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Reflection
05-20-2010, 02:32 PM
Before I left Aikido, I studied the art for more than 10 years. I was really hooked on it, practicing 5 days a week, 2 classes a day for months at a stretch. Suffice to say, it was a healthy addiction. I got to Shodan (under the Aikikai) and I didn’t see the point of working toward a higher rank. I was practicing the same material as my seniors and I could spend the rest of my aikido life working on my skills at my present rank. I consumed anything and everything aikido: books, videos, seminars, etc.

A few years ago I stopped doing aikido completely, and I hope my reasons bring to light some problems I see about the art and start some serious discussions.

I saw aikido as a martial art and I practiced it as such. I worked toward practical application while keeping to traditional methods of training, and making sure my uke was safe at all times. I wasn’t a dojo bully but I always training vigorously. But as the years went by after I became a shodan, I realize that aikido in its present form was not a martial art anymore. More precisely, it wasn’t as “martial’ as it used to be.

Yes, O Sensei studied it as a true combat system, but to be honest it is now rather impotent as a martial art. Somewhere along the way Aikido lost its martial “edge”. I’m sure some Aikido styles and schools are still practicing aikido with an eye toward martial application, but as a whole aikido is no longer the fearsome system that people think it is.

No, I’m not comparing aikido to MMA, BJJ or anything else that’s been discussed here so many times. It’s simply an assertion that aikido is no longer realistically practiced or relevant as a martial art nowadays.

My sensei stressed atemi and training for self-defense (but he was also a “traditionalist” in a sense that he made us consider aikido as a budo first), but I realized that aikido in itself requires far too much time developing practical self-defense skills among its students. Yes an Aikikai Shihan can most definitely defend himself, but does a student need to do aikido professional all their lives before he or she can gain any self-defense benefit from aikido?

I’m familiar with the quote “your Aikido may not work, my Aikido works just fine”. Well that’s just my point: does an aikido student need to spend decades of training, probably to the point of teaching it professionally, before the art can work for the average student as a self-defense system? If so, then it’s not that efficient as a martial art. So if people looking for self-defense skills are told to try krav maga or muay thai to learn them, why is aikido still claiming to be a martial art?

I’m not comparing aikido to those other systems. All I’m saying is, in a vast worldwide market offering the development of fighting skill through myriad martial arts, what does aikido have to offer?
Look at the discussion on the forums here. How many are about doubting aikido as an effective martial art. Some of those asking the perennial question may not be aikido students, but I did aikido for more than a decade and I too began to question its effectiveness.

The notion that aikido is still a martial art fostered and still fosters a false sense of martial skill among its students. The knife defenses are impractical and ineffective against realistic attacks. Most of the attacks being practiced, the grabs and strikes, are unrealistic in a modern context. Yes, they are meant to prevent a samurai from drawing his weapon, but how relevant is it to practice application based on such scenarios nowadays? I will admit that I had that false sense of security too but as I reflected on the art and what it offered I began to question its practicality. It didn’t help that a lot of aikidoka I knew from back then (and even some I’ve met recently) have this dangerous smug attitude toward their perceived martial skill that may get them into trouble someday.

Let’s face it, aikido is practiced through cooperation. Nage does the technique, Uke protects himself from harm. But how much of Uke’s work is actually allowing the technique to work? As aikido practitioners, I’m sure you know what I mean. In regular practice, the attack is known in advance, the technique to be done is know as well, and everything is essentially choreographed. Even randori is in a sense a game of cooperation. I’ve seen people drop to the floor like dead corpses as soon as I touched them in randori.

Ok, so aikido may not be a martial art in the same vein as other systems. Not all martial arts are meant for the UFC. Aikido is more of a spiritual path of enlightenment or self-development, right? I can accept that; aikido has always been described as a form of budo. But one of the reasons I left aikido was to get away from the overwhelming narcissism I saw among the highest ranking local aikido instructors.

I was disappointed to discover that a lot of people changed as they moved up the local aikido hierarchy. Those at the very top, who are suppose to present themselves are the best examples of aikido as budo, are in fact the most vain and egotistical “martial artists” I’ve ever met. Bickering amongst themselves over petty slights and issues, constantly competing for rank and recognition, they live in total delusion of their martial ability. A lot of them run little dictatorships, filled with students eager to stroke their egos upon demand.

So if the highest ranking aikidoka I personally know are like this, what does that say about aikido as a budo? Decades of practice doesn’t make them better people, and instead nurtures their egos and self-importance?

So I ask, if aikido is no longer as martially relevant or effective as it used to be, and its method of promotion and advancement works instead to boost the ego rather than minimizing it, what then is it good for?

Despite what I just wrote, I still have a fondness for aikido. My closest and best friends are still my aikido buddies from way back. The camaraderie developed from shared effort and pain in learning the art is very strong. The last time I watched an aikido class, I can see the eagerness of the students to learn and maintain their dojo. You don’t spend a decade doing something without taking some good virtues and value from it.

If practiced as a martial art, aikido can be effective. But as I see it, in its current form it’s failing as a martial art and as a martial way.

I know that this is an extremely long rant and I apologize for the lack of brevity and clarity. I just wanted to get this off of my chest.

Mikemac
05-20-2010, 04:41 PM
Short answer? I practice to keep from going insane.

I didn't get involved in Aikido to become a tough guy, nor do I want to appear in any martial arts movies. Instead, I find it is more closely associated to my belief system regarding conflict and confrontation. Would I act any differently in a situation because I have studied Aikido? I certainly hope not.

I may be on the losing team of peacefulness, but neither do I see an answer in aggression. It's just a choice.

Charles Hill
05-20-2010, 05:46 PM
Reflection,

Reading your post, it sounds like you equate the terms "combat system", "martial art", "self defense system", and "budo". Is that a fair assessment?

odudog
05-20-2010, 05:53 PM
Aikido is a martial art or budo. It all depends on how you practice it. I failed a test in 5 seconds because the Sensei thought that there was no ki. He then promptly said to all of us who he had just failed, "Aikido is budo, if you want to socialize or have fun then join aerobics or something like that" then stomped off. Obviously I remember this and practice it in this light. As a shodan you haven't even scratched the surface and some places try to get rid of the chafe so that they truly only teach the dedicated students the real stuff. There will always be squabbles. People are people.

ChrisHein
05-20-2010, 06:55 PM
Reflection,
You sound just like me about 7 years ago. Send me a PM and I'll give you some valid information on training Aikido. Information that I believe might revitalize your training.

Kevin Leavitt
05-20-2010, 09:41 PM
As Chris, I had similar experiences and branched out into other practices. What my other experiences showed me was that the principles of aikido are sound and if trained properly, it is very useful to building your over all martial base. What aikido represents for me today is not what it was 10 years ago.

lbb
05-20-2010, 09:51 PM
It's very common for people to start in the study of aikido (or medicine, or law, or music, or anything else you might name), and, once they're into it, find that it isn't like the preconception that they had before they started their study. At this point, they have several choices.

1. They can discard their preconceptions, open their mind, and see if there is something of worth. If they find it, they can stay and study; if they don't find it, they can accept that the cause of their disappointment is their own preconceptions and expectations, and not the fault of reality for failing to live up to them, and move on, having learned a valuable lesson.

2. They can declare that their subject of study is fraudulent because it isn't living up to their preconceptions, and demand that all practitioners join their movement to "reform" it.

3. They can decide that their current field of study is bogus, but that the Grand Ultimate Thing that will satisfy their expectations is out there somewhere, in another dojo or another organization or another religion or another field of study, and wander off in search of some other thing to be the Grand Ultimate Whatever They're Looking For.

If someone led you to believe that the study of aikido would make you the baddest mutha at your local watering hole, I'm sorry you were misled (and I say that because I don't know what other reasonable definition of "martial" there is, in the context of a modern society that's regulated by laws). However your expectations developed, your story sounds like that of a great many people I see who come into aikido or other martial arts: burning with enthusiasm at first, eager to eat drink and sleep aikido, the kind who say they're "training" as they ride the bus or pour their morning coffee or whatever. Honestly, this kind of sets you up for disappointment. It's great to have enthusiasm for something, but enthusiasms that burn this hot usually also burn themselves out in fairly short order. Why? I don't know, but I'd venture to guess that anyone who is that eager and that devoted to something on short acquaintance is probably telling themselves some stories about what they're doing that may be based more on wishful thinking than on fact...know what I mean?

If you want something that is "martially effective", first you need to define what that means. If you say that means the ability to defend yourself and your womenfolk and your walled against some imaginary Crack-Crazed Urban Street Scum(tm), I say you're wasting your time. The best defense against this mostly imaginary threat is simple commonsense in avoiding blatantly stupid situations, and not worrying about the equivalent of a meteor falling out of the sky.

By the way, I have nothing against training to deal with imaginary threats -- I do it all the time. It's called "weapons work" :crazy: I enjoy it a whole lot, but my understanding of it as "martially effective" requires a complete shift of context. I can't get hung up on what is likely to happen as I walk down Mass Ave on a warm summer night, because whatever it is, it's unlikely to be someone attacking me with a sword. If the meaningfulness of my weapons practice depended on modern-day applications, it would be a complete bust. Aikido isn't that extreme, but like any martial technique you will ever learn, it is also situational, and it's harder to pull off than a lot of other styles. If I ever were attacked, it's unlikely I'd use pure aikido to defend myself, but that isn't because the aikido techniques won't do the job: it's because the aikido techniques are designed for situations where the attacker doesn't give an easy opening. Someone who's skilled in aikido is unlikely to leave me the opening for an elbow strike to the temple; a rowdy drunk who wants to beat me up because I'm wearing the wrong baseball cap is going to leave me all kinds of openings (and, quite likely, is also going to leave me many opportunities to walk away from the situation without a blow being struck).

So -- pardon the long-windedness -- I think I'll decline to participate in any movement to "reform" aikido. My expectations are more modest than yours, and it lives up to them just fine. Having practiced in three other styles, I didn't come to aikido expecting it to be some pure mountaintop retreat far away from organizational politics: where there are people, there are quests for power, there are attempts to assert authority, there are efforts to create followings and fiefdoms. The only way to avoid them is to become a hermit. I didn't expect aikido to make me Undefeated In All Asia (hey rec-ma people, remember this?). I didn't expect it to teach me magical-seeming tricks or give me shortcuts to physical prowess. I expected it to involve a lot of sweat and a lot of frustration and much rarer moments of satisfaction and a few moments of pure bliss, and it has done that. And, honestly? I doubt you'll find a higher satisfaction-to-sweat ratio among anything worth doing.

RED
05-20-2010, 09:51 PM
. I got to Shodan (under the Aikikai) and I didn't see the point of working toward a higher rank. I was practicing the same material as my seniors and I could spend the rest of my aikido life working on my skills at my present rank. I consumed anything and everything aikido: books, videos, seminars, etc.


:/ In Aikikai Shodan only mean that you learned enough of the basics to finally start learning Aikido.

akiy
05-20-2010, 10:03 PM
Nice post, Mary. Thanks for writing and posting it.

-- Jun

Abasan
05-20-2010, 10:19 PM
"A boy recently survived an altercation with an armed robber who tried to steal his bike, a gift from his father for aceing his studies. As the boy struggled with the man, the robber whipped out his pistol and fired at the boy, who promptly deflected the forearm and avoided the shot. After firing the weapon and missing the robber panicked and ran, throwing his gun in a nearby river. The police caught him and froggers found the gun." taken from local newspaper maybe 2-3 days ago.

The boy had no martial arts training. But he had a the spirit of a Budoka.

The purpose of Aikido is to train the spirit. Its not the ONLY way, but its one way. If you want to fight, you don't need to learn Aikido... just fight.

Nafis Zahir
05-20-2010, 11:18 PM
I understand what the person who started this thread is saying and I see it almost everywhere I go. Aikido is laughed at and thought to be no more than something that is a hobby. Most people I come across do not train as if they are preparing to have to defend themselves one day. Seemingly gone are the days of serious attacks, atemi, agressive training and finishing pins. It has gotten so bad, that I have seen people doing Aikido without really taking the uke's balance and these are people who are above the shodan level. I'm not saying that they have to hit the mark everytime, but for the most part, they are not even trying.

I myself, study aikido for self defense. Thanks to modern technology, I am able to go online an view many videos of various styles, methods and instructors from all over. I am also able to view older videos of aikido to see exactly what is missing in how aikido is practiced today. Aikido is suppose to be a budo and that is something that should not be taken lightly.

Thankfully for me, I have an Instructor who has helped me take my aikido to a much higher level than it was before and helped me to put together many components which help to make my aikido closer to being a budo. I still have a ways to go, but a strong foundation is a good start.

Adam Huss
05-21-2010, 04:59 AM
I would hope that with ten years of experience some of your high level teachers would be breaking down their student's reasons for training in aikido. This is something very common during questioning portions of our testing...and really forces people to think about what they want to get out of their training. Beyond that, there are direct martial principles that I integrate into my training. Shinken Shobu...conducting my training as if it literally were a life or death sword duel, for example. I find that training at as high an intensity level as possible (mentally as much as physically) prepares me for these combative attributes you seem to be seeking out. In our basic techniques we have Otoku, or a great resolving, where zanshin is continued connecting both partners as they go through a series of physical motions to 'keep their mind right.' This is done, when seriously, to a point where training partners are pretty much sweating from concentration and focus alone.

I like doing this with all aspects of my training, but it seems weapons really bring this out in people. In a seminar at the beginning of the month we did some weapons pairing between knife and sword. The variable distance, presence of potential danger, and need for the knife wielder to take what would be extraordinary risk (in a real life situation) in order to have a chance at defeating the swordsman all cumulate to a mental and spiritual training needed for any combative situation. At the beginning of the morning session, people were timid and more or less going through the motions as they were unfamiliar with the particular movements. But once they started to become more familiar with them, they focused on the mental and spiritual aspects of the sword/knife exchanges. Before too long the intensity level of the dojo was so thick you could cut it with a knife (not necessarily fast, but incredibly focused). At the shodan level, we are just learning the basics of manipulating and controlling our own body...let alone someone else's. We have these basic ideas of techniques, but before too long it becomes time to have that above-mentioned familiarity with these technical aspects and focus on focus, intent, and the ferocious spiritual expression of this martial art. This kind of martial development are what make me feel prepared for dangerous situations....not how well I can throw or pin someone...but my mentality and ability to focus all of myself into what I am doing.

When going to mixed style seminars...my teacher (when he didn't need me for uke) would send me to be uke with non-aikido instructors (MMA fighter Dan Severen, Robin Gracie (Jr.?) for example). Obviously I wasn't going to attempt aikido techniques during a BJJ or MMA instructor's training session...I am going to perform what he is teaching. But it was noticeable I was willing to train at a dynamic level with whomever I was fortunate enough to have working with me at that moment.

Now I'm not trying to stroke my ego here....I'm quite junior myself as I've only been training in aikido around 10-11 years...so I too am just scratching the surface. But at the same time, I feel the most practical value I've received from my aikido training has nothing to do with what I can (or can't!) accomplish on the mat...or with my hands. For me it all has to do with spiritual growth, spiritual forging (there's a Japanese term for that...forgot it). In my humble opinion, personal strength and growth come from doing things that are difficult and with some element of risk. This is where the martial...the bu, in budo, come into play. Its a do, a way, of living through training. Whereas a jutsu is/was to a certain extent a means to an end (however a byproduct of any type of hard training can net these benefits...but it can also turn into egotism and narcism, which we are all familiar with. Anyway, a do should specifically focus on these concepts whereas jutsu doesn't necessarily have to, but often does).

