View Full Version : Poll: How important is physical body size for effective aikido techniques?

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01-28-2007, 01:30 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of January 28, 2007:

How important is physical body size for effective aikido techniques?

I don't do aikido
Critically important
Very important
Somewhat important
Not very important
Not at all important

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=361).

Amir Krause
01-28-2007, 07:55 AM
I don't think I understand the question:

A person of larger physical body size can utilize more force and mass for his techniques then a light and small person. But, a technique could still be effective, at least against most people, even if it is only done by a smaller person, that is assuming we are talking of people with similar high level skill.

Size does matter, technique Quality matters more, the outcome requires both and a few other things.


01-28-2007, 09:16 AM
IMHO, body size is a prerequisite, because without some body size it is impossible to do Aikido.

IMHO, depends the technique and the skill of the practitioner. As a big guys myself, I an make death-from-above work for me. My 5'0" Sensei, empties from underneath. Where did he go?

01-28-2007, 03:12 PM
Well, in the void that is the space between my ears I chose to vote in a mathematically perfect (albeit common-sensically challenged) way, so I'll answer the same way:

I answered 'Not at all' - If it's aikido then size doesn't matter. Real world answer is like Dr. Seizer's above.

As an aside I have noticed that size seems to matter in the water. I can't overcome bigger attackers in the water - simply overpowered.


Adam Alexander
01-28-2007, 09:49 PM
I say somewhat important.

I figure sh'te and uke have to be reasonably similar in size for sh'te to find the right angles. However, there's a vast amount of physical Aikido that is totally independant of size and would be positive for anyone.

Just my opinion.

01-29-2007, 09:54 AM
Size does not matter in Aikido. People who are 6' or 4' and 300 lbs or 100 lbs can all do the same technique effectively. Some people may be able to get different angles and some moves may come easier to certain people. But Aikido is Aikido no matter what size. All it takes is practice.

Rich Stephens
01-29-2007, 10:57 PM
Does "effective aikido techniques" mean as displayed with other aikidoka for the purpose of demonstration or grade testing, or does it mean as used to defend oneself from a real attack? I think a lot of people might answer it doesn't matter for the former, but matters for the latter.

01-30-2007, 05:37 AM
Here is where my being argumentative has a positive side: I was hoping someone would prove me wrong and tell me how to defeat larger attackers in the water. No Navy Seals logged in? hahaha

I will reverse Mr. Stephens statement and say that what we think of as 'aikido' may not work for very small person against large, but I believe there is almost always a way for a small person to defeat a larger in the real world.

Excuse me now, I have to say my 10 'hail Mifune's' before I go to work. :)


01-30-2007, 09:46 AM
How would size influence a tenkan, a kotegaeshi, or an ikkyo?

Eric Webber
01-30-2007, 07:23 PM
How would size influence a tenkan, a kotegaeshi, or an ikkyo?

I thing that size may not influence tenkan as it is a movement (as I understand it).

It may affect (influence) kotegeishi or ikkyo, as these are techniques generally done in relation to another person (uke), which means that size differences need to be considered on some level: I approach a smaller partner somewhat differently than a larger partner in order for technique to be effective.

Rich Stephens
01-30-2007, 09:42 PM
Not to mention that when a larger person is "attacking" a smaller person, he may do so with only a little of his strength or with safer attacks since he knows it will still be sufficient to harm the smaller person. This means he isn't as "committed" to the attack as he would be if both people were the same size and will therefore be less susceptible to the aikido counter move than a person who came in full power. Maybe. Theoretically. I don't go around testing this in bars or anything.

L. Camejo
01-30-2007, 09:52 PM
I think we may need to define what is meant by "effective Aikido techniques" in this case.

If this means waza that takes the balance of the attacker every time so that kake is possible without cooperation on the part of Uke then I'd say that size is important, but ability to bring the power of that size/weight/mass to bear as part of one's technique is even more important.


01-31-2007, 05:25 AM
It matters somewhat IMO, for things ranging from being able to apply more force, to being able to use someone's physical size against them.

01-31-2007, 02:34 PM
Of course size matters. But it isn't the only factor. If it were, Aikido would just plain never work against any uke who was larger than nage. But it does.

The problem with questions like this is that they try to isolate one factor in a field of many.

It, really, is very similar to the question I used to get from a certain group of students (who, really, were just trying to waste time in class). "If a Kung Fu guy and a Judo guy were to fight, who would win?" Or some variation thereof. My flippant response was the one who was better at their art. But of course there are other factors and it's really kind of a stupid question on some level.

