Now, I have reached a point in my training, where I no longer need them to aid my own practise – they have already done their job.
I realise that concentrating on body movements does not develop the footwork as well as training with weapons. Nage often struggles to find correct footwork in taijutsu but had they taken up weapons training, their footwork would have become automatic and allowed a deeper understanding of the art to be reached.
I do not think O-Sensei used weapons ‘just because he liked them.’
Over the years many students have requested a Jo class, because they find the freedom of expression and variance of use with the Jo much more interesting than the ken.
I realise from this that we have let our students down by not clearly stating the purpose behind weapons training. We owe it to our teachers, masters like Saito Sensei to honour the founder’s teaching, just as he did. Saito Sensei asked us to keep the art alive and safe – and this meant the weapons legacy too.
If you really have an interest in following O-Sensei but your own style does not train in weapons, there are clips on youtube to watch and after that it is up to you to find time and space. It will be worth it.
Apart from the essential footwork emphasised and instilled by weapons, there are other gifts too.
Receiving an all out attack from a weapon allows you to come to terms with panic and fear and guide you to correct positioning with an adversary. Without pressurised training such as this you will never know if your version of the art will work in the street. It may be too late by then.
The attached photo shows a completed move but the power, stability of hips and feet, allow mind and body to become one with the attacker. It is not seen but it is felt by both – to me this is O-Sensei’s gift and why weapons should be part of your training.
Sensei Tony Sargeant 6th Dan August 2018