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Mary Eastland
11-05-2017, 06:15 AM
There seems to be need to defend aikido. As in :"Why do you train in Aikido. It doesn't "work"?"

It depends on how we define "work".

The benefits I have received from my training include:

* Spacial awareness
* Safety consciousness
* Enhanced spirituality
* Increased flexibility
* Enhanced physicality (ability to move freely at 60 years of age)
* Awareness of what it mine and what is yours regarding what to change
* Enhanced ability to see my own side of the street
* Enhanced ability to see the good and not so good in others and accept them as they are
* Not to mention, I am more patient, and much less likely to blame others for my responses.

We all train in our own ways and get our own results. Could we have a positive thread and really reflect on the wonder of aikido training?

I would say Aikido "works" for me. Does it "work" for you and how does it "work"?

Rupert Atkinson
11-05-2017, 11:48 AM
Increased fitness
Increased coordination
Increased brain activity - you have to be a thinker
It is study
You meet the right people
Gives reason to travel and meet new people
You learn to fall
You get a good massage as all your joints are twisted
You have the ability to learn other arts easily
It is moving meditation and yoga combined
It has elements of striking, throwing, joint locking
Increased confidence
It's pretty safe
It's really good fun

No doubt more ...

lbb
11-06-2017, 07:45 AM
There seems to be need to defend aikido.

Some people have that need; I don't. I don't need to account to others for how I spend my time. But your points are good ones for anyone who wants to get into that argument.

Rupert Atkinson
11-07-2017, 12:17 AM
I have two main groups of real friends. First, my old high school mates. Second, those I have met in Aikido. I have done several martial arts for an extended period of time and it seems to me that Aikidoka have the greatest staying power. I have zero old Judo friends, zero old Wing Chun friends, one old Jujutsu friend (he did Aikido), one old Taichi friend, but I do have lots and lots of Aikido friends, even from the 1980s. Most guys I knew from the other arts quit eons ago. The Aikido I know are from all walks of life: taxi driver to banker, cook to doctor, singer to teacher etc. An endless source of advice should I ever need any. Aikido guys keep in touch despite being continents apart. I would say, on average, they are more highly educated. In fact, one of the smartest guys I know is a massage therapist (and Aikidoka). Another highly intellectual guy I know is a mechanic (and Aikidoka). Aikidio attracts a smarter crowd and/or it stimulates our brains for the better ...

Peter Goldsbury
11-07-2017, 04:35 AM
This is an interesting thread. It was created in response to another thread, which discussed the topic of whether aikido is effective, the main thrust being that it isn't, when compared with other arts that are supposedly more effective in some (unstated) situations that come under the general heading of 'real' fights or 'real' situations.

I am a few years short of fifty years of training. But have never really considered the question, mainly because I have never had to. All except one of my teachers had studied under the Man Himself and so we never had to question whether what they taught was effective. I can think of a scenario, of suggesting to someone like K Chiba or H Tada, that the art they had committed their lives to teaching was not effective, and then dealing with their response.

Outside aikido, I have trained in linguistics and the philosophy of language and am well aware of the verbal sleights of hand that some are prone to.

For me aikido is what it is and does not need defending. If you need to define it, it is an art or a set of skills, which admit of varying degrees of possession or mastery. In this respect, breaking down the name into its constituent bits is not particularly illuminating. The only issue for me is whether you split aiki into its components or keep it together as one name. Like Rupert, I prefer to keep it together as one term.

Here in Japan, we do not have the problem of worrying about the definition. Calling aikido bujutsu is fine. Budo is also OK, since very few of my own students will worry too much about the difference between a jutsu and a do. For those who do worry, there are loads of reading materials available in Japanese. However, like any other skill, it is something you accomplish by practice and which you can become good at if you put in the time and effort.

How does the personal accomplishment of one man (called the Man Himself, above) become a set of skills separate from the creator? Well, the answer is complicated and I am still researching this over on AikiWeb. One important point is that Ueshiba attracted many extremely able supporters because of his level of skill and it was they, as much as Ueshiba himself, who became the creators of the 'art' as distinct from its creator.

