Aikido Boken Suggestions

Jacky Zuki

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Since we are talking oil here, my old sensei suggested sanding off the factory varnish type coating and using walnuts wrapped in a cloth to "oil" the bokken. He said it helps prevent the splintering when the bokken is dented.

I use walnut oil from a bottle so using walnuts in a cloth seems fair enough. The reason for oiling is to keep the outer layer of the wood springy and not allow it to become brittle. Here in the UK where the weather can be humid one day and dry as a bone the next a bit of oil about once a year is the norm, same as the maintenance required for a cricket bat. In more even climes you might get away with one treatment lasting for several years. I usually put a fairly even coat of oil on my wooden weapons and leave them for a couple of hours, then it is cleaning the excess off with a rag, then paper to really get any surface oil off. When it is done there should be no trace of oiliness at all, just a smooth, resilient finish.
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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Don't. Just don't. No wax it's not a surfboard. No grip wrapping, as Paul pointed out. You've done this with other weapons? Take it off.

Don't wrap it. "Flying weapons" is not solved by a tennis racquet grip it's solved by actually gripping the weapon properly in the first place. If they were flying around in your kung fu class, it wasn't the fault of the weapons.

I'm aware of the fact that it's not the weapons fault. Far to often people blame the weapon and not the person holding the weapon but that's a whole other subject.

Since I come from a Chinese martial arts background their are multiple chinese weapons that are gripped but let's face it most Chinese training weapons that are on the market are made pretty poorly. Due to this I would have to modify my training weapons by replacing the grips since those were usually poorly wrapped. The weapons that I have personally wrapped have all been CMA weapons that consist of daggers, broad swords, gims and a rattan stick that our school recommended us wrapping with a grip.
P.S. the grips are staying on them.


I will refrain from wrapping the boken since the aikido community doesn't wrap their bokens.

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ST1Doppelganger

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I'll say this bluntly. If you are your biggest critic you need a new instructor. Either you have a false idea of how much you genuinely know (which is likely the case based on the questions here), which means that your self criticism is coming from a less-than-informed place (and therefore isn't really of a level to be of true benefit), or your instructor knows so little themselves that there's no reason to learn from them. To be honest, based on my last three decades or so in this, it's more likely to be the former as that's fairly common and natural. But it may help to take a more honest look at your situation there.

Put it this way some of my guys sometimes say that they're their own biggest critic as well until I start pointing out everything I see wrong in what they're doing. Believe me, they're always far more generous to themselves than they think or than I am.



If you think that, then you're not in a position to comment, honestly. All it shows is that you don't have anywhere enough of an understanding of proper grip to know if you're developing good or bad habits at all.



No, not a "good coating of oil" you oil the wood for maintenance to ensure that it doesn't dry out (leading to splintering). Depending on the weather/humidity in your area, you might only need to oil them very infrequently but you want the oil to soak into the wood any excess is wiped off. You don't want to have the oil coating the outside of the weapon itself.

I heartily suggest you talk over training weapon maintenance with your instructor most will have their own preference, although commonality will be found in each method and, if they have no suggestions to offer you, seriously question what they're real knowledge in weapon usage and training is.

As far as the coating goes I'll being applying a thin coat of walnut oil to my boken as suggested by some of the helpful feedback that was posted which was welcomed feedback.

Now about finding a new sensei. Thankfully there's no need for me to do that since I've found one thats more then qualified and teaches an applicable art in a positive training environment.

I will always be my biggest critic in what ever art I study simply because I put in more hours of personal training outside the dojo then in it due to scheduling issues.

This allows me to work on the corrections that my sensei (or past sifu) has given me as well allowing me to come up with questions about my personal training that I can then ask my sensei while at the dojo.

All I have to say is being my own biggest critic dosent take away from my Sensei's qualifications of being an instructor and dosent mean I think I have a greater understanding of the art then what I really do since I know I'm a beginner in this art.

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ST1Doppelganger

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Put it this way - in years of training in Japan, some of it in one of the oldest traditional weapons schools in the country, I never, not once, saw anybody wrap a bokken handle. Actually, most people didn't use oil either, it's not necessary unless you leave in an unusually dry environment,

Best,

Chris
Thanks for the info and I actually do live in a dry climate so I will be putting a yearly coat of oil on my boken.

