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Old 06-20-2000, 11:38 AM   #1
Chuck Clark
 
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I'm curious about the criteria many aikidoka may use to define the difference between "aiki weapons" and koryu weapons arts such as Shinto Muso-ryu for example.

Can we come up with a good definition?

Thanks,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 06-21-2000, 12:04 AM   #2
pixiebob
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Talking

Quote:
Originally posted by Chuck Clark
the difference between "aiki weapons" and koryu weapons arts ...
Can we come up with a good definition?
aiki weapons are what you learn from your aikido instructor, if he/she does not have another name for them :-)
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Old 06-21-2000, 02:07 AM   #3
George S. Ledyard
 
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Aiki Weapons

Quote:
Originally posted by Chuck Clark
I'm curious about the criteria many aikidoka may use to define the difference between "aiki weapons" and koryu weapons arts such as Shinto Muso-ryu for example.

Can we come up with a good definition?

Thanks,
I remember reading something Kanai Sensei said in Aikido Journal years ago. He said that in kenjutsu the practitioner over time "becomes" the sword. He is in some sense subordinate to the weapon. By contrast in Aikido the use of weapons is an extension of the body movement, in other words the weapon becomes subordinate to the practitioner. (I may have mangled his words a bit; it was quite a while ago)

I think this adequately describes what I understand about weapons work. Koryu are complete systems of training that have been handed down for hundreds of years designed to give the student the capability to engage in combat. Aikido weapons work is a comilation of various techniques that tie in directly to the body movement in the art. There is nothing systematic about it. in fact there isn't much in common from the weapons work done by one teacher and another. Saotome Sensei has a different set of forms which are of his own creation both single and two sword. They offer a wealth of information for the student that uses them effectively but in no way are they a complete system of swordsmanship. The extent to which a given Aikido practitioner has good weapons work is often dependent on the degree of exposure he or she has had to the use of weapons in other arts.

In my own case I have tried to incorporate a number of elements that I found were present in the classical training I did for a couple years undeer Ellis Amdur Sensei (Buko Ryu Naginata and Araki Ryu)and the exposure via video to other classical styles (notably Yagyu and Maniwa Nen Ryu). I have slightly altered the manner in which we execute the forms we received from Saotome Sensei to add a bit of the flavor of the classical forms. I have also incorporated exercises from classical training such as controlled freestyle with light protective gear (concepts derived from Maniwa Nen Ryu) Ultimately there are many elements of Aikido weapons work that may have combat application but I would never say that any Aikido weapons work I have seen represents a systematic approach to training in any weapon.The training simply offers another way to view the whole of the Aikido practice.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-21-2000, 09:43 AM   #4
akiy
 
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My experience with koryu arts can, perhaps, fill a small thimble...

For me, the weapons training in aikido lets me see aikido principles from a different angle. I, for one, am practicing in weapons to understand aikido better, not to become a weapons person.

-- Jun

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Old 06-21-2000, 10:21 AM   #5
Chuck Clark
 
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I have heard over the years some aikidoka state that "aiki" weapons techniques and principles are "different" than koryu arts.

I disagree, principles of efficient movement are universal. Strategy and movtive or intent are other subjects. I think the principle of the technique is the same, form may vary depending on the person, and style surely differs from person to person.

Do we practice the sword that takes life or the sword that gives life? There's lots of room for semantics and hair-splitting there. I suspect the easiest way that I can express it is: principle is the same, technique should be able to be successful at whatever level of force is deemed necessary by the budoka. Make successful technique and do as little harm as possible.

Kano Jigoro's maxims: Seiryoku Zenyo and Jita Kyoei (Best use of energy and mutual benefit) conveys this attitude well, I think.


Chuck Clark
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Old 06-22-2000, 05:24 AM   #6
George S. Ledyard
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chuck Clark
I have heard over the years some aikidoka state that "aiki" weapons techniques and principles are "different" than koryu arts.

I disagree, principles of efficient movement are universal. Strategy and movtive or intent are other subjects. I think the principle of the technique is the same, form may vary depending on the person, and style surely differs from person to person.

Do we practice the sword that takes life or the sword that gives life? There's lots of room for semantics and hair-splitting there. I suspect the easiest way that I can express it is: principle is the same, technique should be able to be successful at whatever level of force is deemed necessary by the budoka. Make successful technique and do as little harm as possible.

Kano Jigoro's maxims: Seiryoku Zenyo and Jita Kyoei (Best use of energy and mutual benefit) conveys this attitude well, I think.

Sensei,
Is the issue here one of "are they different" or "should they be different"? Most of the kobudo teachers with whom I am familiar ie. Ellis Amdur, Meik Skoss, Dave Lowry etc. (all people that you are intimately familair with I know) have substantial Aikido backgrounds. I have never heard any of them maintain that the use of weapons in Aikido is the same or even very close to the use of weapons in kobudo. In fact they seem to go out of their way to distance themselves from Aikido. I have heard them discuss the fact that even amongst the highest level Aikido Sensei, none of them, Saotome, Saito, or Nishio Senseis have actually studied in a classical Ryu Ha in sword. I understand that there a a few that did study Jodo, Iamaizumi Sensei being one who comes to mind right away.

