Saturday, February 12, 2011

20 aikijo suburi

So, in building the aikijo system, centered around the 31 jo kata, we start with the applications - what it is that you want to be able to do with a stick.  This material is best practiced with a partner, and because of its potential lethality, it can mostly only be practiced as kata.
Then we have the solo kata - this system is centered around two kata - the 31 jo kata and the 13 jo kata (I wonder if there's some sort of ancient Japanese numerology going on there?).  These kata are abstracted from and are representative of the applications.  This provides you a way to practice the applications through visualization and active meditation when you do not have a partner available.
In nearly all systems built up this way (think karate-do), there is a third level of abstraction - kihon.  The kihon are representative of the movements found in the kata, but they are removed from the context of the kata so that they can be practiced deliberately and carefully without the threat of an attack and without the mental load of visualizing the context of the kata.  This allows us to perfect the motions and mechanics of the most important movements found in the kata and the applications.
Funny thing - whenever we set about teaching such a system, we almost always go at it exactly backwards.  You learn the kihon, then the solo kata, then eventually (hopefully) you might get to the application - the stuff you actually want to be able to do with the stick. Curious.
Anyway, in this aikijo system, the kihon are called suburi, which means something like "swinging" or perhaps "repetitions".  There are 20 of them and as you would expect, many of them are similar to the 12 kihon found in SMR jodo (there's only so many ways to beat a person to submission with a stick).  But perhaps the most interesting part of this set of kihon are the ones that don't have an obvious analog among the SMR kihon.  These are the things that make aikijo unique.

Patrick Parker
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