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Tubig
06-28-2005, 11:59 PM
There are different types of ryus in aikido that are unique in what type of aikido they offer hence what they specialised. From the graceful aikikai, to the kick ass riot police type Yoshinkan. From the very spiritual extention of the tao of the Tohei school, and to the hundreds more schools that completes the equation of the universal art of aikido. All schools unite and say that aikido came from the sword and the art of the samurai. Every schools unite that aikido's taijutsu came from buki waza, especially tachi waza and aiki ken.

So why is weapons training (suburis and partner practice) not a part of every aikido syllabus? How come not every aikidokas in the planet can wield a jo? How come not every aikidoka can do Osensei's sanjuichi-no-jo, when it is one of the most popular original teachings by Osensei that is forbidden to be altered by any shihan or sensei.

I guess to simplify the quesetion:

* To do good and complete aikido: does one need to know the weapons training part of it? *

PaulieWalnuts
06-29-2005, 01:21 AM
Simply because not all of the old masters where iwama students most where in the honbu, (if we are talking post war aiki)so there training in Osesneis aikiken and jo was non to limited. Alot of them took other weapons schools ie chiba which is why we have a lot of different looking taijutsu in syles now.

happysod
06-29-2005, 02:36 AM
To do good and complete aikido: does one need to know the weapons training part of it? Yes if your definition of good and complete means knowing how to use a stick properly. Like many parts of aikido training (suwari-waza, randori), weapons work is a decent tool for teaching specific aspects of distance, posture etc. However, it's not the only tool or method available.

Yann Golanski
06-29-2005, 02:48 AM
Shodokan introduces weapons in the second and third dan. The second dan kata are based on knife attacks and third dan goes with jo and bokken in both tori and uke's hands with the addition of the tachi waza (bokken vs bokken).

Jo work (mainly the 6 and 18 jo kata) are included and should be practices from time to time even if I do not think that they are part of the syllabus.

Our basic hand and foot movements are based on sword strikes and whenever I teach them, I always use a bokken to demonstrate where the moves come from.

On a side note, many Aikidoka do not know how to use a real sword at all even if they have trained in aiki-ken or whatever. Using a sword is an art in and of itself. There were several past threads on the subject, just search for it.

Amir Krause
06-29-2005, 03:16 AM
* To do good and complete aikido: does one need to know the weapons training part of it? *

In Korindo Aikido, I believe the answer to be - Yes.
The curriculum includes many weapons, and it is obvious no one is expected to be proficient in all, each student should select his own weapons of exploration.

All advanced students (above Kyu 1) learn Jo and Bokken. When explaining the 8 Tai-Sabaki movements that are at the base of the system, at least 7 have clearly come from ken (The 8th is more natural for Jo or Nito then for a single Ken).

Each weapon has it's own emphasis on principles that are essential to our Aikido, these give a wider and more complete view compared to practicing only empty hand. Minoro Hirai, Korindo Aikido founder is quoted as saying: "when practicing empty handed, imagine you hold a weapon and when practicing with a weapon, imagine practicing empty handed". Hence the importance of weapons work for empty hand practice.

Amir

Dazzler
06-29-2005, 05:26 AM
Yes if your definition of good and complete means knowing how to use a stick properly. Like many parts of aikido training (suwari-waza, randori), weapons work is a decent tool for teaching specific aspects of distance, posture etc. However, it's not the only tool or method available.

Absolutely.

31 count kata for instant is a good tool but is it truly a spontaneous blending of uke and Tori?.

In Awase form, uke and tori still know exactly what lies ahead.

Aikido weapons work is highly useful and beneficial to practice.

But I have met some highly skilled aikidoka who have achieved their level with little or no exposure to formal weapons training.

On a side note, many Aikidoka do not know how to use a real sword at all even if they have trained in aiki-ken or whatever. Using a sword is an art in and of itself.

I'd say I'd fall into this category. I am interested in Aikido. My weapons practice is part of that.

I have little more than a passing interest in using a real sword and see little chance of me ever carrying one around Bristol.

For a start they are generally rather expensive...I'm sure it would get nicked! ;)

Regards

D

akiy
06-29-2005, 09:03 AM
Poll: Is weapons training necessary to understand aikido? - 1/18/2003

http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=148

-- Jun

senshincenter
06-29-2005, 09:21 AM
We do weapons. I do see the sword as relevant to the origins of the art. However, I would never say that one needs to do weapons in order to move right. To say such a thing almost contradicts itself since it posits an “origin” but negates it immediately by allowing for no distance from that origin (What is an “origin” if we cannot move further from it?). Do practitioners of the oar or the various “farming” utensils of other arts need to get in a boat and row or get in the field and do some farming before they understand these weapons and/or garner the benefits of training in them? I say, no.

Osensei did weapons, however, I would never say that because Osensei did something, we need to do that thing. Such a view is traditionalistic and thus adopting such a view is one sure way of killing your own practice with a kind of “museum death.” Aside from the sword, Osensei also found the origins of his art/practice in the will of God. To that end, he practiced not only very sophisticated forms of mysticism, he also practiced and held many superstitions partial to his time and place, types of shamanism particular to spirit possession, and probably countless types of cultic exercises related to the talisman. Shall we do these things too in order to discover the will of God that is at the origin of Aikido? Again, I say, no.

Daren’s point of meeting folks who have shown very high skill in body art with only little to no experience in weapons work should be placed side-by-side with those folks that have done weapons work for quite a while and still demonstrate relatively low skill at both body art and weapons art. This tells us that the relationship between body art and weapons art is not a causal one – especially not one of a single direction. For me, the “reason” for bringing weapons work into one’s practice cannot be satisfied by all the usual rhetoric. Every one of those usual reasons can be satisfied equally by something else or in many cases even better by something else. For me, the only reason why weapons work is vital to one’s overall training is that it allows us to measure and cultivate something very particular to that type of human-to-human interaction (i.e. two folks standing at a distance with two inanimate objects between them). Such training allows us to measure and cultivate our capacity at Aiki at levels of no contact and often no sight.

Without the senses of touch or sight, the two senses of the tactile/visible world, the two senses nearly all of our Aikido practice comes to us through in body art, we are forced to take Aiki to the next (higher) level – of the invisible world or the world of true “feeling” or “inner sensing.” While we can and should measure and cultivate this in body art, we also do not HAVE to do this in body art. In weapons art, the luxury of choosing to do with or without this is not so readily available. In weapons art, things are moving too fast and the consequences for being unable too sense your opponent’s actions before you feel or see them are too stern to allow for many of the “adaptations” or “corrections” you usually see folks (even of very high rank) having to make in body art when such sensing is absent. Weapons, being inanimate objects, do not give off the same cues as to their intentions – the way an arm does or a leg, etc. To read the weapon properly, I must move beyond the mundane nature of the weapon to the Ki of the encounter (i.e. the overall collective of relevant elements that make up this particular time/space). Thus, like all forms of higher training, in whatever the endeavor, the lack of choice for opting between lesser and greater skills (i.e. requiring only greater skills) marks weapons training as both important to body art and related to body art. For he or she that can move to the Ki of an encounter in weapons art – where it is required – can certainly move to the Ki of an encounter in body art - where it is possible but not required.

