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Enrique Antonio Reyes
06-30-2008, 06:59 AM
Hi Guys,

In a recent session. A senior instructor mentioned that he himself will not use Aikido for Self-Defense he then mentioned that Aikido is a martial art and not designed to be used or relied upon for self-defense, that Aikido is somewhat like an art comparable to ballet. (he actually used ballet as a comparison)

I am a martial artist and have studied various martial arts. I would like to think that I am an Aikidoka first before anything else. I train in the hope of keeping myself ready for self-defense. so after this remark I find myself questioning my motives for training Aikido again.

I would just like to hear what you guys think. Perhaps there was an underlying message that I was not able to grasp.

One-Aiki,

Iking

rob_liberti
06-30-2008, 07:22 AM
Here is what I think about the subject:

http://aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=206044&postcount=3

http://aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=206158&postcount=33

http://aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=209771&postcount=171


Here is a great column on this:
http://aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12221
(I liked post 11 myself.)

Good luck in your search,
Rob

SeiserL
06-30-2008, 08:09 AM
Underlying message? He told you what he thought. Sounded pretty straight forward to me. He doesn't practice Aikido as a martial art. His right.

I do though. My right.

How do you practice yours?

Nick P.
06-30-2008, 08:31 AM
His message seems pretty clear, with little room for an underlying message.

I always go back to these, when in doubt...

http://www.aikiweb.com/general/founder.html

You want unclear? Try this one a shihan told the class...

"There a three generals and a canary.
The first general says: "If the bird will not sing, I will kill it!"
The second general says: "If the bird will not sing, I will make it sing!
The third general says: "If the bird will not sing....I will wait.
Which general do you want to be, and which Aikido do you want to do?"

I still love that....

rob_liberti
06-30-2008, 08:43 AM
I would put the bird in the freezer for a moment and then take him out and he'll sing. And he may ask "so what did the turkey do to displease you?"

Rob

Nick P.
06-30-2008, 09:06 AM
I would put the bird in the freezer for a moment and then take him out and he'll sing. And he may ask "so what did the turkey do to displease you?"
Rob

HAH! I think that falls squarely into the "I will make him sing"-category. So would plucking his feathers, breaking joints, immersing in water, waterboard, etc....

lbb
06-30-2008, 10:13 AM
I want to be the general who doesn't give a damn about whether any bird sings or not.

CitoMaramba
06-30-2008, 10:33 AM
The three daimyo (generals?) were supposedly (in order) Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu...

the one who wouldn't give a damn would probably be Takeda Katsuyori :D

Tharis
06-30-2008, 12:40 PM
Some might think if you're only thinking of your own self-defense, you're not thinking big enough.

Counsel
06-30-2008, 02:00 PM
I want to be the general who doesn't give a damn about whether any bird sings or not.

That is harmony--staying centered regardless of the melee, or lack of it, that surrounds you.

James

mwible
06-30-2008, 04:15 PM
Simply put, I believe the senior instructor to be wrong in his assumption that Aikido was never meant for self-defense. Atleast in the context of the dialogue in which you quoted. O'Sensei, to my knowledge, ALWAYS meant Aikido to be for self-defense. And i always train with an attitude and state of mind of learning to defend myself and my loved ones.

As always, just my 2 cents.

in aiki,
morgan

Kevin Leavitt
06-30-2008, 06:27 PM
Yeah, nothing to say. Rob Liberti pretty much covered it. It is and it isn't. For me Aikido is a great methodology for learning Ai Ki...which is a part of fighting skills, but it and of itself is not about fighting.

Self Defense...well that is a broad topic. I think in many respects aikido does a very good job...in others, it is a pretty poor delivery mechanism for self defense skills.

YMMV.

Gonšalo Alves
06-30-2008, 06:48 PM
Hi everyone!!!

Aikido will never work on a figth ??? That s because training Aikido is a diferent thing than dancing like the doshu and others on aikikai?? keep dreaming!!!.. keep dancing with the aiki spirit!!
Aikido is a martial art!! MARTIAL ART!!! any doubt? Not dancing!!

Kevin Leavitt
06-30-2008, 08:17 PM
Aikido is a martial methodology..just like all "martial arts". It is designed to teach you the lessons that the founder of the art wanted to convey and developed a waza to convey those points.

It might seem like splitting hairs, but if aikido were focused on fighting, that is fighting defined as self defense or "combat",

Then there would only be pretty much one Waza as there really are only so many ways the human body moves and the way you employ your limbs to disable or destroy your opponent.

