On the Sunday after the dōjō anniversary, Rodriguez Sensei invited the aiki students to a short training seminar with him at the dōjō. When Brad Sensei emailed me to tell me about the invitation, I enthusiastically accepted, and took a vacation day off work so I could attend. I was excited to even sit and watch; being so very inexperienced, I didn’t want to take up any of the senior students time with Sensei.

We arrived about 30 minutes before Rodriguez Sensei was to arrive, so that we could be dressed and warmed up upon his arrival.

Rodriguez Sensei said he wanted to work on some “ken techniques.”

Crap. I knew “ken” meant “kenjutsu.” Swords. I don’t do swords, I thought. I’m not in the kenjutsu class. I’ll admit to being a little disappointed that I had taken a night off work, thinking I was going to get to work on some Aikijutsu, and now would be working on sword techniques instead.

I’ve never held a real katana in my life! I’m pretty sure I’ve never even held a bokken!

While Rodriguez Sensei changed, Brad Sensei quickly started going over basic sword 101 with the other Aiki student and I. You know, important stuff like “here’s how you hold the damn thing.”

Showing us the proper way to pass a sword to each other and to remove/replace a sword to the rack, Sensei handed me his katana. I bowed & accepted it, and… Wow. I remember a similar feeling the first time I ever held a firearm. Apprehensive. Intrigued. Powerful. Afraid it might “go off” at any minute. This was cool.

For the next few hours we worked on a sword technique that I’m told is usually only shown to senior students. It was quite cool. It took a surprising amount of precision of movement & control to execute the moves in even a novice manner. I was furthermore fascinated by the similarities in the movements between the kenjutsu techniques, and the aikijutsu techniques I had been studying. I remembered being told that the aikijutsu was originally developed by the samuari as a way to fight when they were without a sword or other weapon; so it made sense that the motions and movements of aikijutsu would be modeled off of the sword methods.

I’m told that some sword techniques will eventually be part of my aikijutsu training at some point before reaching a dan (blackbelt) level. After my brief introduction to the sword, I’m certainly adding kenjutsu classes to my list of “things to do once I have time/can afford to.”

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