I have never been in a fistfight in the mythical "street" that many speak of...at least not since high school (where I actually pulled off sudori and irimi tsuki...so I guess I didn't use fists that time)...but I have complete multiple combat deployments with the Marine Corps. I feel that my aikido training prepared me for that in ways that my military training did not...in the most useful ways to help me get through difficult situations (both combat and personal). My Marine training; small unit tactics, immediate action drills, CQB, weapons training, all helped with that physical or technical side I mentioned earlier...its the training that goes beyond the physical where perseverance through struggle is forged into the soul (this is what Shioda Sensei called Shugyo...more or less). Like the above-mentioned weapons pairing, or even toshu waza, the military training gave me the tools on the physical side...so I could ingrain and ignore those technical elements so that the fight could be directed with the mind and spirit.

I know this is sounding a little like fru fru fluffy uber spiritual intangible nonsense...and for that I apologize...I just wish you could feel the intense heat burning in my chest, just behind my eyes, and through every fiber of my being that is ignited just by speaking of such things. My (in)ability to articulate what I am feeling now, when in combat, and when on the mat does not do justice to the point/s I am trying to get across. Anyway, I guess my .02, in summation, is that ganseki otoshi or kaiten nage are not going to likely make you the terror of MMA circuits or a beast on the street. But these other levels of development that I have hopefully been speaking coherently about can be adapted to assist with satisfying those concerns. More practically, in my opinion, is that these concepts can be applied to every aspect of one's life. The goal of my journey in budo/aikido is to obtain a level of bliss, or happiness for no reason at all, and these are the training concepts that have been shown to me as the path to get there. With that, I will turn it over to someone much more qualified to speak of these things...my teacher, Kevin Blok Sensei. If anyone is interested he has a Pod Cast somewhere around this website if anyone is interested.

All the best, and I hope you find your Way, whatever that ends up being.

Osu!

Dazzler
05-21-2010, 06:13 AM
:/ In Aikikai Shodan only mean that you learned enough of the basics to finally start learning Aikido.

Agree Maggie - I was taught that nidan was a more significant level than shodan as the student was now showing aiki through their techniques.

To me its like shodan completes the apprenticeship and then the real work begins.

Cheers

D

Mark Uttech
05-21-2010, 07:59 AM
Onegaishimasu. Shodan is a beginning, a real first step into learning. A right beginning is doing something for ten years, in my opinion. After ten years, a right next step is another ten years. What has helped me continue as O Sensei taught: "train yourself relentlessly" in this third round of ten years, is just the thought, "when you think you understand something, look again..."

In gassho,

Mark

ruthmc
05-21-2010, 08:25 AM
IIRC, I read that O Sensei once stated before a demo that in order to show Aikido in its true martial spirit he would have to seriously injure his ukes.

If that's what you're looking for, it's there within Aikido, but I doubt you'd find many willing ukes, or be willing to be so injured yourself! (Not to mention the lawsuits afterwards...)

Instead the systems of Aikido that are practised in the modern age allow for the fact that most of us have to work to support ourselves and our families, therefore risking serious injury on some quest for martial supremacy is simply NOT an option :p

If you cannot see where the true martial side of Aikido is, then you haven't been looking in the right places or with clear vision. I can see it in every technique, but I choose not to apply it fully when on the tatami.

To me Aikido is about self-control and constructive outcomes to confrontation, not about breaking ukes.

Ruth

MM
05-21-2010, 09:41 AM
It's very common for people to start in the study of aikido (or medicine, or law, or music, or anything else you might name), and, once they're into it, find that it isn't like the preconception that they had before they started their study. At this point, they have several choices.

1. They can discard their preconceptions, open their mind, and see if there is something of worth. If they find it, they can stay and study; if they don't find it, they can accept that the cause of their disappointment is their own preconceptions and expectations, and not the fault of reality for failing to live up to them, and move on, having learned a valuable lesson.

2. They can declare that their subject of study is fraudulent because it isn't living up to their preconceptions, and demand that all practitioners join their movement to "reform" it.


What do we tell students who look to history and reality and see that Takeda created several good students, that Kodo created several good students, that Sagawa created at least one when he really started teaching, and that Morihei Ueshiba created several good pre-war students in 10 years or less?

Why do we cling to 40 years of training to be capable when history shows us that quite a few students did so in 10?

Why does history give us expectations such as Ueshiba, Shioda, Tomiki, Tohei, Shirata while reality is that modern aikido has failed to recreate historical reality?

Even going so far as to take into account all previous martial training of the aikido greats before they started studying with Ueshiba, why is it that someone with a background in judo, BJJ, or MMA can still *not* train long enough in modern aikido to surpass any of the aikido greats? Why are we lowering our preconceptions and expectations because no one in modern aikido has recreated historical reality?


If someone led you to believe that the study of aikido would make you the baddest mutha at your local watering hole, I'm sorry you were misled (and I say that because I don't know what other reasonable definition of "martial" there is, in the context of a modern society that's regulated by laws).


Why did many people "test" Takeda, Ueshiba, Shioda, etc? Did they get tested because they were the most enlightened beings? Or did they get tested because they were supposedly one of the "baddest mutha" around? How does history answer those questions? What does history tell us about all those "testing" encounters? Did people submit questions based upon spiritual principles or did people use physical, martial means? How did Ohba show his version of "testing" at Ueshiba's Manchurian demonstration?

Doesn't history show us that those "tests" that Ueshiba accepted were martial more than spiritual? And how did Ueshiba fare? Was it his spirituality that helped him through ... or his martial ability?

So in both essence and reality, who is being "misled" in modern aikido training?


However your expectations developed, your story sounds like that of a great many people I see who come into aikido or other martial arts: burning with enthusiasm at first, eager to eat drink and sleep aikido, the kind who say they're "training" as they ride the bus or pour their morning coffee or whatever. Honestly, this kind of sets you up for disappointment. It's great to have enthusiasm for something, but enthusiasms that burn this hot usually also burn themselves out in fairly short order. Why? I don't know, but I'd venture to guess that anyone who is that eager and that devoted to something on short acquaintance is probably telling themselves some stories about what they're doing that may be based more on wishful thinking than on fact...know what I mean?


Why? How about modern aikido training is misleading students? Let me revisit your first para and your first sentence of your point #1.

It's very common for people to start in the study of aikido (or medicine, or law, or music, or anything else you might name), and, once they're into it, find that it isn't like the preconception that they had before they started their study. At this point, they have several choices.
1. They can discard their preconceptions, open their mind, and see if there is something of worth.


You are right. Students must discard their preconceptions and open their mind. But, IMO, it's current students already training that should do this. Look to history and start questioning why there is such a significant and fundamental difference between then and now.

The same kind of people in BJJ, MMA, Judo, and karate right now in the modern world tested Ueshiba, Takeda, Shioda, etc back then in their world. What were Takeda, Ueshiba, Shioda, etc doing back then? Were they using their training to fight? Wouldn't it be interesting to find out that answer? What do you do if the answer is yes?

Isn't it time to "discard their preconceptions, open their mind, and see if there is something of worth"?

lbb
05-21-2010, 10:28 AM
You are right. Students must discard their preconceptions and open their mind. But, IMO, it's current students already training that should do this. Look to history and start questioning why there is such a significant and fundamental difference between then and now.

Did you read what I wrote about weapons training?

Then was then, and now it's now. If you want to live "then", you want to live in a fantasy world.

chillzATL
05-21-2010, 10:29 AM
Look, every martial art is designed to train the spriit. Aikido is not alone in this. They all have hopes, through hard training, competition, etc of molding us into better people. Hard work has a tendency to do this on its own, it's good ole self discovery. So I think we can take that off the table when discussing the value and effectiveness of aikido.

I disagree with the notion that Aikido takes 10-20 years to become effective or useful or that one has to be a Shodan or higher before one can really apply it. That's not the Aikido I know at all, but I digress.

I also agree with the points Mark raised.

I tend to look at it from a sports perspective. Lets say you want to be good at Aikido. You want to be able to use it. So you go to the dojo five days per week for two hours per class. Realistically you're only training probably 40-60 minutes per day, maybe. So you're getting somewhere between 3-5 hours of training per week, of varying degrees of quality. Do you think a baseball or tennis player, or a golfer, would be any good if their only practice was when they were actually playing their sport? No, they go to the driving range or batting cages or work on their swings in a variety of ways all the time. How much is the average aikidoka working on their technique or more importantly, the things that REALLY power the techniques, off the mat? Very little. Most don't even have any exercises they could actually do on their own time. If they do, then you have to factor in whether or not they're doing them properly and with the proper mindset and intent. Doing the techniques well requires a body that works in a specific, coordinated way, just like baseball or tennis. With such sporadic training and no outside work, it probably does take 20 years to develop a body that works properly at all times, if you're lucky. So why not find things to work on that will make your aikido stronger and better when you're off the mat?

dps
05-21-2010, 10:33 AM
If you learn from someone whose own expectations are modest then chances are your expectations will be modest.

If you learn from someone who thinks it takes decades to learn what you want to know then it will take you decades to learn.

When someone is disappointed because they think or are told their expectations are not realistic, don't encourage them to lower their expectations but encourage them to work harder toward their expectations so they can see how far and how fast they can go.

Don't let other people's self imposed limitations limit you.

David

niall
05-21-2010, 11:03 AM
I like Mary's wise post too. And Chris extending a hand - for katatedori maybe - is positive and kind and that is real aikido.

But I'm still going to tell my son to give his bike to anyone with a gun who asks for it.

Janet Rosen
05-21-2010, 11:38 AM
It seems to me the OP is going through a period of questioning/testing his own reasons for training, & this is a very natural & normal thing.

Many of his musings or concerns have nothing to do with why *I* train - if I wanted to learn hand to hand combat or a grappling art, I would seek an appropriate venue, not an aikido dojo - but I suspect it is not the deficiencies of aikido that are the issue, but his own changing goals. And again, that is a normal process; we stop being mindful, fully sentient and honest beings if we don't stay open to our own changes & question our priorities & decisions.

lbb
05-21-2010, 12:04 PM
It seems to me the OP is going through a period of questioning/testing his own reasons for training, & this is a very natural & normal thing.

Absolutely true, and that's where my 1) above fails.

Adam Huss
05-21-2010, 12:43 PM
I like Mary's wise post too. And Chris extending a hand - for katatedori maybe - is positive and kind and that is real aikido.

But I'm still going to tell my son to give his bike to anyone with a gun who asks for it.

Very good idea.

MM
05-21-2010, 12:56 PM
Did you read what I wrote about weapons training?

Then was then, and now it's now. If you want to live "then", you want to live in a fantasy world.

I did. I was trying to limit my post for length. :)


By the way, I have nothing against training to deal with imaginary threats -- I do it all the time. It's called "weapons work" :crazy: I enjoy it a whole lot, but my understanding of it as "martially effective" requires a complete shift of context. I can't get hung up on what is likely to happen as I walk down Mass Ave on a warm summer night, because whatever it is, it's unlikely to be someone attacking me with a sword. If the meaningfulness of my weapons practice depended on modern-day applications, it would be a complete bust. Aikido isn't that extreme, but like any martial technique you will ever learn, it is also situational, and it's harder to pull off than a lot of other styles.


How many top kendo people trained under Ueshiba? So, historically, even kendo people found Ueshiba's aikido worth studying/learning. Ueshiba's "weapons" work was not kendo, yet it applied to kendo. How many can state this today? Which high ranking person in the kendo world trains under a top ranked aikido shihan to learn "taisabaki"?

Shioda went out to fight with what he was learning from Ueshiba. Modern day applications from Ueshiba's teachings. Shall we turn a blind eye to all the greats who used their training this way?

What does history say about their training and how applicable it was in their modern day? The military men who jumped Ueshiba to test him?

Long after the sword was gone, just why was Ueshiba still practicing with a bokken? a spear?


If the meaningfulness of my weapons practice depended on modern-day applications, it would be a complete bust.


I am unsure what weapons training you are doing, but the weapons training I have done, am doing, and will do is very meaningful in modern day applications. Just because I hold a sword in my hand and practice a cut does not mean that all I am training is to hold a Japanese sword of bygone days and pretend that I'm cutting some thing or some one -- or that someone will attack me using a sword.

I would imagine that the cut is probably the least important factor in weapons training. The rest, in even the simplest of movements such as a basic shomen cut, is more important and more applicable to modern-day applications. Or has no one ever really pondered why top ranked kendo people wanted to learn from Ueshiba. Do you really think they wanted to know how to move their feet? How to step off the line of attack? How to make a shomen cut? a yokomen cut?

In the aikido world specifically, weapons training holds the potential for building a stronger level of aiki. Capturing center on contact when you touch someone's center is easier than if you grab the shoulder. Grabbing the shoulder and getting center on contact is easier than if you grabbed their wrist. This is all much easier than if the other person grabs you. Now try center on contact at the end of a bokken where it is very far from anyone's center, there is no grabbing for holding, and it is through an object.

How about control through a sword? Being sticky with weapons? Able to send power through a weapon without a wind up?

Try doing that through a piece of paper or a handkerchief. You know, I think Takeda and Ueshiba used to demo doing that. I wonder if working with the sword helped them do that?

Does it really matter at that point if it is a bokken, a katana, a knife, a tire iron, a bat, an article of clothing, etc? Just what should we really be working on when we practice weapons in aikido?

Borrowing a phrase from kali, Bokken trains Jo trains Tanto trains Empty Hand. The applicability of training for modern-day applications is infinite.

What Do I Know?
05-21-2010, 02:15 PM
After 18 years, and 9 months of Aikido, I have come to believe there is no purpose. I am not saying that in a Zen sort of way. I am being flat out blunt and straight forward. There is no purpose. Was there a purpose yes, and some people still hang to those eves. I was one of them for a long time. Perched on the wise old man's scribed out enlightenment paraphrased in his own voices, thrilled me. I tried to wring out each drop of possible wisdom like a wet towel. I anxiously with batted breath waited for the miracles to happen that would direct me in my life.

I worked hard at techniques to master each and every principle.

I was a chump. I didn't realize it until 18 years later. There is no magic, there is no wisdom to apply to my life. Why, because I am not Japanese and Aikido is. Why, because times have changed, people and society has changed. Aikido is archaic, sadly.

Please forgive me for my bluntness.

Reflection
05-21-2010, 02:18 PM
Thanks for the numerous replies. As much as I would like to reply to everyone's posts, I thinks I'll just comment of some point that were raised re: my thread.

I'm a little perplexed as to why some of you think I was out to injure or harm my ukes, or that I strove to be a tough guy or a badass just because I advocate considering Aikido for its potential as a self-defense system. So if my goal is to train Aikido as a martial art, I'm now something of a Neanderthal who doesn't understand peaceful means of conflict resolution? Why is that? Because I dare ask that aikido be the martial art that it's suppose to be or that it can be?

Contrary to what some of you might think, I've never, not once, hurt or harmed any of my ukes. I've stepped away from several tense situations that might have resulted in a physical confrontation. I'm not one to seek situations to "prove" myself or what I know. Which is why portraying me as an aggressive brute is really way of the mark.

Several of my friends have been attacked and robbed, and one of them was stabbed dead. Maybe some of you are fortunate enough to live in a city or with no crime, and don't mind spending time to studying something as time consuming as aikido. I have more practical concerns. I love aikido for its philosophy, but as a martial art I do think it's far removed from what O Sensei intended when he taught men like Gozo Shioda.

I do know the difference between a combat system, martial art, self defense system and budo. Maybe my post was a little loose on using those terms but I do know the difference between them. I don't want aikido to be a form of RBSD (which it should not be), nor must it be part of MMA. Since Aikido is considered a form of budo, then it should be trained as such.

But as a budo, I feel that Aikido must live up to the "martial" in "martial way". If not, then maybe people should stop calling Aikido a martial way and just consider it a form of moving yoga or flowing zen, with no martial component whatsoever. Which is fine by me, to be perfectly honest. From what I've seen from the aikido dojos around here lately, this "new age aikido" is already here to stay anyway.

Just surfing around here and other online aikido communities indicate that self-defense ability is important to aikido students. Important enough to have students insisting all over the internet that aikido is indeed a martial art.

