Our weapons should be based on aiki. Our empty-handed should be based on aiki.
We have a history of aikido that convinces us our attacking methodology is based on weapons work. Yet, we have difficulty finding sword people who admit aikido sword work is good sword work. So, for me, there seems to be a sword style we practice that is not functional and not traditional; it's educational.
From what I have seen thus far, I think somewhere along the line we confused Aiki with Kata. We saw seniors with good Aiki and misunderstood what they were doing. The point I am trying to make is to reinvigorate kata with aiki.
Cannot agree more.
This thread is based upon a video comparing empty hand with weapons. As the logic of the thread establishes empty-handed is derived from sword, I think it is fair to question the origin of aikido sword. The answer I have seen so far seems to indicate an aggregate exposure to a variety of arts. From which I believe aiki exercises were derived to facilitate our training.
Here is where I am at --- and I believe in line with the intent of Saotome's principles-based approach, perhaps differing in strict form -- but still consistent with his fundamentally important instruction on precisely how to tie your hakama ... Those who know, need not ask; those who ask, do not know ...
Training has a trinity to it.
1) Aiki-taiso/kokyu undo -- most importantly, though perhaps least understood -- furi-type training (furitama, tekubi furi)
2) Weapons work -- to which I ally kokyu- tanden ho as a bridge to the paired tai jutsu
3) Waza (paired kata, as I see them)
Aiki-taiso and kokyu undo are -- like you note for the loss of perspective in waza/kata -- easy to mistake the form for the substance. But the substance IS there. It lies within the torquing, periodic, shearing and reversing stresses and the spiral and pendular movements that these deploy. This is training the body to move its parts -- AS IF -- they were not under voluntary nervous and muscular control, by substituting core body action (closer to reflexive action) versus voluntary motor limb action.
FWIW -- a very great deal of this is present in sanchin no kata . It relates to certain applied reflexes with which the body responds such stresses and which such stresses also potentiate and can trigger, and which INITIATE these forms of action, without requiring higher voluntary motor signals from the brain. The forms of taijutsu trained in this way are properly the deployed forms of such actions - such that we learn to follow them with our voluntary additions, and not to act in ways that are contrary to them. -- Like surfing ... freedom to move as you choose is real and radical -- but lies in initially strict compliance with the form and power of the wave, and moving always within its boundaries.
Weapons work develops the sensitivity to the things the aiki taiso/kokyu undo trains -- but through an object that is not initially of your body. (The facility of the human body to make what is "not-self" become an extension of our body -- though of a radically different substance and properties -- is a profound and mysterious thing
). Through weapons training we gain that sense of bodily extension into a non-responsive object. Then we begin to learn how to sense and respond through it in contact with another weapon -- sense training mainly of a vibrational nature, to which the furi-type aiki-taiso are also design to tune. These are felt and responded to with the "non-self" object beginning to mediate both sense and action. The procedural form is not the thing, but the substance and continuity of the connections discovered in these interactions is.
Dynamic shearing actions dominate (e.g. -- suri-age, suri-otoshi kiri-age, kiri-otoshi, etc.) and the vibrational elements within them -- and which come out when overt action seems to cease.
An excellent example is this presentation of kiri otoshi by the late Iwata Norikazu (MJER)
-- It is inspiring to seen a 96 year old gentlemen cut like that -- and almost more inspiring to watch him merely hold the weapon unwavering in one hand while he lectures.
One sees three aspects of in-yo -- aiki -- in the tai sabaki he asks us to observe:
1) in-yo funetori sway commencing the cut
2 in-yo hara/sword movement of delivery (hara driving up to ground the energy of the descending cut)
3) in-yo reverberation of the cut coming to rest
The first point is straight forward aiki taiso. The second point is at the root of kokyu tanden ho -- dynamic grounding to enable projection of energy/structure. The third point is seen in furitama and tekubi furi and notably in the cuts of Saito's weapons teaching, in which I am pleased to have received training.
Lastly the waza forms of paired kata then progressively allow testing the extension of these methods, stresses and movements to the also "non-self" and yet reactive body of an attacking person. The ultimate goal being making the person an extension of yourself -- just as the sword becomes -- as O Sensei said:
If I were to try to verbalize it I would say that you control your opponent without trying to control him. That is, the state of continuous victory. There isn't any question of winning over or losing to an opponent. In this sense, there is no opponent in Aikido. Even if you have an opponent, he becomes a part of you, a partner you control only.