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Jorx 08-10-2005 12:19 PM

"Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Okay... this is an offshoot from Aikido and Kata thread which was an offshoot from some other thread...

What are the differences and different goals and objectives of "traditional budo" and "fighting system" or whatever you may call it.

The KATA thread came to conclusion that kata and emphasis on form is essential for traditional budo, however if the goal is combat effectiveness and/or practical applications in sport or otherwise it is not so (I know world class sport-karate guys who haven't learned a single kata in their life). So here's one difference.

What can be accomplished within one system and not the other etc etc etc.

Jorx 08-10-2005 12:23 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
...and of course... is this an artificial classification? Do these things exist at all? Should it be classified somehow otherwise...?

Roy 08-10-2005 12:47 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
I think that a budo that encompasses a "little" kata for self study etc... Will encourage both, a combat effectiveness, and strengthen, and/or distill a greater understanding of form. I also think that self study with kata form, will encourage a calmer state of mind; similar, to yoga, etc... But evidently, there is always dojos that are, and always will focus to much on kata; thus, those dojos will probably lack in combat effectiveness. You need a good balance :)

Ron Tisdale 08-10-2005 01:22 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Hi Roy, see my post on the 'other' thread for my disagreements.

Draeger draws some interesting distinctions between civillian and miltitary arts. He also makes some distinctions between Do and Justu arts...some of those distinctions don't hold up as well.

But to stick with Aikido, you could take the techniques of aikido, strip out any reigi or cultural items, start competitions with rules that pressure test the techniques, only keep the techniques that pass that test. But then I would question whether or not what you are studying is Budo.

This whole area is very subtle...judo is Budo...but it can also be practiced as 'just sport'. Junk the kata, forget the belts, test only through competition, forget the japanese terms, bowing, etc. You'd still have a pretty high percentage grappling art. But would it still be budo? Personally, I have my doubts, but I also don't know how to express the reasons for those doubts.

The aikido I've been taught does have a cultural componant. There are other arts that also have cultural silat for instance. But that is an indonesian art, not japanese, so for me it has similarities to Budo, but it's not Budo. But it is said that its quite a good fighting art...even with the cultural componants. Each person has to decide what they like, and go with that.

As to lacking in combat effectiveness...well, to go with the pressure testing idea, you should get on the mat with some of those you think are lacking...let me know how it comes out. ;)


cguzik 08-10-2005 01:25 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
To practice traditional budo is to give yourself to the system as a conduit through which it can be transmitted. In doing so, the practitioner becomes inculcated with the principles of the system; the practitioner becomes a living example of the principles embodied in the system. As Chuck Gordon said in the other thread, Shu-Ha-Ri may very well be essential for this to occur.

If the sole purpose is to give oneself over to become such a conduit, then the question of what can be accomplished by learning in such a way is answered: the system is transmitted... that is the goal. Those who start such a process with their own ideas of what is to be accomplished will inevitably find that they have to give those goals up in order to progress.

Now, if the practitioners of a system get killed, the system is not going to get transmitted. So, efficacy at the level of the individual is important. If all the practitioners of a system get killed, they cannot pass it on. And even if some don't get killed, without a reputation for being effective, new students may be hard to find.

So, we now have survival of the individual and survival of the system as coexisting goals. However, the individual's goals are not the reason that the individual [gets to] train: It is up to the teacher to be selective about who gets taught.

In this way, the goal of individual effectiveness is secondary to the goal of direct transmission.

Clearly, in sport situations, these two priorities are more frequently reversed, if any priority at all is given to the transmission of the system it is only as a conduit through which individuals learn to win.


Ron Tisdale 08-10-2005 01:42 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Nicely put Chris!


Keith R Lee 08-10-2005 03:25 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Warning: long incoming post

I don't want to speak for Jorgen, but I think what's getting to him is the same thing that gets to me. I'll get to this in a little bit.

Budo have an explicit purpose of character development and polishing the self, that's a given. Getting more specific, Aikido has a very specific philosophical basis that is manifested in practice. Now certainly the degree to which this philosophy is emphasized will vary from style to style and dojo to dojo. For many these are the notions of harmony, blending, and non-competition.

If one's goal is to pursue a budo in order to cultivate the self and to get some physical exercise and to understand more about a foreign culture that is fine. These are notable goals, and are honestly the ones that most people who are curious and enter martial arts are looking for.

