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xuzen 06-15-2004 10:11 PM

Aikido suffering identity problem?
Dear fellow practitioners,

Aikido is many things to many people, evidently as many poster here have their own idea what aikido is to them. It can be a very personal experience. Each practitioner's aikido experience is unique to oneself.

Speak of Tai Chi and most Joe Public will associate it as a health giving exercise, although its history was associated with martial. Talk about Judo and automatically one conjure up images of Olympic sportsmen and women. Judo as a martial art? No, it's image is more of a sport now. Talk about karate and tae kwon do and one sees a tough Bruce Lee figure doing all the high kicks and rapid punches never mind that Bruce's background was in Wing Chun. Talk about Choy Lei Fatt, Hung Gar, Shaolin style and without a doubt Mr. Joe Public will associate it with Self Defence or martial art, period. All the above arts are classified as martial art but they all have a constant image in the eye of Mr. Joe Public.

Now, let's head back to Aikido. Speak Aikido to non-practitioner and what images will one get? Many a times, over leisure talk with friends or business associates, I would inadvertently say aikido when asked what hobby or activities I do on my spare time. Is it like Judo where you throw people around? Yes we do. Is it like Karate with punches and kicks? Yes we do that too. You see, the point I am trying to convey is that Aikido does not have an associative element with the non-practitioner. Talk about Ki to them, and your conversation will end before it start, because many a times the concept is as foreign as Greek to any of us (Except Greek readers in this forum). Right now, when such a conversation comes out during leisure talk, I just say Judo and that's it. At least Mr Joe Public has some vague idea what it is, unlike Aikido.

Again aikido has many school and influnces. Ki Society style emphasizes Ki and esoteric, metaphysical aspect of the art. Yoshinkan and Yoseikan style emphasizes the Martial / technical aspect. Different practitioner says different thing. That is why to a non-practitioner, aikido does not have a constant image.

Dear fellow practitioner, the purpose of this thread is to welcome debate and discussion on what we would like to market aikido to the average Joe Public, if it is at all possible.

NB: I am very sorry if some of the information with regards to the various martial art groups stated above are inaccurate. They were meant for illustrative and comparative uses only.

Best regards,

Rupert Atkinson 06-15-2004 10:43 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
This is what I have heard:

"Aikido? ... Is that the one they do with sticks?"

Rupert Atkinson

SeiserL 06-15-2004 10:57 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
IMHO, we are marketing just fine. As a relatively new martial art, we are still growing. The political separation into different groups has not helped us provide a single image, thus perhaps the multiple identity problem. That is true in all arts. John Q. Public can best be educated by our modeling and making our art beautiful, feasible, and accessible.

PeterR 06-15-2004 11:08 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Why should we want to market Aikido.

It is what it is. I do what I do.

kocakb 06-16-2004 12:14 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
I was yesterday at the bank to pay the monthly training fee, the conversation between me and the official was exactly like that;
- "Hi, would like to pay xxx Turkish Lira to this account number. Could you please write -Aikido June Fee- to the explaination part"
- "June fee" to the explaination, OK anything else
- "Aikido June fee", and nothing else thanks...

yes, as you guess, she did not write aikido, only "June Fee"...It seems, she never heard about it...

as Peter said, it is what it is but sometimes we are in situations and need to explain when they ask what it is. You can not always walk away...The common conversation is like (P=public, A=aikidoka)

P is aikido like judo
A at one part yes
P do you have kicks,
A not so much
P I saw on the TV, guys are grabing on hand, but the other one falls down. This can't be so easy,
A but it is true
P I don't think it works, no kicks..who would grab your hand at a street is a little "light"!!!
P OK imagine a guy is attacking you like that what do would you do,
P show me some techniques
P when I start to train, what will I learn first ?
A 1-2 weeks only falling correctly
P falling!!! when I fall down, I stand up!!!
P How long do I have to train to learn it
A a life time
P puhhh, I would prefer Boxing, in 6 months I would learn everything and it is effective also on the street
P do you have competition
A no, none of them would attack first, they would just wait to move their opponent first...and the competition would end with serious injures, therefore we have only demonstration
P ahhh, at Kung Fu (he trained Kung Fu before) It is the same, the kicks would be deathly but we have competition. Have you ever trained at a dark room!!! just listening the voices and defending yourself without seeing...
P I watched Steven Seagal, He kicks and punches and the guys fly away...
A helllppppppppp

