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Old 10-13-2009, 12:51 PM   #1
Mariska Poiesz
 
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Dojo: Aiki o Kami; Watersportbaan/Gusb
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Buying the first set of weapons

This year I'll be training to get my 5th kyu, so it's time for me to get serious about the weapon training. Thus I'll be getting my first set of weapons.

Innitially I just wanted to buy some from my sensei, where I can get them cheap but not of extreemly high quality.
But some of the other students think it's better to order 'the good stuff' right from the start. They orderd a red oak set which is of better quality but also more expensive.

I'm not sure which is the best idea. If I take a weapon set I want to be able to use it as long as possible, but without doing unnecessary damage to it.
From my experience with sail boats I know that it's better to let a beginner train with a cheeper boat, then letting them use a boat of a higher quality. Because they don't know the finer touches of sailing they will do unnecessary damage to the wood and rigging, which will shorten the amount of years that that boat can preform at it's best.
A beautiful boat should be treated correctly, and I feel that the same goes for weapons.
So what is the best choice?
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:04 PM   #2
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Personally If I am going to spend my money I want to spend it on quality.

My Bokken was a gift from a friend and I really can't say much about it as to its quality since I have no idea where he got it. But it has good balance and feels right to to me when I use it.

My Jo staff OTOH is being custom made for me by my own sensei out of Purple Heart. Kinda of cool to have access to someone who knows how to work with wood who also knows Aikido weapons. The price of a custom Jo is not that much more than the price of a decent oak Jo from Bujin. Seems to me better to spend the money on quality.

There is a really good article on Aikiweb about Aikido weapons and various woods. Well worth looking over before you decide.
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:22 PM   #3
Maarten De Queecker
Dojo: Aikikai Gent, Brugse Aikido Vereniging
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Quote:
Mariska Poiesz wrote: View Post
This year I'll be training to get my 5th kyu, so it's time for me to get serious about the weapon training. Thus I'll be getting my first set of weapons.

Innitially I just wanted to buy some from my sensei, where I can get them cheap but not of extreemly high quality.
But some of the other students think it's better to order 'the good stuff' right from the start. They orderd a red oak set which is of better quality but also more expensive.

I'm not sure which is the best idea. If I take a weapon set I want to be able to use it as long as possible, but without doing unnecessary damage to it.
From my experience with sail boats I know that it's better to let a beginner train with a cheeper boat, then letting them use a boat of a higher quality. Because they don't know the finer touches of sailing they will do unnecessary damage to the wood and rigging, which will shorten the amount of years that that boat can preform at it's best.
A beautiful boat should be treated correctly, and I feel that the same goes for weapons.
So what is the best choice?
Watersportbaan.. so your teacher is Gaetan Francken right? Good to have somebody who also trains in Ghent on the forum

I'd go for the cheap ones. Mine didn't cost too much, and are still in good shape.

Last edited by Maarten De Queecker : 10-13-2009 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:48 PM   #4
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Quality is important. Red oak is probably the standard but most any kind of wood will work for most Aikido weapons training. I have several more exoctic woods for my bokken as I do a lot of tachiuchi (sparring).

Lyle Laizure
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:56 PM   #5
Suru
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

I got my first bokken at a martial arts store that isn't a chain. I asked the owner for one, and it looked alright, but I asked her to see another one and I knew right away that was what I wanted. The shape was good, and the two-tone made me think it was hickory. I actually broke another Aikidoka's cheaper bokken doing centering exercises. After this happened, I would recommend no one buy a cheap bokken. I gave it away when I decided I was going to take much time out of the dojo. My first jo (and second, if that hints at something) I made with a dowel, sandpaper, and spray polyurethane from Home Depot. I broke the first one at a park when I swung it forcefully into a tree trunk. The problem with those was that they were light duty wood. I decided to go for a Bu Jin Design jo, and it's better because it is the proper weight and has perfect smoothness of its oiled exterior. That is, it will slide through my hand without tackiness, while at the same time does not feel like it would slip away by accident. Those that I sprayed with polyurethane were way too slick. Also, my first bokken was on the lightweight side, and looking back I would have gone for Kingfisher or Bu Jin, if I had even known these companies existed. My best guess is that the highest level Kingfisher weapons are probably about equivalent to Bu Jin weapons, so then it comes down to personal taste of design. Although I've never tested them, I did make a walnut jo and cherry bokken from scratch, but that was only possible because I had many, many hours to spend in a first-class wood shop, under the supervision of a woodworking guru.

Drew
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:44 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

I love my hickory weapons from http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/ - they are reasonably priced and have held up for many years of sometimes pretty rugged paired practice.

Janet Rosen
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Old 10-13-2009, 04:23 PM   #7
Keith Larman
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Honestly, if my sensei or dojo was selling bokken and jo I'd buy my first ones from them directly. That is precisely what I did. And after a while once I became more aware of what I liked, what felt good, what *was* right I started looking at what my dojo and sensei had to offer and bought something else. Over time I've ended up with a rack full of weapons of all sorts from all sorts of places. But the first place I check is ... The Dojo's offerings.

