Re: Weapons training leads to good aikido.
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!