Look at Marksmanship? How many different "schools" or "Ways" (waza) are there with Marksmanship? really not too many...they all pretty much look the same and train on the same things..why is that? well, there are only so many ways to put a bullet in a target and everyone has gravitated to a level of efficiency at teaching those things dealing with Marksmanship.

Budo is different. It is not so much about the fighitng is it is about the budo. Each founder had his own approach to how to train what he wanted to convey....so you have all these different wazas now that do things very different.

MMA is a good example. I can visit Chuck Liddel's school, Randy Couture's School...or any other school and find them doing pretty much the same things....because they are oriented on the same endstate and there is a certain level of efficiency realized in their training.

Some aikido IS about dancing IMO, that is because that is what the people doing dancing aikido want to do.

Mannix Moya
06-30-2008, 09:02 PM
for me, aikido is both a martial art and a way of life. in the event of aggression, if aikido will work or not, depends entirely with me.

Ketsan
06-30-2008, 09:18 PM
Hi Guys,

In a recent session. A senior instructor mentioned that he himself will not use Aikido for Self-Defense he then mentioned that Aikido is a martial art and not designed to be used or relied upon for self-defense, that Aikido is somewhat like an art comparable to ballet. (he actually used ballet as a comparison)

I am a martial artist and have studied various martial arts. I would like to think that I am an Aikidoka first before anything else. I train in the hope of keeping myself ready for self-defense. so after this remark I find myself questioning my motives for training Aikido again.

I would just like to hear what you guys think. Perhaps there was an underlying message that I was not able to grasp.

One-Aiki,

Iking

Hmmm. "Martial Art" is a dangerous term. Is the art of war an art in the same sence as ballet? Clearly not. If the art of war was impractical would we stick it under the heading "martial philosophy?" No. Why? Because we all know that martial implies a function, this art is for something, it has practical value.

I think the problem is that there isn't really such thing as Aikido. There are people who are concerned with developing fighting skills, training their body to generate power without reliance on muscle power and their minds to proactively deal with conflict who call their discipline "Aikido." Their skill is measured in functionality.

There are also people who don't care about fighting skills or developing power and teach themselves to deal with conflict by avoiding it who also call their discipline "Aikido." Their skill is measured in aesthetic appeal.

I think the latter group struggle with why they need a physical activity, especially since they don't take it seriously in so far as producing something functional goes and so basically make excuses up. A good excuse is "It's an art, it's not meant to be functional."

So you need to figure out what the people you're training with are doing and that'll tell you if you're doing a martial art or just doing art.
Are these people making the right noises about body power and posture? Or are they talking about ukemi? Can anyone do shomen uchi ikkyo on the spot using just their body power (not strength) or can they only do techniques with massive huge flowing movements?
Is uke's back curved or straight when they go down? Is uke trying to fall over in the manner he's been trained to or is he trying to stand back up?

seank
06-30-2008, 09:43 PM
The more I train Aikido the more I am reminded of one of O'sensei's sayings "Ultimately, you must forget about technique. The further you progress, the fewer teachings there are. The Great Path is really No Path." (or words to that effect)

The idea that we train "techniques" seems fallacious at worst and slightly mis-guided at best.

Watch a high level demonstration with no "Aikido" attacks and look at the effect. The singular technique that we practice time and time again is not regurgitated wholesale, but the parts of the technique, the shapes and form, are employed.

It is my fervent belief that day to day we practice kihon-waza to ingrain the fundamentals of Aikido, with the ultimate aim being to spontaneously create something using those principles - in a way that is appropriate to the time and the situation.

Do people criticise Karate styles for spending half a class practicing kihon such as punching, kicking, blocking, etc. or do they see the effect of an overall technique when sparring or fighting?

I think its a narrow view to say that Aikido is like ballet and that the techniques would not work or should not be used for self-defence.

As a few people have already posted that their intent shapes their Aikido and you develop your Aikido to be what you want to be. I want to create my own technique based on no technique and be adaptable to the needs of the situation without being bogged down in the technicalities of what to do given a set situation or whether Aikido "works" or not.

