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Old 05-21-2013, 03:17 PM   #1
Andrew S
 
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Origins and inspirations of kumijo

My branch of aikido teaches Iwama derived ken and jo.

We know that the kumitachi as taught by Saito Sensei was distilled from Kashima Shinto Ryu - kumitachi 1 is virtually identical to one of the KSR kata - but what about kumijo? Where does it come from?

I was hoping someone could help here.

Warning: Do not bend, fold or otherwise abuse... until we get to the dojo..


合気道研心会 Aikido Kenshinkai
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:52 PM   #2
Cliff Judge
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Quote:
Andrew Smallacombe wrote: View Post
My branch of aikido teaches Iwama derived ken and jo.

We know that the kumitachi as taught by Saito Sensei was distilled from Kashima Shinto Ryu - kumitachi 1 is virtually identical to one of the KSR kata - but what about kumijo? Where does it come from?

I was hoping someone could help here.
What do you think about this clip of one of the Yagyu Shingan ryu branches demonstrating last year:

http://youtu.be/ZuuWY-9DQNM?t=8m14s.

I don't know my way around the branches of Yagyu Shingan ryu, and I don't know if this is the one that Osensei trained in. AND I can tell you from experience that it is generally dangerous to go looking at youtube videos for things that look alike. The human brain developed to think things look like other things.

Looks similar to me, though. Do you see anything in it?

Since Yagyu Shingan ryu is somewhat related to Kashima, it might be that the superficial resemblance here indicates that aikijo also traces back to Kashima Shinto ryu....the KSR does spear and bo.

Last edited by Cliff Judge : 05-21-2013 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:28 PM   #3
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

I cover this pretty completely in HIPS

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Old 05-22-2013, 02:40 PM   #4
Andrew S
 
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Thanks.
One more aikido goodie I need to save up for.

Warning: Do not bend, fold or otherwise abuse... until we get to the dojo..


合気道研心会 Aikido Kenshinkai
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:47 AM   #5
Millsy
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

So we here a lot of things from different people in Aikido about why this and O'Sensei did that, a lot of it contradictory. From one sensei, who trained with one of O'Senseis students, I've often heard that Jo came from O'Senseis training in yari, and naginata etc. And O'Sensei did this because the sword is predominantly used in a right foot forward kamae and so as to balance this the jo, as OSensei taught, is used from a left kamae. And hence the reason for O'Sensei developing jo movements and using both weapons.

Now this makes some sense to me, as a lot of Saito's kumijo are from the left foot forward. Has anyone else heard this theory? Or maybe this an interpretation of O'Senseis intentions after the event thing?

Last edited by Millsy : 05-23-2013 at 12:55 AM.
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:35 AM   #6
Cliff Judge
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Quote:
Tony Mills wrote: View Post
So we here a lot of things from different people in Aikido about why this and O'Sensei did that, a lot of it contradictory. From one sensei, who trained with one of O'Senseis students, I've often heard that Jo came from O'Senseis training in yari, and naginata etc. And O'Sensei did this because the sword is predominantly used in a right foot forward kamae and so as to balance this the jo, as OSensei taught, is used from a left kamae. And hence the reason for O'Sensei developing jo movements and using both weapons.

Now this makes some sense to me, as a lot of Saito's kumijo are from the left foot forward. Has anyone else heard this theory? Or maybe this an interpretation of O'Senseis intentions after the event thing?
Ellis's account in Hidden in Plain Sight, filtered through me, is that Osensei's training in bayonet was probably the most important influence in the developlment of the paired jo kata. The Yagyu Shingan ryu that he practiced a bit was the Goto-ha line. Ellis asked the headmaster of that line what he thought about Aikijo and the Soke definitively stated that there was no way that Aikijo was Yagyu Shingan ryu.

(Note: don't assume I am giving you an authoritative gloss of this section just because of my first name - you should read the book yourself.)

I haven't had the time to verify what line that youtube clip I posted is from, but the bojutsu certainly looks MORE like aikijo than, say, Shindo Muso ryu, which is what an actual combative jojutsu looks like IMO. I am given to wonder if there are any imaginable circumstances in which the headmaster of a highly esteemed koryu would ever watch a demo of some gendai budo weapons and say "Oh yes, clearly they are practicing our system."

As far as "the sword is predominantly used in right foot forward kamae" ... if you are talking about back in the day, then this is certainly a mistake. If you are talking about in AIKIKEN, then....why create a whole other weapons system to emphasize left foot forward? Why not just practice the sword with left foot forward sometimes?
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Old 05-23-2013, 03:54 PM   #7
Brad Darr
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

So I didn't catch it all but the audio for that clip mentions O'sensei. Can someone with better Japanese skills post a translation maybe? Just out of curiosity.

the edges of the sword are life and death
no one knows which is which
-Ikkyu Sojun
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:12 AM   #8
Scott Harrington
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Been delayed in responding on this - not trying to revive a dead thread.