Given that all other factors are equal, size will decide. But all other factors are never equal, really.

01-31-2007, 03:21 PM
Size dictates what options will be easiest for you. It's not the absolute all-powerful guidance system, because anyone of any size can perform any technique with some measure of effectiveness. However, your size will tell you what techinques will work better and when. As I've said before, tall people hate a low kotegaishi...

It's all in how you look at it, I suppose.

Mary Turner
01-31-2007, 08:31 PM
Second to that, Mark.
Well put.

02-01-2007, 06:44 PM
Well, these questions are a lot like ikyo from shomen uchi in a beginner class - where I belong!

I am allowed to do one technique, from one attack, oh, and only to the front or rear. hmmmmmm.

What if uke is being a jerk, or I have a bad ankle, or the ki doesn't flow through my left arm, or.......

we train anyway and get interesting discussions - or i get frustrated and yell at nage.

Tenkan, as I understand it, is really Irimi Tenkan, so we are to enter, join with nage's balance, then pivot, taking her balance. From a wrist grab, a six year old child might have a tough time, but I remember a 114 pound kid who could throw koshi nage on 214 pound adults. Does that qualify as 'effectve aikido technique'?


Robert Jackson
02-01-2007, 11:15 PM
Just to add a little flair body size of the Uke or the nage?

Both matter... As a 6'3 guy there is no way I'm going to do Shihonage on some 5'0 little person.

And at the same time no 5'0 person would do Iriminage on me.

However, thats not saying the 5'0 person couldn't effectively do Sudori..

Dirk Hanss
02-02-2007, 03:28 AM
Just to add a little flair body size of the Uke or the nage?

Both matter... As a 6'3 guy there is no way I'm going to do Shihonage on some 5'0 little person.

And at the same time no 5'0 person would do Iriminage on me.

However, thats not saying the 5'0 person couldn't effectively do Sudori..
I disagree, Robert

It is more like Marc said. Size might limit the situations, where a technique should be effectively apllied and certainly dictates, how a technique must be applied to be effective. Unless there is no size at all.

As long as ukes hand can reach your head, you could do a shihonage effectively. In the case, you mentionned, it might not be the first choice in taichi-waza (both partners standing), but is still possible. Much more likely you would want to use it in hanmi handachi (nage sitting, uke standing). So some schools tell long students to go down to there knees to apply shihonage easily. That is one way, but not the only one.

For short aikidoka to apply iriminage on long partners, it is much easier. It all depends on kuzushi (breaking balance). If nage is able to get uke down, it is easy to apply the technique.

The funniest demonstration, I have seen was by Mitsugi Saotome Sensei. He took the longest and the shortest attendant of the seminar and showed, how not to apply a technique and how to change to make it work.

So my experience is, that size is not very important for effectiveness of aikido techniques, but when and how to apply the techniques effectively. And yes in each situation there is one technique, which would be the best choice. While it is too difficult to determine all parameters to find this very best technique and its application, with some experience you might find easily a set of eligible techniques. Game theory says, you should choose one of them randomly, because you would otherwise change the situation by giving uke hints about what he can expect. And usually an expected technique is less effective than an unexpected.

Best regards


02-02-2007, 05:52 AM
My 'long' Sensei makes a point of showing techniques on the shortest person in class - so that we too learn to bend our knees and get our center below ukes when appropriate. The message is - if i can do it, so can you.

What's funny is when this fellow stands with palms toward me and says 'ok, attack me'.

Sure. I'll wade in past the extra six inches of arm you have and swing at your chin! I tapped each of his hands and kicked toward his knee. Someone laughed. Sensei smiled and said 'no, punch'. The other beginners thought I was being goofy, but it didn't make sense to attack 'the monster' head on.


Robert Jackson
02-02-2007, 09:49 PM
You misunderstand Dirk, I didn't say it wasn't possible just that I wouldn't do it.... I agree completely with Marc and was just showing in example..

Thus in my opinion size DOES matter simply because I'm going to switch techniques based on size (or I should say size is one of many factors I would use to determine which technique to use)

Dirk Hanss
02-03-2007, 11:09 AM
You misunderstand Dirk,

Sorry, Robert

Now I understand and I agree. Size matters as one of the parameters in which technique you would choose and how you would apply the chosen technique.

It does not really matter in "Are Aikido techniques effective" genereally, as you just would choose anotehr technique out of the aikido syllabus and/or adjust it to the situation.

Cheers Dirk