I definitely stand with you on being an Aikidoka first, even though I have practiced other martial arts. I'm not convinced that you heard the wrong message or missed anything. ;)

mathewjgano
06-30-2008, 11:42 PM
Hi Guys,

In a recent session. A senior instructor mentioned that he himself will not use Aikido for Self-Defense he then mentioned that Aikido is a martial art and not designed to be used or relied upon for self-defense, that Aikido is somewhat like an art comparable to ballet. (he actually used ballet as a comparison)

That he said it's a martial art and not for self defense is interesting. I'm curious what the distinction is. I've heard some folks say Aikido is not a martial art, in that martial arts are arts of war and Ueshiba Aikido is an art of peace. Most (pretty much all actually) martial traditions I know of tend to favor peace, but perhaps it's not as heavily emphasized?
At any rate, it's also my understanding that Aikido should be applicable to self defense. In fact, it's my beginner's perception that Aikido is supposed to epitomize the highest levels of self-defense in which a person can operate with efficiency and powerful subtlety. Of course I'm describing Aikido as I presume it's supposed to be, not necessarily how it's practiced.

Aikibu
07-01-2008, 12:18 AM
Never Mind..... Ooops I meant no mind

When I figure that one out I'll let yah all know. :D

William Hazen

Enrique Antonio Reyes
07-01-2008, 03:03 AM
Thank you for all the comments. I will be back in the gym this evening to practice my Aikido.

I guess there really is no special message behind the words of my instructor. Thanks again.

One-Aiki,

Iking

Gonšalo Alves
07-01-2008, 03:24 AM
Some aikido IS about dancing IMO, that is because that is what the people doing dancing aikido want to do.[/QUOTE]

IF there is some aikido about dancing, it should not be called Aikido!! :confused:

rob_liberti
07-01-2008, 06:29 AM
Is uke's back curved or straight when they go down? Is uke trying to fall over in the manner he's been trained to or is he trying to stand back up?

I'm not 100% with you on this one (and I tend to be more in agreement than in disagreement with your words).

I agree that uke shouldn't be trying to fall over. But I do appreciate the training methodology of level appropriate progressive resistance. (Shutting someone with nothing completely down isn't super helpful.)

I'm sure we also agree that it is best to to always be uke (that is to receive the partner). However, where we differ is that when I'm attacking and I get overwhelmed by a superiorly structured/intentioned nage such that I cannot receive enough of them without my structure blowing apart I just try to fall in the safest way I can - be it straight spine or curved.

Lastly, if I'm thrown to the ground, I might not look to stand back up - I might look to defend getting mounted from that position/angle - even if nage has no idea how to do it.

Rob

Haowen Chan
07-01-2008, 08:50 AM
That he said it's a martial art and not for self defense is interesting. I'm curious what the distinction is.

Kendo is a martial art that is not for self defense.

Ketsan
07-01-2008, 08:55 AM
I'm not 100% with you on this one (and I tend to be more in agreement than in disagreement with your words).

I agree that uke shouldn't be trying to fall over. But I do appreciate the training methodology of level appropriate progressive resistance. (Shutting someone with nothing completely down isn't super helpful.)

I'm sure we also agree that it is best to to always be uke (that is to receive the partner). However, where we differ is that when I'm attacking and I get overwhelmed by a superiorly structured/intentioned nage such that I cannot receive enough of them without my structure blowing apart I just try to fall in the safest way I can - be it straight spine or curved.

Lastly, if I'm thrown to the ground, I might not look to stand back up - I might look to defend getting mounted from that position/angle - even if nage has no idea how to do it.

Rob

I should have qualified it with "Look at how the senior students train" my bad. I think we agree on all points.

lbb
07-01-2008, 09:40 AM
That he said it's a martial art and not for self defense is interesting.

When I studied jodo, it was quite clearly not for self-defense. When people came by the dojo and expressed an interest, Sensei always explained to them that as they were very unlikely to be attacked by someone wielding a sword, there were no modern self-defense applications of what we were learning. Then he made them sit and watch an entire three-hour class :D Sure did weed out those with only a casual interest.

Timothy WK
07-01-2008, 09:40 AM
I'd dispute that, I'd say kendo is a sport.
Now you're just arguing about labels, which isn't going to go anywhere. Besides, certain branches of aikido engage in (IMO) martially unsound tactics, at least for training purposes. Does that mean they are no longer practicing a "martial art"? Where do you draw the line? And if it's acceptable to practice martially unsound tactics for various training purposes, what purpose does such a distinction serve?

Keith Larman
07-01-2008, 10:58 AM
When I studied jodo, it was quite clearly not for self-defense. When people came by the dojo and expressed an interest, Sensei always explained to them that as they were very unlikely to be attacked by someone wielding a sword, there were no modern self-defense applications of what we were learning. Then he made them sit and watch an entire three-hour class :D Sure did weed out those with only a casual interest.

