Discussion in 'General Weapons Discussion' started by Christopher Adamchek, Jul 31, 2020.
To date ive broken 7 weapons during training
really sad about my most recent one lol
What kind of weapons, and how have you broken them?
I’ve had some cheap staffs splinter and wear out due to contact staff-on-staff training. But we use cheap rattan or waxwood that is meant to be sacrificed in such a way.
In contrast, my good staff and spear are made from hickory. I make them myself and while they are tough and would hold up much better than the rattan, they too would eventually splinter and break or at least get a dented and damaged surface. So I don’t use them for that kind of training, I use them for non-contact stuff including drilling fundamentals and forms.
My swords are quality, combat grade. I custom build the hilts and I am careful with them, I don’t use them for contact training. It wouldn’t be safe because they are real, and the cost of a quality blade, and the work I put into building a new hilt, makes me unwilling to wreck them carelessly in training. If I want to do contact training, Ive built a hickory waster sword, meant to be sacrificed.
I am simply careful to only use weapons in a way that I can justify, in terms of what damage they may take.
broken 2 staffs while sparring
broken 1 staff while jumping off it
broke 1 staff practicing power generation
broke 1 nunchaku on a dummy
broke 1 nunchaku locking a training partner
broke 1 eku on a dummy just before i was about to oil the wood
I've broken some cheap rattan, and probably a dozen training knives throughout the years. My current training knives are better since I don't like having to replace them so often. Also had the electronics get busted on my fencing weapons, and snapped two epee's in half. Don't think I ever broke any bladed weapons.
What kind of staff, what kind of nunchaku? Some things are made from wood that lacks good strength. Some hardwoods break and splinter when they fail (red oak) while others fail gradually and the fibers hold on for a while so you realize what is happening before it becomes dangerous (hickory). So there are safety issues there. I think some staffs are made from light wood meant for fancy speed in kata, and are not meant for any kind of contact training.
In the end, a weapon is a tool, and as such it can become damaged or broken or otherwise wear out with use. So I guess we shouldn’t become too attached to them. Just decide which ones you are willing to see break, and only use those for the kind of training likely to lead to that.
I broke my bat on Johnny’s head, and somebody snitched on me.
I go through Rattan sticks 2-4 a month unless we are doing power hitting which will destroy them in one session.
I use polypropylene sticks when drilling if my partner has them as well otherwise it is rattan on rattan. (the polypropylene sticks will destroy the rattan)
Rattan staffs 1 every couple of months. (we don't work staff or spear near as much as stick/sword work)
I've never broken a weapon before.
That's a lot of weapons to be breaking. Combat grade weapons should provide a longer life even with the abuse. My staff is more than 20 years old and it's still holding up well. But I know one day it will give out. I will be sad on that day
gotta tell the story;
i was at an Aikido seminar with my Instructor. We were training with Shihan Toyota of A.A.A. At the time i had two Bokken one standard Japanese white maple for contact and another made of ebony wood that i would only use for kata.i had one of my students with me and he forgot his bokken so i let him use my maple and i was using the ebony,, Toyota called me and my instructor in front of him to show him our paired set training. i didnt have the time to change weapnons (you can see were this is going) and because it was in front of the head of the organization we were going hard, i swung the bokken around to block an incoming strike and ... well about here it would be a good time to mention that my teacher had a Kingfisher bokken. that was a resin infused wood. very pretty but hard a rock. well i attempted to block and he cut through my bokken like butter. i felt like a 10 year old boy that just watched his puppy get run over by a tractor trailer. my thoughts repeated over and over in my head....$400.00 down the drain, $400.00 friken dollars..... but being the aspiring samurai i was ,, i tossed it aside ran to grab the closest bokken avalible and continued the action.
not long after i too purchased a Kingfisher bokken, still have it today. i turned the broken ebony into a tanto and a short sword. i did replace the ebony years later but it isnt the same,
for you weapons experts, yes i know a common bokken are not for solid contact, but that is how we used to roll. i also purchased some suburito after, for my own dojo, really thick and heavy for when i want to be intense on the contact.
aaaa the memories.
Who keeps track? Wear it out, get a new one. Have some spares on hand.
Peace favor your sword,
I like to use Red Oak for my Bowie wasters. Rattan for short staff and for Single Stick. Cane work is whatever; I buy crooked canes from the second hand store (they're usually oak but sometimes something else, like hickory) and my knobbed canes are almost always what I take from nature - either a tree branch at the crook or a sapling with the root ball (maple, ash, oak, fruitwood, or hawthorn).