That said I have a number of custom pieces from Kim Taylor. Great guy and good stuff. One Pau Ferro bokken, another that is a laminate of different woods I forget. They have "standard" stuff and custom stuff. And some really cool one of a kind "off the shelf" pieces. http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/index.html

I've also carved my own.

The two jo I use regularly are the very first one I ever got (from my dojo -- simple white oak) and a laminate jo from Bujin Design. http://www.bujindesign.com

When I'm whacking stuff I use a hickory bokken that was a gift from a friend. I think that one was originally bought from Bugei Trading Company. http://bugei.com

I have a number of white oak bokken of different configurations. I really enjoy my bokken with groove I bought from Bugei. I also have the white oak "itto ryu" bokken. Just a bit heavier.

My constant companions are two simple, standard white oak bokken I bought from my dojo. One was of undetermined origin, the other was originally bought from e-bogu.com. http://www.e-bogu.com/

But... Think about supporting your own dojo first. Unless it is something special I tend to use my "dojo" pieces at the dojo. Simply because I want to encourage the students to support their own dojo. So I tend to practice with those. Of course I can't help but collect more weapons, but I try to keep in mind that I am thankful that I have a place to practice. So I try to support the place I'm at.

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Old 10-14-2009, 02:32 AM   #8
jss
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Quote:
Mariska Poiesz wrote: View Post
Innitially I just wanted to buy some from my sensei, where I can get them cheap but not of extreemly high quality.
But some of the other students think it's better to order 'the good stuff' right from the start. They orderd a red oak set which is of better quality but also more expensive.
Swing one of those cheap Taiwanese bokken around a few times, then do the same with a more expensive red oak one. You'll agree with the other students. (So perhaps you shouldn't try them out. )

Quote:
I'm not sure which is the best idea. If I take a weapon set I want to be able to use it as long as possible, but without doing unnecessary damage to it.
I don't think you'll unnecessarily damage the red oak weapons. They can take quite some abuse. Only thing to be careful about is when disarming and throwing with the jo. If you apply force in the wrong direction, they'll go a bit crooked. (Which is also the reason weapons should be stored lying flat, not standing on one end.)

p.s.: My best regards to Gaétan and the great people of Aiki-o-Kami!

Last edited by jss : 10-14-2009 at 02:38 AM.
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:55 AM   #9
JRY
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

How much are you looking to spend on your weapons?
I think its pretty important to get decent quality weapons eventhough your're just starting out on weapons.
The Aikido set by Kim taylor (link given above) is pretty decent and should last you awhile.

Becareful though, by the time you know it you'll have a small collection
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:11 AM   #10
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Regardless of where you buy your weapons, get into the habit of inspecting them before every use. As you take them out of the bag, look them over for fractures, splinters, or other damage. If you find something wrong, fix it before using them. It only takes a few seconds and can save someone from injury.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:53 AM   #11
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

...don't forget to give 'em the old "roll test." Sometimes if they are stored improperly they warp. So roll a jo across the floor/mat and see if it rolls smoothly.
A

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Old 10-20-2009, 05:22 AM   #12
Mariska Poiesz
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Thanks to every one who replied.

My sensei has two types of weapons for sale, red oak from japan, or a
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Old 10-21-2009, 06:49 AM   #13
Suru
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I love my hickory weapons from http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/ - they are reasonably priced and have held up for many years of sometimes pretty rugged paired practice.
I tend to prefer a more subtle tsuba line, but yours is aesthetically pleasing nonetheless.

Drew
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Old 10-21-2009, 06:52 AM   #14
Suru
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
I tend to prefer a more subtle tsuba line, but yours is aesthetically pleasing nonetheless.

Drew
My bad; I was possibly looking at the wrong bokken on the page.

Drew
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Old 10-22-2009, 03:41 PM   #15
Mariska Poiesz
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Sorry about the strange earlier post. My internet failed me and I can't quite figure out how to edit or delete it.

I spoke with the assistant of my sensei, and he told me that there are two weapons that I could buy from my sensei.
The japanese red oak set will cost 105 € and the taiwanese about half. Example; the bokken (or jo?) is 10 € less.

Chris, the assistant teacher, thinks it's best to buy the taiwanse weapons first, and move on to the red oak later.
My sensei himself believes it's best to buy the oak from the beginning, since it's for life.

The friend who bought his set in england payed much less, but according to sensei the quality isn't that good.

Sadly I have these stories second hand from my boyfriend, since I have class on the days Geatan gives class, so I can't come to his training and ask him myself.

Price is a issue in my situation, I am living on a student loan and I have no job, and it will be some years before I finish my school. 5 years at least. Once I get a job I may or may not be able or willing to buy a second set. But for the comming years I probably won't be able to replace a weapon.

@Keith Larman: I am pro-supporting my dojo, so much so that when I changed schools I kept comming to the same dojo. The gi I bought is also really good. Quite sturdy and warm, without being too heavy. I've worn it when to a training camp on a mountain slope in the snow, and it kept me protected from both the cold and the rocks, so I know the stuff my sensei sells is quite good.
But that doesn't mean I won't try to expand my horizons and see what the rest of the world has to offer, and seek out the advice of others.

