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Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 04:26 AM
Hi again,

anyone who read my last post will know i am new to this site and aikido in general..

one thing i have found since i started training and speaking about it to people is that they are forever telling me how ineffective it is in real life, blah blah. a friend asked me to show him some the other day and then proceeded to mock me, saying "all you need to do is ask the bouncer to hold your wrist and you'll be fine". first of all, i told him i was not training to take on bouncers but for personal development.

anyway, what is it about aikido that draws such criticism? ignorance? lack of knowledge? fear? no ther martial art is criticised as much. is it because most of the others are offensive martial arts which inadvertanly push the practitioner towards trying to be the hardest and "baddest", whereas aikidoka are happy to sit back in the knowledge they are safe behind their powerful and deadly art?

your thoughts..

great site, btw

Dazzler
10-29-2004, 04:32 AM
In a word 'ignorance' and 'misunderstanding'

I know thats 2 words....but thats aiki for you! you think you are learning one thing and then you find out you were learning something else.

Ignore the doubters...its their problem!

asp
10-29-2004, 04:41 AM
In a word 'ignorance' and 'misunderstanding'

I know thats 2 words....but thats aiki for you! you think you are learning one thing and then you find out you were learning something else.

Ignore the doubters...its their problem!



I agree. Aikido is an art very difficult to understand. The only way to fully understand it is thru practice.

Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 04:46 AM
indeed.. but what is about the art that draws criticism? is it because there is not really any punching, kicking etc? (i know there are some stikes, so please don't correct!!).

also, effectiveness is relative so it's such a silly argument to have. will it be effective against 15 guys with guns and knives trying to mug you? no. will it be effective against the guy in the pub who starts pusing you around? of course it will. anyone who argues that is foolish.

also, i'm assuming aikido will teach you proper spcaing and distance which in my book is the most important thing if ever you were in a "situation".

paw
10-29-2004, 04:56 AM
indeed.. but what is about the art that draws criticism? is it because there is not really any punching, kicking etc?

If someone criticizes aikido, I can think of three options off the top of my head:

1. If they do have a valid point and that concerns you, resolve the problem.

2. If the do have a valid point, but it doesn't concern you, ignore them.

3. If they don't have a valid point, ignore them.


Ultimately it's up to you to determine if anyone criticizing the art has a valid point (or not) and what to do about it (if anything).


Regards,

Paul

Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 05:06 AM
that's not a very helpful asnwer which i can only take to mean you are unsure of the argument yourself?
anyway, my question was not how to argue or what to do....rather it was trying to understand what it is about aikido that people feel the need to challenge so much..

philipsmith
10-29-2004, 05:28 AM
To try to answer the question:
1 it always looks choreographed
2 a lot of Aikido looks ineffective especially with an accomplished uke (I once did a video and was asked "Does it work?" by the director)
3 Some Aikidoka talk too much about how it is really a spiritual pursuit rather than a martial art
4 We dont punch, kick or break bits of wood or concrete blocks
5 Most Aikidoka are polite, over 40 and look unfit.
6 It's got men in skirts for Gods' sake.

Just my observations for what they're worth.

Enjoy your practice; ignore the hecklers; give my regards to everybody at Shinmei kan especially Dee Chen.

Phil Smith

JohanC
10-29-2004, 05:31 AM
I think one of the reasons Aikido gets bad crit, is the fact that there is no competition. We try to better our self, we don't practice to be better than other practitioners. One more thing, if people think Aikido is not an effective martial art, ask them to come and train. Then and only then can they give their opinion. Keep up ther training.

Dazzler
10-29-2004, 05:48 AM
How old are the critics?

Without generalizing too much I hear a lot of this from young men because their focus is on 'fighting' and what is perceived as the contents of a fighting art...punches kicks and so on.

Aikido is more about not fighting.

Ignore them.

Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 06:06 AM
all the critics are young as you presume, and i agree wholeheartedly with Philip.

as far as i'm concerned this is the MA for me and i intend to continue it with pride !

i'm glad there is a large community to discuss things with who are not jsut out to big themselves up.

thanks a lot for your input, it all makes sense..

Bridge
10-29-2004, 06:12 AM
Aikido gets it's fair share of criticism.

Plenty of other martial arts get criticised too, just look at the forums here (and anywhere else) and you'll notice people wondering what on earth those karate people are doing and why. Karate people knocking the tae kwon do bunch, goodness knows sho else having a laugh at ninjitsu..

What goes around comes around.

They all have strong points and weak points.

Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 06:22 AM
yeah i guess so. the fact there are no competitions is a good thing, as like you said you do it for yourself, not to be better than other people.. that's what really appealed to me. i done some karate and some kickboxing and there's just way too much testosterone flying about !

are the Aikido seminars any good? what actually happens? is it talks aswell as training? must you be a certain level before attending? my brother is going to one in durham tomorrow and i am quite intersted.. anyone shed any light?

Dazzler
10-29-2004, 06:46 AM
All seminars are different but as they are usually quite long theres often time for talk!

If not on the course then in the bar afterwards.

Add to that the fact that there are lots of new and when you've been around a while old friends to meet up with and the whole seminar experience is a great occasion.

I'm off to one in Brighton at the weekend which is probably why I've got so much to say on this forum today!

Heres a blatant bit of advertising if anyone is up for a train!

http://www.rws1993.co.uk/BrightonKSK

Cheers

D

Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 06:57 AM
can i attend these course even though i've only been training a short while? will they be shouting out japanese expecting me to know?!!

Dazzler
10-29-2004, 07:05 AM
In my experience they will be very nice to you.

as long as you behave! ;)

Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 07:09 AM
just looking at the course on the site...i might be interested.. tell me, must i bring my own jo and bokken? or is there no weapons work? how near is it to brighton station as i am coming from london..

Ron Tisdale
10-29-2004, 07:27 AM
whereas aikidoka are happy to sit back in the knowledge they are safe behind their powerful and deadly art?

In my opinion, it is often statements like the one above which cause many of the misunderstandings about and criticisms of aikido. Which is a shame, because enthusiasm in beginners is natural, and I wouldn't want to overly dampen it. But you should keep in mind that people who stand behind an 'ART' often get hit...while people who train hard, and stand for themselves often survive.

Paul Watt actually gave some very good advice.

Enjoy your practice,
Ron

Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 07:55 AM
My statement was rhetorical as that is the perception i have got so far. surely all styles are classed as arts? apologies it was taken as a blanket statement..

Paul Watts was right but Phillip's statements made things a lot clearer....

dan guthrie
10-29-2004, 08:02 AM
just looking at the course on the site...i might be interested.. tell me, must i bring my own jo and bokken? or is there no weapons work? how near is it to brighton station as i am coming from london..

I'm new to Aikido also and I went to a big (500) seminar and just observed. I'm glad I didn't get onto the mat. 99% of the people there were very high-ranking black belts. I'm more on the shy side and this would have been 6 hours of mortification.
I don't know your skill level but I would suggest observing the first one just to see how they work and "get your feet wet." Bring your equipment anyway (but don't put it on). I've had a few solo practices with high ranking people just because I was the only one who showed up.

Ron Tisdale
10-29-2004, 08:08 AM
:) Rhetorical statements are often full of logical inconsistancies. And yes, many styles are indeed classed as arts. My point is that whether a style or an art, don't stand behind that...as others have said, nothing is best all the time. Perhaps focusing on the individual's training and attributes would be safer. For instance, if I trained in Mixed Martial Arts, and had one of their champions as my trainer, but didn't train very hard, or simply didn't have the needed physical attributes for that style of fighting...would who I trained with or what I trained in make any difference? I don't think so.

No appology needed...good to see you have an open mind. I liked Phillip's statement as well.

