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jvadakin 01-22-2004 02:54 PM

"Martial" Art
The term "martial art" is very interesting to me especialy in context of Aikido. Martial Arts or the arts of war are broadly speaking a group of ancient fighting systems that have been handed down over the generations. All of the traditional arts have lost a great deal of the "martial" focus of their techniques and concentrated instead more on the art aspect. This is necessary since ancient fighting systems have rather limited effectivenss on the modern battlefield. However, it seems that some of these martial arts have kept more or less of the "martial" purpose of their arts intact. Brazillain Ju-Jitsu, for intstance, claims to teach the most effective self defense for 1x1 situations where an active defense is possible (clearly no martial art is going to protect you from bullets etc.). Aikido seems to represent the extreme end or departure on the spectrum of "Martialness." Instead Aikido focuses on the spirtual, aesthetic and exercise benifits of Art, while often igroring the practical self-defense possibities. I wonder if this is a good thing? Aikido has many holds and locks that do have practical appliciblity, but they are usually not taught in a way that would prepare someone to use them actively in self-defense. Most Aikido proponents I know (including some lower level blackbelts in very respected schools) have told me that they believe it would be difficult for them to use their Aikido in a hostile situation (moreso than it would be for a Ju-Jitso or Karate player). I wonder, what is it that attracts people to Aikido? Why do some people prefer Aikido to other arts or even to pure Zen meditation? Is it a sort of martial dance? For asethetics, I prefer to watch TKD players acrobaticly attack each other in thin air, but I realize there is no disputing taste. I just cannot understand Aikido.

morex 01-22-2004 03:12 PM

I think the concept of martial art has evolved and adapted to the current times a lot. We do not live in feudal Japan or middle age Europe.

We have laws now and thus we can no longer carry a huge katana or sword. The warrior has evolved into the corparate world and our battle field are the cities and our enemies the countless work loads that fill our in boxes.

I agree. Aikido is not a martial art per se since we do not go to war like ancient times. But keep in mind that aikido is a modern art created to keep and seek peace. And I think that is the main war goin on: we have to keep peace within ourselves.

I don't want to goo into a deeper philosophical discussion here. I hope I made my point.

Ted Marr 01-22-2004 04:12 PM

Well, people will probably not like the fact that I am responding to a "troll", but I figure it's a very valid question being asked. Here's my figuring on it.

First, as for the martial aspect, I would argue that it's really pretty overrated. We just don't have that kind of hand-to-hand violence in our society these days, so really, that isn't going to be a major question in most people's minds when chosing an art.

Second, as for the argument that we should all be studying BJJ because it wins in the MMA tournaments, if we're training to deal with street violence, we certainly don't want to be going to ground, as there may be multiple attackers, and our assailant(s) probably aren't terribly well trained, so the comparison fails there.

Third, I think that Aikido is an incredibly good complimentary art to be studying. Some of its exercises may be esoteric and "impractical", but they end up teaching a lot of the basic concepts relating to (im)balance, centeredness, and timing better than I have seen them addressed in other schools' styles.

Fourth, Aikido is a lifetime art. I'm the most scared of Karateka when they're around 35 or 40. They've been training for long enough to have good technique, but they haven't become frail yet. The Aikido people I would most likely want to avoid attacking at all costs are about 80. I kind of like the thought of infinite growth potential that has very little to do with your physical body.

Fifth, and I hesitate to toss this out there for fear of sounding like a knee-jerk 'patriot' type, but "love it or leave it". If Aikido isn't for you, then you don't have to practice it, or practice with people who do.

Last, (I promise), as for the aestetic value of TKD people kicking each other in midair, I won't deny that it is pretty. In much the same way that gymnastics is pretty. But the difference is between a display of what strength can achieve and what can be done by graceful movement alone.

shihonage 01-22-2004 04:57 PM

Re: "Martial" Art

James Vadakin (jvadakin) wrote:
I wonder, what is it that attracts people to Aikido? Why do some people prefer Aikido to other arts or even to pure Zen meditation? Is it a sort of martial dance? For asethetics, I prefer to watch TKD players acrobaticly attack each other in thin air, but I realize there is no disputing taste. I just cannot understand Aikido.

