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Old 12-06-2001, 03:45 AM   #1
gi_grrl
Dojo: Institute of Aikido Australia
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Live blades

I'm interested in finding out what people think about the use of live blades for training.

I completed my first kyu grading not so long ago, and its been suggested to me that I may be expected to demonstrate knife techniques against a live blade as part of my shodan grading. I'm concerned that I won't be prepared enough, and having a friend who received a serious injury in a similar situation makes me wonder whether I should really accede to such a request.

Do other clubs use live blades? And at what level are they first introduced?

Would it be disrespectful to my Sensei to say that if live blades are being used, then I don't feel that I'm ready to be graded?
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Old 12-06-2001, 04:12 AM   #2
Kami
Dojo: ShinToKai DoJo of AiKiDo
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Unhappy Re: Live blades

Quote:
Originally posted by gi_grrl
I'm interested in finding out what people think about the use of live blades for training.
I completed my first kyu grading not so long ago, and its been suggested to me that I may be expected to demonstrate knife techniques against a live blade as part of my shodan grading.
Do other clubs use live blades? And at what level are they first introduced?
Would it be disrespectful to my Sensei to say that if live blades are being used, then I don't feel that I'm ready to be graded?
KAMI : to my knowledge, it's uncommon to use live blades in most dojo, specially for shodan grading.
Since you didn't state which aikido style or organization your sensei is linked to or if he's independent, it's difficult to say anything else.
Anyway, there's no possible way your sensei should feel you are being disrespectful , if you don't feel disposed to do live blades, at least for the moment.
After all, if uke attacks you CAREFULLY with the live blade, your exam will probably be fake. If he attacks forcefully and fast, it will be very dangerous and you might get hurt or, even worse, get killed.
Take care

Last edited by Kami : 12-06-2001 at 04:15 AM.

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
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Old 12-06-2001, 04:27 AM   #3
gi_grrl
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Quote:
Since you didn't state which aikido style or organization your sensei is
linked to or if he's independent, it's difficult to say anything else.
I did actually include my Sensei's name and Dojo in my profile, because I love aikido and I'm proud to be training with him. After starting this thread, it ocurred to me that with only this one piece of information people might mis-judge, so I removed that information to avoid any possible embarrassment.

Quote:
Anyway, there's no possible way your sensei should feel you are
being disrespectful , if you don't feel disposed to do live blades, at least
for the moment.
I guess you're right. Perhaps I'm being taught something about admitting my limitations
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Old 12-06-2001, 04:58 AM   #4
Creature_of_the_id
 
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In our association we do our shodan gradings against 'live blades'. actually, that is what I was told.. but when doing the grading I am pretty sure the blade was blunt.
yes it was a metal knife, yes it looked very real and could probably still poke a hole in someone.. I didnt test to see how sharp it was. but I am pretty sure that it would be blunt as insurance wouldnt cover us otherwise.

I did find that the thought of defending myself against a live blade made my movement more decisive (sp?), as I knew that I could not get it wrong the technique had to be applied properly as the uke was attacking. Also because the blade looked very real then it allows you to become accustomed with the appearence and presence of a knife in a self defense situation.
If I was to only practice with a tanto then as soon as someone revealed a real knife and attacked me with it I may doubt my ability to defend myself against the real thing.
I think creating the presence of danger within your mind, no matter how real it actually is, can be a very useful thing for aikido in terms of confidence whilst defending yourself.

we dont use metal knives or live blades before 1st kyu... well not that I have seen anyway. but the majority of the time, at all levels, we use wooden tantos... it is simply not worth the risk to use live blades all of the time.

Kev

"train as if your life depends on it... one day it might"
(I dont know who said that or how acurate the quote is... but its near enough and i like it )
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Old 12-06-2001, 05:11 AM   #5
unsound000
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Re: Live blades

Quote:
Originally posted by gi_grrl
I'm interested in finding out what people think about the use of live blades for training.

Do other clubs use live blades? And at what level are they first introduced?