So spending 6 years as a shodan isn't enough to be ushered into the "secrets" and "hidden wonders" of aikido? If so, then either Aikido has a very inefficient means to teaching its material or its a cop out to explain away why aikido isn't as effective as claimed and advertised. For example, if you get three identical people and teach one of them karate for 10 years, another does judo for 10 years and the other does aikido for the same amount of time, I'm willing to bet that, all things being equal, the first two have a far better chance of surviving an assault than the aikidoka. That sounds harsh but that's my opinion.

The difference is it the way each of them train. After 10 years the karateka and the judoka will have gotten their egos "beaten out of them" by struggling through competitions. And they will have pressure-tested skills which are widely useful in a self-defense situation.The aikidoka will be training in a very predictable and choreographed manner, after being told that the material is "too deadly" to be practiced in any other way. I've seen people practice to make their ukemi look "better" for their nage, and why they do that for me speaks volumes.

It's easy to talk peace and harmony, but it should be done from a position of strength. If aikido should be taken seriously as a martial art, it should remember what "martial" means.

My understanding of self-defense skill is that it's a collection of tools. I'm not looking for the Ultimate Martial Art; there is none. You study various systems and pick up what you need. Aikido as a martial art still has much to offer. If I were train law enforcement officers on ways to arrest, pin and restrain individuals, I would gladly recommend aikido. But saying that one needs to do more than 10 years to benefit from aikido's martial potential doesn't make any sense. "Ah Grasshopper, you question the effectiveness of our system. You need to practice for 20 more years to understand the secrets of our fearsome art". Yes, that sounds ridiculous, but that's the message I'm getting.

How about training aikido as a martial art, practicing and testing its its application to more realistic and authentic attacks? Is that too radical a concept?

I apologize if I sound sarcastic on some points but I'm just trying to make my POV understood. My reply is a little rambling; i just write as a think so I'm sorry for the confusion.

"Reflection"

Aiki1
05-21-2010, 02:46 PM
I think you're bringing up several different points, a lot of which I would agree with you about, at least on some levels. I read several different but related topics here:

- the martial effectiveness of Aikido

- the unchecked ego of some sensei/shihans

- the time it takes to become proficient, and the inherent question of training methodologies (and definitions of proficiency...)

- what is aikido anyway…. budo, spiritual etc….

These are the deep questions that many ask, and the answers are very different for different people. To me there is no "one" Aikido but -many- different styles that are sometimes/often completely different arts. I know my version of AIkido is different, and it addresses what I call martial responsibility, but always performed "invisibly" with Ki. For me, the best of both worlds. If one has no background in any other arts, which some Aikidoka lack, it's hard to judge certain things. But if one has no exposure to energetic and spiritual reality, one also can't judge certain things. Having a strong background in BJJ and Hapkido, but also many years of internal Ki training, I personally include as much as I can in my perspective, and I get to enjoy a range of experiences. It's all so personal and varied, I think there is no one answer.

Cliff Judge
05-21-2010, 03:00 PM
What is it about Aikido that people do it for ten years and then suddenly start crying about how it is a lame sissy art that won't help them if they are mugged by BJJ blue belts?

What Do I Know
05-21-2010, 03:04 PM
I just read the reply from the gentleman who started the thread. I want to comment that no matter where you live or what you do, or where you find yourself the reality is this:

If you are so scared of being attacked, get a gun, know the gun laws of your state, get the permits, and get the professional training to go with it. Don't go ghetto and learn it half-assed, like some fool. Don't waste any more of your time or money in any martial art, from Aikido to MMA. The fact is Aikido will fail you, MMA will fail you unless the prep is a complete untrained fool. Keep in mind there are thousands of people taking MMA, and many places have a pit-bull mentality and don't give a damn what punk they teach. Both Aikido and MMA have the same flaw they can't stop a bullet. They can't take a gun away at 6 ft or greater from the hands of some drugged up punk wanting to deliver some respect.

If you are that scared of being hurt, and lack the confidence to avoid a dangerous environment or confrontation then get a gun, get the papers, and understand the law. Stop playing with MMA or other martial arts not designed to deal with real deadly street conflict, or not designed to deal with high stress situations. Go and properly get prepared and the right training. A firemen isn't trained in plumbing to put fires out.

RED
05-21-2010, 04:11 PM
Agree Maggie - I was taught that nidan was a more significant level than shodan as the student was now showing aiki through their techniques.

To me its like shodan completes the apprenticeship and then the real work begins.

Cheers

D

Yeah, in my federation you really can't call yourself a completed student of Aikido until Sandan.
I guess with that said, my opinion is the poster of this thread quit before he even started.

David Board
05-21-2010, 04:15 PM
I should keep my mouth shut as a true beginner in Aikido but I found it interesting that this thread and an article about Bernie Lau from Blackbelt magazine posted on the Aikido Journal followed each other so closely. Since many of the sentiments seemed to be similar I tracked down the date just to investigate how long this "problem" in Aikido has been around. The article was from 1986 and the disillusionment of Lau was in the early 70's.

Going a bit further, I found this reprint of a 2001 article about Bernie Lau and the similarities of the concerns and issues of the OP stood out even more. Both the lack of effectiveness of Aikido [in self defense or police work]:
Lau's interest in karate was sparked by two separate incidents in which properly applied aikido joint locks failed to subdue the people he was trying to arrest. "I tried traditional aikido techniques," he says, "and they simply pulled out of them. We're talking big guys who knew how to street fight." He himself did not get hurt as a result, but both suspects and a partner did. This bothered him. "I felt that if I could have better controlled the situation, then things might have turned out differently."

And the concern with Aikido politics:
Unfortunately, the Seattle aikido community was not doing so nicely.[...]So, with that thought firmly in mind, he decided to build an apolitical dojo in his backyard.

From a beginner's perspective it is a little troubling that this issue has dogged Aikido for so long without an apparent solution or at lest satisfying response. One quote that struck me from the article was:
Many people think that aikido's philosophy is inherent in the techniques. While true in an absolute sense, no one teaches well enough, is skilled enough, or lives by the philosophy so well that he or she can convey the meaning behind the technical skill solely through hands-on experience. Recognizing this, important parts of Tohei's instruction took place during discussions in the restaurant after class.

One last quote (am an in academia I tend to use a lot of quote or at least sources):
“It is not a question of which is better, aikijujutsu or aikido,” Lau said. “They both have their merits. It is more a question of which system will better serve the needs of the individual: self-protection or self-perfection. The theory of no enemy is fine, but try explaining that to the lumberjack who’s trying to relocate your nose.”

Combining the last two quotes leaves me with the realization that learning on the mat is very much the path of Aikido but that it will not be the only part of the path.

Now I don't think that this or anything in the articles lead me to any great insight about Aikido. I debated posting anything at all since the only thing I am bring to the conversation is old articles about another person who found Aikido lacking in part. But the repeating concerns and patterns interest me, so I thought others might find them interesting. This is a decades old debate that is not likely to end soon. It forces me as a beginner to look more closely at what Aikido is and what I want out of it. For the time being I find what I am learning useful and satisfying. I am happy to be learning Aikido and taking small steps in self protection and self perfection.

Links to the Articles:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/blog/2010/05/19/aikijujutsu-vs-aikido-the-transition-from-deadly-combat-to-gentle-self-defense-by-gail-e-nelson-from-blackbeltcom/

http://www.ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_svinth_1101.htm

Kevin Leavitt
05-21-2010, 05:44 PM
I believe there are alot of bad assumptions and paradigms being made concerning aikido and all martial methodologies in general here. Yes, I call them martial methodologies as essentially that is what most of the so-called systems are methodologies and not "arts" per se. although they could be considered "arts" in the definition of a liberal art, but not as a combatives system or art.

I feel about as qualified as anyone to comment on what makes something a combative system since it is pretty much what I do as a professional day in and day out, and very actively today!

As a combat arms soldier, we have many techniques and methodologies for training various components of what we deem important to be effective at what we do, I suppose you could call all the training I do an "combatives system" or a complete system, yet we don't look at it that way, we look at it as components or methodologies to train.

For example, I am well qualified in CQB and Gun work, however, that is not my expertise and I am not the "sensei" of that stuff per se. My strengths are empty hand or Combatives.

So, the guy that trains me in pistol and rifle close quarter stuff as the subject matter expert is my "student" when we transition to combatives.

We view them as mutually supporting methodologies, but they are separate and distinct in the skills that they are training.

So, I believe that the paradigm that says a "martial art" has to be "effective" an interesting one as it begs the question "effective at what?" what are the boundaries of "effectiveness.

Of course WHAT DO I KNOW? identifies the issue by bringing up the whole "get a gun" argument. which, I think is a wrong perspective/conclusion used typically to invalidate any empty handed training in the way that it is done. However, of course, guns do drive the limitation or constraints of our emtpy handed training and it does need to be kept in mind.

I also believe that empty handed martial arts can be broken down into many different methodologies designed to enhance or reinforce desired endstates and things we want to inculcate into ourselves.

Aikido I believe, trained correctly is one such methodology. Agreed that many don't necessarily understand what that may be, or two people may not agree on what is being trained...and that is okay I think.

For me, Aikido has a place in my training, and you can take it FWIW...but I am a professional like many on here that depend on my "martial skills" as a way of life.

However, as pointed out by the OP and a few others, even though I disagree with alot of the statements, that it is incomplete as a holistic system...but that does not mean that it is not "effective" IT IS EFFECTIVE FOR WHAT IT WAS DESIGNED TO TEACH.

I train predominately in BJJ and Mitliary Combatives. Right now I am preparing my unit to go to war. While we focus in the "off season" on many different things with a heavy "Sport Jiu Jitsu" focus and I spend alot of time in Aikido, now that we are preparing for combat operations, we shift our focus/methodologies to the techniques, tactics, and procedures (TTPs) that our assessment and analysis tells us we need to based on what we are seeing on the battlefield.

My base and background for TTPs is based on the fundamentals that I learned in Judo, Jiu Jitsu, and yes...alot of it in Aikido. Honestly as we tighten our shot group to focus on weapons both enemy, control, multiple opponents, etc...I find my background and base in aikido to be even more important.

Even in the non-violent arena where people skills and body language come into play.

Anyway, each methodology has a strength and it has weaknesses. What is important is not arguing about the categorical effectiveness of an art, but discussing the limitations and constraints and focusing on the things that the art does train well.

It is also important to not try and make it something that it isn't..you'll practice it for 10 years under delusion and then feel ripped off once you meet reality and "X Art" failed you.

I don't think too many of the experienced posters here, none that I know of propose that AIkido is a one stop shop by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the Voices of Experience have a pretty good handle on reality I have found.

Anyway those are my experiences and 2 cents worth.

Kevin Leavitt
05-21-2010, 06:21 PM
OP Wrote:

I love aikido for its philosophy, but as a martial art I do think it's far removed from what O Sensei intended when he taught men like Gozo Shioda.


This is what I am talking about when I say "categorical assumption". Could it be that your experiences with aikido led you to this? It is not my experiences, maybe I am fortunate to have a good Shihan? I think many folks have different experiences, but that does not categorically mean that this applies across the art.

OP Wrote:

I do know the difference between a combat system, martial art, self defense system and budo. Maybe my post was a little loose on using those terms but I do know the difference between them. I don't want aikido to be a form of RBSD (which it should not be), nor must it be part of MMA. Since Aikido is considered a form of budo, then it should be trained as such.


I agree with this, but then the next paragraph:

But as a budo, I feel that Aikido must live up to the "martial" in "martial way". If not, then maybe people should stop calling Aikido a martial way and just consider it a form of moving yoga or flowing zen, with no martial component whatsoever. Which is fine by me, to be perfectly honest. From what I've seen from the aikido dojos around here lately, this "new age aikido" is already here to stay anyway.

You would need to explain this more. It seems like a contradiction to the prior paragraph. How do you define "martial way". I think it is another way of saying "effective", which, you have to define "effective at WHAT?". (BTW, rarely is that done here in my years of this debate").

What is a "martial component". I'd say most of the waza that we do has martial components...shionage, irimi nage...which BTW is VERY effective in combatives situations to understand.

I assume you understand and have practiced irimi nage in aikido, so I must assume when you say "martial component" that you are saying that the WAY it is practice is not martial..which again...circles back around to the "effectiveness" criteria.

OP Wrote:

Just surfing around here and other online aikido communities indicate that self-defense ability is important to aikido students. Important enough to have students insisting all over the internet that aikido is indeed a martial art.

I agree, I think there are alot of folks out there that are dishonest in the "Sensei" world. A random survey of ANY Aikido site will almost always have the words "Self Defense" on their website or will allow the inference to float around out there and yet inadequately actually train their students. Absolutely, this is a pet peeve of mine.

However, I don't think because they may do a poor job of it...means that aikido is not a martial art...this conclusion does not follow based on those facts. It just means that that instructor is either being dishonest or doesn't really understand WTF he is doing.

Can what we consider normal aikido training/waza to be beneficial to SD? Absolutely, a wonderful framework to build upon. The key is FRAMEWORK. A foundation does not make a complete house.

For example, if you get three identical people and teach one of them karate for 10 years, another does judo for 10 years and the other does aikido for the same amount of time, I'm willing to bet that, all things being equal, the first two have a far better chance of surviving an assault than the aikidoka. That sounds harsh but that's my opinion.

my experiences were different. I studied Karate for about 10 years..aikido was an eye opener for me! It improved my ability to fight 10 fold.

Judo, well, I do that too. All I will say is it is another methodology that is complementary...but AIkido and Judo are two different methodologies trained under different training constraints...both have their pros and cons. If you train extensively in them, then you will understand this. If not, then you make sophomoric statements like this. (Sorry to be harsh, but that is the way I see it).

OP Wrote:

It's easy to talk peace and harmony, but it should be done from a position of strength. If aikido should be taken seriously as a martial art, it should remember what "martial" means.


I agree it is easy. I am fortunate in my line of work...I get to do this when doing my job, and it is not something the average person can really say they do or have the ability to influence one way or the other. I try to promote peace and harmony, but also carry a big stick with lots of lethality behind it. I also take my aikido practice very seriously as do many that practice aikido.

I think you'd be surprised at the number of combat veterans on Aikiweb that either took aikido or picked it up after their combat experience. These guys understand the importance of a practice such as aikido in the realm of peace and harmony and also understand the fragile nature of that balance and why it is important to study budo.

OP Wrote:

My understanding of self-defense skill is that it's a collection of tools. I'm not looking for the Ultimate Martial Art; there is none. You study various systems and pick up what you need. Aikido as a martial art still has much to offer. If I were train law enforcement officers on ways to arrest, pin and restrain individuals, I would gladly recommend aikido.

Self defense skills are not really so much a collection of tools, but the synthesis of training and building muscle memory correctly to the stimulus of your enemy. Tools are typically thought of as specific and pulled off the shelf when needed. I believe this to be a incorrect paradigm. Yes, you might train in different methodologies to enhance different aspects of your body/responses, but that to me, is not the same thing as a tool...like a hammer, a punch, kick or something else. I know it seems like splitting hairs, but I think alot of paradigms get established incorrectly based on this perspective of "tools".

On the law enforcement statement. No I wouldn't recommend aikido, I'd recommend finding a qualified instructor in arrest and dentention TTPs that understands your departments policies. Now I might recommend aikido if they wanted to develop a framework, but i'd also recommend BJJ, Judo or any other number of methodologies depending on what that person had an affinity for.

OP Wrote:

How about training aikido as a martial art, practicing and testing its its application to more realistic and authentic attacks? Is that too radical a concept?


No, not radical at all. I do it all the time as well as many guys here. Chris Hein and Michael Varin out on the west coast are big advocates of this too. I'm down in Florida for a few months with nothing to do on the weekends so if your close by...get with me I am bored and LOVE to train in anything!