Now, what does a solo form that has a some from a political organization attempting to archive it through prohibition to do with this? For me, nothing. Such a thing is just one more form, and thus such a thing is just one more reason why the weapons training I mentioned should be part of our training.

Lorien Lowe
06-29-2005, 12:55 PM
Recently a student who tested for 5th kyu at our dojo was promoted to 4th based on the level of his sword techniques. His taijutsu was at about normal 5th kyu level, but our dojo-cho generally assumes that good weapons work will inevitably improve one's taijutsu with practice; powerful weapon techniques require a very good base, and (depending on the technique) one's mistakes are entirely one's own.

maikerus
06-29-2005, 06:43 PM
I would say not...but then again I do seem to be in the minority in this.

I studied jo/bokken/tanto alot for 9 years while doing Aikido in Canada. I then came to Japan to the Yoshinkan Hombu and since then (12 years) have studied virtually none. Basically only some tanto demonstration katas and futari dori and san-nin dori. A little bit of techniques with taking away stuff.

This does not discount weapons, but it would seem that they are not necessary. My take on this is that the principles that we learn from non-weapon Aikido are the same as if we were doing weapons. They do not *derive* from one another.

So...studying the weapons is not necessary to learn those principles. For some it may help, but I don't think its necessary.

My few yen...

--Michael

NagaBaba
06-29-2005, 08:45 PM
Good post David. I like your expression "human-to-human interaction" --- Sugano sensei teachs such things regulary. This is very high level of practice.
But for me, weapons practice have two important reasons:
1. develops "sword spirit" or weapons spirit.
2. teachs skills normally learned only in competition environement.

There is always very big difference between two aikidoka with comparative level of technical skills, if one practice regulary weapons and other not at all. I know such case personally and it is simply matter of different state of mind.

senshincenter
06-29-2005, 09:03 PM
Hi Szczepan,

Thanks for chiming in. I definitely agree with these two elements being a part of weapons training (I'm assuming with "sword spirit" you are meaning some kind of charged intensity of a martial type). My earlier post was not meant as a argument saying that such things are not in weapons training and/or that they are not important to our overall cultivation as an aikidoka. These things, and many others, are there in weapons training and they are indeed important to things like body art. My only take, however, was that these things are not made mandatory/monopolized by weapons training. For example, it is true that facing shomengiri with one's own bokken response tends to be quite different, especially in terms of intensity, clarity, and purpose, than facing shomenuchi with Ikkyo Omote, but it just doesn't have to be. One should eventually come to have their body art practice be charged with the same intensity, clarity, and purpose. It is true many don't, such that many for example attempt to do things like affect shomenuchi at the wrist on the way down, but this isn't because they don't do weapons, only because they don't strike like it was a weapon (i.e. with intensity, clarity, and purpose). On the other hand, as for becoming sensitive to the Ki of a situation involving weapons - you either do or you don't. If you do, your technique is good and you survive. If you don't, your technique is poor and you possibly face injury or you compromise your practice so much that the failings of your body art come to also occupy your weapons art.

Anyway, great input. This sword spirit is important - even if there is no actual causal relationship, statistically it remains extremely relative - such that it almost acts just like a causal relationship.

thanks,
dmv

xuzen
06-29-2005, 09:22 PM
Once I had a junior member in my dojo asked me that he can't use his aikido against someone in his school. I asked him why? He said that the other boys kicks are to fast, punches too fast... etc etc.

I don't know why I did this but I went to the weapon's rack and took a jo. I got into ready position... and asked him to come at me with any attack he so desired.

He tried, but as I held my jo in my ready position, he couldn't find any opening to enter. Figuratively... I had tied his spirit down. He just could not enter into my zone.

The point I tried to make to him maybe was that it was easy to get confused and think how should be intercept a fast kicks etc etc... but when you have a weapon... the feeling is so totally different.

Hence my point... is I agreed with Nagababa wrt to weapon training... it add a bit of realism and weapon spirit (sorry for lack of proper word) to aikido.

I guess I am an advocate of weapon training.

Boon.

Tubig
06-29-2005, 10:18 PM
All of Osensei's great students know how to use weapons. Either they learned it directly from him or endeavoured to learn it somewhere else.

Practicing with people that have done weapons I noticed the posture is stronger. The hip movement is more complete. The Maai is excellent. Also I noticed that they do not flinge as much to strong attacks, attacks with big kiais, and quick multiple attacks. I even sparred with karatekas that has done nunchakus and tonfas, I noticed their punches and kicks are more accurate, smoother, and cleaner in comparison to karatekas that stayed with emptyhands.

Perhaps the most obvious observation with people that practices weapons is the enhance Zanshin and the great awareness to Ai-uch (mutual kill). With Zanshin I noticed that aikidokas that do weapons can block and avoid better, randori and multiple attacks are handled better. It almost comes out that the Zanshin (sixth sense) is very sharp. With zanshin the aikidoka can almost predict (not anticipate) where to attack would land, where to stand, and when to awase. they can avoid the Ai-uch that is inevitable if the reaction is delayed.

One can really see the spirit of the sword or jo itself, in fact holding the weapon, feeling that connection, the extention of one's ki through the sword is more energizing in the true spirit.

The classic analogy on this one is there are two types of people:
The astronaught and the astronomer. The astronomer studies the heavenly bodies, the astronaught touches the heavenlybodies.

In regards to the spirit of the sword, wouldn't it be better to invoke the spirit of the sword rather than evoke it like an outside entity?

Tubig
06-29-2005, 11:59 PM
My sensei was lucky enough to be taught by Saito sensei how to use shuriken. And in return we are lucky enough to learn from Sensei the use of shuriken. Do other dojos practice this art with aiki?

Jorge Garcia
06-30-2005, 12:48 AM
My instructor, Hiroshi Kato says that weapons training is necessary to help you to understand how to move in Aikido. Apart from everything already mentioned, our weapons system emphasizes heavily the proper foot and body movement and martial distance as well. It teaches how to employ the hips, how to move in and out, and the correct form of the techniques. People that have been exposed to our system are amazed at how close it is to the body arts. Working with weapons also helps to understand the feeling of the energy in your body and how to extend it when you make the application. Our Sensei has said that weapons is what you can do in Aikido when you are alone.

maikerus
06-30-2005, 11:56 PM
Apart from everything already mentioned, our weapons system emphasizes heavily the proper foot and body movement and martial distance as well. It teaches how to employ the hips, how to move in and out, and the correct form of the techniques. People that have been exposed to our system are amazed at how close it is to the body arts.

I don't dispute that this is true, however why can't you do this without weapons?

Also...if you train according to the martial distance for weapons...doesn't that change for different weapons as well as for hands...? And hand movement is different from weapons movement - for example bokken - because you always hold a bokken with right hand above left, but that can and should change with empty hands.

Similar. Yes. Follows the same principles. Sure. Fun. Definately. Required for good aikido...I am still not convinced.

FWIW,

--Michael

PeterR
07-01-2005, 12:13 AM
I don't dispute that this is true, however why can't you do this without weapons?

<snippage of several reasons>

Similar. Yes. Follows the same principles. Sure. Fun. Definately. Required for good aikido...I am still not convinced.

