Article sez: Originally a chatlog, many Veritas teachers took part, although the bulk was done by Defender and Darkduck.
(Many thanks to Tsumaru for putting it in article form. Yay to Tsumaru!)
SWORDPLAY & ENERGY
Darkduck: Defender will first explain the basics of sword bonding through the occult swordsplay style. I will then take over, and talk about weapon bonding from Aiki style.
Defender: -Point 1. For these exercises you should use the same sword all the time. That way you form a connection with it.
-Point 2. Please remember that wooden swords are better for the beginner. Not only do you reduce the risk of causing serious damage to yourself and others but also you will find that it holds energy better than metal. Wood was once living, it once contained life energy of its own, hence is easier to work with.
-Point 3. If you lack the necessary experience, don't even try. You will just get hurt.
Exercise 1. This is the most simple but as with all simple things probably the most important. I am working on the assumption that you all have at least a moderate skill and understanding with meditation. If you do not then I am sorry, but you need to learn that first.
The first exercise is very simple, just meditate with the blade. The exact mechanics of this are not important, like all beginning meditations the most important thing is that you are comfortable. However, saying this I would suggest that you have your hands in contact with the sword at all times.
A technique that I personally find useful is sitting cross-legged or on a chair and allowing the sword to rest on my legs - close to the knees but not too close. (You DO NOT want to run the risk of having the blade slipping off your knees onto your foot). Then rest your hands on the sword, one on the blade itself and another on the grip.
From this point, any number of techniques and basic exercises open up to you, but the first and most basic is simply meditating as you would normally do. For me this is the four-fold breath while clearing your mind of all thoughts. Any questions?
Lightbringer (Student): I was just wondering if itís okay to just keep the sword in its scabbard just to be safe. Basically, is contact with the blade needed?
Defender: Well... you could do it with the scabbard on, but it would be less effective. After all it is the blade itself that you are trying to connect with. If it is a safety aspect that is concerning you, then I would strongly recommend getting yourself a wooden blade.
Frozen (Student): Because you donít fight with the scabbard on, do you?
Defender: Exactly. Well actually...fighting with the scabbard on could be a part of...okay, I'm shutting up, sorry.
Talyn (Student): What happens if your hilt is barely able to support two hands? Will this still allow the techniques to be performed correctly?
Defender: Yes the technique can still be performed correctly. If need be then put one hand on top of the other. The point is to establish a good connection and circuit with the weapon, not to be able to use if effectively at this point.
Prophecy: If you are skilled to any extent in establishing links with objects (such as is used for enchantments), then such a link may also be formed with the hand not directly touching the sword.
Defender: Anyway, moving on. Exercise 2 - In my opinion this is the most important. For this one I would recommend holding the blade as you would to fight with it. HOWEVER, should it be a blade that you would normally use 1 handed then I would suggest that you make an exception and hold the grip with both hands. Adopt a traditional softish martial art stance - ie. Knees slightly bent, toungue touching the roof of the mouth etc.
Now, I am assuming that you all also have some experience in the very basic chi exercises; most notably the one where you sense your internal chi and then move it around your body. Well, from the stance you have adopted, assume a state of light meditation as you would tend to do when doing energy work.
Next start moving energy around your body as you would normally do. View this as a sort of warming up, when you have the energy flowing through your body well, then send it to your hands. From here, allow the energy to flow from your hands into the grip of the sword and then throughout the entire weapon. It is important not to send in an isolated and cut off burst, but instead to keep the energy you send into the blade connected to your own body. Nor should you allow the energy in the blade to stagnate, but keep it flowing, as you would the energy within your own body.
Next, extend your aura around the blade. Visualise your aura, then see it expanding to encompass the weapon and hold it there. At this point, the blade should feel connected to you, it has your energy flowing through it and your aura extended around it. Finally for this exercise, extend your mind into your hands, and then finally the sword itself until it is at the very tip of the blade. Hold this for a few moments, then slowly withdraw.
For your first attempt you should now slowly withdraw both your aura and your energy as well. And take a well deserved rest. This is of course the very tip of the iceberg for this topic, but I am short of time and with that in mind would like to now pass over to Darkduck. I will of course continue to elaborate on these exercises soon and would like to announce that Prophecy's excellent article on the subject might soon be available.
Ahh...Hello everybody. Might I get a round of applause for Defender's excellent class, it was very good. ^_^
Darkduck: Well then. Sword bonding, from a different approach - Aiki. As you all undoubtedly know, Aiki stands for harmonious energy. Or, more literally, even the 'love for energy'. It is not very different from what defender did, but with a little twist added to it. Some people might like this method over Defender's, and others might like the Occult Swordsplay more. It's all good, just choose.
