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dapidmini
01-10-2012, 10:15 AM
all this time we (in our dojo) describe Aikido as a martial arts of love, where we don't (severely) injure our opponent to protect ourselves.. this approach seems to make people wonder if Aikido can really be used to defend themselves.

we have an embukai coming up and we're thinking if we should stop stressing on the love part and more to the martial part so that people will become more interested. we're hoping that people will understand the love part after they train long enough. what do you think?

how would you describe Aikido to make people more interested?

Michael Hackett
01-10-2012, 10:47 AM
I often tell visitors and potential students that aikido is a martial art unlike all others because it operates with a rheostat.....we can use the same technique to control our drunken uncle at the family BBQ without hurting him or against a mugger at the ATM machine by turning up the dial on the dimmer switch. That seems to make sense to them anyway.

Marc Abrams
01-10-2012, 12:39 PM
When people ask if Aikido is the art of Love and Peace, I tell them that it is the art of love and piece! I can love my attacker to death, theirs of course! and I I can love them to death one piece ripped off at a time :D .

I like Michael's description. I use a similar one in that I say that Aikido is like a Chinese restaurant in the suburbs. In one place, you can get Mandarin, Cantonese, Szechuan cuisines! It is nice to add the spice when needed.....

Marc Abrams

DonMagee
01-10-2012, 01:46 PM
I describe it as a semi-scientific (or pseudoscientific ) study in how the human body moves in response to physical simuli.

That is where my interest in aikido is currently.

chillzATL
01-10-2012, 01:54 PM
Kinda like Don, I now describe it as a study in conditioning and using the body work differently than normal and using that to affect another person and control them, in a martial arts framework.... kind of...

or just pick one of these, same thing:

Aikido is the principle of eternal continuation throughout all ages of the one and same system of the Universe.
Aikido is Heaven-sent truth and the marvelous work of Takemusu Aiki.
Aikido is the Way of union and harmony of Heaven, Earth and humanity.
Aikido is, moreover, the Way to take care of the entire creation.
Aikido is the supreme work of kotodama and the Great Way of Universal Purification (misogi).

Walter Martindale
01-10-2012, 02:45 PM
Usually verbally.... ;-)

I say it's a bit like origami, but with people.

As well, that you can regulate the intensity according to the person with whom you're interacting as described above - expanding it to include the absolute beginner in training, the drunken uncle (although all my uncles have cast off their mortal coils) or the thug at the ATM...

(however Kawahara shihan used to advise us that if we were ever confronted with a "real" situation we should run away because he didn't feel that either we or our dojo sensei were well enough trained to survive...)

Cheers,
W

mathewjgano
01-10-2012, 03:06 PM
It depends on a lot of contextual factors for what I say, but I generally make sure to say it's varied and that there are a wide variety of interpretations ranging from healthy exercise to brutal martial art and everything in between. Then I usually describe it as essentially coming from Daitoryu and describe something equally brief about O Sensei's spirituality; that in general it's a study of the mind/body/spiritual connection with the aim of affecting healthy change.

dapidmini
01-10-2012, 05:59 PM
thanks for the fast replies :D


Aikido is the principle of eternal continuation throughout all ages of the one and same system of the Universe.
Aikido is Heaven-sent truth and the marvelous work of Takemusu Aiki.
Aikido is the Way of union and harmony of Heaven, Earth and humanity.
Aikido is, moreover, the Way to take care of the entire creation.
Aikido is the supreme work of kotodama and the Great Way of Universal Purification (misogi).

aren't those way too abstract and sophisticated to say for new people? I think those would make them think that they can become gods after training Aikido :eek:

When people ask if Aikido is the art of Love and Peace, I tell them that it is the art of love and piece! I can love my attacker to death, theirs of course! and I I can love them to death one piece ripped off at a time :D .


LOL but that sounds brutal.. so you think it would be better to focus more on the martial part of Aikido when explaining to new people?

I often tell visitors and potential students that aikido is a martial art unlike all others because it operates with a rheostat.....we can use the same technique to control our drunken uncle at the family BBQ without hurting him or against a mugger at the ATM machine by turning up the dial on the dimmer switch. That seems to make sense to them anyway.

I like this.. but won't it make people think that Aikido only works for people with no martial arts skill?

I describe it as a semi-scientific (or pseudoscientific ) study in how the human body moves in response to physical simuli.

That is where my interest in aikido is currently.

I like this.. but I think it's not quite enough to attract many people..


I say it's a bit like origami, but with people.
what do you mean origami with people? do you mean we get to fold people into unique shapes?


what do you mean origami with people? do you mean we get to fold people into unique shapes?


As well, that you can regulate the intensity according to the person with whom you're interacting as described above - expanding it to include the absolute beginner in training, the drunken uncle (although all my uncles have cast off their mortal coils) or the thug at the ATM...


won't this make people think that Aikido is only for fighting people with no martial arts capability? even though Aikido is a pure self defense, won't it get outshined by other martial arts that offer the ability to defend against people with some martial arts skill?


(however Kawahara shihan used to advise us that if we were ever confronted with a "real" situation we should run away because he didn't feel that either we or our dojo sensei were well enough trained to survive...)


I imagine some people will also "run away" from Aikido because they will have to train a very long time to even survive in a real dangerous situation if I told them that..

Then I usually describe it as essentially coming from Daitoryu and describe something equally brief about O Sensei's spirituality; that in general it's a study of the mind/body/spiritual connection with the aim of affecting healthy change.

won't that description requires a much more complex explanations? we only have about 5-10 minutes to explain Aikido in this embukai.. I don't think we can even get half of the Daitoryu explanation before the time runs out and we're kicked off stage..

I need a description that can "sell" Aikido.. I'm still waiting for your other interesting ideas:rolleyes:

lbb
01-10-2012, 06:32 PM
Describing aikido to someone as "the art of love" may feel good to you, but it doesn't really help your communication. The person you're talking to has no frame of reference that would allow that expression to be anything but misunderstood in some way. That being the case, why not set that aside and describe it in a more pragmatic and concise way, using a frame of reference that your audience can understand?

Michael Hackett
01-10-2012, 06:39 PM
Since it now looks like you are looking for a "sales pitch", consider telling people that aikido is a modern martial art that can be practiced by almost anyone and then talk about self-defense, improving health/balance/coordination/self-discipline/self-esteem. Talk about how a person can find almost anything he is looking for in aikido practice, whether it is martial effectivemess, good health and fitness, spirituality, and how it can be applied in everyday life.

Who is your audience? Tailor your presentation to the audience. Good luck and turn up your public speaking rheostat.

kewms
01-10-2012, 07:59 PM
If it's a martial artist, I email them several video clips and let them draw their own conclusions.

If it's a prospective student, I explain that aikido strives to resolve conflict without injury to either party -- but that actually reaching that goal is fairly difficult. Until that goal is achieved, aikido offers a variety of strategies for different situations. And then I invite them to sit and watch the class.

If it's a random person trying to understand why I spend so much time at the dojo, I tell them it's an art that depends on using the attacker's momentum, and that it attracted me in the first place for that reason, but that I also value what it gives me in terms of fitness, mental balance, etc.

Katherine

graham christian
01-10-2012, 08:30 PM
all this time we (in our dojo) describe Aikido as a martial arts of love, where we don't (severely) injure our opponent to protect ourselves.. this approach seems to make people wonder if Aikido can really be used to defend themselves.

we have an embukai coming up and we're thinking if we should stop stressing on the love part and more to the martial part so that people will become more interested. we're hoping that people will understand the love part after they train long enough. what do you think?

how would you describe Aikido to make people more interested?

I describe it as it is in it's essence and leave it at that. They can take it or leave it.

Having said that we then move from your question into the field of promotion so your question is rather how to promote it or disseminate it, a subtly different question. Thus a subtly different answer.

Regards.G.

Belt_Up
01-10-2012, 08:34 PM
"Ever punched a man in the face? Now, you don't have to!"

phitruong
01-10-2012, 08:35 PM
just tell them it's the art of love with lots of kama sutra foreplay techniques in pajamas, were folks are rather happy and tired, even though there were no happy ending. aikido spent alot of time working on entering, connection and do it from behind. on occasion we like threesome and foursome and somesome. there are times we use external wood aid with the short, medium and long, depends on how we feel that day. sometimes, it just hurts so good. :D

mathewjgano
01-10-2012, 09:29 PM
won't that description requires a much more complex explanations? we only have about 5-10 minutes to explain Aikido in this embukai.. I don't think we can even get half of the Daitoryu explanation before the time runs out and we're kicked off stage..

I need a description that can "sell" Aikido.. I'm still waiting for your other interesting ideas:rolleyes:
Not necessarily. I just highlight some key facts of history (a minute or two at most) then describe what I focus on in my training. Admittedly, I'm not much of a salesman though.

Chris Li
01-10-2012, 09:37 PM
"Ever punched a man in the face? Now, you don't have to!"

"Strike your opponent in the face."
-Morihei Ueshiba

Really, I don't know why people are so afraid of strikes - you're probably less likely to incur damage from a strike than most techniques involving a fall or the joints.

I just tell people that it comes from the same basic roots as Judo (which everybody has seen), but never moved into competition (for the most part) and if they hang around then we go deeper.

