AIKIDO BOKKEN Weapon Set

AIKIDO BOKKEN weapon setCastle Rock AIKIDO manufactured a limited quantity of its own brand of AIKIDO BOKKEN weapon set called MAKOTO (‘mah’-‘ko’-toe’).  MAKOTO is the Japanese word for “truthfulness” or “honesty” and is one of the 7 virtues of BUSHIDO as articulated by INAZO NITOBE in 1899.

Unlike some more generic training weapons used in a variety of martial arts such as KENDO, JODO, KOBUDO, KENJUTSU and, of course, AIKIDO, these MAKOTO weapons are thoughtfully designed for AIKIDO practitioners with the specific intent of correcting several bad habits often committed by novice (and sometimes even advanced) AIKIDO students. Exquisitely beautiful in appearance, these weapons are carefully hand-crafted by a master woodworker in Colorado, USA.  MAKOTO Japanese AIKIDO training weapons will look perfect at the front KAMIZA of your DOJO or use them for physical conditioning through TANDOKU DOSA KATA or SUBURI exercise.

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MAKOTO BOKKEN

aikido bokken training weapon

What makes the MAKOTO BOKKEN unique?

traditional japanese tsuba bokken aikido

TSUBA KAWA - Leather Handguard

The MAKOTO BOKKEN includes a proper, custom fit leather hand guard called a TSUBA. Most practitioners of AIKIDO do not use a TSUBA when training. This is a major training error.  The TSUBA is an essential component of the sword.  It is not an optional decoration.

The TSUBA not only delineates where the handle ends and the blade begins, but the TSUBA is actually a defensive feature of the sword. Without a TSUBA in place, the AIKIDO student is robbed of several fundamental sword techniques limiting one’s breadth of defensive options. Furthermore, without a TSUBA one is far more likely to get their hand and fingers injured by a training partner’s incoming weapon. We constantly observe AIKIDO students’ hands getting injured at seminars simply because they don’t have a TSUBA on their BOKKEN.

The TSUBA also teaches the student not to hold the sword too close to one’s scalp when in the over head position, JODAN NO KAMAE.  This is a common error in swordsmanship which results in a much smaller and weaker downward cutting arc or KIRI-OROSHI.

Many students don’t like the TSUBA because it often doesn’t stay in place and seems to need constant adjustment. However, the MAKOTO leather TSUBA is form-fitted to snuggly and elegantly hold it in place without need for those annoying and flimsy rubber rings that irritate most students.

A TSUBA also encourages the proper gripping of the sword. A TSUBA disallows an AIKIDO student from seeking “better” leverage by widening their grip and “choking up” on the handle.  Choking up leads to the all-too-common error of, in effect, “grabbing the blade.”  This error, of course, were it a real KATANA, would cut off of one’s own fingers.  This habit must certainly be discouraged.

Why do AIKIDO practitioners feel compelled to widen their grip and choke up?  Well, it is not uncommon to observe seminar attendees strip off their TSUBA after becoming frustrated with it. But they only feel like it’s “getting in the way,” because they already developed the habit of “grabbing the blade.”  Their frustration is misplaced.  The problem is not the TSUBA.  Often, it is because the sword handle is too short for their hand size. This point leads us to the second benefit of the MAKOTO BOKKEN.

aikido weapon wood bokken tsuka handle

TSUKA NAGAI - Longer Handle

Most wooden training swords are modeled after the standard blade and handle length of an average-sized Japanese person.  The handle (TSUKA) for a standard Japanese KATANA or BOKKEN is typically 8.5 SUN (or about 10″).  The blade length for a standard Japanese KATANA or BOKKEN is typically 2.35 SHAKU (or about X”).  For many Americans, these measurements are simply too small. The MAKOTO BOKKEN handle is longer to accommodate larger hands.