I'm going to toss in a me too here. Taught right I found that tachi-dori and yari-dori practice increases the intensity of focus but again there is no reason empty handed practice alone can't serve the same function. Well in Shodokan it actually does since tachi and yari are not introduced into the curriculum until later and I suspect that the main reason is to give a historical completeness rather than any intrinsic need.

senshincenter
07-01-2005, 01:21 AM
I'm siding with Michael and Peter on this one as well.

NagaBaba
07-01-2005, 08:26 PM
I don't dispute that this is true, however why can't you do this without weapons?
You can observe certain phenomena: if in weapons practice somebody hit partner with bit power, you will not be angry at all. One will accept it, cos it is weapons practice. But if in empty hand techniques somebody hit you or execute a technique in strong manner, one will tend to perceive it as aggressive behavior.
Spirit changes, only because one is holding a weapon. Perception of environment changes too. If attacker on the street holds a weapon or has no weapon you reaction will be different.
Now imagine how deep changes produce 30 years of studying weapons.

Also...if you train according to the martial distance for weapons...doesn't that change for different weapons as well as for hands...? And hand movement is different from weapons movement - for example bokken - because you always hold a bokken with right hand above left, but that can and should change with empty hands.

Similar. Yes. Follows the same principles. Sure. Fun. Definately. Required for good aikido...I am still not convinced.

FWIW,

--Michael
One of main purposes of weapons training is exactly that thing; get use to different martial distances. Not only that, body must "feel" this distance, without brain. So you will be free to do anything in any distance.
Than you can use this distance as a weapon! If you train only against empty hands, one can't develop such sophisticated skills. He train only in one distance, so can't deal unconsciously with quickly changing distance.

In fact, weapons attacks are 2-3 times faster then hand/leg attacks. If you add difficult changing distance, live blade --- you have really good deal. After that when you return to empty hand, things are simply too easy for you.

Other important dimension of weapons practice is a fact that physical force, weight and being male/female not playing important role. That situation allows learning for relatively weak and light men and woman some high level skills that are inaccessible only with empty hand practice.

There are very many others. Best way is to discover yourself, don't be lazy LOL! ;) :p

6 months weapons with good teacher will change your aikido forever.

Jorge Garcia
07-01-2005, 11:04 PM
You wrote,
"I don't dispute that this is true, however why can't you do this without weapons?"

The answer is because we generally don't do it unless we have weapons . The use of the weapon makes apparent what isn't apparent otherwise. I can show Aikido without words but sometimes, words help. You can teach these things without weapons but most times, they help. I wasn't trained with weapons the first 3 years of my practice but have used them the last 7 years. For me, especially as an instructor, there has been a huge difference in understanding what I should have known and seen with out them. For example, I recently realized that when avoiding a shomenuchi strike with the bokuto using a tenshin, you have to take an extra long step back where as before I tried that with the weapon, I never thought about that. I also realized that the position of the right foot is critical in that you have to place it in such a way as to be able to enter back in when he raises up again. I have incorporated those ideas into my regular body arts since. I must also add that when saying all this, I am refering to the kumi jo and kumi tachi kenjutsu. I never realized anything much from regular bokken tori or jo tori exercises.
As for the form of the technique, the kiri kaeishi exercises so show the form of the technique, they are a wonderful guide to the correct form of the technique. I use them to correct my technique all the time and they serve as excellent illustrations to the students when they unknowingly drift from the form. The hand and foot movemnet of iriminage with the jo show that either you must get behind uke or you must allow him to pass you so you can enter with the hip. I will grant that you don't need the weapon to know or learn that. It's just that using that form as an aid sure helped me to understand that concept. Maybe for those of us that are tactile and visual learners, it makes a difference.


Best,

markwalsh
07-02-2005, 01:49 PM
This needn't be a theoretical debate. Acid test: Are there any outstanding aikido teachers who have done little or no weapons? I would suspect there to be at least some, but maybe not that many. Names please anyone - Daren?

Mark

Chris Li
07-02-2005, 02:05 PM
This needn't be a theoretical debate. Acid test: Are there any outstanding aikido teachers who have done little or no weapons? I would suspect there to be at least some, but maybe not that many. Names please anyone - Daren?

Mark

Yoshimitsu Yamada.

Best,

Chris

senshincenter
07-02-2005, 02:27 PM
I cannot speak about his past training, but when I trained with him he did no weapons at all nor expected us to: Kazuo Nomura (of Osaka Aikikai).

On the other side of this, however, is the also easily proven fact that a lot of folks do weapons just like they do body art or just like some are critical of how some do body art. Meaning, a lot of folks do weapons with little or no intention, with no sense of lethality, no "sword spirit," etc., and in this way there is also no difference between body art and weapons art (as far as these things are concerned). My own subjective experience would lend itself to the position that even out of all the folks that do weapons, most do not do weapons as some are suggesting here - as a manner that is inherent to weapons training. So one has to ask, "What is really helping their body art?"

maikerus
07-03-2005, 07:00 PM
Just for the record...I did 9 years of weapons training when I first started Aikido. Basically various Jo, Bokken and Tanto techniques and was in a lot of demonstrations with weapons. I attended weapons classes and enjoyed them.

Since I came to Japan 12 years ago I found that we did NOT practice weapons at the hombu dojo. They were there to illustrate some points, or for fun, but there are no weapons classes and very, very seldom are they pulled off the rack. We do use them for for san-nin dori and for futari-dori when training for nidan and above.

That being said, any time one of the hombu teachers does pick a weapon up it looks natural and strong in their hands.

So...what does this say? My Aikido has vastly improved since I have been in Japan and it was done without weapons. Perhaps I am wrong and you do need weapons, but my personal experience is that I didn't. Also...it would seem that the hombu dojo made this decision for some reason or other...of course they could be wrong as well.

Training with intent and focus can be done without a weapon in hand. If you cannot train that way maybe you should train harder and not use weapons as a crutch (oops...did I say that? LOL).

Seriously...this is a discussion about whether it is necessary or not. I don't see it as being necessary and I would much rather learn how to be focused and intent without the aid of weapons than with. There are enough techniques within the Aikido framework without weapons for me to spend the next 50 years working on without diluting them by cross-training with weapons :).

I have no problem with training weapons. I think there are lots of good that can be learned from them...but again...necessary....my vote is "no".

FWIW,

--Michael

senshincenter
07-03-2005, 07:59 PM
Training with intent and focus can be done without a weapon in hand. If you cannot train that way maybe you should train harder and not use weapons as a crutch (oops...did I say that? LOL).


Who can really argue with that?!
:D


However, I still feel my first offering of learning how to sense the Ki of an encounter is very much cultivated through paired weapons practice in a way that Body Art simply can never duplicate. I seem to remember that, though truthfully I cannot now tell you to what degree, this is elaborated upon in a book by Kenji Tokitsu. The book is titled, "Ki and the Way of the Martial Arts." Please forgive me if the book doesn't exactly touch this topic as much as I am suggesting here - it's been a while since I read it. However, it is a good read and I do know that it does touch on the reasons for practicing with weapons. I highly recommend it. For more information, if one desires, we have several articles on weapons work and their rationale (as we see it) at our web site.

NagaBaba
07-03-2005, 08:42 PM
There are enough techniques within the Aikido framework without weapons for me to spend the next 50 years working on without diluting them by cross-training with weapons :).
--Michael
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!! What a heresy!!!!!!!!!! :eek:
Weapons are integral part of aikido system, not something outside of system :D

PeterR
07-03-2005, 09:04 PM
I would say that the advantage of weapons is that training tends to be done in formal kata where you can introduce a level of intensity. It's not the weapon - it's the kata practice.

maikerus
07-03-2005, 09:08 PM
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!! What a heresy!!!!!!!!!! :eek:
Weapons are integral part of aikido system, not something outside of system :D

Actually...it would appear that they are not an integral part of the Yoshinkan hombu dojo Aikido system, even though they are of yours.

The comment about cross-training was tongue-in-cheek, I admit. But it was to make the point that in what I have studied in Japan does not include weapons as an integral part of the curriculum.

cheers,

--Michael

Charles Hill
07-03-2005, 11:36 PM
Since I came to Japan 12 years ago I found that we did NOT practice weapons at the hombu dojo. They were there to illustrate some points, or for fun, but there are no weapons classes and very, very seldom are they pulled off the rack.

I trained daily for four and a half years at Aikikai Honbu Dojo. What Micheal wrote covers that Honbu as well. In that time period, only Yokota Sensei, in only one class, had us working with bokken.

Charles

Peter Goldsbury
07-03-2005, 11:51 PM
I think there are several factors in this issue that are sometimes run together:

1. Morihei Ueshiba's own training history in aikido. He seems to have gone though successive stages: of dabbling with weapons, to intensive training with weapons (especially in Iwama), to virtually no training with weapons (from the late 1950s). These succesive stages are sometimes isolated and used as evidence that aikido is, or is not, a weapon-based art, and/or needs, or does not need, training with weapons.

2. Morihei Ueshiba's own teaching methodology. I am not sure how far this went, beyond teaching as showing and then expecting his deshi to understand what he had shown. Thus, having them take ukemi and be his partners for such weapons exercises as are found in Budo (1938) were the ways he did this. I cite this manual, because it is the only book containing weapons training that has Morihei Ueshiba as author.

3. The methods used by Morihei Ueshiba's deshi themselves to understand what he taught. By all the accounts I have from talking to some of them, the deshi understood neither what he was saying, nor what he was doing and had to 'imaginatively reconstruct' this in their own training. Every single Japanese aikidoka of senior rank (6th dan and above) I have talked to admitted to having trained with weapons and many devised their own training systems.

The development of a training system is a way into understanding the internal architecture of aikido as a budo, but the two are not the same. Nevertheless, all three factors outlined above come into play when considering aikido as a training system and as a budo.

Best regards to all,

Tubig
07-03-2005, 11:51 PM
So having been to Japan and had limited practice with weapons. Do you feel that your aikido is good and complete?

PeterR
07-03-2005, 11:53 PM
Yes.

maikerus
07-03-2005, 11:58 PM
So having been to Japan and had limited practice with weapons. Do you feel that your aikido is good and complete?

Good question.

Yes <simple answer>

However, I wouldn't say that my training is complete since it is an ongoing process, but I do think that it is comprehensive and now if I was to pick up a weapon my weapon work would be better than it was 12 years ago.

There are other things I would also like to add to my repetoire to make my Aikido a little broader, but I think the core is what has been focused on here and I don't think I would want it any other way... <longer answer>

Peter...thanks for those 3 points. Illuminating.

cheers,

--Michael

Dazzler
07-04-2005, 06:12 AM
This needn't be a theoretical debate. Acid test: Are there any outstanding aikido teachers who have done little or no weapons? I would suspect there to be at least some, but maybe not that many. Names please anyone - Daren?

Mark

Pierre Chassang doesn't do a great deal of weapons, Michel Narey has also gone through phases of not using weapons regularly.

Both are highly experienced and long time aikido men of Europe.

But I wouldn't dream of saying either had little or no weapons.

I've only known them for 15 years - everything else I know about their history is only hearsay.

My view which I think is shared by many here it that you can still learn Aikido without weapons.

My original post said 'aikidoka' ...names of aikidoka that produce what I consider to be high level aikido would be my great friends John Dinsdale and David Strong. On this forum I could just as easily say Postman Pat since neither is famous or desires to be.

But those that have trained with them will know what I mean.

Weapons are fine tools to teach aikido. They complement the teaching of Tai Jutsu.

As an instructor they broaden the platform on which you can deliver your aikido lesson.

If someone is saying that it is not possible to teach aikido without weapons I would have to disagree. If this were the case then no one would ever be able to construct a lesson that did not include weapons.

Personally I find challenges in the weapons work that I enjoy. In someways the lack of physical contact makes it seem less 'personal' and it seems easier to remain mentally centred than when one is being worked over.

Szepan had previously mentioned this.

So they can and do provide variation - this can definitely enhance practice for all but the most anti-stick wavers.

However...my opinion is yes - weapons training is good for aikido practice but it is possible to achieve good aikido practice without it.

I dont think this is a positive Acid test result either way.

Perhaps a better one would be..

Can you teach kamae without weapons?
Can you teach irimi without weapons?
Can you teach atemi without weapons?
Can you teach maai without weapons?
Can you teach shisei without weapons?

I'll leave it there....anyone got any no's?

Regards

D

Jorge Garcia
07-04-2005, 08:39 AM
I like Peter Goldsbury's idea that weapons help to understand the architecture of Aikido as a budo. Following this conversation though, it is apparent to me that the follow up will be, "can't you understand the architecture of Aikido as a budo without weapons?"
I suppose there's not too much sense in continuing the discussion since everyone's minds are already made up. For me, the question is a simple one because my teacher believes that weapons practice is vital to improving and understanding your aikido. I happen to admire his aikido and want to learn all I can from him. Although I'll never be able to do what he does, I would feel complimented if anyone ever said my aikido was like his. As my instructor, he can help me along my path if I take advantage of his knowledge so I plan to follow his example.
Interestingly enough, he has been doing Aikido for 52 years at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo where they typically don't do weapons. I have heard that the leadership of the Aikikai has taken the position that weapons are not an integral part of Aikido an art (pardon me if I stated that too loosely). I also know how deeply he respects Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Having said that, my instructor believes so deeply in weapons practice that he always teaches one hour of weapons practice for every hour of body arts in all classes and even in seminars. Last year at our seminar in October, he looked at my students and he told me that I needed to take seriously their need to learn their weapons better so that they could improve their aikido. I have been doing that ever since. I was stuck by the statement though and I don't pretend to understand it's implications nor do I use it as an argument for weapons in this discussion. I just mention it because after hearing all this we have been saying on this forum thread, I think I finally have a great question to ask when he comes back. I know he thinks it's important. I want to ask him 1) Can a person can get better without weapons practice? 2) If so, then why do them at all? 3 Why does he think they are so important if his own organization doesn't stress them?
I know he has spent many years going up into the mountains and doing weapons for long periods of time. I have seen him working with an iaito doing various kinds of cuts in his private training for hours. He has taken weapons practice very seriously in his own practice.It's about time I looked into this further. Thanks for all your help with this discussion!
Best,

