View Full Version : What is the nature of modern fighting
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I don't post frequently, but I have been reading here and elsewhere numerous posts and aritcles about the efficacy of aikido. It is not my intention to repeat that thread again, but to ask a question that is probably at the root of that thread. What is the nature of modern fighting or combat and how does that relate to the efficacy of aikido.
Quite simply put, is the nature of fighting today different than the type of fighting that gave rise to aikijujutsu and later aikido?
On one level, I think it may be. On the level that most people ask the question "does aikido work", I think that what most people envision as a "fight" is some sort of unreal blend of (a) what we learned as kids (for most of us that was probably boxing and perhaps wrestling), (b) an environment where people are sparring; i.e. looking for openings while minimizing the risk to themselves, and (c) what we see on TV and in the movies. Hence the term unreal.
On a more brutal, perhaps real level, is fighting for survival, where you are trying to do the other guy in with every ounce of your being before he does you in.
I will be the first to admit that in 12 years of aikido, I am not of the inclination or age to go around looking for fights, and the closest I have ever had to using aikido is a soft iriminage on a stoned teenager. However, it seems to me that the people who worry about the effectiveness of aikido are probably not thinking of the survival type of attack, but more of the mugger or punk kid that jumps you (which may turn into a survival fight I suppose) In a "sparring" type of fight resistance will probably be there and atemi waza would seem to be a real possibility. Aikido in its "pure" form (for those who aschew atemi waza as part of aikido - not me) of blending with the energy might seem to be more atuned to the all out survival fighting, at least until you have started studying aikido as applied in oyo henka waza, to deal with resistance. However, studying that is generally a long time coming for most aikidoka, so they never really get to appreciate that aspect, and think that aikido can't work in a resistive situation. It can but it is a much more subtle thing to learn.
Anyway, I'd like to see if anyone else has any thoughts on the nature of fighting/combat and how that might relate to why people think aikido may or may not work.
08-17-2004, 10:25 PM
Just my opinion, i think that to use aikido effectively in a street fight you just have to be extremely good at it, because , in a fight i would use many aikido principles, but i probably would not use most techniqes, i would just use my Kung Fu.
08-18-2004, 12:07 AM
The nature of fighting that spawned arts such as jujutsu is very clearly different from the nature of fighting in the modern era. Regardless of all other social implications, especially regarding castes and classes, it is not common practice for any significant portion of the population to carry weapons openly nor is fighting in almost any form legal. I don't mean to imply it is therefore illogical or uncommon that fighting would occur, but the rules of engaging in a fight have changed, by means of weaponry (or lack thereof) or law. The invention of guns as a means of inter-human violence means all fights have the possibility of an outcome that was not possible in feudal Japan. If adding a completely revolutionary means of winning a fight - especially one that breaks the common bounds of combat distance and speed (in terms of both velocity of strike and quickness of reload/refire) - doesn't change the nature of fighting, I'm not sure what you can expect would.
I do not care to respond how this applies to the effectiveness of aikido or any martial art, but merely to point out that there are time and cultural factors that have changed the way the average fight occurs. To get past the (hopefully) obvious and to somewhat answer what I think you were really getting at, only direct conclusion is that the effectiveness of arts such as classical jujutsu just cannot be compared to the effectiveness of the same or related arts in modern times.
Though my direct experience applies only to North America, nearly all states share at least the factors of time and technological advances that have changed the way fights can be fought. Regardless of their probability, these advances do exist.
08-19-2004, 07:00 AM
Ok, I'm the new guy here - and brand spanking new to aikido after several years studying chinese kenpo, so take anything I say with internet scepticism...
My expereince in "street fighting" is from bouncing in a biker bar (when younger and more foolish) and working in a locked facility for violent youth offenders - and doesn't come from military combat.
But, it seems to me, in my humble expereince, "real" combat fights are very different than anything one might train for in a dojo, studio, or gym...and while technique is important - INTENT is most important.
Folks can argue styles and Boxing vs. Southern Shaolin and Wing Chun vs. White Crane and Kenpo vs. Kempo vs. Chaun Fa - but when the lights go out (or get especially bright from a sucker punch) anything that isn't deeply and instinctively trained is gone.