However, combative sports are an entirely different beast and require an entirely different set of skills. They also generally involve "live" training. Furthermore, conditioning and strength play a far greater role in combative sports. And most importantly, the goal of combative arts is to win.

The problem I have (and I think what Jorgen is getting at, though please step in here and correct me if I'm wrong Jorgen) is typified in the Exaggeration in Aikido thread. I have seen many claims on boards such as Aikiweb that Aikido is some sort of "ultimate" martial art. I think most of this is linked to the near deification of Ueshiba sensei by many aikido dojos. An example is the name "o sensei." As Peter Rehse stated elsewhere it smacks of arrogance and ignorance to called Ueshiba sensei "o sensei" and not Kano sensei and Funokoshi sensei as well.

These stories and legends about Ueshiba sensei to provide a skewed view of physical combat because people begin to rely on hearsay and not empirical evidence. It's very easy to walk into a dojo and see many people doing something that looks like a physical conflict. And then they both get up! No one gets hurt! Then you hear about the wonderful philosophy behind the art about "taking care" of the enemy. "Harmonizing" with them, etc. Well that sounds very appealing, and "enlightened." No brute are these Aikido folks! They are sophisticated and intelligent, says the potential Aikdio student, I want to be part of that.

So the student joins and is slowly nurtured into the non-resistant environment. The student is constantly assured by their seniors that this stuff "really works." And there is some testing now and then, some resistance, but in a very controlled manner. But the only problem is that this is how the student's seniors were reared in the art as well. They have no real, personal, empirical knowledge if their Aikido works or not. They only have hypothesis and hearsay. This might go as far as 3-4 generations of instructors and student who are removed from anyone who has first-hand experience of physical conflict. So the student begins to take whether or not their techniques work on a matter of faith not experience.

And if the student is misled badly enough, overconfidence emerges and the student begins to think that they can handle that 275 pound NFL linebacker over there. The student definitely thinks they can take that pretty regular looking guy who's had a few drinks. That they can handle some MMAer. Because the student takes a "sophisticated" martial art, not one that involves all that grubby rolling around and the ground and hitting each other.

That is the problem I have with some who practice Aikido. The sense of arrogance some seem to have because the art is "sophisticated" and has a philosophical backing. Arrogance and ignorance because as soon as someone begins to cross-train they will be rudely disabused by the pre-conceived notions they had about the effectiveness of their Aikido techniques.

Everything changes in a "live" environment. And what frustrates people who do train in "live" environments is this: being told by people who practice only in kata based environments that the kata practioners would be "just as effective" if they entered into a "live" environment. Because the "live" practioners have real experience in the environment and the kata-based practioners do not.

It's akin to what a 13 year old thinks sex is like. He's heard stories form his friends, seen pictures, some video, whatever with the internet. He thinks he's got a pretty good idea of what sex is all about. Compare that to a 28 year old woman who has been having sex for 10 years. Who is the better authority on sex? Who would you trust to give you sexual advice?

And lastly, like most everything else, fighting has evolved and changed over the years. Ueshiba sensei was a very talented martial artist. However, I do not think he would be able to stand toe to toe with any of the top MMA fighters today. Everything from fighting skill to conditioning to human physiology has changed. No one would argue that plucking Harrison Dillard (a gold metal track star the 40's) and putting him up against Carl Lewis would result in a win for Dillard. Or to keep it nearer to combative sports and budo, no sane person could argue that Floyd Patterson, won the gold for the United States in boxing in 1952, would be able to compete with Lennox Lewis.

So in terms of MMA, after someone like Pawel Nastula (a veritable judo deity, gold medals, 300 straight wins, etc.) lost in under 3 minutes to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira I just don't see Ueshiba sensei competing at a high MMA level. The people at the top level of MMA (which is PRIDE btw. Most people seem to think the UFC is the end-all, be-all word on MMA. It is decidedly not.) are the best martial artists in the world today, at least in terms of combat effectiveness. Therefore it logically follows that if what one wants is combat effectiveness than one would follow their training methods and not blindly follow those of the past.


