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Old 12-10-2004, 08:14 AM   #1
Marnus
Dojo: Cape Town
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Bokken Training

Hi,


I have seen a video clip where the Sensei holds a bokken, then demonstrates various techniques like Shomen uchi etc.
The techniques suddenly became very clear to me. Are all the techniques in Aikido based on the sword?

We train with a bokken seperately. What I'm basically getting to is : Does becoming more effecient with a bokken help with your techniques, and vice versa?

Thanks.

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Old 12-10-2004, 09:33 AM   #2
ChristianBoddum
 
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Re: Bokken Training

Yes,yes and yes !

Aikido is is the expression of Katsujinken - the life giving sword.
If you have problems with a certain technique ,you will most likely find the answer by doing the
according sword technique.
Doing swordwork your movements get bigger , and learning to "cut" will make the technique -
well, sharp. This will show you the difference in the kind of power that is needed to make things work.

We use bokken for safety reasons - but doing Aiki toho iai or iaido will even further your understanding of the sword in Aikido.

Yours - Chr.B.
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Old 12-10-2004, 10:51 AM   #3
ian
 
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Re: Bokken Training

Though I know some people disagree, I think bokken work is the best thing for beginners to get the correct body movement (since the boken restricts the movement of your arms and the sensei can easily see bad technique through the bokken). I generally do bokken training very early on, and then decrease it slightly with time. It gives students the connection between hand and centre.

(as far as I am aware) All the techniques in aikido can be done with you holding the sword, where someone is trying to stop you killing them (but you succeed) and conversely, them holding a sword (and you disarming them). That is the beauty of aikido - one technique contains many different applications.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 12-10-2004, 11:35 AM   #4
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Bokken Training

Quote:
Marnus Wolvaardt wrote:
Hi,


I have seen a video clip where the Sensei holds a bokken, then demonstrates various techniques like Shomen uchi etc.
The techniques suddenly became very clear to me. Are all the techniques in Aikido based on the sword?

We train with a bokken seperately. What I'm basically getting to is : Does becoming more effecient with a bokken help with your techniques, and vice versa?

Thanks.

The sword and the staff are both important in Aikido.The essence of the spear (juken, bo, jo, etc.) is in thrusting (although you can strike with it). This is the essential energy of irimi. O-Sensei spent hours and hours practicing thrusting technique outside at various targets.

The essence of sword is the cut (although it does have thrusting). It is through cutting that we see the large circular or spiral energy in the technique.

While most Aikido techniques can be done with a sword energy, in some ways jo is more representative of how technique works in empy hand. With sword both hands move together (since they are on the same handle) to control the blade. In the kihon waza it is easy to see the influence of the sword.

In jo, the weapon has two ends of equal use. When you spin the jo and use the ends for different purposes (one end deflects the attack and the other returns a tsuki) this is really more the way we use our hands (one hand can deflect a punch and the other can deliver an atemi) in empty hand technique). Saotome Sensei developed a whole block of two sword instruction and in that the sword work mirrors the empty hand very closely.

If the essence of empty hand technique is contained in ikkyo, it is also the case in both aiki sword and aiki jo. In sword the falling spiral deflection of the opponent's sword with a simultaneous cut is the core technique. In jo it is the spiral deflection and simutaneous tsuki that expresses the ikkyo principle. Both techniques end with ones weapon resting on top of the opponent's weapon with full body contact (tai atari) just as in ikkyo in which your weight rests on the opponent's arm.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 12-10-2004 at 11:38 AM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 12-10-2004, 01:53 PM   #5
senshincenter
 
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Re: Bokken Training

These are all very good points to training with a bokken. If I may add something... It is true that the cut of the sword offers a lot to one's empty-handed training/practice, yet I think sometimes we focus too much on the swinging and/or the extension of the arch of motion when we think of how the sword relates to our body-art. Equally important is the notion of "center line" when it comes to how bokken work relates to body art. In this way, the sword, in ways the jo not always can, really brings a lot to our body art both offensively and defensively - once we come to embody an understanding of the tactical importance of the center line (both defending it and dominating it). One reason why this happens is precisely because both hands are often placed on the tsuka. This placement leads to the development of a body awarenss that is in tune with the body's center line. We do the following drills to assist us with embodying this understanding through the bokken:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/weapons1.html

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 12-10-2004, 01:58 PM   #6
senshincenter
 
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Re: Bokken Training

Yes, I would say that is true: it depends upon which style of Aikido you do or the style of teaching from your Sensei.

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 12-10-2004, 02:05 PM   #7
ChristianBoddum
 
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Re: Bokken Training

Hi Katriona !

