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09-21-2005, 04:44 PM

I have been for a long time, a silent viewer of these forums. I frequented the site, greatly enjoying the doka of the day as well as the pictures and discussions. I decided its high time I began participating more actively.

I studied Aikido for two years before I was forced to move far from any dojo. To this day I still practice what I know daily, and attempt to learn more through books and video. Needless to say it is nothing in comparison to what I could learn from a sensei.

Now to my point, before I studied Aikido I studied Kendo and Iaijutsu. Thus when I discovered the bokken work in Aikido the first time I was quite excited. I must say I liked it much better then Kendo, which focused a bit too much on formally striking certain points in certain ways, and found that Aikido allowed me to get a better "feel" for the weapon and its use.

I'd simply like to know what other peoples opinions on the weapons training with a bokken in Aikido, vs arts like iaijutsu or kendo.

Thanks for you time, and I greatly look forward to participating in more discussions here.

Whitney Titus

09-21-2005, 10:27 PM
I don't know too much about weapons, however one of my sensei studied Iaido, and to my understanding it reinforces what Aikido teaches. There may some differences, but what is the harm in adding to ones knowledge? I plan to take up Iaido, this is due to the fact that I want to get an understanding of the sword itself, and understand its value. I also want to explore the ideas of cutting and the realism in cutting.

Thats just my opinion and again I am not anyone special, thats just my feeling. I attend regular weapons classes, with the sensei who had studied Iaido. I find he has a greater understanding of sword, as we practice drawing the bokken, and returning it to our side, which unfortunately I have not come across in other trainings.

Just my opinion, cheers.

Tim Griffiths
09-22-2005, 03:48 AM
First off, your mileage may vary, as different styles and different sensei have a wide range of experiences with weapons. For example, weapons are barely taught at all in Aikikai Hombo dojo now (although I understand its improved recently), so people who've trained there may have had little exposure to them. Saotome-sensei, who's developed an extensive range of exercises and katas, notes at the beginning of his tapes that he has no formal weapons training, but that it comes from picking up a bokken and applying the philosophy of aikido to it. Others have had some formal training in a kenjitsu style, such as Kashima Shinto Ruy, Yagyu-ryu or such. Many Japanese sensei will have had little contact with a sword apart from doing Kendo in school, and their footwork can be influenced from that. Probably everyone will disagree with part of the below:

Aiki-ken (a general term for the kind of bokken work in aikido) really isn't designed for or intended as a sword fighting system. Its aim rather is to emphasis and help you train in the principles of aikido bodywork, particularly correct distancing, timing, footwork and keeping control of a line of attack. This it does very well. What gets people from kenjitsu ryu's (or western fencers) moaning in pain is that there's almost no training in the elegant details of the technique. No feints, no real strategy, no good understanding of the purpose of the kata, no disarming techniques, little changing of grip - even the best way to cut is hotly debated over by people who've never cut anything with a sword in their life.

There's a good reason for this - the best way to make a sword cut through something isn't with a relaxed swing along the natural arc of the arms (of course, a 'good' sword swing should be relaxed, but you have to add power at the right point, co-ordinate the hands corectly and the arm is not the same as if you raised your hands and jst dropped them). But that's fine for aiki-ken, as we don't really care about cutting though something with a sword, but in developing an awareness of relaxed natural body movement. You do develop a good 'feel' for the weapon, just maybe its not the feel that a knejitsu teacher would want you to have.

Training by yourself is always tricky, especially with weapons, as what you're doing and what you think you're doing can be very different, especially when you don't know what you're doing! One thing that can help is to record yourself, and try to analyse what's making it look so bad afterwards.
Purists might suggest not training in weapons until you find another dojo, so you don't pick up bad habits, but with the nearest dojo I could find being in Halifax, I guess that's not going to happen soon.

(As a aside, while looking for dojo's I loved the name Swirling Eddy Tai Chi in Halifax. I have this mental picture of phoning them up and hearing "Hello, Swirling Eddy Tai Chi - Swirling Eddy speaking, how can I help you?")

Train well,


09-22-2005, 07:07 AM
John Stevens has a great book on Tesshu (Master Swordsman or something like that). His students had to do just the basic cut for 3 years before any other training. I feel for aikido the basic sword cut (and moving off centre line) is the most important motion you can train your body in and just doing this every day for 2-3 years would be worth many many aikido courses.

I always get beginners to do simple bokken work ASAP as it produces an enormous improvement in ability.

09-22-2005, 10:30 AM
I'd simply like to know what other peoples opinions on the weapons training with a bokken in Aikido, vs arts like iaijutsu or kendo.
IMHO, since Aikido comes from sword arts, I like to compliment my training with iaido, iajutsu, and kenjutsu.

Mark Uttech
09-22-2005, 03:02 PM
Bill Witt sensei practiced the seven suburi bokken taught by Morihiro Saito for two years and then was able to absorb into partner practice easily.

09-23-2005, 12:54 AM
I would suggest buying every video or DVD available that features Morihiro Saito on the Ken and Jo. He emphasized weapons training in aikido based upon his belief of the Founder's teachings. A number of items are available on the Aikido Journal website. An astounding number are available on EBay.

Saito sensei was the longest diciple of O'Sensei and was one of his last remaining students at O'Sensei's death. At Iwama, prior to his death, O'Sensei frequently emphasized the connection between weapons training and open-handed training.

I was a student of Saito sensei, so may be a bit biased. However, we did weapons training every day, so it was obviously a large part of our regime.