Well this isn’t aikido, but we are doing lots of aiki weapons practice. Suburi, kumi tachi, kumi jo. Jo kata (though we haven’t done that yet, since this new regime). I always vaguely regretted not having done more weapons work. Now we don’t have a choice. Lemons, lemonade.
You do learn a lot of aikido from weapons. This includes body movement, distance, timing, position, and the interpersonal interaction often identified with the vague term “ki”.
There are a lot of weapons systems out there. In the past, I have mainly used the ASU weapons systems. Their jo suburi is identical to the Iwama suburi, but the kumi tachi and kumi jo are different. Now I’m also pulling from Iwama. I guess eventually I’ll have to develop my own set, as I did my syllabus.
Looking at youtube videos, I see a lot of people doing things in ways that I think are suboptimal. Weapons are after all weapons, and should be treated as such. The differences are often dismissed by calling aiki weapons practice aiki weapons practice, and that there are different goals than those of traditional weapons ryu, but IMO that loses the critical benefit of the weapons. We are weekend warriors, and are not samurai, but we can benefit from practicing realistically, though we certainly don’t want to get so realistic as to send anybody to the ER.
One thing we are doing differently from how I learned weapons is much more work on just attacks and defenses. Personally, when doing a kumi weapon exercise, I focus on the flow of the whole thing. If I don’t practice the individual attacks and defenses, they don’t get the attention they need to be crisp and effective. And I do practice them left and right. I should do the kumi weapons practices left and right also, but I have always done them on one side only. Maybe I will get around to that before we can get back to hands on training. I guess no matter what, there is never enough time to do everything.