Ron

Adrian Moore
10-29-2004, 08:15 AM
Ron, i understand what you're saying and will bear that in mind when i train. i think i m just so into aikido that i'm trying to take everything in too fast and trying to get all angles covered !

glad we have voices of experience to guide us !

L. Camejo
10-29-2004, 09:35 AM
trying to get all angles covered !

Hi Adrian and welcome,

Since you are trying to get all angles covered, I guess I should let you know that there is competition in Aikido. The flavour is known as Shodokan (aka. Tomiki Aikido) and it's the only one with shiai where two people are placed to do techniques against one another, both of whom are constantly resisting, countering and trying to do the same to the other person within a certain rule set.

There are other competitive elements of Aikido, taking the form of enbu or kata and this is seen in both Shodokan and Shin Shin Toitsu I believe.

However, contrary to popular belief, in Aikido these competitions are more like opportunities to meet and test one's ability against (or with) someone who has an equivalent level of knowledge and training rather than an egocentric, testosterone driven bashing contest. Imho it is more of a method of learning about oneself in a seriously pressured environment. For more on this you can check here (http://homepage2.nifty.com/shodokan/en/kyogi1.html).

As for those who put down the art, Phillip has given some great examples of reasons. Often people see Aikido practiced constantly in a cooperative environment, as such, those who have experienced a lot of sparring/competitive type martial arts (or for those folks who only know of this sort of training) Aikido training may appear very contrived and set up to look pretty and a bit too organised, which may make them think that it is not effective. Of course the only way to appreciate the training is to get on the mat and feel it for a while (similar things were said of Taijiquan after a while by those who were not aware of what was involved in the training), but from my experience those who come with a pre-formed opinion of something tend to not change this way of thinking unless some undeniable proof is given, in some cases they just cannot accept the proof and may never change their mind.

This is just how it is. The key is to make sure that our Aikido is effective if that is what we are in fact trying to get from the training.
LC:ai::ki:

SeiserL
10-29-2004, 12:10 PM
IMHO, ignorance on thier part about what Aikido is and isn't, and arrogance on our part about what Aikido is and isn't. A lot of the criticism is valid and we should look at what we are doing to draw such harsh remarks.

markwalsh
10-29-2004, 01:14 PM
All great comments so far if I could just add...

All martial arts will be criticised by men in particualr as they are perceived to be about improving fighting ability. As all men think they are expert fighters already (and drivers) this is threatening so they ridiccule them.

The same is true re psychology for both sexes. If it's just common sense how can it be taught.

Not saying this opinion is 100% invalid mind you, in either case.

Incidentally, if you train at Shinkeikan I REALLY wouldn't worry about it - a very fine club.

Re Brighton - One of the bigest concentrations of quality aikido in the country would recomend either Aikikai, Shodokan or Ki club there to all. Althougth you might get a suprise at one...

Mark
x

adwelly
10-29-2004, 01:53 PM
...
Re Brighton - One of the bigest concentrations of quality aikido in the country would recomend either Aikikai, Shodokan or Ki club there to all. Althougth you might get a suprise at one...

Mark
x

Oddly enough - there was a seminar in Brighton this last weekend held by the Aikikai which I attended. I had the good fortune to encounter some of these guys a little while ago, and I've found their style of Aikido to be terrifyingly efficient. I believe a demonstration by any of the 1 or 2 dans practicing there would silence most sceptics.

Adrian asked why so many people find fault in Aikido and I suppose one answer is that it's an unforgiving art - it takes a long while to use effectively. Necessarily, there's a lot of ineffective students out there at any one time. I've been practicing for three years and I still have to count myself a beginner, a somewhat stiff beginner after the weekend as well.

In any case Adrian, I'd encourage you to attend any seminars you can. Over a weekend you'll be shown far more than you can possibly absorb but there always be one or two things you can take away with you.

