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Thread: Aiki and Swordsmanship

  1. #16
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    If nothing else it does seems to make my forearms and grip stronger. I know AJJ is not suppose to be about how strong you are, but it helps when you blow the move.
    Jason B. Carrier

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    Richard,

    I'm not sure we really disagree that much - if you notice, I added several qualifiers to my statement. I said: "FWIW, I think that most sword training (depending a little on the style ) will help your "understanding" of aikijujutsu, but won't necessarily "improve" your ajj."

    Perhaps I wasn't very clear. But basically I agree that studying the sword will enhance one's understanding of ajj. I just don't think that "understanding" necessarily equates to improvement in ability to apply aiki. It might facilitate a general improvement in your taijutsu - but then again it might not, it depends. More specifically, I think if you want to improve your aiki you need to train in aiki.

    I think there's plenty of people who understand principles and applications of techniques and strategies - if by understanding we mean having an idea how something works, and being able to explain it, then it doesn't automatically follow that such head knowledge of techniques/principles necessarily equates to having the skill, or improving one's skill at being able to use and apply them. It may help, but it's no guarantee.

    Some difference here between us I think is semantic, and falls back on our slightly different definitions/interpretations of what constitutes "aiki/aikijujutsu" I think that the definition in Yanagi-ryu is slightly broader than that in Daito-ryu. IOW, some of what you would call "ajj" I would say falls more into what I would call jujutsu rather than ajj. It's possible that you might say that sword training is improving your ajj, and then proceed to demonstrate some "improved" ajj techniques/skills, when I might look at that, or even feel those techniques, and say that's what I'd call more jujutsu not ajj. And I don't mean to imply that because it's jujutsu it's any less effective, only that I'd classify the techniques differently.

    In a comprehensive tradition like Yanagi-ryu, I would agree that training in the sword would improve your ajj and vice versa (Yanagi-ryu being an exception as Nathan noted). Especially since Yanagi-ryu kenjutsu and Yanagi-ryu Ajj are both working off of the same operating system, and so many of the fundamental movements/techniques in each are the same. This would be a lot less likely to be the case however if one was studying say, Kaze Arashi-ryu and then started to practice Jigen-ryu, or if one were studying Nihon Goshin Aikido and then began to practice Niten Ichi-ryu.

    Likewise, I think that a study of Itto-ryu kenjutsu would naturally be of help in studying Daito-ryu. If nothing else, it puts a lot of things into their proper context - that might helpful for improving your understanding of jujutsu and perhaps it's original applications, but it still doesn't necessarily make your "aiki" better.

    Sokaku apparently taught both systems (Daito-ryu & Itto-ryu), although I think more often they were taught seperately. It's also my belief that Takeda-den Ono-ha Itto-ryu may differ somewhat from traditional mainline Ono-ha Itto-ryu in terms of the operating system as well as some other things.

    So although they're very compatible, it may depend somewhat on the kenjutsu instructor (as well as one's own creative initiative) if you're studying Itto-ryu from another source outside of Daito-ryu, it may be valuable, or it may prove frustrating. Change the kenjutsu style to Kage-ryu or some other system foreign to Daito-ryu, and it may be even more frustrating than enlightening.

    Sokaku's own kenjutsu by a number of accounts was highly unorthodox - IOW not your standard Ono-ha Itto-ryu. Why? I think it was because he discreetly applied aiki to his kenjutsu techniques, and also devised new original techniques using aiki.

    The application of aiki to kenjutsu (aiki-ken) was one thing that distinguished his swordwork from others and imo made him more effective with a sword. The same is true of his application of aiki to jujutsu. The end result of training in Daito-ryu Jujutsu and Aiki no Jutsu is Aikijujutsu - for the Daito-ryu practitioner who also studies Ono-ha Itto-ryu (or any other sword system) I think the traditional kenjutsu serves as a solid base for swordwork, but is naturally absorbed into Daito-ryu's overall operating system, and the result is some form of aiki-ken that is consistent with and systemic to Daito-ryu.

