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Of course, I'd like to say that it all depends on the instructor and where they learned Aikido. Throughout my years of training in Aikido in Houston, Boston, San Francisco, Austin, San Antonio, Arlington and in Tokyo, I've seen many different styles and systems of weapons being taught.
Essentially Aikido comes from three different arts, The Long and Short Sword, The Staff and Unarmed techniques; Kenjutsu, Jojutsu and Daitoryu Aikijuujutsu.
In 1991, after studying Aikido for a year at Shobu Aikido of Boston, I decided to move to Japan to further my studies and understanding of what Aikido is.
I read a lot of books on the idea of using weapons, and, studied and applied those ideas at the dojo in Boston under William Gleason.
When I got to Japan, taking classes at the Aikikai World Headquarters, also known as Hombu Dojo, I did not see nor take any weapons classes. I did hear a rumor that there was a class, but I never saw nor attended it. I was also a student of the Sophia Aikikai Club at Jochi Daigaku (Sophia University), but never experienced weapons training there as well.
I did take an apprenticeship from Kato Hiroshi, which did teach weapons. He taught them as he had learned from Morihei Ueshiba better known as O'Sensei, or Great Teacher. And, in every class, Kato Sensei would spend about 45 - 60 minutes teaching weapons. That's where I got a very strong basic foundation of the weapons and how they apply to everyday Aikido practice.
So, do we use weapons in Aikido? Yes, I do, but other dojos might not. I teach Aikido in West Houston, Katy and in Houston where I occasionally teach the sword and the staff. The important point being that the movements of Aikido be preserved through the movements while using weapons.
It kind of helps everything make sense, and although you'll probably never be attacked by someone wielding a sword, you will understand how the movement makes the technique very effective whether or not someone is holding a weapon.
Theoretically there are no kata's or forms in Aikido, nor in the weapons system that is taught, but, some instructors, in order to help students understand the movements and techniques, have come up with kata's.
Another very important aspect of weapons training in Aikido at our dojo in West Houston, Katy and in Houston, it creates the feeling of urgency. Your partner faces you with a wooden sword, about to strike you, you will feel the importance of blending in and not getting hit. Your movement and technique will have to be precise, or you'll get hit. And, getting hit with a wooden sword is very different than getting hit by a hand.
I enjoy the training with the weapons, and although I would like to incorporate weapons training in every class, sometimes I just run out of time!
Like the unarmed techniques in Aikido, Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo and Gokyo, the sword and staff directly reflect each technique, both Omote and Ura (In front and behind.)
I vaguely remember Kato Sensei teaching a 6th technique, but I didn't understand it at the time and was not able to capture its essence, though I understood what he was saying. Maybe another 20 or 30 years of training will open up my mind to his teachings.
So to conclude this article, and to answer this question again, Yes, there is a weapons system based on the martial art of Aikido that was taught by the founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Not all dojo's teach this same system, and some dojo's have incorporated other systems of weapons training. I strongly believe that learning the aiki-weapons is an important part of understanding and learning the techniques of Aikido.
If you ever find yourself in Katy (West Houston,) or in Houston, stop by for a class!