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Old 11-20-2005, 02:39 PM   #5
Keith R Lee
Location: Alabama
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 219
Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

Nice article. The clips were good and helped flesh things out. In your post you ask:

"Why can we not train to fight for real and have that training be of Budo?"

Just from my personal experience, I have found that there are those who want to learn to fight, and there are those who want to learn Budo and never the twain shall meet. I have encountered very few "fighters" who want their training to be any overt type of cultivation of the self. And most of the Aikido practioners I have encountered want the cultivation and somewhat-martial training, but they definitely don't want to train at the level required by "fighters."

I think part of the issue is that so many people have the idea in their heads that Aikido is some type of egalitarian/sophisticated martial art that is above devolving into the clinch, groundwork, striking. People would rather just be like "tenkan...just move...blend...if there is not intent in the attack you aren't in danger...etc." Aikido folks tend to be an insular bunch as well and don't seem to want to branch out that much. Not to mention the near deification of Ueshiba sensei. He was unstoppable, one with the universe, etc. Anyway, the combination of: hearing legends that Aikido can produce "unbeatable" people like the founder, the philosophy of the art, the "graceful" movements, the "trappings" of a dojo (the language, dogis, kamiza, regimentation, etc.) all add up to attracting a certain type of individual. What I like to think of as the "casual" martial artist.

The casual martial artist isn't in that good of shape and wants to do something to get in better shape. Nothing too strenuous though. They don't like gyms though, too many jocks there. Maybe martial arts! This person likes the Matrix, that was cool. They look around a bit. They don't want to hit things, so no karate or anything like that. Finally they hear about Aikido. It sounds cool and seems to have a neat philosophy behind it. So they go find a local dojo. It seems Spartan and mysterious. But everyone is smiling and having a good time, so they sign up. This person might come for six months, or stay for six years but the reason they are there is not to learn how to fight. Oh, they might want some self-defense, but they don't really want to get their hands dirty, if you know what I mean. And Aikido makes it easy for this person because it starts of nice and easy with them, learn to roll, basic techniques, etc.

Contrast that with a twenty-something year old fit male (generally these are most "fighters"), who played sports in high school, probably a football player or wrestler. This person is already fit and is used to high-stress, high-risk training already. They've heard about the Gracies, and have caught some of the recent Ultimate Fighter stuff. Maybe seen a UFC PPV or if they've got the right friends, they've seen PrideFC.

They walk into an Aikido dojo for a look. Everyone is wearing uniforms and skirts! It looks all soft, not like the fighting they saw on TV. No competition, that's weak. This guy has been competing his entire life, he's fine with it. Everything is in Japanese too. I have to learn a different language to learn this stuff!? They seem to roll around all the time and do blending exercises. There's also a bunch of bowing and stuff. The weapons are kinda cool, but he doesn't really plan on carrying a sword around with him all the time.

Then he goes to a BJJ or MMA gym. Gym! It's already better. No fancy names for everything here! Everything's pretty much in English. Some guys are wearing uniforms, no skirts though. Lots of people are just in shorts and rash guards. They do a bunch of conditioning at first. Cool. This guy is in shape. He likes doing sit-ups and push-ups and stuff. They do some weird things he's never seen before but he can recognize them for conditioning drills. No one bows, they all just shake hands. Much better. They really go at it while training too. No big throws or anything but, depending on if it's a BJJ or MMA place, the guy might see combination drills, lots of movement drills, takedowns, bag work, mitt work, groundwork…Hey, this is like the UFC. These guys are getting ready to fight! Then they do fight! At the end they spar or roll till one taps out. And everyone is intense. There is no one casual here. Everyone is an athlete.

Where do you think our potential student is going to go?

I just think that the majority of Aikido dojos just aren't attractive to the type of person who wants to fight. Sure there are people like Kevin and myself, but I don't think we're in the majority of Aikido practioners really. Also, how many Aikido instructors are out there such as yourself David? Really trying to expand their horizons and integrate new things into Aikido. Are willing to put on gloves and go at it? Work on groundwork and so on? Not that many I think. I know there are exceptions and there are many hard training Aikido dojos out there. But in general, I think everyone can agree that they have seen or been to a dojo that focuses on the "trappings" of the art more than the martial aspect. Also, I think we can all agree these dojos outnumber those that art martially intense.

This comes up again and again and I'm sure the usual suspects will come out and defend Aikido. Which is easy here on AikiWeb because there are some very talented Aikido practioners. In general I can think of the same group of 10-15 talented people who make there voices heard about topics such as this and who I think are good at Aikido, train hard, and are open minded. However that's 10-15 people. AikiWeb has over 6000 members. The group I'm talking about composes less than 0.003 percent of the people on the board. They are the exception to the rule. If you can find that exception, if it's where you train or there is one near to where you live: awesome! Otherwise, you're probably SOL.

There are those who want to learn to fight and have that training be budo, but they are few and far between. "Casual" martial artists will be attracted to places where they can fit in and adapt gradually. "Fighters" are going to go somewhere that they are going to be pushed to achieve and challenged to succeed. I just don't think most Aikido dojos appeal to those in the latter group.

Keith Lee
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