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Old 06-12-2009, 03:41 PM   #1
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Aiki-Ken vs reality

I have never claimed to be a wise man... well, that maybe not entirely correct. However, I have never claimed to be a teacher or any real sword method outside of the betterment of solo work on one's own understanding of internal and external movement... etc. As such, I am seeking comments about the relationship between real sword work and what I like to call the fantasies of Saturday morning cartoon avengers, which I have nicknamed as, Wacky-sticks often seen in most and I mean about 99% of the sword demonstrations by anyone outside of any authority coming from one of the various, but well-recognized schools of such training. Hopefully the comments will come from those who actually study the use of the sword beyond mere Iaido, which I am not criticizing in any fashion, but would like to at least differentiate that from those who are really cutting and or fully delving into kumitachi outside of the aforementioned wacky-stick methods and practices.

I offer this clip I came across on the web for consideration and a starting point of discussion. I know not the author nor the practitioner, nor am I claiming any understanding or viewpoint about the demonstration in any way. The conversation I am seeking is not about this particular video, only about Aiki-Ken style demonstrations and practice methods versus actual kenjitsu, or other methods of training, practicing and demonstrations.

Thank you in advance for your comments and contributions.

Best in training to all...

.

I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:39 PM   #2
Nick
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

To put it as briefly as I can and save your having to read a long reply: Aikido sword work is used to refine aikido and it does that very well. However, its martial efficacy when compared to traditional kenjutsu is unfavorable at best.

Nick

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Old 06-12-2009, 07:30 PM   #3
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

I recall a quip about the sword work in Yanagi ryu in which it was stated that they use only live blades because iaito or bokken do not give the appropriate feeling of shinken during training. Of course I could be way off base out here in the cheap seats. Makes one wonder about using bokken for anything beside smashing nuts (ahem, like walnuts, etc).
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:35 PM   #4
Rennis Buchner
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

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Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
I recall a quip about the sword work in Yanagi ryu in which it was stated that they use only live blades because iaito or bokken do not give the appropriate feeling of shinken during training.
Nothing against Yanagi-ryu intended but what they do is by no means representative of what actually happens here in Japan training-wise in most kenjutsu based ryuha.

Best,
Rennis Buchner
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Old 06-13-2009, 03:37 PM   #5
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Sorry Shaun but I don't see any Aiki-Ken(jitsu) in that video just allot of posturing. If the excuse was that it was a "demonstration" video Well...

Since everything in our Aikido eminates from the sword We emphasize it allot.

Both Uke and Nage in that Y-Tube did not even know how to cut and if thier Bokken had actully connected they would have been knocked right out of thier hands or hurt thier elbows. LOL

William Hazen
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Old 06-13-2009, 05:04 PM   #6
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

No one alive fights with live swords anymore. So everything we do in any martial arts could rightfully be called "Wacky-sticks" if that's what you want to call it.

You can look to koryu martial arts, which in theory pass down traditional sword fighting methods, from people who actually fought with swords. You can try simulations with sword like things, action flex, shinai etc. But really no one knows anymore.

Until some form of live sword fighting comes back into vogue, it will all be "Wacky-sticks" or an estimation. You might feel that some have better estimations then others, but that's just your guess as a non-sword fighter. No more or less valuable then their guess as non-sword fighters.

Unless you want to start fighting with a sword, you can never be a sword fighter, natures rule not mine (stolen from Mr. Miyagi).

Last edited by ChrisHein : 06-13-2009 at 05:08 PM.

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Old 06-13-2009, 11:45 PM   #7
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. There are things we know without having to resort to actual sword fights. For instance, proper grip, proper cutting methods, etc. Give the average aikidoka a real sword and stick them in front of a soaked tatami and most will not be able to cut cleanly (and yes, I've done this more than once). Elbows out, improper tenouchi, improper hasuji, no draw during the cut, and on and on. So comments like "Until some form of live sword fighting comes back into vogue, it will all be "Wacky-sticks" or an estimation." is much like saying "well, the air is really polluted so it doesn't matter if I smoke". No, it does matter. This isn't an either/or thing. There are things we do know about proper cutting that can be *easily* demonstrated. And most every aikidoka I've had over to my place and given them a sword and a bunch of rolled tatami to cut have walked away with the realization they had work to do. Myself included.