Wear 'm out, get a new one. Not sure why it's notable.
Peace favor your sword,
So I'm competing in a Singlestick tournament (years ago now) at the now defunct annual International Sword-fighting and Martial Arts Convention in Michigan. Basically the 19th C. European version of a Kendo Shiai. I'm actually bouting against a friend and we get into a pattern of downward cut #7 (essentially a men cut) with a parry and riposte to #7. When, without warning, my Singlestick breaks about 12" above the hilt. I still can hear the spectator crowd gasp in unison from the bleachers. I stood there staring at it in disbelief like some statue with a fencing mask and a dumb look hidden beneath. My opponent paused for a second, taking it in, then moved forward into indicating a strike at my head. It won him the match but I'll never forget the experience. It has had a dramatic influence on my training (and teaching) ever since.
Peace favor your sword,
While training? I’ve worn out some rattan. While “testing” (doing things to see if it would break)? Several, including two cheap swords. Frankly, I’m surprised none of them included an injury.
Did you break those two I sent you?
I'm about to buy a new set of good quality jo and bokken, so I've looked a bit into the possible materials. While doing that research, I learnt three things about ebony: it's beautiful, it's super fragile and it's frickin expensive. While reading your post, I felt a growing apprehension as I knew how it was gonna end up.
I broke two weapons so far, both made of cheap red oak.
The first time was during a kumijo (paired stick) practice with my sensei. I stepped off line and raised the jo above my head in some form of rooftop block (pictured left below).
Sensei stopped to check my position. He said that correct form was important otherwise I'd get hurt, as this practice involved striking with intent. To demonstrate what he meant, he lifted his jo and struck downwards, roughly at the same point of contact as in the picture above. I held the position as he struck, then I looked up: the stick had been broken in two right between my hands. We stared at each other and I could see on his face a mix of embarrassment, surprise and confusion at me still holding the position with the two - now clearly separated - pieces of wood above my head.
We busted out laughing. He apologized for breaking my weapon and I jokingly answered "I walked in with one stick, I'll be walking out with two. Seems like a good deal to me." He took my word for it and gave me one of his own.
The second time was during my (so far only) tanren uchi session. We had a tire hanging by a chain in the dojo and the assistant instructor decided that it was time for us to practice actually hitting something with our weapons. He went first and demonstrated a series of downward strikes with a bokken on the hanging tire. My turn came, and I was super excited. This was finally the time to test my strikes with a honest training partner: I would swing the bokken and the tire would tell we where my body was misaligned. As it was freely hanging, it would probably move a bit but I'd keep striking anyway. Striving for perfect form, I raised the bokken above my head, made sure to relax the shoulders and to power the strike with my hips, full body stretching, downward weight and breathing. I let out a kiai and the strike came down.
The tire told me to buy a thicker bokken.
We're supposed to keep track? Uh....
Okay... really, the one that stands out to me is the second one... what do you mean by "while jumping OFF it"?
Yeah, ebony (and maple, for that matter), aren't often advised as material for anything with impact... personally, I stick with quality Japanese white oak as much as I can... not always possible, or financially practical, but my bokuto are almost always shiro-kashi (white oak). I've also had some sunuke items, but they're really pretty bad for impact as well... gorgeous wood, so great for display items, but for gods sake, don't hit anything with them... of course, the usage of a suburito for "intense contact" is really not a great idea either... the point of a suburito is that it's a heavy training item for SOLO practice of cuts in the air... the name pretty much means "air shaking sword"... as is a conditioning tool... not one used for any kind of impact at all.
A number of years ago I attended a seminar that included a friend teaching a form of kenjutsu at a Hapkido school... the particular form of kenjutsu, though, is frankly a modern, made up one... there are any number of issues with it when seen from the perspective of actual Japanese swordsmanship, and that tends to then have a number of associated problems that people forget about. One of which is a lack of schooling in appropriate equipment and usage.
One of the practitioners had a few training tools that he'd brought with him... a hanbo (three foot staff) and a bokuto... which were made of a very hard wood from Indonesia called kamagong. This is a type of iron wood, and is incredibly gorgeous to look at, and even more incredibly hard with regards to the composition... and when treated, it's virtually impossible to do any damage to. I asked him if he used it against other people's training equipment... he said yes... I asked how the other people's weapons held up... he laughed and said they didn't. I walked off on him. Frankly, that lack of respect for other people's equipment and property is something that I found less than ideal.