Best,

Chris

dapidmini
01-11-2012, 01:45 AM
"Ever punched a man in the face? Now, you don't have to!"

won't that defeat the purpose of atemi?

just tell them it's the art of love with lots of kama sutra foreplay techniques in pajamas, were folks are rather happy and tired, even though there were no happy ending. aikido spent alot of time working on entering, connection and do it from behind. on occasion we like threesome and foursome and somesome. there are times we use external wood aid with the short, medium and long, depends on how we feel that day. sometimes, it just hurts so good. :D

+100 for you Phi :D unfortunately I can't really say that to new people at the dojo, not to mention in an embukai ;)

Since it now looks like you are looking for a "sales pitch", consider telling people that aikido is a modern martial art that can be practiced by almost anyone and then talk about self-defense, improving health/balance/coordination/self-discipline/self-esteem. Talk about how a person can find almost anything he is looking for in aikido practice, whether it is martial effectivemess, good health and fitness, spirituality, and how it can be applied in everyday life.


nice idea. like this.. maybe I'll start using this to describe and promote Aikido

Describing aikido to someone as "the art of love" may feel good to you, but it doesn't really help your communication. The person you're talking to has no frame of reference that would allow that expression to be anything but misunderstood in some way. That being the case, why not set that aside and describe it in a more pragmatic and concise way, using a frame of reference that your audience can understand?

yes, that's what my senpais say.. I think that understanding will come later after training several decades :dead:

If it's a martial artist, I email them several video clips and let them draw their own conclusions.

If it's a prospective student, I explain that aikido strives to resolve conflict without injury to either party -- but that actually reaching that goal is fairly difficult. Until that goal is achieved, aikido offers a variety of strategies for different situations. And then I invite them to sit and watch the class.

If it's a random person trying to understand why I spend so much time at the dojo, I tell them it's an art that depends on using the attacker's momentum, and that it attracted me in the first place for that reason, but that I also value what it gives me in terms of fitness, mental balance, etc.

Katherine

like this too..

I describe it as it is in it's essence and leave it at that. They can take it or leave it.

Having said that we then move from your question into the field of promotion so your question is rather how to promote it or disseminate it, a subtly different question. Thus a subtly different answer.


I know it's the most elegant way but it rarely attracts people into training. although when someone do come for this, he/she will most likely be a true student of the art... but don't you think we need to give people something to attact people more so that they can have a chance to experience it?

I thought I read something like this recently:
only 1/2 of people who come to the dojo will step into the mat
only 1/2 of people who steps into the mat will come in the next training
only 1/2 of people who comes in the next training will train for the next 2 months
and so on..

if we only take in the elites I'm afraid the dojo won't be running for long since we don't have a strong sponsor.:o

Carsten Möllering
01-11-2012, 02:14 AM
Our advertisment poster describes aikido as "Japanese martial art".
When talking to someone I ad "traditional". And sometimes the word "budo". And instead of explaining aikido I invite to take part in our training and to feel it oneself.

but I think it's not quite enough to attract many people..
I've made the experience that the intent to "attract many people" doesn't help to practice a budo.

If one needs the money to run a dojo, it's more helpfull to rely on one's own income and think about how to improve this.
If one needs training partners, it's more helpfull to rely on the few who know what they are doing. And there allways will be a few who already practice aikido. At least there is a judoka who maybe interested. Thinking about getting training partners is different from attracting many people.

I imagine some people will also "run away" from Aikido because they will have to train a very long time to even survive in a real dangerous situation if I told them that..
It's only truth: They will have to train a very long time to even survive in a real dangerous situation, compared to other ways of defending. If the truth will make them leave it is ok, when they leave.

... we only have about 5-10 minutes to explain Aikido in this embukai...
You can't really explain aikido even in an hour. You can just sketch out what is fascinating you. But that's a lot.
And you can show very very much of aikido in 10 minutes.

I need a description that can "sell" Aikido.
If you understand aikido as a budo, then don't "sell" it. Just practice. And let other people see your practice. The ones who are made for doing aikido will find your dojo.

chillzATL
01-11-2012, 07:23 AM
thanks for the fast replies :D

aren't those way too abstract and sophisticated to say for new people? I think those would make them think that they can become gods after training Aikido :eek:


IMO, no. It's just another way of saying what I said to begin with... in Ueshiba-ese.

Mary Eastland
01-11-2012, 07:58 AM
Taking care of yourself (self love) and martial are not concepts that need to be far apart. I was taught about the concept of "least possible harm", which will change as each student grows and matures and because of each specific circumstance. I have the right and responsibility to defend myself. By making that decision I am well on my way to safety. Extreme self care involves looking at the dark side of myself and others.

