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Old 11-16-2003, 10:14 PM   #1
Conrad Gus
 
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Tracing the weapons family tree

I'm interested in the evolution of Aikido weapons from O Sensei to his direct students and beyond.

I'm aware, of course, of Saito Sensei's legacy and have trained in his weapons system, although somewhat indirectly.

Kobayashi Sensei learned weapons from Saito Sensei and makes these techniques an integral part of his dojo curriculum. A student of Kobayashi Sensei, Igarashi Sensei, has delved deep into weapons and created many interesting new kata and excercises, partly influenced by extensive Katori Shinto Ryu experiences. My first Sensei was a student of Kobayashi Sensei and Igarashi Sensei, so that's my weapons family tree that I know of.

My current dojo is under Kawahara Shihan in Canada, but sadly I am still ignorant of this (extremely well-regarded) branch of the weapons tree. Apparently he started with Tanaka Sensei in Osaka, but that is all I have.

I'm interested in hearing your weapons family tree, partly out of pure curiosity but also because I would like to categorize the main weapons systems that came from direct students of O Sensei. I know of a few offshoots and would be interested to know who originated them and what influenced them (i.e.: other MAs).

For instance, where does Nishio Sensei fit in in relation to Saito Sensei? How about Chiba Sensei in the U.S.A.? Do any close students of his know where he found or developed his fairly different system? Or Saotome Sensei, who I have heard has some fairly unique techniques as well.

I'm not so interested in starting a competitive thing between varios schools or organizations. I just would like to hear as many interesting stories as people have heard from their various teachers.

Thanks,

Conrad
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Old 11-17-2003, 12:07 AM   #2
Thalib
 
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Actually this is a question that I have in mind also.

In addition to the above, does Aiki-ken have its roots in Kashima Shinryu?

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 11-17-2003, 08:27 AM   #3
jaime exley
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I've been told that Yamaguchi Sensei's Weopons were heavily influenced by Kashima Shin Ryu. There is a teacher named Inaba Sensei at the Meiji shrine in Tokyo who was a student of his and is also very highly skilled in Kashima Shin. Also, I think you can see that influence in the weopons of Saotome Sensei and Tissier Sensei.
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Old 11-17-2003, 10:16 AM   #4
Ted Marr
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It's just heresay on my part, but I heard at some point that O Sensei never taught weapons to his students, and that what Aikido has was introduced at various times by his students from what they had studied previous to coming to train with him. Which is not to say O Sensei didn't do weapons... he did, and was reportedly pretty darn good... he just never got around to officially teaching them. Can anyone confirm or deny this rumor that I've run across?
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Old 11-17-2003, 10:16 AM   #5
Nafis Zahir
 
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I learned Saito Sensei's weapons. I had an occassion to attend a seminar with Kobayashi Sensei and his Kumi Tachi & Kumi Ken were very different from Saito's. He may have learned from Saito, but I think he changed alot of things. Now I train at a different dojo and the weapons are Saito and Chiba. Some of the Saito weapons are different, but my Sensei said that Saito taught different variations. Also, Chiba Sensei has his own take on weapons. I emailed Pat Hendricks Sensei to try and get certified in Saito Iwama weapons, but she told me that they no longer are doing that.

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Old 11-17-2003, 01:48 PM   #6
JJF
 
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Hi!

I'm not a close student of Nishio sensei, but I will give you a short description of his 'lineage' the way I know of it. Nishio sensei heard O-sensei talk about the sword many times, and eventually decided to take up traditional iaido. Later he developed a new form of iaido - or aikitoho, as it's known - in order to forge together the movements and the mindset of aikido with the practice of the sword arts.

He has also developed a long row of ken-tai-ken and ken-tai-jo techniques that are directly comparable to aikido-techniques. These kata's which are practiced in pairs are good for exploring maai, and for understanding the basic foodwork.

Finally we do a lot of techniques 'jo-tori' and 'bokken-tori' - that is performing the technique with either a stick or a sword in the hand - adapting the technique to this situation without risking the life of uke.

