Re: Weapons training leads to good aikido.
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?