Brion Toss wrote:
Next, this fellow has credentials, including multiple trips to Japan. But like many of us,including me, he can also be opinionated past apparent abilities.
Like I said, I was dubious, not nay-saying. In my kendo club, we've had more than one person come in and complain that we're not doing it the way they do in nani-nani-ryu. When questioned where they've studied, it turns out they've seen a video or read a book.
Brion Toss wrote:
As for the intent of Saito's weapon kata's we certainly use them with the clear intent of enhancing empty hand training, but they don't seem to comprise ineffective sword work.
...But I would hope that Saito's style could be considered effective strictly as a weapons style. Is it? Any opinions?
I'm not very familiar with Saito sensei's weapons stuff, so bear that in mind. I'm more familiar with Saotome sensei's stuff, though I have done a bit of Saito sensei's as well.
While most aikido weapons work is better than no training or making it up in your backyard, it often is just plain lacking when compared to real sword or staff styles. It's not that aikido weapons work is bad. It's more like it's incomplete. It's just, well, off.
First, there's the starting distance. Most aiki-weapons start already at what is called issoku itto no ma in kendo. That is the distance at which you can cut the enemy with one step, and the enemy can do the same. In all the other weapons work I've done or seen, how you get to that distance is very important.
Second, suki that would be seized upon by trained weapon people are often missed. Many times a parry of some kind is used when a cut or thrust is available. It seems to me, that for some reason aiki-weapons loves ukenagashi. The next time you have an opportunity and are practicing a kata that uses ukenagashi, see if you couldn't have cut the opponent instead, probably with a rising cut to the hands or arms.
Third, there are all the physicals details of manipulating the weapon, and they are myriad. The details vary from ryu to ryu, but things like the tension in the fingers, the alignment of the wrists, the space between the hands, how the elbows move relative to how the shoulders move, what the lower legs do, etc. all make a difference. Now these details change from style to style, but it is not like the special at a Chinese restaurant. You can not have one from column A and two from column B. Those myriad details interact, and how they do so is important. Kashima Shin-ryu and Ono-ha Itto-ryu are both powerful, respected schools, but you can't combine details from one with the other and get anything that makes sense. In the aiki-stuff I've learned, many of these details get either glossed over or omitted entirely. On the other hand, there's a reason that in kendo one isn't expected to demonstrate any techniques other than basic strikes until testing for ni- or sandan. There's a whole lot to work on just in those basic strikes.
Fourth, there's usually also a certain kill-or-be-killed attitude, which informs the physical curriculum, missing. The best description of the principles of Japanese swordsmanship I've seen was simply that the sharp part goes in the other guy and all else is secondary. It's hard to describe, but when that attitude is in place, it's just different.
There's some other stuff, but those are the main ones.