Of course I've also seen guys cut targets really well. But they do it *completely* differently than they cut with their bokken. They shouldn't.

I've seen many aikidoka do "cuts" that would a) never reach the target (they never hit anything hence they have zero experience closing distanct), b) utilize zero extension (hence the other guy who does extend will kill you), c) have zero power in their cuts. And on and on... But some are kinda pretty in a flowing sort of way. And if that is your criteria... There you go.

All that said I think there is most certainly a place for much of what is done in Aikido, even with bokken. To the extent of teaching more about empty hand technique I have zero problem. But Japanese swordsmanship is an exacting activity with a lot going on. No, we may not be able to answer the question whether practitioner A or practitioner B is "better". But we can look at much of what is done on a purely technical basis and *easily* determine that some things are ineffective, poor cutting techniques, or would damage/destroy a blade (poor hasuji, etc.). So for some of us it is critical to learn how to properly cut, move, etc. with a sword. And by that I mean learning a lot of those details. You can't wave it away as being somehow archaic therefore anything goes. There are many things demonstrably bad about how a lot of people do things. Now if they're not claiming to be using the bokken as a real sword, well, fine, it's just a training tool. But if they're using the bokken to replicate a real sword then there are things we can to this day say with certainty are good or bad. The slappy, dropping the tsuka with elbows out like wings thing is most certainly terrible form because it results in *terrible* performance of the weapon through a target. Not to mention the lack of extension, reach, power, etc.

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Old 06-14-2009, 03:26 AM   #8
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Hi

I experienced it to be a difference to have an aikido teacher who is also teacher of a koryu.

Our swordwork changed. Not the kata but the "details".

Carsten
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Old 06-14-2009, 11:09 AM   #9
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Keith,
Have you ever seen someone who's trained in boxing fight their first fight?

On the bag, they may hit quite well. They may do bag drills like a champ. They have great footwork, and excellent timing. However most of the time, the first time they actually box with someone all that goes out the window and they look like they've never trained in a boxing gym.

What I'm getting at here is that the pressure of the actual fight makes things very different then they may seem from the sidelines. I'm not saying that you can't learn things about the sword (proper grip, ways to cut, timing, footwork etc.). I'm just saying that you can not become a sword fighter with out fighting.

Since none of us are sword fighters we are all just making estimations about what we need to do if in a sword fight. I think everyone who gets down and works with a sword has an honest opinion. Some opinions might seem good, and some opinions might seem bad, but they are all just opinions. We can't judge anyones success rate from their training methods. We can't do this because no one fights to the death with live Japanese swords any more.

Last edited by ChrisHein : 06-14-2009 at 11:12 AM.

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Old 06-14-2009, 03:08 PM   #10
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

No doubt Chris. But if you train for a boxing match you'll hopefully do some heavy bag work and learn how to hit correctly first. And that is a world of difference from someone who has never hit a heavy bag, sparred, or even worked on a speed bag.

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Old 06-14-2009, 03:24 PM   #11
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
No doubt Chris. But if you train for a boxing match you'll hopefully do some heavy bag work and learn how to hit correctly first. And that is a world of difference from someone who has never hit a heavy bag, sparred, or even worked on a speed bag.
No arguments there.

In relation to this thread, I think asking the difference between "aiki-ken" and reality is a moot point. In "reality" no one fights with swords anymore. Every school has it's opinions, but no one has proof that what they do in a sword fight is more then opinion.

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Old 06-14-2009, 04:06 PM   #12
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Well, let's strain the analogies. Let's say you've got the average Joe who trains at a boxing gym, who spars, who works the heavy bag, all with a trainer who emphasizes proper form in punching, movement, etc. That person can easily demonstrate proper form while striking a heavy bag hard. That person can deliver powerful strikes with precision quickly and efficiently. They may fall apart in a real fight, but their technique is good and obvious to anyone who has boxed.

Now compare that person to the person training at the local health club where they do something along the lines of "tae bo". The strike nothing harder than air. Again, no need to put them in the ring. Just watch. Maybe they would fall apart in the ring as well. But they'd likely end up with a "boxer's fracture" if they tried to hit a heavy bag with any force.

I'm not talking about "who's kung fu is better". I'm talking about the basic skill required of using a particular weapon correctly. It ain't "anything goes".