Having recently relocated from one coast to the other, I love to see the difference 2500 miles makes in Aikido. This is even more evident in the jo forms.

Coming from a style that very nearly abhorred the stick, some schools love it. And they are all usually different.

So, my two cents on kumijo (paired stick forms):

It's like fighting your wife. You really can't win, you can't hurt them, and is mildly useless. Why? There is no emphasis on attacking weak spots (like in Muso Shinden ryu and derivative jodo), just stick against stick. And like the sword in the modern world, is not used daily (a cane might be more useful.)

Lineage, Lineage, lineage. There is a recent Daito ryu dvd out regarding the jo that is greatly different than the Aikido versions. My personal belief is just as Ueshiba did not care to learn Ono-ha Itto ryu (how many times do I have to hit the wrist?!!?), the same may be for the jo of Takeda's composite art. Yes, the disarms and throws with the stick are certainly from DR curriculum (and other styles as well), but the forms -- I seriously doubt.

As to the forms being related to the bayonet -- eh! While the thrusting actions and slipping parry thrust show some similarities to then style of bayonet, a large set of moves in the jo forms are just not in the military bayonet curriculum. There is no hasso in the bayonet, no twirling or spinning, no spinning figure eights.

Early bayonet moves developed from western fencing, but in the late 1800's as the rifle shortened with cordite replacing gunpowder, became stronger with better wooden stock and better metal barrel, and slotted bayonet came into use, a much more brutal and aggressive style came into vogue. In Japan, kendo armor leads to jukendo and in the western world massed armies led to thrust and smash. The advancing butt stroke (even seen in Araki ryu spear work) did not even exist till this weapon reformation took place.

So, where did it come from? I have attached jpg's of various pics of style that predate Ueshiba's involvement in Daito ryu. One is surprisingly similar to the jo work now seen (in all its variations) in Aikido. So, O'sensei or his students copied other styles extant, modified it to have a teaching curriculum (something it seems O'sensei never developed) and is passed on and modified today.

All too often, some think that O'sensei invented EVERYTHING! There was plenty of indigenous jo work for him and his students to draw on.

Scott Harrington
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:18 AM   #9
Stephen Nichol
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

I sometimes wonder about the origins of Aiki-weapon work in (Iwama) Aikido which I study as well. My sensei's are always very clear on it being a system developed to help your Aikido, not a weapon system unto itself or to be considered as such.

So, mainly for solo training and when done in paired situations, for distance and timing in the context of Aikido which is why is not like any older, koryu system out there. Even if it's origins come from the older systems in bits and pieces it has been modified to make it possible to study and develop your Aikido from it and nothing more.

I would certainly not rely on my Aiki-weapons training in itself to go and check my 'weapons' ability with someone who does even Kendo let alone a koryu kenjutsu system. I have no illusions about what Aiki weapons are about.

So at a point I stopped wondering about the origin and just focused on what I am supposed to be learning from it so my understanding and ability in Aikido improves.
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Old 05-07-2014, 03:30 AM   #10
Leonaiki
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Some answers from a direct student of Saito sensei:
http://www.aikidotakemusu.org/en/articles/passage
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Old 05-08-2014, 11:20 AM   #11
Cliff Judge
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Quote:
Leon Bournazel wrote: View Post
Some answers from a direct student of Saito sensei:
http://www.aikidotakemusu.org/en/articles/passage
Hmm.

So the aikijo and aikiken are paired suburi, and were simply constructed of some movements that Saito observed Osensei making consistently, as he was wandering about the farm hallucinating, and Saito was following him around so he didn't hurt himself?

The problem I have with that is that the resemblance of aikiken to some early-training Kashima Shinto ryu kata is too close to ignore. It implies to me that either Osensei directly taught those kata to Saito, or Kisshomaru did, or Saito did some study of Kashima Shinto ryu himself (Iwama to Kashima is not terribly far, I understand the rail that terminates at Kashima Jingu is pretty old, perhaps Saito found himself out that way sometimes).

Maybe Saito's aikijo were put together like that, but I am kind of suspicious of this theory because it really doesn't seem to apply to aikiken.
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Old 05-08-2014, 07:00 PM   #12
Millsy
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Also worth remembering Saito isn't the only one who formalised aikiJo and aikiken, just seems to be the most accessible, I see a lot of non Iwama groups practicing it. A number of teachers have taught very different version: Satome, Chiba, Nisho, Kobayashi, Ki Society, and Kanai are ones that come to my mind as having quite different Jo work from Saito. I'm pretty sure in the case of Nisho and Kanai there was Shinto Muso Ryu influence.
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Old 05-09-2014, 03:04 AM   #13
Leonaiki
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Hmm.