Aikido is an effective set of martial principles, which is based on solid physical laws.

It has short, effective techniques, and also long, dancelike techniques, the purpose of which is more like an exercise in fluid transition from one technique to another without losing control.

Of course, if you've derived your conclusions by watching the embarassing Aiki Expo footage, then that's understandable.

Here are some clips I like a little better, but they're still not the best.

Gozo Shioda's Aikido demonstration on "Pre-war greats" DVD is pretty damn good though.

indomaresa 01-22-2004 07:50 PM

If you dig down to the roots, there are some good and effective self-defense techniques i.e: atemi-kata, pressure points, etc. Some schools do that.

Plus, not all aikido dojo trains the same way. Some are more focused on 'martial', some on 'art'. If people are truly looking for 'martial' aikido, they should look around more before dropping their verdict.

PeterR 01-22-2004 08:14 PM

I don't think he's a troll - he's doing Aikido and questions and opinions are arising. Sounds familiar.

James - I basically answered your question in the What Aikido's missing thread.

I does come down to how you train. A dojo the focuses on martial application will not only train differently but also select out a number of people that would be quite happy training in a less martial variant. A dojo that is more of the tofu variety will select out the people that want martial training.

Technically the same thing can be said about BJJ as with Aikido. There are, as I said in the other thread, situational and technical holes in both. Your question should not be is Aikido or BJJ better but what suits my goals at the moment, and what is available.

For me that's Aikido but not just any Aikido.

Don 01-22-2004 09:04 PM

James: I think part of the problem you are concerned with lies (a) in the type of training you undergo, (b) the length of time you may have been training, (c) what you are trying yourself to find.

Let me start with my last point first. If you do not practice or are not taught martial application, it may seem like the practical application may not be there. I have been working for the past year in trying to train myself to execute atemi on most techniques so that I will teach myself to do it unconciously. On some techniques it is unnecessary, and simply adds to the total package. On others it is absolutely necessary. Think of tsuki techniques where you enter or move to the inside of the punching arm. To me, if you are not delivering atemi or are not acutely aware of the other fist, then you are asking for a failed technique and a secondary punch or kick. Now, even though the statement that aikido is 90% atemi is attributed to O'Sensei, that aspect of training generally is not taught in your general and beginner classes because it usually is not appropriate.

So, you have to be willing to dig these aspects out yourself. Actually your sensei will take notice and probably be happy you are working out this stuff yourself.

That brings me to the length of time you have been training. The longer you train, the more likely you are to have been exposed to martial application, or to have figured them out yourself.

So, I think the martial part is there. In many cases though, you may have to explore yourself. If the average progress of most dojo is say on the order of 4th-3rd kyu, your sensei may be forced to concentrate more on basics.

BTW I have trained many times at your dojo in Newark. I have great respect for Okimura Shihan, and always enjoy my visits there. Please give him my regards, and I hope he continues to feel better.

Chris Birke 01-22-2004 09:21 PM

If someone invented a way to win a fight with magic words, MMA fights would consist of speed talkers. This is why they have merit.

BJJ would develop a new set of mouth exercises to speed pronunciation. JKD would bring in linguists.

And Aikido... Aikido would declare it not Aiki and continue about their buisness.


I think one big difference is that in BJJ the competitive aspect is almost always stressed, either in street flavor or sport flavor.

Moreover, good sport fighters transition to good streetfighters very easily. They have composure, expirence, and technique, with biting and gouging as icing on the cake. They only lack practiced situation awareness, but that is one aspect of many to develop.

There is no better defense to avoiding the ground than training to take people to the ground. Wrestlers have the best take down defense of all "martial arts" because it's all they do. Then "MMA", Judo, BJJ.

Aikido ignores a slew of potential attacks, even at high levels I've seen very little real randori. Too dangerous. Maybe.


