Originally posted by Edward
I wonder about this whisteling thing, because it really sounds great and my sensei can make the weapons whistle all the time. But is it essential to produce this sound? And what does it exactly prove? Speed, correct handling, right angle?
In my mind, the "whistling" thing merely provides an indication to me that I'm handling an iaito/shinken correctly as far as the blade angle (hasuji) goes. I personally don't spend any/much time trying to make my bokuto/jo "whistle" since having the mindset at the beginning of trying to make said weapons "whistle" usually goes against learning through relaxation and repetition rather than trying to achieve the somewhat pointless goal of making the weapon whistle.
I very much believe that how we practice our weaponswork translates into what we do empty handed. As Frank Doran sensei has said, "Practice weapons as though you were empty handed; practice empty handed as though you had a weapon." Emphasizing "getting the weapon to whistle" or putting too much attention to the speed of the weapon, to me, shows a large disconnect in trying to learn the proper movements and principles that applies to both empty handed taijutsu as well as to weapons.
Many people say that "aikido comes from the sword." I can't say "yay" nor "nay" about this (as I'm of two minds), but I very much agree with people who say that the same principles of relaxation, extension, connection, awareness, and such run through both practices.
(As an aside, I think it's one unfortunate trap that many beginners fall into at around the one or two month stage. They start to "understand" the movement (ie foot here, hand here) so they start trying
to throw which usually makes the technique musclebound and, frankly, ineffective. As I wrote before, I believe that speed (as well as strength and effectiveness) comes from learning in a proper, relaxed manner -- not from trying to achieve the end results "today" while still just a beginner.)
Better to learn how to learn
correctly initially and build from that rather than have ingrained an improper mindset and method of training years later.
Lastly, just because a bokken is made out of wood doesn't mean you should practice incorrectly with it.