Would it be disrespectful to my Sensei to say that if live blades are being used, then I don't feel that I'm ready to be graded?
Our brown belts train with live blades but they are as someone else mentioned very blunt.
They start with these to get over their fear. Later, somewhere after shodan I think they begin to practice with the real deal=) It all depends though, on getting over that fear we all have. You need to be trained for something before you dive right in. If someone got injured before then that means that he wasn't prepared and shouldn't have been doing it. You gotta start with small steps..
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Old 12-06-2001, 05:11 AM   #6
gi_grrl
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Quote:
Originally posted by Creature_of_the_id
In our association we do our shodan gradings against 'live blades'.
Interesting...my Sensei originally trained in the UK...
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Old 12-06-2001, 05:31 AM   #7
wildaikido
Dojo: Hans de Jong Self Defence School
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Fiona I would just like to know where you train as I am in WA as well if you don't want to say I understand maybe you could just give me the suburb.
Anyway use of live blades shouldn't really be necessary and if you train using traditional Japanese knife attacks there isn't much point because that is not how you're going to get attack with a knife on the street.
If you don't feel your ready to grade then you wait. Maybe you should start training with metal knifes but be careful, our school was doing a demo at the WACA and one of the sensei's got a blunt metal training knife through the edge of his hand (his tegatana) and it wasn't to nice. I guess how your uke attacks is important.
To make more comments it would be good to know the style you study.

Graham Wild
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Old 12-06-2001, 06:34 AM   #8
deepsoup
Dojo: Sheffield Shodokan Dojo
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Re: Live blades

Quote:
Originally posted by gi_grrl
I'm interested in finding out what people think about the use of live blades for training.
I think training with live blades is excessively dangerous and anyway unhelpful.

To paraphrase an earlier post, fake attack = fake aikido, but your uke would only make a serious, comitted attack if they were:

a) Absolutely 100% confident that you can perform a technique which will protect both of you from injury - in which case why do you need to do a grading, you have already mastered aikido.

b) A complete psychopath, who is prepared to risk killing you for no good reason - I've never met such a person, and I hope I never will.

I read a story about O Sensei performing a demonstration somewhere, and it was one of those very rare occasions when he fluffed it. (Yes, even he was only human.) He failed to get out of the way and *bonk* his uke hit him hard, right on the top of the head, with a bokken. O Sensei was a very, very tough man, he laughed it off, and then demonstrated the technique correctly.

If he'd been daft enough to use a live blade, rather than a bokken, for his demonstration, we'd all be practicing judo, jujitsu or flower-arranging today. And how would his poor uke have lived with himself after that ?

Quote:

Would it be disrespectful to my Sensei to say that if live blades are being used, then I don't feel that I'm ready to be graded?
I dont think it would be disrespectful at all.

More to the point, I think it would be very out of line for your sensei to pressure you to do it against your own better judgement.

Take good care of yourself.

Sean
x
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Old 12-06-2001, 10:45 AM   #9
Edward
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Usually blunt metal blades (not live blades) are used in demonstrations to impress the public. But even then, they are very dangerous. We have had a few accidents even with wooden tantos.

Sometimes we do practice tachidori with real sword (blunt) but it is under controlled environment, not grading tests where people might become too excited. I know I cannot refuse if sensei asks me to demonstrate with him using a metal weapon, but for sure I will be scared to death. I will definitely refuse to do my grading with a metal weapon.
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Old 12-06-2001, 11:42 AM   #10
Dan Hover
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to repeat what I had written a long time ago under a different thread "the myth of martial arts" :
please allow me to indulge everyone as to the why of this: "Once for a demonstration with Saito Sensei - I think when I was about Sandan - I asked O sensei if I could use a live blade for our tantodori demonstration, but he rejected the idea. I think he has a clearer understanding of my real ability than I did at the time and knew it wouldnt be a good idea. A while later I did use a live blade at another demonstration that O sensei couldn't attend, and of course I injured myself. I felt so foolish, and it took injuring myself like that to figure out why he had denied my request the first time."

