Frustrated by unconvincing aikido
sorry got a bit of a rant to get over: -
a bit of background - I've been doing aikido for about 2 years now, twice a week 2-3 hours a session at what I have found out is deemed to be a fairly physical type of aikido. Pre-war aikido seems to be how it is generally described. Since starting I've been absolutely hooked and can see that the people who have been doing it for 10 years plus have actually got some skill which I respect.
I recently attended a seminar where various different styles were on show and one of the styles was what I have heard being described on these forums as a very aiki-fruity style. The uke literally ran around the sensei and threw himself on the floor without being touched (looked impressive uke'ing skills) When we had to go and practice what we had been shown we (some aikidoka I don't know) didn't really know what to do as it seemed very unnatural to grab someones hand once they had turned a certain amount and as for falling over without being touched it just seemed a little ridiculous. There didn't seem to be any skill we were supposed to be learning, balance, tenkan, etc, from this exercise , it really was being presented as a defensive technique. So we tried to practice this technique but then started practicing a little more how we were used to until a woman from the style we were trying came over and said that we were *not* doing what we had been shown, and she should know cos she was a sixth dan shihan in that style. I thought ok I'll ignore the pomposity and ask how the technique should be done as I thought I was obviously missing something. She demonstrated on one of her regulars and again offered her hand spun around and then moved her arm back towards uke at which point they fell over. It seemed like the uke had to know what to do in order for this technique to work.
In a separate incident one of the guys from our club had brought his brother who has been doing karate for about 5 years but only done aikido a few times was shown the same technique by the same woman. He asked her how exactly she would take him to the ground without touching him and was told that she would do it because she was a sixth dan.
Well after a few demonstrations of techniques I left the mat in frustration cos I couldn't see at all what it was I was supposed to be learning. I then watched what everyone else was doing and the technique of the members of the style being demonstrated looked extremely bad - but who am I to judge having only done it for 2 years although I would say that I would gladly go up against any of the people from that club and they can do their worst on me cos it just didn't look like a martial art.
Now I understand that aikido has branched and changed in the short years since it was invented, but I felt outraged that what I saw could even be called aikido. I have no doubt that the people practicing that art were not learning a martial art and were deluding themselves if they thought they were gaining any practical self-defense skills. Now what they do and think is up to them, makes no difference to me, but why are they allowed to call it aikido and why can I not say openly that I consider it to not be aikido and why is it in the aikido world that we consider criticism of our art to be untenable? And why also do we not have to 'prove' our art works? It seems that we hide behind a screen self-denial which allows poor practice to proliferate. In Shugyo Aikido Sensei Shioda went out to prove to himself that aikido worked in the real world, and although Osensei said his students shouldn't do this he didn't castigate Shioda for his actions. Similarly Takeshi Abe went out and polished his technique in real fights. I sense that behaving like this would be absolutely frowned upon by current day practitioners but I think that by not allowing criticism that we only allow these frauds to continue.
To find myself lumped in with these people who are not practicing a *martial* art and not able to say who they are and what I think of them seems a great shame. I can't think of many other fields of human endeavour where people can make claims and not have to back them up. In other fields it *is* possible to criticise and ask for proof but not in aikido it seems and that is a shame.
ok rant over. Just had to get it off my chest. I realise that nothing will change and I should just get on with my own practice. Thank you for listening.