The AIKI NEWS staff has been unusually busy this spring, coping with moving and expanding two offices into three, adding staff, putting together our first English book of the year, all while preparing this issue. The book was both a surprise and a bit of a miracle, as Ikuko Kimura, Akemi Miyake, and I translated, rewrote, edited, designed, laid out, and got camera-ready copy to the printer in just three weeks. The experience was terrific, though at times a bit confusing. I spent my days at the computer rephrasing detailed descriptions of Yoshinkan Aikido techniques in English, then in the evenings went to my own Aikido club where I would have to try to explain Tomiki Aikido techniques to my junior practice partners in Japanese! For those of you who are interested in learning about the basics of Yoshinkan Aikido, this translation of the official Yoshinkan technical manual, Yoshinkan Aikido: An Introduction to Basic Technique, will be of great value. I’d like to tell you more, about how the numerous photographs complement the detailed textual explanations, but feel that I am really too biased, so please take a look for yourself!
Letters, Letters, Everywhere
We’ve been receiving a wonderful in-pouring of letters from our readers, and in order to demonstrate graphically how much we value such input we have moved the Letters to the Editor section to the front of the magazine. This section will grow as needed to accommodate your ideas, reflections, comments, and discussions. The lively participation of readers provides not only thought-provoking and educational material, but can even prove entertaining as you debate your positions. Keep the letters coming, and thank you one and all!
Jukendo-The Maligned Martial Way
Jukendo is a modern budo based on the military fighting art of the bayonet (juken, literally gun/sword). This system, a combination of 19th century French bayonet techniques and traditional Japanese spear techniques, was still being used on the battlefields as recently as the Second World War. O-Sensei, during his military service, taught juken-jutsu to his fellow soldiers, and later taught his Kobukan deshi both the use of the juken and defenses against it.
Today, because of the freshness of the memory of the juken as a killing weapon that was used by the Imperial Japanese soldiers, Jukendo is frequently disparaged and is often not taken seriously as a modern martial way. At the Second International Seminar of Budo Culture, I had the opportunity to try Jukendo and discovered that not only do I have a certain aptitude, but also that it can be fun. At first I was deeply disturbed, but soon realized that the juken is only the most recent example of “the weapon of death” becoming “the weapon of life,” and as such most vividly embodies the paradox of all martial ways-that we study lethal techniques or their descendants in order to reduce conflict and improve life. The way of death is transformed into the way of life. In arts such as Aikido it is relatively easy to forget this connection, but in Jukendo, as you thrust for your partner’s heart it is impossible to forget. In this ever-present contradiction lies the heart of Japanese budo, and I am finding Jukendo to be a fascinating path to explore.