Okay, I’m cheating here. Yesterday, after writing my entry on weapons practice, BlackBeltMama, wrote a comment about the weapons she studies in her own martial arts practice. Normally, I’d just respond to her comment with a comment of my own; however, I made this commitment to writing a post every day for the next month, so I’m going to respond instead with a new post. Maybe that’s not really cheating, but anyway…
BBM points out that she studies a variety of weapons types–some of them easier to carry around than others. I neglected, yesterday, to point out that, in Aikido, we study the tanto, the bokken, and the jo. That’s it. So my perspective on weapons is a little bit skewed by just considering those particular tools. Clearly, there are some weapons that are far more adaptable to today’s world, and I have no problem with anyone who wishes to study them. BBM also goes on to talk about how useful a staff could actually be in a conflict, given how you can certainly make them readily acceptable. And to that I must also agree: I used to keep a jo staff under our bed for just that reason.
Perhaps my biggest issue with weapons, then, stems from the integration of the bokken or sword within aikido practice in particular. There are those whom I have met who have emphasized the study of the bokken within aikido to such an extent that it truly does baffle me. My biggest concern is that aikido requires a very careful study of timing and proximity, of understanding how to support and control someone else’s balance and posture. Bokken and sword work are useful tools for studying timing, and perhaps a little useful in terms of looking at proximity, but it is not the same as actually being in close contact with your opponent, subtly shifting their balance, feeling the flow of their attack and the confines of their structure so that you can find the weak point. To study the bokken in context is to study calmness and committment. To study it to the near-exclusion of other aspects of aikido is, well, questionable. I suppose it would be akin to studying judo without regards to pins, or escrima without ever picking up some sticks.
(Okay! I said I would write every day for a month. I never said I would write well. Perhaps, after this month is over, folks will understand why there are times when weeks go by between my posts… ha.)