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Old 01-28-2015, 08:12 PM   #1
Chris Harris
Dojo: independent
Location: Clearwater, FL
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Question Bokken etiquette

HI, I've visited many different Aikido dojos, and I've noticed that the Bokken etiquette is not consistent from one dojo to the other. How should an Aikidoka return the bokken to his/her training partner during practice? How should we hold the bokken when we bow and present it to the kamiza? Where should the bokken rest when we are sitting in seiza?

Thank you for your all your help,
Sincerely,
Chris
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Old 01-28-2015, 10:29 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Bokken etiquette

The way Sensei shows you in the dojo you happen to be in.
I'm not trying to be glib, but as you note, there is some variation from dojo to dojo. When I am a visitor, I watch others very closely! :-)

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 01-28-2015, 10:35 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Bokken etiquette

So to get the ball rolling: where I train there is some variation but most hand it back blade outside, tip angled away from nage.
We tend not to start or end class with weapons, so bowing it in and out is by each student (not lined up) raising horizontally to near eye level and doing a very shallow bow to shomen.
We tend to keep weapons to our left when lined up during practice.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 01-29-2015, 01:06 AM   #4
Millsy
Dojo: Aiki-Centre
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Re: Bokken etiquette

Yes as sensei tells you!

Seen a number of ways to pass the bokken, place it on the ground, hold the handle so the blade it vertical and facing you, handle up (like for jodo), even throw it ( OK not as a standard method ) . The way we do it is present the handle to uke with the tip of the blade facing behind you and the back of the blade against your right bicep, so as they take the bokken the blade is facing away from you and wouldn't cut you if it were a sword.
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Old 01-29-2015, 07:13 AM   #5
Malicat
Dojo: Suenaka-Ha Aikido of Bloomington
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Re: Bokken etiquette

Quote:
Tony Mills wrote: View Post
Yes as sensei tells you!

Seen a number of ways to pass the bokken, place it on the ground, hold the handle so the blade it vertical and facing you, handle up (like for jodo), even throw it ( OK not as a standard method ) . The way we do it is present the handle to uke with the tip of the blade facing behind you and the back of the blade against your right bicep, so as they take the bokken the blade is facing away from you and wouldn't cut you if it were a sword.
Pfft, not standard? Well, ok, we slide it across the mat so it's not exactly a throw, but under no circumstances do we ever hand a weapon back to uke.

--Ashley
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Old 01-29-2015, 07:54 AM   #6
David Norton
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Re: Bokken etiquette

Just wanted to include a data point. Here is how I learned it (Hagihara Shihan, Long Island Aikikai):
Hand the bokuto back to your partner held horizontally, with the blade toward yourself, pointed to the right (tsuka to the left).
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Old 01-29-2015, 07:59 AM   #7
phitruong
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Re: Bokken etiquette

Quote:
Ashley Hemsath wrote: View Post
Pfft, not standard? Well, ok, we slide it across the mat so it's not exactly a throw, but under no circumstances do we ever hand a weapon back to uke.

--Ashley
ye with little faith! of course you can hand a weapon back, as long as you have a pistol point at uke first, or whisper to uke the following phrase before you handle the weapon back - "am too sexy for my gi, too sexy for my gi, too sexy that it hurts" i will guarantee you that your uke would be so terrify that he/she/it won't even think of doing anything of malcontent.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:21 AM   #8
phitruong
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Re: Bokken etiquette

walk around - holding bokken with right hand, cuping the tsuba and sheath, blade forward, point down.
hand to uke - left hand hold the end of handle, blade toward you, point up
ready to kneel - pass bokken from righ to left
kneel - pass bokken from left to right, place bokken on the right, blade side toward you
get up - pass bokken back from righ to left, left hold bokken with thumb on tsuba (a bit to the side), blade up
to shomen - hold on both hands, arm out, tsuba cup with right hand, blade up

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 01-29-2015, 09:10 AM   #9
lbb
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Re: Bokken etiquette

I've trained in a couple of styles that have different bokken etiquette. Here's what we use in the aikido dojo where I currently train.

Carrying: either at left side, hilt forward, edge up, as if in a saya, OR (more casually) hilt in right hand, tip forward and down, edge down
Hand to uke: holding vertically, hand on hilt, point down, edge toward uke. This would have been considered extremely bad manners and an act of aggression in my former style. When in Rome...
When kneeling and getting up, as Phi describes
When moving on knees (i.e., Sensei turns from bowing to shomen to bowing to class): bokken is passed from right to left as Phi describes "when getting up", movement completed, bokken returns to right side.

I think that's pretty much it.
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Old 01-29-2015, 11:00 AM   #10
Cliff Judge
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Re: Bokken etiquette

This topic is central to the concept of reiho and is extremely culturally specific to traditions and dojo. You could probably look at it as a type of fingerprint for where a dojo gets its etiquette. Short answer is, whatever they do in the dojo is the right way in that dojo. Failure to adapt your etiquette to your dojo is rude.