While swordsmanship may be archaic to you in the sense of no longer being used for real (although that's not strictly correct either unfortunately), regardless of all that the weapon carries some requirements for effective use. That is not something open to debate -- I repair the damned things all the time from when they sustain that damage. I see scuff marks on blades from "backyard cutters" vs. trained JSA students. And I'll tell you, there is a profound difference just in the grouping, angle, etc. of the scuffs. That's not even looking at them holding the blade - - just looking at the aftermath and the effects on the blade. Untrained tend to have scuff marks at various angles over a wider area of the blade. I see more bends. More chips. More problems.

Much of traditional training involves learning to use the weapon correctly, something many doing aikiken most certainly do *not* do. The elbows being out on many show that they're simply not holding it correctly. This is not an "opinion". It has to do with getting your body behind the weapon so you can generate more power, stay behind it, guide it in a straight line and ensure the blade's entry angle is correct. The grip is the most obvious thing many get wrong -- they simply don't "wring" out the tsuka enough or hold it correctly. Like I said, this isn't "just" opinion as to the correct way to hold it -- there are variations among the various koryu schools about proper grip, but those details of difference are relatively minor compared to many things held in common.

Many doing Aikido I would agree are just "stick wavey" because they simply do not have even the basics of grip. They aren't wielding a sword in any remotely effective manner. To me it is like looking at an actor pretending to play piano. One glance at their hand position on the keys and anyone with piano training *knows* they have no experience. And being a jazz nut and having been lucky enough to have seen many of the greats play in small clubs I can say that even those who were relatively self-taught still have the basic hand positioning down --- you simply can't do much more than basic stuff unless you do certain things to allow more advanced playing. There is no doubt they know what they're doing and that they can play for real.

There are those who are very serious about bokken work who have solid sword training within aikido. And they tend to hold and move somewhat differently. It shows and it is obvious to those who train in those things. Just as it is obviously when someone has never trained with a 'real' sword and experienced what an effective cut is like.

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Old 06-14-2009, 05:16 PM   #13
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Keith your point is well made and taken. This point however addresses only cutting. There is much more to a sword fight then simply the cutting.

Take Kendoka for example. Not many Kendo schools practice cutting. However they still practice sword. If you compare the cut of an average Kendoka to that of the average Kenjutsuka (who cuts regularly) I'm sure the Kendoka will be found lacking.

However if you put bogu on the Kenjutsuka he would equally be found lacking if he did shiai with the Kendoka. They are each focusing on different aspects of sword. They each have different practices and techniques. They are both simply sharing their opinions about the use of a sword in a fight.

I have studied Saito sensei's Aiki ken at length. I have studied Kendo for the last year under two Kendo renshi. I have done live sword cutting, and gleaned as much information from those I've met who study Kenjutsu, as possible. They all have different opinions of what is important in sword fighting. Sometimes dramatically different opinions that are contradictory. It's hard to say who's right and who's not because none of them have been in a sword fight, or have students who have been. They just share their educated opinion.

I wouldn't study Tamishigiri from someone who couldn't cut, because cutting can be demonstrated. However if I am interested in sword fighting, I can only use my opinion about what is valid or not valid, because there is no proof to be had. What works in "reality" is unknown.

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Old 06-14-2009, 05:53 PM   #14
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
If you compare the cut of an average Kendoka to that of the average Kenjutsuka (who cuts regularly) I'm sure the Kendoka will be found lacking.
The what? What the heck is the average kenjutsuka? And does the average kenjutsuka actually do tameshigiri regularly?

The cutting mechanics of Katori Shinto Ryu aren't the same as those of Kashima Shin Ryu aren't the same as those of Hokushin Itto Ryu aren't the same as those of Shinkage Ryu . . . Sure, you can generalize, but I'd bet for every point there's at least one group out there that does it differently. Talking about the cut of the average kenjutsu practitioner is akin to discussing the reproductive organs of the average human.

Tameshigiri seems to be regular practice for only a few koryu as well as the Toyama Ryu family.

Now, besides having god-awful mechanics from the point of view of simply cutting, most of the aikido "swordwork" I've seen is full of gaping suki and demonstrates a poor understanding of maai--often these two are related.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:27 PM   #15
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

My point was simply someone who studies cutting is a better cutter then someone who doesn't.

And that cutting isn't all there is to fighting with a sword.