Aristeia
10-29-2004, 02:42 PM
Well I'm not sure we're the most maligned art - TKD gets a pretty hard time. Anyway there's a few fronts on which people attack Aikido.
1. As others have mentioned alot of our stuff looks fake. Because uke is going with the technique and the casual observer doesn't understand why it is in uke's best interests to do so, so it looks contrived.
2. We generally don't practice against "modern" or "realistic" attacks because we are teaching concepts of movement rather than specific drills. People don't understand that, and get this impression that Aikido is all about trying to convince the other guy to grab your wrist.
3. Because we don't have competition, in certain cases egos can get out of control - because there's no leveller to keep peoples feet on the ground. So you get some members of the aikido community wandering around talking about how they are the unbeatable deadly.

deepsoup
10-29-2004, 05:31 PM
Re Brighton - One of the bigest concentrations of quality aikido in the country would recomend either Aikikai, Shodokan or Ki club there to all. Althougth you might get a suprise at one...
I'm intrigued.
C'mon Mark, stop being coy and spill the beans! :)

thomas_dixon
10-29-2004, 05:47 PM
Many martial arts are critisized, as Aikido is in the same boat as Tai Chi, when it comes to this.

Tae Kwon Do is critisized for it's kicks. High/Flashy kicks, are simply ineffective in combat.Theres rarely an exception. Not to mention TKD is a sport, not really a combat martial art. (Most of TKD comes from Shotokan Karate anyway)

is it because most of the others are offensive martial arts which inadvertanly push the practitioner towards trying to be the hardest and "baddest", whereas aikidoka are happy to sit back in the knowledge they are safe behind their powerful and deadly art?

Other martial arts are honestly more effective in fights. Aikdo isn't deadly. Sorry. It wasn't meant to be deadly. Systems like Muay Thai, Brazilian JiuJitsu and Boxing are more effective in street fights.

mriehle
10-29-2004, 09:01 PM
There have been some good comments here so far, but I think the thing I see most often has been missed.

I'm not sure who I actually stole this from, but I know I didn't originate this comment:

"If you came here to learn how to fight, I'm afraid you will be disappointed. I don't teach that here. I can recommend a couple of schools where they do. What I teach is self defense and self improvement."

I don't have to pull this out often, fortunately, but I've learned that when I do that person is unlikely to sign up for training. They are also the ones most likely to level criticisms at Aikido. They want to learn how to fight and we refuse to teach them that. People with this sort of mindset rarely see the value of avoiding physical conflict to begin with. They see it as an inevitable part of life and something to be Really Good At.

The most common question from people like this, in my experience, is, "If a practitioner of Art-A fought a practitioner of Art-B, who would win". My standard answer, "The one who is better at their art". Of course the real answer is more complex than that, but the question isn't really serious. They're just trying to get you to impart the Secret Knowledge of Kicking #($ With Aikido. There's no point explaining that it doesn't exist.

As for Aikido being effective in defense situations, it has been for me. It never goes according to the ideal that we strive for in Aikido, but it works. I look at it like this:

We will never actually reach the ideal we strive for. This shouldn't stop us striving for it. We will always fall short of the ideal we strive for, but this still implies that the higher we aim, the higher we achieve. Being human and therefore fallible does not excuse us from attempting to achieve perfection. But we should forgive ourselves when we are less than perfect.

So we strive for the ideal of the "perfect" resolution to conflict and deal with it when it doesn't go exactly like that.

But in one respect Aikido really is the Perfect Martial Art.

Other arts I've dabbled in tend to take the approach of teaching you to beat people up and then teach you not to use that ability. Honorable, but not quite right. In Aikido you start from the idea that you aren't going to beat anyone up. Heck, you never really learn how to beat anyone up. The result is an attitude that comes through in a conflict that you can't fake.

I think of it as "Never Surrender, Never Escalate". The interesting thing is that in every encounter I've been in where I really did take that attitude it always ends with the other person walking away feeling like it wasn't worth his time. It just never gets physical.