This is one reason that I insist on approving any weapon brought into my class... yes, they will break, none of them will last forever, but to bring in something that will unnecessarily reduce the lifespan of the other members equipment? Not a great idea. In an ideal world, the quality is matched to reduce the frequency of replacements... choosing to use something that increases it (like using a suburito for impact against other weapons) is a poor practice, I feel.
A few last things to share here... first, one or two stories of breaking weapons that stand out from my history of breaking weapons. As mentioned, there's been a few... most are just regular use... I was introduced to Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu's short sword method just because we broke my long sword during a session (bokuto, obviously), so we just put it aside, and picked up the kodachi... as Kirk says, wear it out, get a new one, have spares around... I broke a bo demonstrating a strike down onto the foot outside... a student asked me how much power was in a hanbo strike down onto a wrist from one of the Kukishin Ryu techniques, so I demonstrated on a wooden kodachi... it snapped the blade in half... these are relatively few and far between, though, as we take care of our equipment.
Second is a resource for suitable woods for training weapons. Ellis Amdur (who occasionally posts here) is a licenced practitioner and teacher of both classical arts (Toda-ha Buko Ryu Naginata and Araki Ryu) and modern arts (Aikido), and has put up a very blog post looking at the properties of various woods, which can be found here: 武器用材木 « Zaimoku – Wood For Weapons The blog covers a range of suitability for weapons from a range of woods, and can be a great resource if you want to get the most out of your training equipment.
I'd argue a few of his classifications on wood, particularly Ash and Osage Orange. Ash is a traditional wood for canes and Singlesticks and one reason for that is because it is durable and a bit springy. Osage Orange, also known sometimes as Bodark or Bois D'arc is an exceptionally durable wood used for making bows, staves, handles, and is particularly good for burning (it has nearly the energy potential of coal); it's also good for growing hedges.
Aside from quibbles about how usage is defined, it is an interesting page; useful as one of the informational inputs when looking at woods.
Peace favor your sword,
It's ideally set up as a sort-of crowd-sourced resource... Mr Amdur is always looking for opinions, especially based on personal experience, that he can use to ensure it's as accurate and up to date as it can be.
And I think part of it is also a usage case. Even within the woods, how it is selected, cut, prepared, and cared for is often very dependent on the application. For example, Singlestick and Ash. Today, I use rattan for sparring (traditional term is "Assaulting") with singlesticks. The Japanese analogue would be Shinai and Kendo. The traditional European method was to use an Ash sapling with not too much weight and a lot of spring. Sometimes they'd even keep the sticks "soaking" to maintain the spring. But they'd also use Oak for some singlesticks. These were not for sparing. You'd break bones (at best). These were for drills where hard impact might be expected but not usually body contact. Further, Ash can be chosen and constructed in such a way as to be nearly as durable as Oak for singlesticks; but you wouldn't want to spar with them. I've used a Hickory singlestick once. I hated it. The weight was wrong and it chewed up the other sticks in (non body contact) drills. The weight could probably have been fixed with better shaping.
Peace favor your sword,
Ha, "assaulting", I like that...
Yeah, suitability for usage has to come into it... which is as much the selection and preparation as anything else. It also gets tricky when looking at relatively common wood types that have a number of variants around the world... oak being a prime example. Japanese oak, particularly white oak (shiro-kashi) is almost ideal for wooden weapons... a nice, tight grain providing consistency of weight, good crush ability versus splintering or cracking, fairly easy to work with and shape, and so on... but white oak from other locations don't necessarily share those properties... in North America, you can however get an almost identical suitability and result with hickory... so it's a very good choice as well. Then it comes down to the treating... there's an issue in Japan these days where the best woods are ones that have been taken from older forest growths, maturing the wood, tightening the grain, and so on. This has resulted in some bokuto manufacturers changing the design of some weapons... I have a Katori Shinto Ryu bokuto that I've had since the early 2000's, and it's fantactic... all of the ones my guys have been getting (and I've been sourcing for them) over the last 5 odd years, though, are lighter, thicker, a bit harder to grip, and just... not the same. I asked about getting one made based on my older one, and was told that with the inferior wood these days, one at my original shape would be far too light, so the decision was made to start making them thicker to help them survive the impact in Shinto Ryu training.
Schools such as Hozoin-ryu (a sojutsu, or spear school) have actually started planting their own forest of oak so that they have a continued supply of wood suitable to make the long spears they use out of, as they noticed the problems with availability going forward.123
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