    Therefore in Daito-ryu, it's the application of aiki to other skills (weapons or taijutsu) that improves those other skills, and not so much vice versa. Aiki in Daito-ryu is it's own subset or catagory of special techniques and skills, and it happens to complement most other stuff rather well, but much of that other stuff doesn't always complement it well in return, and in fact often gets in the way and hinders it. Hence my feeling that aiki generally will improve one's kenjutsu more than kenjutsu in general will improve one's aiki.

    It's just my opinion.

    Having said all that, if one only studies aiki without any knowledge or skill in jujutsu or kenjutsu at all, then I think they will have a hard time dealing with skilled practitioners of jujutsu or kenjutsu. However, such an individual who has a good base in aiki alone can usually pick up the essentials of jujutsu or kenjutsu much faster than if he didn't have such a base. At least that's been the case with my experience and my observations.

    Now for everyone else who subscribes to the more abstract "conceptual" definition of aiki, and thinks that ajj is comprised of techniques like kotegaeshi, shihonage, and other "aikido-like" techniques, then my comments don't apply at all, because we're not talking about the same thing when we say "aiki". Sure, training in most styles of kenjutsu will probably improve what you consider to be your general "aiki" skills. But such "aiki" is not to be confused with Daito-ryu AJJ.

    Finally, I think everyone should study weapons for their own merit, if not to improve your aiki, then at least to expand your overall general combative knowledge and abilities. If your weapons system and your taijutsu system are compatible then that's even better.

    Respectfully,

    Brently

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    Default part 2

    Richard,

    I pretty much agree with "understanding being 1/2 the battle", but what's the other half? Training right? If you only want to "understand" aiki better, then yes, study and analyze ajj, but also study and analyze jujutsu, kenjutsu, heiho, and reigi too, such study can't hurt, and will certainly shed light on a lot of areas. But I still think if you want to improve your ajj just do more ajj.

    On the other hand some folks just train and eventually get it (aiki). They have little understanding of why, or what they are doing, much less how it works yet they have ability. Understanding is certainly helpful for most of us, but it's not necessary. Obviously there's different kinds of understanding too - intuitive and experiential as well as intellectual and analytical. Too much information can often get in the way of progress too.

    I also agree that there is a great deal of correlation between tanto and tessen waza and empty-hand arts - I just don't classify ajj as an "empty-hand" art. Both these weapons have standard techniques as well as applications with aiki. In Daito-ryu the Goshin yo no te techniques are generally considered to be "empty-hand" self-defense techniques - most all of which are also classified as jujutsu albeit without weapons.

    Nathan wrote:

    "The more I think about it, I would have to say that art like Jujutsu (including Daito ryu jujutsu) and Aikido might benefit MORE from sword training - at least from the aspects I identify with."

    I agree.

    "The more aiki techniques do not seem to include as much of sword theory as the jujutsu."

    I disagree. Aiki techniques contain a tremendous amount of sword theory, principles, and strategy. Although often in a microscopic and/or cryptic sort of way (still most people might not see it unless it's pointed out - so that would be the advantage of studying sword and ajj in the same system or from the same instructor). Again knowing the sword theory can help you understand how and why aiki works the way it does - but it doesn't always mean that your aiki will automatically get better if you understand the theory.

    I will admit one point that I think Richard will agree with me on, and that is knowing the theory/principles can eliminate a lot of the guesswork involved in the training process. In that way, much of your training can be focused on adherence to principle(s), and then feedback can be used to speed up the learning process. Naturally, such training will facilitate obtaining better results, faster. Hence an improvement in ability. Improvement doesn't automatically come from being taught theory though, it still takes training and an accumulation of experience, but such teaching/training can make the process more productive in terms of transmitting ability. This is something that I always try to do when teaching. Still, I tend to think that the teaching of theory in kenjutsu class isn't likely to help your ajj ability very much unless the theory is also shown or taught in correlation or reference to ajj (ie: in the context of ajj training).

