Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > Weapons

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 03-08-2010, 09:52 AM   #1
aikiSteve
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk
Location: Norfolk, VA
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 68
United_States
Offline
Sword tip movement

I've become obsessed with my sword cuts as of late. One thing has been driving me nuts for well over a year. When I swing my sword, watching my cuts in a mirror, I just can't seem to get the tip of the sword to go straight. It moves, ever so slightly, side to side as it goes down. It's super minor, but I can't stop thinking about it, which is probably making it worse! What I tend to do is stare at my own eyes in the mirror and try and swing the sword to pass between my eyes in the mirror.

I think I'd equate it to shooting a rifle or a bow and arrow and having the shakes. Has anyone else experienced this and been able to steady yourself?
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 09:55 AM   #2
NagaBaba
 
NagaBaba's Avatar
Location: Wild, deep, deadly North
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,145
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Are you talking about iaido practice?

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 09:59 AM   #3
aikiSteve
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk
Location: Norfolk, VA
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 68
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

No. Just regular old boring Aikiken practice.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 10:07 AM   #4
Bob Blackburn
Location: PA
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 71
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

The sword amplifies your spirit. Sensei always knows when you have had a bad day because it is reflected in your cut.

Try relaxing and visualize the perfect cut. Then keep practicing. We all get frustrated which can make this worse.

  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 10:20 AM   #5
JW
 
JW's Avatar
Location: San Francisco CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 510
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

I hope we can hear all kinds of advice-- although the question is simple I think it may be related to some really interesting, fundamental aspects of movement, so thanks for the question.

For my response-- I currently use the suburi not to practice cutting someone with a sword, but to help fix (unify or purify) my body. Sounds like maybe you feel similarly. So, from that point of view, I'm not thinking much about sword tactics (I'd have to find a sword teacher for that). So I don't worry too much about the cut's trajectory and things like that. But I do agree that when your suburi is wiggling in its motion, in ways that you didn't intend, then it must be a sign of something wrong.

The way I see it, our bodies are capable of complicated motions, but you are practicing making a very simple one. Those wiggles are like higher harmonics in a sound, when you are trying to generate a pure-tone. I think the answer has to do with relaxing away unnecessary tension throughout your body, and not doing movements that you don't need to do (it might not be in the arms, could be legs or hips or back). One way a smooth suburi can happen is if you just let it result from simple movements of your center, as opposed to thinking about "doing" the cutting.

I don't know, that might all sound like BS, let me know if you think so, maybe I could clarify what I mean.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 10:26 AM   #6
aikiSteve
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk
Location: Norfolk, VA
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 68
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

That's one thing I've been trying to figure out. Is it a mental thing or a physical thing? Or maybe a bit of both. Then it begs the bigger question... how would you know?

For example, one thing I've been wondering about from the physical side is whether my bokken is simply too light to practice with? I bought a light-weight white oak bokken about 5-6 years ago because my shoulders were bothering me when I did numerous sword cuts. But now that I'm thinking about it, momentum=mass*velocity so if the mass is less, it would have less momentum thus react more to my body's minor lateral movements. Or... if the mass is less, I may end up swinging it faster, thus having exactly the same momentum. Physics is hard!

So does swinging a heavier bokken prove anything?
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 10:44 AM   #7
JW
 
JW's Avatar
Location: San Francisco CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 510
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
For example, one thing I've been wondering about from the physical side is whether my bokken is simply too light to practice with?
I don't have a lot of answers but one thing I STRONGLY believe is that it cannot be too light in the beginning. Borrowing a cheap chinatown very light bokken was very illuminating for me.
A variety of weights of bokken is nice, and you can feel different things with different weights, but I think the most important thing is to have a light one.

(in some ways heavy ones are too forgiving, and in some ways light ones are limiting.. I'll stick with my light one for a while.)

I think the reason is if you are trying to do things with as much relaxation as possible (as little muscle flexion as possible) then the light one lets you get less in your own way.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 10:52 AM   #8
ninjaqutie
 
ninjaqutie's Avatar
Dojo: Searching for a new home
Location: Delaware (<3 still in Oregon!)
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,003
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

This tends to happen with me if I cut using my right hand more then my left. It is like shooting a handgun. If you pull with your other hand while pulling the trigger, your shots will be off target. Make sure you are wringing the sword as you cut. Also, try not to use your arms so much when you cut. Let gravity do its fair share of the work. Drop your center via bending your knees into your wide leg stance and just use your power hand (left) to cut. This should help a bit. When I use too much right hand or too much arm that is when my cut goes off in iaido.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 10:54 AM   #9
aikiSteve
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk
Location: Norfolk, VA
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 68
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Oh no, I don't think it's BS at all and very likely my problem is an internal one and will be a pain in the neck to figure out.

For example, you're both essentially saying, if I'm reading it correctly, that if I stop staring at the tip of the sword, stop thinking about aikido, sword cuts or anything at all for that matter, I should end up with cleaner cuts.

Of course without paying attention to whether the tip is wavering it's hard to judge if it's working! haha. A perfect example of Quantum theory.

I'm not naive enough to expect finding the answer on the net. I just find this topic an interesting one to chat about.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 10:58 AM   #10
ramenboy
Dojo: midwest aikido center
Location: chicago
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 328
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Ashley Carter wrote: View Post
This tends to happen with me if I cut using my right hand more then my left. It is like shooting a handgun. If you pull with your other hand while pulling the trigger, your shots will be off target...When I use too much right hand or too much arm that is when my cut goes off in iaido.
+1
i was about to say the same thing. my iai instructor was watching me and said to try cutting with the left hand and let the right hand just go for the ride. then slowly start to bring the right hand back into play

nice post ash

practice hard
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 10:59 AM   #11
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,811
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
So does swinging a heavier bokken prove anything?
prove that you can swing a heavier bokken.

try light up on the grips, if you knuckles turn white after awhile, you are gripping to tight. try bring the bokken up, with minimal amount of muscle, then let it drop (don't even think of cutting). see if the tip waving or not. if it is then you have tension in various parts of your arms and shoulders and the rest of your body. did your sensei tell you that you should be cutting with your body, not your arms?
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 11:25 AM   #12
aikiSteve
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk
Location: Norfolk, VA
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 68
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

I have no doubt my Sensei has told me exactly how to do it for years and I'm just not listening. That wouldn't surprise me one bit, I'm a bit thick headed. I've heard each of these things probably 100 times in my life yet just can't seem to consistently do them.

Could it be that Aiki-ken practice is just not precise enough to produce a clean cut? That would be interesting, because it would then shift this from a mental problem with my cuts to more of a physical problem.

How many of you Iaidoists (Iaidoka? not sure the name) watch us Aikidoka swing swords and want to barf?
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 11:36 AM   #13
ramenboy
Dojo: midwest aikido center
Location: chicago
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 328
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
How many of you Iaidoists (Iaidoka? not sure the name) watch us Aikidoka swing swords and want to barf?
hahahah. all practice has its purpose.

but here's an intersting quote from ellis amdur's post on kuroiwa sensei's passing.
Kuroiwa sensei: I did go to one of the all-shihan meetings recently. Nidai Doshu asked if anyone had any more questions, and I said, "We should stop doing tachi-dori and jo-dori in public demos. There are lots of real swordsmen in the audience, people who've really trained with swords, and they know that we can't really do such techniques. We are making fools of ourselves." There was dead silence in the room. Finally Doshu changed the subject. Later, Saito-sensei came up to me. I thought he'd be angry, but he slapped me on the back and said, ‘Yoku itte kureta.'("Thanks for saying what needed to be said"). Well, maybe it needed to be said but nothing's changed, has it?

practice hard
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 12:23 PM   #14
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,817
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
For example, you're both essentially saying, if I'm reading it correctly, that if I stop staring at the tip of the sword, stop thinking about aikido, sword cuts or anything at all for that matter, I should end up with cleaner cuts.
Well...yeah Easier said than done, huh? But staring at the tip is the road to ruin, at least for me. Heck, staring at anything seems to not work all that well!

A lot of sword work strikes me like the old saying attributed to Tolstoy, "Try not to think of a white bear!" Telling someone what not to do is easy, but how to not-do or not-think? Instead, the training aids that we use are of the "do this instead" variety...and they work, to a point (like the bit about wringing out a towel), but I can't think of a single one of them that it is not possible to overdo, and then you're back to looking at what to not-do. That's where suburi comes in: first you try, then you fight, then you tell yourself you're doing just fine, then you know you're not, then you struggle some more, then you try this, then you try that, then you think it's fixed, then you know it's not, then you try something else, and finally you just give up and cut. Maybe that day you get one or two cuts that you're really happy with. Maybe not. It takes an odd kind of mindset to struggle with all the not-do and not-try and keep coming back for more. Efforts to find the thing that fixes it, as a matter of deliberate and conscious effort, don't seem to work so well though.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 01:25 PM   #15
JW
 
JW's Avatar
Location: San Francisco CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 510
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
For example, you're both essentially saying, if I'm reading it correctly, that if I stop staring at the tip of the sword, stop thinking about aikido, sword cuts or anything at all for that matter, I should end up with cleaner cuts.
Well, I wouldn't say I recommend empty-headed swinging. When I do it, I am concentrating quite hard, so I don't mean stop thinking. But "stop thinking about the cut" is more like it (like what Phi said).

