Morihiro Saito, 9th dan: “Exploring
the Basics of the Aiki Ken”

Morihei Ueshiba considered knowledge of the Ken and Jo as a key component of “Takemusu Aiki,” the highest level of attainment in the art where one is capable of spontaneously executing techniques ideally suited to the circumstances.

Morihiro Saito, one of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s closest students from the postwar era, is the acknowledged master of the Aiki Ken and Jo. He learned at the side of Ueshiba O-Sensei for over 20 years and codified the Founder’s teachings on the sword and staff of aikido into an elaborate weapons curriculum. The above video clip contains highlights of Saito Sensei’s instructional video on the Aiki Ken.

“Among the basic ken practices left by the founder are the ki musubi no tachi and the five kumitachi. You must learn
the basic seven suburi in order to avoid becoming confused and to be able to safely practice the kumitachi.”

“The first suburi represents an important exercise for learning the decisive movement in sword practices.”

“Here we do not raise our shoulders or the sword, but rather lower the hips and the relax the shoulders.”

“He steps backward to raise his sword and I match his movement, cutting him at the wrist.”

A kumitachi henkawa or variation where uke’s upper arm is cut as he attempts to thrust.

Another variation on the basic kumitachi leading to a jodori or sword-taking technique.

“It is important that we do not end up in a mutual kill situation. This is an important sword principle.”

The above screenshots were taken from Morihiro Saito’s “Aiki Ken” instructional video shot in 1987. The uke is Kenichi Shibata. The complete video is included in the Study Course offered below.

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Aikido Journal is offering an Aiki Ken and Jo Study Course by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, that covers the basics of Aiki weapons practice. A total of 6 videos are included in the package and cover, for the Aiki Ken, the 7 ken suburi, ki musubi no tachi, 5 kumitachi and henka no tachi, and for the Aiki Jo, the 31 jo kata, 20 jo suburi, 31 jo kumijo, 10 kumijo, and 13 jo awase. Saito Sensei also demonstrates sections of the weapons curriculum in several historic public demonstrations. For many practitioners, this Aiki Ken and Jo Study Course will help fill a gap in their training, and make them more well-rounded Aikidoka.

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