Walter Martindale
01-11-2012, 12:30 PM
You want "the elevator pitch" - you're on the ground floor, going up 10 or 15 floors in a building and someone's asked for "what's Aikido"...

One description I've used is along the lines of:

Aikido is a martial art, initially developed in the early 1900s. Is uses a lot of movements that have been adapted from styles of jujitsu and kenjitsu as a modern form of self defense. It's possible to practice Aikido with a "combative" sensibility, or with the goal of training for physical fitness and health, and the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. A lot of the practice involves being thrown and taking turns with partners, and you get a lot of physical fitness from continuous work with a partner. Most of the exercise comes from getting back up off the ground. Injuries are relatively rare, because we try to work within the capabilities of our training partner - if we hurt them, we can't practice with them, so we're a bit careful that way. WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME AND WATCH AND/OR GIVE IT A TRY?
(not shouted - emphasis so that you remember that's the most important part of the pitch)
Cheers,
Walter

lbb
01-11-2012, 02:24 PM
I know it's the most elegant way but it rarely attracts people into training. although when someone do come for this, he/she will most likely be a true student of the art... but don't you think we need to give people something to attact people more so that they can have a chance to experience it?

I thought I read something like this recently:
only 1/2 of people who come to the dojo will step into the mat
only 1/2 of people who steps into the mat will come in the next training
only 1/2 of people who comes in the next training will train for the next 2 months
and so on..

if we only take in the elites I'm afraid the dojo won't be running for long since we don't have a strong sponsor.:o

But think about what that 1/2 statistic is based on. It isn't some kind of a law or a constant -- that is to say, if you were to round up a thousand people off the street and march them into your dojo, you wouldn't get 500 to step onto the mat. However many people come into the dojo, only the ones who see something that they want to try will step onto the mat, and only the ones who get what they want will keep coming. So the solution, I think, is to give them something of value from the first class, even if it's a small thing, and to show them the value of what they're getting. This is hard to do in an instant-gratification world and still be honest, but if you try to sell aikido by saying "aikido is love" or "the art of peace", it sounds a wee bit cultish. You have to talk to people in the language they understand, not baffle them with stuff that sounds to them like mystical BS.

Also (want to say this before I lose track of the idea) Mary's phrase "taking care of yourself" caught my eye. It depends some on the environment and culture in which you are located, but here in the United States, there is often a real lack of "taking care of yourself" (as opposed to self-indulgence, of which we have plenty), and at the same time there's a craving for same. Explaining aikido as something that you do to take care of yourself, in many ways -- self-defense, but also exercise, also flexibility, also getting you off the couch and away from the television and doing something with other people, et cetera -- is going to have more credibility, as a near-term benefit, than either claims of love/peace or being able to defend yourself.

Keith Larman
01-11-2012, 05:56 PM
I really like Mary M's explanation here. I will often use Chri Li's "kinda like judo" as a starting point but then talk a bit about how people will do it for a myriad of reasons. And that over time most who stay end up doing it for a reason unique to them. It can be about self-defense, it can be about self-improvement, it can be about empowerment, and so forth. So I suggest they watch and consider taking a few classes to get a feel for what it is all about. Then they can figure out if there is something there for them that speaks to them. I encourage, but I don't sell. It is what it is. I also make sure they understand it's not UFC board breaking high kicking power ranger ninja kung gu karate-do. And that it takes time and commitment.

NekVTAikido
01-11-2012, 08:34 PM
Been wondering about this myself...don't have a ready answer, but looking around at the dojos I've been to - it's a pretty small percentage of the general population that joins and sticks with it. So, I'm not sure that attracting a lot of people is going to get you anything really worthwhile in the long run, instead, maybe focus on attracting the right people.

Alberto_Italiano
01-12-2012, 10:09 AM
I'd describe it as the most ambitious way of fighting. However, i'd add the caveat that most dojos won't train you for being prepared to the ugliness and ruthlessness of a real fight.

Mark Freeman
01-12-2012, 11:10 AM
I'd describe it as the most ambitious way of fighting. However, i'd add the caveat that most dojos won't train you for being prepared to the ugliness and ruthlessness of a real fight.

Hi Alberto,

I wouldn't describe aikido as a 'way of fighting' quite the contraryI would describe it as a 'way of not fighting'. :cool: I know that in itself may make some people bristle and want to start a fight;)

I don't think that that many people start in aikido looking to prepare themselves for the ugliness and ruthlessness of a real fight. Those that want to learn how to be good fighters, are well served by plenty of other arts MMA, Boxing etc

The practice of aikido is complex and difficult, it takes a lot of practice to master. It is a valid form of self defence, but it probably serves most of its practitioners well, for their own reasons of practice, which may be many.

regards

Mark
p.s. The longer I practice, the less I try and describe aikido to people. I usually suggest that they come and watch, but they won't really know, until they feel what is happening.