While I am not training in Aikido at the moment, I still enjoy it. I think it is a great martial way. I have made many life-long friends from Aikido and I plan on continuing my training in it. That being said, I believe there are issues with the way it is practiced and the training methodology leaves something to be desired. Not to mention there are some techniques and attacks that are unrealistic and unnecessary. Cheers if you read all this! :)

Roy 08-10-2005 05:02 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"

Aikidokas who do a "little kata" can still train to be "combat effective"? Why would they not? As far as not being able to sense pressure mid-technique, and change direction accordingly is irrelevant, for kata in itself is not a complete training anyway. Tai chi chuan practitioners practice kata forms for just that reason, to develop chi/ki to be able to sense and "explosively"respond to attacks (wingchun). I'm not disagreeing that realistic physical contact is key to prepare for physical combat, but you should not disregard the use of kata as "junk"training.

"This whole area is very subtle...judo is Budo...but it can also be practiced as 'just sport'. Junk the kata, forget the belts, test only through competition, forget the japanese terms, bowing, etc. You'd still have a pretty high percentage grappling art. But would it still be budo? Personally, I have my doubts, but I also don't know how to express the reasons for those doubts."

Looks to me here like you are not sure what budo is, because you seem to be concerned only with the physical core of the training. I would rather learn a technique from a high ranked person, won't you? How do you know who that is if there are no belts? So, if a guy walks in of the street and uses Karate, and kicks the shit out of my Sensei. I should ask him how to do Aikido?

"As to lacking in combat effectiveness...well, to go with the pressure testing idea, you should get on the mat with some of those you think are lacking...let me know how it comes out."

Can you elaborate more on what this means?

"Hi Roy, see my post on the 'other' thread for my disagreements."

No thanks

DustinAcuff 08-10-2005 05:20 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
My question is how do koryu schools fit into the budo vs fighting art equation?

I'm more than a bit curious about how much budo is being misinterpreted due to lack of adequate cultural understanding and ignorance about the when/where/why of the evolution or creation of an art.

And correct me if I am wrong but doesn't budo translate as "warrior way"? If so then why the big conflict over budo vs. mma?

rob_liberti 08-10-2005 09:00 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Keth Lee,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it a bunch of seriously dedicated aikido people all making pretty much the same points you were in the exaggeration in aikido thread - all arguing with one guy who is still relatively new to aikido? Maybe your experience outside of this forum is different - okay, fine. But then maybe mention that. If I mis-remember that thread, then my apologies. I thought exaggeration in aikido was a good name for that thread.

I think aikido can be what people claim it to be, but:
1) a large percentage of people training are in the kyu ranks, and high kyus and low dans aren't all that much more sophisticated than people brand new to the art. It takes a long time.
2) Then, we have the people lost in delusion accepting high ranks which they want to believe represent their martial ability when we all know it represents loyalty and ability to teach beginners clearly, etc.
3) So, there are not going to be a whole bunch of aikidoka with tremendous sophistication - but that's not really aikido's fault - it's just the way things are. To get those relatively few people (comparatively speaking) we accept the problems of not constantly competing - until a level that few attain before we start applying pressure that might meet with your approval.

If you want to be mad at delusional people, good. Help wake them up. But please don't say it can't work.


Michael Neal 08-10-2005 09:10 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"

Clearly, in sport situations, these two priorities are more frequently reversed, if any priority at all is given to the transmission of the system it is only as a conduit through which individuals learn to win.
And through learning to win they also learn the techniques that will work in a fluid realistic situation. Not that kata techniques won't work, but they don't get tested to the level as in randori and shiai.

However, I am a proponent of both kata and randori training. I think you need both, one to perfect your technique and the other to apply it realistically. If you neglect either form of training I think it is detrimental. I don't get people who only advocate kata training or only competition, people like that should not be taken seriously.

In most competitive dojos like in BJJ and Judo, they do kata like drills where uke does not resist. They allow their partner to apply the techniques in order to learn them and then afterwards they do randori to test it with resistance.

I know in Judo you are required to know all of the throws, armbars, and choking techniques for your particular level when it comes time for promotion. While competition is a factor, you still have to know the syllabus. So your point is not neccessarily valid since the transmission of the system is still an integral part of the training.

Michael Neal 08-10-2005 09:58 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
And actually the more I think of it, the more wrong I think you are. My Judo examinations are alot tougher than anything I experienced in Aikido and I think for my rank, I generally know alot more about Judo than the equivalent Aikidoka knows about Aikido.

First of all, testing in my Judo organization is usually done by an instructor from a different school and it then needs to go through the full board of examiners for approval, a procedure that is usually only required for blackbelt in other arts. And there is frequent denial of promotions for a myriad of reasons.