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Dirty Dog

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I'll say this bluntly. If you are your biggest critic you need a new instructor. Either you have a false idea of how much you genuinely know (which is likely the case based on the questions here), which means that your self criticism is coming from a less-than-informed place (and therefore isn't really of a level to be of true benefit), or your instructor knows so little themselves that there's no reason to learn from them. To be honest, based on my last three decades or so in this, it's more likely to be the former as that's fairly common and natural. But it may help to take a more honest look at your situation there.

Or, as is often the case, you know how something is to be done - you've seen it done correctly, you may even have done it correctly a time or two yourself - but it just hasn't "clicked" and you're still not consistently performing the thing the way you KNOW it should be done. This is near universal, and a normal part of learning. But many people will criticize themselves for not progressing at the rate THEY think they should progress, even though their instructor is completely happy with their progress.
These people can be described as being their own worst critic. There are several students like this at our school, including my own darling wife.
I don't really think they need a new instructor.
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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Or, as is often the case, you know how something is to be done - you've seen it done correctly, you may even have done it correctly a time or two yourself - but it just hasn't "clicked" and you're still not consistently performing the thing the way you KNOW it should be done. This is near universal, and a normal part of learning. But many people will criticize themselves for not progressing at the rate THEY think they should progress, even though their instructor is completely happy with their progress.
These people can be described as being their own worst critic. There are several students like this at our school, including my own darling wife.
I don't really think they need a new instructor.

Exactly.

Let's take my tenkan and tido tenkan issues.

I feel that I have a decent understanding of the footwork and how to combine them with the deflections. I can even make it look pretty clean in solo practice but my issue is the body connection while I'm using the tenkan to move the uki in partner training. I feel I'm properly connected from stance up to hands about 40 pecent of the time against a larger opponent but this I know will come with many many more hours of practice so I'm not stressing over it even though it can be frustrating at times.

I just try to digest and improve on my own training problem areas from the feedback from my Sensei, senior students, equall level students and my own feedback from my self critiquing.

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Chris Parker

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I'm aware of the fact that it's not the weapons fault. Far to often people blame the weapon and not the person holding the weapon but that's a whole other subject.

Okay it read earlier as you were suggesting that the wrap would solve the problem, though

Since I come from a Chinese martial arts background their are multiple chinese weapons that are gripped but let's face it most Chinese training weapons that are on the market are made pretty poorly. Due to this I would have to modify my training weapons by replacing the grips since those were usually poorly wrapped. The weapons that I have personally wrapped have all been CMA weapons that consist of daggers, broad swords, gims and a rattan stick that our school recommended us wrapping with a grip.
P.S. the grips are staying on them.

If that's the way it's done there, fine. I was going on Japanese weapons, as that's the topic of the thread.

I will refrain from wrapping the boken since the aikido community doesn't wrap their bokens.

Good.

As far as the coating goes I'll being applying a thin coat of walnut oil to my boken as suggested by some of the helpful feedback that was posted which was welcomed feedback.

Good. Personally, I use a linseed blend, but as said, most oils of the kind are fine. I will say that the only reason I didn't add too much to that, and focused on other aspects of the posts, is that others had already answered well enough with the same advice (or, at least, similar enough) that I would give.

Now about finding a new sensei. Thankfully there's no need for me to do that since I've found one thats more then qualified and teaches an applicable art in a positive training environment.

You've missed the point I was making, which is fine. I'll clarify in a bit but I will say first that I didn't honestly expect it to be the case that you would genuinely need a new instructor

I will always be my biggest critic in what ever art I study simply because I put in more hours of personal training outside the dojo then in it due to scheduling issues.

Yeah that makes you dedicated, but not your biggest critic.

This allows me to work on the corrections that my sensei (or past sifu) has given me as well allowing me to come up with questions about my personal training that I can then ask my sensei while at the dojo.

Sure.