-Hiroshi Isoyama Hachidan

Now, if that rationale is good enough for him, I hope it works for us, who will probably only walk in the shadows of the greats. For obvious safety reasons I feel training with a live blade whether it be Katana or Tanto is unnecessary. As one should always be treating these( bokken and bokutanto) like these are live blades to begin with, if that focus is there all the time, replacing them with live blades can lead to reckless endangerment. I agree that training with them can add a certain edge but why shake the devil's hand and say you are only kidding?

This quote is a while old, but still is relevant today, check out the thread...

Dan Hover

of course that's my opinion, I could be wrong
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Old 12-06-2001, 12:28 PM   #11
Kami
Dojo: ShinToKai DoJo of AiKiDo
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Thumbs down Live Blades, Bokuto and Bokutanto

Quote:
Originally posted by Dan Hover
For obvious safety reasons I feel training with a live blade whether it be Katana or Tanto is unnecessary. As one should always be treating these( bokken and bokutanto) like these are live blades to begin with, if that focus is there all the time, replacing them with live blades can lead to reckless endangerment. I agree that training with them can add a certain edge but why shake the devil's hand and say you are only kidding?
kami : Hello, Dan Sensei!

A very good post. And sometimes people forget that wooden weapons weren't used just for "safety purposes" (after all, you can kill easily someone with a Bokuto...)
The main reason was that people didn't want to risk expensive metal weapons training daily with them.
Best

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
Unknown author

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Old 12-06-2001, 01:05 PM   #12
Erik
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It's funny to me how certain threads repeat themselves over and over. This is another one that shows up time and time again. I don't know how to keep this one short, so here goes.

A knife or bladed weapon represents an equalizer. An untrained person becomes dangerous and a trained person becomes exceptionally dangerous with a knife in their hand. For instance, pick your favorite shihan. Joe Blow pulls a knife and attacks him. Most of the time, our friend Joe winds up with broken body parts, unconscious, paralyzed, disabled, dead and sometimes even pinned and unharmed. However, some percentage of the time, your favorite shihan winds up wounded, disabled or dead. It will be more often than you think even if Joe doesn't know what he's doing with a knife.

If, however, Joe is an expert knife fighter, he will cut, wound or kill your favorite shihan a significantly greater percentage of the time. Probably, most of the time.

Really, it only needs to happen once doesn't it.

Therein, lies the problem. Knives are a game of percentages where the price of error is extremely high. Not getting off the line of a shomen strike usually means you get an ouchie. Not getting off the line of a live blade means a trip to the hospital. Actually, it can happen even with a tanto. Been there, done that.

Personally, knowing what I know now, I would walk out of any dojo (excepting iaido) that used a live blade for any part of their practice. If a sensei can't increase your pucker factor through other methods he/she is not worthy of the title. If I've offended anyone with that statement then so be it. Anyone who irresponsibly puts others at risk shouldn't be teaching and using a live blade is irresponsible give the alternatives.
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Old 12-06-2001, 01:29 PM   #13
Erik
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Re: Live blades

Quote:
Originally posted by gi_grrl
Do other clubs use live blades? And at what level are they first introduced?

Would it be disrespectful to my Sensei to say that if live blades are being used, then I don't feel that I'm ready to be graded? [/b]
Hi Fiona!

In my opinion, it would not be disrespectful if you left your sensei because of this. Yea, easy for me to say.

When I was injured with a live-blade, I knew the blade shouldn't have been out. The feeling of what am I doing here is clear to me years later. The problem is that I didn't have the courage to trust my feelings. Afterall, the sensei must be right, they must know better than I and surely they have my best interests at heart. They are sensei and I'm just a lowly kyu rank.

In reality, I was right. I'm convinced that the sensei brought out the knife because they wanted to play with the knife. It was a toy, and the instructor rationalized that it would be a benefit to my training. I wound up with a hole in my arm because of it.