That, I think, says more about how effective Aikido is than any of the times I've flattened someone who attacked me. (Okay, not really that many, but even that is, I think, a positive sign.)

bob_stra
10-30-2004, 10:04 AM
$0.02

Part of it comes from aikidoka themselves. The 'crunchy granola set' who insist that 'peace, love and all that stuff' will be the answer to all violence related problems, all the time. This is fundamentally 'unreal' and at a visceral level the average punter knows it.

Many people have had a looooong love/hate relationships with "do-gooders, hippies and bible bashers" and aikido carries the connotation of this.

(There is also the "we're too deadly for our shirt, too deadly for our shirt, so deadly it hurts" attitude some flaunt, without ever testing their efficacy. And yes - I'm showing my age with that song)

IOW Folks have a pretty good bullshyteometre. Coupled with the fact that most (layman an practitioner alike) misunderstand the purpose of co-operative practice and whamo - conflict. What more would you expect from a "show me NOW" culture?

We could also add the vagaries of ego, anger, pride etc into the mix but I think the others have covered this.

Kevin Leavitt
10-30-2004, 11:04 AM
Good thoughts Bob.

I think ultimately peace, love, and all that stuff are must happen in order to solve or resolve violence.

Of course this is on the far end of the spectrum and somewhat therotical in nature. But, we need a good model to work toward.

I think aikido and the aikido dojo is a wonderful allegory and a model for this. It serves to introduce conflict and shows us that it is quite possible to resolve violence and conflict in ways that are less damaging.

I find wonder in the dynamic of aikido. It has demonstrated to me that love, compassion, and peace are not equated to weakness and lack of power. It shows me that if we try and expand our skills that there are other options than using strength and violence.

I think many in the dojo of the crunchy granoloa set focus on the ideal world and that is wonderful.

If you were to meet me you might find me a bit of a paradox since I tend to walk on both sides of the fence with somewhat ease!

I just finished posting to another thread about the concept of moderation. I think this is the key to everything. You must not be extreme in any one area. A realist you might say.

Your points on the cause of conflict are good. I also am tracking on your comments on the Show me now culture. We have to look at the long term implications of our actions and the third order effects they have on things in order to resolve conflict.

jester
10-30-2004, 12:17 PM
Once you learn and are cofident with your skills, then it will be pretty easy to show people it's effectiveness.

I have people who ask about it all the time. They are usually inquisitive and most study other arts.

It helps if you know a lot about other arts like boxing, kickboxing, TKD, grappling, in-fighting, knife fighting etc.

That way you can explain why things are done. For example, there are so many ways to negate a kick, so if the person is a kicker, I show some techniques and principles that will render a kick useless.

same with punching elbow strikes etc.

p00kiethebear
10-30-2004, 04:20 PM
Hmm...

I think the criticism may lie more with the people who practice it rather than the art itself.

Excerpt from the ishi yama ryu website (ishiyamaryu.com):

"The Crime Of Contemporary Aikido

When people talk of training with the founder of their particular art--incases of Aikido practitioners such as Ueshiba, Shirata, Saito, etc.-- they are emulating those founders as old men, who have learned the highest value of the most intimate aspects of their technique. This has taken a lifetime for them to reach their level. They can move from one technique to another controlling their partners with a minimum of effort looking very soft and gentle. For most people, to attempt this sort of technique with such ease is to delude themselves toward the false hope that their practice will keep them safe in threatening situations--the very reason the art was developed.Their practice is made possible only with choreographed cooperation from the one receiving the technique. It is not only ridiculous to think anyone training casually could defend themselves this way but it is also dangerous.This is the age-old, false confidence or ego-related action of knowing a technique on its surface--technique which looks good or flashy in the kick-punch arts versus graceful poised and controlling in Aiki. If you want to look good for ego-related praise, so be it. If you believe the way to world peace is all smiling, gently loving nature, so be it. Regardless of your agenda,be honest enough to know the limits and realities of your technique. It is an insult to mock great men in the art's golden years by contemporary displays of weak and inexact applications of their once powerful and precise techniques."