For my last exam (4th kyu) I was required to

1) demonstrate 16 different throws, 8 holdowns, 6 chokes, and 4 armbars appropriate for my experience level.
2) I was required to then take a written examination containing the fundementals of Judo, the terms, and history.
3) I was required to have the necessary time in grade to be considered for promotion.
4) And finally I had to demonstrate my abilty in competition by having the required amount of wins for promotion.

Non-competitors generally must have double the time in grade and must have participation in other events like clinics and volunteering for Judo events, and they are expected to demonstrste the techniques better than the competitors.

So there is no lack of transmission of the art in my sport oriented Judo organization.

Roy 08-10-2005 10:03 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Michael Neal,

"one to perfect [learn] your technique and the other to apply it realistically"

Nicely summarized!

PeterR 08-10-2005 10:31 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
I would say the perfected technique is one you can apply in randori/shiai.

Kata's primary strength is to give you the opportunity to critically analyze your technique under more controlled circumstance.

I also don't see a contradiction between Budo and Fighting Art. With Aikido I have a choice to either to learn its breadth or to learn what's necessary to dominate in a fight. Either way is possible without loss of either aspect. I of course choose to explore the depth but that's just me.

DustinAcuff 08-10-2005 11:31 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
I would like to announce that after some profound meditation over a bottle of coke that I have uncovered the true purpose of kata...they are simply supposed to look good when preformed with a partner to dramatic music like "Eye of the Tiger". That is the entirety of it. :)

xuzen 08-10-2005 11:59 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Like many things in life... there is theory and there is practical. Both are valid in their assumption. They cannot exist without the other. In medicine, we assume that we must provide the best care for a patient. In practical, there is the cost consideration (pharmaco-economics), the availability of alternatives etc etc that will sometime even contradict with what is recommended by theory. But theory is where practical is derived. Hence outcome and theory exist hand in hand, just like kata and randori/shiai. They cannot exist independent of the other. Having said that, now go do both with earnest.


DustinAcuff 08-11-2005 12:09 AM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Oops, browser switched threads on me..crap!

Jorx 08-11-2005 01:24 AM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Keith you got me there:) but only a little bit.

I didn't write my opinions straight away to my first post because I wanted to see how ppl address this rather... unconcrete question.

Now it is quite sport proven, that this "art" part of judo - for example judo kata, remembering the names of techniques etc have quite nothing to do with the success in sport. So time spent on these could be spent on more practical things - and this mindset is spreading.

BUT what MY main point is it's not combat efficiency but the exact "human and character development" which is mystically obtained to "budo". That how these rituals/kata/hierarchyphilosophy make for better (calmer/more efficient/more tolerant/peaceful) human beings.

Could that be also obtained in highly combat or sport oriented live training enviroment with NO history NO hierarchy NO rituals NO titles NO written or specific philosophy etc?

I say with a right mindset - yes. Obviously that mindset can't be 100% sport result oriented mindset and EVEN that VERY definately builds character (in case the coach is not an ass of course) - willpower and accepting losses. Now if we move away from sport a bit (but still have some sport-mindset to SD and such), we can add the PLAY factor. It's fun, it's relaxing. It brings together very different people who help eachother in training. It humbles 'cause there's always someone better than you and you can't doubt it. It calms you 'cause you know your abilities and learn to be calm through being calm in very physical confrontation.

I am obviously biased here due to my personal experiences:

I have had people flip out and YELL at me on a Aikido seminar over just asking a question. I have seen a 3rd dan ...I think there's no better word than torture a BLIND aikidoka. I have seen people ARGUE who has the RIGHT form of technique. I have seen people competitively wrestle over potentially dangerous jointlocks at a seminar. I have seen COUNTLESS people who's attitude towards me was different because I wore a whitebelt. Cocky attitudes and cranking towards people who one thinks are "less than them". People who do not want to train with lower belts 'cause they think there's nothing in for them. I've seen karate senseis insult people. Karate brownbelt (a girl, had practiced 3 years) saying that "I don't dare to compete, I'm afraid I might kill someone". JuJutsu coaches letting people in first day do high ukemi over 3 chairs (one girl broke a finger never came back) and the list goes on.

And this is the budo which helps spiritual development? Which helps people to deal with themselves better?

