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Old 10-21-2003, 07:43 PM   #1
Brion Toss
Dojo: Aikido Port Townsend
Location: Port Townsend, Wa.
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 104
Bokken orientation while bowing

Hello all,
While attending classes at scores of dojos over the years, I've seen a variety of preferences regarding how the bokken is to be placed while bowing in and out. In some dojos you start with it on the mat by your left side, blade in, then turn it out. In some you start with it in front of you, blade in or out. And in some you start with it on your right side, blade in or out, then move it to the front, in or out, then to the side. And all of this with or without assorted manipulations, before and after bowing and/or clapping.
Lots of combinations, all severely attended to, with rationalizations to match.
I believe that every ritual should tell a story, so I'm looking for a good one. I teach the weapons class, and our sensei is open to whatever ritual we decide on, so I'm asking for suggestions.
For instance, I like beginning and ending with the weapon on the right, showing harmlessness, and moving it to the left when we're ready for business, but is there a good reason to shift it to the front at any point?
And are there good reasons to attend to edge orientation? To how one moves the weapon from place to place on the mat, and when?
Are there other niceties of weapons-handling etiquette that you particularly like?
Brion Toss
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Old 10-21-2003, 07:52 PM   #2
Dojo: Seigi Dojo
Location: Jakarta
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 247
i feel that it's best to put your sword on your right side, blade facing you. This way shows that you intend no harm and put your sword in 'safety' mode. putting your sword in front of you might give impression that you're going to give your sword to your partner.
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Old 10-21-2003, 09:13 PM   #3
Nafis Zahir
Nafis Zahir's Avatar
Dojo: Bucks County Aikido
Location: Pennsylvania
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 425
I did weapons at a dojo that practiced Iwama style, and we placed the bokken on the left side with the blade facing out. I was told by one of my sempei, that originally they placed it on the right first to bow in or out, and then to the left when commencing practice. Now I am in the aikikai and I see different ways. Mostly I've seen the bokken placed on the right to bow in or out. But I have seen where the classed bowed in and then were told to get bokken. In other words, no one had there bokken on the mat. They just went to the back of the class got there weapons and then promtly returned them there at the end of the class. I don't prefer to do it that way, but you have to follow the way of the instructor you are under whether in class or at a seminar. I think weapons ettiquette is very important. If I ever teach, I would have students place their weapons to their right at first and then to the left to commence practice. O'Sensei did different things at different times for different reasons, which is reflected in the various ways all the Shihans who were uchi deschi do things. As Chiba Sensei said, "don't get locked into doing things just one way." I don't think he meant don't be consistant, but be open to other ways. Let's keep the formality in Aikido.

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Old 10-22-2003, 07:26 AM   #4
Tim Griffiths
Dojo: Nes Ziona Aikikai
Location: Suzhou, China
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 188
Hi Brion,

My personal favourite is when bowing in, to start with the sword on the right (blade in), put it in front of you to bow, then move it to your left side (blade out). At the end of class, start on the left, move it to the front when you bow, then put in on your right before you get up. Walking on and off the mat is done holding it in your right hand. This seems to have a clear rational behind it. Its also what is done in several iaido forms (ZNKR being one of them).

But as others have said, if the respect and intent are there, it doesn't matter what the exact movement is.


If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 10-22-2003, 07:45 AM   #5
Mathias's Avatar
Dojo: Meiseikai
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 31
When we train with weapons in Aikido class we bow in as normal and then go and get the bokken/jo. Then we bow to the bokken/jo by holding it up in front of us, facing shomen and then bow. We do the same when we finish class.

When we train Toho Iaido the ceremony is different. First we do the normal Aikido ceremony; in Seiza Shomen ni rei, otagai ni rei and then mokuso. After that we go and get our iaitos and with the iaito in front of our stomach do shomen ni rei, the sword being diagonally, edge up, with the tsuka to the right. Then we put the sword in front of us a little above our eyes, then we do toho ni rei. Then we put our sword in right hand at our side and do otagai ni rei.

Simple as that

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Old 10-26-2003, 03:48 AM   #6
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 41
In the dojo I train at (Iwama Ryu), we step onto the mat and first bow with it 'proferred' in front of us - edge facing away, handle in the left hand. This is from standing - when we bow on 'properly', after having moved onto the mat, we place our bokken in front of us, edge facing away, and that's about it. When we carry bokken, walking around the mat, we do so with the edge facing 'backwards', in our left hand, as though ready to draw. The reason behind this being that we should be ready, whilst in the dojo - kind of the same reason not to twiddle about with hands clasped behind our backs but instead out in front of us or at our sides, etc.

When we bow off, we place the weapons just as though bowing on - in front of us, facing away. The only difference when bowing off the mat completely when standing is that we hold the weapon in front of us.
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