Sword and Weapon practice in the AKBAN martial arts school

Budo Ninjutsu practice includes ancient martial arts weapon katas. The problem we had was that for more then twenty years we couldn't check the weapon Kata practice with proper randori. There was no accurate way to practice weapons sparring, the way we do with all the empty handed Kata. Every try we made was blocked by either safety reasons (bokkens are too heavy and dangerous, while shinai and boffers are too flimsy and are not realistically balanced and weighted). Last year we had the good fortune of learning weapons from Alex Zhelezniak, the founder of ACT school for martial weapon training and a world class expert in weapons. From Alex we learned the basics of western hand and a half European sword and how to handle Japanese Katana in combat sparring. Alex places the utmost importance in building an accurately weighted and safe weapon replicas, comparing techniques of ancient western and Japanese masters and trying these out in combat sparring. Since in AKBAN we are based in Japanese koryu, especially the Katory Shinto ryu sword system, we put in a lot of effort to build a padded katana replica. Amir Haimi, a veteran AKBAN martial arts instructor, spent several months building, checking in his dojos and rebuilding several prototypes of Japanese swords until we reached a working model. We now have, thanks to Amir's efforts, less than one hundred swords and are painstakingly manufacturing more. Practicing Japanese sword randori has now entered the end trial phases in some of the groups of AKBAN veterans and integrating the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto ryu katas will probably take less then a year. We already set our eyes on building accurately balanced safe replicas of all the weapons in our syllabus, short sticks, middle length sticks (Jo), long sticks and halberds, Kusari gama and Kusari fundo. Working since 1986 according to our martial arts methodical model, has proved that the best way to ensure realistic abilities in ancient martial arts is to make the practice sparring sessions as real as safety permits.