Now then. You could very well do this however, with anything you choose, from a bokken, to your car keys. But, for the sake of continuity, I'll use the bokken. Stand in a regular stance, with your dominant hand over (as in, above, not on top) of your other hand. Keep them a reasonable amount apart, and make sure that the index finger is relaxed. Get a good grip on the sword with your middle and ring finger.
Swing the sword about a little, to get a good feel for how heavy it is, etcetera. Make sure your muscles are used to carrying the bokken, before you proceed. If you have experience in that field, meditational kata from iaido help. A lot.
Now, for the first timers doing this, it helps if you close your eyes the moment you are ready. Once eyes are closed, begin by paying attention to the wood of the sword in your hands. Feel its texture, and the hardness, but still gentle softness of the wood. Feel the energy from the bokken, pulsating gently into your arms. Like a bird that is washing its feathers in a pond, and thus creating ripples in the water, feel the effect of the bokken on you.
Now, step by step, start adjusting yourself to the flow of the bokken. This is not as hard as it sounds; all you really have to do is pay attention to the energy of the bokken, and the feeling in your hands. You can gently increase or decrease the pulsating feeling in your hand, just by thinking about it.
Get in tune with the bokken. But don't just get in tune with the bokken. Feel the energy of the wood, once belonging to a mighty oak, or pine perhaps, becoming one with yours. Because as your energy shifts, so does the energy of the wood. As 'aiki' suggests, harmony ('love') between energy is happening here too. The more the pulses of the bokken, and you come closer to each other, the closer you are to becoming one with the weapon. Any more questions?
DraconicFeathers (Student): How would one apply that with a steel sword? Would it be similar, but with adjustments to match the wavelength of steel, or completely different?
Darkduck: With a 'live' blade it is a lot different. Perhaps Iíll answer that in a later session if you donít mind.
Time to continue then. There is a moment that the two energies come together. This moment is quite hard to describe, you will have to settle for "believe me, you'll notice alright". At that point, that bokken adjusts to your needs, and becomes one with your energy in an instant. On an energetic ground, you and the bokken have become one, your energy completely in the bokken, but the bokken also in you, allowing you to "understand the blade".
With practice, it will become easier and easier to quickly bond with the sword. If you break your training, there will be a lot of your energy still residing in the bokken, as it has become YOUR weapon. Literally. Close off in whatever way you see fitting. Be sure to bow in respect. I hope this short guide on Aiki with weaponry was informative. ^_^
Defender: Sidenote: And this applies to my section as well. When doing something like this, it is VITALLY important that you are able to bond with your weapon very quickly. If you are actually in a fight you will need to act instantly, without even thought.
Darkduck: Indeed. With practice, it doesn't even take an action anymore, the moment you touch that particular weapon, you are one with it.
Silverdawn: This has been a session about how to integrate the energy with your weapon, and how it would be effective in combat. Have spontaneous uses of this technique, with weapons never before touched by the user, been documented? In other words, without the 'bonding' period?
Darkduck: Aye. In time, an aiki-artist can focus his training on spreading a field around him, quite like the fudoshin-field, of harmony. You probably have met people like this before; they make you feel at ease the moment they come near you. It is very much possible to bond with a weapon in an instant, given the right amount of practice, and a clear mind.
Defender: There are also reports of weapons that bond with the user rather than the other way round.
DraconicFeathers (Student): Would that apply to "living blades"?
Viendin (Student): Would that be from leftover energy from a previous user, or something special? As in what Student 4 said?
Darkduck: Could be anything.
Defender: Although they are more myth and legend than recent facts - blades that have absorbed enough energy and memories of sword masters as they have been passed down from master to apprentice that they have gained something of their own.
Darkduck: In the account of Masamune and Murasame, for example. Masamune, the peaceful blade, forged by a peaceful smithy, was said to be so strong, when placed in a river, leaves would float AROUND it. Murasame, on the other hand, forged by a student of the Masamune smith, was created with destruction in mind. It would cut leaves when standing in a river, the opposite of the friendly Masamune.
DraconicFeathers (Student): So when you mentioned weapons bonding with the wielder...in this case, it would mean the wielder would have, lets say, a peaceful state of mind if they were to wield the Masamune?
Darkduck: Indeed. Masamune wouldn't drive them into a killing spree, to put it bluntly, but the blade itself would have effect on the wielder.
Silverdawn: This concludes our class for tonight. I hope you enjoyed it. Please give a warm applause for your instructors!
Class: *applauds* *cheers* *wolf whistles*
Defender: *Bows* Thank you for being such a good class
Darduck: *Bows* Indeed *Falls back in seat*