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Old 06-14-2009, 06:28 PM   #16
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Well... was going to type some more, but it would be for the most part redundant with Kent. So, what Kent said up above. And I was just looking at one small aspect -- the mechanics of cutting.

I'd also emphasize that while each group out there does things "differently", they are still (generally) internally consistent. You don't take one aspect from one and attach it to some other aspect from another. All sorts of interesting variations occur but in the end there is (usually) an internally consistent and coherent basis for most of what each group does. So they will disagree (sometimes quite strongly) about how things should be done. That is normal and natural given the differences. But usually they have a fairly solid foundation of basics like how to hold the weapon correctly.

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Old 06-14-2009, 06:31 PM   #17
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
No one alive fights with live swords anymore. So everything we do in any martial arts could rightfully be called "Wacky-sticks" if that's what you want to call it.

You can look to koryu martial arts, which in theory pass down traditional sword fighting methods, from people who actually fought with swords. You can try simulations with sword like things, action flex, shinai etc. But really no one knows anymore.

Until some form of live sword fighting comes back into vogue, it will all be "Wacky-sticks" or an estimation. You might feel that some have better estimations then others, but that's just your guess as a non-sword fighter. No more or less valuable then their guess as non-sword fighters.

Unless you want to start fighting with a sword, you can never be a sword fighter, natures rule not mine (stolen from Mr. Miyagi).
Chris:

This is the post I was responding to. I simply do not agree that it is all "wacky-sticks or an estimation". And it isn't about a "guess" as a "non-sword fighter" (because we don't fight with swords for real anymore). If someone holds the thing totally wrong, can't reach the target, and has feet of lead then they simply aren't very good. We know that for sure... And that we can (and should) improve if we are to use these weapons as anything more than "wacky-sticks".

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Old 06-14-2009, 10:39 PM   #18
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

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Chris Hein wrote: View Post
No arguments there.

In relation to this thread, I think asking the difference between "aiki-ken" and reality is a moot point. In "reality" no one fights with swords anymore. Every school has it's opinions, but no one has proof that what they do in a sword fight is more then opinion.
Thank you to all who have so far contributed to the thread. I am happy to take a step back and get involved in a thread where I have nothing really to contribute because in truth, I have no real knowledge of the subject. Sure I have practiced bokken suburi (3000 to 5000 cuts daily) and kumitachi for twenty years but I have never trained in Iaido, nor performed even the most basic forms of tamashigiri. I was fortunate to take a very informative seminar with Mike Skoss which I much enjoyed. I also have a real appreciation for the movements of Kuroda, Nishio, James Williams, Ellis, Amdur and Toby Threadgill Senseis, and of course, Big Tony Alvarez, all of whom I have had the pleasure to see, meet and talk with to some small extent. However, outside of being able to use the bokken as a way to better understand movement, demonstrate proper connection, extension, footwork and grounding, and running students ragged with the old Tenshin Dojo 45 minute suburi death camp, I wouldn't say I was in any way qualified to add anything of substance here.

As for Chris's point, above, I wasn't so much interested in Kenjutsu from a "fighting" perspective, as I am an Aikidoka at heart and we don't fight in that sense. I am more interested in a comparison of training methods towards an effective understanding of the use of the bokken as a weapon. My understanding is that outside of duels to the death, sword schools would compete to resolve the "Which style was the best" issues using bokken which would less often lead to the death of any of the competitors.

Best in training to all....

.

I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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Old 06-14-2009, 10:50 PM   #19
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
You don't take one aspect from one and attach it to some other aspect from another.
This is a critical point! And unfortunately one that gets overlooked quite often. Just because the combination of elements A1, A2, A3, and A4 is great and so are the combinations B1 to B4, C1 to C4, and D1 to D4, that doesn't mean mixing A1, B2, C3, and D4 is going to get you anything worthwhile. Budo is not a combo platter in a Chinese restaurant.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 06-15-2009, 04:07 AM   #20
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Well it is the egg and chicken story

Aki-ken is there to enhance you body movement but to get the enhancement you need to understand ken enough to make the it really worth your while.

