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by John Cornish

According to Den-sho (records of secrets of Martial arts) Daito Aiki jujutsu dates back, at least, as far as the Kamakura period (1185-1336). At this time it was founded by Yoshimitsu Minamoto (d 1120) and this can be said to be when Aikido as we know it came to be founded. This art was handed down in the Minamoto family for generations, and then was taken over by the Takeda family of the Aizu Clan.

After the Meiji restoration in 1868, the feudal system came to an end and Sokaku Takeda at this time was head of the family and it was he that began to teach people outside the family. His most outstanding pupil was Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969).

The Aiki Ju-jutsu of the feudal period, of use by Samurai in situations such as war, was made acceptable in modern times by Ueshiba. Morihei’s son Kisshomaru now is head of the dojo founded by Morihei, and his grandson will take over and I’m sure will carry on the tradition.

Aikido is well known for it’s Tai-jutsu (body arts, that is unarmed techniques) against an unarmed or armed attacker. It is less well known that Aikido makes use of weapons, such as sword and staff, and should be practiced as against multiple attackers.

Many of the Tai—jutsu stances, movements and, even, techniques are based on those of the Japanese sword and spear. So practice at either should compliment the other.

Weapon training is carried out as a solo practice, or with a partner with the same weapon and with a partner with a different weapon as in Ken-tai-Jo (sword verses staff). This kind of training does not require a mat and can be carried out on a bare floor or, when the weather is clement, out in the open on grass. Training at weapons also makes us safe when we have to take our turn at being the attacker with the weapon. The person with the weapon attempting to use it against the unarmed partner, is frustrated in his attack and can be held (put under control) almost in a standing or kneeling position, face up or face down on the mat. Or the attacker may be thrown forward or to the rear on the mat.

Tai-jutsu is carried out with both (or more) partners standing, both kneeling or the attacker standing and the defender kneeling. Tai-jutsu techniques are usually carried out both to the right and to the left. Defence techniques in addition are also carried out in two differing directions to place the defender in a more advantageous position where any further danger may be easily seen or countered.