Or at least this is where my criticisms lie.

But as was mentioned earlier. I don't think aikido is exclusive as far as recieving criticism. I'd be lying if i said i didn't have any criticisms about karate or kendo.

indomaresa
10-30-2004, 07:45 PM
people find fault in aikido because noobs go out after their 1st day of training and starts nikkyo-ing everyone in sight.

I know I did. :)

my advice: hide the fact that you can do aikido ( exercise ninja-ness secrecy ), wait until at least brown belt to skulk in dark alleys applying dark justice, and then only use aikido in public after you're a sixth dan or better.. ..perhaps during a housewarming party, spmeone will accidentally spill a drink on you, so you do multiple atemi combo, and then did a 720 degrees iriminage, ending it by releasing him off the balcony to splatter 20 floors below.

can you imagine what it'll do to boost aikido's reputation?

just kidding,.. don't bother defending aikido when you're new. demonstrating techniques to the public isn't a job for noobs anyway. Do the opposite, say aikido is a traditional japanese dance class, which is totally non-violent and very friendly. ( you might end up getting new recruits that way )

Michael Cardwell
10-30-2004, 08:26 PM
people find fault in aikido because noobs go out after their 1st day of training and starts nikkyo-ing everyone in sight.

I know I did. :)

my advice: hide the fact that you can do aikido ( exercise ninja-ness secrecy ), wait until at least brown belt to skulk in dark alleys applying dark justice, and then only use aikido in public after you're a sixth dan or better.. ..perhaps during a housewarming party, spmeone will accidentally spill a drink on you, so you do multiple atemi combo, and then did a 720 degrees iriminage, ending it by releasing him off the balcony to splatter 20 floors below.

can you imagine what it'll do to boost aikido's reputation?

just kidding,.. don't bother defending aikido when you're new. demonstrating techniques to the public isn't a job for noobs anyway. Do the opposite, say aikido is a traditional japanese dance class, which is totally non-violent and very friendly. ( you might end up getting new recruits that way )

He he, I totally agree with you, hide the fact that you are in aikido for as long as posibable, and for gosh sakes don't try any of the techniques on friends till your don level or above. I made the same mistake you did and tried to show some people techniques that I just Barley had a idea about. The results are too embarrassing to talk about.

CNYMike
10-30-2004, 09:15 PM
Hi again,

anyone who read my last post will know i am new to this site and aikido in general..

one thing i have found since i started training and speaking about it to people is that they are forever telling me how ineffective it is in real life, blah blah. a friend asked me to show him some the other day and then proceeded to mock me, saying "all you need to do is ask the bouncer to hold your wrist and you'll be fine". first of all, i told him i was not training to take on bouncers but for personal development.


Good answer!


anyway, what is it about aikido that draws such criticism? ignorance? lack of knowledge? fear? no ther martial art is criticised as much .....

*cough* As others have pointed out, other arts get blasted a lot. Just hang out in the rec.martial-arts newsgroup and everything gets shredded sooner or later. I also had some friends in college express skepticism over practicing defenses against set knife attacks. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but how are you supposed to learn something if you don't practice it?

At the opposite extreme, my Kali instructor, who also holds instructorships in Jun Fan/JKD and Wing Chun, and has also boxed and done Thai Bxoing, all but shoved me in the dojo door when I told him I was going to resume taking Aikido. You'd think that was the best idea I'd ever had! "Go for it," he said, sounding (over the phone) like he was grinning from ear to ear. "You'll be a better martial artist." He not only supported the decision but encouraged it. I've got that sort of reaction from others in our Kali circle. Why, exactly, I don't know, but there it is. So I just thought you'd like to know there are people out there who aren't phillistines like you're friend.

.