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Old 01-06-2003, 09:28 AM   #1
Edward
Location: Bangkok
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Kendo & Aikido

Hi All,

I would appreciate any information regarding the difference in approach between aikiken techniques, classical kenjutsu and kendo.

I have always wanted to practice kendo, but have been warned by friends that aikiken and kendo are so different that it will spoil my aikiken practice.

I would have liked to practice a classical koryu sword style, but unfortunately none are available in Bangkok, so the only option left is kendo.

Please let me know your opinions.

Cheers,
Edward
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Old 01-06-2003, 11:19 AM   #2
diesel
Dojo: Tenshin
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Re: Kendo & Aikido

Aikido is derived from swordwork...

I do not think that learning kendo will effect your aikido in a bad way. There are no grabs, locks, or throws in kendo. If anything, it will help your maai.

Cheers,

Eric
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Old 01-06-2003, 01:57 PM   #3
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Kendo & Aikido

Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
Hi All,

I have always wanted to practice kendo, but have been warned by friends that aikiken and kendo are so different that it will spoil my aikiken practice.
Edward,

By all means, if you get the chance, do play kendo for a while It will inform your aikido immensely.

Chuck

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Old 01-06-2003, 01:58 PM   #4
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Re: Kendo & Aikido

Quote:
Eric Roku (diesel) wrote:
Aikido is derived from swordwork...
Wellll,

There's some debate about that, but I'll suggest, that aikido can be made more clear and more intentional through good weapons training.

Chuck

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Old 01-06-2003, 03:58 PM   #5
Aviv
Dojo: Aikido in Fredericksburg
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You ask "I would appreciate any information regarding the difference in approach between aikiken techniques, classical kenjutsu and kendo."

Saito Sensei has told me that aiki-ken is a unique practice different from the other two. He said that one of the fundamental differences is that when we practice with the bokken we are also thinking of taijutsu applications. Many have observed that aiki-ken on its own is not a complete practice and in Iwama Style Aikido we practice riai, the combined system of aikiweapons and taijutsu.

Also, we are usually working with bokken, not live swords or shinau so there are some differences there. But go ahead and train kendo, it will give you more options.

Peace, Aviv Goldsmith
Aikido in Fredericksburg
www.aikidoinfredericksburg.org
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Old 01-07-2003, 01:14 AM   #6
Edward
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Re: Re: Kendo & Aikido

Quote:
Chuck Gordon (LOEP) wrote:
Edward,

By all means, if you get the chance, do play kendo for a while It will inform your aikido immensely.

Chuck
Thanks Chuck for your encouragement!

I would like to ask you 2 questions since you are mostly into classical koryu arts.

Is it true that striking style is different between kenjutsu and kendo? I heard that in kenjutsu (as well as aikiken) strikes are intended to cut down an opponent, hence the wide movements, while kendo uses short movements because the purpose is to hit the opponent with the shinai as fast as possible, but the point winning blows in kendo would not be effective in cutting down with a real sword.

One more point, the areas which get you points in kendo are normally heavily protected by armor. Therefore, kenjutsu techniques are usually aimed at unprotected areas such as armpits, knees, back... etc. and these are illegal in kendo.

Having practiced competitive Judo for many years, I sadly found out that I reached a certain stage where I could not consciously do a full simple technique anymore, but was continuously concentrating on feints, switching techniques, and counter-attacks. I am not sure how it is in kendo, but I worry that shiai conditions would produce a similar effect.

Cheers,

Edward
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Old 01-07-2003, 01:28 AM   #7
Fiona D
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I haven't done any kendo, but I've been doing Iaido for a little over a year now, and Iwama-ryu aikido for a few months. I've noticed that, while some of the sword-work underlying principles are common to the two arts, for the most part I have to keep them completely separate in both my mind & body.

In Iaido, the cuts are large sweeping circles, intended to finish an opponent completely by using the circular motion to draw as much of the sharp edge of the blade across (& through) the target as possible. What I've seen so far from the bokken suburi in the aikido sessions is a completely different kind of cut - almost looks like more of a 'hit', where the arms drop down first and the tip of the bokken blade flicks down sharply just afterwards. (Perhaps not a great description, but the only one I can think of at the moment.) Also, posture is quite different (I get told off for leaning too far forward in iaido class and too far back in aikido class at the moment...).

