Peter A Goldsbury
Sugano Sensei, however, became expert in European fencing before he had his leg amputated.
Interestingly, my wife is a former Nation Champion fencer. We actually met on-line and had an extensive e-mail correspondence regarding the energetics of the two opponents or partners) in a martial interaction. Despite the fact that technically her art, which was the epee, had no similarity at all with our movements in Aikido, the energetic relationship was pretty much the same.
One night in class we were talking about the ability to sense when an attacker makes the decision to attack, which is necessarily before the attack physically initiates. I had my wife stand with her sword in gedan hasso with the instruction to execute a tsuki the instant she perceived I was open. I stood in seigan and projected my attention at her center leaving no opening. Then, without changing anything else, I simply thought about my big toe. The instant I shifted my attention she was coming in. There was virtually no time lag between when I shifted my attention and when she initiated her tsuki.
I think that weapons training, especially sword, works better than empty hand for teaching that aspect of the art. Perhaps because in empty hand there seems to be so much more going on. Or perhaps because empty hand is so much slower than sword, one doesn't actually need to develop that same kind of sensitivity.
Anyway, the aspects of the art which concern projecting the attention, developing a high sensitivity to the others intention, etc is all done better via weapons training I think. Genie, my wife, made it clear to me that this aspect of aiki isn't limited to Asian systems, although Westerners have virtually no vocabulary for talking about it. Genie actually started Aikido to try to find some ways to express what she was already doing in her fencing