Aikido weapons: types?

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Aikido weapons include a wooden sword (bokken), a short stick (jo), and a knife (tanto). The focus is on defense, not offense, and using the attacker’s momentum against them. Aikido weapons training is slow and patient, and also lends itself well to spiritual meditation.

Aikido weapons include a wooden sword, called a bokken; a short stick, called a jo; and a knife, called a tanto. The bokken, jo, and tanto have been used in aikido training since it was founded in the 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba wanted to create a type of martial arts that harnessed the momentum of attackers against them. This is similar to the philosophy behind jujitsu. In keeping with its emphasis on defense over offense, aikido weapon training focuses not on teaching practitioners how to attack with weapons, but on how to defend themselves in the event of an attack. Firearm disarming attack training has also been implemented in some aikido schools.

A bokken is a wooden sword used in aikido weapon training. It is intended for training purposes only and is not considered too reliable in a real combat scenario. Its length is usually about 40 inches (101.6 centimeters), similar in size to a katana, a Japanese samurai sword, or a shinai, a bamboo sword used in kendo training. There are shorter variants of bokken intended to mimic different lengths of swords. Bokkens are made from a variety of woods, such as red and white oak, jatoba, and hickory. The training school associated with the bokken is called aiki-ken.

The jo is another staple of aikido weapon training. The jo is a short stick. The length of the jo depends on the practitioner’s height; upright, it should reach just below your armpit. Like the bokken, several types of wood are used to make the jo. The training school associated with the jo is called aiki-jo.

The third of the classic aikido weapons is the tanto, or knife. Tantos used for training are made of wood or plastic. The length of the blade is usually about 13 inches (33 centimeters). Knife picking and disarming techniques are grouped under the taijitsu training school.

Aikido weapons training instructs practitioners to use the attacker’s momentum against them. This results in slower, open-handed movements. As such, it generally takes longer for aikido practitioners to feel comfortable enough to use their training in real combat scenarios. Other more offensive martial arts may be better suited for quickly learning applicable self-defense skills. Jujitsu is similar to aikido, which also teaches practitioners to harness the movements of the attacker. With its slow and patient form, aikido also lends itself well to spiritual meditation, and is often practiced for that purpose.

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