It seems very important to the practitioners of the Koryu that the distinstion be very clear so I respect that and make no claims for Aikido weapons work being the same as in classical styles. That said, there are certainly some of us who have endeavored to conduct their Aikido weapons work and indeed the empty hand practice as well "as if" they were more classical in nature. It is absolutely true that "principle" is universal and therefore the same in Aikido or classical systems. But the koryu are full systems with the details of practice written in stone so to speak for each generation to practice without variation from the previous generation. That is certainly not true in Aikido! Saotome Sensei's forms used to change over time as he taught them (at least until they finally got immortalized on video and became the "standard" version). My versions of his forms are slightly different from other senior student's versions as we have each encountered various technical issues through their practice and have solved these issues in different ways. I think that this is fine as Saotome Sensei has from the very first maintained that we each have to find the way that works for us, not simply be an imitation of someone else(including himself - I once heard him chastizing one of his senior students, "don't do it the way I do it!", not something you are apt to hear from most teachers). I have always tried to adhere to a way of training that puts some large emphasis on efficacy. It has never been clear to me why some teachers seem to maintain that techniques that do not work are somehow more "spiritual" than those that do. But my struggle to determine those issues through my own training merely points out the difference from a classical system. In the koryu those issues were ironed out at some distant point in the past by warriors who used the techniques in combat. It is not up to the student to play around with the techniques and decide which ones work for him. You study the forms for many years until the underlying reality is understood, you don't adapt the practice to your own needs and capabilities which is certainly what happens in Aikido.

Does that mean that my basic sword cut is essentially different than one done by a Yagyu practitioner? Possibly not. Do I do incorporate elements from the training I did in classical styles into my Aikido? Absolutely! But I think it would be presumptuous of me to maintain that my practice is the same as in a classical ryu. My teachers would be all over me (I suspect that I'd get a comeuppence from Relnick Sensei as well) if I were trying to draw the association. One of the things I have heard consistently from the classical style instructors is the need to not have the teachings of their styles be too public ie. in videos etc. because that would lead to pieces of the practice being taken out of context by people who don't understand them fully. But in fact that is what many of us in Aikido do. I bring things into my Aikido practice from whatever source is avalable to me if I think it enhances my own practice and that of my students. I admit to bringing things in from styles in which I have no teaching credentials, merely some short term exposure. I always give credit to the source of the technique, I don't try to maintain it as something I made up or discovered. But it gets Aikido-ized in the process. When I have brought it into our system it ceases to be what it was when it was part of the style from which I learned it. I think that this is essentially what most serious Aikido teachers do when they want to expand their technique beyond the limited repetoire that is offered within Aikido proper.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 07-02-2000, 10:54 PM   #7
AikiTom
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Clark Sensei,
I agree with what George Ledyard has written, but I think you are missing a distinction.
In aikido, weapons practice is not intended to make anyone proficient with a weapon - in koryu bujutsu/budo, practical use may be desired.
Ledyard Sensei is correct in my opinion when he talks about subordinating the weapon to the body of the aikidoist.
I think weapons are just a form of practice to teach certain aikido principles that can be more quickly learned through use of that weapon.
Cutting motions and postures and the balance learned all go into making a more efficient nage (tori), and thrusts and yokomenuchis with jos are really large body motions of aikido techniques/movements that can enhance empty-hand practice.
But that's my main argument with the topic. Aiki weapons may be useful as weapons, but what they teach is the purpose for the use.
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Old 07-02-2000, 11:36 PM   #8
Chuck Clark
 
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Thanks all,

I guess that kind of answers my question. I have always thought that most aikido weapons work had little to do with efficient use of buki.

I think I'll stick with good principle with the sword and jo done with whatever intent I see fit at the moment.

If my intent happens to be blend with the attacker and use the stick in my hand as a tool (extension of my center, etc.) and do as little harm as possible... I'll probably still call it weapons work done in an aikido manner.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 07-03-2000, 11:53 PM   #9
AikiTom
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Chuck,
Can you explain "buki." I haven't heard the term before. Thanks.
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Old 07-04-2000, 12:57 AM   #10
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I'm not Chuck, but I'm here more often...

"Bu" is the same "bu" character as in "budo" and can be translated basically as "martial." "Ki" in this context is not the one in "aikido" but one that means "instrument."

With all of that said, "buki" basically means "weapon."

-- Jun

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Old 07-06-2000, 12:57 PM   #11
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Mr. Ledyard wrote:

"But the koryu are full systems with the details of practice written in stone so to speak for each generation to practice without variation from the previous generation."

This is USUALLY a true statement however, it should also be realized that even in some of the Koryu arts, in particular, Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaijutsu (MJERI), the Grandmasters of the art can, and often times do, change training methods and also may even add entirely new techniques. In some cases these can be quite drastic. Imagine the suprise people felt when the ryu made the change from wearing the swords with the edge down to edge up as we practice it today. That must have had a few people scratching their heads huh?

I can only offer my personal view here but after training in both (ASU) Aiki weapons and in MJERI, for me, the feeling is much different while practicing each. In Aiki-ken for example, for some reason I don't feel the desire to outright dispatch uke, even though uke is attacking, but rather to survive the experience while preventing uke from mounting another attack. ( this of course may include dispatching uke, depending on uke's intent and the situation ). ;-)

While practicing MJERI, I will give the attacker an oppurtunity to back off from the attack by first drawing the sword slowly from the saya (if the situation permits). If the attack continues, then without hesitation I will dispatch the attacker as quickly and cleanly as possible using proper technique. There are no "degrees" of ending these attacks in this particular ryu as there are in Aiki-ken. You do not "pin" your attacker as you might in Aiki-ken, or try to disarm them. You simply dispatch the attacker. Done, over with, move on.

Even though the feeling, movements and intent feels different, there are technical commonalities as well, after all, they both involve sword and good swordsmanship can trancend style in SOME areas such as proper grip, swing, distancing, timing etc....

For me, today, there is a distinct difference. Someone with many more years of practice in the koryu arts might see things differently, as I might also one day, but for now at least, at this point in my training, I don't associate the two other than they both involve, and require, good swordsmanship. They simply were not developed in the same era, and therefore, tend to serve different purposes.

Hope this helps and didn't put you to sleep.

Regards,
Dan Pokorny
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