Mind you This is a very short descripiton, which doesn't even begin to describe what the weapon works of Nishio sensei is really about. Check out his video tapes. They contain some of his weapons techniques as well - or better yet - come visit our dojo and we'll be happy to show you

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 11-17-2003, 02:17 PM   #7
ChristianBoddum
 
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Foodwork !!
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Old 11-17-2003, 03:56 PM   #8
Ellis Amdur
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A couple of thoughts:

1) Iwama kumitachi has it's roots in Kashima Shinto-ryu (not Shin-ryu). Several of the initial kata are "copies," although very much changed in spacing, timing, cutting targets, etc.

2) Inaba sensei is NOT an expert of Kashima Shin-ryu. You can do a search of Karl Friday's (menkyo kaiden in the system) posts on e-budo and I think Aikido Journal re this. Inaba learned the first level sword kata and leavened them heavily with aikido. He may be expert at what he does, and it may seem like a small thing to outsiders, but to initiates in the systems, what he does is radically different from the ryu itself. It is true, tho', that Yamaguchi sensei was quite influenced by Inaba's sword - and it could clearly be seen in his aikido technique.

3) Nishio-sensei, I believe, learned a lot of his weaponry at the dojo of Matsuo Kempu (who taught Araki-ryu gunyo kogusoku and Shindo Muso-ryu jo, as well as iai.) As the poster above wrote, he definitely made the weapon's his "own," in remarkable fashion.

4) No one has been able to trace the origins of Osensei's jo kata. (Solo forms are very rare in traditional ryu.) It is my belief that the kata is Ueshiba's form of misogi (purification ritual) mixed with elements of weaponry he learned elsewhere. (The circular movements at the end of his kata with the spiral upwards is very often seen in Shinto ritual).

Best

Ellis Amdur

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Old 11-28-2003, 05:20 AM   #9
Mark Balogh
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Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
4) No one has been able to trace the origins of Osensei's jo kata. (Solo forms are very rare in traditional ryu.) It is my belief that the kata is Ueshiba's form of misogi (purification ritual) mixed with elements of weaponry he learned elsewhere. (The circular movements at the end of his kata with the spiral upwards is very often seen in Shinto ritual).

Best

Ellis Amdur

www.ellisamdur.com
Thank you very much for posting Mr. Amdur. I had felt something like this for a long time but couldn't put my finger on it. I went home and trained after reading this thread and I came to a complete realisation of O'sensei's approach to Aikido training. Purity.

Many Thanks

Mark Balogh
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Old 11-28-2003, 07:28 AM   #10
PaulieWalnuts
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I would say that there is many different weapons systems now in aikido. One reason for this is that many of Osenseis students were never or hardly ever in Iwama. during the late 40s and through to the 60s Osensei spent alot of time Iwama studying ken and jo very deeply, because of saito senseis postion of living in Iwama all the time he was the closest to this system which is still the same system today. Osensei never really taught much weapons in Tokyo mostly he demonstrated. the only person allowed to teach his system was saito sensei. now many top shihan like chiba have there own system. which is not a bad thing.Because of this way many aikidoka belive that there is no weapons in aikdio. were as in Iwama, Osenseis words are still in there saying that aikido is 70 % buki waza /30 % taijutsu. this was how he taughht. and sensei was apparently extremly influeneced by kashima shinto ryu..sso maybe alot of teachers who missed out on the weapons felt they had to get an understanding of weapons, so studied others systems
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Old 12-14-2003, 05:51 PM   #11
Tim Griffiths
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Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
...(The circular movements at the end of [O-sensei's] kata with the spiral upwards is very often seen in Shinto ritual).
...and, when you've tied your freshly-washed hakama to the end of it, really helps to get the water out...

Sorry...

Now to raise hell: I recently heard a scurrilous rumor. Quite a few of O-sensei's top students were studying and teaching weapons. However, by a certain time after O-sensei's death almost all of these students had left to the US or Europe to teach there, with the notable exception of Saito sensei. Noticing this, Saito sensei began to teach his forms as 'the' forms as practiced by O-sensei, and claimed (on his tapes and in real life) that these were kata passed directly into his care by O-sensei. When my informant raised some questions about this with his teacher (a direct student), he got a smile and the comment "Saito sensei is not as young as he was. Sometimes as we grow older our memories grow a little unreliable". We all know what that means when you translate it into English...

