeping focus on the tip of the blade and moving that through the cut first.

Rupert Atkinson
04-21-2005, 08:01 PM
Practice cutting with just the right hand - shomen, left & right yokomen - lots of times, and aim at something (like a leaf of a tree), then gently add the left, do it all again, and see how it feels.

p00kiethebear
04-22-2005, 12:05 AM
always practice slowly

Better to do 5 perfect cuts than 5000 incorrect ones.

Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes PERMANENT. Start infusing good habbits from the begining. THEN move up to a more dynamic swing.

samurai_kenshin
05-07-2005, 12:46 PM
Hi people

Thanks for all the replies, have been helpful, and to samurai_zenshin, I practise Iwama-ryu style.

Thanks again everyone

feck
Ever heard of the "Iwama shake"?

aikigirl10
05-07-2005, 09:39 PM
I found as a little kid when i first started aikido that it was difficult for me to even hold the bokken steady (it was probably heavier than i was). Cutting slowly helped me get the straight-cut form down and later on when i got older i was able to cut straight and w/ speed altogether. Hope this helps
-Paige

jsm
05-25-2005, 02:11 PM
In addition to all the good advice here, make sure your grip is correct. An incorrect grip will leave you with less control of the boken. As stated before, your pinky and ring fingers should hold the tightest (but not a death grip). Your right hand index finger knuckle should be on top of the handle lined up with the back of the blade. It feels really uncomfortable at first but gives you much more control.

When raising the boken, inititate it by using your left hand to "push through" on the handle which will raise the tip of the boken. And don't be afraid to ask seniors for help.

Stefan Stenudd
05-26-2005, 03:40 PM
In addition to all the good advice here, make sure your grip is correct. An incorrect grip will leave you with less control of the boken. As stated before, your pinky and ring fingers should hold the tightest (but not a death grip). Your right hand index finger knuckle should be on top of the handle lined up with the back of the blade. It feels really uncomfortable at first but gives you much more control.
When raising the boken, inititate it by using your left hand to "push through" on the handle which will raise the tip of the boken.
Hear, hear!
Exactly.
By the way, focusing of raising the bokken, instead of on cutting with it, is very good suburi practice. Raising the sword by pushing it forward from the center - that's the same thing in reverse, as cutting. One leads to the other.

Mike Sigman
05-27-2005, 09:14 AM
After reading all the posts in this thread, I find that I'm curious how "moving from the center" fits into these excellent and different approaches to bokken swinging. Could people describe that portion of the mechanics, please?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Stefan Stenudd
05-27-2005, 05:26 PM
After reading all the posts in this thread, I find that I'm curious how "moving from the center" fits into these excellent and different approaches to bokken swinging. Could people describe that portion of the mechanics, please?
I am not sure that my explanation fits in with other descriptions of bokken swinging, but here it is:

All movements in all budo are either from or to the center (tanden). It is particularly clear in two-handed sword cuts: when you raise the sword, it moves away from the center - from chudan kamae to jodan kamae - and when you cut, the sword moves back to the center, to chudan kamae.
Since you don't allow the arms to bend, the sword will make a cutting movement.

In aikido, this is expressed by shihonage - from the center, then back to the center.

The center is also the base of kokyu breathing, of course. Breathe in to the center, breathe out from the center.

I would say that there is nothing more fundamental and important in any budo, than learning to use your center, and exploring what this leads to.

Mike Sigman
05-30-2005, 07:31 AM
All movements in all budo are either from or to the center (tanden). It is particularly clear in two-handed sword cuts: when you raise the sword, it moves away from the center - from chudan kamae to jodan kamae - and when you cut, the sword moves back to the center, to chudan kamae. Hi Stefan:

Would it be possible for you to expand on what you mean by this? As I read it, it appears that you are simply saying that the bending is done at the waist and not at the arms and that is what you mean by moving from the center. Is there more that you would add to this description that could differentiate "moving from the center" versus normal arm movement that worries about the grip, etc., etc.? Thanks.

Mike

Stefan Stenudd
05-30-2005, 08:24 AM
Would it be possible for you to expand on what you mean by this?Hi Mike,

I will try my best:
The center, tanden, is not just a center of gravity, but the starting and ending point in most budo. It is a relation one should have to all of one's movements - not just because it brings stability, but also because the center is the "birth place" of one's interactions with one's surroundings, the source of one's ki, et cetera. It is the "I am" of budo.
Its role can hardly be exagerrated.

The tori and uke relation is fundamentally one between their centers. When uke attacks, the attack generates from uke's center and is (in principle) directed towards tori's center. When tori acts in aiki, it is with acceptance and guiding of uke's center, and the energy coming from it. For tori to be able to do that, it is important to remain in his/her own center all through.