Whether as an art, it has changed during the course of its transformation from being the personal expression of its original practitioner is a difficult question, but one way of attempting to answer it is to look at those who are thought to have achieved a level of proficiency or mastery. I would not really include Doshu in this category, by the way, since being Doshu carries with it a certain obligation of being the exemplar of the art in its supposedly purest form. The present Doshu once told me that this was a major limiting factor in what he showed and who was his uke. If you think of training according to the SHU - HA - RI model, all Doshu ever shows is the model for SHU.

Avery Jenkins
11-07-2017, 12:24 PM
Great question, Mary.

For me, at least, aikido has worked quite well as a form of self-defense, but not simply as a discipline of technique. On two occasions, when confronted with violence, I simply stood. Roughly in hamni, but there was no real "assuming the pose" involved. As violence approached (both in time and spatially), I just stood there, relaxed, as I would when preparing for an attack on the mat, arms hanging loosely, eyes not fixed on anything. Neither aggressive nor retreating, just....standing. In both cases, it was like the wind was taken out of their sails and the encounters ended with the equivalent of a house dog barking at the postman.

Perhaps you could argue that it was my belief in aikido's effectiveness and my confidence in employing it that was the actual deciding factor here, not the fact that my shihonage has proven effectiveness(TM) against road ragers. My response is it doesn't matter. What I learned in the dojo gave me the desired outcome in the conflict. I'm gonna argue that may be the point of aikido, at least for me.

While discussing outcomes, it is also important to note that my training in aikido in fact *gave* me that outcome as a possibility. Previously, I had one goal in engagement: obliterate the opponent, no holds barred. If I was going to be pushed into fighting somebody, well then I was going to do a good job of it and ensure I didn't have to repeat the process. The other outcome (undesirable) was to lose. So, the idea of a third outcome -- no win, no lose -- was a real eye-opener to me, and that alone was worth the price of the popcorn.

So, I guess aikido works for me on the philosophical level as well.

Other dimensions? Friendship, to be sure. The men and women I've met on the mat are some of the best people I've known. Far truer friendships than those made over a pint and an order of fries.

Lastly, of late I seem to be harvesting some of aikido's more esoteric spiritual content. To what end I'm not sure, but the idea of whacking people upside the head with a wooden sword as a spiritual practice is increasingly enticing these days.

sorokod
11-07-2017, 03:58 PM
This is an interesting thread. It was created in response to another thread, which discussed the topic of whether aikido is effective, the main thrust being that it isn't, when compared with other arts that are supposedly more effective in some (unstated) situations that come under the general heading of 'real' fights or 'real' situations.

I am a few years short of fifty years of training. But have never really considered the question, mainly because I have never had to. All except one of my teachers had studied under the Man Himself and so we never had to question whether what they taught was effective. I can think of a scenario, of suggesting to someone like K Chiba or H Tada, that the art they had committed their lives to teaching was not effective, and then dealing with their response.

Outside aikido, I have trained in linguistics and the philosophy of language and am well aware of the verbal sleights of hand that some are prone to.

For me aikido is what it is and does not need defending. If you need to define it, it is an art or a set of skills, which admit of varying degrees of possession or mastery. In this respect, breaking down the name into its constituent bits is not particularly illuminating. The only issue for me is whether you split aiki into its components or keep it together as one name. Like Rupert, I prefer to keep it together as one term.

Here in Japan, we do not have the problem of worrying about the definition. Calling aikido bujutsu is fine. Budo is also OK, since very few of my own students will worry too much about the difference between a jutsu and a do. For those who do worry, there are loads of reading materials available in Japanese. However, like any other skill, it is something you accomplish by practice and which you can become good at if you put in the time and effort.

How does the personal accomplishment of one man (called the Man Himself, above) become a set of skills separate from the creator? Well, the answer is complicated and I am still researching this over on AikiWeb. One important point is that Ueshiba attracted many extremely able supporters because of his level of skill and it was they, as much as Ueshiba himself, who became the creators of the 'art' as distinct from its creator.

Whether as an art, it has changed during the course of its transformation from being the personal expression of its original practitioner is a difficult question, but one way of attempting to answer it is to look at those who are thought to have achieved a level of proficiency or mastery. I would not really include Doshu in this category, by the way, since being Doshu carries with it a certain obligation of being the exemplar of the art in its supposedly purest form. The present Doshu once told me that this was a major limiting factor in what he showed and who was his uke. If you think of training according to the SHU - HA - RI model, all Doshu ever shows is the model for SHU.