PeterR 06-16-2004 12:34 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Explain is different from advertise. I just say its sort of like Judo.

If pressed I say we tend to do more joint locks.

If pressed I show then sankyo.

If pressed I order another beer and tell them about our dojo. I find at this point I have another potential victim, I mean student. I don't even go into technical details just describe where the students come from and how the training usually proceeds. I guess at this point it becomes advertisement.

JJF 06-16-2004 01:23 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
I have seriously concidered compiling a CD with texts on aikido and a bunch of clips from the internet showing different types of throws and locks. I could copy this for about a quarter a piece and allways carry a couple of discs with me. Whenever somone asks me 'so what is this aikido stuff' I could just hand over one of the discs.... Would save both of us a bunch of time, wouldn't cost a fortune and if he's really interested he would enjoy the CD a lot.

Zoli Elo 06-16-2004 01:40 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
So far what seems to work well with the few that ask, 'what is aikido,' is to state that aikido is mainly a form of jujutsu with a bit of aiki added.

Legions of individuals know of jujutsu / jujitsu from MMA events or other pop-culture means. Aiki, however, generally requires a waza demonstration if not immediately understood.

As for all of this personal aikido jazz that has be floating around, pure hog wash...

Mark Jewkes 06-16-2004 03:09 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
I too use the jujutsu comparison, even though I might add that aikido is an evolution of jujutsu, with strong ethics being added. I usually donīt mention aikidos spiritual aspects, as I do not necessarily want to attract spiritual seekers.

The fun part is when I use the explanation "modernized jujutsu", because people tend to react by asking why we wear hakama and train with medieval weaponry. :-)

tiyler_durden 06-16-2004 04:53 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?

When anyone asks about Aikido and what it is I just give the usual explanation as follows...

"Have you seen any Steven Segal movies?"
"That is basically Aikido"
"Ohh cool can you show me some......"

Then I usually do a lock or something and then we have a new student....



Hagen Seibert 06-16-2004 06:38 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
When I read the first post I immediately thought of posting:

Just tell them itīs the stuff that Steven Seagal does.

Mr. Joe Public might be happy.
Although Iīd felt like being sarcastic....

Yann Golanski 06-16-2004 06:43 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
I find that the following works: "Aikido is a Japanese martial aret which uses the attackers' strengh to throw or pin them". Either people are interested and I give them the times and place where we train or they shrugs and I leave it at that. has some more pointers that are useful.

Jorge Garcia 06-16-2004 07:14 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
For the uninformed, my short answer is that Aikido is a softer version of "Jujitsu". That is as concise as I can get in as few words as possible.

Gareth Hinds 06-16-2004 12:43 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Me: I spend a lot of time doing aikido

Public: what's that?

Me: You want the long answer or the short answer?

Public: the short answer.

Me: It's a lot of throwing and falling and takedowns, like judo, but less mechanical. More blending with the attacker's energy.

Public: What's the long version?

Me: So there was this monk named Bodhidharma who came from India and started visiting Chinese monasteries, this was several thousand years ago, and then....

Anyway, yeah, most people have no idea what it is. I try to get them to come watch a class.

Jim Simons 06-16-2004 01:33 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Thanks for that link, Yann! I'd heard of wikipedia but never really used it. That sure is about as well-rounded a description of aikido as I've ever seen in such a concise essay.