Interestingly enough I remember a high ranking sensei saying something similar about all martial arts when I first started. His point was that the study of martial arts is for the most part a lifetime study. And the reality is that most in the modern world will never get engaged into a full-on drag out physical fight. So given the years and years of practice you're going to invest you should probably realize that there needs to me more reasons for study than just self-defense... Otherwise if you never get into a fight you may have wasted a major portion of your life... ;)

Or as he said that day, if you're really interested in protecting yourself buy a good gun and learn how to use it at a safe distance. Much faster.

Of course there was a deeper meaning there (I agreed completely, have not been in a full-on fight since I started, but I still practice), but I always remember than comment when talking with someone with the overwhelming laser like focus on "effectiveness in a fight".

Everyone trains for their own reasons. But my focus is usually on something else one of my sensei said early on -- it doesn't matter how aiki it is if it doesn't work. For me a larger context (of many) *is* learning to defend myself. I get a lot more than that out of my practice, of course, but at the end of the day I still want it to "work".

But I've certainly met and trained with people who either don't care if it works or are deluded into thinking the things they do in fact would work. Shrug. Not my problem. I'm sure they're getting what they need out of it. It just isn't what I need...

So with respect to the original point of a sensei saying aikido isn't for self-defense... Whatever floats your boat. I find it interesting that people get so wound up about why or how *other* people train or what they think. I just worry about what I do and why... That takes more mental energy than I want to expend just figuring that out...

Listen, smile, shrug, then practice.

Ketsan
07-01-2008, 02:03 PM
[QUOTE=Dan Harden;210079]

As for sport having no value in a martial context, I will personally lay money down on Greco Roman wrestlers of my choosing up against any shihan you care to have step forward.
QUOTE]

I don't know much about shihan, I've only trained with one. But I can think of several less illustrious Aikidoka that I'd put money on. Of course, saying this I'm working on the assumption that wrestlers operate pretty much as judoka do.

A couple of years back a certain pair of enterprising Aikidoka decided to try their hand at Judo. The results were mixed. The judoka found it very hard to throw the Aikidoka or even to break their posture. The Aikidoka also found it hard to throw their opponents, until purely on reflex one of the Aikidoka did what he was trained to do and punched his opponent in the face, after that the throw was effortless. :D
Fortunately the Judoka were understanding, appologies were made and it didn't happen again.

Kevin Leavitt
07-01-2008, 06:33 PM
Dan Harden wrote:

we don kendo armor and go at it with Shinai, using Koryu trained methods. Were more people in Koryu to do so (and yes some do) they would learn certain inexorable truths.


Absolutely! It is why you have the same experiences with Greco-Roman guys too. They train with a certain amount of rigor and intent (Aliveness).

Keeping in mind the training affects, as you mention make these very good models to learn from.

It is why I always try and get with a Greco Roman guy when I can. It is why I am studying Judo now as well.

If you understand the context of their strategy and how the rules affect what you do, there are very good lessons to learn and habits to build.

Aikido is no different, IMO. You have to understand what it is that you are learning and how it applies to what you are doing.

All kinestetic practices or methodolgies work this way.

Unfortunately, many don't realize this and they project or extrapolate their own ideas, desires, and hopes into the process and it mucks to all up.

Again, if what you are doing is about fighitng and breaking things down on a tactical level, training amazingly all starts to look the same and less stylistically about style. It is why Kit can be on the other side of the country and study Arrestling with the police, and I can study Army Combatives, and we can be on the exact same wave length, albeit maybe some differences based on perspective due to rules of engagement.

It is also why I can walk into a BJJ dojo in Romania, never have trained with the guys and we can immediately establish rapport and common training.

Same with Judo.

I cannot say the same thing with aikido necesarily. It is many times harder to go to different schools and different styles and work with them. Sometimes we have a different perspective or do things pretty drastically different. Why is this?

Aikibu
07-01-2008, 07:35 PM
I cannot say the same thing with aikido necessarily. It is many times harder to go to different schools and different styles and work with them. Sometimes we have a different perspective or do things pretty drastically different. Why is this?

Very True but then you have guys like Stan Pranin whose Aikido Expos showed how much the different flavors of Aikido had in common and celebrated this diversity by treating everyone with respect when it came to demonstration and practice.

At his last Expo in 95 I met several folks that post here... including Ellis Amdur, Toby Threadgill, and George Ledyard.