Tools may be a much better word,because they way we use them, should be the same as our
emptyhanded Aikido , not to cut down an enemy but to cut through his intention ,lead and direct,
or as Nishio sensei says ; to forgive many times.
This is ,I think,very unique for Aikido.

yours - Chr.B.
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Old 12-11-2004, 04:54 AM   #8
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Re: Bokken Training

Quote:
Katriona O'Neil wrote:
although some people bring in items such as bokken or jo I haven't heard much on the actual use of them. Are they only for developing hand techniques or do some actually use them as weapons?
Hi Kat,

Welcome to Aikiweb! Bokken and jo are used for developing your body movement. If you use your arms only, while training either solo with a bokken or empty handed with a partner, pretty soon you're going to get sore arms and your technique will not be effective. Using the whole body is what Aikido is all about - it's infinitely more powerful.

Quote:
Katriona O'Neil wrote:
(please correct me if I'm wrong, and I probably am but I'm not sure about how you can use a bokken without it being a violent act, for lack of a better description)
The great thing about bokken training with a partner is that it teaches you how to blend. You learn a lot about distance and timing. It isn't violent when done correctly, just as throwing a partner empty handed isn't violent if it's done correctly.

Quote:
Katriona O'Neil wrote:
I haven't seen anyone being taught how to use these (although I assume they link in with techniques with the 'hand blade') so is it something that depends on which style of Aikido you do or the style of teaching from your Sensai?
A pet peeve of mine is how little most Aikido schools in the UK train in bokken and jo (Iwama Ryu excepted)! It is worth doing because it will always improve your Aikido. It's fun and adds an extra dimension to your training. Regrettably many teachers here don't teach much weapons, as it may not have figured in their own training. This results in a group of students who *dislike* training with jo and bokken, for the simple reason that they don't do it often enough to ever understand it or make any progress with it

Ruth (confirmed Aiki-ken and jo addict)
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Old 12-11-2004, 09:41 AM   #9
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
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Re: Bokken Training

A progression I see in my dojo:

Initially, being attacked open-hand is scary. We work and work on a specific technique to deal with the attack, and it starts to smooth out and become more calm.

Then sensei will call for the same technique as a sword disarm or knife disarm. Suddenly the fear is back, because being struck at with a bokken is quite intimidating. Junior students like me find ourselves getting way too farr off the line, tensing up our shoulders, snatching at the sword arm, etc. It takes a definite additional degree of calmness to succeed against a weapon.

When you go back to the open-hand form, often its movements are clearer because you've seen what it takes to make them work against the additional energy and reach of a sword. And the calmness, hopefully, remains.

Mary Kaye
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Old 12-12-2004, 04:37 AM   #10
ruthmc
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Re: Bokken Training

You'd like to learn how to use the bokken... ok, ask your Sensei! I can tell you how to use it, but that wouldn't be very useful for you because I'd need to watch you and coach you, and I'm not your instructor (but feel free to drop in to Ni Sen Kan if you're in the area)

Speak to your Sensei after class - "Sensei, I'm very interested in learning how to use the bokken, as I've heard that it will help my body technique. Will you show me how to make a basic cut that I can practise at home?" - and hopefully he'll be very impressed with your dedication and loan you a club bokken

Let us know how you get on,

Ruth
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Old 12-16-2004, 05:42 PM   #11
Aikidoiain
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Re: Bokken Training

Hi,

I have real problem relaxing, in general. A few months ago I joined the local Aikikai club but had to stop training due to a relapse (Clinical Depression).

Even when I practice bokken cuts in my flat I still have trouble relaxing, and feel that all my movements are jerky and forced. I never had this problem when I trained in Tomiki Aikido, so I'm wondering if it's just that I am now such a stressed person, which in turn is causing this problem.

I have tried breathing exercises, as well as rigorous stretching, but nothing seems to release the tension. It's really beginning to make me lose faith in the Aikido I already knew, as well as learning this new style.

Even when I stand in posture simply holding the bokken, I can feel my whole body shaking, and it's difficult to keep the bokken still, never mind execute a cut!

Any advice would be appreciated.


Thanks,
Iain.
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Old 12-16-2004, 06:03 PM   #12
ChristianBoddum
 
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Re: Bokken Training

Hi Ian !
My main teacher almost never deviate from doing basic bokken practice at the start of class,
this gives me a chance to to study the older players in their execution,
it is so simple ; move with economy , be in line with the cut - you know !
still very few can do it,it just has to be done over and over again,never as a routine.
And it is very good at showing your basic flaws.
Keep focus on your left hand - do some suburi with left hand only ,thatīs where the power to cut
comes from.
I see a cut as having three parts coming together, first raising to cut starting from the left hand,
then leading the cut from the right hand and then applying power to cut through from the left hand.
And of course remembering to breathe.

I hope this helps - Chr.B:
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Old 12-16-2004, 06:25 PM   #13
suren
Dojo: Aikido of Silicon Valley
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Re: Bokken Training

I can't imagine my sensei expalining any technique without showing it with a weapon or at least speaking how it reminds some move in a suburi or kata. Of course I practice Iwama Ryu and we do a lot of weapon practice, but since one of the main roots of Aikido was sword art, it's difficult to separate them one from another.
Once I asked sensei what should I think while doing morote dori kokyu ho. There are so may things to think of - like dropping your shoulder, raising your hands, stepping accross uke, etc. I need one idea to think about! He took bokken, raised it, turned and cut. That was his explanation.
Of cource once he explained the same technique using a bottle of beer while other guy was holding his hand, but that's another story .

Last edited by suren : 12-16-2004 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:45 AM   #14
Aikidoiain
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Re: Bokken Training

Thanks for the advice Christian.

I had a look at the link on David Valadez's post and watched the video clips - which were excellent! In one of the demonstrations, I noticed they were doing suwari waza techniques. This is something I just cannot do. I have really bad arthritis in my left knee which prevents me from kneeling for even short periods.

I've told my Sensei about this, and he says I should just sit in a comfortable position if it becomes too painful. My worry of course, is that how will I ever progress if I am physically unable to do suwari waza?

Recently I've not be well enough to train anyway, but I am seriously thinking about going back to Hapkido, and giving up Aikido completely. Ironically, I never had any problem with the many kicks in this style. Hapkido is also an excellent "stress-buster", simply because it's so physical. I don't know what to do. I'm at a crossroads again. While I love Aikido because it feels so natural (or at least, it used to), I am tempted back to Hapkido. It does have many of the same joint locks and throws as Aikido, and the basic principles are the same (apart from the kicks of course).


Confused,
Iain.
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:48 AM   #15
Dazzler
Dojo: Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: Bokken Training

Quote:
Iain Smith wrote:

I had a look at the link on David Valadez's post and watched the video clips - which were excellent! In one of the demonstrations, I noticed they were doing suwari waza techniques. This is something I just cannot do. I have really bad arthritis in my left knee which prevents me from kneeling for even short periods.

I've told my Sensei about this, and he says I should just sit in a comfortable position if it becomes too painful. My worry of course, is that how will I ever progress if I am physically unable to do suwari waza?
Ian

suwari waza is excellent for training. It isolates the hip movement, promotes awareness of centre and makes it hard to disguise technical flaws through extra movement.

Of course it can enrich ones aikido ....but is in no way compulsory.

If you really can't do it...then don't do it!

Depending on your personal goals...if they are technical based eg self defence...then it won't matter a jot if you are unable to kneel down in the street and challenge all comers!

If they are more lifestlye based ....again so what if you cant do suwari waza and hamni handachi waza.

There is nothing present in either that cannot be found from good old tachi waza.

Regards

D
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:53 AM   #16
Dazzler
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Re: Bokken Training

One thing I couldn't see here is a mention of 'ki nagare' - flowing ki.

The rise and fall of bokken cuts, mirrors this concept of energy flowing up over an opponent then down to the floor.

As others have stated this replicates the movement found in all aikido techniques and excercises.

D
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Old 12-17-2004, 04:15 PM   #17
dracones
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Re: Bokken Training

all the techniques are alike (bokken, jo, tanto, tai-jutsu)
i like to train the body techniques thinking at a bokken beacause it's the easiest way for me
to keep ki flowing (you know that a closed fist stops the ki), for me it really makes the difference
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Old 12-17-2004, 09:20 PM   #18
kaishaku
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Re: Bokken Training

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
This results in a group of students who *dislike* training with jo and bokken, for the simple reason that they don't do it often enough to ever understand it or make any progress with it
I dislike it because sempai seem to think hitting me with them helps me learn.
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Old 12-18-2004, 12:29 AM   #19
MaryKaye
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Re: Bokken Training

Iain,

My family had a saying (I think it comes from one of the famous philosophers): "You can have anything you wish for if you can just stand in the corner for three minutes and not think of a white bear."

By focusing on trying to relax you may be trying not to think of a white bear. I'd suggest working on some other aspect of your cuts: endurance, or timing, or depth of knee bend, or whatever you can tackle fairly mechanically. Every time you're holding a bokken you're improving your familiarity and comfort with it, and the relaxation will come eventually.

Mary Kaye
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Old 12-18-2004, 05:54 AM   #20
markwalsh
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Re: Bokken Training

"I can't imagine my sensei expalining any technique without showing it with a weapon..."

Showing how a technique came from, or is similar to weapons work, is one good way of explaining technique. But its not the only way! To some students the analagy makes no sense. I'm also sick of hearing instructors who have only studied a bit of aikiken saying somthing is "the same as the sword". Clearly it's not, and how would they know. Most of us didn't grow up with a sword our hands so maybe another analogy is in order sometimes. Rant over.

On the positive note I've noticed that the aikido stance and the concept of centre line make a lot more sense to complete beginners when they get to hold a bokken and swing it up and down a few times. People aslo dig playing with big sticks, very empowering

I guess there's no need for a theoretical debate, does anyone know a good aikidoka who has done little or no weapons? Apparently the present doshu said he doesn't really, but admitted to doing, "a bit", though with japanese modesty and understatement who knows...

"to forgive many times" - Love this. It doesn't apply of course to reality TV shows which must all be destroyed. Imagine - "In the jungle this week is a bunch of irritating B-List celebs and a Shihan with a short temper, armed to the teeth." I'd watch that. Anyway...
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