Having met Fujita Sensei I have never seen him teaching weapons.However his statement seem to be at odds with the fact that O Sensei/Saito Sensei/Tamura Sensei /Chiba Sensei /Nishio Sensei and others trained and taught weapons.This is quite clear from all the various sources[Dvds , You tube etc] where Aikido weapons are shown.Is there an authentic verifiable source whereby Fujita Senseis comments can be authenticated?
Stanley Pranin's comments can be found here:
Though they were made in 1996, they are still relevant.
There is also an interview here:
As you know, I first met Fujita Shihan in 1974 and took uke for him on his visits to Europe and the UK. Since he actually started the dojo in Hiroshima and often came to teach here, I knew him also on 'home ground', so to speak. I know that he was taught the family sword art, as was another Hombu official who, also, never used weapons there.
Fujita Shihan's position in the Honbu was unusual, to say the least. He trained at the Aikikai Hombu, but was not officially a Hombu 'deshi' and was not a member of the teaching staff. In fact, I was once present at a discussion with some of those who were Hombu 'deshi' and their reaction to my innocent suggestion that for foreign aikidoka Fujita Shihan was also a Hombu 'deshi' was very sharp, not to say acrimonious. I was surprised.
Fujita Shihan worked in the Aikikai office and was secretary / PA to Morihei Ueshiba in the last years of his life. When he retired he was head of the Aikikai General Affairs department, which was a very powerful position. Of course, there are omote
aspects to this position and I think this explains the general distrust with which he was regarded by some shihans. But he never learned aiki-ken
, which would be the staple for the weapons training taught within the Aikikai at the time (at Iwama and by Saito Shihan on his Sunday training at the Hombu).
As for the statement that 'weapons practice is not part of aikido', well, I think it is demonstrably false as it stands. To make the statement true, one has to change the goal posts so much that soccer becomes something like cricket. However, one person whom you should talk to is Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan, who in my (albeit limited) experience has never taught a weapons class. Both Mitsunari Kanai and Akira Toheo taught weapons, but not Yamada. I am sure you remember Chiba Shihan's uchikomi
training, standing and kneeling, which I first encountered at the Chiswick dojo.
Do you have the set of Saito Sensei's old volumes? If you do, you should notice that the prefaces, written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Gozo Shioda, Shoji Nishio and another person I do not know, were not translated into English. Kisshomaru gives his own views on the weapons training his father practised in Iwama and I fail to understand why it was not translated. I have translated Kisshomaru's comments and posted them somewhere on Aikiweb, but I forget where.
Finally, there is a huge ambivalence about weapons training in the Hombu. It seems to be a taboo subject at present, but the issue still lingers. Here is an example.
In 2010 the IAF took part in the SportAccord Combat Games in Beijing and gave a demonstration. You might have heard bad reports about this, but you should discount them. Some people believed that the IAF was introducing competition in aikido though the back door, but this is completely untrue.
Since the IAF was planning to give a demonstration in China, which has a very long tradition of martial arts, no tradition of aikido to speak of--and potentially very vivid memories of scars inflicted by the Japanese military in World War II (the same military who practised aikido with General Tojo in Manchuria), a few of us in the IAF thought long and hard about what kind of aikido demonstration to give. You might remember Terry's demonstrations in Liverpool and I am sure you have done similar demonstrations in the northeast. What do you demonstrate to a potentially critical Chinese audience?
Well, we planned a demonstration that included all the usual tanto-, tachi-, jo- dori, but also Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo, but this was almost sabotaged by the All-Japan Aikido Federation, which is really the Aikikai, but with a democratic fig-leaf. One of the participants at a meeting (who was a longtime student of Mitsunari Kanai Shihan) was asked: can you really state that kumi-tachi
constitute the essence of aikido? Unfortunately, there was no one from Iwama present at that meeting to give a good answer. As it turned out, we left the content of the demonstrations to the participants themselves, and aiki-ken and aiki-jo did feature quire prominently.
So, to come back to your question after a long detour, my own aikido teacher in Hiroshima, M Kitahira Sensei, who has serious rank in jo-do, stopped teaching weapons at the dojo (shortly after I arrived in Japan), on the grounds that O Sensei believed that such training was not necessary. On the other hand, M Sekiya Sensei, K Chiba's father-in-law, told me (also shortly after I arrived in Japan) to find a teacher and train in a koryu
weapons system, in order to give the required depth to my aikido training. My regret is that to have followed Sekiya Sensei's advice would have meant a total break from my own teacher.
EDIT: This is a long post and Robin posted while I was composing it--in the middle of a large typhoon.