I sure wish we could do a few more of those... Just imagine getting everyone together to demonstrate what they know... teach/share it and break bread in the spirit of Aikido.

William Hazen

Aikibu
07-01-2008, 07:58 PM
Sorry I meant the Aikido Expo in 2005

William Hazen

mathewjgano
07-01-2008, 08:03 PM
Kendo is a martial art that is not for self defense.

Good point. While I tend to think of Kendo as sport, I suppose "Martial Art" refers more to the tradition from which it came than how it is applied today. Still, I think the unifying theme among all martial arts is centered around self-protection, even if the particular means are highly situation specific. By definition, all martial arts are born from the various issues which result from conflict and its various forms, aren't they...even if semantically we use the phrase loosely?

Kevin Leavitt
07-01-2008, 08:07 PM
William, I understand from that perspective, most definitley.

Certainly we can find commonality in just about every case and it is always good to celebrate and share our different perspectives. I think that is indeed a big part of what Aikido is and should be about.

My comments are addressed more specifically to the whole "martial" thing.

It really begs the question asked in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance..."how do you define quality?"

I think this is the essence of the issue when dealing with budo that has been adapted from martial systems.

Systems that focus on core fighitng understand what the definition of "quality" from a martial perspective. They have the exact same definition, even if they have never seen or talked to each other.

It is when we start applying rules, ethics, religion, and philosophy to it that the definition of quality starts to change.

mathewjgano
07-01-2008, 08:40 PM
Re: Kendo Until you look at it from a stick fighting point of view. Then it becomes much more relevant.

I almost said this word for word, but insecurity got the best of me I guess. I'm glad you said it though because I think it illustrates an important aspect of self defense most people (perhaps?) miss. Self defense as I see it is a matter of whatever you have on hand (ie- your mind; your body; your environment) and how creatively you can make it work to your advantage/goals. I'm always a little flummoxed at some of the stuff i hear people say is and isn't for "self defense." If all I have is a spork (you know, those little plastic fork-spoons...er...spoon-forks), I'm going to try and find a way to make it help me.
Now that I've got that out of the way...
Anyone want to take up Matt-ryu Spork Fu? evileyes :D You'll never have to give up your dessert in a cafeteria again!

Kevin Leavitt
07-01-2008, 10:49 PM
Matt, good points.

There is another element to having stuff on hand. You have to practice using it.

We have done a ton of reviews in the army of hand to hand engagements where people had knives on them but failed to use them because the either forgot or did not have the skill to use them. Same goes with sticks and whatever else. Under pressure you tend to gravitate to the habits you form and the level of your training.

Ketsan
07-02-2008, 06:08 AM
Now you're just arguing about labels, which isn't going to go anywhere. Besides, certain branches of aikido engage in (IMO) martially unsound tactics, at least for training purposes. Does that mean they are no longer practicing a "martial art"? Where do you draw the line? And if it's acceptable to practice martially unsound tactics for various training purposes, what purpose does such a distinction serve?

Off the top of my head I came up with this........

If there is training value to the unsound tactics intended to produce some martial benefit and they're clear about this (i.e. they know what they're doing and why and explain it to their students) then they are practicing a martial art.

If they're unaware that they're teaching rubbish but their intentions are right I'd say they're teaching a martial art, providing they're working against a reasonable range of self defence senarios.
So if they're practing unsound tactics originally intended to produce some kind of benefit but aren't aware of the nature of what they're teaching then they're in a grey area and it would depend on how usefull the training was as a whole wheather you defined it as a martial art or not.

If they know full well that what they teach is nonsence, from a self defence point of view, or don't care then they're not practicing a martial art.

Now then about the tactics themselves. We in our dojo regard ourselves as very martial BUT we do some seemingly daft things. However, we also say or rather Sensei will say "This is exercise to develop................" and it is IMO important to make the distinction for two reasons:

1. So that students don't accidently do anything stupid through ignorance in a real situation.

2. To make sure that the knowledge of the dojo is preserved and passed on in a complete way.

Enrique Antonio Reyes
07-02-2008, 06:16 AM
As for sport having no value in a martial context, I will personally lay money down on Greco Roman wrestlers of my choosing up against any shihan you care to have step forward.
.

I agree that betting on the Greco Roman Wrestlers would yield the best return. However, I believe that these wrestlers have long established their martial art effectiveness. Wrestlers dominated the early stages of mixed martial arts after bjj and still we find a lot of them making huge waves in that sport.