Alberto_Italiano
01-12-2012, 11:16 AM
I don't think that that many people start in aikido looking to prepare themselves for the ugliness and ruthlessness of a real fight. Those that want to learn how to be good fighters, are well served by plenty of other arts MMA, Boxing etc

The practice of aikido is complex and difficult, it takes a lot of practice to master.

Hullo Mark, well though i understand and respect your personal idea of aikido, what can I say? I was just proposing how I would describe it (that was the question if i did not misunderstand it).
In my world aikido either is for the ugliness of a real fight or it is useless. But, let me emphasize: in my world.

The fact you mention MMA probably means you have not noticed, or perhaps I have not stressed enough, that I would describe it as the most ambitious way - to fight.
MMA is the most practical one.

So, in my world aikido is the most ambitious way to fight, and that is my humble answer to that question, wrong or right that it may be (no problem if it would be wrong - but you see it's just my answer, my contribution, or my perspective to that question, nothing more)

Alberto_Italiano
01-12-2012, 11:27 AM
Uh Mark, now that i come to think of that - thank you for your answer, it actually made me think.

It seems implied that since aikido is not really made for people "looking to prepare themselves for the ugliness and ruthlessness of a real fight", that the reason we train in the way we train (mostly ineffective for a fast paced real confrontation) is because we have implicitly accepted that Aikido cannot be used indeed in a real fight, namely that we have silently come to the conclusion that it has failed as a martial art and that we all accepted, wittingly or unwittingly, that aikido had to forfait any claim to be a martial art.

It is an interesting implication.
To which, indeed, my answer could be that aikido will stay failed as a martial art only as long as we will refuse, for one reason or another, to train using it with true martiality in mind as our first and foremost if not even unique concern.

If then enlightenment follows, let it follow. After all, it may follow even serving tea.

Conrad Gus
01-12-2012, 11:42 AM
I tell people to imagine a cross between Judo and Tai Chi. Take the internal power from tai chi and work with a partner to do throws and pins that are similar to judo or jiu jutsu. It can be slow or fast, soft or hard, and at high levels is an effective art for self-defence.

If they want to talk about philosophy, I don't usually go further than a few basic ideas like: "redirecting the opponent's energy", "avoiding unnecessary harm" and "de-escalating the conflict". Beyond that it starts to get a bit tricky to talk about in casual conversation.

Basia Halliop
01-12-2012, 01:06 PM
I agree that very philosophical answers are usually meaningless to most people if they don't already have a good idea of what you're talking about...

If (when) someone asks me I tend to stay pretty practical -- e.g., it's a martial art with a lot of joint locks and throws. I may mention it's japanese. I might compare it to judo or jujitsu and say it's got more in common with those than with karate or taekwando which are more striking and kicking focused. I may say there aren't tournaments, since people often ask about that.

I might also say that you try to redirect your opponent's force instead of being stronger than them, or that you try to get them to lose their balance.

danj
01-12-2012, 06:10 PM
won't that defeat the purpose of atemi?

I know it's the most elegant way but it rarely attracts people into training. although when someone do come for this, he/she will most likely be a true student of the art... but don't you think we need to give people something to attact people more so that they can have a chance to experience it?

I thought I read something like this recently:
only 1/2 of people who come to the dojo will step into the mat
only 1/2 of people who steps into the mat will come in the next training
only 1/2 of people who comes in the next training will train for the next 2 months
and so on..

if we only take in the elites I'm afraid the dojo won't be running for long since we don't have a strong sponsor.:o

Hi David,
I wrote this in the 3 things for beginners thread, base on 10yrs of stats. I think the retention can be tweaked through careful management i.e. you can get people to stay longer (but they still drop out) or drop out earlier but the overall result is much the same. In the past i have run beginners courses to get people to stay longer (with the hope of improving retention and its does, but only a little bit) but my most recent approach is to use an elevator style pitch of the art in a nutshell for one night along with some exercises so that those that are going to stay, stay and those that are going to leave, leave sooner. The end result is the dojo can invest its limited time and effort more wisely.

But back on track for the topic
My elevator pitch (and supporting accompanying practice) is about Aikido being derived form samurai class martial arts. The sword was the primary weapon of the samurai. There was only time to learn one set of skills - those of the swordsman and they must be easily translated and useful in other combat scenarios e.g. if held to prevent him using/drawing the weapon, or had to fight unarmed against a weapon and multiple attackers on a battlefield or restrain without causing insult or harm. Legendary in its sharpness it was almost impossible to block and thus blending with power was important. Because of the need to fight and run all day relaxation and using relaxed power is important, extension of mind through and beyond the sword and that of no fear gave the best chance of success.

