1/16/2003 5:19pm [from Jun Akiyama]
Diane Skoss of Koryu Books has kindly given me permission to reprint one of her old articles entitled, "Why Women Should Wield Weapons." A very interesting article that I feel applies not just to women on the advantages and lessons learned from undergoing weapons training in martial arts. Very recommended reading!
I'm quite suprised at this post. From my ealy experience with training with women when I started Aikido - the higher grades (dan grade) could easily control me if they didn't let me get in close. It was one of the things that amazed me about aikido and I was very strong and athletic at the time (though not particularly heavy - which is maybe a different matter).
Also, from personal experience in real situations, I have found that larger people are on the whole a lot slower and their very belief that they think they can destroy you with a single hold or strong punch is often their weakness - it always seems to be the small ones you have to look out for!
In my mind the whole idea of extension in aikido is to prevent a larger opponent gaining the upperhand due to their weight advantage, and getting you into a tight grapple. Wasn't Ueshiba always directing people out of their sphere of strength?
Maybe the focus on static techniques in some clubs is a downfall for womens training. However I would not discredit the use of weapons (even though Ueshiba seemed to consider it less important to teach later in his teaching). For me bokken work does teach timing, miai and spirit; however unarmed training seems technically much harder to achieve and therefore IMO the focus should always be on this.
Granted I haven't been studying long, and I would not dare to suggest a 'best' method of training, however it would seem to me that a balance between armed and unarmed training would deliver the most balanced student. My instructors introduce weapons training early on, but only after a firm and solid foundation in unarmed form. Without the form and technique of unarmed training, weapons training and form are lost on the student. I propose balance in the two with a firm foundation upon which to build. However I do believe that the article was trying to convey that the armed training taught the author the lessons necessary to give her the confidence needed for self defense. Which anyone can tell you that just because you go to Aikido classes regularly, that does not necessarily mean that you can defend yourself on the street when attacked.
Very good article, but I would have to say the weakness is not in lack of weapons training, but the level of unarmed training.
Not meaning to sound like another Thomas Makiyama (Keijutsukai aikido), but many Aikido sensei don't teach a strong enough technique for self defence (bad experince with Shin Shin Toitsu aikido). Their technique is more philisophical, and vastly different to how Ueshiba sensei would have taught it; as O'Sensei was fond of pointing out, his technique was the result of sixty years of training, and only Ueshiba could do the soft, graceful aikido effectively anyway.
Big reason for Budo training in :ai: :ki: :do:
I'm participating in this forum aftera few months but I have a few comments:
For practicle applications I think weapons training is a vehicle to learn how to defend and disarm an opponent. He may not carry a "seven-foot-long naginata" it may be a stick or bat but the approach to the defense is the same.
The writer should be confident in her skills against a street attack with or without weapons training.
I think the street fighter or street assailant is highly overrated.
the only advantage he has is against a weaker and unskilled opponent; plus
the element of surprise. Let me stress this again; the victim must be both
weaker AND unskilled plus they must have the element of surprise.
So targeting the right victim to attack is very important. With
that said anyone with a good 10/12 self defense techniques (including against weapons)
has a good chance of neutralizing and/or defeating an attacker...i.e. you don't have to win to win.
Aikido being a somewhat different type of martial art turns the element of surprise back onto the attacker. All of a sudden an attacker finds himself being thrown or in a painful wristlock while
wondering how he ended up in this position anyway (at least I was surprised).
Tim. Very interesting point. Some people believe that you shouldn't go through the stages that Ueshiba went through, and that we should miss out his errors and try to emulate what he did at the peak of his career. However I would diagree with that and say that what we don't see when Ueshiba at his peak is the 'potential' within his technique (i.e. if things change with the uke, or if he needed to be, he could have been far more lethal). Replicating a technique is not the same as understanding it.
P.S. sorry to diverge!
Three of the largest men I have ever met in my life happen to be sempai at my dojo; one is my sensei. I don't mean 'overweight;' I mean, 'built like semis.' One has hands so big that my thumb ends up closer to the knuckle of the second finger, rather than between the last two, when I'm trying to do a kote-gaeshi.
What I have learned in working with them is that I have much less room for error. Sure, a big, burly guy who clamps down and thinks 'I'm not gonna move!' (read: easily impressed beginner) isn't too hard to deal with, but add balance and awareness to said burly guy and I begin to have a problem. I don't think, though, that weapons are the answer; any blow I produce with a bo or boken is going to be less powerful than that of a stronger person of equal ability, just the same as a blow from my hands.
Does this bother me? A little. One of the first things I learned in aikido, however, is that Attacking Is Stupid, and very difficult to do without leaving oneself vulnerable - no matter what one's size.
Furthermore, I also know that aikido (at least the physical part) or any martial art isn't much good about someone standing 20 feet away with a gun pointed at you; is that scenario too much less likely than being attacked by a huge, highly skilled ninja (or aikidoka) in a dark alley somewhere? That's only somewhat rhetorical; if anyone has any data, I'd welcome it.
In my opinion, one needs both weapons and non weapons training.
In my dojo our sensei teaches one day a week of weapons (out of 4 trainings). Any student can come, even new ones. I learned an important thing in weapons-
A lot of the techniques we do empty handed are based on weapons work. So if a person will work with weapons, he/she will have a better understanding of how the technique should be done without weapons. Why the hands are here and not there etc...
I don't think that aikido is an MA that can give women the ability for self defnce in a short time. I think it takes years before one is at a level they might be able to use what they know to actually protect themselves in real life. Maybe Karate or MA's like "Krav- Maga" have certain techniques that can be used soon after being learned. But the important thing is not only knowing a technique that can work in a real situation, but being mentaly ready in such a case, and that is achived with years of training and not just by learning the techniques (IMO).
I cant say I don't learn aikido for self defence, in a way, but that's not the main reason. I think the important things I have achived up till now are being more relaxed, more acceptive and tolerant and I believe that these things will help me more in life than any technique.
Just my thoughts,
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