If we take the 1st kumi tachi
Starting from the cross/bind
Tori raise to cut
Uke thrust to the belly/chest, does not matter as long as the point is bellow the shoulder of tori, which is open and in range and move to the side to finish the gut cut and get out of the way of the tori strike. The gut cut finishes in an ox guard which provide protection against tori vertical or either circular strike and open tori ura side.
(In German fencing this is changing through,

Tori gather back and control the centre with his sword. That blocks any of uke possible thrust and open up a direct line of attack for uke

The only option left to tori is renzuko to the outside, to create a new centreline an attacking uke outside, forcing uke to move as the out side is vulnerable and that the attack gets tori outside of uke thrusting range.

Uke counter cuts, setting up and other thrust

Tori renzuke the other way to escape the thrust and take advantage of uke perceived new direction to cut from behind uke's cut

Uke counter cut to win either with the cut or a thrust.

It is exactly like for the open hand practice, torri need to try to get uke, whilst staying within his owns space and not over committing, otherwise it does not really make sense.

phil

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Old 06-15-2009, 04:18 AM   #21
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Quote:
Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
I recall a quip about the sword work in Yanagi ryu in which it was stated that they use only live blades because iaito or bokken do not give the appropriate feeling of shinken during training. Of course I could be way off base out here in the cheap seats. Makes one wonder about using bokken for anything beside smashing nuts (ahem, like walnuts, etc).
Yes it is true that a shinai or a bokken do not really behave like a live blade an to an extend this can is true for iato or blunted sword.

Using a live blade for from or paired practice has some undisputable value.
That being said you do need you shinai and your fencing mask/kendo helmet to make sure that you have the functionality of the strike.

phil

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Old 06-15-2009, 11:59 AM   #22
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
No one alive fights with live swords anymore. So everything we do in any martial arts could rightfully be called "Wacky-sticks" if that's what you want to call it.
...You can look to koryu martial arts, which in theory pass(ed) down traditional sword fighting methods, from people who actually fought with swords. You can try simulations with sword like things, action flex, shinai etc. But really no one knows anymore…..
Quote:
….Until some form of live sword fighting comes back into vogue, it will all be "Wacky-sticks" or an estimation. You might feel that some have better estimations then others, but that's just your guess as a non-sword fighter. No more or less valuable then their guess as non-sword fighters.
You're making a statement that since no one fights with live swords anymore everything out there is equal or equally whacky and all knowledge is equally questionable. This comes from your own personal explorations and limitations I would guess. Therein in lies the problem with personal discovery. Your field of vision is only as far as YOU can see. Many times people don't have the benefit of broader realizations. It can be very eye-opening.
I would NEVER dismiss the knowledge soldiers brought back. debriefing is a good thing. Old knowledge, for the use of old weapons is just as viable and ageless.

Example of modern comparison:
Would you state you can walk in to the ring with your aikido against Rickson Gracie cause "Its all the same. No one is REALLY fighting…its just a sport!”
Yes? No? I don't think you would. Why? Because YOU are aware of the outcome due to your research and current understanding from exploring BJJ and MMA. In short, you are educated in that venue.
May I suggest you do some research among some senior Aikido teachers about their own experiences with certain Koryu arts adepts and training methods. There is a body of knowledge about weapons and their use held in certain Koryu arts that rival the model of an aikidoka going up against Rickson Gracie. The skill potential for the outcome would be just as skewed and the outcome just as predictable.

Old versus new and who knew
Did Ueshiba ever fight anyone with a live sword?
The men who were responsible for many Koryu did
And some died for the knowledge the gleaned over many years.
While I appreciate the use of aiki weapons to enhance the aikido way of moving I think it’s an error in judgment for someone to equate their own current awareness, knowledge and understanding to men deeply immersed in weapons skills, learned from men who knew exactly what they were doing.
Were I to have to go to battle tomorrow I am fairly certain I would begin by training with my buds who are or were active duty Spec ops to teach me how to survive before I would go to someone who has not BTDT. I think it’s a mistake to dismiss knowledge and experience in a certain venue.
I have seen Aikido teachers (who do Iai and aiki weapons) last all of about ten seconds- with certain Koryu people. Meaning I have seen qualified Aikido teachers who stood their virtually stunned- I mean "deer in the headlights" "had no idea what to do" "Dead On Arrival" speechless facing Certain Koryu people.