When properly grasping a traditional KATANA, one should be able to fit 3 finger widths between their hands. The AIKIDO curriculum includes a series of sword-disarming techniques called BOKKEN-DORI WAZA.  Some of these techniques involve grabbing an attacker’s sword from in between their hands. This action is incredibly difficult when the attacker’s hands are a mere 3 finger widths or less apart from one another.  The MAKOTO BOKKEN handle was specifically designed to facilitate BOKKEN-DORI WAZA techniques, even with taking an average American’s larger hand size into account.

Therefore, the MAKOTO BOKKEN offers a longer handle length. Because it should by now be painfully obvious that a 6’3” person with large hands and a 5’3” person with smaller hands should not be using the same length BOKKEN!

TSUKA KUBOMI - Handle Concavities

Probably the biggest mistake many AIKIDO students make is that they grip incorrectly.  To use a sports simile, the sword should be held like a golf club, not a baseball bat.  That is, the sword should be held across the diagonal of the palm, not perpendicularly to the palm.  Another way of describing proper sword grip (TE NO UCHI) is similar to that of a hammer.

The MAKOTO BOKKEN has two concavities or ‘KUBOMI’ carved deliberately into the handle.  These concavities encourage proper gripping or TE NO UCHI by facilitating the correct placement of both index fingers’ distal aspect of the anterior meta-carpal. AIKIDO students may recognize this anatomical description as a part of the TORI WAZA called YONKYO.  So, the development of the YONKYO grip is another benefit of holding the sword correctly, which often goes under-developed in AIKIDO students.

The MAKOTO KUBOMI also somewhat resemble the natural tapering and concavities that form from the traditional material wrappings that crisscross the handle called TSUKA MAKI. This structure further facilitates a proper and strong sword grip. In contrast, the typical “round” shape of standard BOKKEN tend to encourage improper “baseball bat” gripping. It is unlikely you will find other AIKIDO BOKKEN weapon set with a feature like this elsewhere.

aikido training weapons

HA OMOSA - Blade Weight

The MAKOTO BOKKEN contains 12” of steel set in the blade end of the sword to properly balance the sword and give it more likeness and feel to that of a real KATANA. This feature is much like a SUBURI-TO (an extra-heavy practice sword), but without being as heavy as a SUBURI-TO.  The extra weight in the MAKOTO blade “teaches” the student correct lateral blade position when transitioning cuts from one direction to another. This is especially noticeable when performing glancing block or UKE-NAGASHI movements.

japanese wood weapons sword kissaki

BI - Beauty

Even the beauty of the weapon has a training purpose.  These weapons are made of the beautifully-constrating light-weight hardwood called padauk and maple. Paudauk is a East Asian hardwood known for its toughness, stability in use and decorativeness. Paudak is typically characterized as a “rosewood”. By being exquisitely attractive, the student is discouraged from treating his or her BOKKEN like a baseball bat.  Far too many AIKIDO students “claim” to value the concept of “blending” (AWASE) in their open-hand technique, but then completely abandon this notion once they begin training weapon forms that involve contact.  It is not uncommon to see AIKIDO practitioners slamming their swords into one another person’s sword. They often do this with full force and on perpendicular angles, which, of course, would damage a real KATANA.

The beauty of the MAKOTO BOKKEN encourages the student to practice the primary principle of AIKIDO by “glancing” or “blending” when making contact with another weapon. This is as opposed to the creating perpendicular conflict angles that will likely disfigure the sword. There are ways to correctly deflect an incoming striking, which protects your weapon. There are also ways of incorrectly blocking strikes that damage your weapon.  If you are seeking a BOKKEN intended for full contact slamming, we suggest you use cheap wood weapons instead. But if you’re looking for something more elegant, try the full 3 or 5 piece AIKIDO BOKKEN weapon set below.

MAKOTO JO

aikido jo jodo wood weapons training

What makes the MAKOTO JO unique?