I've been training Aikido much longer than BJJ.

I try Aikdo on a willing but resisting opponent. I've found usually it doesn't work the way it does in practice.

In trying BJJ on a willing but resisting opponent, I've found it works, and works much better than it does in practice.



A weird aside about competition.

I feel a bond with the BJJ people. The guy who just tried to choke me out with all his stregnth, then finally gets me. I thank him, pat him on the back, and do the same to him two minutes later. Competition isn't always about hating your opponent. Winning isn't always the opposite of losing.

Besides, adrenaline makes you high, and then you love everyone ;D.


Sorry for all the rambling, I just got back and my hands are still twitching. Hate to think of what's going on in my head.

Jamie Stokes 01-22-2004 11:18 PM

warmest greetings all,

rather than saying Martial Arts Lose something over the years, I rather think of it as a "learning/ evolving" system.

At first, It was clubs and stones, then weapons evolved, and awareness of how bodies worked evolved over time.

(Check out chapters of "Secrets of the samurai". Author I temporarily forget, but I lift this notion from that book)

While the human body can only move in a certain limited amount of ways, our ability to learn from it has continued to grow.

Grappling with someone in armour is vastly different that an unarmed man taking on a rider on horseback.

(Side note: I have been told that the high spinning kicks of TKD were to combat riders on Horseback)

Aikido is still a martial art. If you do even a comparitvely gentle throw (?), or a apply a pin to someone who is in motion and not expecting it, you can cause major damage. tear soft tissue, or even break joints. :eek:

really, Aikido is an art that evolved for its time and place, and fortuantely, we Aikidoka can apply it still in this "modern" world.

And during seminars and camps, I have come across instructors who say "when you do this move, be careful not to...(insert warning of choice) because you can ....Break/ cripple/ injure."

So its not too much of a guess, that with a tweak of application, certain moves could easily become harmful, perhaps even lethal.

Personal example. Training in throws one night, my Nage over applied some force, and instead of rolling out neatly, I landed on the point of my collar bone. everyone heard the snap but me.

Discussing it with my instructor later, If i hadn't been able to do breakfalls, there was a increased chance of a broken back or neck.

Aikido, as an Martial art, has a depth to it that takes many years to learn. And like all martial arts, you take from it what you like. look around, and no two dojos have the same focus.

(Humourous thought: if everything could be done in the simplest possible way, we would have McMartial Arts. the same the world over.:D )

remember to breathe.



Nafis Zahir 01-23-2004 12:11 AM


I understand your concern. Aikido, as it is taught in most dojos, may seem like an art that cannot be applied properly on the street with an all out real attack. That's because we are not taught how to practically apply these techniques on the street. We all know that someone on the street is not going to take ukemi, and therefore, the technique is not going to go exactly like it did in class, nor will it be as smooth. The cons of this is that it may discourage some people and lead them to believe that aikido is not effective for self defense. However, if you hold true to the technique, here's the pro. You probably won't get a chance to finish the technique because the attacker who is not taking ukemi and who is probably powering up, will most like break or tear something in the process. It has been said to me that Chiba Sensei was known for being the one student who took on all challenges from other martial artist and never lost. Do you think he did anything different? I think we all have to learn the practical application of aikido techniques in order to apply them to a street attack, but you can't do that until you understand how the technique really works. I studied Kung Fu for 7 years prior to aikido, and every Saturday we had practical application classes because you can't always do kung fu in its classic form on the street. You could, but it would be to your disadvantage. But Aikido is already more practical. Taking it to that next level is the challenge. If someone who studies Aikido is afraid of an all out attack, Then like Saotome & Chiba Sensei's, they should practice with real hard attacks and not the soft "here it comes" attacks you see in most dojos. Taking another art can be benificial, but having done it before, I can honestly say that Aikido is all I need!

Thalib 01-23-2004 01:46 AM


Jamie Stokes wrote:
(Check out chapters of "Secrets of the samurai". Author I temporarily forget, but I lift this notion from that book)

Are you talking about Oscar Ratti's book?