Enrique Antonio Reyes
07-02-2008, 06:21 AM
So with respect to the original point of a sensei saying aikido isn't for self-defense... Whatever floats your boat. I find it interesting that people get so wound up about why or how *other* people train or what they think. I just worry about what I do and why... That takes more mental energy than I want to expend just figuring that out...

Listen, smile, shrug, then practice.

Good point. Even better suggestion.

Timothy WK
07-02-2008, 09:22 AM
The ultimate answer is that some people will view their Aikido as martial, and will (hopefully) train accordingly. Others won't, and will focus on different aspects in their training. It's a personal thing, pure and simple.

That said, here are some points to consider:

1. Look at Toby Threadgill's articles on psycho-chemical stress, or PCS (here (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=559) & here (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=593)). Also look at Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's books "On Combat (http://www.amazon.com/Combat-Psychology-Physiology-Deadly-Conflict/dp/0964920522/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215005831&sr=1-2)" and "On Killing (http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316330116/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215005831&sr=1-1)". As we look at the psychological and physiological effects of violent encounters on the individual, can we actually say most dojo's are preparing the student to fight? Toby seems to argue that psychological & physiological readiness is just as important, if not more important, than tactical readiness. How does that fact, if true, effect the debate?

2. My own argument is that the specific topic of "self-defense" is distinct from the larger topic of "combat". My own belief is that "self-defense" involves a lot of "non-combat" issues, like conflict resolution and crime prevention. If you accept this argument, then it's perfectly reasonable that certain martial/combat arts (like iaido/kenjutsu, jodo, etc) don't actually teach self-defense... Though I can't say that the teacher of the original poster had this distinction in mind.

3. I will also point people towards the article "Off the Warpath", by respected scholar and martial artist Karl Friday (here's an excerpt and some discussion (http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37874) of it). In it, Karl argues that preparing individuals for the practicalities of combat was never the primary goal of martial ryu-ha. (Somewhere in there it was pointed out that there existed a parallel "school system" for teaching the common soldier combat practical techniques---but I can't find what it was called right now...) Rather, Karl argues that the (ko)ryu-ha were always meant as a vehicle for self-improvement and enlightenment. So while that's a somewhat separate issue from whether or not Aikido is "meant for self-defense", this fact must be kept in mind as we try to define what is or isn't a "martial art".

DonMagee
07-02-2008, 09:39 AM
The ultimate answer is that some people will view their Aikido as martial, and will (hopefully) train accordingly. Others won't, and will focus on different aspects in their training. It's a personal thing, pure and simple.

That said, here are some points to consider:

1. Look at Toby Threadgill's articles on psycho-chemical stress, or PCS (here (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=559) & here (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=593)). Also look at Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's books "On Combat (http://www.amazon.com/Combat-Psychology-Physiology-Deadly-Conflict/dp/0964920522/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215005831&sr=1-2)" and "On Killing (http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316330116/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215005831&sr=1-1)". As we look at the psychological and physiological effects of violent encounters on the individual, can we actually say most dojo's are preparing the student to fight? Toby seems to argue that psychological & physiological readiness is just as important, if not more important, than tactical readiness. How does that fact, if true, effect the debate?
Well as a personal side note. I was mentally never prepared to fight by any of my training previous to starting a combat sport. I 'thought' I was ready, but my first taste quickly showed me how mentally unprepared I was for the realities of fighting. I think contact sports in general and most defiantly combat sports help build the mental skills needed to be prepared for a fight of any kind. To further that, the confidence built by combat sports (although sometimes backfires) usually gives you the presence required to stave off most 'attackers'. Most people who want to fight or rob you are usually looking for weak victims. That confidence and awareness will go a long way to stopping them.

2. My own argument is that the specific topic of "self-defense" is distinct from the larger topic of "combat". My own belief is that "self-defense" involves a lot of "non-combat" issues, like conflict resolution and crime prevention. If you accept this argument, then it's perfectly reasonable that certain martial/combat arts (like iaido/kenjutsu, jodo, etc) don't actually teach self-defense... Though I can't say that the teacher of the original poster had this distinction in mind.

I would submit that most of this is just self confidence, awareness and common sense. These skills (except common sense, you can't teach that) are gained in any sport, marital or not. I do not need martial arts to know when I'm a bad area, I need common sense.

