Daitō ryū Aikibudo classes
In the 9th Century, Emperor Seiwa ensured that his army and private guard were trained as highly skilled combatants. The lineage of classical Daitō ryū Aikibudo classes taught by Shihan Medhat Darwish extends to the martial art practice in which these samourai engaged.
Within those ranks, the samourai Minamoto Yoshimitsu advanced the practices of this martial art. Yoshimitsu examined the bodies of fallen soldiers and discovered the points at which joints met. His observations and additions not only perfected the art, but he gave it attributes which are inherent to today’s practice in Daitō ryū Aikibudo classes.
Minamoto’s samourai descendants took on the name “Takeda”, and so the name and the art became linked through the centuries. While Minamoto’s family kept the art secret, Japan’s modernization compelled his descendants to share their secrets.
Samourai were discouraged from presenting themselves to be warriors through laws, edicts and changing attitudes in the 19th Century. What had been a symbol of Japanese honor and fortitude began to die out, and with it the martial arts they practiced.
With a desire to preserve the Daitō ryū forms, Takeda Sōkaku began traveling throughout Japan’s dojos to teach them. Sharing his knowledge to Japanese martial artists was essential, but it was his third son, Takeda Tokimune, who further expanded its practice. On February 7, 1981, he demonstrated this art during a national broadcast of Japanese television.
Takeda Tokimune evolved his father’s practice into what are modern Daitō ryū Aikibudo classes.
Philosophy of Daitō ryū Aikibudo classes
Within Daitō ryū Aikibudo classes, students learn a philosophy of mindful movement and self-cultivation. While this philosophy is what is taught in all classical martial arts, Daitō ryū artists practice movements which become smaller to the point at which they are imperceptible to the untrained eye.
Effective Daitō ryū Aikibudo classes fundamentally refine one’s presence as a weapon. In essence, the coalition of ones body and mind into a present situation extends ones ability to become competent, not only within the classes but throughout any situations one may encounter.
Like a matador allows a bull to use its energy against itself, so a practitioner conserves his or her presence during a fight. Using the joint-locking and striking techniques that samourai first learned allows the practitioner to conserve and use only necessary energy.
Like a sword smith refines a weapon, so too will Daitō ryū Aikibudo classes refine you.
Learn more about Iaidō classes
Learn more about Bōjutsu classes
Bōjutsu is an ancient martial art (kobudō) which uses the bō as its weapon of combat and self-discipline. The bō is a staff or pole made of wood or bamboo, close to six feet in length, although it may extend to nine feet. Bōjutsu is a classical martial art which has been in use for hundreds of years.
During Bōjutsu classes, Shihan Darwish begins instructions with a five foot staff. The staff may be simple in appearance, but its simplicity is a testament to its power. The bō’s power is its ability to extend and magnify an individual’s mental and physical strength through its length and compelling speed when used with skill. It can have devastating consequences on an opponent.
As in any martial art training, the provenance and lineage of the craft is an integral part of the practice. Oral traditions assert that the classical techniques derive from the practice of Okinawan kobudō in the 16th Century; however, it’s likely that the varying techniques were in use by the Chinese people before it was introduced in Okinawa. Bōjutsu classes embody those traditions.
Some believe that the forerunner of the bō was a simple stick (tenbin) which farmers used as a balancing implement across his or her back to carry water or crops in baskets suspended from the pole. It’s not difficult to imagine this tool emerging as a weapon for the defenseless poor who were prohibited from using better defined weaponry; however, the bō was a weapon privileged and perfected by samurai.
Modern Bōjutsu classes
Modern Bōjutsu classes integrate the same swinging, slashing and thrusting techniques used centuries ago. Those movements are used equally well without a weapon and so the hand techniques (te) are the basis for other martial arts such as karate. In that sense, competence with the Bō does carry through to other forms of martial arts.
Although the application of Bōjutsu necessarily aimed to subdue an enemy in an aggressive encounter, the practice itself is beyond that goal. Like a police officer uses her or his weapon rarely in an unplanned encounter, the warrior learns throughout the Bōjutsu classes to use the bō in katas, in self-defense, and during exhibitions. It has been validated that objects used in this manner are incorporated as if they are part of one’s body. Bōjutsu classes are not about expressing violence and anger outwards but directing ones impulses into a discipline of the mind and body.
Effective Bōjutsu classes confer the sense of wholeness, the integration of mind and body. With continued practice, the user senses a shift from being a tangled, scattered being to being present through fluid unconscious movement. The intensity of emotions become embodied in the discipline of the bō.
Bōjutsu classes teach the mastery of self. It can be said that the practice is a meditative process, one that is exhibited in physical forms and postures.
Iaidō is the Japanese martial art of drawing the sword from its sheath, striking, and re-sheathing. Practitioners train to respond immediately to an unexpected attack; however, the focus is on individual forms and rarely involves an opponent or partner.
Iaidō classes are taught as part of an ancient heritage from a particular school, the Heiho Niten Ichi Ryu, which was created by the Samurai Miyamoto Musashi (1584 – 1645). He asserted that he defeated his first opponent at the age of 13 and remained undefeated in 60 duels. The Heiho Niten Ichi Ryu is unique in that only a handful of schools teach it outside Japan.
Shihan Medhat Darwish instructs beginners with a wooden practice sword called a bokken. Once a beginner is meaningfully invested, they can purchase a blunted sword, an iaitō, made of aluminum-alloy and stainless-steel.
Masters may use a katana which is a formidable slightly curved blade with a groove along its steel length. The swift cutting force it exerts is heard when wielded correctly during a strike. Katana are fashioned by master craftsmen with precision and great care over the course of weeks and even months.
Iaidō classes practice precision
During Iaidō classes, the practitioner is enjoined to continually practice precision in rituals, cutting, the power of the cut, correct technique, timing, and presence. Every movement has a purpose. From the correct way to present your weapon to the stance you assume, every gesture is perfected to be immaculate.
Throughout the time that samurai ruled, iaidō masters taught it as much for practical defense in times of war along with the concept of self-development. After the last samurai battle on September 24, 1877, and the need for combat with an opponent diminished, martial arts began to shift. Modern iaidō classes appear to have evolved with a focus on spirituality. Iaidoka (the practitioner of iaidō) may not begin classes with the intent to evolve spiritually but it is inherent in the practice.
What is essential to iaidō as in every martial art is the spirituality of creating a space within himself or herself. When they begin practicing, they initially strive to be the teacher or master or a figure they have observed. They attempt to align themselves to an exterior and physical ideal. As the iaidoka immerses herself or himself in focused iaidō classes, they begin to let go of this concept. The concept shifts from the desire to be something to self-cultivation through movement, attention, and intention.
Effective iaidō classes are not play, but they do engage the systems which allow the warrior to be in the here and now, allowing creativity to take place. They grant you to respond to the present moment rather than imposing the past or future to the present. It cultivates a mindful presence which permits one to be spontaneous.