Dojo: Taikyoku Budo - NY, MD
Location: Williamsville, NY
Join Date: Aug 2003
Re: Article: Ultimate Martial Art? by George S. Ledyard
As for limiting the types of strikes allowed, here are the 'Fouls' taken from 'http://www.ufc.tv/learnUFC/rulesUfc.asp':
Butting with the head.
Eye gouging of any kind.
Groin attacks of any kind.
Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration on an opponent.
Small joint manipulation.
Striking to the spine or the back of the head.
Striking downward using the point of the elbow.
Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea.
Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh.
Grabbing the clavicle.
Kicking the head of a grounded opponent.
Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent.
Stomping a grounded opponent.
Kicking to the kidney with the heel.
Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck.
Throwing an opponent out of the ring or fenced area.
Holding the shorts or gloves of an opponent.
Spitting at an opponent.
Engaging in an unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to an opponent.
Holding the ropes or the fence.
Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area.
Attacking an opponent on or during the break.
Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee.
Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat.
Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee.
Timidity, including, without limitation, avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury.
Interference by the corner.
Throwing in the towel during competition. "
There's been plenty of arguments that these are for the 'Safety of the fighters' versus 'Most of these things are hard to pull off in a real fight'. I'm not interested in that aspect. While I tend to agree with Mr. Ledyard about there being no 'Ultimate Art', I do think that training methodology plays a very important part. What's great about training under MMA rules (each show has a slightly different set, UFC, Pride, King of Cage, etc.) is that you get an opportunity to shiai unarmed with the three main taijutsu ranges (standup = including arms-length grappling, clinch and ground). I also think that the all-out contact-based training found inherently in some grappling (e.g. BJJ, Sambo, judo) and striking arts (e.g. Kyokushin, MT) provides a great learning tool for practicing techniques on someone that doesn't want you to do them and is actively trying to do something back to you.
Where the problem lies on this side of the fence, in my opinion, can be a lack of paired kata training. When I say kata-style, I mean paired practice where the form and intent of the techniques can be transmitted by the instructor to the student. I know from experience that the better judo and aikido schools have this as part of the their practice. My MMA friends that I occasionally roll and bang with roll their eyes when I insist that such training is important (of course, the better MMA schools have this style of training when the Instructor/Senior student shows the junior the proper technical applications and mindset -- allowing the junior to practice on the senior with varying levels of resistance -- it's just not often named, recognized and or codified as ‘kata'). I don't think aikido is necessarily exempt from this problem, either, it's just more likely, in my opinion, to be a symptom where the emphasis on learning is solely placed on randori and shiai.
With all of that said (yes, I know I can be long-winded), I think that many detractors of mainstream aikido (yes, even those on other aikido discussion boards that ‘accidentally' create their own styles of aikido) may have a point when they emphasize understanding ranges of engagement that are specialized in other arts. But I can't help think it's in part due to arrogance and ignorance (I was walking this path more a year ago, so I'm using myself as an example) to try to fix aikido as a whole "ad nausem", rather than offering learning lab options that work into existing aikido practice. I also tend to think that if you're learning aikido as a system, it's not because you're looking to be the next ‘Ultimate Fighter', at least I'm not. Those that want their budo training to incorporate more specifically the ground, clinch and striking ranges will either train at aikido schools (yes, they do exist) that address such things in randori or shiai with rolling or more freely allowing standup striking (besides tsuki, yokomen or shomen) -- or they'll crosstrain (hopefully, once they've developed a strong base, first, in aikido or otherwise) with other groups.
Either way, I agree that there's no ultimate art. For me, there's just persons, places and systems where I enjoy training in curricula that's of lasting interest and benefits me in many ways, tangible and otherwise. As a practitioner of aikido, I train with the intent to be able to deal with conflict and hopefully have options that go beyond (without necessarily placing me above) the basic "fight or flight" primal instincts.