    Richard wrote:

    "I would say that the "aiki" techniques include more theory of sword than application, whereas the jujutsu contains more of the application with that theory, in Yanagi ryu at any rate."

    I agree.

    Jason said (probably with tongue in cheek):

    "I know AJJ is not suppose to be about how strong you are, but it helps when you blow the move."

    Seriously, using strength when you blow a move is not helping you in the long run. Think about it.

    Respectfully,

    Brently

  4. #19
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    Brently,

    In regards to your second post:

    One does have to give you points for single-mindedness.

    I was really trying to avoid all that mincing of words Brently.
    Thus my reference to Aikijujutsu "systems".
    I wasn’t speaking of just or specifically Jujutsu, or Aikijujutsu, or Aikijutsu, or Aiki no jutsu or of Daito ryu.

    The question was:
    "Do you guys believe that sword training will make your Aiki Jujutsu better."

    Nobody said anything about Daito ryu specifically.

    It just doesn’t do to break it all up into all of these specific realms when you are having a general conversation with those outside of your own system. All it does is complicate and confuse an otherwise decent topic of discussion.

    I was speaking how it effects one’s skills in their entirety, though admittedly there will be areas of greater influence and application, the study of a classical sword style will have an over-all improvement on ones skill and understanding of the arts as a whole. It’s really up to the individual and how they apply what they’ve learned. Study a classical sword style and you’ll "understand" what I mean. If it wasn’t for sword much of what is jujutsu (or aiki, or whatever) wouldn’t be there.

    I know we have discussed this before but I’ll say it again.
    There is a whole lot of "aiki" in a great many sword systems, and jujustu, though they don’t always call it that. And in those that do it often predates Takeda Sokaku’s use of the term. It could even be argued that he MAY have gotten much of his "aiki" from having studied sword. You speak primarily of Itto ryu (Takeda ha) but that’s only because it is already associated with Daito ryu. You have to understand that Takeda also spent a great deal of time studying other systems as well, and that Itto ryu was a very, very popular style and many swordsman studied it. It has probably more spin-offs than any other system, along with the Yagyu ryu. So who’s to say that him having studied sword isn’t what improved his aiki technique. And I am sorry but I don’t buy that aiki-ken crap. Takeda studied sword. Unless you studied sword with him anything said about what he did is pure guessing and/or hopeful hypothesizing, including what I just wrote.

    No offense Brently, but one of these days you are going to have to accept that there are valid systems of ajj other than Daito ryu and some of them may have something that your system doesn’t, like sword. Takeda taught a lot of people and not all of them stayed only with what he taught. Aside from that, Daito ryu is NOT the only system to have aiki whether as a specific subsystem or classification of techniques, or not. Daito ryu does not have a corner on the aiki market, and it’s not totally unique. It really isn’t.

    As an aside:
    "I think that the definition in Yanagi-ryu is slightly broader than that in Daito-ryu."

    Actually, in Yanagi ryu aiki is not that broad at all. In fact it is not so much a physical thing as it is a tactic physically applied. Most of what you see my teacher do, even the minimal motion stuff, is just our jujutsu. In our style the "aiki" aspects are the psychological ploys, deceptions, misdirections, touch responses etc. The rest is just jujutsu. In our school what you have in the past explained (or more alluded to) as aiki falls under the classification of jujustu. I have discussed this in greater depth with other practitioners of Daito ryu and specifically Roppokai, so I do know what you are talking about.

    To put it simply, in our style if what you do effects the opponent physically it’s jujutsu, if it effects him mentally it’s aiki. Aikijujutsu is the use of both, or one to set up the other. There are specific ways of doing each, but when push comes to shove it all comes together.
    ……………………………………………………………………….
    In all honesty I wrote most of the above before you wrote your last post. I must say I liked your last better as you were talking about the art and the learning and not just what is or is not Daito ryu. I have nothing against Daito ryu mind you, I think it’s great stuff, but sometimes Brently you can go a bit overboard. I would think you get tired of writing the same thing all of the time.
    ……………………………………………………………………….

    In regards to your third post:

    "If you only want to "understand" aiki better, then yes, study and analyze ajj, but also study and analyze jujutsu, kenjutsu, heiho, and reigi too"

    That was exactly my point.
    Aside from the jujutsu (actually, depending on the style) all of that is in tradtional kenjutsu systems, some even more so than in Aiki-jujutsu systems.

    "I also agree that there is a great deal of correlation between tanto and tessen waza and empty-hand arts - I just don't classify ajj as an "empty-hand" art. Both these weapons have standard techniques as well as applications with aiki."

    I was trying to say that one should not draw a line between these different arts. Much of what is taught in weapons systems can be done empty hand. Coming from a bugei that has an extensive weapons system as well and empty hand, I would be in error to separate them. Virtually no traditional system of jujutsu is an empty hand-only system. They almost all contain some weapons use.
    ………………………………………………………………………….

    I do have a question for you Brently, seriously.

    What, to you, would be an acceptable term to refer to all of this Aiki stuff to avoid getting into what is Aiki-no, Aiki-ju, Ju-ju etc. For the most part, in net conversation at any rate, all of the specific divisions don’t help much.
    Richard Elias
    Takamura-ha Shindo Yoshin ryu
    Yanagi Ryu

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    [Post deleted by user]
    Last edited by Nathan Scott; 28th March 2014 at 20:22.
    Nathan Scott
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    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

  6. #21
    Mark Raugas Guest

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    Brentley Keen writes:

    "This would be a lot less likely to be the case however if one was studying say, Kaze Arashi-ryu and then started to practice Jigen-ryu"

    Hi All,

    Just to chime in, since we were mentioned, I would agree with the above statement. However, as Kaze Arashi Ryu has kenjutsu and jojutsu as part of its syllabus, practicing those arts really does help improve one's skills at Kaze Arashi Ryu's aiki inyo ho (what we formally call our empty hand arts), be them aikijujutsu or jujutsu by whoever's definition. Either way, doing weapons really does help the empty hand--that's because a good portion of the the empty hand arts of our system are pretty directly adapted from the weapons arts, and all the arts of our system respect the same principles (being different manifestations of the same principles--the empty hand arts are simply a later manifestation / development, so they borrowed heavily and adapted the structure of what was already in place with the weapons). But doing Kaze Arashi Ryu empty hand arts and then a different system of weapons, like Jigen Ryu, for example, might bollux everything up / make things much harder for a practitioner, especially if the two systems have conflicting principles. Or it might make it better, in some people's minds, if they have a low opinion of one or the other. But that's neither here nor there, as far as the present discussion is concerned.

    About small techniques versus large techniques (or what people mean by aiki in general), we don't call a lot of what other people might call "aiki" as that; rather we refer to it as toate no jutsu. For us, toate no jutsu is something independent of both our armed/unarmed arts (although you are never really supposed to be unarmed--you generally try use aiki inyo ho only until you can disarm someone, or until you are able to draw your own blade. But that's a whole other ball of wax to chew on with regards to the role of "unarmed" arts in general), but that can be very well applied to both, and in non combative situations as well.

    Aside from the fact that jujutsu evolved later (I'm assuming) than kenjutsu or naginatajutsu or sojutsu, asking what has more effect on the other seems to me kind of a chicken and the egg type of problem. If you are learning them at the same time, you might feel they both inform each other. If you are really skilled at one, you might feel it is the one that informs the later practice / makes it more effective or easier.

    But, regardless of system, I do think kenjutsu can teach things like ma-ai, posture, and timing very well; sometimes things that can get lost in the shuffle (at least pedagogically) if all you do is randori or even ko-waza. So regardless of any direct connection or influence between specific arts, it might prove for anyone to be well worth while training at weapons arts, if they can find proper instruction.