Adam Huss
07-04-2005, 01:05 PM
My teacher is also very adamant about weapons training. He says that the truly highest level of practitioners got where they were by working with weapons. Yes, everyone has their own opinion about weapons in relationship to helping their aikido (or any other budo) in that it helps with maai, timing, extension of control etc etc, but it helps in another way as well. We are taught that in order to gain something, you must risk something as well. With buki, there is a step down in control, you can't literally feel with a bokken, jo etc., so there is slight risk increase. Shitei and Uke are putting themselves in each others hands. They are offering to each other their bodies so that the other can train and learn. My teacher often likens aikido toshu waza and buki waza to metaphors for life. He frequently speaks about how unique aikido is, in that we study uke just as much as shitei. Why do we pay good money to offer our hand to someone when we know what they are going to do will most likely hurt a bit? Well, things in life are going to be painful and in life we can either stand defiantly against the howling wind, yelling at it to stop and eventually be blown away (or have your writs snap! ;) ) or we can flow with it, relax, temporarily go down on one knee and tap, then get back up and shitei uke kotai! When life grabs you by the wrist and does a cross step, body shift, pump arm breath throw, you can either fly across a couple of mats and do a face plant, or you can take some personal initiative and train yourself to do a nice smooth breakfall, roll up to your feet and turn around in kamae, ready to go again. Weapons take this idea one step further. With aikido you rarely train full out hardcore. If you did, your dojo would be very thinly populated, they would be injured or just not like the abuse and not come back (Kushida Sensei was like this in his begging years of teaching and his dojo attendance dropped dramatically, however the ones that stayed were forged into pretty darn good aikidoka, technically and spiritually). With weapons, though, you can actually go all out and not worry about hurting each other as you don't (at least not supposed to) actually make much contact. But it allows you to just go all out, take your knife, put it in your stomach, open yourself up, spill out your life's energy and leave everything on the mat...in that one moment, in that one chance! (ichi go, ichi ei!). Nothing else matters at that time. Train yourself to be able to turn on that mindset of a sword duel to the death, shinken shobu, whether you are doing kumitachi, jiyuwaza, or roofing your house or playing with your children...live life for each moment that it is without dwelling on the past, or fretting about the future.
Anyways...thats why I train in weapons, and thats why I do martial arts in general.
To stay in shape?: well aikido is okay, there is some aerobic aspect to it...but I lift and run 6 times a week, which is much more efficient
To learn how to fight?: how many fights have you been in in the last 10 minutes, last day, week, month, year...for some people lifetime? Now, how many times in the last day, week, month have you had to make a decision, deal with another human being, cope with stressful or difficult situations? What is a higher level of aikido: someone who can blend with a strike, tenkan to the outside, body shift, and take the attacker down in a shihonage and pin them without hurting them (very good level), or someone who can stop the attacker from wanting to attack, find out what is wrong with him/her, blend with that person and help them fix their problem, make their life better and in turn the person who was going to attack changes himself and positively effects other people's lives and this positive energy grows exponentially (master level...read the 'Terry Dobson on the train' story for a good example of this).
I train to make my life, and other people's lives around me better. Weapons help me do this. Aikido helps me do this. They are my chosen vessel. Other people have their own ways of pursuing this...whether you go to a zen monastery or teach middle school, if taken in the right mindset, you can still achieve shu shi (self mastery). Take initiative and train yourself to "be the change you want to see in the world."
I train in Budo to pursue my life's goal....bliss. To be completely happy for absolutely no reason at all.

Osu!
~Adam

P.S. About the cutting open your stomach thing I wasn't suggesting that people actually commit seppuku, but I was using that as a metaphor for putting all of yourself into something....so please put the aikuchi tanto down, and crack open a beer with your second instead! (Not suggesting that anyone would listen to me and kill themselves...I was just making a joke ;) )

senshincenter
07-04-2005, 01:27 PM
Okay - so opinions have been given. Not much as changed - as others have mentioned here.

But how about this: How about some videos of folks doing weapons. Let's see this training tool in action and then see if we can determine its relevant role (or irrelevant) in our body art.

maikerus
07-04-2005, 06:40 PM
It might also be worth noting that those adament about needing weapons as part of their training are those that trained with weapons and those that are adament that they are not are those who haven't had them as part of their training.

Which just goes to show...something :D

In my case I went from thinking they were necessary and the answer to all of the little mysteries to thinking that they were interesting but didn't duplicate the empty hand scenario well enough.

cheers,

--Michael

NagaBaba
07-04-2005, 07:05 PM
Michael,
Why do you think that weapons must duplicate empty hands scenario????? What’s a funny idea!!
It will NEVER happen. Weapons influent empty hand practice in very indirect way.
I did first 10 years of practice almost without weapons. Then did I.Shibata sensei(from Berkeley aikikai) seminar and it was really serious shock, I immediately understood how poor was my aikido without weapons practice.

PeterR
07-04-2005, 07:19 PM
Good for you Szczepan but does that reflect weapons or how you were previously trained.

maikerus
07-04-2005, 07:32 PM
Michael,
Why do you think that weapons must duplicate empty hands scenario????? What's a funny idea!!
It will NEVER happen. Weapons influent empty hand practice in very indirect way.


My poor wording...perhaps a better wording would be that weapons practice was shown to me not to be needed to improve my Aikido and that Aikido was shown to me to be more empty hand than weapons.


I did first 10 years of practice almost without weapons. Then did I.Shibata sensei(from Berkeley aikikai) seminar and it was really serious shock, I immediately understood how poor was my aikido without weapons practice.

And I went through the opposite transformation. That is also interesting :D

It therefore probably reflects more of the philosophy of our instructors than the reality of need/not need then.

It might also reflect the quality of instruction or perhaps our own understanding of that instruction that we went through in the first years and the latter years...in my case my training in later years was much more intense and focused. I don't think this is because of the instructor, but more my own commitment to training and perhaps the programs I was enrolled in.

Just a thought.

cheers,

--Michael

Tubig
07-04-2005, 11:44 PM
Takeda, Osensei, and Saito Sensei were all great swash bucklers. Doesn't that say something about their aiki.

PeterR
07-05-2005, 12:03 AM
Takeda, Osensei, and Saito Sensei were all great swash bucklers. Doesn't that say something about their aiki.
Its pretty much an aside but there really only is one story of Takeda S. using his sword ïn real life" and neither of the above three gentleman were particularily known for their sword skills (outside of AIkido). In fact there is quite a bit of critism outside of Aikido of both Ueshiba M. and Saito vis a vis their knowledge of the sword as sword.

Aiki is originally a kenjutus term but really, at least in my opinion, that's as far as it goes.

Although I will say that the curriculum and its emphasis on weapons the elder Saito developed seems to serve the Iwama stylists quite well - I don't think it is the only path to good Aikido.

Chris Li
07-05-2005, 01:37 AM
Its pretty much an aside but there really only is one story of Takeda S. using his sword E real life" and neither of the above three gentleman were particularily known for their sword skills (outside of AIkido). In fact there is quite a bit of critism outside of Aikido of both Ueshiba M. and Saito vis a vis their knowledge of the sword as sword.