JJF 01-23-2004 02:24 AM

Rather than saying that Aikido is a Martial Art I would say that it's a Budo. There IS in my view a major difference.

I think it might be quite true that many MA's are superior to Aikido when it comes to becomming an efficient fighter as fast as possible, but it dosen't matter to me, since becomming proficient in selfdefence is of less importance to me in my aikido-practice than my personal development.

Mind you though that I still think good aikido needs a martial aspect in the practice - otherwise it's not a budo.

In the end it's not about the style or type of art you do - it's more about the teacher and the student.

Hope this makes sense. I kind of does to me :D

Jamie Stokes 01-23-2004 04:50 AM

Yes, "Secrets of the Samurai', by O. Ratti.

Thank you, Thalib-san.

Although this book is more of a reference work than a novel, it is still informative.

And as others have pointed out, applying our art to anyone unprepared for it can be harmful.

but as i have learned,

"All I did was side step and turn. He fell on his face."

Keep Breathing.


Thalib 01-23-2004 09:59 AM

I have to agree with Friis-san. The meaning of Budo is actually lost when translated to martial art or even martial way.

We could only over-simplify of what Budo is by paralellization (could I say that?) of what word exists in the English language.

After reading a few literature regarding Budo/Bushido such as Oscar Ratti's "Secrets of The Samurai", Budo is more complex than just a training system. Quite complex that I can't even describe it.

I guess that's why many writers wrote books when trying to explain what Budo/Bushido is, because it is quite hard to sum it up in a word or two or even in a paragraph and still get a clear understanding. Even after reading a hundred page book explaining this way of life, I still get confused.

The only way to understand is to live it. I'm not talking about we have to wear armor and swords such and go back to feudal Japan, but its principles, its idealism, only then one could understand Budo.

Well, enough of this... too many minds...

dave Clarke 01-23-2004 02:37 PM

Hi there I don't usually reply to these forums however Im only a third kyu so am comparatively new to aikido but I feel strongly about this issue of martialness and would like to see what other people think as well.

Firstly I feel that Aikido as an art is a complete form of self-defence anyone who feels other wise should not be training. The problem is the teaching.

Aikido is like a Rolex watch. Everyone wants it but few people will pay the price. some people will want to be seen to be wearing a Rolex so will buy a counterfeit one

I don't know the quote exactly but I believe it was Shioda who said that combat is 70% atemi 30% technique.

Too many dojo's have high ranking 3rd 4th 5th dans who cannot throw a decent punch or yokomen. They don't grab each other hard and therefore as high ranking dan grades have little understanding of what constitutes good ukemi. How can these people be practicing the art of peace if they do not understand the art of war.

These people shroud themselves and intimidate kyu grades like myself into grabbing them softly dancing throwing poor punches saying things like if "you grab me that hard I'll have to punch you and we wont learn anything"

I had the opportunity to take ukemi once from Chiba sensei doing nikkyo I grabbed him with all my strength and he floored me easily. That level of skill comes from pragmatic training. Adopting what is usefully discarding what isn't.

I personally have no time for non-martial aikido if you want to dance learn tap. If you want to be able to subdue a violent opponent and make them reflect on their actions then you must learn the art of war otherwise aikido will be a game. A bit of gymnastics and not "a budo", "a samurai art", "a self defence" a chance to understand what it is to be the centre of the universe.

Jesse Lee 01-23-2004 05:37 PM


Firstly I feel that Aikido as an art is a complete form of self-defence anyone who feels other wise should not be training.

Too many dojo's have high ranking 3rd 4th 5th dans who cannot throw a decent punch or yokomen. They don't grab each other hard and therefore as high ranking dan grades have little understanding of what constitutes good ukemi.
Dave, nice post, just curious what you think of cross training and Aikido.

If someone wants to learn throw a decent punch and takes up boxing, or if s/he wants ground skills and takes up grappling, then is that person on the Aiki path or did s/he give up on Aikido too easily?

Does Aikido have all the answers to all the martial situations out there?