Intent, however, is always there. As are principles.
Techniques are simply an outward expression (or manifestation) of physical presence - but that presence is defined by inward understanding.
Practical application is simply what one does in response to a situation - and that response is dictated by mind, not technique.
All styles are useful, and yet all are useless without proper principle.
Does that make any sense to you expereinced aikidokas?
As a mentor once told me, "If you really want to take out a kicker, fight him in a phone booth. If he's a puncher, fight him on a football field. If he's a pistolero, stand off 500 yards with Barret"
Some people study aikido for self defense, fitness, and for self-development. However unless you eat, sleep, and shit aikido one's ability to bring it in to combat is limited. The Samurai didn't worry about technique in the battle field.
11-02-2004, 05:39 PM
I agree with what Mr. Gary said with "Techniques are simply an outward expression (or manifestation) of physical presence - but that presence is defined by inward understanding.
Practical application is simply what one does in response to a situation - and that response is dictated by mind, not technique.
All styles are useful, and yet all are useless without proper principle"
It usually isn't the style, but the person that wins in a fight. But as for Aikido, I believe that it is the other's aggression, which will defeat him. I think there is no way to truly prepare for a fight because there is no way to know when, where, or how it is going to happen. Aikido helps by training us to deal with the aggresion and violence in a simple way, by resolving the situation in one swift movement. The longer the fight, the more danger there is. I have found in practice, that the harder someone attacks, and provides strong resistance, the easier it is to perfom technique. Like O'Sensei said, "Who can resist non-resistance?" Will this help me if someone seriously tries to take me out? Well, with my training, a little luck, the rest is up to god.
11-02-2004, 07:54 PM
Acot, I disagree.
I'm new at this myself, and I'm no Japanese historian, but from what I've read, Samurai, as well as the Japanese in general at the time, devoted much of their attention and time into perfecting whatever it is that they did. So, if their place was that of a warrior, it was their duty to perfect their skills. In order to do this, they would have had to adopt techniques to serve them. It is true that the techniques would have had to be adapted to a more intense situation, such as battle, but I highly doubt they abandoned technique, especially at a time so critical as close quarter combat.
As far as myself bringing it into a street or barfight, I might try and apply the techniques depending on the situation (and the attacker :eek: ), but may have to resort to punches and kicks due to my lack of expertise. I would hope that a more experienced aikidoka would be able to hold their ground in a fight (not necessarily by beating the crap out of the attacker, but by putting the attack down without running away).
To answer the question at hand--I do believe that the nature of fighting has changed between feudal Japan and modern North America (that's the comparison here, right??). People tend to avoid killing each other this day and age, since the legal grounds for killing your opponents are far less diverse than in feudal Japan. Without the pressures of family honor and the other guy's katana, I'm sure most reasonable people would back down before things went too far. I'm positive that when properly applied, aikido would be as effective as aikijutsu was back then, or as effective as any other martial art is today. It may even be safe to say that ideal aikido (with the central principle of not actually harming your opponent) would be one of the best applied martial arts in a barfight or streetfight. Not only are you defending from your opponent, but you won't get nailed to the wall by the cops for killing or seriously maiming your opponent, unless it happens by accident (I hear it happens to the odd martial artist)...assuming you follow the principles of aikido, that is.
11-02-2004, 10:29 PM
IMHO, please remember that training is not sparing, sparring is not fighting, and fighting is not combat. Each has a very different intent and rules of engagaement. The rules and roles for the "jutsu" systems were more combat oriented than the "do" systems. I don't think the underlying fear-based nature of fighting has changed in moderrn times, just our ability to deny or rationalize it.
11-03-2004, 12:46 AM
Im a police officer of about 8 years. During that time I have probably been involved in roughly 200 - 300 fights, and have dealt with the aftermath of thousands and thousands of others. One noticeable thing is that times have changed. Rare is the fight where all involved parties separate without a bloodletting and where grudges die after a heated argument or trading of blows. Ive met/argued/fought with people who would kill over the change in your pocket and would sleep like a baby afterwards. Nowadays you have to be careful what color of clothes you are wearing, how much money you have on you, the kind of car you drive, etc.