Kevin Leavitt
05-21-2010, 06:26 PM
David Board wrote:

I should keep my mouth shut as a true beginner in Aikido but I found it interesting that this thread and an article about Bernie Lau from Blackbelt magazine posted on the Aikido Journal followed each other so closely. Since many of the sentiments seemed to be similar I tracked down the date just to investigate how long this "problem" in Aikido has been around. The article was from 1986 and the disillusionment of Lau was in the early 70's.


Stop reading those magazines! lol! okay I admit it, I have the latest copy of BB sitting on my night stand. To me BB magazine is the equivalent of reading a tabloid, but with a more sophisticate front. Most of the articles in there are from guys that have created a "Self Licking Ice Cream Cone". That is, they write these articles and scratch each others backs in order to self publicize. Lately, they have started covering down on the whole MMA thing as those magazines are selling like hot cakes and yeah occassionally you find something worth reading, but for the most part, I find BB to be basically Martial Porn.

lbb
05-21-2010, 08:31 PM
How many top kendo people trained under Ueshiba? So, historically, even kendo people found Ueshiba's aikido worth studying/learning. Ueshiba's "weapons" work was not kendo, yet it applied to kendo. How many can state this today? Which high ranking person in the kendo world trains under a top ranked aikido shihan to learn "taisabaki"?

Err, but don't you think that kendo has moved on somewhat in the time since?

(btw, I don't regard kendo then or now as an archaic form. IMO it's a modern sport form.)

I am unsure what weapons training you are doing, but the weapons training I have done, am doing, and will do is very meaningful in modern day applications. Just because I hold a sword in my hand and practice a cut does not mean that all I am training is to hold a Japanese sword of bygone days and pretend that I'm cutting some thing or some one -- or that someone will attack me using a sword. [/quit]

Perhaps you're not, but then we're doing two different things, and we'll agree to disagree. My first weapons teacher (shindo muso ryu jodo) didn't teach how to use jo against sword by talking about how it would be equally applicable against a baseball bat...for the simple reason that he didn't believe it was. That's where I come down too.

[QUOTE=Mark Murray;257947]
I would imagine that the cut is probably the least important factor in weapons training.

That depends on the style, to a degree and on who's doing the teaching. It sounds a lot like what I've read about kyudo, for example, but as far as sword and jo, it's not what I was ever taught.


Does it really matter at that point if it is a bokken, a katana, a knife, a tire iron, a bat, an article of clothing, etc? Just what should we really be working on when we practice weapons in aikido?

Two different questions. My answer to the first is, yes, it absolutely makes a difference whether the weapon is short or long, if it's edged or pointed or blunt, if it has one "business end" or two. The physical characteristics of the weapon dictate the body of techniques that are developed with that weapon in mind.

With that said, I'll admin that I remain agnostic on the party-line reasoning for practicing weapons in aikido (to improve one's empty-hand techniques). I'm not saying that's a bad reason to be doing it, but I think people frequently confuse the reason and the method. When you've got a sword or a jo in your hands, you should not be acting as you would with empty hands (except, perhaps, at the most abstract level). You should not be trying to do things with a weapon that only make sense with empty hands, and vice versa.

MM
05-22-2010, 09:47 AM
Hi Mary,
I can go along with agreeing to disagree. :) I'm primarily talking about aiki weapons training with a smattering of kali training when I talk about weapons work. I'm not familiar with most koryu so I won't speak for them. :)

David Board
05-22-2010, 12:30 PM
David Board wrote:

Stop reading those magazines! lol! okay I admit it, I have the latest copy of BB sitting on my night stand. To me BB magazine is the equivalent of reading a tabloid, but with a more sophisticate front. Most of the articles in there are from guys that have created a "Self Licking Ice Cream Cone". That is, they write these articles and scratch each others backs in order to self publicize. Lately, they have started covering down on the whole MMA thing as those magazines are selling like hot cakes and yeah occassionally you find something worth reading, but for the most part, I find BB to be basically Martial Porn.

I only followed the link from Aikido journal honest!! But thanks for the warning. I remember picking up BB back in Jr. High. The only magazine we get at my house is the Yoga Journal. Two subscriptions even. One I got free for buying my wife a gift (you get a free subscription to YJ with your purchase) and the other my wife's subscription.

PhB
05-22-2010, 05:21 PM
The problem here is clear to me. When we really don't understand the purpose of Aikido. Many times as new students, we are given a bundle of information, depending on the sensei creates large variances of what is said. One dojo sensei will say O'Sensei meant xyz, or another will say it is abc. Personal interpretation of much of Aikido plays a fairly large role identifying Aikido's purpose. The standard by which Aikido was built over the years was been altered, been twisted, personal touch added, or changed for a myriad of reasons from ignorance to self-promotion. If you can't hit several dojos of differing styles there are a variety of Aikido books. Therefore, the percent of new students getting the pure purpose is very small.

Aikido's purpose on the surface is pretty evident and widely known. That being said, there is a significant complexity to understanding its application. Please don't misunderstand. The bad aspect is, when an altered purpose is internalized by the student and when taken seriously, for the purpose to fit particular objectives fails causes some student's to do everything they can to discredit Aikido. Upon the realization Aikido's purpose generally is a complicated mix of diametrical opposing ideas of peace and the way of Japanese ancient warfare -self serving promotion of one's self (Samurai mentality/fighting) creates a feeling of being mis-lead. The art then has no substance, and alternatives are sought that are less complex and seemingly more applicable. The student feels mislead, loses confidence in Aikido and seeks out a martial art that is much more simple and is seemingly more applicable to the individual.

What is the point, well it is that Aikido will always suffer greater from students who be come disenchanted with Aikido because the purpose is complex and has lead to many interpretations, and remodels that make Aikido very complex to understand. As a result, people give up and seek an art that is less complicated, and has less variance in its information and application. At this point, there is no solution to correcting this issue leaving Aikido with those, like the original poster, who will challenge it from other arts.

I too feel Aikido or any other martial art is viable into today's world, to a point. That point is at ground level self-defense. Where, for an example, if you search Google News you will find a story about a store clerk who took a gun away from the person robbing him. The store clerk had studied Aikido to take the gun away, probably Kote gaeshi. As for Aikido being use beyond that or any martial art is not practical. Modern warfare has no need for those old weapons of martial arts. Or the martial arts hand to hand techniques, we practice, any more. That includes all martial arts and mixed martial arts too. All martial arts really than on a personal level are the same. Doesn't really matter what you take.

itsudemo
05-22-2010, 07:31 PM
If practiced as a martial art, aikido can be effective. But as I see it, in its current form it's failing as a martial art and as a martial way.

I can't speak for most of Aikido as I have no contact with most of the people practicing it. Training is an individual journey, regardless of the activity. As such, the purpose depends entirely on the individual.
For the sake of argument, maybe the average Aikido student wouldn't be able to throw the average Judo student, and maybe that would prove Aikido is lacking, I don't know. The issue to my mind still comes back to individual responsibility. Aikido is fine where ever people are satisfied by it. Where it fails, in my opinion, is not the problem of Aikido, but of the individual practicing it.
In all things: Assume nothing, check everything, buyer beware.

Russ Q
05-22-2010, 07:44 PM
Aikido's purpose on the surface is pretty evident and widely known. That being said, there is a significant complexity to understanding its application. Please don't misunderstand. The bad aspect is, when an altered purpose is internalized by the student and when taken seriously, for the purpose to fit particular objectives fails causes some student's to do everything they can to discredit Aikido. Upon the realization Aikido's purpose generally is a complicated mix of diametrical opposing ideas of peace and the way of Japanese ancient warfare -self serving promotion of one's self (Samurai mentality/fighting) creates a feeling of being mis-lead. The art then has no substance, and alternatives are sought that are less complex and seemingly more applicable. The student feels mislead, loses confidence in Aikido and seeks out a martial art that is much more simple and is seemingly more applicable to the individual.

What is the point, well it is that Aikido will always suffer greater from students who be come disenchanted with Aikido because the purpose is complex and has lead to many interpretations, and remodels that make Aikido very complex to understand. As a result, people give up and seek an art that is less complicated, and has less variance in its information and application. At this point, there is no solution to correcting this issue leaving Aikido with those, like the original poster, who will challenge it from other arts.

I too feel Aikido or any other martial art is viable into today's world, to a point. That point is at ground level self-defense. Where, for an example, if you search Google News you will find a story about a store clerk who took a gun away from the person robbing him. The store clerk had studied Aikido to take the gun away, probably Kote gaeshi. As for Aikido being use beyond that or any martial art is not practical. Modern warfare has no need for those old weapons of martial arts. Or the martial arts hand to hand techniques, we practice, any more. That includes all martial arts and mixed martial arts too. All martial arts really than on a personal level are the same. Doesn't really matter what you take.

Bloody pithy mate! Well said!

Russ

Kevin Leavitt
05-22-2010, 08:45 PM
PhB wrote:

As for Aikido being use beyond that or any martial art is not practical. Modern warfare has no need for those old weapons of martial arts. Or the martial arts hand to hand techniques, we practice, any more. That includes all martial arts and mixed martial arts too. All martial arts really than on a personal level are the same. Doesn't really matter what you take.

I disagree. It is relevant in modern warfare very relevant.

RED
05-22-2010, 10:12 PM
PhB wrote:

I disagree. It is relevant in modern warfare very relevant.

My school has given private lessons to police academy students.
I know a 6th dan that has(might still be) teaching the police.
The Japanese Imperial Guard are required to train in Aikido to this day.
Honbu has an excelled 11 month Black Belt course for Riot Police. Examples can go on and on.

So basically, I agree with you.

raul rodrigo
05-22-2010, 11:51 PM
Honbu has an excelled 11 month Black Belt course for Riot Police.

Yoshinkan Hombu.

RED
05-23-2010, 04:00 PM
Yoshinkan Hombu.

Yes, thank you for the correction.

Shannon Frye
05-25-2010, 12:16 AM
First off, hats off to Mark for raising such thought provoking questions. I myself must be a resident of that mentioned Fantasy Land, because at the club I bounce at, I deal weekly with the Urban Social Miscreant (tm)- and while the occasional meteor has yet to fall from the sky, the occasional broken bottle, pool cue or pocket knife is not unheard of. While most can simply "avoid such a silly situation", as a worker in the mythical "street", I don't have that luxury, and my art needs to be on point.

Secondly, I think that aikido has a lot to offer everyone. Most martial arts are all about being the 'best', while aikido challenges us to be 'better' and allows us to define what that means. It can attract a wide range of students, from the young brawler to the elder spiritualist. And each can take away something different. Methods vary from dojo to dojo, across styles and organizations, but the student that wants to stick with this art needs to find out what they are looking for. And find a dojo that addresses that need. If you are looking for martial efficiency, seek out a dojo that teaches the budo. If you seek spirituality, likewise seek a dojo that addresses that need. Too often we look at others in the dojo and think "They are not effective", or "I hope they don't get into a fight - they'd lose horribly". I fell into this trap myself. But what we don't get to see on the mat is what the person takes away from the training. Each of us wants something different - the teaching of aikido isn't just how to fight, but how to fulfill our need and respect others as they also seek what they need. I was told that we start by working together on the mat, and by that we learn to work together off the mat. It was hard to see - but I understand much better now.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
05-25-2010, 04:46 AM
Mary,
thanks a lot for your great posts in this thread!

lbb
05-25-2010, 07:40 AM
Secondly, I think that aikido has a lot to offer everyone. Most martial arts are all about being the 'best', while aikido challenges us to be 'better' and allows us to define what that means.

The added emphasis is mine, and I added it because it hasn't been the case in my experience, which is mostly in other Japanese martial arts. It seems to me that the notion of persistent effort and improvement is pretty deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, and that is by and large reflected in martial arts practice. Unfortunately, many aikidoka don't see this, perhaps because they lack the experience in other styles...and, unfortunately, because some people within aikido are serving koolade in the form of the notion that aikido alone is the repository of various virtues. Always beware when someone tries to convince you of the superiority of your chosen path: when someone is telling you what you want to hear, there's an agenda at work.

ruthmc
05-25-2010, 10:09 AM
How about training aikido as a martial art, practicing and testing its its application to more realistic and authentic attacks? Is that too radical a concept?
Not at all radical, I have trained that way. Before anybody screams, this was in the past, so don't worry I'm not invalidating the current insurance requirements!

At 4th kyu I began training against attacks with a 'live' ie sharp blade. It used to be compulsary for testing, back in the 'old' days ;) I learned a lot from that. By 2nd kyu I'd had experience against a live sword blade. At shodan I was introduced to the concept of defence against attack with a (real) metal chain. During the course of my training, I've had some tuition in police Aikido, and against the sort of attacks one gets in the street, eg. hidden blade, sudden grab by someone you thought was walking past, pinned against a wall, glass to the face, slash to the neck, strangulation and rape situations.

All of the above have been learned in different dojo under different instructors of different rank belonging to different organisations. I would never have found all that in one dojo :D

The reasons why most folk don't do any of the above these days is because a) we are unable to get insurance to train that way now, and b) most folk are unwilling and / or unable to take the ukemi (or even make the attack) required in those situations.

Perhaps I was lucky that I started training when I did, that I went to train with the instructors I did, that I attended the classes I did, that I was willing to take part in this kind of training because I too wanted to see the real life application of Aikido. It's not for everyone, I know. Perhaps you have not been so lucky, or perhaps you haven't 'been around' as much as you'd need to in order to get this kind of training?

Perhaps this is why I can see the martial applications of Aikido and you can't?

I hope that one day you get the opportunities I had, but bear in mind you may have to travel far and wide to find them :)

Ruth

ChrisHein
05-25-2010, 10:48 AM
Kevin brings up the point of context. Context is key. What is my system designed to do? That is the most important question you face "Reflection".

There are 3 key components found in every martial art system:

Strategy
Technical syllabus
Training methodologies

The strategy is the underlying principles and theory behind everything you are going to do martially. Aiki, is an example of our (Aikido folk) main strategy. However there are many other things included in the strategy section. Some simple. Like not choosing to go into a clinch, or fight on the ground. There are lots of simple strategic ideas taught in Aikido training.

Technical syllabus is the set of techniques we use. Shihonage, Tenkan, Irimi, Kotegaeshi, etc.

And last we have methods of training. These are the ways in which we train our strategy and techniques. This component is arguably the most important. Because with good training methods, the techniques and strategies will create themselves.

You mentioned Karate, and Judo as good examples of martial arts. You also recognize that what makes these martial arts strong is a live resistance training. Live resistance is a training methodology. All you need to do is add this to your Aikido, and you'll be training like the Judo, and Karate folk.

Now the key to be able to add live resistance as a training methodology is understanding why Aikido strategies and techniques are the way they are. To understand the context of our system. Both Archery and tank driving are martial arts. But if you expect that archery practice is going to make you better at driving tanks, you don't understand your context.

Kevin Leavitt
05-25-2010, 12:41 PM
Good post Chris!

Budd
05-25-2010, 01:07 PM
What happened to the good 'ol days when just being a black belt meant that you were an expert on everything, better looking than 99% of the population and could take on gangs of armed thugs without breaking a sweat??

Now there's all these expectations and analyses going on . . sheeeoooot . .

Reflection
05-25-2010, 01:12 PM
I do recognize that not all school and styles of Aikido are lacking in martial intent and effectiveness. I was under the Aikikai but I have visited a Yoshinkan dojo and I was impressed by how that particular school trained. I'm sure there are others here on Aikiweb and all over the world that do practice with martial intent and that's fantastic. I wish more schools are like this.

My point is that these schools are more of the exception than the rule. I'll go on a limb and say that Aikido in general has become lightly regarded because the schools that do aikido more as a martial art are the minority in the aikido universe. Which also why everyone who describes their aikido school will often state that their school practices with fast attacks and some resistance, as if to differentiate themselves from the result of the aikido schools. This knee jerk reaction and statement says a lot, IMHO.