PeterR 01-24-2004 01:02 AM


Jamie Stokes wrote:
Yes, "Secrets of the Samurai', by O. Ratti.Although this book is more of a reference work than a novel, it is still informative.

Quite a bit of discussion on this book can be found here.

I must say the concept of Budo is very very simple. It's a mistake to complicate the issue.

indomaresa 01-24-2004 01:27 AM

Totally agree with dave,

Theoretically, aikido has the answer to all the martial art situations out there.

We just need to train, read aikido books and watch aikido videos, and keep asking questions.

How 'martial' a martial art will be, depends on its practitioners, and after watching his videos, I'm pretty sure O'sensei is no fake.

or gozo shioda either..

Some of us are though.

G DiPierro 01-24-2004 04:25 AM


Jesse Lee wrote:
Does Aikido have all the answers to all the martial situations out there?

Not a chance, and the fact that people would even consider this a serious question is indicative of a kind of flawed thinking prevalant in aikido. Daito-ryu, the precursor to aikido, was developed from an art for castle bodyguards. Hence the suwari-waza, non-lethal defence against bladed weapons, and stylized techniques.

If you wanted battlefied grappling techniques to use in full yoroi, then aikido and Daito-ryu are not the right arts for you, though other jujutsu styles would be. Similarly, if you wanted something to use on the modern battlefied, any form of Japanese jujutsu would be quite ill-adapted. The weaponry, tactics, and goals are completely different from what classical Japanese arts assume.

Martial arts do not exist in a vacuum, but arise in response to specific martial situations in which people find themselves. Without considering these contexts, you cannot truly understand the nature or purpose of an art.

indomaresa 01-24-2004 06:18 AM

hmm, giancarlo is right

I should've said that:

Theoretically, THE PRINCIPLES of aikido has the answer to all the martial art situations out there.

dave Clarke 01-24-2004 08:17 AM

In response to Maresa's question I feel that aikido does have answers if practiced properly. O sensei used to challenge peole to hit him and floored them easily. People forget that aikido, daityo ryu, and aikido principles where practiced in japan in secret. Why would they keep it secret if it didn't work? History has a catalogue of things that were deemed too good for the masses.

I feel that the answers to combat can also be found in other arts. Watch Sugar Ray Leanord box. He was Aiki in boxing gloves.

The problem is that in a boxing ring there is no where to hide. In a dojo there are many places where someone can hide as they consider uke to be there to cooperate. Uke is there to attack properly and be thown and I feel that this should not be forgotten. I have no problem with cross training and feel it could be an eye opener. The same as training with a novice or a rigidly stiff person wh is frightened of locks and ukemi. Your aikido should work on all and you should be able to feel your ukes mov ement and blend

dave Clarke 01-24-2004 03:00 PM

sorry apologies the question was posed by Jesse

dave Clarke 01-24-2004 03:05 PM

I've also forgotten how to spell and type

James Giles 01-24-2004 08:31 PM

I don't usually post, but I have been reading alot of the forums lately, and I feel that Aikido is a sufficient enough martial art to handle any attack, if the practicioner correctly applies the principles.

I think that Aikido is under attack from the same kind of forces that attack other traditions in our society that are well grounded and supported by laws and principles. This is because we live in a society of postmodernists, mostly young people who feel they need to "fix" and recreate things that have been established by their elders. They have no respect for their elders or any tradition that is based on thousands of years of discovery and experiments. Their egos are so inflated they live to prove others wrong. This gives them a great deal of satisfaction. They also have an insatiable desire to "win at all costs". This is why they cannot ascend to the level to truly understand what Aikido is about. A practicioner of Aikido has no desire to prove anything to anyone other than himself. This perhaps,is the difference between practicioners of Aikido and those of other martial arts like BJJ and Karate. It is all about ego.

Chris Birke 01-25-2004 12:07 AM

Yes, the solution to all discussion is to declare those you disagree with unworthy of having an opinion. Such a marvelous and wise tradition! I applaud your lack of ego.

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