Mark Walsh wrote:
There are two ways of reading this question (to my mixed up Brit mind):
- Would it be aikido if one were only doing nage waza?
- Would you still be going to class if you could only do nage waza?
To me the heart of aikido is its reciprocal nature, though I appreciate for the elderly how ukemi can become difficult. Personally, I'd rather drop the nage than the ukemi given a choice.
Good question either way,
The same for this mixed up American mind as well.
When I was answering the pole, which I didn't take too long to think about, I read it as, would you still be going to class, which of course I responded yes to.
Though even if I had read it the other way, at first I thought I would say no as that seems to be the natural answer as all the Aikido greats tout the importance of Ukemi and I of course agree with them. However, as I thought about it I would have to say yes in any case.
Even if a bunch of Judo guys came in to constantly take the Ukemi from Nage's techniques, I do believe you would still be training Aikido. As you are still learning how to blend with Uke and use his force to neutralize the attack. You are still embodying the principles of the Triangle, Circle, and Square; maintaining your center point, using Mushin and Zanshin; establishing proper Maai; working with Kuzushi, exploring Kokyu, and extending Ki.
Of course the learning process would be severely dampened by not taking Ukemi and it likely that the Judo guys taking the Uekmi could learn Aikido quicker than Nage, but you would still essentially be training Aikido.
You must also take into consideration those who are impaired in various ways; those in wheel chairs, those with no legs or arms, or those who are simply too beat up by life to take proper Ukemi. Sure they may not gain the full benefits, but I would argue that they are just as capable of training in Aikido. In fact many of the senior ranks promote that what you do with Aikido off the mat is 1000 times more important than that which you do on it. Thus, though I wouldn't recommend it, I would argue that you could train in Aikido without ever stepping on the mat in the first place, as long as you gain an understanding of the basic principles and apply them to your every day life.
There are many practices that unify mind and body and these could be used in place of the Aikido mat training. May not be the traditional view of what Aikido training is, but I believe this would be training in Aikido nonetheless.