Aikido as a martial artist has something to offer the martial artist out to learn new skills to add to his self-defense toolbox. I wouldn't be taking time to post my opinion here if I thought aikido was completely useless. It's precisely because I see the creeping decline of aikido into a form of new age yoga that I wish aikido could go back to its historical martial roots.

ChrisHein, I agree with your point of resistance. The strategy of aikido is sound. So is the technical syllabus. It’s the methodology that needs to be reconsidered. Correctly done and productive resistance is precisely what aikido needs. But a lot of people don't understand that kind of resistance is needed, but that's another topic altogether. The lack of resistance is so common in aikido that IMHO its symptomatic of what I consider a decline throughout aikikai aikido. I don't think that by asking for resistance I'm breaking a cardinal rule or doctrine of Aikido.

I think that aikido needs is to stop declaring itself as being “too deadly to be practiced with resistance” and instead get real and think about how it’s being trained. I do think resistance in aikido can be done but it needs to start with not just the schools that are more "martial savvy" but most aikido schools in general. Right now I’m not seeing it happening any time soon.

The aikidoka I see nowadays are content to just do what I call “clock-punching” aikido practice, which is just to rack up training sessions to comply with exam requirements. They do practice the techniques to allow them to perform it better for exams, but based on what I see hardly anyone has ever asked questions like “what if he tries to ___________, what do I do next”. I’m not talking about kyu grade students, but yudansha.

For example, I used to have a training tanto in my bag all the time. My sensei used to have us to a lot of tanto dori practice, and we explored the “what ifs”, like having uke withdraw the knife if nage couldn’t get hold of the knife or attacking arm or if nage was in a bad position for a follow up strike by uke. The attacks weren’t as fancy as maybe a kali student would pull off but at least we tried. Just the other day I was invited to an after-practice party at the dojo of a sensei I know and I was surprised to find out that none of the students has a tanto or does tanto dori training expected that their level. They do tanto dori training, but only for a few months and only for those going for nidan. The rest of the time they just do “clock punching” practice. And to make matters worse, the school is in a rather nasty part of town.

I do think that the method of promotion in aikikai aikido is partly to blame for the problem and the narcissists that infest its yudansha ranks.

What’s needed to advance in the aikikai ranking hierarchy is through time spent training and demonstration of skill (until yodan anyway). No ego-endangering competition at all. The pressure is solely on not screwing up in front of your peers. But aside from this, the exam is tiring but relatively easy. You get an uke who you’re familiar with (and probably trained for the exam with), and if you practiced enough to do the material required (jo dori, tanto dori, etc. ) without looking too bad, you’ll pass the exam.

I know that that is an insulting oversimplification of the yudansha advancement process but you have to admit that its fairly accurate.
The training time requires is actually the easy part. Anyone doing martial arts seriously knows that studying any style will require constant and regular training. But the lack of competition and the lack of any method of pressure-testing the examinee IMHO allows for patient people with massive egos to rise in the ranks to dominate the upper levels. Thus we have people who think too highly of themselves and their skills running schools and organizations. In a system with competition, the high ranking practitioners have had their egos beaten and their technique tested. Not so in aikikai aikido. The style does not allow competitions and the lack of martial intent in training are IMHO the cause of various problems.

Like I said, if aikido in general does not live up to its own declared martial potential and it fails as a path of spiritual enlightenment and character development (based on the leading teachers I've seen), then what is aikido curently for?

I’m sorry if I’m being too blunt but this is just my opinion.

Shannon Frye
05-25-2010, 01:21 PM
Without a doubt!;)

Always beware when someone tries to convince you of the superiority of your chosen path: when someone is telling you what you want to hear, there's an agenda at work.

Mark Gibbons
05-25-2010, 01:34 PM
....
The reasons why most folk don't do any of the above these days is because a) we are unable to get insurance to train that way now, and b) most folk are unwilling and / or unable to take the ukemi (or even make the attack) required in those situations.
...
Ruth

Attacks with live weapons and you are worried about uke being able to take the ukemi? Its just my opinion, but most sincere attacks with a marker will probably show that nage would be bleeding in a real situation.

Marc Abrams
05-25-2010, 03:25 PM
After 18 years, and 9 months of Aikido, I have come to believe there is no purpose. I am not saying that in a Zen sort of way. I am being flat out blunt and straight forward. There is no purpose. Was there a purpose yes, and some people still hang to those eves. I was one of them for a long time. Perched on the wise old man's scribed out enlightenment paraphrased in his own voices, thrilled me. I tried to wring out each drop of possible wisdom like a wet towel. I anxiously with batted breath waited for the miracles to happen that would direct me in my life.

I worked hard at techniques to master each and every principle.

I was a chump. I didn't realize it until 18 years later. There is no magic, there is no wisdom to apply to my life. Why, because I am not Japanese and Aikido is. Why, because times have changed, people and society has changed. Aikido is archaic, sadly.

Please forgive me for my bluntness.

I am genuinely sorry that you studied "Chump Aikido." I do not mean that as an insult but as a reflection of what YOU created. Aikido is a martial art, like a lot of other martial arts out there. What YOU make of YOUR STUDY of a particular art is ultimately YOUR responsibility.

I came to Aikido searching for somethings and discovered many more things along the way. I am still making discoveries all of the time. My particular prism of reality is such that I realize that most people will never have to be confronted with the necessity of utilizing martial arts training in order to survive an ordeal. My prism of reality has changed a great deal. I came into Aikido as a person ready for a fight (many years of martial arts and fighting sports) and not surprisingly, I would find that with which I was trying to be ready for. I was honest enough to know that this was not who I wanted to be and realized the growing danger of bad consequences of continuing on that particular path.

I am discovering that the true beauty of this martial art is in how I have used it to change my prism of reality while at the same time, becoming more capable than ever before to be able to survive a physical attack. Learning about the true nature of connection "Ai" starts with developing a deeper, more compassionate connection with yourself. Learning which muscles are tense, or where my muscles are relaxed helps me to better understand myself and how I respond to the world around me. Learning how to emulate positive Ki in my daily interactions allows me to better understand myself and connect easier and deeper to those around me. I am developing a sensitivity at an energy level that I would have discounted as nonsense ten years ago. Learning to connect positively to those around me is making my life better and safer. I am just beginning to understand the profound wisdom that O'Sensei shared with his students.

I am happy to say that I am continuing to find new and deeper, positive purposes of Aikido in my life. These purposes are continuing to be reflected in waza and in more and more areas of my life. I have no problem being attacked by a wrestler, karateka,... who seek to find out if what I do works. That is not a focus of my training or a focus in my teachings. My focus is sharing this very powerful transformational art with people in my life. So far, so good...

If you find no purpose in YOUR Aikido then ultimately that is your responsibility to address. It is important that you do find genuine and meaningful purpose in your life through whatever venue you discover. Don't blame an art, take responsibility for where you are on what ever path you choose. Blaming a path only serves to obscure the powerful and important lessons that you can learn when you decide it is time to change life paths.

Good Luck on finding a more meaningful path!

Regards,

Marc Abrams

dps
05-25-2010, 04:17 PM
What happened to the good 'ol days when just being a black belt meant that you were an expert on everything, better looking than 99% of the population and could take on gangs of armed thugs without breaking a sweat??

Now there's all these expectations and analyses going on . . sheeeoooot . .

Ahh, the fantasies...er memories of back in the day of our youths.

David

lbb
05-25-2010, 04:49 PM
My point is that these schools are more of the exception than the rule.

Dude, quality anything is the exception rather than the rule, and finding quality is the buyer's responsibility. Why would aikido be any different?

When someone goes to buy a new car, they do research, they kick the tires and test drive and figure out what this car does well, they figure if they like the people they're buying it from and who will service it. If they don't do those things and they buy a car that's a lemon -- or that's a perfectly good car, just not right for what they want to do with it -- then we may say, "Gee, that's too bad," but we also think that they should have done more than they did by way of due diligence. Or, if they buy a perfectly good car that they love, but then their needs and wants change -- say they bought a sports car, but then they get married and have six kids -- we understand that that's what happens when your life changes. We don't blame the car for not being what they really want or for not changing into a station wagon if that's what they need now.

So why, when someone is considering martial arts, do we expect everything to be of awesome quality, and get all outraged when it isn't? When people leave their common sense in their Sunday pajamas, why are we surprised when things don't work out perfectly for them? Why do we indulge this notion that things in martial arts ought to be perfect? Above all, why -- when someone buys a "lemon", or lets wishful thinking get them to sign up for a martial art that isn't going to get them what they want, or goes through some changes and no longer wants what they used to -- do we say that aikido's at fault?

If you want quality, whether it's a steak, a car, or a martial art, you have to be willing to acquire some extra clue, do some extra work, and pay a higher price. That seems so braindead obvious that I'd think we could stop being astonished at the fact, but I guess not.

ChrisHein
05-25-2010, 07:57 PM
Dude, quality anything is the exception rather than the rule, and finding quality is the buyer's responsibility. Why would aikido be any different?


HA, I love that! So true it's hard to believe it needs to be said!

Reflection, I know 100% where you are coming from. I went through this same deal. It's very annoying and troublesome when you realize the true state of the Aikido community.

However, your only options are:

To quit. Which from what I've read, doesn't sound like something you want to do, like the rest of us, your really like Aikido.

Ignore that which you dislike. Again, from what you're saying this doesn't sound like a real option for you.

Or to create your own practice. To create a group, club or Dojo that works toward the goals you have in mind. You sound like you have a solid foundation, it's probably time to leave the nest.

You're not alone if you choose option 3. There are several of us out there working towards similar goals. Those of use who love Aikido and are not satisfied with its current state of practice. Being independent isn't so bad, in fact for many of us it's the only way to stay sane!

Good luck to you in what ever you choose to do. My email is always open if you'd like to chat about any of this.

PhB
05-25-2010, 09:00 PM
Like I said, if aikido in general does not live up to its own declared martial potential and it fails as a path of spiritual enlightenment and character development (based on the leading teachers I've seen), then what is aikido curently for?

I'm sorry if I'm being too blunt but this is just my opinion.

These are the thoughts your comments provoked. They are not intended to insult anyone, or Aikido. Rather, just thoughts milled into comments FWIW.

The wounds of Aikido will never heal, the politics, the denial, the fantasy, the need to find something spiritually and profound, the esoteric and exotic experience, the never ending story of its validity, and the list goes on. Aikido is a hobby, and those who choose it do so for their reasons. Like all hobbies, it is for enjoyment, to enhancement or enrichment, an escape from the daily grind. Like all martial arts, are a hobby that so many people do for those reasons. Aikido isn't a profession, you don't make money from your skill. There is no fighting venue for it, and if there was it would be popular, as it lacks that Rome blood thirsty Gladiator entertainment quality we (not everyone) love so much in MMA.

What is the purpose of Aikido it seems obvious, it is a hobby that it is to enrich, enhance, add our daily routine. It is the same purpose people go fishing, shop, build model trains, join gardening clubs, learn to sing, just to name a few of the other millions of things people do for enjoyment.

"Reflection" is being honest about Aikido and his opinion. I wonder if he is just as honest and blunt with himself and his other art as he is with Aikido?

Deb
05-26-2010, 05:44 AM
There seem to be two things going on here. The OP seems to have a strong desire to be in a sufficiently rigorous environment, and seems to be questioning aikido's ability to provide that rigor on a structural/cultural level.

I'm a relative beginner. I train in a dojo that is way more than sufficiently rigorous for my skill level, and understand exactly how valuable this is. I signed up to learn how to be martial, not dance or comply. I like being shown that my technique isn't working, called out on uncommitted attacks or and knowing that if I lead with my face, it will get hit. I don't like training with deshis who are exhausted at the end of the day and are going through the motions, or rickety or spacey yudansha who are punching the clock.

At the same time, what I find so useful about aikido is not learning how to fight. I feel like I am specifically *not* learning how to do that. The cooperative nature of aikido is a powerful metaphor for how conflict actually works. I get a lot of "Aikido in Everyday Life" lessons from it, that are about avoiding and shaping conflict by understanding the ways in which I am complicit in it. My physical body is in less conflict with the city that surrounds it. I have less conflict at work, in business, at home. Conflicts result in more positive, creative outcomes.

I am the kind of person who needs to learn how to minimize conflict by pretending to fight a lot in a controlled, collaborative way that relies on deploying both empathy and advantage. I do think that this is a sufficiently complex and rigorous thing to do.

ruthmc
05-26-2010, 10:54 AM
Attacks with live weapons and you are worried about uke being able to take the ukemi? Its just my opinion, but most sincere attacks with a marker will probably show that nage would be bleeding in a real situation.
We started off slow and built up speed as we learned to react correctly. The sincerity and intention were always present! (Ukemi is more challenging as you have to avoid landing on or dropping the blade.. :uch: )

Just as you don't start out doing ikkyo or shihonage at full speed as a beginner, you don't start doing live weapons training at full speed either ;)

A thought for the OP - maybe with our modern risk-averse and litigatious society, many Aikido dojo have been required to water down the martial aspects in order to attract sufficent students to survive, or to comply with insurance requirements?

Ruth

jxa127
05-26-2010, 01:03 PM
Hi all,

When I first saw this topic in the "active topics" list, I was surprised to learn that it wasn't an old thread that had been recently reborn. As others have said, this is a topic that people have been discussing and writing about for decades!

Although I let my subscription lapse at Aikido Journal, I used to read pretty much everything by Stan Prannin. He's got a series of articles from the early '90s discussing this very topic! Specifically, he worries about collusion during techniques, a lack of weapons and hamni handachi work, weak attacks and poor follow-through with no resistance, and the poor fitness of many instructors -- not just in one, but in many articles.

This is probably the best example: "Realizing Aikido's Potential":

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=112

In yet other articles, Pranin is concerned that people have lost touch with the spiritual foundation of O'Sensei's art. I interpret that to mean that people think they're doing what O'Sensei said, but they're completely divorced from the entire context of O'Sensei's beliefs or the spiritual foundation of the art.

More recently, Ellis Amdur and Peter Goldsbury have written extensively on the same topics. I won't go into specifics here because there's a ton of writing and discussion with and from those gentlemen on this board.

My main point is that it is not just malcontents with "only' a decade of experience who are looking critically at aikido, its history, its assumptions, and its training methods.

I humbly suggest that aikido can very effective in a number of dangerous situations and there are substantial systemic problems with how it is taught and the very common conceptions of the art.

I think there are some objective measures of how good one is at aikido:

1) Can I really hurt somebody if I punch him or her?
2) Can I take and keep my attacker's balance from the first instant?
3) Can I respond instantly and appropriately to force from any direction?
4) Can I apply a wide range of responses from crippling to gentle and choose that response?
5) Am I moving in a totally coordinated way and generating power from my center?

Honestly, after ten years of training, my answer was no to most of these questions.

Regards,

PhB
05-26-2010, 01:58 PM
I would say each individual's "objective measures of how good one is at aikido," is different for each individual also. For some it maybe having a sense of accomplishment is good enough; not seeking perfection, but acquaint to fairly decent. Others the application of or commitment to the spiritual dimensions found in Aikido. For some it is being a good teacher, or being able to thwart a mugger. Or decelerate a conflict or potential hostile situation be it verbal or physical. It is all up to the individual's personal criteria, something not judged.

People fail to see the dynamic sphere that Aikido is. It is not a single minded, single dimension activity. It wasn't made for combat, but rather for the soul.

jxa127
05-26-2010, 06:42 PM
People fail to see the dynamic sphere that Aikido is. It is not a single minded, single dimension activity. It wasn't made for combat, but rather for the soul.

Be that as it may, and I don't necessarily disagree with you, I argue that if you haven't got (or are striving toward) kuzushi, atemi, and mind/body coordination (ki!), against somebody who is not simply falling for you, then you're really not doing aikido.

At least not the aikido that O'Sensei and his students (including his son) were doing.