    The question as pertaining to a particular system, like the Daito Ryu, will depend on the order in which its founder learned what he did, and what exactly of each system he studied did he draw upon to form / revive the empty hand arts he wound up teaching. And the question remains, is what people are doing now indicative of what he intended?

    Besides that question, I think often people look at historical figures and their end product of mastery, and wish to emulate that finished product, without actually going through the steps they went through in order to reach that point (maybe aikido itself also comes to mind, in this example). You might just say, hey, what was good for him surely is good enough for me, and embrace the things he wound up learning along the way, to get a better understanding of the final product (as some aikido people today are doing with Daito Ryu, and maybe some Daito Ryu people today should do with Itto Ryu and Jikishinkage Ryu (assuming they were available to be learned) ). Or you might trust in his mastery, and try to deal only in what he wound up teaching in the end. I'm not sure there is a correct answer; although I personally lean towards the first point of view.

    Respectfully yours,

    Mark Raugas
    www.kazearashiryu.org

  7. #22
    Aiki-Kohai Guest

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    sorry...wrong post.

  8. #23
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    Default Aiki Expo 2003

    There will be a workshop given by James Williams at the Aiki Expo in September on the concept of sword principles as a foundation for empty hand. the workshop will include demonstrations of how the same principles can be applied in aikijujutsu, kenjutsu and tameshigiri. For more information, please follow the link below.

    http://www.aikidojournal.com/new/editor.asp?id=400
    Regards,

    Dave Neeley

    Senpokan dojo

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    A book that I think expertly describes and illustrates the relationship between empty-hand aiki techniques and kenjutsu techniques is Structure of Aikido: Kenjutsu & Taijutsu by Gaku Homma Sensei.
    Bill Menker

    "I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance." -Thomas Carlyle

  10. #25
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    If you look at AJJ techniques and techniques with the tachi then you will notice the movements are very similer for example the following movements represent the sword

    koto gaishi- is a slicing and then down ward movement

    shihonage-is a sword stap down wards

    and etc

    yours in shugyo
    Ben Wallace

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    Wow, this never really ends does it? Between arm chair theorizers and actual practitioners I would probably listen to the practioner. You can read all the history books you want about aiki and sword relationship, but if you don't actually practice it i'd say you need to just sit and listen to the ones that actually live and breathe it. The Yanagi Ryu guys are pretty much the experts in this field.

  12. #27
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    Originally posted by Meynard Ancheta
    You can read all the history books you want about aiki and sword relationship, but if you don't actually practice it i'd say you need to just sit and listen to the ones that actually live and breathe it. The Yanagi Ryu guys are pretty much the experts in this field.
    There are also some Daito-ryu/koryu sword guys who are also experts in the matter.
    Cady Goldfield

  13. #28
    Dan Harden Guest

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    Bill writes
    A book that I think expertly describes and illustrates the relationship between empty-hand aiki techniques and kenjutsu techniques is Structure of Aikido: Kenjutsu & Taijutsu by Gaku Homma Sensei.

    *****************

    Bill that would be Aiki-do and Aiki-ken
    and has nothing at all to do with kenjutsu
    Same with Saotome's book

    They are talking about Aiki and Koryu kenjutsu
    two different topics alltogether



    cheers
    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 30th April 2003 at 01:45.

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    I would think that most Japanese empty hand arts look a lot like weapon bearing arts, since they were almost all developed by and for swordsmen, or at least, armed fighters.

    Perhaps more interestingly, in one of his books (I can't remember which one off the top of my head) Yoshimaru Keisetsu theorizes that it was Sokaku's experience with the sword applied to empty hand techniques that was largely responsible for the development of Aiki.

    On a related topic, he also theorizes that Sokaku inherited a complex system of empty hand techniques, added his own approach (which he called "Aiki"), and thus developed "Aiki-jujutsu". No proof, of course, but the arguments were interesting, and the theory seems to fit with many of the known facts, characteristics, and controversial areas of Daito-ryu history.

    Best,

    Chris

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