Rather than considering the founder or his direct students, it is worthwhile to take a critical look at the contemporary teachers, for what is the practice of Aikido if not the the study of Aikido.

Among the teachers we have those that changed their affiliation so many times that neither they nor their student can make heads or tails of the mishmash they are practising.

Those that don't know or care what their lineage and connection to the founder is, to quote Roland "they have forgotten the face of their father"

Those that recognise the low quality of the thing they have been handed, try to inject "new blood" by cross training in this and that and share enthusiastic stories of how "this and that" enriched their "aikido".

Those that out of incompetence, boredom arrogance or a need to attract a particular kind of students mix new age spirituality into their teaching claiming that others don't understand "their aikido" as if their hobby interest in martial arts equips them in any way to develop one.

I don't think there is a need to defend the indefensible.

Shadowfax
11-07-2017, 05:08 PM
I have not been in a physical fight in many years. But I have found my aikido training to be very effective in many situations.

I have a full time job working with somewhat dangerous animals. I am part of a small team of people whose work involves the care of several species of monkey. For me the grab is a real life attack that happens or can happen at any time and that grab can come with some potentially deadly consequences if an injury occurs. Having the right responses is vital to the well being and safety of both humans and animals. While I don't do joint locks and pins on nonhuman primates I have had occasion to use my training in awareness and maintaining center no fight no flight situations. I have also on one occasion used my training to prevent another person from being badly hurt, by physically removing them from harms way. When it was over and I realised what had happened I was stunned to realise that I had used a kokyu technique that has been taught many times in my classes. I used with without making the person fall down but I felt that the entire potential had been there and I did it without thought. I perceived the danger and acted all in the same moment. I am still in awe of that moment.

In my off time I also work with horses. Some of the equine clients I have came to me with serious behavioral issues making them unsafe for their farrier to work with. Aikido training has helped me with my physical safety around these animals. I have reflexes and awarenesses now that I did not have before. I am more likely to sense a situation and defuse it before it turns into anything serious. Ukemi training has improved my balance, making me a better rider and trainer of horses. It has improved my sensitivity and ability to maintain a relaxed calm under difficult situations so that I am able to work with difficult horses. And I have had a number of occasions to be grateful for knowing how to roll when a 2000 pound belgian "shrugged" and sent me rolling across the barn aisle. Because of these skills I have been able to help several very difficult animals to become soft and responsive and willing to work with me while I take care of their feet.

The things I learn in the dojo have also translated into my reinventing my entire life. My reactions to difficult situations have steadily improved. My ability to handle stress and conflict has improved and is improving. I have talked here before about how aikido has been the catalyst that transformed my life in every way and eventually that story will be published in Quentin Cooke's next book. So I will refrain from telling it just now.

Sure the things I speak of here could be acquired or achieved through many means For me it took aikido. I have spent over 30 years in work with horses and other animals. Searching for new knowledge skills and understanding. It was aikido that finally unlocked many of the doors that I had not even dreamed were there.

I am not too concerned about street fights. I doubt I will ever need aikido to work in that way. But for me, for what I need out of aikido .It works just fine.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-08-2017, 04:58 AM
I don't think there is a need to defend the indefensible.
Seconded.

SeiserL
11-10-2017, 06:59 AM
Perhaps we can find what we are looking for if we know what that is.

lbb
11-10-2017, 08:46 AM
Perhaps we can find what we are looking for if we know what that is.

It sure helps. Also to recognize when what we are consciously looking for is not what we need to find.

nikyu62
11-11-2017, 02:48 PM
From my first exposure to aikido, to when I encountered it again and started training, I never questioned its "effectiveness". The proof was self evident. I learned that to ask the question of my sensei was to be given an immediate demonstration upon my body.....question answered! I am a practical person, with exposure to karate, kung fu, and military spec ops hand to hand training; if it were not worthwhile, I would not bother with aikido. To anyone who wonders, just ask your sensei for a sincere demonstration and feel the result. Be ready to do good uke or feel the pain.

erikmenzel
11-19-2017, 03:54 PM
I train Aikido because for me it is philosophy, but not the philosophy of words but the philosophy of being trained by moving. It strengthens my self because in the movement there is no room for anything but the movement.

phitruong
11-21-2017, 10:27 AM
don't know about you folks, but i found that aikido and hakama made me look fat. aikido also helps me entering and blending nicely into buffet line. it's all about maai and deai. :D