@jss: the bending of the jo is a perfect example of what I'm worried about. I'm not always the most patient person, and even though I like the jo much more then the bokken, I have to admit that both with weapons and hand technique I still end up working more with strength then technique. Even though I have virtually no muscle mass to speak of, I still wouldn't want to do that kind of damage to a nice piece of wood. ^^;

I really appreciate that some of you took the time to give me little tips on weapon care, I'll keep them in mind and will surely practice them once I've decided on a set.

Some of you also got me really interested in making my own weapons, But that's most probably not an adventure I'm ready to delve into yet, especially since I have neighter the tools or adequate knowledge to work with wood like that.
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Old 10-22-2009, 03:58 PM   #16
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

When it comes to buying weapons, buy the best quality you can afford. I imagine most of us have experienced the salad days of being an impoverished student and understand that money is tight. You have to make some choices, but remember that cheap weapons don't last and will have to be replaced frequently. They can also break easier and perhaps hurt you or someone else. Don't buy the finest quality if you can't afford it, but don't buy the cheapest either. Price isn't a guarantee of quality, so rely on the advice of your seniors and they can give you good information to base your choices on. I have a beautiful custom made set that I paid a good sum for and don't use them at all. Friends bought theirs from the same person and have had breakages with great sharp shards flying around the dojo. My usual weapons are moderately priced from Tozando, made from white oak and are holding up nicely for about half the price of my custom bokken and jo.

Last edited by Michael Hackett : 10-22-2009 at 03:59 PM. Reason: Bad writing

Michael
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:05 PM   #17
Amassus
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Quote:
Honestly, if my sensei or dojo was selling bokken and jo I'd buy my first ones from them directly. That is precisely what I did. And after a while once I became more aware of what I liked, what felt good, what *was* right I started looking at what my dojo and sensei had to offer and bought something else.
I have to agree.
I have an assortment of weapons now, some gifts, some I bought myself. Give yourself time to work this stuff out.
Ultimately it is your decision. You are still in the 'early days' of your training and if you spend a large amount of money on weapons and find you lose interest in the martial art...what would be the point.
That is my very cautious advice.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 11-16-2009, 03:38 PM   #18
Mariska Poiesz
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

I thank you all again for all your advise,
I have decided to wait for a while and save up some money for a proper set of weapons. For now I'll just have to get over my pride and ask my senpai to lend me theirs when training. ^^;

@Dean Suter: I don't really think I'll lose interest in the aikido, the people from the dojo are like family to me, and when I skip training for even a week I just feel physicaly bad. Worst case scenario is though that my studies fail completely and I'd have to go back home, where there is no aikido. But that's a nightmare I'd rather not think about
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Old 12-03-2009, 02:51 AM   #19
Jon Shickel
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

A little late to the conversation, but...
E-bogu has some nice, modestly priced, non-custom made weapons.
Their "Master Quality Oak Bokken 1m" (Product Code: YUT-KEN-BOK-MQ1-NATURAL- ) has a cheesy name but is a very nice piece. I think it has very good balance and it has very good reviews on the site. Not bad for $36.

Their Aikido Jo is very serviceable for the price. It only comes in one size, 50" x 1". If that size works for you it is a nice, basic Jo. It's made out of White Oak. The finish isn't my favorite. It's a hard, heavy exterior finish versus a softer tung oil finish that soaks into the wood. But you can sand it and refinish it yourself. I'd rate it a step or two behind Kingfisher's hickory Jo's, but it gets the job done at a decent price.

Does Bujin designs "laminated" Jo's have a laminated layer wrapped around the Jo??
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:18 AM   #20
MattMiddleton
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

If you wanted to get something a little different...

http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/wa...c7a0/?cpg=123H

(Just kidding of course)
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:55 AM   #21
Maarten De Queecker
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

just imagine using such a thing on a seminar. It would immediately be a test whether the instructor and the other people take aikido too seriously
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:08 AM   #22
dalen7
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

strapped on cash? - get the cheap ones.

got the money, get hardwood. [though I would hope even the cheap ones were hardwood]

Doubt you will be doing much damage to oak, etc.
Most that will happen is lots of little dings that are not really any big deal to training over all and from distance not even noticeable.

I like my white oak set.
[well jo isnt, I think its akac.]

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
Just read your last comment saying your waiting.
In our dojo we are not even tested with weapons until the 3rd kyu exam.
And that is just a 5 piece kihon jo. [not much weapons emphasis... albeit there is an option at the main dojo a couple hours away for weapons classes apart from Aikido.]

Last edited by dalen7 : 01-16-2010 at 12:13 AM.

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Old 01-16-2010, 02:18 PM   #23
lbb
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

In general, I try to avoid products made from tropical hardwoods, for environmental reasons. With jo and bokken, that's easy to do, as white oak works fine for me. I'm still on my original white oak jo and bokken.
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:08 AM   #24
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Buying the first set of weapons

Do a search for Kingfisher Woodworks, not cheap, but highly recommended!

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