The tone of your post tells me that you have concerns about the practice. I encourage you to look at those concerns and trust yourself to honor them. Your thoughts, ideas and concerns are more important than anything your sensei says. Trust them and don't get caught up in the sensei knows best stuff like I did.

PS: Very few dojos play with live blades.
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Old 12-06-2001, 03:04 PM   #14
Jem8472
Dojo: Norwich School of Aikido Dynamic
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I don't think that it is a good idea to pratice with live blades, all you need is one little mistake and one of you is injuried or dead.

It does not even have to be a mistake by you it could be that the knife falls to the mat and bounces and someone falls on it. I don't think it it worth the risk. I know the saying to trust you own abilitys. I do trust myself but i would not risk a friend with training with a live blade.

Also you could even really hurt yourself on a wooden Tanto, that will go into you if you fall on it.

Jem

There are two things worse than dying: living without honor and dying without reason.
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Old 12-06-2001, 08:23 PM   #15
gi_grrl
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My sincerest thanks to everybody that has posted to this thread. The pros and cons are slowly becoming more clear to me...

Erik said:
Quote:
When I was injured with a live-blade, I knew the blade shouldn't have been out.
I'm beginning to think that the issue may not necessarily whether live blades should be used or not, but whether I'm ready. When I'm confident that every time someone attacks me with a wooden tanto I'll do the right thing, then I may be ready to try it. Until then, I'm not really prepared to take the risk. And, since I plant to keep on practicing aikido for a good while yet, I've got plenty of time to prepare.

Cheers, Fiona.
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Old 12-06-2001, 09:14 PM   #16
Largo
Dojo: Aikikai Dobunkan/ Icho Ryu Aikijujutsu
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As I've said previously, I'm new to aikido. However, I did spend a couple of years doing kali (phillipine knife and stick) in my university.
Sometimes we used dull metal blades, but never live ones. If you want to know why, try the following exercise: you and a partner get markers, and use them in your various knife techniques. Then see where you are marked up. Also works great for groups of 3 or 4. (it's amazing all of the lines on your back that you never noticed till after practice).
I never managed to do this perfectly. Because of this, I sure as heck wouldn't try it with a live blade.
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Old 12-06-2001, 10:14 PM   #17
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by gi_grrl
I'm beginning to think that the issue may not necessarily whether live blades should be used or not
It's very much the issue.

I didn't really expect to change anyone's thinking though. I've watched this one come through here before and despite some pretty persuasive arguments by some folks I've never seen one person change their thinking.

I guess until you get cut, or far worse cut someone else, it just isn't real. I know my thinking is much different now than it used to be.
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Old 12-06-2001, 11:50 PM   #18
Edward
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Well said, Erik! I would add that I will be feeling very silly if I happened to go to the hospital with a Japanese knife or sword sticking out of my body. It would be certainly a very embarrassing situation to explain to the doctors how did you get it. I think they even have the right not to treat you, so that you can learn your lesson
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Old 12-07-2001, 06:08 PM   #19
Mike Collins
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To recap:

Live Blade= a metal blade with a sharp edge.

Tanto= wooden simulated blade.

Other thing= metal blade with no edge and a sharp point.

Training with live blades= stupidity at any level lower than shihan (and I'm willing to bet damned few shihan are that vain)

Training with tanto= useful, good and mostly safe.

Training with metal blade, dull point, no edged other thing. Probably not terribly wise at level lower than about sandan, because of Kami's point. No speed and intent= bad training, training to stab with a sharply pointed metal knife= dangerous to deadly.

Training with markers, very useful, very smart, good training (but destined to get you killed, if someone else has to wash your gi).

That ought to bring on some heated response.
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Old 12-09-2001, 06:07 AM   #20
Largo
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Talking

Thanks for your opinion on the marker idea. Actually, when we did kali, we just wore regular t-shirts. so on the days when we did something that would leave a mark, we (or at least, I) wore something I didn't care about or planned to pitch. a plain undershirt is a lot cheaper than stitches....