My advice (if a relative beginner can give advice?) would be go ahead and do both kendo and aikiken, but keep yourself aware of the mechanical differences that will probably arise.
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Old 01-07-2003, 04:43 AM   #8
Duarh
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From what I've observed (though it's not much), even aikiken practice can differ significantly between one dojo and the other, depending on shihans and individual instructors too, so it's kind of hard to talk about differences between aikiken and other sword styles.
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Old 01-07-2003, 04:59 AM   #9
JJF
 
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I used to do kendo (got to 2. or 1. kyu - can't remember). It took me quite a while to 'unlearn' my kendo-habits, when I took up Aikido. Kendo is a linear, competition-sport which (until you reach a higher level) encourages a certain amount of agression and a focus upon winning. I sincerely enjoyed the paired kendo-kata, which bare some resemblance to the ken-tai-ken techniques of Nisho-senseis aikido, but in the long run the endless row of fighting with all the gear on, made me realise that I'm not cut out for Kendo. I would NOT reccomend anybody to do Kendo in order to improve their Aikido. At least not until they know so much about Aikido that they can keep the two things apart. But please remember that I'm proficient in none of the two arts.

There ARE some things which are mutual for Kendo and Aikido, especially with regards to recieving an attack, but the fact that an Kendo-ka would be much more prone to initate an attack than an Aikido-ka suggests that other arts would complement Aikido much better.

Like many other I believe that Aikido is based upon sword-work, and so is Kendo. However the two arts have evolved in two very different directions as far as I know.

I hope you can use this.

BTW Fiona: if that's the style of cutting that you have seen, then I am quite puzzled. That's not the way we learn to do bokken-suburi in the aikikai-dojo I practice in.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 01-07-2003, 05:56 AM   #10
Fiona D
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Jørgen,

Could be that I'm describing it rather badly; could be that it is taught genuinely differently; it's rather hard to say based on my current experience. Certainly the cuts I'm learning in our bokken suburi look and feel very different to the iaido cuts I've been learning (easier to see than to describe verbally, admittedly). Hopefully I'll get the chance over the next few years to explore the variations within aikido too..... I'm really quite curious about this now - how would you describe the style of cutting taught in your dojo's bokken suburi sessions?
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Old 01-07-2003, 07:21 AM   #11
DavidEllard
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One of the guys I train with in Aikido is a Sandan in Iaido and Shodan in Kendo. He is a 4th Kyu in Aiki - although his weapons works is a bit better than you might expect at that grade.

Anyway - he has run some Iaido sessions with us, and I got a lovely new Iaito at christmas to practise with. The way he teach us to do, what we might call a Shomen blow, in Iaido is interchangable with how we do it in Aiki.

Obviously Iaido add a lot of other sword movements, drawing the blade, the circular cuts, the blood flicking and the like, but the basic 'overhead' cut didn't seem to me any different.

As a side note - there does tend to be a difference in Kendo, when he demonstrates with a Shinai there is more aggression and more ability to shift and feint. Presumably as it is a sparring art not a kata based art form.

In answer to the original question I would say take any opportunity to learn something your interested in, there will be no major detrimental effects and it is possible with study the two or three styles may complement each other.
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Old 01-07-2003, 01:48 PM   #12
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Re: Re: Kendo & Aikido

Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
Thanks Chuck for your encouragement!
Anytime.
Quote:
Is it true that striking style is different between kenjutsu and kendo?
For a score of reasons, yes. However, GOOD kendo teacher will know this and the training will (at some point) allow you to experience both. If you can, try to find a dojo that teaches the kendo no kata and some iaido.
Quote:
am not sure how it is in kendo, but I worry that shiai conditions would produce a similar effect.
Maybe. Probably. Possibly. Being aware of the shortcoming is half the battle to fixing it, neh?

At worst, it'll be lots of fun!

Chuck

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Old 01-07-2003, 05:44 PM   #13
Kent Enfield
 
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Re: Re: Re: Kendo & Aikido

Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
Is it true that striking style is different between kenjutsu and kendo? I heard that in kenjutsu (as well as aikiken) strikes are intended to cut down an opponent, hence the wide movements, while kendo uses short movements because the purpose is to hit the opponent with the shinai as fast as possible, but the point winning blows in kendo would not be effective in cutting down with a real sword.
Sort of. In kendo you usually do not try to cut clean through the opponent. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that doing so results in concussions and broken arms (or other body parts, if off target). The second is that if you miss completely, your recovery time is longer, which is quite important when your partner is actively trying cut you as well. However, you do try to strike so you could cut cleanly through, if you wanted to. That said, if you cut shomen down to the chin or down to the waist, which gets the opponent deader?

Now, in the kata, the cuts that miss go all the way through. The ones that don't stop before making contact.

The small movements (called sashi waza) are usually saved for tournaments, and usually disappear as a person becomes more skilled and creates better opportunities for attack. However, sashi waza are still done strongly and I wouldn't want to receive them with a real sword.
Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
One more point, the areas which get you points in kendo are normally heavily protected by armor. Therefore, kenjutsu techniques are usually aimed at unprotected areas such as armpits, knees, back... etc. and these are illegal in kendo.
I see this a lot, and it shows a basic misunderstanding of what kendo is. The practitioners wear protective gear to avoid serious injury, but they are not wearing armor. Kendo is about unarmored combat, in which the wrists, head, throat, and abdomen are all good targets. Yes, there are only a few specific targets that earn points in contest, but they're all the main ones.

