Stanley Pranin’s Video Blog: “Should Weapons be a Part of Aikido Training?”


“Where did the Founder Morihei Ueshiba stand on this issue?” Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin offers a video blog in which he discusses the issue of whether or not Aikido training should involve the practice of weapons. He provides some historical background and explains the reasoning for the two major viewpoints on this subject. Finally, […]

“Where did the Founder Morihei Ueshiba stand on this issue?”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin offers a video blog in which he discusses the issue of whether or not Aikido training should involve the practice of weapons. He provides some historical background and explains the reasoning for the two major viewpoints on this subject.

Finally, he discusses two DVDs by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, that present the Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo curriculum.

Click here to order Morihiro Saito's Complete Aiki Ken & Jo video set in downloadable format for $24.95

Free, Stanley Pranin, Videos

  1. Eric Lake says:
    Posted July 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Weapons are a part of all martial arts. Without the knowledge of weapons we cannot defend ourselves against weapons. Aikido is a way a utilizing weapons to the best degree without lethal force. Any weapon that is used can be eliminated by the simple strategy taught by Morihei Ueshiba

  2. Nishio Sensei’s weapons, Aiki Toho Iaido and his ken tai ken and ken tai jo have some very clear applications of techniques, especially Nikyo, Sankyo and Shiho Nage. Many of the foot and hand positions in Nishio Sensei’s weapons drills are almost identical, if not actually identical, to his empty hand applications.

    You can also see clear techniques in the Iwama Tachi Dori take-aways. I have the feeling that the Iwama ken tai ken and ken tai jo were more blending applications to show the attacker the error of his ways than full final ending. Whereas Nishio Sensei, after giving the attacker a chance, if the attacker doesn’t give up, he becomes human sushi. Things happen so fast that the attacker doesn’t even get a chance to realize how out classed he is before he is cut to ribbons.

    I tell my students that Nishio Sensei’s studies took the empty hand back to the weapons. In my opinion neither style is better or worse than the other, they are on a par, an equal footing, but they are very different. They are like apples and oranges, they are both fruit, they both have sweet and tart juices, but they are very different. I love them both.

  3. Regarding the GHQ decision to ban all martial arts in Japan, I remember Mochizuki Sensei saying that the Japanese government had told the GHQ that it (the Japanese government) was going to ban the practice of martial arts. As a result the GHQ would have never declared the ban, but the Japanese government would have announced it — unofficially, as if it was the GHQ’s decision and never passed the bill… That would explain why it was so easy to resume the practice of budo once people’s lives started stabilizing.

    Does any one have information from other sources regarding that matter?

    Concerning teaching weapons at the Aikikai Hombu, I also heard Mochizuki Sensei mentioning that Kisshomaru Sensei would have told him that the practice of weapons in Shinjuku would reduce the number of students due to safety reasons.

    Also, based of my (limited) understanding of the way things function in Japan, Saito Sensei would have never gone to teach at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo without O’Sensei’s recommendation. It is more likely that O’Sensei ordered him to do so. The fact that it ended shortly after O’Sensei’s death may also be an indication. Anyway, there was a rumor that Saito Sensei’s closeness with O’Sensei was an embarrassment to some headquarters members…

    Regarding the practice of weapons, only experience will give an answer. I have been practicing with weapons for over forty years and it has been a constant source of discovery for me. Some of my colleagues practiced weapons for years (under Mochizuki Sensei, it was a requirement) but stopped and see it as a completely different and unrelated activity.

    Judo and karate training gave me hip power and sense of attacking, but weapons gave me the sense of generating power through taisabaki. It’s a very individual thing based of personal experience I believe.

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to express those opinions.

    Patrick Augé

  4. Thank you Stanley Pranin, one again, for sharing your wealth of knowledge and information with the Aikido world. greatly appreciated.

    After decades of study in Aikido, I am finally going to a great place in my understanding and ability. This is after living in Japan for 9 years, where I had the opportunity to study Aikido under Suganuma Sensei and also with Hari Sunao Sensei. Whilst there, I also studied a 600-year-old traditional Japanese sword style. This sword study has completely changed my perception, understanding, viewpoint, and most importantly, my ability to perform Aikido techniques to the best of my ability. I am beginning to open my eyes to the possibilities of Aikido, basically I am re-discovering Aikido through a 600-year-old sword style. Therefore, for me personally, I would not have been able to improve my Aikido to the level I am currently at, without my study of the sword.

    But, each to their own, and each individual has the choice to choose their own path For me personally, I have made the right choice in my own personal Aikido evolution.

    Enjoy the journey
    Paul Araki-Metcalfe
    Aikido Alliance Australia

  5. Mike says:
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Basically….YES!!! Without a doubt. Many of the empty hand techniques stem from the Sword and staff. Weapons are an extension of the hand. The use of weapons training is imperative to understanding, timing, distance e.t.c. This is not just in the art of Aikido. Kali/Arnis/Escrima is an excellent example. Weapons are generally taught first then empty hand. To not teach weapons is acting in a rather irresponsible manner.

    We should all follow the lineage of O’Sensei and of course Saito sensei.

    I personally feel that anyone who does not teach weapons, is a disrespect to the founder of Aikido and that their teaching is not true Aikido and goes against the origin of Aikido.

    It seems to me more and more lately, that there is much separation e.t.c in Aikido today and that the vision of Aikido that O’Sensei had, is not being upheld or taught.

    This is a great and informative video.

  6. I do not think nor feel that any Martial(Warrior Art)Art was ever taught as an empty handed art. War arts were executed with weapons only if they were WAR ARTS. Empty handed arts followed afterwards. After wwII. Empty hands was a secondary Art based on The Art of Weaponry when one had no Weapon. The empty hand became the weapon of LAST RESORT. And it was the Weapon of Last Resort,the very Last Resort. A lot of confusion exist in the so-called Modern Martial arts of whatever persuation due to this valuable key being lost or ignored. One who only has his hands and does not respect the Lethalness of Weapons of any kind does not truly know nor fully understands his Art whatever that maybe. Saito Sensei was a tower in this Area and Aikido would be better served to go in this direction. The Sword(Ken)Staff(Jo),and Tanto(Knife)have a Specific place in all Aikido Techniques. Aikido will never be fully understood until these so-called Auxzillary instruments are fully incoporated in regards to technique development and insight. Nishio,Saito,and other prominent Sensei of today have awaken to this reality. What is your Reality. Do not be awaken TOO LATE.

  7. Curt Schad says:
    Posted May 2, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    My Sensei learned in that time at Hombu Dojo in 1957-59 and was the driver for O’Sensei. He was an American serviceman with a car. Was able to get the rank of Shodan before he left for the states in 1959.

    I trained for 12 years with him 3-4 times a week and we never worked with the bo, sword or jo. They were in the dojo but never used them.

    Now I wonder if he ever had training in these weapons after hearing about how O’Sensei wanted to have a controled environment. He did tell me about a time when he was told to attack O’Sensei with the Sword and worring about touching the mat with the sword. He told me Aikido is a living art and will change. I don’t know if O’Sensei told him that but I think he did. Do we need weapons? Why not let’s do it all.

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