I think of the sword, my center, the downward press of gravity, and the upward push of the earth. Those entities I concentrate on. The suburi motion is then kind of like the sword rolling down and up the "surface" of my center. At some times I am more under the sword and some times more over the sword I guess... but always some of both. (so it's more of a swirl than a ball?) I guess that means maintain musubi b/w the sword and self. I hope it's still not sounding like BS.

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
Of course without paying attention to whether the tip is wavering it's hard to judge if it's working! haha. A perfect example of Quantum theory.
Ah yes the Suburi Uncertainty Principle. Maybe we should leave the quantum interpretations aside though....
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 01:30 PM   #16
aikiSteve
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk
Location: Norfolk, VA
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 68
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
first you try, then you fight, then you tell yourself you're doing just fine, then you know you're not, then you struggle some more, then you try this, then you try that, then you think it's fixed, then you know it's not, then you try something else, and finally you just give up and cut.
I laughed out loud when I read that, my wife says "What's so funny?" I read it to her she looks at me with a blank stare "I don't get it".
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 02:06 PM   #17
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,811
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Ah yes the Suburi Uncertainty Principle. Maybe we should leave the quantum interpretations aside though....
i believed you just hit the cat on the head with that principle. however, i am not certain whether the ki that powers the suburi is matter or energy or both? also, what sort of excitation energy level needed for proper suburi?
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 02:14 PM   #18
ninjaqutie
 
ninjaqutie's Avatar
Dojo: Searching for a new home
Location: Delaware (<3 still in Oregon!)
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,003
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Jerome Cervantes wrote: View Post
+1
i was about to say the same thing. my iai instructor was watching me and said to try cutting with the left hand and let the right hand just go for the ride. then slowly start to bring the right hand back into play

nice post ash
Glad to see someone finds something I post valuable every now and again. I'm usually the one asking the questions or offering what is probably horrid advice.

AikiSteve,

Also, you could try standing in front of something that has vertical lines. Find a doorway or an edge of a window. Then try to cut straight down that line. You can easily see if you are off or not and you aren't focused on your sword, but what is beyond the sword. Sensei has us do that in the dojo to gauge how straight our cuts are. Seems to work because your looking further off into the distance.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 02:30 PM   #19
JW
 
JW's Avatar
Location: San Francisco CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 510
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Ashley Carter wrote: View Post
You can easily see if you are off or not and you aren't focused on your sword, but what is beyond the sword. Sensei has us do that in the dojo to gauge how straight our cuts are. Seems to work because your looking further off into the distance.
I'm guessing, but I think it works exactly because you aren't focusing on the sword. (it's the attention not the visual part)

Ever notice that if you are holding something important, and you have to put it in an important (precise) place, you might start your move fine, but as soon as you get near the final place and go slow and careful, your hand starts to shake? I work with my hands so I've seen this happen to me.. but if I trust that I can do it without worrying about it, I can stop over-concentrating on my hand's location at the critical moment (make it just like a few seconds earlier, when I was only reaching toward the target), and my hand moves smoothly.
I know it's ki related but it's hard to parse it out. Maximal qi engagement with minimal li usage might be a Chinese-terminology way of saying it.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 02:58 PM   #20
NagaBaba
 
NagaBaba's Avatar
Location: Wild, deep, deadly North
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,145
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
No. Just regular old boring Aikiken practice.
You are not practicing sword. You practice something with bokken. I don’t think you can learn how to cut correctly by practicing aikiken. Sign up to learn iaido (or some koryu ) with knowledgeable instructor, he will teach you how to cut.

You are not expecting to learn how to cut from advices by Internet, do you?

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 03:44 PM   #21
JW
 
JW's Avatar
Location: San Francisco CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 510
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
You are not practicing sword. You practice something with bokken. I don't think you can learn how to cut correctly by practicing aikiken. Sign up to learn iaido (or some koryu ) with knowledgeable instructor, he will teach you how to cut.
Szczepan- Toby Threadgill sensei is yelling at you, by proxy, through his reply to me. OK that was a tongue-in-cheek statement, but that thread (and the posts after that one) really address your (and my) concern.

Even if we don't become swordsmen, we can learn something valuable from swinging a stick. I don't mean "make your taijutsu better" either, I mean: swinging a stick lets you practice something really fundamental. Among whatever other things it can teach you.

It's a simple motion, if you can't form a "bridge between heaven and earth" while doing that, then it tells you something is up with your body (and/or mind), right? Hence the OP. I think suburi is a very rich practice medium. After all, aikido is about perfecting the self, not just doing taijutsu.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 03:51 PM   #22
NagaBaba
 
NagaBaba's Avatar
Location: Wild, deep, deadly North
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,145
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
After all, aikido is about perfecting the self, not just doing taijutsu.
Hi Jonathan,
I think you misunderstood a topic. This topic is not "how to improve your taijutsu with aikiken practice'. The author asked how to improve cutting with a sword. Please reread his first post.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 04:19 PM   #23
JW
 
JW's Avatar
Location: San Francisco CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 510
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Hi Jonathan,
I think you misunderstood a topic. This topic is not "how to improve your taijutsu with aikiken practice'. The author asked how to improve cutting with a sword. Please reread his first post.
Sorry to confuse you, my comments about taijutsu were referring to the content of the helpful link I provided, not to the OP.