I'm not claiming its true, just very interesting from a knowlegable source. Any budding Stanley Pranin's around to help confirm/deny it?

Train well,

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 04-05-2004, 06:57 AM   #12
Mark Balogh
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Quote:
Tim Griffiths wrote:
I'm not claiming its true, just very interesting from a knowlegable source. Any budding Stanley Pranin's around to help confirm/deny it?

Train well,

Tim
In the new Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo DVD's from Aikido Journal, Saito Sensei is very explicit in explaining what was shown by O'sensei (and not modified by him) and what he has developed to enhance the understanding of these kata/paired work left by O'sensei.
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Old 05-12-2004, 07:01 PM   #13
Fausto
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Re: Tracing the weapons family tree

When O'Sensei was in Iwama he was training, specially, himself... that's what I've heard therefore if that's true I can't imagine how someone can say that O'Sensei teached him, in this particular issue, Jo and Bokken Kata..... if O'Sensei was still studying, by personal training, he didn't develop a technique curriculum or any Kata.... he teached only the principles and nothing more, after his death all of his direct students are teaching what they could learned.... so all of his direct students learned the principles and each one of them teach them in a diferent way because every person is different.

I'm not saying that what I wrote it's true.... it's only a tought and nothing more
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Old 05-12-2004, 07:41 PM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Tracing the weapons family tree

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
2) Inaba sensei is NOT an expert of Kashima Shin-ryu. You can do a search of Karl Friday's (menkyo kaiden in the system) posts on e-budo and I think Aikido Journal re this. Inaba learned the first level sword kata and leavened them heavily with aikido. He may be expert at what he does, and it may seem like a small thing to outsiders, but to initiates in the systems, what he does is radically different from the ryu itself. It is true, tho', that Yamaguchi sensei was quite influenced by Inaba's sword - and it could clearly be seen in his aikido technique.
One of the problems we have here is that there is no "style" we can talk about. Saito Sensei's system of weapons trainning is the most organized and comprehensive but it is what he and the Founder did together at a certain time and place.

It is quite vague, even obscured by political currents, exactly what sword training O-sensei underwent but he did not have a teaching license in any particular school of kenjutsu as far as one can determine.

To say that O-Sensei didn't teach weapons would be incorrect in that it was almost impossible to train with O-Sensei when he didn't use a weapon to illustrate the points he was trying to make and show the principles of his art. However, it is true that he didn't teach any systematic weapons program. But, according to Saotome Sensei, if you asked O-Sensei a question about Aikido he would , as likely as not, pull a bokken off the rack to illustrate what he wished to teach.

While interesting to have an idea where various Aikido teachers received their weapons training, it is actually misleading in some sense. Although there is Kashima style sword in O-Sensei's and Saito Sensei's work, neither was a Kashima teacher. So their interpretation simply isn't Kashima. Inaba Sensei, as Ellis Amdur points out, wasn't certified as an instructor and therefore one can't even consider what he does as Kashima sword. The same can be said for what Tissier Sensei and Gleason Sensei do. In the sword work of Imaizumi Sensei and Saotome Sensei there is technique which might seem similar to some techniques within Itto, Kashima, and Yagyu styles, techniques or groups of techniques taken out of the proper context simply cease to be a part of the school. They can not be separated from their own styles.

I trained for a relatively short period in both the Buko Ryu Naginata and the Araki Ryu with Amdur Sensei. While what I learned from doing that training influenced what I do in my Aikido in a very positive manner, it would be almost misleading to try to pick out the places where a specific technique or movement might have some similiarity to something I did when training in those styles. The instant those elements were taken out of their original context and put into my Aikido they simply ceased to be Buko Ryu or Araki Ryu in any meaningful sense.

In the same way that every Aikido teacher has a different way of interpreting Aikido, the major teachers of Aikido tend to have their own interpretations of how weapons are utilized within Aikido. To say that there is anything which one could define as aikiken in the same way that Kashima Shin Ryu or Katori Shinto Ryu means something very specific simply isn't true. There is no one style of Aikido and there isn't any one style of weapons use.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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