Thus students can do some sword, some movements like a sword cut like ikkyo, some unbendable arm and defensive rolling, and they get why hand holds are important and that committed strikes are important (as armour penetrating attacks) understand the importance of meditation, ki and why its uses by professional for restraint.

As a narrative its easy to follow, somewhat logical and there is plenty of time in the years following to sort out the bold generalisations and more importantly I am comfortable with it.

dan

NekVTAikido
01-13-2012, 11:42 AM
Ok - here's another elevator speech:

=================

Aikido is a study of Human movement and interaction, using forms/techniques from Japanese Martial Arts.

It's practice typically encompasses mindfulness; physical and psychological centeredness; internal power; flow; flexibility; responsiveness; blending, harmonizing and redirecting "attacks"; self-protection in dangerous situations (e.g. ukemi), and self-advocacy. These principles are taught via specific martial arts techniques, which we practice with each other in the Dojo.

People often practice Aikido for fun, fitness, and for ability to embody and apply the principles mentioned above in a variety of situations, potentially (but extremely rarely) including physical conflict.

=================

I'm curious - how much of this holds true for all you folks reading this on AikiWeb? and what do you think is missing?

dapidmini
01-13-2012, 12:48 PM
Aikido is a study of Human movement and interaction, using forms/techniques from Japanese Martial Arts.

It's practice typically encompasses mindfulness; physical and psychological centeredness; internal power; flow; flexibility; responsiveness; blending, harmonizing and redirecting "attacks"; self-protection in dangerous situations (e.g. ukemi), and self-advocacy. These principles are taught via specific martial arts techniques, which we practice with each other in the Dojo.

People often practice Aikido for fun, fitness, and for ability to embody and apply the principles mentioned above in a variety of situations, potentially (but extremely rarely) including physical conflict.


so far I like this one the best because I can actually say it in a short time to a general audience.

thanks :D

Mark Uttech
01-13-2012, 03:14 PM
Onegaishimasu, I've told folks that I can describe aikido in 3 words:
Won-der-ful. (That is, "full of wonder")
In gassho,
Mark

lbb
01-13-2012, 05:30 PM
so far I like this one the best because I can actually say it in a short time to a general audience.

But is it really accurate? Or is it misleading? Before you use this as your pitch (or anything like it), ask yourself this:


Are we really doing a movement analysis? And isn't that the impression that people would get if we describe aikido as "a study of human movement"?
Do we actually teach "mindfulness" and "physical and psychological centeredness"? That is, do we say, "Okay, now we're going to do a mindfulness/centeredness exercise" and then teach some esoteric practice? Do our teachers have any quaifications as teachers of esoteric practices?
What does "self-advocacy" mean to a prospective student, and does it have anything to do with what we teach?


Again, the point is communication. I have no beef with anyone who describes their own practice as "mindfulness" or "internal power" or "centeredness". But if I'm seeking to communicate with a prospective student, I need to use a common language -- and by that, I do NOT mean the same words. I need to use words that have the same meaning for my audience that they do for me. I need to stay away from words that are ambiguous, or commonly misunderstood, or whose meaning is distorted in the popular culture. To use an example, what do you think "centeredness" means to the average non-aikido practitioner -- and is it really the same thing that it means to you?

Malicat
01-13-2012, 06:59 PM
My background is in sport Karate, and I frequently run into the problem of trying to explain to my family that now I study Aikido, not Karate. This is partially due to the fact that they are used to me being in Karate, and partially due to the fact that non-martial artists seem to see every martial art as "karate" and not something unique. I prefer to explain by using examples, so this is how I explain it to them.

If a drunk guy keeps grabbing my arm in a bar, as someone who has studied Karate, I have 3 responses. Ignore it and hope he goes away, hit him and basically start a bar fight, or use a targeted strike that breaks a bone. Even ignoring the legal issues involved, ignoring him may cause him to think I would be an easy victim to attack later, starting a fist fight in a bar with a guy who is most likely much larger than me is plain stupid, and breaking bones to get someone to remove his hand from my arm is clearly overkill. Aikido gives me the option to remove his hand from my arm without causing permanent damage and gives me a chance to deescalate the situation without giving him the idea that I am a victim.

While I am not sure how well this can "sell" Aikido to someone, it's been very effective with my friends and family. At least it means my mother has finally quit saying, "Is it really necessary to go to Karate 5 times a week?" Now she asks me if it's really necessary for me to go to Aikido 5 times a week. :)

Cyril Landise
01-14-2012, 11:42 AM
I will warn you that I have emptied many a room at dinner parties with my responses to this question.

My shortest answer is: "Aikido looks like fast Tai Chi with a partner."

Slightly longer version is that it is a martial art which trains ethical self defense and views all aggressors as hysterical children who must be restrained without injury.

