View Full Version : One possible reason why aikido is difficult to pull off?

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09-17-2007, 10:15 AM
With TV being worse every season, I find myself reading more and more. Trawling the archives of various sites is a bit of a hobby, that has occassionally led to pearls of knowlege.

I thought this one was interesting...

There seem to me to be two ways that Judo techniques can be made to work, the first primarily rely on leverage and force, employing sweeping legs, hip fulcrums, etc as the primary factors in making the techniques work. Tskuri, kuzushi and timing are important and contribute significantly to the sucess of techniques, but in terms of how the technique is being made to work they are of secondary importance.

The second way relies primarily on tskuri, kuzushi, and timing and the throw itself is almost of secondary importance. This is exemplified in the famous (infamous?) Mifune sensei video, where if you watch carefully the uke are pretty much done for before Mifune sensei ever steps in for the "actual" throw. He sets them up so well that the actual sweeping leg, or hip fulcrum or whatever just finishes the job.

Of these two the second is much harder to learn (may take a lifetime). In the bad old days of Jujutsu, if your method of fighting took 10 years of practice before you could make it work, you would be seriously short of students (high mortality rate during the learning curve). So the techniques had to be functional at two levels. The first could be relatively quickly learned and employed fairly effectively. After a single lesson learning a throw such as ogoshi, the student is way ahead of an untrained opponent. If the student continues his study perhaps he can reach the second level at least occasionally.

So, if there really are two levels of technique, then the second level is usually considered the higher, more desirable level (at least in the realm of self improvement or art which both Judo and Aikido strive for). In my somewhat limited knowledge of Aikido techniques it strikes me that they are mostly pretty mechanically simple. Very little in the way of reaping legs, hip fulcrum, etc are evident. They do not provide the raw mechanical advantage that can be exploited using strength and speed. This may be a basic characteristic of the root art, Daito Ryu (about which I know even less), but most other jujutsu schools I have seen tend to be more like Judo technique and employ many of the same mechanical principles.

So to continue my house of cards. The primary goal of Aikido is personal development, this being the case, perhaps Ueshiba sensei sought to skip over the first level of technique and try to push students towards the second. Perhaps there is a deliberate "handicap" there so you do not rely on sweeping legs or hip fulcrums, but in order to make the techniques work have only kuzushi, tskuri, and timing to do it with and so are forced to learn them (presumably without being distracted by strength-based technique). Since the primary goal of Aikido is not self-defense, and we live in much safer times immediate efficacy was not as important as it was in Jujutsu.

It is primarily low-level Aikido that sucks in terms of effectiveness, as would be expected if Ueshiba was taking the strategy that I suggest. High level Aikido is quite effective and powerful, but takes a long time to learn. Also, if people take off on their own (as evidenced by the plethora of different Aikido schools) before they fully grasp the higher level, they do not have the basic mechanical advantages to fall back on, and so you end up with empty dancing about because the techniques do not work unless you can use them at the higher level, and no one knows how so there is basically nothing there.

So in the end perhaps it is just a different route to the same end, perhaps that is what Kano sensei meant.

But of course I could be full of hooey

It's an interesting argument...perhaps wrong? What do you think?

09-17-2007, 10:26 AM
...perhaps wrong?
Perhaps right.

09-17-2007, 10:46 AM
With TV being worse every season, I find myself reading more and more. Trawling the archives of various sites is a bit of a hobby, that has occassionally led to pearls of knowlege.

I thought this one was interesting...

It's an interesting argument...perhaps wrong? What do you think?

I would definitely agree with the sentiment of the piece. I would say that Mochizuki Kancho added the elements of Judo and Karate to make Aikido more effective at the lower levels. I think Hiroo Mochizuki took this even further with his Yoseikan Budo, including more stand up and fight methods from Wado Ryu, western boxing, and kick boxing. But I think that something is lost in the art if you just work on those things that produces the "best" results in the shortest time.

The ultimate goal of Aikido is the harmonisation of all man kind, and the idea behind a conflict is to resolve it in such a way that you can become friends. Exchanging blows until someone is knocked out will never realise either of these things.

Don't get me wrong, personally I am primarily interested in self defence. So the training I do reflects this. The reason I do this, is because I like the idea of walking the path, but starting from the beginning.

I don't think O'Sensei skipped over the first level of techniques. O'Sensei oversaw kihon at Iwama, and I would have to say that the people in Iwama had the most effective techniques in the Aikikai. I like to point out my favourite quote from O'Sensei,

I've given my life to opening the path of Aikido but when I look back no one is following me.

What I do disagree with is the idea that Aikido does not include a mechanical advantage. In all joint locks, the entire body is applied against the joint, which includes significant leverage about a point with uke acting as the anchor. This can be devistating to the joint in question.

What I think they are referring to are those techniques that utilise Ki no Nagare. These are considered the most advanced of Aikido techniques. These are supposed to be done at 3rd dan and above. What comes before that should be effective. May be the idea that ALL Aikido should be preformed Ki no Nagare, has made some think that ALL training should be done Ki no Nagare.


Dan Rubin
09-17-2007, 02:46 PM
There already is a thread about this article:


09-17-2007, 04:20 PM
With TV being worse every season, I find myself reading more and more. Trawling the archives of various sites is a bit of a hobby, that has occassionally led to pearls of knowlege.

I thought this one was interesting...

It's an interesting argument...perhaps wrong? What do you think?

This resonates with my thinking quite a bit, though I do think it's quite possible to integrate the two approaches...and would say individuals do that to varying degrees.
The other day I was thinking how I tend to have two views of Aikido, depending on what I've been thinking about: 1. Aikido is simple; 2. Aikido is complex. I came to the conclusion that what I really mean when I say it's complex is that it is subtle. Saturday during training, when I tried to think in these terms (ie-waza is simple yet subtle) I seemed to do a little better because the simplicity kept me from making overly convoluted actions, while the subtlety made me think in more detail/precision (I was more direct, yet blended with the various angles of attack more acutely)...at least, it seemed that way.

Rupert Atkinson
09-18-2007, 10:59 PM
I agre with the article, and it is probably why I have done Judo and Jujtusu alongside Aikido. Maybe that is why Tomiki went the way he went too.

Also, Aikido does have strong leverage techniques - the problem is they are not practised and applied the way they are in other arts. And if they were, it would not be seen as Aikdio, which, I guess, is the problem some people sometimes have with my kind of Aikido. These days, I just say I do Traditional Jujutsu - as maybe that is what I am doing ...