Jørgen Jakob Friis
I feel compelled to comment on this. I don't think Nishio sensei got his weapons work directly from O sensei. I think each and every aikido sensei that uses weapons does so based on their own reflection.
In Denmark one of the major branches of Aikido is primarily (almost exclusively) influenced by Nishio sensei, and last weekend we had a seminar where Takemusu aiki, our 'nishio branch' and a sensei teaching from a third influence each gave a one hour lesson. Quite interesting to see all the similarities and the small differences and the impact they had on each and everybodys approach to Aikido.
Anyway - Nishio sensei often said that O-sensei claimed aikido was founded in the way one moves with the japanese sword, but also that he rarely gave examples. Therefore it was up to each and everyone to do your own interpretation of this knowledge. That is one of the reasons Nishio sensei took up Iaido and Jodo, and he used this to form three distinct set of practices. One is jo-sabaki and to-sabaki - that is techniques performed very much like in tachi-waza but while holding a weapon. This is seen somewhat similar but not entirely the same in other styles as far as I know.
Also he developed a set of ken-tai-ken / ken-tai-jo katas. Paired katas where two people learn basic footwork and understanding of maai through working with weapons. Some of it has similarities to kendo-kata. I believe these are unique for aikido inspired by Nishio sensei. Other senseis have different katas along the same line, but with a different set of moves. This also underlines the changes Nishio sensei proposed in tachwaza in order to evolve irimi and technique along the lines he thought was important.
Finally he also developed a number of sword katas deviced with the purpose of giving us basic knowledge in how to move with at japanese sword. For a long time they were recognized as iaido-kata's and iaido gradings were given to his students. However this changed and Nishio sensei started giving grades in his own system. Today it is organized in a seperate association and is known as 'Nishio Aikido Toho'. It is not a prerequisit for training Aikido, but many people still train this alongside their aikido training.
The reason Aiki-toho and the ken-tai-ken / ken-tai-jo of Nishio sensei is so heavly used in Denmark and a number of other western countries or regions roots in the fact that Nishio sensei for almost two decades where the main influence here - unless you were part of the Takemusu organisation and therefore looking towards Iwama and Saito sensei instead. I think that Denmark to a certain extend was the 'sandbox' of Nishiosensei where he could see how his aikido would develop when it was not influenced very much by other styles. He constantly continued to change and adapt his aikido and related weapons systems, and I think he enjoyed leaving a new set of forms with us and then come back one year later to see how they had developed in the meantime.
I regret that the above completely neglects the fact that other styles are represented in Denmark- Ki-aikido just to name one. I just wanted to emphazise the fact that Nishio had a group of followers here that were a good testing ground for his weapons work.
There is a lot more to this story - but I hope it shed at least a little bit of light on the weapons systems of Nishio sensei.
I went to one of those different styles seminar in Holbæk some years ago and it was very interresting
to study similarities and differences.
Before I started Takemusu Aikido I did other variants and I also did a little Nishio Aikido, I went to an easter 6 day seminar with one of Nishio Senseis top japanese students, I can´t remember his name.. I think it was back in 2003-2004..? Nishio Sensei was unfortunately not present.. I would have liked to watch him in person.. But anyway I was a rookie back then so the whole Nishio system was quite a challenge for me and grasping the various concepts were difficult. Anyway thanks, great post.