Takeda was actually a well known swordsman before he was ever known for Daito-ryu. He had menkyo kaiden in Jiki-Shinkage Ryu from Kenkichi Sakakibara, one of the most famous swordsmen of the period, and was also expert in Ono-ha Itto-ryu, which he began studying as a young child. If he'd been just a couple of years older he probably would have died along with the other members of the Byakkotai in Aizu, so "real life" sword work was something that he grew up with.

Morihei Ueshiba's sword appears to have been mostly self taught and was either excellent or just mediocre, depending upon whose opinion you listen to. My guess would be that his sword work was probably quite good, but unorthodox and unorganized (as in unorganized into a coherent or traditional system). He did receive a Yagyu Shinkage-ryu kenjutsu menkyo from Sokaku in 1922.

Saito's sword is mostly an effort to systemize what Ueshiba was doing, but seems, IMO, to have gotten fairly far from the original sword work into a system that is more oriented towards teaching body movement.

Best,

Chris

PeterR
07-05-2005, 01:54 AM
Hi Chris;

I know Takeda S. was trained by noteable sword teachers - not the point I was trying to make. He was not particularily famous for his sword skills or for using it in any "swashbuckling"way. Same with Ueshiba M. and Saito S.



Yagyu Shinkage-ryu kenjutsu menkyo from Sokaku in 1922.

You mention two schools that Takeda S. was connected with - what about Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. What is his connection there?

Chris Li
07-05-2005, 12:06 PM
Hi Chris;

I know Takeda S. was trained by noteable sword teachers - not the point I was trying to make. He was not particularily famous for his sword skills or for using it in any "swashbuckling"way. Same with Ueshiba M. and Saito S.

My impression was, as I said, that Takeda was quite well known as a swordsman before he started propogating Daito-ryu.

You mention two schools that Takeda S. was connected with - what about Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. What is his connection there?

Nobody knows, but there is quite a bit of Takeda's life that is undocumented, and the Ueshiba family has the menkyo from Takeda in their possession.

Best,

Chris

Jeanne Shepard
07-05-2005, 03:27 PM
Can you do ballet without pointe(toe) shoes?

Jeanne

PeterR
07-05-2005, 06:13 PM
Can you do ballet without pointe(toe) shoes?
Maybe not but you can do Aikido without a sword.

Rupert Atkinson
07-05-2005, 07:05 PM
Where you sit is where you stand. Those who have done lots of weapons training will always advocate it, those who do not, won't. As for me, I stand with Szczepan on this one. Only David V, who uses weapons, agrees that they may not not always necessary -- meaning, he has a balanced opinion. Also, if you check out his movies, you will see that his weapons work is very good. But I'll debate him on one point :)

David V: Do practitioners of the oar or the various "farming" utensils of other arts need to get in a boat and row or get in the field and do some farming before they understand these weapons and/or garner the benefits of training in them? I say, no.

I say, it would help. A ferryman who rows his boat across the river everyday will know his oar very well indeed and would probably make quite a formidable opponent - with an oar - with little or no martial training at all. Also, here in Korea, I often see teams of women cutting grass all day long with their sickles. All day long. Who has more skill / who would you rather face? - A Karateka who knows a sickle kata (kama), or one of these women? It is not necessary to know how to row a boat to fight with an oar, or cut grass with a sickle, but it could help :) And imagine hundreds of years when fighting erupted in the countryside - people would take up tools (weapons) they were 'familiar' with.

Tubig
07-05-2005, 07:40 PM
That is a very good point I never looked at it that point of view. A whole country side breaks out in battle with sickles and forks. I would definitely not wat to fight empty hand. And If I ever do (God forbid) Tachidori, jodori, and tantodori would really be handy. After one has acquired a weapon, one would really wish he knows how to use it.

PeterR
07-05-2005, 07:43 PM
Rupert;

It's not just David V.. Michael S. has stated the amount of weapons he has done - enough that you can not call his opinion unbalanced. Frankly, considering the amount of weapons training I've done and am doing, I think my view is pretty balanced also.

senshincenter
07-05-2005, 08:03 PM
It is not necessary to know how to row a boat to fight with an oar, or cut grass with a sickle, but it could help :) And imagine hundreds of years when fighting erupted in the countryside - people would take up tools (weapons) they were 'familiar' with.

:)

Hi Rupert,

Actually I would totally agree with what you say here above. I'm just focusing in more on the words, "not necessary" and "could help."

;)

take care,
d

senshincenter
07-05-2005, 08:39 PM
Outside of the reasons I gave for why I consider weapons training to be unique from body art and thus conducive to body art, for those things like maai, power, and/or the "sword spirit," etc., two things remain:

1. Such things, as folks have said, stem from the added intensity that weapons bring to training. Folks offered that this intensity comes from the weapons themselves and/or from the likelihood that they are kata-based, etc. Regardless of the source of this intensity, it is not sound reasoning to say that weapons are the only way that we can bring intensity to our training. Toward this, we can see that many other activities that that make use of maai (or maai-like concepts), power, and "sword spirit," develop these things without a sword (e.g. boxing). We can also note: outside of weapons work, within the martial arts that do not make use of sword work, competition allows for the development of such things. Some of us may not want to make ourselves partial to competition, but regardless, this example still shows that our practice is quite open to other means of opening up toward intensity and thus toward developing keening versions of maai, power, and a "sword spirit," etc. Training within spontaneous environments is also another means of bringing intensity to our practice. Etc.

2. Some have mentioned that while it is possible to gain all of these things while not doing weapons, it is not very likely, etc. With this reasoning, it is implied that somehow one will keep their body art less intense while they make their weapons work intense. Personally, I just do not see it. As folks strike weakly with shomenuchi, requiring little skill at maai, little power, and no "sword spirit" of Nage, so too will these folks strike weakly with shomen-giri and again require little in terms of maai, power, and "sword spirit."

I am not so sure I would call my view "balanced." I think I am only "yes and no" according to certain things. I am a firm believer that to take body art to the level of relating to the unseen and the unfelt, paired weapons practice is THE way. I consider this a higher level of training/practice, and the place we should all (my students and myself) be heading toward. My thing, however, is that I do not believe that weapons practice is the only way to bring intensity to our training and/or the only way to develop those things that are born of intensity (e.g. proper maai, power, "sword spirit," etc.). I am for weapons (as THE way of making ourselves sensitive to the Ki of a given martial environment), and so in this way (of say "yes" to weapons) I am on the side of folks that say we should do weapons. However, I am on the side of those folks that say we do not need to do weapons to learn about maai, power, or a "sword spirit," etc.

Thanks,
dmv

Mike Sigman
07-06-2005, 06:29 AM
It might also be worth noting that those adament about needing weapons as part of their training are those that trained with weapons and those that are adament that they are not are those who haven't had them as part of their training.

Which just goes to show...something :D

In my case I went from thinking they were necessary and the answer to all of the little mysteries to thinking that they were interesting but didn't duplicate the empty hand scenario well enough. I used to be indecisive about this matter, but now I'm not so sure....

I think if someone does weapons to a reasonable point (for instance if they actually competed in fencing for a number of years), weapons begins to affect your techniques and strategies on a functional level. If you don't really use weapons, I think most of the talk is just theoretical.