But there's no single right way. You should discount anybody who tries to tell you that there is one right etiquette, and feel free to roll your eyes if the word "samurai" is used. Koryu systems all do it differently, and in particular iaido systems do it differently. (cf an apocryphal tale about a taikai that Kano organized, where the Hoki ryu guy held his sheathed sword differently and the other iaido practitioners scoffed - to be rebuffed by Kano, of course, who understood that the Hoki ryu guy had older-school notions of etiquette. )

Sword etiquette has two primary motivators: safety, and respect/de-escalation of tension.

Safety is obviously important when handling a sword, (cf Ellis Amdur and Wayne Muramoto meeting and showing swords and the mayhem that ensued) and even we Aikido people train with bokken and shinai as though they are swords, so all the safety etiquette should transfer over.

My kenjutsu teacher, who has trained a couple of koryu arts since the 80s, taught me to always hand a sword to another person with the blade facing me, so that if we fumble it, it will cut me and not the other person. This is done with the sword vertical - you don't touch a blade with your bare hands. The HANDER retains his grip on the LOWER part of the tsuka, and the RECEIVER grasps the tsuka towards the tsuka. Only when BOTH parties have a solid grip, does the HANDER let go.

Jim Alvarez, who trained Shinkendo with the founder of that system, told me that the HANDER and RECEIVER should make eye contact before the HANDER lets go. Sounds good to me!

My personal opinion is that bokken and shinai should always change hands as though they were live blades, out of respect for the weapon and the idea that you are training with it as though it is real. if you absolutely must maintain an atmosphere of paranoia, distrust, and hypervigilance in your dojo and assume that your uke is going to attack you as soon as you hand the weapon back to him, at least put the thing down gently on the mat and step away from it.

Second in importance to safety is politeness, which in warrior culture is motivated by the need for people form different groups to sometimes get together and talk about things without the situation erupting into bloody violence.

Aikido derives from Daito ryu, which is said to be a combination of a jujutsu system and an etiquette system. So in most Aikido systems I am aware of that contain aikiken training, when you walk around or sit down with a bokken, the proper attitude is that you are among people who are not your friends, and you therefore do not want to act threateningly. (But in locally in the ASU we always hand the weapon back to uke when testing - you get yelled at for putting it down and making uke pick it up.)

So you walk around the dojo with your sword in your right hand, blade up, and you sit with your sword on your right-hand side, blade facing you. This would force you to transfer your sword to your left hand and then draw with your right, which would require an extra beat and would give the other guy a chance to grapple with your before you cut him.

This is not how it is done in any koryu kenjutsu dojo I have visited or trained in. It seems that in these dojo, the assumption is that everybody is on the same side while walking around and sitting. I have only ever seen the sword placed on the left side with blade facing out when kenjutsu people are sitting. The etiquette among gendai sword art folks seems to be to carry the sword in the right hand, edge up, when walking around or doing a standing bow, and I think that might have come out of the budo-ification of sword that took place in the imperializing early 20th century.
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Old 01-29-2015, 03:55 PM   #11
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Bokken etiquette

Quote:
David Norton wrote: View Post
Just wanted to include a data point. Here is how I learned it (Hagihara Shihan, Long Island Aikikai):
Hand the bokuto back to your partner held horizontally, with the blade toward yourself, pointed to the right (tsuka to the left).
This is also our tradition. Kind of bringing the sword up almost like a karate middle body block motion. We also have precedence for trading weapons, and trading weapons of different types (priority of what goes on top of the transaction.

It's one of the few times that our dojo etiquette teaches to hand someone something with only one hand.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 02-04-2015, 01:21 AM   #12
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Bokken etiquette

When in seiza the bokken is on our left, sharp edge away from body, tip to the back. Similar to when you actually have katana strapped on.
When handing over the bokken, realise you give a lethal weapon to the other person!
Maintain control over the bokken as long as possible and when finally when you let go, step back so the other cannot immediately attack you.
The bokken moves similar to when you draw it out: tip to the back, sharp edge out (away from body; directed at the other so you can attack if necessary).
That is how we do it...

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
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Old 02-04-2015, 04:04 PM   #13
Robert Cowham
Dojo: East Sheen Aikido and Kashima No Tachi
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Re: Bokken etiquette

We have learnt the lesson not to step across a bokken at the side of the mat - this is impolite/potentially dangerous/failure of etiquette. If Inaba sensei sees such behaviours, then the offender is likely to be shouted at, if not banned (temporarily at least) from the dojo...

Starts on right hand side (sharp side away from body in seiza) to show lack of aggressive intent, swaps to left side to start the reiho for a kata.

Some people "draw" and "re-sheathe" a bokken through the hands. I have learnt (by observation) that this isn't necessary. Of course different with iato or shinken.

Practice with a shinken teaches lots of things! Before doing so it is important to have developed enough sense of tanden/centre to be able to handle the pressure. Also, start slowly and with intent. No prizes for losing bits of anatomy, or requiring stiches...

Robert
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