All posts by Troy Henderson

A guide how to maintain aikido weapons

Aikido is martial art which comes from Japan. It was developed by MoriheiUeshiba as a combination of martial studies, philosophy, and religion. The main idea he had was how to defend yourself, but also how to protect attacker from injury. In aikido, there are many different techniques like irimi, turning movement, and different types of throws and joint locks. Aikido was developed in the early 20th century, but today is very popular all around the world and has a wide range of interpretations, but they share the same technique.

It is very important to maintain and correctly storage your weapons. The main reason is security and the other is to prevent them from deteriorating. It is important to say that weapons that aren’t maintained properly are the main reason for injuries. If you have a Bokken or Jo with splints you must not use it, but sand it and oil it. If they have some structural defect, throw them away. Over the year, especially if you are using these weapons on a regular base, it is important that from time to time, to sand it and oil it. If the condition of weapon is a bed, do this a couple of times.

This will remove the damage and nourish the wood. You have to maintain it regularly if you want to prevent them from warping or the wood from deteriorating. Put oil as much as the wood will take; it can be from one to three or more times.

Take care of wooden weapons

Because of the moisture wood can change over time, by expanding the fibers. This can cause a lot of damage, so it is important to store it at good conditions. Store wooden weapons horizontally, in the room which has good ventilation and the room who is not too wet, nor too dry. For that reason try to avoid garages, cellars, or humid places like the bathroom. Rooms like bedroom are a good solution, and you can store your wooden weapons under the bed because the humidity and temperature can vary between floor and ceiling.

If you store them vertically, that means you are exposing them to different conditions. And in very short time this weapon will be unusable and dangerous to use. Wooden weapons are very sensitive, and you have to be very careful. If you are buying Bokkern or Jo from a shop, take a look how they are stored there. If the conditions are as we previously mentioned, it is safe to buy them. But many persons working at this kind of stores don’t have the right knowledge of wooden weapons.

So don’t buy them if the conditions where they are kept are not good. Even in Japan, this kind of mistakes can happen. Weapons that are made of wood should to be on the direct sun, or any place where they are exposed to high temperatures, like near the stove. Wood can easily burst into flames.

Bokken, a main sword of Aikido

Bokken is the wooden sword of samurai, and it is often an accompaniment to kendo and kenjutsutraning. It is made from Japanese white oak or shiro kasha, from a single cut of wood. This sword allows students to practice and preform sword katas and techniques with safety. It is a great way for students to build their strength, and improve their sword technique. Bokken is used in training with the wooden blade. When using bokken both of your hands have to be on the handle, then raise sword directly over your head in a straight line, until your elbows are also straight. Quickly release the blade down in the straight cut, but try to visualize the path of the sword through the middle of your target.

How to block with the bokken?

Block used in bokken training came from traditional katana blocks. The most important block in bokken training involves raising the arc of the blade so that it points directly over your head. If the cuts are aimed at the side of your body, you can side block it. Thrust attacks are harder because there are quicker and therefore harder to predict. This will happen naturally in combat. You can even have combat with two bokken, one in each hand. There are so many techniques and ways of using this sword, and possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Light bokken

Every Aikido practitioner has the sword that is the same size because this is the way to avoid differences in the distance. Bokken can be relatively light and solid, but there is also heavy weight bokken. There are used to work on speed and precision. Even the founder of Aikido trained with light bokken. It is difficult to say the exact model he used, but we know it was the light one and slightly curved.

Heavy bokken

This type of bokken is used by schools that are focused on the fight in heavy armor and physical training. JikiShinkage and Kashima Shinto Ryu are using heavy weights bokken. People who use heavy sword are trained with heavy bokken, and there can damage even the strongest type of armor. This type of training can develop strength of the hips, arms, forearms, but the down side is that it cannot be used to work on speed, placement or accuracy.