All I have to say is being my own biggest critic dosent take away from my Sensei's qualifications of being an instructor and dosent mean I think I have a greater understanding of the art then what I really do since I know I'm a beginner in this art.

So here's where we get to it a critic looks for flaws. You may train at home more than at the dojo but your instructor can see your flaws better than you can. To that end, your instructor should always be a bigger critic of you than you can ever be yourself. If they aren't, then there'll be little they can teach you. Now, it's important to remember that a critic isn't necessarily presenting things negatively it can be quite positive but, until you gain the same eyes as your instructor, the same level of understanding as they have, the same grasp of the art as they have, you are not your biggest critic. Take that as a positive it's the way it is meant to be the way it's meant to be.

Or, as is often the case, you know how something is to be done - you've seen it done correctly, you may even have done it correctly a time or two yourself - but it just hasn't "clicked" and you're still not consistently performing the thing the way you KNOW it should be done. This is near universal, and a normal part of learning. But many people will criticize themselves for not progressing at the rate THEY think they should progress, even though their instructor is completely happy with their progress.
These people can be described as being their own worst critic. There are several students like this at our school, including my own darling wife.
I don't really think they need a new instructor.

Nor do I. What I am advocating is a more realistic appraisal of what it is to be a critic. I will also say that I haven't been addressing the idea of being your own "worst" critic (hardest on yourself for your development, skill, and progress), but on Doppelganger's own words of "biggest critic". If he wanted to say he's his own worst critic, I'd say to lighten up, but wouldn't argue his perspective. "Biggest critic", on the other hand, is a different idea.
 

Argus

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So here's where we get to it a critic looks for flaws. You may train at home more than at the dojo but your instructor can see your flaws better than you can. To that end, your instructor should always be a bigger critic of you than you can ever be yourself. If they aren't, then there'll be little they can teach you. Now, it's important to remember that a critic isn't necessarily presenting things negatively it can be quite positive but, until you gain the same eyes as your instructor, the same level of understanding as they have, the same grasp of the art as they have, you are not your biggest critic. Take that as a positive it's the way it is meant to be the way it's meant to be.

Would that imply that one cannot grow in an art beyond the proficiency of one's own teacher, or otherwise refine and develop his practice on his own? That line of thought would basically conclude that "the only way to go is down" -- maintaining the status quo at best, and gradually degrading the art at worst.

I think that in some cases, not enough credit is given to a person's ability to be, or become aware of himself and the flaws of his practice. If this were the case, then martial arts would never be refined or developed from their inception. However, of course, without any initial guidance, and a strong foundation in an established art, one might wind up "refining" and developing his practice along a very different line than the original art he professes to practice. But at some point, is he not able to discover his own deficiencies and refine his practice, keeping within the confines of his system and its intent? And, is it not, ultimately, every practitioner's responsibility to do this for himself?

For me, I've kind of vaguely observed that the students who develop are the ones who take it upon themselves to develop their art, under their teacher's guidance. They don't depend on him to correct them, but they do heed his advice. This is in stark contrast to students who seem to just "do," and do no more or less than what their teacher tells them -- it's as if they're just along for the ride, as opposed to taking charge of their own development and seeking to become ever more aware of their own progress and deficiencies. As for myself, I seek that self awareness. If nothing else, I usually have a pretty realistic grasp of where I am, where I'm lacking, and when I can do something better. I may not always know how to improve, and may need correction and guidance, but it's not all that common that I wasn't aware that I needed correction and guidance. Moreover, often, I may be given correction and guidance, but without digging further into that area myself and playing with whatever aspect is involved, I'm not able to understand and able to apply that critique, as it's often merely a symptom of a larger problem, or connected to other things that need exploration and development. So, I see it more as a process of my teachers keeping me on the path and giving me the tools to seek my own development and ability to critique and refine my own practice, rather than relying on them as the source of those elements.
 

Hyoho

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So I've been researching bokens for my aikido training and was wondering if any of you guys have any personal feedback on the different materials the bokens are made from.

I know white oak is usually the standard for most boken training but I've found some of the more exotic hard woods like iron wood and rose wood bokens and am considering them.