On a body-training level, I think the various forms of suburi are indispensable. There is an old saying about "extreme hardness comes from extreme softness" that is very applicable in Aikido and probably the most telling method is from the bokken swinging. In that way, the weapons training could be considered "indispensible", if not in the techniques and strategy way.

My 2 cents.

Mike

jonreading
07-06-2005, 11:26 AM
I am comfortable with weapons. I use them as training aids in class. I believe that aikiken and aikijo have value as a training tool. They clearly illustrate timing, distance, posture, etc. and I feel I would not be doing my job if I left that curriculum out of my teaching. The founder used weapons, and my lineage of instructors use weapons.

That said, I think we need to clarify a couple of things. I think that weapons work for combat and weapons work for training are two completely different things. I think that ken and jo are great, but they are not fighting styles. A good kendo wo/man would wipe the mat with most aikiken people. Same for jo. I am speaking only of the training aspect.

I think that you can learn the principles illustrated by weapons work without using weapons, but it takes a different shape that changes how your aikido looks. I believe that aikido people that know weapons have an advantage in their education because they know more than the student that does not know weapons work (all other things being equal). Does that make them a better martial artist? No. Could that make them a better martial artist? Yes.

NagaBaba
07-06-2005, 02:08 PM
A good kendo wo/man would wipe the mat with most aikiken people. .
With what kind of rules?
You can't compare sport with Budo.

Ron Tisdale
07-06-2005, 02:26 PM
Kendo rules, aikidoka probably loses. No rules, aikidoka might still lose...but it really depends on the two invovled.

Ron (my guess anyway)

senshincenter
07-06-2005, 02:51 PM
Well, I would say it depends on the training. A person who just does forms - especially solo forms and/or forms where no contact is ever made - is going to lose against a person who trains within spontaneous training environments on a regular basis (e.g. a kendo person).

Perhaps that was Mr. Reading's point.

Jeanne Shepard
07-06-2005, 06:50 PM
Maybe not but you can do Aikido without a sword.


Sorry, I didn't make my point. There are alot of ballet dancers (men, especailly) who don't dance in pointe shoes. Its still essentially ballet.

Jeanne :p

(Hey, where'd my avatar go!!!)

PeterR
07-06-2005, 07:47 PM
Sorry, I didn't make my point. There are alot of ballet dancers (men, especailly) who don't dance in pointe shoes. Its still essentially ballet.
Ah my bad.

Anyway - I think that weapon training can improve your Aikido but lack of weapon training does not result in bad Aikido. Weapons are a training method and not essential.

If you like the training and you feel the benefit - keep on going.

Rupert Atkinson
07-06-2005, 07:47 PM
Weapons add a violent dynamic that is often missing in normal training. We get rapped knucles, the occasional bonk on the wrist, elbow or head, and no mention is made. The obvious task is to develop speed, power, and timing in the midst of good technique; there is an element of real danger if not careful. Obviously, the result of such training will carry over to one's Aikido - increased alertness, a more imperative awareness of space, the need to avoid, the desire to receive a more dynamic attack, etc. It is not easy to get that in Aikido without weapons, but if you can, then fair enough.

Tubig
07-06-2005, 08:13 PM
I totally agree with you there Rupert. There is a sense that oneself would be killed, when doing partner practice. I guess this dramatically improves that primal instict of self preservation; 'I do not want to be killed' concept. Hence it delivers one that Zanshin of avoiding Uchi, Ai- Uch, 'cut or be cut', and 'tsuki or be stabbed'. Even though we mimick and practice that concept in taijutsu, I certainly can feel that lesson more when I am holding a boken or Jo especially in partner practice, when one mistake or miscalculation can land oneself a boken on the forehead. OUCH!

senshincenter
07-06-2005, 08:30 PM
Let's approach this line of reasoning from the opposite direction then:

Why does body art NOT (or tend not to have) have this violent dynamic (occasional bonks and raps that come and go with no mention; primal instincts of self-preservation; etc.)?

For me, I always try to have this stuff in my body art - just like in weapons. If it's not there, it's because I'm working with a beginner that is on their way toward such training. Otherwise, it's there, and I've never felt the need to say, "Man, this is so "lite" compared to weapons training." However, that is what a lot of folks seem to be saying here. If that is the case, aren't we saying more about how we train for body art than how we train with weapons?

dmv

PeterR
07-06-2005, 08:33 PM
Seriously good point - I personally don't find that. Perhaps my weapons training is too sedate?

Rupert Atkinson
07-06-2005, 08:53 PM
Let's approach this line of reasoning from the opposite direction then:

Why does body art NOT (or tend not to have) have this violent dynamic (occasional bonks and raps that come and go with no mention; primal instincts of self-preservation; etc.)?

For me, I always try to have this stuff in my body art - just like in weapons. If it's not there, it's because I'm working with a beginner that is on their way toward such training. Otherwise, it's there, and I've never felt the need to say, "Man, this is so "lite" compared to weapons training." However, that is what a lot of folks seem to be saying here. If that is the case, aren't we saying more about how we train for body art than how we train with weapons?

dmv

But maybe it's there because you do weapons training! I know you do - I've seen your videos :)

Of course, it should be there without the weapons - it is in Karate, for example. I think the extra focus on the gentle and the harmonious in Aikido can get in the way of the martial.

eyrie
07-06-2005, 11:43 PM
It has been said (by someone - can't recall who), "hands like swords" - in relation to Karate. In my mind, it's probably a lot more than just "hands"... ;)

jss
07-07-2005, 07:40 AM
Why does body art NOT (or tend not to have) have this violent dynamic (occasional bonks and raps that come and go with no mention; primal instincts of self-preservation; etc.)?
I think our imagination fails us here.
Few attacks during practice are deliverd full speed, full power, full intention. (And a lot of the time rightly so, but that's a different discussion.)

If someone swings a sword at your head it is easier to convince yourself that this is a serious situation. If someone grabs your wrist (the other side of the spectrum) and pushes, it is hard to get the same feeling, although a wrist grab doesn't need to be all that harmless. (Perhaps a better example: morote-dori can be used to go to yonkyo.)

So the problem might be that few ukes attack properly, often they lack the skill and the proper mind-set. You can observe this as well in uke's attack, as when tori/nage has begun doing a technique: many uke seem to think that all they need to do after attcking is fall over at the right time. While what they should be trying to do is moving in such a way as to try to gain advantage. Many techniques make little sense without uke trying to do so.

Gaining the skill should be quite easy, it can be thaught. Training the proper mind-set tends to be quite difficult, at least that's my experience.

Ron Tisdale
07-07-2005, 07:49 AM
Hi Jeanne, If you send me a check for $1000.00, your avatar will be returned unharmed. Otherwise...

:D

Ron

jonreading
07-07-2005, 11:03 AM
Regards to post 56-59:

David and Ron both touched on my point. Training is what you make of it as an individual. Form training is different than contact training is different than combat training. You can't compare them and you certainly can't judge them without considering the strengths and weaknesses of each as they relate to your strengths and weaknesses.

As an instructor, why would I deprive my students of training that could help learn aikido better? Shouldn't the student decided whether s/he wants to develop their weapons training or incorporate weapons into their aikido?

