Re: The role of weapons in Aikido
I feel that weapons practice is a very important part of aikido and I suppose one way of loooking at it would be that weapons practice improves your aikido because it actually IS aikido. Not everyone would agree with this and quite a few aikido styles only train tai jutsu. Amingst other things weapons practice deepens and sharpens your tai jutsu, your shiho nage, for example, is directly related to the shomen uchi strike with a bokken, and shiho giri with a bokken really improves your shiho nage. Also, I believe the weapons practice links us deeper with the Japanese martial tradition as well as the thoughts of the founder, who emphasized the link between buki waza and tai jutsu.
Also, buki waza is a lot of fun and quite restful. It may be a bit repetitive at times, but not overly so, and the repetitive exercises really develop your ability to be a conduit for ki, something which is crucial in all aikido.
All the best, enjoy the buki waza!!