I like the fact that the ironwood is a heavier wood making it a more realistic weight for training and I do prefer heavy weapons in training for a better work out.

So what are your guys opinions and thanks for your time.
Ironwood bokuto will snap. Its too hard and oxidizes to become harder with age. You should wield a weapon that is an extension of the body. It's not a workout. But by all means start with one that's slightly too heavy and work your way up. Ipe is a nice wood. Hard but not too hard.

P.S. Soke snapped my kamagong like a twig!
 
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Chris Parker

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Hi Argus.

Would that imply that one cannot grow in an art beyond the proficiency of one's own teacher, or otherwise refine and develop his practice on his own? That line of thought would basically conclude that "the only way to go is down" -- maintaining the status quo at best, and gradually degrading the art at worst.

Hmm I see where you're coming from, but no. It's really a matter of degrees here. The OP is a fairly recent enjoiner to Aikido (although he does have a background in other systems) at that point, he simply doesn't have the knowledge or experience to properly critique himself in anything other than the grossest fashion. As you develop, your ability to spot the flaws in what you're doing increases (ideally with your instructor guiding your awareness), and your instructors critiques should get more and more refined and detailed. Eventually, you'll get to a point where your instructor is unable to point out anything you haven't seen yourself from there, you can start to have a greater awareness than them (from an internal standpoint)

Thing is, this happens on different levels at different stages but ideally, you stay with your instructor until you go beyond them which is the level where you start to take the art further. But, so long as you have an instructor, they should be beyond you in terms of seeing your flaws. When you go beyond that, it's a different story entirely.

I think that in some cases, not enough credit is given to a person's ability to be, or become aware of himself and the flaws of his practice. If this were the case, then martial arts would never be refined or developed from their inception. However, of course, without any initial guidance, and a strong foundation in an established art, one might wind up "refining" and developing his practice along a very different line than the original art he professes to practice. But at some point, is he not able to discover his own deficiencies and refine his practice, keeping within the confines of his system and its intent? And, is it not, ultimately, every practitioner's responsibility to do this for himself?

Sure. But you have to work up to that point. And, as said, it happens in stages.

For me, I've kind of vaguely observed that the students who develop are the ones who take it upon themselves to develop their art, under their teacher's guidance. They don't depend on him to correct them, but they do heed his advice. This is in stark contrast to students who seem to just "do," and do no more or less than what their teacher tells them -- it's as if they're just along for the ride, as opposed to taking charge of their own development and seeking to become ever more aware of their own progress and deficiencies. As for myself, I seek that self awareness. If nothing else, I usually have a pretty realistic grasp of where I am, where I'm lacking, and when I can do something better. I may not always know how to improve, and may need correction and guidance, but it's not all that common that I wasn't aware that I needed correction and guidance. Moreover, often, I may be given correction and guidance, but without digging further into that area myself and playing with whatever aspect is involved, I'm not able to understand and able to apply that critique, as it's often merely a symptom of a larger problem, or connected to other things that need exploration and development. So, I see it more as a process of my teachers keeping me on the path and giving me the tools to seek my own development and ability to critique and refine my own practice, rather than relying on them as the source of those elements.

Yep, that's the ideal. Again, though, it relies on the instructor being beyond the student in terms of understanding, and therefore the ability to critique.
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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Hmm I see where you're coming from, but no. It's really a matter of degrees here. The OP is a fairly recent enjoiner to Aikido (although he does have a background in other systems) at that point, he simply doesn't have the knowledge or experience to properly critique himself in anything other than the grossest fashion. As you develop, your ability to spot the flaws in what you're doing increases (ideally with your instructor guiding your awareness), and your instructors critiques should get more and more refined and detailed. Eventually, you'll get to a point where your instructor is unable to point out anything you haven't seen yourself from there, you can start to have a greater awareness than them (from an internal standpoint)

Exactly I said I was a begginer in aikido but I have a decent amount of knowledge in other arts along with some years of teaching an art as well

I look at arts from their structure and foundation fundamentals since that's what really matters in my honest opinion. Those are the areas where I'm self critiquing so I can then ask questions or have him observe the issue where I then can receive feedback on how to improve on my own personal training issues.


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