3. I will also point people towards the article "Off the Warpath", by respected scholar and martial artist Karl Friday (and some discussion of it over at E-Budo (http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37874)). In it, Karl argues that preparing individuals for the practicalities of combat was never the primary goal of martial ryu-ha... Somewhere in there it was pointed out that there existed a parallel "school system" for teaching the common soldier combat practical techniques---but I can't find what it was called right now... Rather, Karl argues that the (ko)ryu-ha were always meant as a vehicle for self-improvement. So while that's a somewhat seaerate issue from whether or not Aikido is "meant for self-defense", this fact must be kept in mind as we try to define what is or isn't a "martial art".

I think you can break it even further. You have teaching for combat, teaching for fighting, and teaching for self/mutual development. For example, very few martial arts actually address combat. Sure they teach a knife defense, or weapon disarms, but this is not combat. If they taught a phalanx, or squad based tactics, maybe even hwo to break a line of spearmen, that would be combat. Instead they are teaching fighting, be it one on one, or one on multiple, weapons or not. Some arts do not claim to teach either. Judo's main purpose is stated as developing mutual benefit and welfare. It is a system of teaching people how to learn. It just happens to impart some very useful fighting skills.

mathewjgano
07-02-2008, 12:14 PM
Matt, good points.

There is another element to having stuff on hand. You have to practice using it.

We have done a ton of reviews in the army of hand to hand engagements where people had knives on them but failed to use them because the either forgot or did not have the skill to use them. Same goes with sticks and whatever else. Under pressure you tend to gravitate to the habits you form and the level of your training.

Well said. I think the best approach is generally to get your hands on a wide variety of things and play around with them, whether it's on the mat or playing a sport, or whatever. My own personal aims are to pick things that seem to translate well or to at least try and see how I can translate a skill set into new contexts. Because we can't foresee everything that's coming down the pike I think this idea of translatability is paramount to self defense.
I bet those can be fascinating reviews to make. Do you know if there are any public versions available?

Fred Little
07-02-2008, 01:50 PM
I really have no comment on the various arguments of technical efficacy that various posters have made, beyond saying that I think technical efficacy is a good thing.

What I can say--clearly, unequivocally,and with no concern regarding contradiction-- is that Terry Dobson was insistent that aikido is not an art for self defense. It is not intended as a "goshinjutsu." Terry was insistent that aikido is an art of protection, and that precise point was forcefully and repeatedly made in the last classes that he gave at Bond Street Dojo.

When teachers know that their time is short, they generally cut to the pith; if the particular pith laid out above is a problem for you, then I would suggest that there are a couple of possiblities:

1) maybe all you're interested in is goshinjutsu, in which case you're in the wrong place.

2) maybe your interest in goshinjutsu is merely a minor aspect of a larger concern, in which case you're in exactly the right place, but you need to engage with your larger concern as much as you're engaging with its minor aspect.

Best,

FL

DonMagee
07-02-2008, 01:50 PM
I'm a lot better teacher then I am a fighter. I see it in the guys that I teach. I know I'll never be a great fighter, I am just not built for it. I can however learn what it takes to be a great fighter and do my best to be as close to that as possible. Then hopefully show others how to be a great fighter.

I think it is because I am willing to try new things and adapt to the situation I am presented. I do not feel tied into the method if you will. I just do what I feel will help each person learn and develop skill the fastest.

mathewjgano
07-02-2008, 03:48 PM
2) maybe your interest in goshinjutsu is merely a minor aspect of a larger concern, in which case you're in exactly the right place, but you need to engage with your larger concern as much as you're engaging with its minor aspect.
FL

Thanks, Fred. This put the topic in a nice perspective for me. I think i tend to assume people mean no self defense when they describe Aikido as not being for self defense.
What little I've read of Dobson's comments on Aikido have always struck a chord in me.

Kevin Leavitt
07-02-2008, 05:17 PM
Timothy,

Good stuff in your post. I agree with your comments in post #47.

Don, as usual, I too agree with your comments.

Dan O'Day
07-06-2008, 05:27 PM
I love this topic because it is pretty much omnipresent in all discussions and addresses the paradoxical nature of the popular understanding of Aikido; as well as many other endeavors, martial or not.

I also love it because there is no answer. Not really. The term "ineffable" I believe was developed for things of this nature.

But that of course ought not to disuade folks from discussion because it is the discussion which joins solitary inquiries together to form community in the quest of...mystery?

Anyway, I think it's a good thing.

I've only trained in the aikido world for five years. Just long enough now to kind of start getting it on a personal level but more than long enough to observe the many who have come before me. This of course has greatly enhanced my understanding of aikido gained from personal training.

