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Old 11-18-2015, 09:20 AM   #28
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,153
Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

I don't equate weapons work with using a weapon. I think it stands to reason that some experience with a tool raises your ability to use the tool, even if only on a basic level. A person skilled at throwing a baseball would find advantage holding a round rock - that neither proves a rock is a baseball, nor the thrower a baseball player. My point was the observation that when pressed by someone with knowledge, we will pivot our reasoning to not compete with the knowledge base against which we are reasoning. People pivot their arguments all the time, but I think we are getting called out for it more.

For the record, I think aiki weapons has value in developing aiki. We (the dojo) have dropped the focus on kata and "sword clacking" while we work to re-define our aiki... then put it back into our weapons and re-purpose them. I have worked out with some very good weapons people that make it woefully obvious how much work we have in front of us.

Erick, to your point, I would say that if we start by acknowledging that aiki weapons doesn't have aiki in the beginning (which it doesn't), then "learning to cut" should at least have a functional aspect (i.e. learning to correctly cut). Here's the rub - generally speaking, aikido "cutting" is not very good functional cutting. To make things worse, we'll use instruction based on our aikido cutting... Move like you're cutting with a sword, blah blah blah. But what we're really instructing is how to move our bodies using an analogy to a weapon we don't really swing correctly. How you can then expect someone to move their body correctly? Which means that we need to look at making our weapons instruction functional. You see some people doing this; they're getting a broader perspective of their weapons training outside aikido and bringing that perspective back.

Also, you see some people moving away from that kind of instruction since is it somewhat equivalent to teaching algebra by reminding children to rely upon their knowledge of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. That is, you are using advanced education to support basic instruction. We have moved away from those analogy-based comments for this reason. As a side note, I think some of this related to the relative education early students of the founder possessed at the onset of their aikido training... Kendo, judo, karate and the like. I would not be surprised to find that O Sensei worked with what he got - a 3rd dan in judo usually doesn't need a tutorial on kusushi...

I think there are people who feel that aikido weapons is play sparring (in a sense), for a number of reasons argued much better by persons other than myself. I am sympathetic to that perspective and sensitive to find a position where we can use weapons work to improve our aikido while respecting those who have a much better understanding of weapons work.

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