How I came to study Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu and the link with Aiki arts
At first, I did not wish to learn Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu. I only wished to learn koryu. It happened through meeting with Imai soke and Iwami soke, 10th and 11th successor to Miyamoto Musashi. It has changed my practice because in Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, one puts energy or intention first, then comes the technique. This change of point of view (strictly speaking) has enriched my practice of the sword. We often wonder about energy but when keiko starts with energy the questions fades away.
In the beginning, I was not looking for answers, just for practice. I was neither looking for improving my training, just meeting the experience of an old school. I was very lucky to meet an 86 years old master with the sword in hand a few feet in front of me shouting: "ikki-oi", "push the breath/energy" and witnessing what he was doing. Since then, I spread the word: "Koryu are teaching us".
My friends asked me if there was opposition or contradiction in the use of energy between Aiki arts and Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu kenjutsu. At first one meets the difficulty of learning a new use of the sword. Those difficulties we try to call them oppositions but with time, work, sweat, one grasps something that unites without blending.
One of the most astonishing things about the meeting of these arts is that I discovered I like recieving the sword thrust. I have the same feeling in Mae Ukemi. One gets the full energy of Tori in Shiho Nage and one has to respond in the same time as if walking on his thrust. Jun Akiyama asked me once if I did not miss the cutting feel of a katana as we only work with bokken. In the Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu seiho, "conducting of energy" or kata, there is a strong feeling of the cut when the bokken comes forth.
I also like the twist in a second of recieving the edge of the sword and cutting back. It is very energetic. As in many arts, one feels more alive. Those are the pleasures I find in martial arts.