Standard bokken

Besides light and heavy weight, there is also standard bokken. Schools like KatoriShito Ryo and ShindoRyu use standard weight bokken. This type of sword is used in bettering the technique and precise practice. This also requires more training that using the other two. When starting with Aikido training, it is best to consult your trainer what kind of bokken is best for you. Don’t try to choose it by yourself, because you might get injured. The length of bokken should also be adapted to the practitioner. The curvature of bokken can improve the cutting angle and strengthen the weapon, but it would also slow down the technique.

Dojo

Have You Ever Heard About The Dojo And Its Real Meaning?

If you like martial arts, then you certainly know what Dojo is and how important it is for any training. This term is, of course, Japanese term and it means “place of the way.” In the past dojos were a part of temples but nowadays we have them all around the world. In the Western World, this terms is usually related to a training place specialize for Japanese martial arts like karate, judo or aikido. There is a difference between how people define this term in Japan and the rest of the world. Unlikely to the World in Japan this term can be related to any physical training facility.

What rules should you respect in dojos?

First of all, you are not allowed to wear shoes there. Cleaning is very important, and in some of the dojos there is a rule to clean it before, that is, after every session. In the past, there was a tradition that special student for example uchi-deshi was in charge for cleaning. For visitors they usually have a special place reserved, but that also depends on their rank and station.

How people relate dojo and Buddhism?

In some cases, people use this term to describe the meditation halls. In these halls Zen Buddhist practice zazen meditation. Some of them use term zendo and others dojo it depends on the region.

Dojo is not just a training place

No matter how you think that martial arts are focused on the physical strength, you need to be aware that every single one of them is focused on mental health as well. We can say that every dojo is focused on learning above everything. Only with learning, you can make progress and without it, nobody can overcome the obstacles that we can encounter on our way. For a lot of things, it takes time, and that is exactly what we can learn in the dojo. We need to be strong for our good physically and mentally as well. Dojo is the way to find our inner truth.

Aikido Legend

Michio Hikitsuchi – Aikido Legend

Every Aikido enthusiast, from amateurs to senior practitioners, has heard of Sensei Hikitsuchi. He was one of the greatest names in the world of Aikido, one of the most important experts in this noble martial art. If you want to learn a bit more about Sensei Michio, visit our dojo for a free lecture about his life and the vast influences his teachings have on the art of Aikido.

Here we will present only basic information about the biography of MichioHikitsuchi, and we invite you to join us for a free lecture where you can hear more valuable information. Also, we organized several Aikido experts to speak about the Sensei, and you will be able to purchase a book about him.

Early life in Japan

Early-life-in-JapanMichio had a tough life as a child. His father passed when he was only two and his mother when he was seven. He grew up living with his grandmother who introduced him to basic martial arts, knowing a few forms of naginata combat. At the age of nine, he started to learn Kendo. His talent quickly showed, and he soon transitioned to other martial arts, including bojutsu, karate, and jujutsu. He had to wait until the age of fourteen to see the path life will throw at him.

Meeting MoriheiUeshiba

Michio always used to say how Morihei was like a father to him. Their relationship was truly close. They met when Michio was a boy of fourteen.He had to struggle to reach the great master because he needed recommendations from five people to start training as Morihei`s student.

As years passed, Michio proved himself to be an excellent student, and he developed a very strong bond with his teacher, not only a professional but a father to son relationship. Morihei taught him everything he knew, about Aikido as a martial art and as a worldview, a philosophy. Not only that Moriheilearned to apply Aikido in practice, but he also became a walking encyclopedia of Aikido teachings. His students and other teachers named him the “Aiki Computer” because he could practically recite the teachings of Ueshiba.

Later life and fame

Today, Sensei Hikitsuchi is one of the legends of Aikido, and probably the most well-known student of the founder, Morihei Ueshiba. As his abilities and expertise grew, so did his fame around the world. He held many lectures in Europe and the United States, teaching at dojos which his students started and developed. He achieved the 10th Dan rank at age 46. He died aged 80, in his homeland of Japan.

If you want to hear more about Sensei Hikitsuchi from other Aikido experts and maybe buy a book about his life, come and join us in our dojo for an interesting lecture.