Now of course I've seen total d*cks in sport-oriented gyms. But MOST of the people (and I've dealt with many wrestlers, very not-traditional sport karateka, judoka, boxers) are humble, friendly and helpful EVEN if they do not understant you or your perspective (yet). I have/train in s sport-mindset-alive training SD gym (with all the NO's:) described above) now. I have people training together and helping eachother who in street would look upon eachother and think what a geek/what an idiot. I have adults playing games and smiling after a hard days work at factory. I have higher belts (we have BJJ belts when gi-class though we train other things as well) training and teaching and learning with and from lower belts. I have people who can't take a loss and now their getting towards they can accept one. I have a person who was shy and quiet and now she has social life (besides training as well). I have a person who totally tensed up when someone touched him and it's getting MUCH better after 3 months. I have everybody getting in better shape (healthy mind in healthy body). this not... budo?

Jorx 08-11-2005 01:45 AM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
A short added comment for the above post:
Of course I've seen a helluva lot of nice ppl in TMA too:) It just seems to me that very often what is called "budo" will only reinforce some "d*cks"/"d*ck side of nice ppl" and what is alive and sporty they don't even touch or when they do they leave quickly OR change.

Also view "Aggressive aikidoka" from "anynonymous" section. And take time to think about how your experiences are.

rob_liberti 08-11-2005 07:31 AM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Hi Jorgen,

All fair points. This is a problem with surface level as opposed to depth again. We have the problem in technique transmission (some one learns the way it is shown to the masses and branches off before ever discovering any depth. They get promoted and remain unchallenged due to a new location, etc. and then teaches that way to their students, who continue to water it down. The students can site 3 generations of their instructors who all do it that way so it must be correct!). Competition would really help here. Typically I find myself chasing after people at seminars who I suspect can jam the stink out of me, and completely shut me down so I can test what I am doing. I have also chased some higher belts who avoided me like the plague. I really suspect they didn't want the main teacher to really see how far away from principle they were (but maybe I just had bad breath!).

We have the same surface level problem with learning what is appropriate in the cultural setting aikido was initially taught in. Americans go to Japan and many times their egos are almost completely unchecked because people are making allowances for us and expecting internal checks and balances to be present (which are typically not present.) We figured out the surface level of "sempai and kohai" in that the senior has authority over the junior. We pretty much failed miserably at getting the responsibility of maintaining the "wa" (the peace) which is the necessary foundation upon which the sempai/kohai system can ONLY work. I agree that if we gave each other beatings in competitions that more humility would be present compared to the current system. However, we can ALSO try to solve the problem by specifically teaching the underpinnings of the sempai/kohai model. In other words, you are not wrong in your opinion, but I don't think you present the ONLY viable solution.


Jorx 08-11-2005 07:39 AM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Thanks for a thoughtful post, Rob...

But the question still remains:

What is there in what is referred to as "budo" that can not be achieved just as well through other means.

What is the worth of "budo" OTHER than historical context and maybe just a preference by some individuals who happen to like this way for some purposes while being aware of it's weaknesses.

My long whining-list was not to suggest or raise the question of PROBLEMS in budo and how to cure them but merely to show that if people start to talk about TMA benefits they often mention discipline, character development etc. Things which can sometimes NOT be found in these "budo" and surely CAN be found also outside these type of systems.

rob_liberti 08-11-2005 08:06 AM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Well, I think the problem is with over appling reductionist thinking. (Again, surface level problem.) I think this is a case for lateral thinking. For example, in computer science, there are funny concepts like the difference between a composite and aggregate. A typical car is a composite of the various parts - so you can troubleshoot by process of elimination. An aggregate is more than the summation of the parts. For instance, ask a Red Sox fan the following: If every member of that team (coaches, managers, everything) were traded to the Yankees, would they now be a Yankees fan? The answer would be NO WAY! I'm a Red Sox fan and I hate the Yankees. Okay, I know it is a silly example, but the computer science example is worse. I think Budo in general is more of an aggregate than a composite. Not because people will have seemingly irrational attachment to their team or their art, but because the collection of concepts grouped together in that way has meaning to them: which is really why we call it "art" (This is all just my opinion mind you! I'm sure that some really do just have an irrational attachment to their "style" of Budo - and by all means help wake them up - but do it in a kind way.)

