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Old 01-23-2006, 09:38 AM   #1
Paula Lydon
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live blade/bokken

~After years away from it (about when I began Aikido), I've begun working with my live blade ken once again and--Sorry!--but it's almost nothing like working with a bokken. You may pretend that a bokken has a live blade, you may try to hold all of that in your mind, but it is fundamentally different from hold sharp, cold steel. I'm beginning to think that the bokken should be used and honored for exactly what it is and can be: a fine weapon in its own right when its capabilities, limits and specific principles of movement and application are understood; a tool for body/mind/spirit practice to deepen understanding of connection and principles of energy movement through physical forms~

That's all, my two cents
Take care, Everyone!

~~Paula~~
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Old 01-23-2006, 09:41 AM   #2
Alec Corper
 
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Re: live blade/bokken

Yep, you're right, but whats your point?
Alec

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 01-23-2006, 09:56 AM   #3
Simbo
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Re: live blade/bokken

His point is the sharp thingy on the end of the sword...sorry, couldn't resist
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:11 AM   #4
Alec Corper
 
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Re: live blade/bokken

Steven, your humour is rather cutting.

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:31 AM   #5
Paula Lydon
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Re: live blade/bokken

~~There was no specific 'point'--wasn't aware that there had to be, sorry. I was simply opening a door for possible discussion. I thought that was what this AikiWeb site was about: connection, discussion, sharing, broadening understanding~~

Yours in Budo

~~Paula~~
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:49 AM   #6
rottunpunk
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Re: live blade/bokken

i agree.
the same goes for the transition from iaito to shinken
(training sword to live blade)
though ive only played with one when doing tameshigiri, and not drawn or done noto, the feel is completely different.

it add emphasis to the piont that you should treat bokuto just like the real thing, e.g dont grab the sharp bit, muck about with them, lean on them, stick the point in the mat etc.

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Old 01-23-2006, 11:12 AM   #7
Alec Corper
 
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Re: live blade/bokken

Hello Paula,
I reponded that way because of the "Sorry" you capitalized and inserted in your opening sentence.. As both an Aikido instructor and Shinkendo instructor, I work with bokken. iaito, and shinken. All three are different, but particularly bokken and shinken. Obata Kaiso always emphasizes the need to handle a bokken as if it were a live blade, particularly when drawing and sheathing, but it still does not really prepare you for the weight, the limiting factor of the saya, and the initial fear/respect that a shinken should generate.

"After years away from it (about when I began Aikido), I've begun working with my live blade ken once again and--Sorry!--but it's almost nothing like working with a bokken. You may pretend that a bokken has a live blade, you may try to hold all of that in your mind, but it is fundamentally different from hold sharp, cold steel."

With respect, Deborah, playing with a shinken and performing tameshigiri are two different things. the first is dangerous since it is not a game, the second is serious, and has little to do with the gratification that most people derive from clubbing a piece of wet straw to death. I hope you have a serious and responsible teacher who knows swords, and not someone who believes the myth that an Aikido dan grade automatically makes one a swordsman (or woman)
Alec

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 01-23-2006, 01:57 PM   #8
SeiserL
 
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Re: live blade/bokken

A while back we did an article for Black Belt about Aikido and knife attacks. We used the FMA 5 angles. I brought in some live blades to demonstrate the idea. Sensei used them throughtout the photo session. Made for great picks.

I stopped a recent Shodan testing to request that the students never touch the blade part.

Blade consciousness is very important. Nothing trains better than real steel.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-23-2006, 06:12 PM   #9
Keith Larman
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Re: live blade/bokken

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
...I stopped a recent Shodan testing to request that the students never touch the blade part.

Blade consciousness is very important. Nothing trains better than real steel.
I keep a shinken in my weapons bag when I teach. I have brought it out once or twice over the years to show people who insist on grabbing the blade part. First a few slices of paper to show how sharp the thing is and then ask them if they'd want to grab the shiny part while I pull/push/twist/or move around the sword by the tsuka (handle). That usually gets their attention on the issue.

I also point out that as a guy who polishes and mounts the things I get *very* upset when people touch the blade at all. The real deal ain't made of stainless. And fingerprints make an absolute mess of a blade if not cleaned off relatively soon. And from personal experience I can tell you that blood *really* futzes up a blade. All those salts in the blood can really corrode steel. So apart from the possibility that they might damage themselves I tell them I'm usually more concerned about their blood screwing up a perfectly good sword. We're only going to live 80 years on the outside but I've handled swords that are over 1000 years old. People had the good sense to either not bleed on them or at least clean them promptly when it happened...

And to reiterate Alec's point, swordsmanship is a discipline in and of itself. I've seen a lot of aikiken over the years as well as a good smattering of traditional, koryu sword styles. Generally there is not a lot of overlap. I've known some who cross train in iai and aikido and they rarely compare the two. FWIW I've always been taught the bokken was to teach us more about our Aikido and not to become swordsmen. I do think there is value in it for many things, but I also think it is very important to keep it in perspective. I wish some sword basics were better taught (just a personal opinion). Things like proper grip, tenouchi, blade hasuji, heck, just proper extension in cutting and proper cutting from the hips would be a good start for many. But that said opinions vary on the topic.

If you want to learn more about how the real thing "handles" you really should look into how to use the thing "correctly".

That said there is a very large Tai Kai (essentially sword competition) next month in Southern California being put on by a friend of mine. "Big" Tony Alvarez of Senpokan Dojo is putting on the West Coast Tai Kai in Costa Mesa February 16-18, 2006. http://westcoasttaikai.com . For those who don't know what these are, swordsman from many styles get together to compete in kata and tameshigiri. The event starts on Thursday and Friday with basically closed seminars in various styles. On Friday I'll be helping out in a seminar on sword appreciation with my good friend Ted Tenold. And we're bringing some very nice antique swords for "show and tell". Friday night will be an Embu (demonstration) that will be open to the public and free. Some of the very top swordsmen in the world today will be there demonstrating their arts. Niina Toyoaki Gyoksui Sensei is coming from Japan and is the current Soke of Meishi-Ha Mugai Ryu Iai-Hyodo. Sakaida Sakaida Zenemon Sensei who is the Chief Instructor ZNBDR. Hataya from Japan, Bob Elder, MIke Femal, Tom Smyth, Carl McClafferty, Scott Irey, etc. will also be there (all big names in the US in swordsmanship). Many will be demonstrating their respective arts at the Embu. Saturday is the actual competition with many of these top ranked people as judges. Kata and cutting contests.

There will also be tables with various things on display. CAS Iberia is coming with some of their new Japanese Swords due to come out. Tozai Imports will have some of their blades on display. I think I heard Scott Irey is bringing some of his stuff from ASA Swordworks there. I'll likely have a few Howard Clark blades at least on display hopefully including one that I polished that went on to be displayed in a museum exhibition overseas (assuming it gets back in time). If I still have it on hand I'll also probably be bringing a marvelous tachi by Mukansa smith Ono Yoshimitsu.

Anyway, a tai kai like this is a good chance to meet the guys who really do know what they're doing with swords.

Sorry, this became a plug for Tony's big event, but I must say that I would strongly recommend that local Aikidoka at least go see the embu if they've not seem much in the way of swordsmanship outside of aikido circles. It is really quite an eye-opening experience.

And for you guys out on the Florida side of the world, the Florida Token Kai is coming up on February 10-12.

http://floridatokenkai.com/

I'll be there too. Great antiques on display. No exhibitions of cutting or kata that I know about, but a very large room full of swords ranging from WWII gunto up to stuff nobody can afford. And there will be swords on display by the American Branch of the NBTHK ( http://nbthk-ab.org ).

Lots of chances to see the real thing at least here in the US. Obviously in Japan as well.

In closing... What was my point? Oh, yeah, personally I keep the weapons and usage separate in my head (at least I try to). Aikiken is aikiken. Bokken are a stand in for the real thing. The real thing deserves tremendous respect. And using the "real thing" correctly basically presupposes you're learning a legit sword art. And you'll likely need to travel outside your aikido dojo to get it. Not always of course, many do cross train. But it is "cross training" and not necessarily just the same thing.

I've overbeaten that dead horse enough now...

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Old 01-23-2006, 08:20 PM   #10
SeiserL
 
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Re: live blade/bokken

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote:
That said there is a very large Tai Kai (essentially sword competition) next month in Southern California being put on by a friend of mine. "Big" Tony Alvarez of Senpokan Dojo is putting on the West Coast Tai Kai in Costa Mesa February 16-18, 2006.
Hope to see you there. I'll be a spectator.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-23-2006, 08:55 PM   #11
Keith Larman
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Re: live blade/bokken

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
Hope to see you there. I'll be a spectator.
Cool, come on by and say howdy. Are you going to the embu or to the contest portion?

I'll be there both Friday and Saturday. I always enjoy the demos since it is extremely rare to see these things if you're not already a member of the style. And watching people at that level remind me of how very far I have to go in every aspect of life and practice. Good stuff.

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Old 01-23-2006, 09:08 PM   #12
Keith Larman
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Re: live blade/bokken

I should clarify for those lurking that some koryu styles have internal rules against demonstrations except for very special occasions. They basically feel that public demonstrations of the style are inappropriate and giving one can get one tossed out of the style permanently. So when a multi-discipline event is created and guys of this caliber come together and provide a demo, it is a rare thing.

I also forgot to mention that Masayuki Shimabukuro from the Jikishin Kai (MJER) will be there.

The embu on Friday night is free. I believe there is an admission fee on Saturday of $10.

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Old 01-24-2006, 01:39 AM   #13
Mike Fugate
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Ki Symbol Re: live blade/bokken

Lynn Seiser wrote:
[quote=Blade consciousness is very important. Nothing trains better than real steel.[/QUOTE]

Couldn't agree more with you!
Also,I do have a bokken, and do train with them often. But Sifu has always insisted on real weapons for a real feel. An unsharpened Daito is great, and yes is lot different than a bokken, but I happen to like the daito better.

Last edited by Mike Fugate : 01-24-2006 at 01:49 AM.

"When you cease to strive to understand, then you will know without understanding." -- Caine
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Old 01-24-2006, 03:01 AM   #14
James Smithe
 
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Re: live blade/bokken

Quote:
A while back we did an article for Black Belt about Aikido and knife attacks.
That magazine is just a joke. Not necessarily your article but most of the magazine is.

http://bullshido.net/gallery/watermark.php?file=258

I consider the bokken just a stick, but when the teacher says not to touch the blade of the stick I follow his directions.
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Old 01-24-2006, 04:06 AM   #15
rottunpunk
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Re: live blade/bokken

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote:
With respect, Deborah, playing with a shinken and performing tameshigiri are two different things. the first is dangerous since it is not a game, the second is serious, and has little to do with the gratification that most people derive from clubbing a piece of wet straw to death. I hope you have a serious and responsible teacher who knows swords, and not someone who believes the myth that an Aikido dan grade automatically makes one a swordsman (or woman)
Alec
sorry, i should have made myself a bit clearer.
by 'playing' with a shinken, i mean that ive had a go at using a couple of other peoples, i dont have my own so i havent used one in proper training.
just used it already undrawn.

tameshigiri, if done properly, with real cuts (no offence, but aikiken that ive seen-though i havent seen much-bears no resemblance to a real cut) requires not bashing of the mat and no upper body strength, but a clean slice using hara, like cutting through tofu.

dont worry, i have a very good teacher, hes done iai for only 20 or so year and kendo a bit longer, but i think that counts. and my style is taught by iwata norikazu sensei. not that im bias but hes bloody brilliant.
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Old 01-24-2006, 10:02 AM   #16
Paula Lydon
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Re: live blade/bokken

Lynn, "Nothing trains better than real steel". That was the belief of my Iaido instructor, also my jujitsu instructor with knives at higher levels. It is incredibly focusing; no matter how hard I try to believe that the edge of wood can cut like a blade, honestly, I still can't bring as much inner attention to bear as when I'm holding a live blade.

Alec, thank you for coming back. The big 'Sorry!' was at myself . I had forgotten the feeling over the years of practicing with only bokken and was shocked by the discovered/rediscovered sensation. The weight, the draw, noto so slowly as fingers guide by touch, shorter tsuka than I'd been free to use on a bokken, saya getting in my way at points, the connection through movement of body/mind/sword...everything!

Thank you all for your dialogue and insights.

~~Paula~~
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Old 01-26-2006, 04:40 AM   #17
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Re: live blade/bokken

i also believe there is a big difference in wooden and live weapons, but my view is froma different angle, within my training we train freestyle against wooden tantos, and for dan grade against live tantos, they way you handle live tanto is vastly different to wooden, because of the thought that if you mess up you will have a knike sticking out your belly. it just makes your training a bit more real and you have focus alot harder. also higher up in the dan grades you go up against live sword, which (i am not there yet) looks very difficult.
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Old 01-26-2006, 06:48 AM   #18
Nick Simpson
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Re: live blade/bokken

You shouldnt really treat a wooden weapon any different than an edged one. It's easier for sure, to just grab the 'blade' of a bokken while doing waza, much quicker than taking the hand/tsuka, but it wont do you any favors when/if you train with a shinken. Besides, even if you never have to train with a shinken, it kind of defeats the purpose of the technique/exercise, if you dont treat the wooden weapon as an edged one.

Training with a live blade shouldnt really be any different from training with a wooden one, sure, it requires a lot more concentration and responsibility and it is tougher mentally (scarier for one thing) but it shouldnt be 'harder' as such.

I agree with Lynn, that nothing trains like real steel. But Im also a little skeptical, having used live blades many times ( I no longer do) I wonder. When attacking with a real tanto or ken, you cannot really give a committed/realistic attack (if you do you will possibly maim the person). I got cut once by an attack that wasnt even too committed, I learned a great lesson from that and it is in my head everytime I step on the mat, Im thankful for that. But to be honest, for tachi dori, I just dont believe in live blades any more.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 01-26-2006, 08:02 AM   #19
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Re: live blade/bokken

I like to get my advanced folks to do some kumitachi with iaito, which really hits on the heart of the bokken/live blade issue in most aikido. You don't spend a heck of a lot of time clacking blades together as tends to be the case in some (not all) bokken only versions of Aikiken.

Paula, I hunted through a bunch a bokken that would at least mimic the weight and balance of my shinken. Ikeda Sensei's Itto ryu bokken fit the bill for me. (Should be pretty easy for you to try one out )

I don't get to go to the Tai Kai....but, we have Hataya Sensei here 2 days before. (Valentine's Day...my wife is going to kill me).

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Old 01-26-2006, 12:51 PM   #20
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Re: live blade/bokken

Nuts, testing with live blades! Either uke is pulling the attack or it is so slow and stylized that you might just as well use a bokken or wooden tanto. Do you really think anyone who can handle a blade attacks like we do in Aikido exams? We are not learning to defend against live blades, we are studying different aspects of Maai. If anyone is visiting Holland, you're welcome to visit when we are training with Shinken to see what happens when you attempt to enter against a swordsman. ;-)
regards, Alec

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 01-29-2006, 09:17 AM   #21
rottunpunk
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Re: live blade/bokken

my teacher showed us how tough weapon defences are by using washable marker pens instead of knives or wooden tanto. even though we were wearing bin bags, i still have luminous pink blood all over my gi-hehe
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Old 01-29-2006, 01:26 PM   #22
Matt Molloy
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Re: live blade/bokken

Quote:
Deborah Bell wrote:
my teacher showed us how tough weapon defences are by using washable marker pens instead of knives or wooden tanto. even though we were wearing bin bags, i still have luminous pink blood all over my gi-hehe
Fantastic drill and very humbling.

Wouldn't shout too much about the luminous pink blood though. I've been doing all in my power up here to convince people that Lancastrians are actually human (with limited success at that) and your comments could undermine my efforts.

Cheers,

Matt.
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Old 01-29-2006, 02:10 PM   #23
Edwin Neal
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Re: live blade/bokken

alec i agree training with live blades is foolish... however it is more than just an exercise on ma ai... in a situation where you ARE being attacked with a weapon you can run, with the possibility of getting stabbed in the back, do nothing and get stabbed, or do something that may get you stabbed, but might work... as slim as the chances are i prefer the first or third options... if you have to defend you should have a reasonable defense... that is one of aikido's strengths in my opinion we do the same defenses vs tanto as vs empty hand so you don't have to change to a different type of technique...

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Old 01-29-2006, 03:19 PM   #24
Alec Corper
 
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Re: live blade/bokken

I'm sorry Edwin, I disagree. You should train empty hand as if your opponent is armed and then a weapon changes the maai. You are right that you cannot turn your back on a weapon, but the same applies in hand to hand. All I am saying is that live weapon training is unnecessarily dangerous for the average practitioner (not military or law enforcement) and that when it is seriously done then knife fighting techniques need to be studied and not the stylized attacks we (mostly) use in Aikido. I would not be able to attack with a Shinken against almost anyone since I know I can cut them from all angles and not one overhead strike followed by a long pause.
Like you I've been around MA for 25years now, and there are some things I know just can't be done. I do not believe that empty hand fighting against a trained swordsman is possible unless you are prepared to shed blood to win, maybe then, just. I also don't know the grade standards in dojos where people test for shodan with live tanto. I do know that most could only do it if uke is very controlled in their attack and sticks to the "game plan". So why bother with the blade?

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 01-29-2006, 03:36 PM   #25
Edwin Neal
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Re: live blade/bokken

i agree live weapon training is too dangerous, probably even for Mil or LEO... if you are still training stylized attacks true, but that is a low level of training at some point you MUST become more realistic, although there is still no need for live blades... having studied some knife fighting arts i think the basic techniques learned in aikido are applicable and indeed are surprisingly similar to techniques in those arts... who pray tell is ever even remotely likely to have to fight a trained swordsman??? i agree with the idea of live tanto for shodan test is crazy... it is just ego and posturing and worse dangerous... blades scare me the most... thats why i tell people if all else fails grab a weapon of your own, anything you can find, run, do what ever you have to do to try to survive...

Edwin Neal


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