Sticks or no sticks?
Last weekend, July 13-14, I got to spend some time with John Stevens, author and teacher, and we discussed a number of subjects when most of the class went to lunch at a nearby bistro.
One of the things that Steven sensei made very clear, is the sticks we train with are not weapons in the sense we carry them for defensive or offensive purposes, but they are training tools for Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo. These two terms, Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo, being the best description at this time for what they are and what they do.
The second thing that became very apparent was the fact that some of the attendees did not train with Aiki-ken or Aiki-jo. Some teachers were trying to teach without displaying the roots of Aikido, or using these two simple tools, maybe because they were considered weapons and not training tools.
There were a number of students, I don't remember where I read this, who tried to ask O'Sensei about training with Aiki-ken, and he scolded them with "... we have covered this before ..." or something to that effect. He became quite angry at them wanting to learn the sword, or take up weapons.
Our conversation wandered into realm of training, as Shirata sensei did, and that in his travels the places O'Sensei went to affected him deeply, much as he describe himself being the vessel for the many deitys of the countryside.
It seems that O'Sensei was a different man when in different places, hence people experienced and observed different types of training, from a man who was somewhat different in different locations ... just like he was indeed posessed by the spirits of each location to urge him to react differently.
This, of course, is the relation of the stories by John Stevens as he traveled with his teacher, Shirata sensei, and these travels priviledged him to listening to many conversations with former students of O'Sensei.
There is a bigger picture, and the details of particular history's are not as complex or as well constructed as many of the fictionalized stories that have surfaced over the years, so there was a lot of laughter as many of us listened to some of the questions which were not particularly relevant to training, or enlightening to his pursuit of Aikido.
As the old saying goes, one picture is worth a thousand words, so too does our words become inadequete for describing practice that enlightens us by using Aiki-ken or Aiki-jo verses strickly using no sticks at all.
Take the words of this article and find the pictures that will enlighten you. I believe that was the purpose of it?