For me, I have tried Judo with some incredible people (the guy must be psychic or something - I really admired and desired his ability). I frequently go to friendship seminars with incredible people who teach great martial arts. And I have also done aikido with some incredible people. For me, I want to move _primarily_ like my aikido teacher and I also want to understand his thinking about martial arts primarily. I personally got the most out of his teaching, and I feel I have the responsibility to give back. Don't get me wrong, I want all of the other skills too (ground fighting and the hand/eye of sticks, and cool sacrifice judo throws, and boxing combinations to set people up better, etc.) - just not primarily. If there were a better way to learn what my aikido teacher were doing, I'd do it. Sometimes, I think there is a better way to pass on what I learned, and I am always willing to teach in a way that I was not taught, but I remain faithful to Budo. If someone wants similar skills but wants to learn them outside of Budo, I'm certain they are options for them as well.


cguzik 08-11-2005 01:46 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"

Michael Neal wrote:
And actually the more I think of it, the more wrong I think you are.
So there is no lack of transmission of the art in my sport oriented Judo organization.


Since you quoted my post above I think this was in response to me. Note that I did not say there is any lack of transmission in the sport situation, just that the emphasis is different.

I think in sport-oriented arts, there is frequently more leeway given to the individual to do "what works for them" in order to win based on the framework of the sport. In fact, this is in my opinion one of the major distinctions between a coach and a teacher of a traditional art: the coach actually looks for and encourages doing so, while the teacher of the traditional art actively discourages it.

I'm not making any kind of judgement as to which approach is better or worse, but I am pretty sure that this is a major difference between these types of arts.


Keith R Lee 08-11-2005 04:50 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"

Rob Liberti wrote:
Keth Lee,
If you want to be mad at delusional people, good. Help wake them up. But please don't say it can't work.

That's essentially what I am trying to do/say. Your 3 points (from this post) are quite accurate I think. Also, I am definitely playing devil's advocate here a little bit.

Certainly Aikido techniques are applicable. I merely lament the lack of randori/shiai/"live" training in most Aikido dojos because the skills necessary to apply these techniques are never acquired. I'll use myself for an example. I started out training Aikido in a pretty "hard" Aikikai dojo in 97. Trained til I got my shodan. However, never was there "live" training.

After frequent exposure to the Yoshinkan system I got hooked. It appealed to me because it seemed even "harder" and the techniques all had a real martial....crispness to them, at least in my eyes. (not dissing any aikido styles here, just my preference) So I went off and was uchi deshi for nearly a year at a Yoshinkan dojo under a rokudan. Trained 5-10 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. At the end of my stay, I got my nidan. This was in 2003.

Moved back to where I was originally training and I quickly became disillusioned in training there because it was no longer the kind of training I wanted. Essentially, not Yoshinkan. (That being said, it's a great dojo, full of great people. I'm still friends with many of them) Also, I had a growing interest in grappling and MMA so I began to branch out and training more in BJJ and less in Aikido.

Eventually I ended up in Sambo, which is a great fit for me. Now the point of all this is: in the past 1 and a half years of "live," resistant training I've only gotten Aikido techniques to work maybe a dozen times. And let me tell you, it's certainly not for a lack of trying! The problem is that another experienced person very rarely over extends themselves in an attack or "fully" commits to an attack. Even when a person does "fully" commit, Aikido techniques are damn hard to pull off.

Now, I'm far from being some expert at Aikido, I'm only a nidan. But I've been training really hard for a long time and I would hope after 7 years of training my techniques from Aikido would be a bit higher percentage than that but they're not. But the other folks I train with; whether they are BJJers, MMAers, or Sambo players nail their techniques on me all the time. Why? I attribute it to the "live" training environment in which they practice. And the techniques I have learned from BJJ/Sambo/MMA work well all the time in the "live" environment. They are all high percentage because the number one motivation in these sports is that techniques must be effective in a "live" environment.

Beyond all that, the longer I am in a "live" environment the more I find my Aikido techniques improving. They come up rarely but are increasing in number. What I find unfortunate is that I had to leave an Aikido environment in order to improve in my Aikido techniques! So Aikido definitely works, it's just that I personally have had to cross-train to ensure that it works. By cross-training in a "live" environment I am beginning to accumulate real, personal experience about what works and what does not work from my Aikido. I don't have to rely on hearsay or faith. It's made my Aikido better, and I'm sure that it would do so for others.

What I find personally troubling are people who are high kyus or low dan ranks (or any Aikido practioner really) thinking they are capable of applying Aikido techniques in a "live" environment because from my personal experience, they're quite difficult to pull off. I don't know, maybe I didn't train hard enough in Aikido. I knew I should have spent another year as an uchi deshi! :)

Perhaps if I trained for another ten or fifteen years in Aikido only (meaning kata only, non-resistant) I would be proficient enough in my techniques that I could perform well in a "live" environment. But I seriously doubt that.