At a recent seminar, Saotome Shihan made the observation that maybe aikido is forgetting about their weaknesses and only developing their strengths. I think this may be the case for the practice of weapons in aikido.

senshincenter
07-07-2005, 11:08 AM
I think our imagination fails us here.
Few attacks during practice are deliverd full speed, full power, full intention. (And a lot of the time rightly so, but that's a different discussion.)

If someone swings a sword at your head it is easier to convince yourself that this is a serious situation. If someone grabs your wrist (the other side of the spectrum) and pushes, it is hard to get the same feeling, although a wrist grab doesn't need to be all that harmless. (Perhaps a better example: morote-dori can be used to go to yonkyo.)

So the problem might be that few ukes attack properly, often they lack the skill and the proper mind-set. You can observe this as well in uke's attack, as when tori/nage has begun doing a technique: many uke seem to think that all they need to do after attcking is fall over at the right time. While what they should be trying to do is moving in such a way as to try to gain advantage. Many techniques make little sense without uke trying to do so.

Gaining the skill should be quite easy, it can be thaught. Training the proper mind-set tends to be quite difficult, at least that's my experience.

I think this is exactly what I am imagining. The underlying issue with this rationale (overall) does not seem to be (so much) that weapons are all "right" but rather that body art is all "wrong." This applies even if we think in potentials: It is not so much that weapons can or could improve our body art, but rather that our body art is most likely being practiced poorly or incorrectly.

The jump in logic here, for me, is that it assumes that folks that cannot practice with a martial intensity in their body art all of a sudden can practice with that intensity once there is a bokken in their hand. This, in my experience, has just not proven to be true or accurate. The truth is that as folks practice, THEY PRACTICE.

I do not want to suggest that there are not levels of practice and/or of intensity and/or that there is nothing to learn at the lower levels of practice and/or intensity. Moreover, I do not want to suggest that only higher levels of practice and/or intensity teach us something. Most certainly, I do not want to suggest that any one person's practice is innately inferior, innately lacking, and/or innately delusional (or the opposite of these things) simply because of the intensity level it is opting to operate under. What I am about to say falls under the commonly held position that different intensity levels teach us different things and that some of those things are better learned at specific degrees of intensity.

As an example of what I am referring to when I say "As folks practice, they practice," I would like to ask you all to take a look at three different applications of the form Sansho 1, part 1 (from Chiba's weapons curriculum). One can see this paired jo practice executed at different levels of intensity if one looks at Bruce Bookman's example at the Aiki Expo 2005, my own version on our web site (http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/inyoaikijoone.html), and Frank McGouirk at the Aiki Expo 2002. I have chosen these examples because they may prove to be the most accessible.

As for the martial elements mentioned thus far (i.e. maai, power, "sword spirit," etc.), and as these things are connected to intensity, I would say that all three versions teach about maai. For me, all three versions teach about maai in the same way that body art does. Thus, in them, you see the same rights and wrongs as you do in body art: folks are in the right place, folks are too far away, and/or folks are not penetrating enough, etc. As for power, again, you see that it is just like in body art: Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong. You will see folks that have the proper Directional Harmony, proper Body Fusion, and proper Back-up Mass, and you will see folks that do not. As for "sword spirit," and assuming that this means a kind of "energy charge" and/or a total investment of our being and/or the presence of some kind of conduit upon which we can focus our body/mind keenly, etc., it's there in our practice or it is not. Whether we hold a weapon or not, it makes no difference. The three versions offer different degrees of such a thing.

The variation on intensity as seen in these three examples, for me, suggests that it is not as folks are saying: If you put a weapon in your hand, your practice will be martially charged in a way that it cannot be through body art. What I imagine folks are trying to get at when they speak of "intensity" in their weapons practice is not so much an actual martial intensity but rather the presence of a kind of primal fear (one that probably goes way back in our history of evolution) of being struck with a piece of wood. Because of how some often practice in their body art, the cultured fear of being hit with flesh is often not as "intensifying" as it should be and/or as being bonked or rapped with a jo or bokken may be. I will grant that operating under a fear, whatever that fear may be, makes things a bit more emotionally charged. However, that charge is not the charge of martial intensity and thus that charge really has no capacity to instruct on matters of distance, timing, body positioning, etc. This is why the presence of such a fear does not innately produce improvement upon these areas -- as some are suggesting here. In addition, this is why we in the end see the same old percentages of correct form and incorrect form in our weapons practice. Moreover, what one should realize, such primal fears are very often addressed by our habitual ways of dealing with them. That means, for example, as we are subject to delusional and/or egocentric behavior in the face of such fears, so too will we habitually respond to the fear of being bonked or rapped in our weapons practice. In this way, we are even further from the catalyst of a true martial intensity. Thus, through our weapons, we may come to know even less about distance, timing, body positioning, etc.

Note: A great example of this last point is to note how far folks enter into their attack with shomen-giri when their nage is set to perform some sort of disarm or throw (unarmed). Without a martial intensity, folks will enter all the way to strike nage with their hands - not the sword! To be sure, this error in distance goes far to allow nage a nice disarm and/or throw, with little need to irimi (the hard part of such a technique!). One can see this error performed by folks of every rank -- folks that are not able to maintain a martial intensity that is there for all of us only because we have willed it to be (not because we hold a piece of wood).

Amassus
07-10-2005, 07:52 PM
After reading through this thread, it is becoming clear to me that how each individual learns, may dictate whether or not they find weapon practice useful.

We all learn in different ways, the classic example seen in this thread is when one person says that after years of weapon practice and then a change to mostly empty hand techniques, his techniques improved. Another person said that only after a change from pure empty hand to introduction to weapons did his aikido improve. So who is right? Both men. They trained in a way that allowed them to make the most sense of aikido in regards to their personal learning styles.

So I think the debate on whether weapons should be included in aikido training is not so black and white.
Perhaps if it works for you, so be it.
If you want to put weapons into the syllabus for historical context, fine.
If weapons seem pointless for your trainng, well that is fine too.
Do what you must to better your aikido - with or without weapons ;)

Just a thought.

maikerus
07-10-2005, 08:54 PM
So I think the debate on whether weapons should be included in aikido training is not so black and white.
Perhaps if it works for you, so be it.
If you want to put weapons into the syllabus for historical context, fine.
If weapons seem pointless for your trainng, well that is fine too.
Do what you must to better your aikido - with or without weapons ;)

Hmm...I am not so sure that being sensible is allowed in these religious debates ;)

cheers,

--Michael

Amassus
07-11-2005, 10:00 PM
Hmm...I am not so sure that being sensible is allowed in these religious debates

My most humble apologies. ;)

Aragorn
07-13-2005, 07:44 AM
* To do good and complete aikido: does one need to know the weapons training part of it? *

IMHO,
It depends on whether your Aikido teacher thinks it is. Is it the DO of Aikido to fight with whatever comes into hand? Is it YOUR DO? Ask yourself. Thats the Real Question.

Regards,
:ai: :ki: :do:

Matt Molloy
07-13-2005, 07:58 AM
With what kind of rules?
You can't compare sport with Budo.

Kendo? Aikido?

I didn't see a sport mentioned. ;)

Cheers,

Matt.