And if you can hit someone in the back, you can hit them in the head.
Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
Having practiced competitive Judo for many years, I sadly found out that I reached a certain stage where I could not consciously do a full simple technique anymore, but was continuously concentrating on feints, switching techniques, and counter-attacks. I am not sure how it is in kendo, but I worry that shiai conditions would produce a similar effect.
This seems odd to me. Did you never do uchikomi?

Anyway, in kendo, it's pretty much impossible to switch techniques once you've begun to do one.

Responsive/defensive techniques are usually considered mid- to high-level (sandan or so and up) techniques. You'll certainly be exposed to them at lower levels, but you'll probably not be expected to be able to perform them at low levels. There's actually a good chance you'll be discouraged from practicing them. What's the point of learning to set up men off your opponents strike, when your men itself still needs a lot of work?

That all said, kendo people don't consider high skill to be the ability to pull off fancy and intriquate waza. It's the ability to strike men (which you'll be introduced to the first lesson) cleanly.
Quote:
Fiona Darbyshire (Fiona D) wrote:
What I've seen so far from the bokken suburi in the aikido sessions is a completely different kind of cut - almost looks like more of a 'hit', where the arms drop down first and the tip of the bokken blade flicks down sharply just afterwards.
I've seen that in kendo as well. It's popular among children and is considered bad form. It's easy to do and less tiring, but it reduces your reach significantly and more importantly is no good for cutting. Even sword schools that use a more compact cutting style don't let the tip trail the hands.
Quote:
Chuck Gordon (LOEP) wrote:
If you can, try to find a dojo that teaches the kendo no kata and some iaido.
Maybe things are different in Germany, but in the US all kendo dojo teach the kendo kata. If they didn't, the students would be stuck at nikyu. Beyond that, must even low level yudansha grasp the importance of kata practice. Iaido pracitce certainly emphasizes different things than kendo, but with exceptions of batto and noto, the only thing that's in iaido that's not in kendo is cutting at some slightly different angles and at some slightly different targets.

Now besides just contradicting people, I'll respond to the initial question. If you're interested in improving your aikido sword work, by all means take up kendo. However, practice it as its own thing.

You may not like it, but you won't know unless you try it.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 01-07-2003, 09:25 PM   #14
Edward
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Kendo & Aikido

Quote:
Kent Enfield wrote:
This seems odd to me. Did you never do uchikomi?
Thanks for your information.

Regarding your question, I meant during randori and shiai. Eventhough we practiced a lot of uchi komi, my techniques during randori were all kind of "bastardized". They worked for me at the time, but I was worried about my bad and ugly form. That's why I am so happy in aikido that we practice only at the kata level.
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Old 01-07-2003, 09:27 PM   #15
Edward
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Thanks to all for your feedback.

I will give it a few tries and will let you know the result shortly
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Old 01-08-2003, 02:25 AM   #16
JJF
 
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Quote:
Fiona Darbyshire (Fiona D) wrote:
Jørgen,

Could be that I'm describing it rather badly; could be that it is taught genuinely differently; it's rather hard to say based on my current experience. Certainly the cuts I'm learning in our bokken suburi look and feel very different to the iaido cuts I've been learning (easier to see than to describe verbally, admittedly). Hopefully I'll get the chance over the next few years to explore the variations within aikido too..... I'm really quite curious about this now - how would you describe the style of cutting taught in your dojo's bokken suburi sessions?
Hi again Fiona!

I've been giving it a little bit of thought. Actually I think I understand now, what you mean, and I guess there is a bit of difference between what we do for aiki-toho (aiki-based iaido style) and for aikido-suburi practice too. Maybe it's because suburi is often repetitive movements at a higher speed than iaido/to-ho. This could cause some cuts to become a bit 'sloppy'. I am under the impression that you practice Iwama-ryu, but have you ever had any experience with the other major aikido-tradition in Denmark ? We are influenced by Nishio Sensei, and like Saito Sensei he emphazises the sword and the jo as important aspects of aikido - but in quite different ways as far as I know.

You mention yourself that these are matters easilier shown than explained in writing, so if you get the chance to go to Odense during easter, come take a look at the easter camp. I'm sure you're welcome to join in if you like. Afterwards we can discuss cutting techniques and iaido-styles over a cold beer (only one though - before the second the swords have to be put away for safety reasons )

If you ever come to Aarhus you are welcome in Aarhus Aikikai as well. Just drop me a mail beforehand.

For more information check out: www.aikikai.dk

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

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