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Weapons In Aikido

Many of Aikido’s “empty-handed” techniques are derived from traditional sword, spear and bayonet movements.

Consequently, the practice of the weapons arts gives insight into the origin of techniques and movements, and reinforces the concepts of distance, timing, movement, presence and connectedness with one’s training partner.

Weapons training in Aikido incorporates the Jo (wooden staff), Bokken (wooden sword) and Tanto (knife).

The Jo is a straight stick, not unlike a broomstick or pool queue, with a length ranging from about 50″ to 56″ and a diameter of about 1″. It is closely linked historically with the Japanese sword. As a humble wooden stick, the Jo is inconspicuous and, owing to it’s elegance and simplicity, often preferred by some Aikidoka above all other weapons.

According to legend, the only person to beat Miyamoto Musashi in a duel was someone with a Jo! Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi hence gave birth to a martial arts system that would elevate the humble wooden staff to one of the preeminent weapons of Japan.

The Japanese wooden sword known as the Bokken, often referred to simply as Ken, is usually the size and shape of a katana. The bokken is used as a substitute for a real sword in Aikido. The practice of Iaido incorporates the use of live blades and katana.

Solo training gives students the ability to practice alone and focus on proper body movement without the added stress of an attacker. Paired partner practice is excellent for judging timing, distance, and practicing lines of attack and defense.