So… talking about our dojo: one of the advantages, I think, for what we do - is that I’ve had good encounters with itto-ryu teachers, and with the special sword techniques that come from that whole system. And in particular that thing that we r e a l l y work on - that figure-of-eight motion, built into our actual te-gatana - is pretty much the powerful, central concept of all the other techniques. It stabilizes the sword, in such a way that it adapts completely to the other person’s movement, and strike, and whatever. So in essence… that shape, in itself, is aiki.
I really appreciate the way that Nishio Shoji Shihan talks about swordsmanship and aikido being synonymous. I think O’Sensei frequently was alluding to that.
My feeling is – just being, I guess, an archeologist of time – that the root of all the confusion surrounding this is that: after World War II, the chances of some-one having a sword - in Japan – to practise with were pretty minimal. They confiscated everything. So then that shifted it into bokken, and sticks, and various things. Because you couldn’t do sword with an occupying army that forbade you to own a sword. It even got to the point that you could hardly hold a knife without being a problem.
So I believe that there’s an adaptation that occurred. An adaptation that lost something pretty essential to what we do. But in our case, because I had Hisaya Shoji Sensei to teach me – who was such a good teacher, and he was transmitting the original thing – - – a similar thing to what O’Sensei received… in fact Hisaya Shoji Sensei actually trained with O’Sensei: he showed me a kotegaeshi from him and it looked very similar to the Nishio Shoji Shihan technique… We, because we practise sword, because we seriously practise sword: as swordsmen, I think, we have a really good advantage in understanding aikido . And we don’t need to re-interpret it into the post-occupation, safe mode, which, I believe, has changed the form, considerably.
I think about what we learn: about center-line, how we train to be able to put the kissaki exactly where we want , and how this relates to our mind…