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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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