Also, Aikido is a gentle martial art, training conflict resolution through movement, self defense without vengeance, the exhilaration of aerobic dance, dynamic meditation and a path to harmony with all creation.
At its most graphic it trains a devastatingly effective way to fight and defend yourself; at its most poetic it is moving Zen, dynamic meditation, aerobic love.

These are quotes from a short article I wrote attempting to explain Aikido to laypersons.

The article is here:

http://archive.usafaikidonews.com/2007/1/article_1.shtml

n.puertollano
01-18-2012, 10:52 PM
When I first started aikido I would tell my friends that it was hard to explain and that they would have to try it to understand, but it has to do with redirecting energy and that you train with the idea on how to deal with multiple attackers. Although now I don't get to many questions on what Aikido is.

PeterR
01-19-2012, 01:29 AM
Aikido is what you do to close the distance, Judo is what you do when you get there.

dalen7
01-19-2012, 03:36 AM
Aikido is what you do to close the distance, Judo is what you do when you get there.

... and BJJ is what you do when Judo takes you to the ground. ;)

[nice definition though] :)

Peace

dAlen

LinTal
01-19-2012, 04:23 PM
I usually just say that aikido's a non-violent martial art.

If they ask for deeper clarification I'll tell them that most people try to control a situation through pain, i.e. punching and kicking, but that is only one way to gain control. Aikido shows you another way that controls the situation without causing pain, which then gives you the option of gaining control without violence.

RuteMendes
01-23-2012, 02:57 PM
I always describe like this:

"Aikido is a japanese martial art created in 1920 by a martial artist called Morihei Ueshiba. It's not a punching or kicking art... It's all about using your oponent's strenght agaisnt himself.
It's really cool and people at the Dojo are sooo cool and friendly! Everyone can pratice it! Everyone that is willing to pratice that Art of the Peace. About self defense... well... if you are expecting quick results, go to kickboxing or krav maga! In Aikido you'll need a lot of pratice and years of hardwork, but believe me... once you accomplish it, you'll be able to defend yourself in such a peaceful way ... *-* It's amazing to see"

:D You can also compare the "ki" to "the force" and "jedis" is you're talking to some Star Wars fan ahahah It works perfectly! OOhhh also talk about the weapons and the samurais! :D
And, if you're explaining it to men, tell them that black belts wear skirts! Ahahah Very encouraging!

Peace!:ai: :ki: :do:

jlbrewer
02-08-2012, 01:42 AM
My 5 second explanation: It's a descendant of jujitsu, it's primarily defensive.
My 60 second explanation: The layman's definition of aiki, framed as the concept of blending with and redirecting attacks, using their strength against them.
If the subject of it's efficacy in a fight comes up: "Aikido is less about fighting than it is about ending a fight."

Richard Stevens
02-08-2012, 09:45 AM
I'm not an Aikidoka, but instead of telling people I do Iaijutsu/Iaido I just say Kendo and instead of Hakko-Ryu Jujutsu I just say Judo.

observer
02-22-2012, 11:52 AM
It's all about using your oponent's strenght agaisnt himself.
... you'll be able to defend yourself in such a peaceful way ..
Really? Please explain - how? I am serious.

morph4me
02-22-2012, 12:42 PM
Aikido is a martial art that happens when timing, distance, physiology, body mechanics and physics come together to create some impressive and amazing results.

Michael Douglas
02-22-2012, 01:30 PM
This thread should tell us : everyone is doing something different, even if some think they're doing the same as everyone else.

matty_mojo911
02-23-2012, 08:46 PM
Don't try to sell the idea of Aikido. People turn up becuse they are interested, they have to find their own way to the door. You just need to let them know you are there.

A dramatic picture is all you need with some contact numbers.

95% of the people that you "drag" or "lure" in will leave. 40% of the people that find their own way there will stay.

dalen7
03-09-2012, 09:18 AM
all this time we (in our dojo) describe Aikido as a martial arts of love, where we don't (severely) injure our opponent to protect ourselves.. this approach seems to make people wonder if Aikido can really be used to defend themselves.

we have an embukai coming up and we're thinking if we should stop stressing on the love part and more to the martial part so that people will become more interested. we're hoping that people will understand the love part after they train long enough. what do you think?

how would you describe Aikido to make people more interested?

Wow... depends.

How realistically do you train. If someone rolls out of ikkyo would the attitude be, "oh cool, lets see how we can tighten up that control"... and/or, lets see how we can finish it up with a BJJ armbar. ;)

If your dojo is like the above, then cool.

Now, how do I describe Aikido to people?