Regards,

PhB
05-26-2010, 08:39 PM
Be that as it may, and I don't necessarily disagree with you, I argue that if you haven't got (or are striving toward) kuzushi, atemi, and mind/body coordination (ki!), against somebody who is not simply falling for you, then you're really not doing aikido.

At least not the aikido that O'Sensei and his students (including his son) were doing.

Regards,

If you don't mind me saying, I don't think that everyone has that ability like you to take Aikido to the intended letter. For some of us, we are drawn to Aikido for personal reasons, like attracted to the spiritual Aikido over the ability to apply physical skill in a contest. I know some people work toward the ability to match up the physical and spiritual and reap those rewards. They are concerned with the abilities you kindly laid out for the physical Aikido, but not to the point of a physical conflict. But, rather how that bonds to the spiritual Aikido and its result for them. There is no need to prove anything. It is a personal journey and not a contest.

I appreciate your comments, and hope quoting you didn't offend you, I don't think it did. All too often people come to Aikido with expectations of a physical goal, and those people are very much unsatisfied with Aikido.

PhB
05-26-2010, 10:34 PM
If you don't mind me saying, I don't think that everyone has that ability like you to take Aikido to the intended letter. For some of us, we are drawn to Aikido for personal reasons, like attracted to the spiritual Aikido over the ability to apply physical skill in a contest. I know some people work toward the ability to match up the physical and spiritual and reap those rewards. They are concerned with the abilities you kindly laid out for the physical Aikido, but not to the point of a physical conflict. But, rather how that bonds to the spiritual Aikido and its result for them. There is no need to prove anything. It is a personal journey and not a contest.

I appreciate your comments, and hope quoting you didn't offend you, I don't think it did. All too often people come to Aikido with expectations of a physical goal, and those people are very much unsatisfied with Aikido.

And not because Aikido can't deliver, or it falls short when it comes to fighting, but because Aikido isn't and wasn't designed to be a combat or tournament art. Aikido is stamped from Bujutsu. It developed beyond when spiritual growth became a focus for Aikido. Aikido prior to the addition of spirituality a.k.a pre-World War Aikido has the greatest and purest elements of physical Bujutsu, and imo is a more reasonable subject for any arguments evaluating the validity of its physical elements. If you're e are going to debate Aikido's ability to deliver in a contest or conflict look at pre-World War Aikido, it was a true Bujujtsu. Today's Aikido shouldn't be judged or strictly held up to fighting standards after World War. Today's Aikido works toward spiritual growth, and judging whether or not it delivers the spiritual goods is a more relevant argument.
I think allot of people become jaded or dissatisfied when they come to Aikido looking use it in a fight. When expectations are place on Aikido by people looking for fighting applications and find that Aikido is no longer about that, but instead is focused on a spiritual growth experience they are often let down and disheartened. Suffice it to say they don't decide to embrace the spiritual experience of Aikido, turning away from the path of violence, and embracing the way of peace. People who like to fight really don't last in Aikido. It doesn't offer what they look for. Those who are looking at Aikido as utilized by the characters of Shihan Seagal in his movies, will undoubtedly be let down by post World War Aikido.

When I spoke of Aikido being stamped in Bujutsu, I am referring to the mental approach adopted by Aikido from Bujustu. Hell's dojo's of pre-World War Aikido wasn't a place where people fought to destroy each other. Wasn't it a place where limits where pushed? Where training was a very serious matter? The intensity level at a high level pushing people beyond the levels of what they thought they could do? A Special Forces training school experience might be an equivalent idea?

That element I am guessing was carried onto the current version of Aikido. I don't think the aim of Aikido is to bust people up with it. But to train hard, pushing yourself to new heights and levels personally and physically. That is my opinion of why people shouldn't merely take a fall, walking through the motions. I agree with you. I part ways here with many when I say, I don't think any of that really was designed or intended within the context of combative fighting. The pseudo combat platform of the Samurai, and the mock attacker with the training scenarios are all within the structure Bujutsu. All of which is grounded in Bujujtsu. Which is used as a form for a greater purpose and experience is termed as Budo. What makes Aikido a Budo is the elements of spiritual growth over the application of combat. When those wires get crossed expectations don't fit result in having some people become disillusioned with Aikido. That fall-out ends up morphing into hyper-critical evaluation of Aikido as a fighting tool.

jxa127
05-27-2010, 10:30 AM
BhP,

Thanks for the discussion. You make some very good points, and I take no offense. :)

I really only have two additional comments:

1) What people get out of the spiritual side of aikido and what O'Sensei intended are often very different. Peter Goldsbury's series of articles, available here, on "Transmission, Inheritance, and Emulation" are eye-opening in this regard. Naturally, as the art evolved and opened up to the rest of the world after World War II, the core of the art was no longer closely associated with its Omoto Kyo roots.

That's fine. O'Sensei did not insist that his students follow the religion or even fully understand the spiritual foundation of his art.

But that leaves us with a quandary. His closest students sometimes profess to not understanding what O'Sensei was talking about, and so they focused on learning the body skills. They were also really dang good. Now here we are 60 to 70 years later and there are a whole bunch of people who are attracted to the spiritual side of aikido, but they understand even less of O'Sensei's spiritual foundation than his direct students and aren't anywhere near as good.

That's me, by the way.

I was attracted to aikido because of its emphasis on a model for conflict resolution that forged a middle ground between fight and flight. I still believe in the ideal of defending myself from violent attack by controlling my attacker(s) and causing as little harm as possible to him. But that brings me to my second point:

2) All of the above is predicated on actually being able to do aikido well. For me, the spiritual stuff follows from the physical stuff. If I can only do effective techniques with a cooperating attacker, and my only option is the gentle one, then the foundation for the spiritual stuff is weak.

To put it another way, if aikido provides a way to resolve conflicts with minimal injury, and the physical stuff is the expression of the spiritual stuff, and the physical stuff doesn't work, then the spiritual stuff is built on a faulty premise.

Having said all of that, there are folks who have the goods. Aikido does work for them, and they have the solid foundation for the more expansive spiritual side of things. The art has not failed them.

I'm not one of those people (yet?). So from what I've seen and experienced since I started in 1999, is that aiki (which I think of as mind/body and body/body integration) is the core from which all else flows: atemi, kuzushi, effective technique, great ukemi, and takemusu aikido.

Regards,

PhB
05-28-2010, 11:10 AM
I appreciate and thank you as well for the discussion. To cap it all off, I appreciate those who take Aikido because they want to take advantage of it's fighting structure. I understand why some are disappointed because it doesn't meet their expectations. For those people it may suit them to have directed their energies into pre-war Aikido. I am assuming they are not happy with Aikido because they took the post war Aikido which we all know doesn't focus it's efforts into using Aikido to fight, but instead to peace.

Aikido (here on in being the post war Aikido) is looked at mostly as a hobby my its general student body. I went into Aikido because of the social benefits. I wanted as well to have some exercise. I wanted something healthy to escape into. I wanted to add more to my life than just work. I am not disappointed by Aikido. Suffice it to say, whether or not Aikido is a butt kicking mopping the floor with your butt fighting system isn't at all important to me. I will go out on a ledge and say my view is true for the major of people who take Aikido.

Everyone has their own reason for taking up Aikido. Not everyone, most, are into going home after practice with dislocated wrists, shoulders, elbows, shiners, broken teeth or ribs. My priority is showing up to work capable of doing what they pay me for. I can't afford to be in hospital unnecessarily. I have a host of other responsibilities. I am no longer twenty-something and full of testosterone. Though I'd like to. Most conflicts in society can be resolved though diplomacy and verbal communication. I don't have to worry about someone physically gunning for me, or forced to fight in a colosseum. I have far more verbal confrontations and threats then I do physically. My real self-defense skills are verbal skills, then physical, thus I have put most my time into dealing in that verbal arena. Each individual has their own reasons for taking Aikido, not everyone is or wants to be a physical warrior. Being verbal warrior in the modern age is to what a physical warrior is in the dark ages.

I do Aikido as a hobby, and I hope those conflicted with whether or not Aikido is an effective fighting system or not, will find peace and resolution.

Thank you to all for letting me comment here.

oisin bourke
05-30-2010, 02:49 AM
The added emphasis is mine, and I added it because it hasn't been the case in my experience, which is mostly in other Japanese martial arts. It seems to me that the notion of persistent effort and improvement is pretty deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, and that is by and large reflected in martial arts practice. Unfortunately, many aikidoka don't see this, perhaps because they lack the experience in other styles...and, unfortunately, because some people within aikido are serving koolade in the form of the notion that aikido alone is the repository of various virtues. Always beware when someone tries to convince you of the superiority of your chosen path: when someone is telling you what you want to hear, there's an agenda at work.

Agree wholeheartedly.

I also read somewhere a quote from Kisshomaru Ueshiba who said something along the lines of:
"The point of training is so that you can look back on your life and say: "I trained." And that's all there is to it, really."

MM
05-30-2010, 07:02 AM
I was attracted to aikido because of its emphasis on a model for conflict resolution that forged a middle ground between fight and flight.


and this

Agree wholeheartedly.

I also read somewhere a quote from Kisshomaru Ueshiba who said something along the lines of:
"The point of training is so that you can look back on your life and say: "I trained." And that's all there is to it, really."

As K. Ueshiba once denied that Daito ryu had much to do with M. Ueshiba's aikido, we must split the world of aikido into two very separate realms.

As Drew and Oisin both note, the modern world of aikido which traces its lineage back to K. Ueshiba and K. Tohei, that world of aikido is a far different entity than the aikido of M. Ueshiba.

In this regard, talking about aikido with both in mind just brings more heated discussions. The modern aikido world spread far and wide and its ideals changed into these notions of spirituality, conflict resolutions, peace, harmony, etc. (NOT saying these are bad things.)

M Ueshiba's aikido was very different and revolved around each individual person becoming something very different martially, such that one lived a bit freer in the world. As M. Ueshiba found when he first met Takeda, all his physical strength failed him utterly and completely. Takeda, martially different, had no trouble handling most people as they relied upon physical strength, timing, body placement, etc. M. Ueshiba learned Takeda's aiki skills and then, because of those skills, it opened a different spiritual door for Ueshiba. A door that allowed Ueshiba to merge his strong sense of spirituality with his strong martial aiki skills.

Modern aikido isn't the founder's aikido. That's neither good, bad, right or wrong. Just different. Modern aikido relies upon spirituality more than martial ability and there will always be heated discussions on its martial effectiveness.

The founder's aikido is rare but making some progress to be reborn. It's martial capabilities are strong, but its spiritual capabilities rely upon each individual person. And each person creates their own level of spirituality. So, more martial than spiritual, in comparison to modern aikido.

The purpose of aikido? Which aikido? Modern? IMO, that's built upon more spiritual than martial. It's worldwide and has devoted, loyal followers. It can be very worthwhile for all the time and training invested. The founder's? That's a tough, rare, and hard road to follow. It isn't for everyone. The martial will outweigh the spiritual for some time and then the spiritual is all up to you. Tough thing to shoulder when handed a boatload of martial power.

But the purpose?

If you're wanting the camaraderie, the focus of being part of something, the group spiritual whole, the feeling of belonging, the training, the spiritual, the harmony, the conflict resolution, etc, then stick with modern aikido. But just don't ever expect that you'll be as good as the founder martially. (For that matter, it won't get you the founder's spirituality either, but K. Ueshiba changed the spirituality for modern aikido.)

If you're wanting the martial abilities of M. Ueshiba, look for Daito ryu aiki. Look in the non-aikido forum. It is readily apparent to those who have experienced this that the abilities of M. Ueshiba are most definitely within one's grasp. Surpassing Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda, etc is not a dream but a very defined reality. But don't expect this to ever give you the founder's spirituality. That's a different type of training, up to each individual to undertake. Without the spirituality, you won't be doing the M. Ueshiba's aikido, but rather another "way of aiki".

oisin bourke
05-30-2010, 08:17 AM
and this

As K. Ueshiba once denied that Daito ryu had much to do with M. Ueshiba's aikido, we must split the world of aikido into two very separate realms.

As Drew and Oisin both note, the modern world of aikido which traces its lineage back to K. Ueshiba and K. Tohei, that world of aikido is a far different entity than the aikido of M. Ueshiba.

In this regard, talking about aikido with both in mind just brings more heated discussions. The modern aikido world spread far and wide and its ideals changed into these notions of spirituality, conflict resolutions, peace, harmony, etc. (NOT saying these are bad things.)

M Ueshiba's aikido was very different and revolved around each individual person becoming something very different martially, such that one lived a bit freer in the world. As M. Ueshiba found when he first met Takeda, all his physical strength failed him utterly and completely. Takeda, martially different, had no trouble handling most people as they relied upon physical strength, timing, body placement, etc. M. Ueshiba learned Takeda's aiki skills and then, because of those skills, it opened a different spiritual door for Ueshiba. A door that allowed Ueshiba to merge his strong sense of spirituality with his strong martial aiki skills.

Modern aikido isn't the founder's aikido. That's neither good, bad, right or wrong. Just different. Modern aikido relies upon spirituality more than martial ability and there will always be heated discussions on its martial effectiveness.

The founder's aikido is rare but making some progress to be reborn. It's martial capabilities are strong, but its spiritual capabilities rely upon each individual person. And each person creates their own level of spirituality. So, more martial than spiritual, in comparison to modern aikido.

The purpose of aikido? Which aikido? Modern? IMO, that's built upon more spiritual than martial. It's worldwide and has devoted, loyal followers. It can be very worthwhile for all the time and training invested. The founder's? That's a tough, rare, and hard road to follow. It isn't for everyone. The martial will outweigh the spiritual for some time and then the spiritual is all up to you. Tough thing to shoulder when handed a boatload of martial power.

But the purpose?

If you're wanting the camaraderie, the focus of being part of something, the group spiritual whole, the feeling of belonging, the training, the spiritual, the harmony, the conflict resolution, etc, then stick with modern aikido. But just don't ever expect that you'll be as good as the founder martially. (For that matter, it won't get you the founder's spirituality either, but K. Ueshiba changed the spirituality for modern aikido.)

If you're wanting the martial abilities of M. Ueshiba, look for Daito ryu aiki. Look in the non-aikido forum. It is readily apparent to those who have experienced this that the abilities of M. Ueshiba are most definitely within one's grasp. Surpassing Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda, etc is not a dream but a very defined reality. But don't expect this to ever give you the founder's spirituality. That's a different type of training, up to each individual to undertake. Without the spirituality, you won't be doing the M. Ueshiba's aikido, but rather another "way of aiki".

Hi Mark,

I think those are fair points.

My point is that training in Budo is just not a cut and dried thing. In my experience (which is admittedly limited) once one settles on an expectation from one's training, one will neglect other aspects of Budo. That's one of the great challenges of training IMO.

The quote I found for Kisshomaru was from Koryu.com:

http://www.koryu.com/library/dskoss6.html
I think it's very relevant to this discussion.

Regards,

Nicholas Eschenbruch
05-30-2010, 10:26 AM
...
M. Ueshiba learned Takeda's aiki skills and then, because of those skills, it opened a different spiritual door for Ueshiba.
...


Hi Mark,
Generally, I dont disagree with your balanced appraisal. But the above sentence strikes me as requiring some explanation. "Aiki-skills" TM were the doorway to a "different" spirituality for the founder? What evidence is that based on? Different from what? Would you expand?

Interesting discussion everybody, thanks.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
05-30-2010, 10:41 AM
The quote I found for Kisshomaru was from Koryu.com:

http://www.koryu.com/library/dskoss6.html
I think it's very relevant to this discussion.



Hi Oisin,
I am not sure how to interpret the K. Ueshiba quote at all. It's tautological, so what is it meant to express?

Diane Skoss, in the article, goes on to say:
"Insights quietly blossom, are nurtured, to sprout further understandings."

which would open up a - probably very individual, possibly very complex - world of insights and understandings. Is that what K. Ueshiba means as well, and does not want to discuss?