For instance a few years back I was at a seminar with Anno sensei. I saw him respond to a bokken strike of great speed with a minimum of five atemis with a jo during the time it took for the attacker's bokken to swing down in its shomen strike.

I was blown away. I couldn't understand how Anno sensei could do all that in such a short period of time. Even more amazing was the fact that I could see it happen. It kind of freaked me out. Maybe I felt a little like Carlos Casteneda felt when he described seeing Don Genaro or Don Juan fly for the first time.

Now, maybe three years later and thousands more shomen strikes experienced in my training I am beginning to understand not what Anno sensei did but rather something which pertains solely to my own perception.

Time is slow. There is alot of time between time. On occasion, maybe when I'm real conciously connected to Ki - I don't know - I can see that shomen strike coming at me and I realize, wow there is a lot of space in here for me to hang out and do my thing. I can practically read a novel before I need to get out of the way of that strike.

When I feel like I want to analyze this - which is often - I sometimes think I might realize what OSensei meant by an attacker losing the moment the attack begins for if we are all one than one cannot fight oneself. And its physical application is simply that the attacker, with their strike, opens up an incredible window of time for nage to respond.

Now I could go off on a big time tangent here but I won't. I stop now to say simply yes, I believe aikido to be very martial.

I've been fortunate in my training to have seen and trained with many fabulous aikidoists. Some of these folks are literally unattackable. They're like slippery eels being chased by molasses dipped turtles. Ok...that's kind of a weird image.

Moving on...unattackable. Yes, of course one may attack but they cannot be successful. They just can't. There are too many gaping holes in their concept of time.

So yeah...to me that's about as martial as it gets. Well....not really. Then there is the ability to transmit this information to the attacker before they attack which of course negates the very idea of an attack. I've seen that too. Yep. That's about as martial as I've yet seen.

The whole idea of martial arts in the three dimensional physical sense I believe is somewhat false and very limiting. The universe is big. Much bigger than a shomen strike and maybe, just maybe it's even bigger than a kokyu response. Though if it's not, I'm ok with that because the kokyu will keep me busy for as long as I live.

jennifer paige smith
07-06-2008, 07:03 PM
If all I have is a spork (you know, those little plastic fork-spoons...er...spoon-forks), I'm going to try and find a way to make it help me.
Now that I've got that out of the way...
Anyone want to take up Matt-ryu Spork Fu? evileyes :D You'll never have to give up your dessert in a cafeteria again!

Even if someone say's "Fork You"!:D
........step away from the keyboard and no one gets hurt.

Gernot Hassenpflug
07-06-2008, 09:39 PM
I think .... therefore I am deluded. Wait a minute, that's not what I meant to say!?! No, instead, arts that limit themselves more are clearly going to retain more group focus than those that express philosophies that are more general and can be interpreted wildly^W widely.

A "do" is clearly more general than a "jutsu" in a social sense; and one such as Aikido has been expanded in application by virtue of its possible philosophical interpretations by anyone far more than, say, Kendo. I would say though that in Japan all of the "do" which I have seen emphasize to a fairly equal degree the amount of social education, whether it be tea ceremony, Aikido or some other "do" which is found and practiced much like a club activity.

The application of the practice is geared specifically towards society. By isolating the dojo practice from real-world (martial) situations and stylizing it in some way (no matter what the practical rationale may have been), suitable (in the eyes of the seniors) behaviour can be inculcated, and the success of behaving in the expected manner translates into respect, rank, and status in the club or "do", which is then transferred out of the dojo boundaries into the society at large (I hesitate to say "real world" since it is the national or even more local society that is meant here).

An illustration of this might be (poor in my eyes but it happens a lot) that people you meet in sushi restaurants, bars and the like can introduce themselves as being (as happened again just last night) kendo teachers and then carry on about the beauty of the nihon-to, meander on through various aspects of Japanese culture, and generally portray themselves as upstanding members of society. Just as they might state that they are university professors, or some other public or semi-public servant. The implication is that they are involved in some task for the social good.

boyana
07-06-2008, 10:08 PM
I live most of the time i n Port Morseby-PNG.
I am alive and well.What do you think ?
My answer is both!

Aikibu
07-07-2008, 12:51 AM
I live most of the time i n Port Morseby-PNG.
I am alive and well.What do you think ?
My answer is both!

Great Answer and the only correct one! :)

William Hazen