Originally posted by Chuck Clark
I'm curious about the criteria many aikidoka may use to define the difference between "aiki weapons" and koryu weapons arts such as Shinto Muso-ryu for example.
Can we come up with a good definition?
I remember reading something Kanai Sensei said in Aikido Journal years ago. He said that in kenjutsu the practitioner over time "becomes" the sword. He is in some sense subordinate to the weapon. By contrast in Aikido the use of weapons is an extension of the body movement, in other words the weapon becomes subordinate to the practitioner. (I may have mangled his words a bit; it was quite a while ago)
I think this adequately describes what I understand about weapons work. Koryu are complete systems of training that have been handed down for hundreds of years designed to give the student the capability to engage in combat. Aikido weapons work is a comilation of various techniques that tie in directly to the body movement in the art. There is nothing systematic about it. in fact there isn't much in common from the weapons work done by one teacher and another. Saotome Sensei has a different set of forms which are of his own creation both single and two sword. They offer a wealth of information for the student that uses them effectively but in no way are they a complete system of swordsmanship. The extent to which a given Aikido practitioner has good weapons work is often dependent on the degree of exposure he or she has had to the use of weapons in other arts.
In my own case I have tried to incorporate a number of elements that I found were present in the classical training I did for a couple years undeer Ellis Amdur Sensei (Buko Ryu Naginata and Araki Ryu)and the exposure via video to other classical styles (notably Yagyu and Maniwa Nen Ryu). I have slightly altered the manner in which we execute the forms we received from Saotome Sensei to add a bit of the flavor of the classical forms. I have also incorporated exercises from classical training such as controlled freestyle with light protective gear (concepts derived from Maniwa Nen Ryu) Ultimately there are many elements of Aikido weapons work that may have combat application but I would never say that any Aikido weapons work I have seen represents a systematic approach to training in any weapon.The training simply offers another way to view the whole of the Aikido practice.