So the aikijo and aikiken are paired suburi, and were simply constructed of some movements that Saito observed Osensei making consistently, as he was wandering about the farm hallucinating, and Saito was following him around so he didn't hurt himself?
Irony put aside, that seems to be the point of the author who was told so by Saito sensei himself. When we watch O sensei's jo movements we can easily recognise the jo suburi elements but obviously those are like extracted to be practiced one by one.

I have lost the reference but in Youtibe you can see an old school practicing jo suburi and they do the same: they isolate movements to master the weapons one movement at a time. It is most likely in my opinion that O sensei did the same in his youth (with the spear and bayonet, I don't exactly see how one could do otherwise tbh. After all that's what saito sensei went through during his first years in Iwama, plenty of shomen...

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
The problem I have with that is that the resemblance of aikiken to some early-training Kashima Shinto ryu kata is too close to ignore. It implies to me that either Osensei directly taught those kata to Saito, or Kisshomaru did, or Saito did some study of Kashima Shinto ryu himself (Iwama to Kashima is not terribly far, I understand the rail that terminates at Kashima Jingu is pretty old, perhaps Saito found himself out that way sometimes).

Maybe Saito's aikijo were put together like that, but I am kind of suspicious of this theory because it really doesn't seem to apply to aikiken.
Undeniable for the first kumitachi, keeping in mind that the same kumitachi is done in a very different way than KSR. (The 1st kumitachi dealing - among other things - with yokomen uchi and the structure of shiho nage - what seems quite fundamental in order to learn the spiralling principle).

Beyond that I have never seen anywhere any other practice of the 5 remaining kumitachi. I guess but it is only a guess that the truth lies in between: A mix of known forms and created forms from scratch. I'd love to learn more about it.

Also one has to consider the structure of the exercises as a whole. The way the whole system is organised reveals a pedagogical goal (line, spiral, up, down, circle, etc).

Quote:
Tony Mills wrote: View Post
Also worth remembering Saito isn't the only one who formalised aikiJo and aikiken, just seems to be the most accessible, I see a lot of non Iwama groups practicing it. A number of teachers have taught very different version: Satome, Chiba, Nisho, Kobayashi, Ki Society, and Kanai are ones that come to my mind as having quite different Jo work from Saito. I'm pretty sure in the case of Nisho and Kanai there was Shinto Muso Ryu influence.
Again undeniable. Keeping in mind that for instance most of Chiba sensei's kumitachi (as I practiced both) are directly inspired by Saito sense's (but not his jo practice). I'm not extremely familiar with Ki society but for what I have seen, they are also very close. When I first studied Saotome sensei's weapons I couldn't but see all the links with Iwama.

All this seems quite logical when (and if I should add) we recognise the kind of central/pivotal role of Saito sensei in spreading the weapon system as organised in the 1940-50 period (roughly). Most of post war students were heavily influenced by his teaching since there was none other really available or so well conceived.

I'm conscious here to state only the obvious. I'll let more expert people to go beyond that...
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:52 AM   #14
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: Origins and inspirations of kumijo

Hello all,

Very interesting thread. I want to remind people of Ellis Amdur's book Hidden in Plain Sight. This brings many things to light that you are wondering about. As a long time direct student of Saito Sensei myself, I can see that Ellis has pretty much summed it up quite concisely. The history is out there regarding what O- Sensei trained terms of weapons - both in actual training as well as observation training (Kashima).
Saito Sensei was the person who formalized the forms into what we now have as the basic and advanced forms in the Iwama lineage of weapons training. It is worthy of notice that O Sensei was present while Saito Sensei's structuring and teaching of these forms was taking place.

I think that O Sensei was quite open in many ways to the different paths that his different top students were taking. I think this explains the quite different forms you see in his various top students throughout the years.

But he also could be quite strict about certain aspects: he would, according to the accounts, not be happy when the deshi were trying to practice fancy kokyu nage techniques. He would become pleased if they were seen to be doing suwari waza Ikkyo, shihonage or other core techniques. Likewise, there is the account of O Sensei being displeased when the students at the headquarters were found practicing the advanced weapons forms, before having done enough basic weapons practice. This is the same pattern: create a strong basic structure before moving on to the advanced forms.

But to reiterate: between Stanley Pranin's extensive historic coverage of this topic, together with Ellis Amdur's recent publication, it is basically all covered.

In Aiki,
Ethan
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