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Old 07-18-2005, 08:49 PM   #1
Shahryn
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Choice of Bokken

O nae gashi mas!

I'm curious to see whether anyone out there has experience of purchasing/using a bokken that is distinctly different from the classical, katana-shaped wooden training aid.

I recently - deliberately I have to add - purchased a Iwama-ryu bokken. It's heavier, a little stouter all around but the thing that puts other people off the most is that it doesn't have a pointed tip. Instead, it's cut off, somewhat like a tanto.

I love it - others are undecided. One of the pluses is that it never gets confused with anyone else's and hardly anyone wants to borrow it to train with.

Share with me any experiences you might have add.

My thanks!
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Old 07-19-2005, 01:40 PM   #2
samurai_kenshin
 
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Re: Choice of Bokken

I think most aiki bokken have a flat tip. Mine has a flat tip, and I recently got an Iwama bokken as a graduation present. I like those better because they are heavier and develop muscles better than a thinner, albeit more sword shaped bokken.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
-Barry LePatner
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Old 07-19-2005, 02:30 PM   #3
ESimmons
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Re: Choice of Bokken

I have one as well and like it a lot.
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Old 07-19-2005, 06:11 PM   #4
Shahryn
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Re: Choice of Bokken

I guess that this - as with all such things of personal use - is something that is very individual. Your remarks clearly indicate this.

It's great to know that there are others who also like their flat-ended bokken, even if it is a little strange looking.

Thanks, you guys!
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Old 07-19-2005, 07:26 PM   #5
aikigirl10
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Re: Choice of Bokken

My sensei always uses the bokken you are describing, but the students use ones w/pointed tips.
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Old 07-19-2005, 11:32 PM   #6
seank
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Re: Choice of Bokken

I personally prefer the pointed kissaki, but have used the Iwama style bokken on the odd occasion.

I must admit I like the weight of the Iwama style bokken, but when training paired, I find the Aiki-style (pointed type) less like swinging a lump of wood and more like using a sword.

One of my spotted-gum bokken has a tip somewhere between the two; it doesn't end in a point per se, but isn't exactly squared off either. I find it offers a good balance between the two and the extra weight of the timber feels good.
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Old 07-20-2005, 04:38 AM   #7
Shahryn
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Thanks, guys! This is great! I ask this because truly, I am the only person I know of in this neck of the woods who has a non-traditional design bokken so this forum is great feedback and support.

There is a company called Bokken Shop at bokkenshop.com - they have a whole slew of curious bokken, unusual woods, unusual designs etc. Trouble is, I guess they assume you know all about each design and thus, offer very little design-by-design write-up. Check it out. My Iwama-ryu bokken is well-presented there.
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Old 07-20-2005, 07:29 AM   #8
akiy
 
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Re: Choice of Bokken

I have a few bokuto ranging from a very heavy Kashima ryu bokuto (with the inch-thick wooden tsuba) to a medium weight bokuto (with removable hide tsuba) to a light weight Yagyu Shinkage ryu bokuto. I use them depending on the situation and depending on what the person teaching the class is using. Personally, I prefer the lighter-weight bokuto (with a more pointed kissaki than the Iwama style bokuto which I really don't like) as it forces me to use proper technique rather than rely upon the weight of the weapon to affect my partner correctly.

-- Jun

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Old 07-20-2005, 01:47 PM   #9
Mike Sigman
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
Personally, I prefer the lighter-weight bokuto (with a more pointed kissaki than the Iwama style bokuto which I really don't like) as it forces me to use proper technique rather than rely upon the weight of the weapon to affect my partner correctly.
I have several "pointed" bokuto, but often for swinging practice I use an Iwama style because the sawed-off point allows me to practice thrusts repeatedly against a target. Most people who are just swingers miss out on building up a powerful thrust with a sword, IMO. In other words, for all-around practice, if I only had one bokuto, I'd probably go with an Iwama-style.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 07-20-2005, 06:16 PM   #10
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Re: Choice of Bokken

I think I've seen one of those bokken that Mr. Kelleher is talking about. They do have an interesting kissaki. If we're talking about the same thing, it has two faces instead of the traditional single-faced Iwama kissaki. I like my Iwama bokken, but I wouldn't give up my first ever (also Iwama style) bokken because of its sentimental value (it was handed to me by sensei, and marked the beginning of my Aikido training)

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
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Old 07-21-2005, 12:06 AM   #11
Shahryn
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Gentlemen

To muddy the waters further, in light of Akiyama-san's comment about proper technique coming from not wielding a heavier-than-average 'blade', I'm 5' 10" and a fairly athletic (read 'strong') 220lbs. I like the heavier feel of my Iwama when it makes contact with another bokken, but for just solo practice, I fear getting lazy about my technique if my training aid was any lighter. Make sense?

Shah
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Old 07-21-2005, 06:21 AM   #12
ian
 
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Recently bought an iwama style bokken to give it a go - I worry about people damaging each other's eyes. However what I don't like too much about it, is that you don't feel that it cuts through the air since it is more like a stick than a blade shape - you don't get the feel of really turning the blade.

I've tried types, and I'd agree that using too heavier bokken is not good for practise, it is just good for exercise - especially since I got tennis elbow (!) Also, I used to like the thicker handles, but now I actually quite like a standard handle in which you can feel the turn of a blade.

With partner practise heavier bokkens are great for 'beating' the opponents blade out the way with a vertical cut (more momentum in the dropping motion), but it can take away from the necessity to control your blade with your centre. Also lighter blades are faster (which encourage faster leg work). I tend to think now that you have to go for the middle of the road unless you are purposely trying to develop either strength (heavier) or speed (lighter). So after a long journey, I pretty much ended up where I started - a pretty average bokken (although it's in hickory now)!

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 07-21-2005, 06:25 AM   #13
ian
 
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Most people who are just swingers miss out on building up a powerful thrust with a sword, IMO. Mike
PS. I must admit, I'm pretty much a swinger, but I agree with Mike. Especially in light of something Ueshiba said about using a real sword. Apparently he said (to Saito I think) that you have to learn to thrust because once you've cut a few people down the body fat dulls the sharpness of the blade and you can no-longer cut effectively. (I'm sure butchers will understand this - they often use hot water to rinse the fat off the blade during carving).

Leads to the question though, are we learning to 'swing' so we can cut with a sword? Personally I'm not.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 07-21-2005, 09:13 AM   #14
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
Leads to the question though, are we learning to 'swing' so we can cut with a sword? Personally I'm not.
This might be better as a topic for a new thread (which I may create if this subject takes off), but I have to say that after having done tameshigiri with a shinken a few times, my "swing" with a bokuto has changed -- for the better, in my opinion, to one that's less "choppy" and more "slicing."

-- Jun

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Old 07-21-2005, 09:23 AM   #15
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
Leads to the question though, are we learning to 'swing' so we can cut with a sword? Personally I'm not.
I use bokken swinging almost purely as a ki and dantien conditioner. Of course, as those things improve, so does my cutting ability, but that's almost incidental. If you watch Saito and others do some of their swings starting with the back of the blade almost hitting their spines (not a good martial practice and you can be sure they're not ignorant of the fact), it's obvious they're using suburi for exercise, as opposed to "cutting practice", as well.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 07-24-2005, 01:39 PM   #16
Mats Alritzson
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Re: Choice of Bokken

As I'm training Iwama style Aikido of course I use an Iwama bokken. It's more suited to our buki-waza. I'm not familiar with the buki-waza of other styles but I wouldn't like to use any other bokken in the 5th awase, I would be afraid to poke or get poked in the eyes and wouldn't do the technique with the same power. And if I practiced the 1st suburi with a flingy toothpick thingy the whole exercise would seem meaningless. Use a bokken that is suitable to the style you train.
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Old 07-25-2005, 04:40 AM   #17
ian
 
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
This might be better as a topic for a new thread (which I may create if this subject takes off), but I have to say that after having done tameshigiri with a shinken a few times, my "swing" with a bokuto has changed -- for the better, in my opinion, to one that's less "choppy" and more "slicing."

-- Jun
I know I'm getting off the subject, but I was wondering Jun - can you relate this slicing to taijutsu i.e. do you think the slicing motion is better for throws because you get better extension and/or blending. i.e. is the slicing cut identical to the extension during a throw? I can relate the holding down of someone's bokken very clearly to the dropping of centre, drawing down and the way I move off centre line when for example doing kaiten-nage - the feeling is almost identical.

Last edited by ian : 07-25-2005 at 04:43 AM.

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Old 07-25-2005, 12:56 PM   #18
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
I know I'm getting off the subject, but I was wondering Jun - can you relate this slicing to taijutsu i.e. do you think the slicing motion is better for throws because you get better extension and/or blending. i.e. is the slicing cut identical to the extension during a throw?
I´m not Jun, but IME yes it is. The slicing motion makes for a less choppy throw and gives uke less of a feeling of wanting to resist the throw.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 07-26-2005, 08:41 AM   #19
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
If you watch Saito and others do some of their swings starting with the back of the blade almost hitting their spines (not a good martial practice and you can be sure they're not ignorant of the fact), it's obvious they're using suburi for exercise, as opposed to "cutting practice", as well.

Mike
That Iwama rear swing has always really bugged me. I never do it and can see no logical reason why I should. I have confronted several sensei with it and have not yet heard a good reason why I should do it. For me, the sword work is to help my Aikido technique, yes, but there is a limit to what I will do without logical explanation. In fact, martially, I think it does more harm than good. Can anyone give me a good reason why they do that in Iwama-ryu?

PS I was sat next to a KSR/Aikido sensei at the Budokan - about 1992 or 1993 - and he was laughing his head off at several Aikido sword demos.

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Old 07-26-2005, 09:18 AM   #20
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
Can anyone give me a good reason why they do that in Iwama-ryu?
I have always been told that it's simply intended to loosen the shoulders.

Paul Kerr
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Old 07-26-2005, 10:05 AM   #21
Mike Sigman
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
That Iwama rear swing has always really bugged me. I never do it and can see no logical reason why I should. I have confronted several sensei with it and have not yet heard a good reason why I should do it. For me, the sword work is to help my Aikido technique, yes, but there is a limit to what I will do without logical explanation. In fact, martially, I think it does more harm than good. Can anyone give me a good reason why they do that in Iwama-ryu?
If you're going to build your "ki" up over your entire body, you're going to need to stretch and pressurize every surface area on the body... you can't get to the chest, inside under-arms, triceps area, etc, very well without bringing the bokken way back. I'm 99% sure that's what I'm seeing some of the knowledgeable Shihan's do within some portions of their bokken-swinging. They're not ignorant of what proper swinging would be for purely martial practice... they're deliberately doing something else. Watch Sunadomari do his opening swings in the first Aikido Friendship Demonstration. I think most peope are missing the importance of bokken-swinging as a ki-development exercise and how it's done, frankly.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 07-26-2005, 12:11 PM   #22
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
For me, the sword work is to help my Aikido technique, yes, but there is a limit to what I will do without logical explanation. In fact, martially, I think it does more harm than good. Can anyone give me a good reason why they do that in Iwama-ryu?
Don't know about its presence in Iwama style aikido, but I've seen a deep angle (i.e., well below 45 degrees and fairly close to the back) in at least one or two koryu sword arts.

John
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Old 07-26-2005, 12:28 PM   #23
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Re: Choice of Bokken

Quote:
John Seavitt wrote:
but I've seen a deep angle (i.e., well below 45 degrees and fairly close to the back) in at least one or two koryu sword arts.
I was corresponding with someone who had (in his opinion) studied some with 'the best swordsman in Japan' and who did one of the koryu sword arts. He described his teacher's ability to discern his balance, etc., clearly through their two swords touching. That ability is called "listening" and is a natural offshoot of kokyu/jin skills. Which implies to me that some (probably all) of the sword koryu's have a level of practice that involves ki and kokyu. That being the case, I would easily accept the idea that suburi training in some of the koryu arts would involve exercises, at times, as an adjunct to "proper martial swinging" at other times.

My opinion, FWIW.

Mike
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Old 08-01-2005, 06:17 PM   #24
Tenor_Jon
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Re: Choice of Bokken

hmm...
Well I don't have an iwama style bokken, but my friend does (the blunted tip, less curve, and no discernable designed mark between blade and hilt). Let's see...it is quite heavy (well heavier than what I have), and since it doesn't have the shape of the sword that much, I would think that might hinder martial practice with the real thing. But at least if someone discerns the difference between bokken and real swords, then it's A ok. Also, the end goal of one's bokken training is important to consider, is it to truly learn martial training with a sword as it was historically done (something I want to pursue, though probably can't afford any time soon)? Or to only help one's aikido with building distance, perception, and timing skills through weapon's training (training with sword to help with tai jutsu, instead of training with sword to be better with sword, though since real swords are rarely used as weapons in modern times, this approach is probably a better idea)? Or is it a "ki building" exercise? Hmm...
Anyways, I have like a cheap bokken (which is dented and chipped all over the place and will probably break if used in any more serious full contact sparring, or being deflected by me friends "club" of a bokken), and I also have this "hybrid" bokken made of hickory (And with walnut sandwhiched handle), which is more shaped like a katana blade, but the hilt is all screwy (it wasn't really made as a bokken anyways, but I just had to have one )
Oh yeah, I have a question: how are the weights and balance of bokken (or is bokuto the plural or just another name for bokken?) comparable to real authentic katanas, or at least decent modern replicas?
are the heavier iwama ones more akin to a real sword's balance, or too heavy? And also, japanese swords, how much effort is done in blademaking to balance the blade with the tang? (is blade heavy ok or is something done to counterweight the blade?) I mean medieval (and early renaissance) european swords focus a little more on thrusting (well being a straight blade and often tapered to a point this is pretty common sense even at first glance), so smiths added weight to the hilt (large or complex hilt guards, and pommels) to put the point of balance closer to the hilt (ideal in a thrusting weapon). But with a katana, which is a cut and thrust weapon with some emphasis (perhaps too much emphasis, but it is a devastating cutting weapon nonetheless)on the cut, how does that (blademaking process)work?
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Old 09-03-2005, 12:06 AM   #25
O-Ren
 
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Re: Choice of Bokken

I personally like Kingfisher's bokkens the best. They also have an Iwama style bokken http://mivasecure.abac.com/kingfishe...egory_Code=abo Mine is the shinto, and the aiki bokken. Love em, great weight and superb balance, Very tactile. I use only teak oil. I use the aiki for paired because of the blunted end, something that has an edge or is pointed can cut so we normally sand down the tip's. Saves on the cost of stitches. Some people have no self control.

O-ren
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