Join Date: May 2003
Nothing Hidden, Plain Sight or not
As I've written pretty extensively on aikido and weapons, pre-war in my blogs on AJ (and this will be a largely unchanged chapter in HIPS - yeah, yeah, it's coming, it's coming), I will confine myself to postwar. (sort of).
First of all, Dan's thesis re gaijin entertainment and manipulation is unnecessary. Here's why. Up until the 1930's, even, and certainly before in the Meiji period, one could not do idiotic or powerless or inane sword technique publicly. One would be challenged. To give any example, there was a famous untrue legend of Chiba Shusaku setting up a dojo in the Gumma area, and trouncing the country bumpkins of Maniwa Nen-ryu when they tried to throw him out. (The truth was that the Nen-ryu people sent him packing back to Tokyo). In the 1920's or 30's, (I can't remember), Nikkatsu Films made a movie of this episode, which occurred many decades before. Men of the Maniwa Nen-ryu invaded the Nikkatsu offices with bokken, broke up a few things and confiscated the master film. It was, needless to say, never returned and never released.
Postwar, with only a few exceptions, such spirit was gone - and most Japanese had no clue as to the difference. Hence, one could wave a sword or bokken any way one chose, and who would say you nay. I know of a few exceptions to this - but exceptions they are. For the most part, Japanese aikidoka are either incurious or in awe of their shihan's sword methods. Just like non-Japanese.
As to some of the items touched in George's post:
Tohei Koichi made up his sword, based on what he learned from Ueshiba.
Nishio was NOT influenced by Yamaguchi and Saito - he offered them respect. Nishio's weaponry was his individual adaptation of what he learned from several teachers, among them Matsuo Kempu. He learned Shindo Muso-ryu jo, I believe Eishin-ryu and, I also believe, some level of Araki-ryu Gunyo Kogusoku (different from the Araki-ryu I do).
Yamaguchi learned/observed Inaba, who practiced an off-shoot of Kashima Shin-ryu (this version, per KSR shihan, although skilled in it's own way, is devoid of real Kashima Shin-ryu principals, as Dan often says modern-day aikido is of DR).
Saotome "audited." One of his students, I believe, studied a little Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, and Saotome played around and improvised with that and his own insights.
Some might have studied in secret some koryu. But the results indicate that it was secret from themselves too.
Finally, Kuroiwa Yoshio once got up at an all shihan meeting and said, as follows, "I think we should stop doing sword and jo taking exhibitions at the Aikikai demos. There are probably real swordsmen in the audience and it is an insult to them, because they could cut anyone in the room in two." He told me that there was dead silence, and then after a long pause, Doshu just changed the subject. After the meeting, Iimura, who taught aikido at the Budokan, said, "I thought there was going to be a bloodbath. I can't believe you got away with that." More interesting, perhaps, was that Saito Morihiro approached him and said, "Yoku Itte kuremashita." which means, essentially, "You did me/us a real favor in saying that." Of course, nothing changed.
In sum, some people quite respectably use aikido weapons as a means to study or illustrate the principals they are trying to show/study in their aikido. No conspiracy of silence. With few exceptions, no one's interested as to where it came from, what it means, or much of anything else.