Too bad you can't just hand out leaflets when somebody asks... As some other folks have remarked, though, I guess it's not about crafting an image of it for Joe Public. There's a fine line between telling folks enough to interest them and creating an image that will sooner or later become an obstacle to training... I tend to go with "It's sort of like judo" when asked "So is that like karate?"

Ian Williams 06-16-2004 11:45 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
I would answer something like

"Aikido is a martial art thats not only concerned with protecting myself from harm, but also protecting an agressor from undue harm"

You're either going to win them or lose them on the spot there... For me, that's the greatest thing about Aikido, especially coming from "Hard" Jujitsu.

TexV2 06-17-2004 09:41 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Q: What is Aikido?

A: Have you ever noticed how much lighter a child seems to be when they want to be held?
Thats AIkido!

Lyle Bogin 06-17-2004 11:19 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
I tend to agree with Ian's approach. I also tell them specifically what we do in class, as if I were talking about any other curriculum. This gives a more realistic picture of what new students will be doing and paying for.

tiyler_durden 06-17-2004 12:16 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Marc,what a wonderfull answer....

Truly amazing....

AsimHanif 06-17-2004 01:43 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Peter, I usually say "kind of like Tai Chi". I guess that's pretty telling of how we see things through our own windows.
I would agree with Lynn in that we are still a new art, going through a sort of next phase at this moment. Time will tell. I do not know if it is a pos or neg thing for aikido to be as commercial as other arts. I tend to think that it's ok as long as we have proper governance. Forums like this to make the public aware of what is legit and what questions need to be asked when in doubt.

xuzen 06-17-2004 10:04 PM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Dear friends,

Hi, I am the thread starter. My original purpose of this thread is to get fellow practitioner to ask themselve what if it is possible to associate aikido with. This will hopefully tag/identify us with a common gound when talking to Mr. Joe Public. However the direction of this thread is going more towards what how individual practitioner would decribe aikido to the public.

I guess the many answers offered to the same question is illustration that aikido is a dynamic art. Please let me explain: Take kokyu nage for example. There are so many variations and way of executing this technique as there are ways to describe what aikido is.

But lets go back to the original purpose of this thread, should we associate aikido with its effective joint locking technique? Should aikido be viewed as sword fighting style without the sword? I know that fellow practitioner knows that aikido is much more, some view it as a way of life, but if pressed by a non-practitioner, which of it s various attributes should one emphasize?

Happy discussing,

Mark Jewkes 06-18-2004 12:49 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Hi everybody

now thatīs a different question, more like how would you define aikido. And thatīs a tough one. And i am not sure that giving these definitions two Mrs/Ms Public would be a good idea, as they are likely to be misunderstood. But OK, let me give a couple of suggestions:

Aikido is the art of harmonious conflict resolution,
Aikido - the art of peace
Aikido is love
Aikido is a language, expressing universal principles of life.

These "definitions" will undoubted associate aikido with some sort of mumbo-jumbo-hippie-cult :crazy: , because they do not convey the fact of thousands of liters honest sweat to get there. Mr. Public might say: hey I did come to learn the way of harmony, yet my body aches for days after training.... ;)

xuzen 06-18-2004 01:46 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Dear Mark,

Now we are talking, I would go with the Aikido - The art of harmonious conflict resolution. Thanks for the nicely worded suggestion.


Mark Jewkes 06-18-2004 06:43 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Dear Boon

All of the definitions though are equally true for me, the fact is that words are too limited to express Aikidoīs full meaning. The techniques itself are the best definition and manifestation .


Joezer M. 06-21-2004 12:15 AM

Re: Aikido suffering identity problem?
Several weeks ago, a girl came up to me... after introductions she said she was impressed because I was an aikidoka, a martial artist :D Then she said she knew about aikido from a comic book, then she asked, "It's the one with wooden swords and masks, right?". I said no and then used the it's the stuff Steven Seagal does answer...
Never heard from her again... :uch:


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