By training in a "live" environment techniques become refined and polished in a different way than kata alone. Both are necessary. I need to practice my triangle drills (kata) in Sambo. But then I need to train "live" with people to see if I can actually make a triangle work in competition. I need to practice second control in Aikido (well I used to). But then I need to come to Sambo and try and see if I can get second control in competition. Because if I can, then I have real, personal experience that second control works. However, the manner in which I have obtained second control while rolling is far from any sort of way I practiced in Aikido. And that's something I, and anyone else, needs to know if the practical effectiveness of techniques are a priority.

Anyway, both budo and combative sports have their place. In refence to the original question Jorgen posed in the first post in this thread:


What are the differences and different goals and objectives of "traditional budo" and "fighting system" or whatever you may call it?
While I'm sure there are different goals to different people, I think of the "goal" of budo to be self-improvement and combat effectiveness as a secondary goal. Whereas in a "fighting system" the goal is combat effectiveness period. It all depends on what the student is looking for. I just think if a student is studying budo, it should be made clear to them from the beginning about these goals and the order under which they follow. And in kata-only, non-competitive environments such as Aikido (depending on the style), it should be known that the combat effectiveness of techniques are in question.

On an entirely different note, great posts by many in this, and the other few threads that everyone seems to have been posting in. Posts by Rob, Jorgen, Ron Tisdale (Ron, I'm always struck by the way you handle delicate topics with your posts. I need to know what your secret is!), Dustin, Michael Neal, Peter Rehse, etc. have all made me think really deeply about Aikido these past few days. I really appreciate the intelligent discussions about the art. Even we agree to disagree! Major thanks to Jun for making all this possible.


DustinAcuff 08-11-2005 06:34 PM

Re: "Traditional budo" and "Fighting art"
Apoligies for the legnth.

I think that in many ways the Kata thread and this thread are heavily related. The main reason for this is that the debate seems to be mostly focused on kata training not being viewed as an effective means of self defence. The conclusion that was reached in the Kata thread (to my understanding) is that kata do produce some great benefits but do not produce effectiveness by themselves. This makes sense. The debate here is along the same lines: does budo produce effective practitioners? Well, that is like saying do schools produce geniuses. Some people will naturally become proficient, some people will flounder in one school and blossom in another, some people will just never get proficient, some people will not care and not think about it, and some people will not care but get there anyway. Do Karate, Judo, or Aikido produce street effective people? They all have the ability to. Does BJJ/MT/MMA type stuff have the ability to produce good people? Yeah, it can happen.

The fact is that if all you train is kata then you will probably not fair too well if you have to save your own hide. One of the trademarks of Daito Ryu appears to be that you initiate kuzushi and offest balance the instant that you touch them. This makes alot of sense because then you can quickly and efficiently end it. But doing the technique in the air and actually preforming the physical act of taking balance have nothing to do with one another. The ammount and direction of ki/kokyo used when and where is deeply dependent on touch and intuition. No ammount of kata can create the awareness to the application of kuzushi. Without kuzushi you are are just fighting.

I post this here because I feel this is quite relevant to this topic. Budo and "fighting arts" do not have to be in opposition. I have met a few incredibly proficient martial artists who were from Budo, and I have met good people who were in fighting arts. And just to throw the title of this thread spinning into space, one of the most skilled martial artists and best people I've ever met held a Master's rank in Tai Chi and Qi Gong. That guy was simply amazing on all fronts.

If Aikido isn't your cup of tea, then see if it is the dojo, the style, or the art. If you don't believe that Budo can produce street effective people then I encourage you to evaluate why you are training and try some other styles of Budo. Budo is larger to us (in general) than it was to the samurai. To them all of these things were just normal and expected. Following the disbanding of the samurai seems to me to be when all the concern with personal developement occured. My thoughts on this are that fighting arts were just now being taught to non-warriors who were from diffrent classes. Maybe they felt that adding developemental aspects were important. There were also a number of religions that sprang up out of the dust after the WWs and Ueshiba Sensei was not unique in thinking that he was on a mission from the gods. It is kind of like asking for Italian sausage with your meal in America when it is just sausage in Italy.

Once again, I could be wrong.

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