Largo
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Old 12-20-2001, 07:07 AM   #21
davoravo
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My first sensei used to say that the most valuable thing he had learned from aikido was the vulnerability of the human body in a fight.
If you are training with a wooden tanto you can stab and slash and "cut" your partner and teach them that in a knife fight they should run away!
If you use a sharp pointy thing, you can only deliver fake attacks. This will teach your partner that they are invincible which will only get them killed.
By the way; if you feel you are unready for the grading, surely you just don't take it?

David McNamara
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Old 12-20-2001, 04:39 PM   #22
deepsoup
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Quote:
Originally posted by davoravo
My first sensei used to say that the most valuable thing he had learned from aikido was the vulnerability of the human body in a fight.
If you are training with a wooden tanto you can stab and slash and "cut" your partner and teach them that in a knife fight they should run away!
If you use a sharp pointy thing, you can only deliver fake attacks. This will teach your partner that they are invincible which will only get them killed.
By the way; if you feel you are unready for the grading, surely you just don't take it?
Even a wooden tanto can inflict a nasty injury (bruised or broken ribs, maybe), if a serious stabbing attack connects.

In Shodokan we spend a lot of time trying to stab (Tsuki) each other with a tanto in a 'non-cooperative' kind of way. (Most of the 'competitive' style of randori is based on this.) Consequently we use a kind of squashy rubber tanto rather than a wooden one, so that tanto can really go for it without having to worry about possibly hurting toshu.

When you replace your Uke with someone who is really trying to get a strike, and is encouraged to put some skill and cunning into it rather than just rushing in with a committed attack, it really brings it home just how difficult it is to avoid being cut by someone weilding a knife intellegently.

Sean
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Old 12-20-2001, 04:50 PM   #23
shihonage
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Quote:
Originally posted by deepsoup


Even a wooden tanto can inflict a nasty injury (bruised or broken ribs, maybe), if a serious stabbing attack connects.

In Shodokan we spend a lot of time trying to stab (Tsuki) each other with a tanto in a 'non-cooperative' kind of way. (Most of the 'competitive' style of randori is based on this.) Consequently we use a kind of squashy rubber tanto rather than a wooden one, so that tanto can really go for it without having to worry about possibly hurting toshu.

When you replace your Uke with someone who is really trying to get a strike, and is encouraged to put some skill and cunning into it rather than just rushing in with a committed attack, it really brings it home just how difficult it is to avoid being cut by someone weilding a knife intellegently.

Sean
x
Steven Seagal Sensei has a fragment on his tape where the uke is going full-force with what looks like a metal knife.

Seagal ignored/avoided all the small, fast, untrackable, "intelligent" movements by maintaining distance.

He then finally caught the guy when he committed, and ended up with a rear chokehold.
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Old 12-20-2001, 04:52 PM   #24
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by deepsoup
Even a wooden tanto can inflict a nasty injury (bruised or broken ribs, maybe), if a serious stabbing attack connects.
Or, you can just get wacked on the head with one and watch the blood flow. Had to have the doctor glue me back together after that happened.

I've made it well past 30 but sometimes I wonder if I'll ever make it to 40.
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Old 12-21-2001, 01:27 AM   #25
Olaf
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It was mentioned in this thread before... but I would like to make the point more clear: instead of using a live blade for (faked) thrill, go and give the rubber knife a try.
At our dojo, we use rubber knives when training at advanced levels AFTER practicing the techniques' form with a tanto. Now uke can really go for it, with intent and mean, charging focus. If we are unable to interpret training-knife-cuts as in-fact-fails, then maybe we shouldn't check our brains along with the zori on the edge of the mat.

I think attacking half-heartedly and "carefully" to avoid injury is (except for forms training) nothing more than fake practice and teaches nage nothing but a convinced feeling of unreal invincibility, be it live blades or wooden ones.

If you want real thrill in gradings, try the above mentioned uke, but use a tanto (or a leather covered one from Bujin). If you "survive" the test realtively unbruised and are still able to join the others when they celebrate afterwards, you have had the experience you were after.

Have a good day.
Olaf Schubert
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