Training Weapons in Aikido
Real weapons are rarely seen or used during training due to the very real danger of serious accidental injury, so it is rare to see a live blade (sword, spear or dagger) in Aikido practice. Instead we practice with wooden replicas.
Weapons are used in Aikido training to introduce varying combat distances, as well as variations in timing and different initative concepts and strategies. The Bokutō (Bokken / wooden sword) is used regularly to reinforce posture and good arm postitioning and as a general learning tool in understanding the foundations and fundamentals of Aikido and its core principles, not as a study of swordsmanship.
Practicing with wooden weapons still requires the same protocols as if live blades were in use. Despite the fact that we are not learning how to fight with bladed weapons, nor are likely to face another human being wielding a bladed weapon we are training for the purpose of learning how to avoid, blend and disarm from a number of set attacks. It is important therefore to consider weapons training as real to ensure practice is meaningful.
Bokutō / Bokken : Wooden Sword
Jō: A wooden staff representing a Yari (which is a bladed spear like weapon)
Tantō: either a wooden training knife in Kata or a soft foam cyllinder (Softō) for competition practice.
Sport Aikido randori practice and drills makes frequent use of a cloth covered foam tanto to avoid injury to players competing and practicing. One end is covered in white leather, denoting the point of the tanto and one edge has a band of white leather to indicate the back (blunt) edge of the tanto. When handing a softo over ensure that the white edge is facing your practice partner to observe good ettiquette.
There may be some variation on how weapons are passed from one person to another from dojo to dojo. But here are some general points to observe
- If you hand a weapon to another person, the bladed edge should be facing towards you and the weapon presented using both hands.
- Simultaneously make eye contact AND be conscious that both people have a grip on the weapon before you let go and move apart.
- Weapons management is more difficult with longer weapons, but when you hand any weapon over, it should be presented horizontally and as evenly as possible to the other person.
The following would be considered disrespectful and a serious indicator that your ability, knowledge and respect for weapons training is lacking.
- Never casually grasp a weapon by the bladed end or edge (unless there is a saya implied)
- Never allow the bladed part to touch your or anothers body (unless as part of legitimate practice)
- Never hold a weapon in the crook of your arm or on resting on your shoulder
- Never prop yourself up with a weapon
- Never trail any part of a weapon on the ground
- Dont leave a weapon unattended on the ground
- Never casually step over a weapon on the ground
- Never casually use your foot to kick or move a weapon
- Never throw or toss a weapon in the dojo
- Never fiddle, play, flip or perform party tricks with a weapon in the dojo
Its important to note that your Insurance does not cover use of live bladed weapons in the dojo