I find it slightly sad, though of course understandable, to hint at all those insights and then sort of close the door again. Or maybe I am misunderstanding the intention of both of them?

mathewjgano
05-30-2010, 12:36 PM
which would open up a - probably very individual, possibly very complex - world of insights and understandings. Is that what K. Ueshiba means as well, and does not want to discuss?


Perhaps it was his way of pointing to the individualized nature of insight? Insight doesn't seem like something which can be transmitted so much as hinted at (particularly the more complex insights), leaving the discovery and determination almost entirely in the hands of the student.

niall
05-30-2010, 07:49 PM
It's a kind of a Japanese approach. Rather than over-thinking or trying to analyze too much just do the training. And - hopefully - you'll understand one day.

I personally heard Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba once make a similar remark - something like if you never missed training that in itself would be enough to become a shihan. I was surprised at the time. It seems to ignore completely the questions of ability and personal qualities like sincerity. It's like the Woody Allen quote: 90% of life is just showing up.

lil_brown_bat
05-30-2010, 08:39 PM
spirituality
spiritual
spirituality
spirituality
spiritual
spirituality
spiritual
spiritual
spiritual
spiritual
spiritual
spiritual
spirituality
spirituality
spirituality
spirituality.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

sakumeikan
05-31-2010, 09:57 AM
After 18 years, and 9 months of Aikido, I have come to believe there is no purpose. I am not saying that in a Zen sort of way. I am being flat out blunt and straight forward. There is no purpose. Was there a purpose yes, and some people still hang to those eves. I was one of them for a long time. Perched on the wise old man's scribed out enlightenment paraphrased in his own voices, thrilled me. I tried to wring out each drop of possible wisdom like a wet towel. I anxiously with batted breath waited for the miracles to happen that would direct me in my life.

I worked hard at techniques to master each and every principle.

I was a chump. I didn't realize it until 18 years later. There is no magic, there is no wisdom to apply to my life. Why, because I am not Japanese and Aikido is. Why, because times have changed, people and society has changed. Aikido is archaic, sadly.

Please forgive me for my bluntness.

Hi,
During a discussion at one of our annual Summer Schools Chiba Sensei went on to talk about [amongst other things ] his own private study of Za Zen meditation.One gentleman asked him what he got out of it.Chiba Sensei smiled and said he didnt really do Za Zen to' get someting from it'.He then went on to say that 'maybe he was a fool'.This made all of us smile.He then went on to indicate that in the world today everyone is trying to beat the clock as it were.and the world was very rarely silent.By doing Za Zen Chiba Sensei said he found a quiet place even for just a short time.
The purpose of Aikido may not always be obvious to each of us even after a number of years training.Regardless of our national identity I believe each person can acquire something of value by training in the art.I think for example that Aikido gives you a method of discovering your 'self'.The challenges of Aikido [facing fear, setbacks etc]all helps you to achieve/express your True self.
This task is not always achieved in a short time.Might take 40/50 years.Might happen in one minute.
I do hope you find your own answers to this question.I wish you well.
All the best , Joe.

dps
05-31-2010, 10:49 AM
Before I left Aikido, I studied the art for more than 10 years. I was really hooked on it, practicing 5 days a week, 2 classes a day for months at a stretch. Suffice to say, it was a healthy addiction. I got to Shodan (under the Aikikai) and I didn't see the point of working toward a higher rank. I was practicing the same material as my seniors and I could spend the rest of my aikido life working on my skills at my present rank.



It seems to me that you have reached your goal as far as what you wanted out of Aikido. . Unless you want to teach what you have learned, with your unique perspective, to others than it is time to quit. Nothing wrong with that.

David

MM
05-31-2010, 11:35 AM
Hi Mark,

I think those are fair points.

My point is that training in Budo is just not a cut and dried thing. In my experience (which is admittedly limited) once one settles on an expectation from one's training, one will neglect other aspects of Budo. That's one of the great challenges of training IMO.


Agreed.

Hi Mark,
Generally, I dont disagree with your balanced appraisal. But the above sentence strikes me as requiring some explanation. "Aiki-skills" TM were the doorway to a "different" spirituality for the founder? What evidence is that based on? Different from what? Would you expand?

Interesting discussion everybody, thanks.

As seen through the research from Stan, Peter, Ellis, and a myriad of others, Ueshiba was more than capable of handling himself against challengers. Even during his time with Deguchi, Ueshiba was learning aiki, learning Internal Power (IP).

Read this very informative post regarding IP:
http://rumsoakedfist.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9004&p=154721#p154721

Aiki is formless and the basis of a very strong, powerful martial skill that is imbued within one's body, mind, and spirit. It transforms from a "skill" into One's Self. As Ueshiba replied, I am aiki.

Think about building a powerful, strong (not physical) budo body that instantly and appropriately changes incoming force and energy such that it is dissipated or returned or used in some manner to nullify the attack. Imagine Tomiki as he stood there and watched as judoka tried to throw him and failed. Takeda tossing Ueshiba around like a rag doll, even though Ueshiba was famed for his physical strength. Imagine the freedom of movement, freedom of martial ability that this conveys. And then imagine the freedom of spirit that is a byproduct of this. Now imagine Ueshiba putting all of that formless aiki, formless freedom of mind and body and spirit into his spiritual vision.

Ueshiba knew the formlessness of aiki. Knew that it could be poured into one's spiritual nature and have it fill that vessel. IMO, it's why he said no one had to follow his exact footsteps.

PhB
05-31-2010, 11:44 AM
When something is so hard to pin down it either loses credibility, or it gets more unclear as a result of interpretations and opinions.

After re-reading the thread, it becomes obvious, to me anyway, there are many different individual opinions people hold to, to be the purpose for Aikido. Rational thinking tells us to sort this out to look at O'Sensei and go with what he says.

That ain't easy, it is a daunting task to do look at the purpose of Aikido that is clear as mud. O'Sensei was crystal clear. O'Sensei's tightest students had a hard time understanding much of what he said about Aikido, as one person mentioned. Aikido like many other things in the same boat, having an unclear purpose seems to motivate us to get a clear answer to the purpose. Some say it is obvious, it is a martial art and you have to be effective in using it. While others say, it is for humanitarian purpose, and his message of peace. Many of the experts say it works along the Japanese line of thinking that a purpose is less important then realizing the purpose through years of training. It is a Zen approach and process of reaching satori through practice/experience. The purpose is not laid and explained in black and white. I would argue the Japanese thinking isn't Aikido's intended purpose. Instead is the method of obtaining the purpose. In contrast to a clearly stated purpose written on paper.

When an object doesn't have a clear purpose credibility (until satori) is lost. When a leader doesn't have a clear object, the followers abandon the leader and elect one that does have a clear object. A purpose works the same way, but the difference when a purpose isn't clear the is some lose of credibility. Suffice it to say works on a group dynamic where there is a leadership structure, and when a purpose isn't clear it opens the door for everyone to debate and question the purpose. The turnkey is loss of credibility. Everyone can throw in their 2 cents and be equally valid what the purpose is. The debate rather than clarifying the purpose it becomes more complicated and unclear when there is no unarguable purpose.

We as people need a clear purpose to whatever the degree or process when it comes to an organization. In Aikido, not having a clear purpose has opened it up to questioning its credibility because there isn't a single solid unquestionable purpose. Was that intended by O'Sensei, maybe because of the way Japanese think. It is enough for them to have a purpose not absolute crystal clear as in time those willing to do the distance will have a satori. But, Aikido is international now and a clear set purpose is needed, maybe. If that is correct, than I think it needs to come by the current Doshu. Even if it doesn't match his grandfather's thinking.

Maybe he could declare a purpose. The benefits to not having a clear purpose allows the individual a personal experience, thereby giving people allot of room for personal growth and freedom. Even if these benefits where intended or not it points to a clearer purpose. Then again too much freedom is like anything else, best done in moderation. Growth left unattended or trained can end up not being all that beneficial.

I don't know if Aikido is supposed to have a clear purpose. Maybe that is the purpose. What ever the way Aikido was set up or will be set up it basically be default comes down to the thinking of "what every works for you" line of thought. I don't see the arguments of what the purpose of Aikido to tapper off anytime soon. I wouldn't bet a clear purpose will ever be establish as long as O'Sensei and his beliefs are held high reverence. Until then, for me the purpose of Aikido is an opportunity to get some exercise and get away from all the stress and demands of daily modern life. It is a few hours a week to get some peace of mind, and enjoy what am doing.

Aiki1
05-31-2010, 12:29 PM
To me, one of the big issues about O Sensei's Aikido, his purpose, and Spirituality, is an inherent misunderstanding about what he was portraying Aikido as.

I have read people make statements like "Shinto is the spiritual basis for Aikido…." and I think it's more important to understand that, in my opinion, Shinto just happens to be the form that O Sensei resonated with and expressed his spiritual connection through. One could say that Aikido, in-and-of-itself, is also a form that he expressed it through.

The spiritual basis of Aikido, to me, is the experience(s) he had that revealed, what to him was, the "true nature of things." This is an experience of "spiritual Aiki", or joining with Universal Consciousness or Spirit, and it is beyond Shinto or any organized, codified, or dogmatic belief system or form. It is simply what it is: conscious spiritual connection.

It was out of this that I think he made statements like "Budo is Love" and his notions of the "loving protection of all things" and such. In the end, I believe that O Sensei's spirituality and his AIkido merged, and were inseparable.

Today, people obviously practice AIkido for any number of different reasons. I think O Sensei ultimately meant Aikido to be a way to practice manifesting spiritual experience in every day life, and the "good things" that go along with that. Does that means that one need have a spiritual experience first to do so? Can Aikido practice bring that? Perhaps, to some. Depends on the person, and/or the teacher, depends on what the person has been or is being inducted into. Reverse engineering can be tricky, but not impossible.

So, I think that, as O Sensei developed, Aikido became an expression of his spirituality, I don't think that his spirituality came about only because of his martial Aiki. For him, they were clearly intertwined, but I don't think his Aiki skills were what opened a spiritual door for him, not alone anyway. We'll never really know though.

mathewjgano
05-31-2010, 03:58 PM
I have read people make statements like "Shinto is the spiritual basis for Aikido…." and I think it's more important to understand that, in my opinion, Shinto just happens to be the form that O Sensei resonated with and expressed his spiritual connection through. One could say that Aikido, in-and-of-itself, is also a form that he expressed it through. The spiritual basis of Aikido, to me, is the experience(s) he had that revealed, what to him was, the "true nature of things."
My understanding is that "Shinto" is a term that denotes the essential/true nature of things, and that the dogma isn't the point so much as the vehicle used to arrive at the point, which is a deeper understanding of the interconnected nature of things. So from that standpoint, while I think it's perfectly accurate to say Shinto is the spiritual basis for Aikido, I agree with the point you're making.

Aiki1
05-31-2010, 04:40 PM
My understanding is that "Shinto" is a term that denotes the essential/true nature of things, and that the dogma isn't the point so much as the vehicle used to arrive at the point, which is a deeper understanding of the interconnected nature of things..........

The difference between theory and practice.... :)

What I mean is, it is this in theory, but not usually in practice. Usually Shinto is so shrouded in ritual and teachings etc. that the essence is lost.

mathewjgano
05-31-2010, 06:27 PM
The difference between theory and practice.... :)

What I mean is, it is this in theory, but not usually in practice. Usually Shinto is so shrouded in ritual and teachings etc. that the essence is lost.

That may be for all I know, but my understanding is that the essence is somewhat left to the individual to find. Messing with another's destiny is a big no-no in Shinto, so i can see why much might be left to the individual to sort through, even though the ritual is so highly formalized. When I practiced regularly I often heard that what matters in Shinto is the feeling one generates; not how precisely you're able to perform the parts of the ritual. In other words: you get from it what you put in. I took from that the idea that the "trick" is learning how to put more and more of yourself into the activity, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I was once invited to a matsuri in Mitsucho near Himeji by a family that was a big part of the festivities. The sense I took from the experience was much in keeping with what I learned at Tsubaki America regarding Shinto, which is centered around celebrating our lives as part of a community which itself is part of something larger.

matty mo batty
05-31-2010, 07:34 PM
I took from that the idea that the "trick" is learning how to put more and more of yourself into the activity, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Which is the part I think most applies to Aikido purpose, as the founder probably intended it.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
06-01-2010, 03:12 AM
As seen through the research from Stan, Peter, Ellis, and a myriad of others, Ueshiba was more than capable of handling himself against challengers. Even during his time with Deguchi, Ueshiba was learning aiki, learning Internal Power (IP).

Read this very informative post regarding IP:
http://rumsoakedfist.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9004&p=154721#p154721


I dont doubt that, and have read it all. What is new to my is that you seem to argue for a spiritual/ metaphysical relevance of aiki, which is not what I myself find in the authors you quote. I even seem to remember Mr. Amdur arguing IS has nothing to do per se with personal development, character.


Aiki is formless and the basis of a very strong, powerful martial skill that is imbued within one's body, mind, and spirit. It transforms from a "skill" into One's Self. As Ueshiba replied, I am aiki.

Think about building a powerful, strong (not physical) budo body that instantly and appropriately changes incoming force and energy such that it is dissipated or returned or used in some manner to nullify the attack. Imagine Tomiki as he stood there and watched as judoka tried to throw him and failed. Takeda tossing Ueshiba around like a rag doll, even though Ueshiba was famed for his physical strength. Imagine the freedom of movement, freedom of martial ability that this conveys. And then imagine the freedom of spirit that is a byproduct of this. Now imagine Ueshiba putting all of that formless aiki, formless freedom of mind and body and spirit into his spiritual vision.

Ueshiba knew the formlessness of aiki. Knew that it could be poured into one's spiritual nature and have it fill that vessel. IMO, it's why he said no one had to follow his exact footsteps.

Again, I am agnostic as for the historical examples, I have not been there.

With all due respect, I think you are charging "aiki" with a metaphysics that is entirely your own. Invincibilty can lead to freedom? I doubt it. It can lead to megalomaniac fantasies that are not very spiritual at all (and which, ironically, O-Sensei probably also had...), and will likely cause harm if one does not engage with them very very carefully.

But thanks for the discussion!

MM
06-01-2010, 07:02 AM
I dont doubt that, and have read it all. What is new to my is that you seem to argue for a spiritual/ metaphysical relevance of aiki, which is not what I myself find in the authors you quote. I even seem to remember Mr. Amdur arguing IS has nothing to do per se with personal development, character.

Again, I am agnostic as for the historical examples, I have not been there.

With all due respect, I think you are charging "aiki" with a metaphysics that is entirely your own. Invincibilty can lead to freedom? I doubt it. It can lead to megalomaniac fantasies that are not very spiritual at all (and which, ironically, O-Sensei probably also had...), and will likely cause harm if one does not engage with them very very carefully.

But thanks for the discussion!

If we're talking major character development or personal, spiritual growth, I think you're right. Aiki isn't the primary factor. And as you note, having exceptional martial ability can also lead to bad character traits. I think that's why it was said not to teach the secret of aiki to just anyone. :) I'll have to reread HIPS again, but I do disagree that aiki/IS/IP has *nothing* to do with spirituality or personal development. I just don't know *how much* it has to do with those things.

But, the flip side of that coin is the ability and the potential to aid in spiritual growth. This is where Ueshiba shined. He took a system built for combat and death and infused it with his own personal spirituality to create another option.

I don't know all the schools of Daito ryu, but I'm sure they have techniques where an uke gets thrown, joint locked, and subdued. So, what then is the difference in Ueshiba's aikido?

What was the purpose of the change that Ueshiba made? What was that option? When someone attacked him, they were brought into a spiraling maelstrom that was Ueshiba, but then, riding on the outward spirals, they were released. As soon as the attacker connected with Ueshiba, he/she knew, felt, and understood that he/she was out of his/her league. And moved like a puppet to be finally released from the merger of both energies. If you were handled like a child, knew it, knew that you could have been completely and utterly defeated, could have been broken from the power felt in the encounter, but instead was released, would you go back for a second attack? What if the person you attacked was smiling or laughing, not at you, but from being peaceful and happy?