Let's take shihonage as an example: It is very much a sword move - drawing the sword, then cutting with it. There are some body turns involved, as well, but essentially the arm movement is that of a sword cut.
Now, the straight sword cut should be done in front of one's center, or it will lose power and sharpness. Shihonage, too, tori should do with both hands in front of the center (and the center line of the body). If the hands deviate to the left or the right, there is a risk of losing the ability to complete the technique.

I am not sure if I am making myself clear, here. When I practice aikido, I always primarily and mostly focus on staying centered, and making my movements from and to the center - also, in relation to uke's center, the rest of uke's body being little more than expressions of uke's center.

Unfortunately, I don't have a shihonage video clip on my website, yet, but in this soft style shomenate ikkyo et cetera, maybe you can see what I mean with staying centered and extending uke's power from uke's center:
http://www.aikiken.com/aikido/video/stenudd_aikido_shomenate-ikkyo-omote.wmv

Another example is basic style jodantsuki ikkyo ura here:
http://www.budo.net/ikkyo/ikkyo-jodantsuki-ura.wmv
In guiding uke, I focus on doing it from his/her center, as a continued flow from it, and in the ikkyo ura turn, I focus on remaining centered, so that the whole turn is done with my main contact point with uke in front of my center (or center line).

What I focus on is to remain in my center, and to remain in contact with uke's center. I do my technique with uke's center, not his/her arms or body, really.
Of course, arms and body are involved, but at the core is the dynamic relation between tori's and uke's centers.

Am I making any sense?

Mike Sigman
05-30-2005, 08:51 AM
The center, tanden, is not just a center of gravity, but the starting and ending point in most budo. And in most correctly-done everyday movements, as well. ;) Let's take shihonage as an example: It is very much a sword move - drawing the sword, then cutting with it. There are some body turns involved, as well, but essentially the arm movement is that of a sword cut.
Now, the straight sword cut should be done in front of one's center, or it will lose power and sharpness. Shihonage, too, tori should do with both hands in front of the center (and the center line of the body). If the hands deviate to the left or the right, there is a risk of losing the ability to complete the technique. Well, I enjoyed watching your video clips and they look pretty good (bearing in mind that video clips are not the best way to examine things; but they still looked pretty good). However, my question would be along the lines of asking you the required basics of doing a sword-cut "using the middle"... how would you compare a sword-cut done "with the middle" when standing on the ground versus one done "with the middle" after you have leaped straight up into the air? Both could be done "with the middle" as you described, wouldn't you agree? I.e., what further clarifications could you make to a student about the requirements of cutting "with the middle"? Not that I disagree with anything you are saying, either. I think that you are now closer to describing the essence of correct bokken swinging that we have been so far.

My opinion, FWIW.

Mike

Stefan Stenudd
05-30-2005, 09:33 AM
Sorry, Mike,

I forgot we were talking about ken, not taijutsu.
It's all the same to me, but I should have remained "on the thread".

I agree with you: using the center when cutting is the same, whether you are rooted on the ground or jumping in the air.

When drawing the sword, some people tend to bend their arms to move the sword vertically straight up. To my understanding, this is not correct. Drawing the sword, as well as cutting with it, is a circular (or to be exact: elliptic) center thing.

When I draw, I keep my arms extended (in the unbendable arm form) and sort of push the sword forward from my center. Because my arms are connected to the shoulders, this movement brings the sword up to jodan, over my head, in a circular track.
Cutting with the sword, is pretty much the same thing in reverse: I cut forward, not down, without bending my arms. Thereby, the sword returns to my center in the same circular track.

So, drawing the sword is pushing it from the center, and cutting with the sword is pulling it back to the center.
Pushing is from the center, pulling is to the center - in all budo.

Unfortunately, I don't have a video clip of just that, on my website, but this (rather mediocre) ukenagashi followed by kesagiri shows pretty much the same thing - draw forward from center, extending arms, cut forward to center, extending arms:
http://www.aikibatto.com/avi/aikibatto05-OMOTE.avi

Maybe it's even more clear, in Seitei iai nukiuchi, done by my student Tomas Ohlsson:
http://www.budo.net/Enighet/video/seitei-12.wmv

Chudan kamae is by Musashi regarded as the "field marshal" of guard positions with the sword. It is in front of the center, therefore optimal as a starting point. One should always have a very firm relation between one's center and one's sword.
Maybe that can be seen here, in some kote attacks:
http://www.aikiken.com/aikido/video/stenudd_aikiken_harai-kote.wmv

Hoping to make some sense :)

Mike Sigman
05-30-2005, 09:57 AM
I agree with you: using the center when cutting is the same, whether you are rooted on the ground or jumping in the air. Hi Stefan:

