Chendokan Aikido/Sogetsu Kenjutsu


     Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Ueshiba Morihei, who is often referred to by the honorific title of O-Sensei, which translates as “Great teacher.”  The goal of aikido is to perform self-defense while also protecting the attacker from serious harm.  In many ways it is as much a philosophy as a physical art.  It uses the redirected energy and motion of the attacker to throw, move, and/or unbalance the attacker.  It also includes joint locks and pins. 
      O-Sensei developed aikido after studying many traditional martial arts; however, the main source of information was Daito ryu Aikijujutsu under the tutelage of Takeda Sōkaku Sensei.  Daito Ryu was a battlefield samurai martial art that included armed and unarmed techniques.  The weapons used were mainly the spear and sword.  The martial art that Ueshiba sensei was practicing and teaching officially became known as aikido until 1942.
      Today aikido is practiced around the world by many different types of people.  All ages and abilities are welcome.  Because the application of physical strength is not emphasized, people of all different physical abilities can practice aikido.  O-Sensei has said that if you can lift 16 lbs, you can practice aikido.  Rigorous training is more important to success than physical ability.

Chendokan Aikido
“Combat Effective Aikido”

      Chendokan Aikido is a style of Aikido developed by Doctor Philip Chenique.  Each individual style of aikido tends to focus on one of the many aspect of the aikido originally taught by O-Sensei. 
      Doctor Chenique saw that many present systems of aikido were no longer focusing on the martial aspect of the art, and instead were focusing on the spiritual and philosophical sides of aikido.  Chendokan Aikido was developed to return to a version of aikido that still focuses on its martial roots.  It uses aikido movements and principles to deal with modern day situations and realistic attacks.  The philosophical aspects are present as well, but they are developed through application of self-defense.
      Chendokan aikido has a different philosophy from many martial arts schools.  Many dojo have a separate beginner’s class.  Chendokan aikido does not.  It is the philosophy of Doctor Chenique that you can learn applications quicker through immersion in a class with many different levels of students. 
      In order to try an aikido class all one needs is clothing that is easy to move around in and an open mind.  Once officially part of the class, a student must wear a gi. A gi is the traditional uniform of the martial arts student.  Upon achieving their first rank, students will need to wear a hakama.  A hakama is the pleated trouser pants worn by aikidoka, kendoka, and some other martial artists.  It is based on tradional Japanese clothing, and is important to the study of aikido, as it helps improve the flow of the wearer’s movement.

      Kenjutsu is the generalized term for Japanese swordsmanship.  It translates as “sword arts.”  It encompasses offensive and defensive techniques, sword drawing techniques, etiquette, and kata practice.  As the use of the sword diminished into the 20th century, kenjutsu evolved into the sport form of kendo.  However, some schools were still teaching the sword as a martial art to the present day.

Sogetsu ryu kenjutsu
“Swordsmanship for the modern man.”
      Sogetsu ryu kenjutsu is a separate but parallel system to Chendokan aikido.  It teaches the classic art of Japanese swordsmanship in a modern way.  Although it still harkens back to the traditions and culture of the samurai, it concentrates on being a system of combat based on the premise of if people carried were using the Japanese swords today, how would they be used?

      Practice involves predetermined forms, or kata, set patterns of self-defense called kumitachi, sparring with shinai, and unarmed defense against the sword, called tachi tori.  Besides the physical techniques, etiquette and self-discipline are highly emphasized traits, as they are the cornerstone of kenjutsu.