Re:Exaggeration in Aikido
Haven't read every response to this post, but skimmed most of them...
The question is exaggeration of instructors regarding what aikido training can or cannot provide.
I think that with the right instructor and the proper time (and the explanation by the instructor of the proper time), aikido can allow the lessor weight/strength person overcome a greater weight/strength opponent. All a matter of mastering technique -- and the time that it takes to master that technique.
(In other words, I am a firm believer that aikido is a masterful martial art, capable of handling all situations, but I also understand that the learning curve for aikido is far longer than most other martial arts....)
Once again, haven't read every response to this post....
The following is offered from my own perception. My original sensei may have different recollections of what he told me. Take it with the proverbial grain of salt.... (BTW, Patrick Cassidy sensei taught Iwama-style aikido at the time....I don't know his affiliation anymore as I have been unlucky enough not to train with him for over 15 years.)
I had wanted to study a martial art since my earliest memories, probably since at least fifth grade (9 years old roughly). However, since I was old enough to afford such training, I recognized a very martial aspect in myself. I did not want to exacerbate that trait, but moderate it. I was lucky enough to encounter a young man who could offer me "soft" training in the martial arts -- in other words, one that focused on defense and self rather than attack and defeat.
My first sensei never told me that I would be able to defeat those larger and stronger than I. He did emphasis however, that strength in aikido was not a requirement. A technique properly performed by the smallest and weakest of students can still break the center and control the largest and strongest of opponents. He never stated that it would be quick or easy. In fact, he indicated that the average student takes three months of dedicated practice before they have their first "ah ha" moment on their first technique (tai-no-henko). This is not to say that the student understood the technique...only that the student had his or her first "ah ha" recognizing a bit of understanding about the technique.
However, he did state that once one learns the basics, and their body learns the techniques, aikido does become a true defense technique, regardless of the size of the opponent. I agree.
Of course, I probably never would have gone to watch that first demonstration if he had not told me that Aikido was a "peaceful" martial art. I knew my own tendencies, and although I had wanted to train in a martial art since I was a kid, I knew that any aggressive art would only exacerbate my combative tenancies. I had wanted to train for over ten years before I met Patrick. Patrick struck me as peace incarnate at the time. He described aikido as something I could embrace -- an art of peace, but a truly martial art. Something I later learned he practiced with great enthusiasm, passion, and emotion -- something he embraced physically -- and spiritually.
Patrick always preached the peaceful aspects of aikido, but stressed its self-defense capabilities with proper devotion and study. I learned this myself. On more than one occasion, I have used my aikido to "control" a situation, where pre-aikido, I might have tried to bead the crap out of someone -- or simply would have shot them had the situation presented.
For most of my time in my US dojo, my favorite practice partner was a six foot plus police officer. I loved throwing his ass all over the mat -- mainly because he was a great uke -- he always gave a good attack and always tried to resist my techniques. If I wasn't doing the technique right with this guy, I couldn't do the technique. I am five foot five and at the time the guy probably outweighed me by forty pounds. He was male. I was female. I have no doubt that he could out bench press me on any given day of the week. Yet I could control him, break his center, and implement whatever lock the technique called for....all with his proper resistence. So yes, a properly trained aikidoka can take down a larger, stronger opponent.
I have also used aikido in real life situations against men far larger and stronger than I. Sometimes against two such opponents (BTW, I was ranked 2nd kyu at the time and had not practiced for over ten years.) Luckily for these other persons, I studied aikido. They walked away with new things to think about rather than being taken out on a stretcher. I controlled the situation and gave them the opportunity to walk away -- using aikido. [i.e. I was at a KISS concert when some idiot (six foot plus) felt the need to be belligerent to every person (particularly another six foot plus) in his vicinity. After about the third body slam, I turned around, had him face first onto the ground and into a wrist lock and his opponent by the throat. (While not aikido, long nails do have their advantage in certain techniques.) I asked them if they were through being pains in the ass and they both agreed to behave. I enjoyed the rest of the concert.]
I don't think that the problem lies with an instructor telling students that such things are possible -- for they are. The problem lies more with whether the teacher can teach such techniques properly and whether they explain to the potential student that they will require extensive training before the use of aikido will prove useful in a real life situation.
As a final comment, I was taught that a black belt in aikido meant that the student was finally serious about the art. (I assume that means that they grasp certain basic techniques, but that they don't truly "know" them body and soul.) The gift of the black belt was simply a recognition that one was devoted to the art and that one would continue to train and learn the art. Not until the nidan was there an understanding that the student truly understood anything -- and then only just.
Okay, final comment..... I do believe that those serious about aikido should not cross train until secure with their technique. I tried a judo class and could not fall like they wanted me to, could not execute technique like they wanted me to. I kept doing aikido technique and aikido ukemi. My body simply responded in certain ways no matter how hard I tried to do what they wanted. (And that whole thing about female students having to wear a t-shirt rather than a tank under the keikogi just drove me nuts when the me were allowed to wear nothing....in the 100+ degree heat.) However, this is just my opinion on cross training and others may have had different results and accordingly different opinions.