Many of my birthday gifts this year were connected to the physical activities I love. Thanks friends and family!
I’m now the proud owner of an Aikido sword, a bokken. Wikipedia tell us that “A bokken (木剣, bok(u), “wood”, and ken, “sword”) (or commonly as bokutō 木刀 in Japan), is a Japanese wooden sword used for training.”
In my head I always pronounce “sword” the wrong way…with the “w” and it’s all the fault of Touche Turtle, a cartoon sword fighter from my early years. I think this might have been the first television show I watched.
So instead of “sword” I’m calling it a “bokken.” My birthday bokken is made of purpleheart wood. “When freshly cut the heartwood of Purpleheart is a dull grayish/purplish brown. Upon exposure the wood becomes a deeper eggplant purple.” So pretty and functional.
The bokken one of three principal weapons used in Aikido.
Last year I had as one of my fitness goals to test for a new belt in Aikido. I did that and passed. This year I’m focusing on trying out a new aspect of Aikido, weapons class. I’ve watched and wondered before. Now, properly armed, I’m going to try it for myself.
Why train with weapons in Aikido? Aikiweb gives eight reasons:
“First, many Aikido movements are derived from classical weapons arts. There is thus a historical rationale for learning weapons movements. Second, weapons training is helpful for learning proper Maai, or distancing. Third, many advanced Aikido techniques involve defenses against weapons. In order to ensure that such techniques can be practiced safely, it is important for students to know how to attack properly with weapons, and to defend against such attacks. Fourth, there are often important principles of Aikido movement and technique that may be more easily demonstrated by the use of weapons than without.Fifth, training in weapons kata is a way of facilitating understanding of general principles of Aikido movement. Sixth, weapons training can add an element of intensity to Aikido practice, especially in practicing defenses against weapons attacks. Seventh, training with weapons provides Aikidoka with an opportunity to develop a kind of responsiveness and sensitivity to the movements and actions of others within a format that is usually highly structured. In addition, it is often easier to discard competitive mindsets when engaged in weapons training, making it easier to focus on cognitive development. Finally, weapons training is an excellent way to learn principles governing lines of attack and defense. All Aikido techniques begin with the defender moving off the line of attack and then creating a new line (often a non-straight line) for application of an Aikido technique.”
I’ll report back and let you know how it goes. In the meantime, here’s O Sensei demonstrating the Jo and the Bokken.
Past Aikido posts: