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Hagen Seibert 04-26-2001 02:53 AM

teaching effectiveness
A few years ago I went to a Seminar of JuJitsu. I was already Shodan that time, but nevertheless my impression was that any green belt there would "beat me up" easily.

I am convinced the principles below the Techniques of Aikido are working and effective. But the techniques were not suitable for appropriate self defence. They were working when someone grabs your hand, but who in the mood of punching your face does grab your hand? Is seems due to concentrating on all that ki and harmony stuff, Aikido nowadays has somewhat developed away from the original purpose of martial arts.Thus there is the difficulty of teaching that "mind for fighting" a n d "feel of harmony". And as a third point, people seem to be quite happy with being thaugt nice movements, they are not very critic about effectiveness. And another point: Teaching seems to stop after the basics, as basic are difficult enough, but for effictivness its got to go further.

Now these are some possible reasons. My question is what to do about it? This is an important point, because Aikido claims to deal aggression in a non-aggressive manner. But if it fails to handle real, physical aggression properly, the whole concept was a failure.

Do you share that kind of experience? What to do about it?

ian 04-26-2001 03:32 AM

I think your questioning is a very important stage in your aikido. I have felt this previously myself. The difficulty is, to get good at aikido the techniques have to become a part of you, like tying your shoe laces. Then you can focus on the basics.

In my experience when people start aikido they always ask, where does this hand go?, where do I step i.e. the movement of arms and legs. When people have done it for a while they stop looking at the actual technique and instead look at people's centers, there extension and direction i.e. the 'fundamentals'.

Aikido often starts off teaching grabs. This enables you to at least escape from an attack and run away (at this stage literally 'self-defence' and not attack). It is also easier to find the connection with your uke, 'cos you can already feel them.

However this has to develop to receiving and blending with strikes and kicks. This requires much better body co-ordination, mai-ai (distancing) and timing. I like to teach moving off centre line when strikes come in quite a lot because it is so important (even if you can't then do a technique it puts you in a better position for striking, and has stopped you getting hit; especially important if they attack you with a weapon).


Aikilove 04-26-2001 03:38 AM

I would say that a sensei can teach very effective but that woun't matter if one doesn't train effectively.
I try to do this: In every basic technique I do I try to train it as effective as possible to get a feel for how the principle behind the technique can be used against any other attack. This means e.g that doing tai no henko becomes much more than repeating the same movement over and over again. Every time I do that simple technique it amazes me how effective it is to neutralizes any kind of attack e.g a punch or a grab or a kick. This means that one trains agains many attacks in one basic and simple technique, instead of locking oneself to one technique - one attack and vice versa.
So my advice is
  • Learn from your sensei and
  • Train effectively!

ian 04-26-2001 03:40 AM

P.S. you may or may not know that Ueshiba (and others) have said atemi is a major part of aikido (50-90%). You should be able to strike effectively, but maybe your sensei expects you to do this training within your own time. Maybe ask your sensei to show you more atemi points.

In many ways Aikido is like Jujitsu; similar technqiues etc. However aikido is usually less formalised in that (theoretically) you should be able to do any technique from any attack, and you should also be able to change technques. Also, aikido concentrates on the basics, so when you are in a novel situation all you have to do is deal with the basics. I would certainly not like to defend from someone attacking me with a crowbar in a jujitsu style (probably break my arms).

It is possibly worth making sure your uke attacks with more serious intent, and maybe you should take up karate, taekwondo, boxing as well if you feel your own striking is lacking.


(sorry to repeat what you said Jakob! you sneaked past me before I could do my P.S.!)

Aikilove 04-26-2001 03:48 AM

I have to say that I didn't mean that you should actually train tai no henko against different attacks, instead train the basic technique against katate dori in a normal way but do it effectively, learn from the technique, so that you would be able to use the principles no matter what attacks you. In order to do this I agree with Ian above, that you at least have to have the movement in your body, which takes time and training, to be able to really focus on what the basic techniques train you

Ps. Ian You just managed to sneak me again. :cool: Ds

Hagen Seibert 04-27-2001 06:48 AM

Thanks for your replies. Although I do not quite agree. You see, getting sound basics and train effectivly, I know that. The problem Id like to discuss is beyond that.

It is about dealing with a skilled attacker, who has learned to strike fast and consecutively, and who knows how to conceal his next actions.
It is about defending against someone different from the usual Aikido-uke, which doesnt know to punch without hurting himself in case hell hit and who only knows the ritualized attacks of training.
In that situation, it becomes very difficult to get into any technique at all.
(Jakob, from your answer I do have the suspicion you did not experience that.)

Of course you can use a throw against -say - ryote tori against - say - a straigt punch. But you will have to alter the beginning of the technique decicively. And if you dont train for that you wont manage to get into the throw. If you dont train against strikes you wont cope with them. If you are training badminton you wont win tennis.
( I should remark that there are no straight punches or kicks in my style, and what Ive seen in other styles didnt convince me.)

You see, I ve met many black belts in Aikido and very few of them Id trust to be able to defend themselves. The few ones who probably could had studied other martial arts as well.

Ian, Id like to point out that moving off the center line is a very good idea, but it is not the golden recipe to master all encounters, because a fist is very much faster than a body. How did you get along with WTs chain strikes, if you ve ever tried ?

REK 04-27-2001 07:09 AM

Personally, I agree that some practitioners do not tailor their training in such a way as to translate into combat. Although that is not "my" way of seeing things, I do respect their view, and have learned many things from them in spite of myself.

I suggest that your view of what constitutes effectiveness may be limited by the insecurity in your own skill you experienced in the face a novel approach to "attacking" you. I think that leaves you two options:

1. To integrate these novel attacks into your training
2. To expand your view of aikido technique beyond the "combat", aka "my sensei can beat up your sensei".

I am told that ideally, one should do both. No matter what you do, train.


andrew 04-27-2001 08:16 AM


Originally posted by Hagen Seibert
You see, I ve met many black belts in Aikido and very few of them Id trust to be able to defend themselves. The few ones who probably could had studied other martial arts as well.

How can you be a good judge of this when you have no confidence in your own techniques? (And you don't.)
Go to some Aikido seminars!!! (Some of these guys do courses in Germany, and I hope this link is a help. http://gargas.biomedicale.univ-paris...calender.shtml )

I do see your point, however. I was at a seminar recently with a guy called Tiki Shewan who pointed out that what we were practicing was not realistic, but a hypothetical "perfect" situation. (I wish I could remember a quote herre..) Of course, he wasn't teaching a technique. He was teaching a principle, and a principle that was extremely useful.

Anyhow, the hell with my opinion. Go to a seminar. Talk to a Shihan about it.


Aikilove 04-27-2001 08:57 AM

Lets see if I can produce a good reply to that.
Let me first tell you that I'm the first to admit that I believe that one need to train against all kinds of attack, at least sometime, so that you have experienced how to alter your basics accordingly. Having said that I think that this kind of training (difficult MA attacks) should only take 10%, at the most, of ones time on the mat. The rest of the time should go to train against basic attacks (including, apart from all grabing attacks, yokomen, shomen, tsuki, kata dori shomen, knife etc.).
  • I think a principle like moving of the line or tai sabaki work just fine against advance strikers (I have excperienced that by the way) like a skilled Karateka. We have a soon to be nidan karateka (shodan aikidoka) in our club and he likes to make it hard for you, thats why I'm amazed how well the simplest of technique (or principles rather) work agains a lightning fast strike or kick.
  • It's all about timing, awase and maai, all of which one will get better at with effective training.
  • Whats wrong with just stepping of the line without applying a technique at all? That's when you really neutralizes an attack in my oppinion.Wasn't that BTW what o-sensei did when confronted with an navy officer,who was a very skilled kendoka (or was it kenjutsuka)? He kept on moving of the line of attacks untill the officer was to tired to continue!
  • IMO we're not training against an for us optimal attack, I would say the opposite. We're training for the worst case scenario, that the attacker knows how to regain his/her balance after we've initially taken it from him/her. In real life how many of the agressors actually have that skill? (We're training it endlessly doing our ukemi!)
Again without saying only MHO

Stay :cool:

akiy 04-27-2001 08:59 AM

My teacher has said in the past about aikido's effectiveness in this way: "Aikido works. Your aikido may not work. Please understand the difference..."

-- Jun

CZR 04-27-2001 01:36 PM

I think what you find is a discrepency in the operable speed and size as opposed to the training speed and size of technique. By size I am referring to the size of motion. Most arts, I would argue all, at basic levels over gauge the size of motion in technique practice and under gauge the speed. An awareness of this discrepency is essential for learning, if the training is not already provided, to use any art in a more combative situation. Hence the reason for small fast sensitivity drills in the commonly thought of more combative arts. Combat speed is very fast and thus, by taking any technique or concept from aikido and performing it quick and fluid we can train to have the apparent effectiveness of other arts. Smaller size means overall time of technique is shorter. What this requires though is a well evolved understanding of the underlying concept in any art. One of the shortcomings I find with Aikido is the lack of attention to: skill of opponent, and progressive attack/counter-attack notions. For example, a Wing Chun practitioner is very adept at following lengthy attacks and counters without losing awareness, aikidoka find this difficult when the initial defense fails. However, a solid understanding of the principles, in aikido or otherwise, reveals that a counter and/or attack can be dealt with using a singular principle which flows through to answer multiple variations of attack, or a change in principle to accomodate progressive changes in incoming attacks. My best answer as to how to train this is: have opponents act like street thugs and not "on the mat" opponents, and develop training drills that have opponents attacking with multiple and varied techniques.

I have trained in various arts for a number of years and find this to be the template by which combat training occurs. In all an understanding of principles is essential than a progression to combativeness is made. Ultimately the way to train for the unpredictable and decisive nature of combat is to put yourself in unpredictable and decisive training situations. Which is what most of the combative arts do at higher levels. Higher levels being the key words! Also, these various principles are universal among all arts, just expressed in different ways. Never have I trained in an art where the phrase, "no be there, no be hit," did not apply. Some arts offer methods by which to take blows should they occur, but moving off the line of attack is a universal and virtually perfect defense.

Hope that made some sense... I apologize if my mind got ahead of my typing and would appreciate your responses...

Best wishes in your future training.

CZR 04-27-2001 02:04 PM

Another thing I thought I would mention is that it becomes essential for the serious practitioner to explore what combat principles and expressions of such principles are most beneficial to the individual's body structure. Whether this search inter- or intra- style, one can learn a lot about an art's or technique's combat potential for their purposes by referencing that to their body type.

Jim23 04-27-2001 02:16 PM


It's my opinion that aikido does work. The problem is that many people who study aikido are not natural fighters or are not committed enough to serious training (and I don't mean they're not sincere at what they do) and, therefore, are at sea when it comes down to "real" situations (this applies to all MAs).

A lot of people start aikido for self-defence reasons -- at least most of the people I've met -- not simply as a way to enlightenment (that comes later). Also, many of these people start aikido because they find the other MAs inappropriate for them. It's a bit like "why are there so many unhealthy looking people in a health food store? -- that's the reason why they're there"

I found it very difficult to make the decision to train in aikido, mainly due to the classes and students that I saw. I could tell that it was effective and liked what I saw, but I couldn't understand why so many senior students looked so, geez ... clumsy and unatural -- lacking confidence (I wish I could find better words to describe this). What convinced me to start were the "few" who I thought were very good at what they were doing (exclusive of rank). No hollow talk or facade there!

Aikido works, as do all martial arts. However, the average student is just that: average. Should they quit? Of course not. Should they strive to be better? Well, that's their decision.


Brian 04-27-2001 03:27 PM


Originally posted by CZR
For example, a Wing Chun practitioner is very adept at following lengthy attacks and counters without losing awareness, aikidoka find this difficult when the initial defense fails.
Just out of curiosity, how many aikidoka have you seen having difficulty after their first defense has failed? What percentage is this of the total aikidoka populace?

Secondly, what do you consider a failed defense? If they have not moved at all (moving being the first thing done in every technique I have seen to date), then of course they're going to experience difficulty, since they will more than likely suffer the full force of that attack. Not responding to an attack will give anyone difficulty, regardless of MA =P. If you mean that the technique they attempted to perform was unsuccessful, they have probably still foiled the attack. The attacker intended to strike/grab/etc. them, they moved out of the way, and the attacker has failed in striking/grabbing/etc. them. The attacker may not be at their mercy, but they are still safe and will have the opportunity to defend again.

Erik 04-27-2001 04:01 PM

This is an incredibly messy question in my opinion. Aikido does work, it is effective, but if one doesn't practice it that way, it won't be any of the above. That's obvious but I don't think it's necessarily obvious to someone when it isn't effective and it isn't practiced that way.

I was recently working with someone and apparently she wasn't comfortable with the speed we were working at. Tis a long story but the short version is that she wants to work slower with me and of course I'll honor her request. Anyways, after listening to her talk about how fast we were going I made one comment to her. The comment was, "we weren't going fast." Her eyes got kind of big at this point.

I think a lot of us are like this. Think about how little most of us practice punching and then ask yourself how your partners are getting better with the crap you are probably throwing at them. Or, how are you getting better when they throw the same level of crap at you? The same thing applies with kicks and other techniques. Yet, how often are we lulled into thinking our skills are better than they are because they work against the out of shape 44 year old guy attacking us in prescribed format? Probably almost all of us because that is the world we operate in.

I remember working against a Kendo guy (he was really good) and I thought I would have a bit of an advantage because I'd done some Aikido work with the sword and he didn't know that. I never saw him move although I heard him. He was yelling out the points he struck. It was brutal. Sure it was a sport but it was at a whole different level than I was used to. In most cases, skilled attackers will be at a whole different level than what most of us face in our regular practice unless we train for it.

Anyways, enough rambling, but let me add that the only way I know to deal with this is to cross-train in as many different arts and dojos as you can to get different perspectives. Or, find a very, very, very skilled teacher who probably did the cross-training for you.

Oh, and I'm just as guilty of these things as anyone else.

CZR 04-27-2001 04:36 PM


I would never claim to argue a percentage of the aikidoka populace, just a percent of the practitioners I have experience in dealing with. Nor would I expect anyone else to make such a claim. Taking that as a hook, the average five year practitioner from aikido compared to the average five year practitioner from Wing Chun is less likely to handle a salvo of incoming attacks or follow a standard attack, counter, counter-counter prgression. It is the counter-counter that I have seen be the problem. Also, is it not possible for a mixture of both to occur: the attack landing and the defense working, each on a relative scale? It is cases such as these that I see most often in close quarter combat. Hence an explanation for the statement above, understanding that the training elements of Wing Chun deal more directly with such conditions.

A failed defense= not redering the opponent "out of range, active threat" And i have seen this occur numerous times among very well trained aikidoka who engage Wing Chun and/or Uechi ryu practitioners of similar caliber. Not to say that such is a defficiency, but a description of elements. Similar descriptions can be made given certain conditions of any art.

Cross training is the best answer if it is of that much concern.

The ultimate answer being that if one is of greater skill than the opponent all of this debate is a mute point. "Lengthen your line."


wildaikido 04-30-2001 09:26 AM

I would like to start with a quote
"The difference between a real fight and sparring on the mat is the difference between swimming in the ocean and swimming on the mat." Steven Seagal.
This is a very important point. You must realize that there is a difference between your Aikido 'practice' and what you would use for self-defense. One of the main reasons we don't train to realistically on the mats is so we don't get hurt. Also we are sometimes more interested in the 'budo', and not the 'bujutsu' (please no arguments or discussions on the do jutsu thing), this is simply because we are also trying to develop the self, and not just the techniques.
There is an interesting story in Roy Suenaka's book Complete Aikido where a large guy came into one of his dojos and said Aikido doesn't work because when Mr. Suenaka tried to do a kote mawashi (nikyo) on him he resisted. Then Mr. Suenaka said something like 'this is not what I would do on the street' and the guy said 'well do that then' so Mr. Suenaka broke his nose and then applied the lock most effectively.
Don't get me wrong I practice the self-development and study the philosophy of Aikido by my self in addition to what I practice in class. But I also make sure ALL of what I do is effective for self defense and this only requires a little extra thought, and yes atemi is part of this.

Hagen, to answer some of your points, I think you don't understand non-aggressive, this means you are simply not aggressive. I mean you can strike to the face of your uke and not be aggressive, also you can pin with great pain to him and not be aggressive. That is what is meant by non-aggressive simply don't lower your self to an animalistic level and want to maim or hurt your uke unnecessarily or out of spit. When you see some pictures of O'sensei you notice him smile as he applies a lock, this is being non aggressive, you will also notice that his uke will probably have a very painfully look on his face.
When it comes to fight someone who has a martial arts background, firstly this should not be that common. Any way to strike you he must get with in your ma ai past your comfort zone. When he does, strike first then throw him or apply a lock, it is still self-defense, legally aswell.
Remember that in Aikido we try and start by talking, 'verbal Aikido' if you like. But if someone comes at me moving like a boxer and I tell him to leave me alone, and he doesn't then I will do what I have to before he hits me. Not many boxer over committee there attacks and they snap back quick so atemi again is important. Irimi is the only thing to use against people like this, as tenkan movements will not work.
Speed has noting to do with Aikido only timing, study this.
Andrew a great point, Aikido is not about applying techniques it's about applying principles, study this.
Jun, the best point so far, "Aikido works. Your aikido may not work. Please understand the difference..."
If any one has any questions about my rather long dribble then just ask.

andrew 04-30-2001 10:05 AM

This whole thread kind of reminds me about a story of Chiba Senseis I read in an interview. He was in a fight with this guy who'd been trying to challenge Hombu for ages. (See the interview on, I think, aikidoonline)
His comment at the end of the story (he won) was simply this:
"I don't think he expected an aikidoka to initiate an attack."


andrew 04-30-2001 10:17 AM

more stories...
We'd a seminar with a visiting french teacher once while the college Karate club graded on the far side of a curtain.

When they were gone, he did some work on Tenkan, telling us he'd saved the stuff that was most effective, the stuff you'd really use, until they were gone. (I think he was only about half tongue in cheek.)


Erik 04-30-2001 02:33 PM


Originally posted by andrew
(See the interview on, I think, aikidoonline)
There is an interview at
Interesting how some stories get blown up. The way I heard is that he showed up with a sword. He probably showed up with a bazooka in other versions. :)

Erik 04-30-2001 03:10 PM


Originally posted by wildaikido
Not many boxer over committee there attacks and they snap back quick so atemi again is important.
I agree with the direction of your post. Ideally, you show up for the fight with 4 buddies, baseball bats and you sneak up on the guy you are fighting...while he's asleep...and tied up.

As a general question, how many Aikidoists do you run into who have effective atemi? I'm pondering this because in my experience it just isn't taught much. Hence, if the majority of folks don't cross-train, where do they get their atemi skills? Maybe my world is just foo-foo but I'm betting it's pretty typical and in that world atemi skills are often lacking in my opinion.

akiy 04-30-2001 04:26 PM


Originally posted by Erik
As a general question, how many Aikidoists do you run into who have effective atemi?
What would you consider to be "effective" atemi? A knock-out punch? A black eye? An open-handed slap to the eye, enough to cause them to lose their vision for a few minutes? A bop on the nose, enough to cause tears?

-- Jun

Erik 04-30-2001 05:24 PM


Originally posted by akiy

What would you consider to be "effective" atemi? A knock-out punch? A black eye? An open-handed slap to the eye, enough to cause them to lose their vision for a few minutes? A bop on the nose, enough to cause tears?

-- Jun

I would consider all those and even mellower ones than what you mentioned valid. My original perpsective was from the ukemi side. In other words, being able to deliver a good clean strike with a little bit of juice to it, so at least you could deliver respectable ukemi. Again, this may be a function of the strange Aikido world I wander in, but it just isn't taught much that I see. If you can deliver respectable ukemi, you can better help your nage's get respectable as well.

From the perspective of wildaikido's comments, I'd think your atemi had best be on the really good level, the very distracting level or the very something level, otherwise, I think a good boxer (which is the level being discussed) would eat you for breakfast. You probably aren't going to water the eyes of boxer and that's about the best a lot of Aikidoist's could probably hope for with a strike in my opinion. A boxer will also probably be a lot harder to distract with conventional atemi as well. Wildaikido did have a more proactive slant though.

Is that something in the realm of what you were looking for as an answer?

akiy 04-30-2001 07:17 PM


Originally posted by Erik
My original perpsective was from the ukemi side. In other words, being able to deliver a good clean strike with a little bit of juice to it, so at least you could deliver respectable ukemi.
Oh, OK. I personally wouldn't call the strikes and such that uke delivers to "start things up" (for a lack of a better term) as atemi but just as the attacks themselves (ie munetsuki, shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, et al).

I'll personally say that the percentage of people who are able to deliver a good attack capable of actually hurting someone in a "martially" respectible manner isn't very high. Most people, in my thoughts and experiences, in aikido do not have the ability to deliver a well-executed attack without compromising their balance and integrity...

-- Jun

Erik 04-30-2001 07:48 PM


Originally posted by akiy
Oh, OK. I personally wouldn't call the strikes and such that uke delivers to "start things up" (for a lack of a better term) as atemi but just as the attacks themselves (ie munetsuki, shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, et al).
I knew what I meant and actually meant atemi this way. My thinking process tends to be non-direct, as such, I was talking about both ends of the game almost at the same time. If it was confusing, then, my bad.

But you know about my strange thinking process. :)

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