For me personally its like a part of a chain that has been separated and needs to be linked back together. [i.e. BJJ/Aikido/Judo with some ThaiBoxing for those into it]

As one person once told me, and hopefully I put it as nicely as he did, its about distance/range.

Aikido is like Jiu-jitsu as that is where it came from.
BJJ is like jiu-jitsu as that is where it came from. [Well Judo, but they had a pretty solid looking ground game. As well as atemi, but not in tournaments. That is why I throw in the Thaiboxing as its 'live']

So I say it has a place, and if trained how I mentioned, it can really be fun.
Though it can be fun anyway if its just about the fluid motion. [Its up to the individual] :)

Peace

Dalen

Lunatic Bodhisattva
03-28-2012, 11:31 AM
I usually just show them Ikkyo, Nikkyo Sankkyo, Yankyo and a modified kotegaeshi where you don't twist the wrist but put downward pressure on it to take Uke down.

Then I explain the circular aspect and redirecting your opponents energy.

Usually by that point they say "hey show me that thing with my wrist again"

I show them one more time and then I say look Aikido up on the web... and leave it at that.

E

Don Nordin
03-28-2012, 01:17 PM
I dont really bother anymore, Aikido is for me, if they ask I simply say its the martial art of peace.

jackie adams
03-28-2012, 02:02 PM
Describing Aikido...hmmm....depends on whom I talking to. It is not an easy thing to describe to someone who has never seen it. I give a thumb nail sketch. We toss mock attackers around regardless of size and strength effortlessly and pin them; immobilizing them from movement. We are not a malicious or combative martial art. We strive to follow a modern Japanese code of ethics that parallels the same ethics western society upholds. We also strive to preserve techniques developed by the Founder of Aikido. Finally, we are respecting and upholding his spiritual and martial art philosophy. Then pull out the phone or tablet and show them some video's of Aikido. To go beyond that isn't too effective for someone unfamiliar with Aikido. The best thing is to get them on the mat to try it, give them one on one time. Talk with them after experiencing a class. Explain the Founder's philosophy behind Aikido, and his purpose he envisioned for it. Making sure their experience is a positive and personal one.

Dave de Vos
03-28-2012, 02:36 PM
In my experience, most people know that aikido is a martial art, but that's about all they know. Many think it's a striking art, because that's their general idea of a martial art.

I tell them that it involves pins and throws and that it's a relatively soft martial art (though there is a lot of variation depending on style and lineage) and that a major principle of aikido is to resolve a dangerous situation with minimal destruction of anyone involved.

Many people ask about tournament competition. I tell them that most styles don't compete in tournaments, because most practisioners feel that it would violate aikido principles (see above). When available, I show a few youtube clips to show what aikido looks like.

And I tell them that I love it :)

Aikibu
03-28-2012, 03:58 PM
The last few years I've used "Yoga with a partner who's really mad at you." ;)

William Hazen

Benjamin Green
03-28-2012, 04:12 PM
Depends who I'd be describing it to.

"Throws, sweeps and joint locks." Probably. People tend not to be too good at listening to complex ideas, at least not when you're saying it to them in person.

Edgecrusher
05-22-2012, 12:30 PM
all this time we (in our dojo) describe Aikido as a martial arts of love, where we don't (severely) injure our opponent to protect ourselves.. this approach seems to make people wonder if Aikido can really be used to defend themselves.

we have an embukai coming up and we're thinking if we should stop stressing on the love part and more to the martial part so that people will become more interested. we're hoping that people will understand the love part after they train long enough. what do you think?

how would you describe Aikido to make people more interested?

I often inform the individuals when and where we are training and at what time. I feel it is easier to show than explain. Then you could demonstrate how it would apply in the "real world".

ramenboy
05-22-2012, 08:38 PM
I often inform the individuals when and where we are training and at what time. I feel it is easier to show than explain. . .

i always remember that as shibata sensei's response years ago.

He basically said just that. '... Hard to explain. I'll show you on the mat...'

Edgecrusher
05-23-2012, 02:15 PM
i always remember that as shibata sensei's response years ago.

He basically said just that. '... Hard to explain. I'll show you on the mat...'

Fair enough, does it really matter whom said what? I would go blind reading every letter on this particular thread. Thanks for the kind info.

ramenboy
05-23-2012, 09:55 PM
Fair enough, does it really matter whom said what? I would go blind reading every letter on this particular thread. Thanks for the kind info.

Huh?

Edgecrusher
05-24-2012, 07:17 AM
Huh?

I must have miss read your response, no harm, no foul. I apologize.

genin
05-24-2012, 07:54 AM
I'm usually like, "You know Steven Seagal?....It's what he does."

Anthony Loeppert
05-24-2012, 07:05 PM
The art/science of off balancing an opponent while keeping one's own balance and minimizing expended energy.