Well, I was trying not to take a position. I was trying to elicit your opinion of these things. :) My opinion, however, is that one is more powerful when on the ground than when in the air. It is why learning to step correctly is harder than learning to hit.
Cutting with the sword, is pretty much the same thing in reverse: I cut forward, not down, without bending my arms. Thereby, the sword returns to my center in the same circular track. Is cutting forward more powerful than cutting downward?
So, drawing the sword is pushing it from the center, and cutting with the sword is pulling it back to the center.
Pushing is from the center, pulling is to the center - in all budo. Well, perhaps an even simpler way to look at the dichotomy is that the body opens and the body closes. There is up and there is down. Pushing and pulling are perhaps more of a secondary description than up and down? What do you think? In other words, swinging a bokken is more of a push, but upward, and a pull, but downward, in a pragmatic sense, than a circle. A circle, whether elliptic or truncated, will involve the center moving forward and backward in order to accurately involve a horizontal pushing and pulling. Are we talking about the same thing?Hoping to make some sense :) Of course it makes sense. I am just trying to elicit details. Although not as dramatic as some of the pictures in Yoshinkan Aikido, I think the up-swing of bokken practice if very much powered the same way as hiriki no yosei (with some modifications, of course). In other words, just looking at the upswing for a moment, is the power of an upswing just as powerful on the ground as it is when you have jumped into the air? ;)

All the Best.

Mike

Stefan Stenudd
05-30-2005, 11:12 AM
Oh, I see what you mean about in the air and on the ground. I certainly agree with you: one should be rooted on ground when cutting, and not between steps.

Or, in a high speed situation: one's step should be on the way to a solid position, when the cutting commences. Basic training is step, then cut, while "action" timing is to cut at the last part of the step, right before the foot lands on ground. That's not for beginners, though, since they would risk not learning the importance of a firm stance.

I believe that cutting forward is more powerful than cutting downward - but I don't mean snapping the sword forward, like, say, in badmington. I mean extending the sword out, almost upwards, and doing the actual cutting while the sword moves in a curve back to one's center.
In traditional cutting, the full length of the blade was used, not just the tip of the sword. The cutting was done with an inward move, not outward.
Some people cut very much downward instead of outward. This would be better with an axe, or for that matter a bokken - but it is not ideal for the shinken, IMHO. The blade cuts best with a slicing move, on the way back to the center.

Body opening and closing? That's an interesting way of describing it. I usually teach my students to do tsuki with a feeling of making their center expand, thereby pushing the sword forward.
It is not exactly how I do it, but I believe that the idea of opening and closing can be a very good one, for studying the sword art (and other things in budo).
I know that friends of mine in another aikido dojo, use this idea much in teaching ukemi.

Pushing and pulling is not the best way of describing the sword cut, I agree. I am not that fond of up and down, either, because students then tend to make their sword moves linear and vertical, instead of circular/elliptical. I always nag my students about drawing and cutting with forward movements, extending forward, not worrying so much about up and down.
I am sure that has its drawbacks, too, but what can you do ;)

"A push, but upward" and "a pull, but downward" - that's a great way of putting it. If that is done without bending the arms, then I believe the draw and the cut will get to be really decent.
What about a push outward, a pull inward?

The pushing and pulling should not be horisontal, of course, nor vertical. They are curves extending forward.

The hiriki no yosei is a very good comparison.
Speaking in terms of the center: when extending from the center in a sword move, there should always be two additional directions extended from the center: 1) straight up for posture, 2) straight down for balance. When up in the air, this is indeed difficult :)

Mike Sigman
05-30-2005, 11:43 AM
I believe that cutting forward is more powerful than cutting downward - but I don't mean snapping the sword forward, like, say, in badmington. I mean extending the sword out, almost upwards, and doing the actual cutting while the sword moves in a curve back to one's center.
In traditional cutting, the full length of the blade was used, not just the tip of the sword. The cutting was done with an inward move, not outward.
Some people cut very much downward instead of outward. This would be better with an axe, or for that matter a bokken - but it is not ideal for the shinken, IMHO. The blade cuts best with a slicing move, on the way back to the center. Hi Stefan:

I more or less agree that a blade may be more effective with a slicing motion than just a linear chopping motion, but that is a function of how a blade cuts, not the power of the body which I was discussing. :) "A push, but upward" and "a pull, but downward" - that's a great way of putting it. If that is done without bending the arms, then I believe the draw and the cut will get to be really decent.
What about a push outward, a pull inward? I think that a close examination of a slow push outward and a slow pull inward will show that they are just variations of a push from the ground upward and a pull with the weight downward. As in all variations of bokken swinging, probably? The only point I was trying to make on the topic was that all the finer points of bokken swinging are good to know, but that the bokken must be attached to the middle for all movements (even upward) foremost of all... that is the most important instruction, IMO, and I think you concur. :)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Stefan Stenudd
05-30-2005, 01:53 PM
The only point I was trying to make on the topic was that all the finer points of bokken swinging are good to know, but that the bokken must be attached to the middle for all movements (even upward) foremost of all... that is the most important instruction, IMO, and I think you concur. :)I certainly concur :D