I cant speak for the other people Ive dealt with, but in all the fights ive been in, in the back of my mind is the fact that this could be a life or death struggle. (The academy tells us the FBI did a study where an officer is killed 7 out of 10 times when he or she is rendered incapacitated or killed. Police bring all kinds of weapons and goodies to every fight.)
Maybe its more of a cynical viewpoint, (one could argue that I may not see the less serious arguments or ones that no one wants to involve the police.) On the same token, probably about 25-50 percent of all crimes are reported. Every day I run into some people that never reported a crime but want advice or want someone to be aware of it days or weeks later. So if you could take the amount of reported crimes and multiply them by 2-4 times, might get a more accurate figure.
I heard a saying that goes something like we bleed on the mat so we dont bleed on the streets has a lot of merit. I believe that its not necessarily the type of art we train in, but the person. If one trained with their rosy pink glasses on and expected to be able to handle themselves because they were able to pass all the tests then they may be setting themselves up for a fall (no pun intended). However, if one takes their training seriously and trains with a realistic point of view and common sense, and above all, never give up, they will have a much better chance if and when it is ever needed.
Whatever happened to the days when one could go over to their neighbors house and talk over a problem?
11-03-2004, 02:29 AM
Well, I'm new around here and I don't have much to add to discussions about Aikido per se, but I think I can talk about street fighting. I've worked in the military, law enforcement or security my whole adult life. I've made a few observations about violence and the average American. Not sure how they relate to folks in other countries.
- If you are a law abiding, emotionally stable person and you hang out with the same, your chances of being violently attacked go way down. Many victims of violence become so because they are involved in a criminal enterprise, or choose to hang out with those who do. Others are involved in an awful domestic situation where some one that "loves" them beats them up. If you are in one of those two categories: leave. Also, avoiding bars where people get liquored up and fight helps. Don't get into contests over stupid stuff like who cut off who at the stop light.
- If you can avoid all of the above, the biggest threat to you is random street violence. Alertness and carrying yourself with confidence is the name of the game here. Alertness and awareness will allow you to avoid or at least detect a potential threat before it is fully developed. Potential attackers are looking for people who appear unaware and weak. They are generally cowards who are looking for an easy mark. If you look like food, you may be eaten.
- If the above fails you are in trouble. Law abiding, emotionally stable people are often very reluctant to engage in violence even when all the signs are there that they should do so to save their life. Your adversary will likely be accustomed to violence and comfortable with a level of brutality that you aren't. Hesitation kills.
- You will most likely face multiple attackers who may very well be armed.
- Fights will be at close range, involve grappling and may very well "go to the ground."
- The best strategy in my opinion, is to act decisively, get clear and improve your position by gaining distance.
How does that relate to Aikido?
I think Aikido can be very useful. Many of the defensive tactics I've been trained in have a basis in Aikido. Couple that with some ability in ground fighting and you have a leg up on the world.
For me personally, I already know how to "fight." My interest in Aikido is in reconciling my past as a warrior with my desire to live at peace with the world. But for those who don't have a back ground that involves fighting, your Aikido may serve you well.
It's much, much easier to detect a potential threat and leave though.
Aikido is a modern martial art and in some ways is adapted for our more peaceful times (and don't believe they aren't more peaceful - in the middle ages in Britain 1 in 20 men died from violent causes).
Many martial arts were dervied for various different reasons:
-coepeira (slaves in chains)
-okinawan karate (unarmed civilians against armed civilians)
-aiki-jitsu (unarmed defence which could be integrated with armed defence for fighters who are often both armed)
- kungfu (integrated health and defence of the home)
Today (outside of war) fights are:
- predominantly (but not exclusively) unarmed
- often about male status (posturing rather than deadly)
- alcohol related
The non-lethal nature of aikido and ability to reduce aggression in a situation I think makes it ideal for modern fights; and it's lethal heritage (through aikijitsu) make it easily adaptable for more serious situations or where there is a break down of civil law in a country.
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