In fact the OP says "When I swing my sword ... I just can't seem to get the tip of the sword to go straight." This is the point-- he is trying to make his body move an object in a straight line, but it doesn't happen. This is an important point about perfecting the self, controlling your body, being able to move in a special (useful) way. If it isn't clear to you, that's a different topic than the fact that this is indeed an important point to Steve and the rest of us.

It's not about swordsmanship, it's about failure to be able to make your body do a simple task the way one wants it done.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 04:23 PM   #24
Keith Larman
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,559
United_States
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
How many of you Iaidoists (Iaidoka? not sure the name) watch us Aikidoka swing swords and want to barf?
Sheepishly raises hand.

Now before anyone yells at me... I also agree with the link Jonathan posted from Toby. It's all context. If you're swinging the bokken to do aikiken, well, talk with your sense about improving your form. There ya go. It is what it is. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just don't confuse that with traditional swordsmanship.

Go on-line and look up shomenuchi cuts aikido on youtube. Or Happo aikido. You'll see mostly person after person who does a shomenuchi that would only strike shomen if the target was a dwarf. Or 5-years-old. A short 5-years-old at that. So... Hypothetical. Why call it a shomenuchi if you can't reach the shomen of someone your same height? Second thing. Look at how much distance they cover. Let's assume the other guy has a sword too. You need to be out of range of a quick tsuki. Is their cut covering sufficient distance to even remotely get to the target? Are they reaching the head or is the cut starting mid-chest? Do they actually do a cutting motion or is it an axe hammering blow?

Or are they really demonstrating how to cut an unarmed child who's standing way too close to them...

Put something out at head height at the correct distance away. Now do a shomenuchi. Did you do it differently when you actually have a target? If so, are you actually doing shomenuchi when you do the kata without the target? What is your primary goal? Even if it is improving your aikido, do you *want* to do the sword cut correctly first and *then* work on all that other stuff in that context?

If you want to compare it with traditional swordsmanship, well, you need to get some traditional swordsmanship training. Or work with someone in Aikido who also trains in something like iai. Proper cutting mechanics is something that requires some very precise and consistent training. And it just ain't done on-line. Lots of small corrections. Lather, rinse and repeat.

Speaking for myself and myself only, I prefer to train with the starting point being proper form in the traditional Japanese Sword Art sense. So I work hard on my form. For me that is the starting point to all the rest of the aikido related aspects. But weapons is one of those things that is so variable across styles, dojo and even instructors within styles. So... Talk with your sensei.

Man, I must be getting old and crotchety -- I'm agreeing with Szczepan. At least I think I am...

  Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2010, 04:38 PM   #25
JW
 
JW's Avatar
Location: San Francisco CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 510
Offline
Re: Sword tip movement

Oh no, we are talking about real sword use compared to aikiken again!! (It's just "Aikiken vs reality" rephrased!)

I think that is an important topic, and based on what is in this thread, I think most of us agree about aikiken not necessarily being great swordsmanship.

But I really think the topic of THIS thread is valuable! I really would like this particular topic (can you make the sword move in a plane or is that impossible in aikiken) to be discussed because it is of great interest to me. Thanks for bringing it up, Steve.

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
Could it be that Aiki-ken practice is just not precise enough to produce a clean cut?
I say, "NO!"
I don't do "real" swordsmanship.. I may fail Kieth's tests-- I'll work it out at home tonight.. But I can make the sword go straight.

And I used to have a non-straight cut, especially when stepping backwards while cutting. (It used to wobble at the end) And I posted my take on how I improved. So, I don't know if my cut is "clean" but it is straight and dependable, unlike before. So I feel there is some value in this question, even outside of the context of cutting an armed opponent with a live blade.
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

Aikido DVDs and Video Downloads - by George Ledyard Sensei & other great teachers from AikidoDVDS.Com



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Training the Body for Martial Movement Upyu Training 25 01-03-2007 12:24 PM
Rhythm/Speed/Musubi - How they work Erick Mead Techniques 57 08-22-2006 04:47 AM
Training iai as a part of aikido Stefaan Six General 4 07-27-2005 07:20 PM
"Muto" David Humm Language 20 04-22-2005 02:25 PM
Systema Seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev, Part 1 aikibaka131 Seminars 2 07-22-2003 01:45 PM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:46 PM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate