Friday, June 21, 2013

Weapons Training & Aikido as a Martial Art

Lau Sensei & injuries as mentioned earlier brought to mind weapons training and aikido as a martial art.  In the last few months I've had occasion to be told my practice with bokken and jo are aggressive.  I think it has to do with the way I was trained.  The point of weapons training was two-part:

1. Since aikido comes from kendo, if and when you were having trouble with a technique, do it with a sword to see how the technique should work.  A weapon was a key to unlock the logic of the technique.

2. Weapons done right require ki extension.  Like training with weights on your ankles and wrists, when you put down the weapon your ki extension for empty hand techniques should be stronger for the ki extension, and require less strength.

I also see people having the trajectory of their weapons covering territory that does nothing to enhance a strike but does much to slow it down. Your hands holding a bokken never need be any higher that one fist above your forehead in a shomen strike.  Any farther back than that and both time and energy is being wasted.  I see blades parallel with spines in practice and wonder at it.   Properly held above the head, there is a real joy in the blade being balanced from where it will deliver a blow (in a straight line, not a curve) to the target.  You can just feel it will get through the opponent.  Bliss!

And I see yokomen drills with people bringing the sword back too far.  Perhaps I am not so aggressive as not wasting movement.

Also, katas were extension exercises, not technical exercises.  In a real stick or sword fight, it would be "damn the maneuvers, go straight at 'em."  I was taught to spend more time leaning in for the kill rather than worrying about where the feet go.  With all the stick training, since it is aikido, disarming should be practiced in weapon vs weapon, that is your first move takes the weapon out of the other persons hands.  In other words in one explosive move the opponent cannot hang on to his weapon.

This kind of training leads to injuries.  At most dojos, injuries are avoided at all costs, to the detriment of martial training.  It cannot be a martial art and injury free.  Bruising practices for non-bruising conflicts.

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