No one misunderstood for long that Ueshiba knew the martial if that was required. Ohba at the Manchurian demonstration proved that. Ueshiba, however, didn't want to show that expression as his anger afterward conveyed. I think he wanted people to see that there was another option, another way of using aiki.

Aiki was the method to create people to be the best martial artists. The learned to be the best that they could be ... or so they thought. Martially, Takeda proved that he was one of the best. Spiritually? Read Hidden in Plain Sight. Read the back issues of Aikido Journal. Ueshiba took aiki from purely martial to both martial and spiritual. Aiki is formless and fit both vessels. It think Ueshiba strove to be the best he could be ... in a complete sense.

It isn't for everyone. Being one of the best martially is something worthy of attaining. Being the best both martially and spiritually? Not exactly easy to do ...

Aiki1
06-01-2010, 01:26 PM
The Founder's purpose of Aikido?

*In my opinion,* in the beginning, before it was really "Aikido" per se, it was to achieve a high level of martial skill based on far deeper principles than just physicality and technique.

In the "end", I believe, due to his own personal and spiritual transformation, it was to provide a vehicle to manifest his (or a) sense of spiritual connection in the world, and have the conscousness and skills to "protect" people even in conflict, which is a high spiritual concept and reflective of his core spiritual experiences and beliefs. In fact I think his Aikido itself became a reflection of these beliefs.

dps
06-01-2010, 02:07 PM
The Founder's purpose of Aikido?

*In my opinion,* in the beginning, before it was really "Aikido" per se, it was to achieve a high level of martial skill based on far deeper principles than just physicality and technique.

In the "end", I believe, due to his own personal and spiritual transformation, it was to provide a vehicle to manifest his (or a) sense of spiritual connection in the world, and have the conscousness and skills to "protect" people even in conflict, which is a high spiritual concept and reflective of his core spiritual experiences and beliefs. In fact I think his Aikido itself became a reflection of these beliefs.

That is the best concise description of O'Sensei's Aikido that I have ever heard or read..

Thank you Larry.

David

Kevin Leavitt
06-01-2010, 02:43 PM
You can have the skills ability desire and the competency to fight. AND. Also embrace the philosophical/spiritual side as well. That is the whole point if you ask me. Of course you are also free to do what ever you want and assign whatever meaning you want or filter out whatever you want as well. Howver to say that the fighting side and the spiritual side are at opposite ends and are opposed or some how in conflict with each other is not corect in my mind.

Aiki1
06-01-2010, 02:58 PM
You can have the skills ability desire and the competency to fight. AND. Also embrace the philosophical/spiritual side as well. That is the whole point if you ask me. Of course you are also free to do what ever you want and assign whatever meaning you want or filter out whatever you want as well. However to say that the fighting side and the spiritual side are at opposite ends and are opposed or some how in conflict with each other is not correct in my mind.

Exactamundo, although I think of it as the ability to be highly martially responsible, rather than the ability to fight, as that implies, to me, a certain mindset that I feel limits me. But my context is limited to my life arena, I ain't in the military. :)

(I have started to roll again though, with a close friend about to get his black belt from one of the Machados.... we practice how to apply a sense of Aiki, and how to use Ki and Center, in BJJ.... fun stuff.)

Aiki1
06-01-2010, 02:59 PM
That is the best concise description of O'Sensei's Aikido that I have ever heard or read..

Thank you Larry.

David

Thanks David. :)

mathewjgano
06-01-2010, 03:00 PM
...is it that really important to argue?
You seem to be implying it's more important to not. Is it really that important to not discuss it? I think it's a good thing to discuss purpose. It helps to clarify intent and the subsequent action(s).

Buck
06-01-2010, 03:08 PM
I read this thread all the way though. I have one question whatever the purpose of Aikido started out to be or ended up is it that really important to argue? Knowing the answer will it bringer us any closer to Aikido or to O'Sensei's skill or put us on a profound spiritual path? The art is difficult as it is without complicating it even more. There are allot of good points being made.

There are two groups in these matters. One is those who think Aikido should be for fighting. The other thinks it should be for spiritual practice. Each group is respectively at the end of the spectrum where in the middle most of us are. One end tries to connivence the other end, and everyone else, to A) join them, B) they are wrong. This is a mirror image of the other opposing group's efforts and view of Aikido.

As it stands now, from what I get from this thread the purpose of Aikido is to connivence the other side and everyone else in between to jump on their band wagon.

Either you are going to stick with Aikido and accept all its warts, or you are not and move on to something else. If you move on it is just bad taste to criticize it. Pointing out all its faults and why it failed is silly, when in reality it is the person that failed the art and not the art that failed the person. I agree you do have to spend a good twenty years at it to come to it's purpose, and then there is no guarantee you will come to it purpose. I subscribe to the purpose being inherent to experience. Jumping ship, say less than 20 years or practice, and saying it is flawed is bassackward. It is unfair, and not realistic. Anyone who shows up to practice everyday has the determination to succeed as they will work hard at being skillful. They are fully committed to the art and in fit or the long haul. That is not in itself an easy thing to do and is praise worthy when so many people can't even be consistence in showing up for practice on a regular basis for more than 3 months.

People who bitch about Aikido not meeting not being this or that, and coming to naught, I say look at their commit, and dedication of the years of effort they put into it. Evaluate them then what they say.

Kevin Leavitt
06-01-2010, 08:10 PM
Exactamundo, although I think of it as the ability to be highly martially responsible, rather than the ability to fight, as that implies, to me, a certain mindset that I feel limits me. But my context is limited to my life arena, I ain't in the military. :)

(I have started to roll again though, with a close friend about to get his black belt from one of the Machados.... we practice how to apply a sense of Aiki, and how to use Ki and Center, in BJJ.... fun stuff.)

That is cool. A black belt from one of the Machado's. I have trained with RIgan Machado and he promoted my current instructor to black belt. Great guys!

I think that the whole reason Budo works in general is it explores the differences and the synthesis of the duality of conflict, of course. Personally, the more I learn about the power we possess or at least the potential that we possess, I also learn (I hope) about the responsibility that comes with it, and how close we walk on the knife's edge constantly even if we are not aware of it!

To say that Budo is about "X" or it is about "Y" I don't really understand. To me budo simply is what it is and you get up everyday, you train and you train and you train. Some days are good days, some days are bad days, but even on the bad days I can look to my brothers and sisters along side of me and find strength and joy in our practice to get up another day and continue to fight the hard fight one day at a time.

For me, It don't get any more spiritual than this. Being in the moment of the time that I get to spend on the mat.

jxa127
06-02-2010, 12:40 PM
There are two groups in these matters. One is those who think Aikido should be for fighting. The other thinks it should be for spiritual practice. Each group is respectively at the end of the spectrum where in the middle most of us are.

That's not how I read it. If anything, I think the "two groups" (and there may be more) agree that there's a spiritual component (for lack of a better term) to aikido.

However, one groups says that the spiritual stuff is the main point and that "effectiveness" is, literally, beside the point. That is, effectiveness is perhaps important, but not the reason for the training.

The other group says that the art must be "effective" for any of the the spiritual stuff to have meaning. In other words, if you can't actually respond to a hostile attack and control the attacker in a way that minimizes harm, then the spiritual metaphor doesn't work.

It is not fair to characterize the first group as a bunch of folks who cooperatively tank for one another when taking ukemi. Nor is it fair to characterize the second group as a bunch of budo bullies breaking wrists with nikyo all the time.

The dichotomies we have are good enough without adding false ones to the mix. :D

Regards,

aikishihan
06-02-2010, 02:46 PM
If Aikido has a purpose, the Founder made it abundantly clear. He declared his Aikido to be a vehicle for ultimate peace and harmony.

Yet, he was not so naive as to believe for an instant that good thoughts and fuzzy warm feelings were adequate to the task. Accepting that conflict is inevitable in the world and the universe, he wanted to make combat optional as the first choice to make

Our United States has a military component second to none. Yet, it's avowed purpose is not to make war, but to avoid it if at all possible. Using our military might is the last resort, not the first.
Enemies of our country would do well to remember that we retain the right to choose amongst our alternatives, and that we will act.

This is not the forum to discuss the disgusting mishandling of our sovereign right to might by abusive and misguided political leadership

Aikido has the proven martial component ready for use at anytime it is necessary and appropriate. I am relieved to know that well meaning Aikido adepts, along with those from the other worthy martial disciplines, honestly seek non harmful alternatives first.

No, I do not believe that Aikido has any purpose at all. It is after all, an inanimate, and a noble construct, built and maintained on noble principles and enlightened vision.

Rather, it is the motives of the human beings that either honor or dishonor, use, misuse or abuse its capabilities that we should shine any spotlight on.

Perhaps we can imagine that "Aikido's purpose" is about cleansing ourselves, improving our behavior, and being grateful for proven friendship, the kind we find in our daily training.

C. David Henderson
06-02-2010, 02:46 PM
The other group says that the art must be "effective" for any of the the spiritual stuff to have meaning. In other words, if you can't actually respond to a hostile attack and control the attacker in a way that minimizes harm, then the spiritual metaphor doesn't work.


I'd suggest this applies to the view of aikido practice as misogi -- for practice to form the sort of crucible in which something of significant and distinct about the nature of being human emerges in an interaction or within a person, the interactions, if stylized, must also have the vitality of budo.

YMMV

Mikemac
06-02-2010, 04:22 PM
Our United States has a military component second to none. Yet, it's avowed purpose is not to make war, but to avoid it if at all possible. Using our military might is the last resort, not the first.
Enemies of our country would do well to remember that we retain the right to choose amongst our alternatives, and that we will act.

You're joking, right? Please tell me you were just trying to be funny.

MM
06-02-2010, 06:58 PM
You're joking, right? Please tell me you were just trying to be funny.

I think he was making a point and did so very well. It was a great post, IMO. There's always the Open Forum to discuss our military and politics. :)

jxa127
06-02-2010, 08:20 PM
I'd suggest this applies to the view of aikido practice as misogi -- for practice to form the sort of crucible in which something of significant and distinct about the nature of being human emerges in an interaction or within a person, the interactions, if stylized, must also have the vitality of budo.


Very nicely put. I hadn't made the connection to misogi in that way before.

Thanks,

Jusma
12-31-2015, 02:23 AM
I ended my aikido carrier same reasons as thread starter wrote about. What does it do to practise harmony, if there is no conflict present anytime during attacks in aikido class? Leads to egoism, delusions by my experience. However aikido has been one of my greatest passions.

I came back doing my own class, which showed some promise. I added some wrestling, sparring, basic punches and kicks to aikido priciples from start. Yes, a student made a spontaneus ykkyo during sparr after two months training.

If trained honestly sparring is required, just my opinion. So, I am thinking more to use modern combat techniques with aikidopriciciples of movement and non-resistance. Standing fighting, ground work, weapons training for it's exellent impact devoloping proper concentration and different distance, timing.

Those would be modeled into those three caregories. No any belt degrees. Boxing and wrestling does not have them, so why any combat art should have any? It's more japanese social code than western thing. Level of skill is anyway obviously seen and respect becomes without any "degrees".

But this cannot be called aikido anymore, or can it? Do I need to invent new/old name like Modern Aikibudo?

nikyu62
01-06-2016, 01:17 PM
O Sensei said you have to find your own aikido.

lbb
01-06-2016, 02:37 PM
The thread that wouldn't die...because the noobs keep bringing it back to life.

rugwithlegs
01-06-2016, 02:58 PM
Oh be nice. Our words outlive us here, and so do the questions and opinions. Answers do change over time.

I have been wrestling with posting something about impending war, religious motivated violence, and terrorism on this international forum. There are many quotes from O Sensei about "The Art of Peace" and Aikido having a role in creating and maintaining peace. Does Aikido, do we, have a role to play in world peace? What are you doing yourself out there?

Star Dragon
01-07-2016, 04:52 AM
Ah yes, the question of Aikido's "street effectiveness" again. It's a complex one.

There is a lot involved in self-defence, and much of it is psychological. Do you radiate confidence? Are you able to resolve a situation in its preliminary stage, without anybody getting hurt? Such will go a long way in keeping you and others safe. And yes, ideally, "the way of harmony" will enhance your skills in this regard.

But of course, people asking this question usually want to know what happens when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Well, as far as all-round self-defence training is concerned, Aikido does have a number of problems. I will outline only two of them here; let's call them "beginning and end".

Attacks in Aikido are not realistic

In a real altercation, when people grab you, this will often be immediately followed by a punch, knee, head butt, or violent push. And they certainly won't keep holding on to your wrist forever, allowing you to do a nice ikkyo on them! Some folks will maintain that this is just the way we practice; it's for getting proper body mechanics down, and so fourth. But take my word for it, in a real situation, you will fight the way you have trained! No time to think, you will simply do what comes most naturally to you: What you have ingrained in your subconscious mind by countless repetitions. So if you want to be functional, better make sure that your training is functional - right from the start.

When real world attackers strike, it will most often take the form of a roundhouse punch delivered with the hand that is further away from you. I have heard people say they could defend against it the way they defend against a yokomen-uchi, but that's quite a different kind of attack. So again, if you want to be able to handle a wild 'haymaker', by all means, have them thrown at you in your training. How about using protective gear to make your training more realistic?

Not to mention weapon attacks. No knife fighter will be idiotic enough to 'step through' with a hyper-extended thrust, allowing you to do your neat tenkan evasion, followed by a kote-gaeshi. A series of stabs from close distance is much more likely. Or, if they have been influenced by a Filipino or Indonesian style, they might come at you drawing tight curves with the knife that you will quickly happen to be in the way of. How are you going to deal with that?

Finishes in Aikido are not realistic

In fairness, that depends on the situation. Sometimes, that submission armlock is in fact all it takes to resolve a situation - especially, if the situation is not that serious, or you can rely on quick help from others. But consider what you would do if that were not the case. You can't hold an aggressor down indefinitely. Plus, once he signals that he is in pain, you will likely release the hold, simply because that's what you have been training countless times. He might even go: "I give up, man!" - and you will believe it because you have only been dealing with nice, cooperative people so far...

Let's not forget, on the street (or in a bar), aggressor often have buddies. So there you are, safely pinning your opponent to the floor, while his friend demonstrates to you the effect of a whiskey bottle when used "externally".

Sure, we have our atemis. I have met advanced practitioners seriously claiming that their totally untrained uppercut would surely knock out an aggressor, and their yokomen-uchi delivered to the side of the neck would kill them! Well, practitioners of the various striking arts work long and hard to achieve that kind of effectiveness, using various kind of equipment. Surely, they must be doing it all wrong...

So, in conclusion, yes, Aikido principles and techniques can be part of your self-defence art repertory, but only if they are trained as such, which means, with attacks that are as realistic as it gets, done as effectively as possible with speed and power, and supplemented by techniques and training methods used in other arts.

Tim Ruijs
01-07-2016, 06:19 AM
Thread originates back to 2010 about anonymous someone who then stopped practising Aikido.
After five years I doubt your answers will be received....

Star Dragon
01-07-2016, 06:51 AM
That's okay. This topic is timeless, and somebody else might want to chime in. :)

lbb
01-07-2016, 02:21 PM
That's okay. This topic is timeless, and somebody else might want to chime in. :)

I'm sure they want to chime in; I question whether anyone has anything new to say on the subject. It's the blind men and the elephant.

StefanHultberg
01-08-2016, 10:03 AM
Aikido has so many purposes for so many different people. For me it's fun, I get exercise, and it's very relaxing. Sure, there are many other, and deeper benefits for me, but those should be enough. And seriously, if we're talking martial effectiveness - I'm pretty sure my hands are lethal, at least my wrists hurt like hell :)