Last, there is a very fine line between what you can do with a live sword and a bokken if you know what you are doing. The skills do cross over. Case in point: There are many schools who do not test cut. Yet I have seen guys who have trained for years with just a bokken, then walked up and started cutting trees, donned armor and started going at it full speed, with no changes whatsoever in their approach. The reason is that there are Koryu teachers who knew exactly what they were doing as their arts progressed and they established training modalities and principles. They had the benefit of real world experience when they did so. They were also very rational about things, and didn’t need to experiment in some garage (or in my case a barn) to try and re-create a semblance of reality. With Koryu as opposed to aiki weapons- it’s a matter of degrees- bred in from trail and error- back when they WERE fighting with real swords and mistakes mattered.
Anyway, I tip my hat to their hard work. It is most certainly different from aiki weapons and I think you would need to train in certain of the Koryu to really have a feel for what that means. There are many Aikidoka who have done so.
Good luck in your training
Dan
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Old 06-15-2009, 03:32 PM   #23
Rob Watson
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

I like the story about Segal vs Draeger while trying to get the gig as fight coordinator on some movie (Red Sun?) and they crossed 'swords'. Segal was beat so many subtle ways that he didn't even know it. Powering through a move with someones blade on your wrist usually results in loss of a limb-not so in bokken work so it is easy to miss something that might actually have killed you. If you don't know what to look for you likely won't be able to see it ...

I have no idea if this is even fair because I have no idea about Segals sword work but at least he is aikidoka.

Last edited by Rob Watson : 06-15-2009 at 03:39 PM. Reason: spelling chanllenged
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Old 06-15-2009, 03:38 PM   #24
Rob Watson
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Quote:
Philippe Willaume wrote: View Post
Yes it is true that a shinai or a bokken do not really behave like a live blade an to an extend this can is true for iato or blunted sword.

Using a live blade for from or paired practice has some undisputable value.
That being said you do need you shinai and your fencing mask/kendo helmet to make sure that you have the functionality of the strike.

phil
I was thinking more about the change in ones attitude when facing a live blade as opposed to the mechanical issues. Facing someone intent on cutting you who is well equipped is completely different then playing with wooden replicas.

I can tell you from first hand experience that years of training in the dojo with wooden weapons and even live knife blades did not compare to being attacked by a drug crazed person with an 8 inch chefs knife.
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Old 06-15-2009, 03:57 PM   #25
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Aiki-Ken vs reality

Quote:
Nick Porter wrote: View Post
To put it as briefly as I can and save your having to read a long reply: Aikido sword work is used to refine aikido and it does that very well. However, its martial efficacy when compared to traditional kenjutsu is unfavorable at best.

Nick
If "aiki sword" was actually developing ones ability to do sword work with "aiki". which most sword work I see does not, then it would me martially effective.

Sword can be summed up fairly simply, cut the other fellow before he cuts you. Classical sword styles develop real swordsmen, Aikido sword does not, nor is it trying to. Like the empty hand work in Aikido, aiki sword is about connection. It requires sensitivity, a relaxed body and mind, and speed enough that one can take advantage of a perceived opening in the instant it is perceived.

If one were to develop these things sufficiently, one could, in theory, give a real swordsman a time of it because in a real confrontation with blades it is likely to be over on the first cut. One, the other, or both are finished on the first pass. So having lots of technique under ones belt, understanding all sorts of tricks, understanding of various timings etc. still, in the end comes down to cutting the other guy first.

As has been discussed many times before, it is impossible to attack without creating an opening. O-Sensei's sword was about not being open. It was about being so connected that any attacker, no matter how skilled, would find himself unable to attack because there simply was no opening.

So aiki sword work that focuses on developing that sort of connection would be "effective" martially. But the fact is, very little sword work actually does this. Even most of the so-called "classical" styles are either bogus styles or have bogus teachers. There simply is not much true koryu around. If you wish to find those folks, go to Koryu Books. Almost all the real folks are represented somewhere on their site.

In my opinion, "aiki sword" work should focus primarily on the mental side of the practice while keeping the technical side fairly simple. Longer forms with lots of back and forth do train you to relax if you start to train at a faster pace... you simply won't be able to respond fast enough if you have tension. But don't mistake what is going on in aiki sword for what is going on in koryu training. If you want to be a swordsman, study a sword style. If you want to do sword that makes your Aikido better, keep it simple, keep it intense, and focus on connection.

By the way, that clip was bad... sorry, but it was. Hope the guy in questions isn't on the forums...

George S. Ledyard
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