SEI NAGASA - Proper Length

Like the BOKKEN, the MAKOTO JO comes in three lengths. While some weapons arts such as JODO require that all practitioners use the exact same length JO (128 cm) regardless of their stature, it is generally preferred that an AIKIDO practitioner’s JO length approximate the distance from the floor to their armpit.  Many AIKIDO students’ form is compromised from using weapons that are either too large or too small for their bodies. The MAKOTO JO makes an excellent addition to your traditional Japanese AIKIDO training weapons set.

aikido jo jodo staff

MASSUGU - Straight

The MAKOTO JO is made of the light-weight hardwood, Padauk, with a center-lamination made of Maple.  This “center-lam” not only makes the weapon beautiful, but also considerably stronger; and it also removes virtually all of the “wobble” that is common in lower quality AIKIDO JO made of a singular piece of wood.

aikido wood jo

KANJIRARERU TORI HABA - palpable grip width

The laser engraved MAKOTO KANJI appears at each “third” of the length of the JO.  Since the engravings are palpable they can function as a guide or reference point for proper JO grip width called KOSHI HABA-DORI.  What gives the JO its advantage over a superior weapon, such as a KATANA, is its length. Often, that length advantage is unknowingly given away by an AIKIDO student when he or she grasps the JO too widely believing that it grants them mechanical advantage over an opponent.

MAKOTO TANTO

aikido tanto wood training weapon

What makes the MAKOTO TANTO unique?

MIJIKAI TO GENJITSU-TEKI - shorter and more realistic

The MAKOTO TANTO is deliberately shorter than most AIKIDO training knifes to make knife disarming techniques more realistic and more challenging to students.  Most assailants utilize short-bladed weapons to make their attacks less conspicuous, not the 10″ practice knife used in most AIKIDO DOJO.

The MAKOTO TANTO has significantly more blade-handle differentiation so that a student will be able to perceive mid-technique whether or not he/she accidentally grabbed the edged part of the weapon.

BOKKEN OKUNAI

What is a BOKKEN OKUNAI?

TENJO HIKUI KEIKO - low ceiling training

With the arrival of the Covid-19 virus in 2020, many martial arts programs changed to virtual training by online interfaces.  Many people live in housing not meant for martial arts training courses.  For the AIKIDO community, this made indoor weapons training difficult. ‘OKUNAI’ means “indoors” in Japanese.

The MAKOTO BOKKEN OKUNAI was designed for and added to the traditional Japanese AIKIDO training weapons set as an indoor practice weapon that could be swung without hitting the ceiling in most residences.

The BOKKEN OKUNAI  contains a rod of steel in the blade, balanced to create the feel of swing a full-length sword.  This is perfect for practicing your cutting form and/or KATA in a low-ceilinged environment.  It makes attending and participating fully in virtual classes easy.

MAKOTO TEPPO

wood training gun disarming

Why a Training Gun?

SHOSU NO KEGA - reduces injuries

Training guns are not usually included in Traditional Japanese AIKIDO Training Weapons sets.  Some AIKIDO practitioners do not like to practice gun disarming techniques, but for those who see the gun as a legitimate threat of modern society, the MAKOTO TEPPO has a few distinctions that make it superior to other training weapons.

The MAKOTO TEPPO is modeled after a real firearm.  As such, it has much more detail, especially in the handle, than many wooden training guns.  It even includes a “beaver tail” feature that is actuality utilized as a fulcrum in creating leverage in some techniques.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the trigger guard has been cut away to protect the training partner’s index finger while practicing realistically. Most training guns have a complete trigger guard, which makes it dangerous to hyper-extension injuries to the index finger. To avoid this, the AIKIDO UKE usually holds the gun un-realistically to protect their finger.  This offers a poor training experience.

While not a bright, pastel or neon color, the decorative wood pattern ensures that the training tool will not be mistaken for a real gun outside of a controlled, martial arts training environment.

MAKOTO 3-PIECE SET

The traditional 3-piece set for AIKIDO BOKKEN weapon set includes:

  • BOKKEN
  • JO
  • TANTO

MAKOTO 5-PIECE SET

The full 5-piece set for AIKIDO BOKKEN weapon set includes:

  • BOKKEN
  • JO
  • TANTO
  • BOKKEN OKUNAI
  • TEPPO

Give our Traditional Japanese AIKIDO BOKKEN Weapon Set a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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