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Kihon and suburi - keiko and renshu

The basic practice in Aiki-jo is called suburi (swinging), while the SMR jo guys do a bunch of kihon (fundamentals).  These practices are largely similar, large motion fairly atomic-level foundational practices, and it is fairly easy to treat the two practices as the same.  
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It may be a false distinction that I am making, but I think the two practices are distinct and each is valuable.  To me, the difference between kihon and suburi is very similar to the difference between keiko and renshu practice modes.
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To me, kihon is almost like miniature kata that are often-repeated and used as building blocks for other, more complex kata...
  • there are prescribed right and wrong ideals of how to do each kihon
  • the kihon are often practiced in a series of steps, or postures practiced in a 1...2...3... manner
  • Kihon are frequently done fairly slowly to give time to get the mind working the body right.

While suburi has the same foundational feel as kihon ...
  • Suburi is about repetition...repetition...repetition
  • Suburi folks often talk about muscle memory, and they like to talk about doing so many repetitions that they exhaust the practitioner into figuring out how to swing efficiently.
  • There is not so much a right and wrong way - just better or worse.  If you are not as "right" as whatever ideal you have, don't analyze it too much - just swing the stick another thousand times and you will either be closer to the ideal or you will have a better idea of what the ideal is.
  • Suburi are often done faster and more fluidly than kihon - so that you can get more reps in 
  • Suburi are often done with longer, heaver practice weapons (suburito) to build strength and endurance.



[photo courtesy of Daniel Imfield]

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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

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