If anyone wants to be really impressive about their 'martial skills' I would be really impressed
if they took themselves off to Ethiopia and met with the male Surma warriors and entered into one of their 'stick fighting competitions'. These guys use 8' hardwood sticks and they weild them with skill, power, speed and ferocity. Oh yes, and they don't wear much clothing let alone headgear. The only fighter that would stand a cats chance in hell in getting anywhere near them would need to be armed with some sort of projectile weapon. The only rule is that you are not allowed to kill your opponent, and that you don't hit someone on the ground. The fights regularly end with serious bumps, deep lacerations, broken bones and lost teeth. But the guys consider it worth it as the winner is seen as a very desirable catch for the women. It also serves as a function of settling old scores.
The macho testosterone fuelled western fighting competitions are quite tame by comparison.
back to the thread..
Aikido is neither armed or unarmed it is both and at the same time neither. Aikido is much more than just a 'fighting art' it can be studied like that I admit, but I personally wouldn't want to study an art and only cover one aspect. A bit like being an artist and thinking that watercolour was the only medium!
Aikido can be practiced purely for the 'beauty inherent in the movement' I have known some contemporary dancers study aikido for this reason. And before any of you 'martialists' start to scoff, close the lid on your paints, they'll dry out while you are typing.
Aikido can be practiced for philosophical/spiritual developement reasons, as it also can be practiced specifically to add to ones understanding conflict resolution priciples applicable in the 'real world'. A much more laudible reason in my book that to become a more effective 'fighter'.
I think there are people out there who have never stepped into a dojo who are more in tune with the central meaning of aikido than some who practice it.
As for the wrist grabs.. well as I see it, they are there to provide a route to understanding the principles of aiki not to provide a 'if he does this I do that" menu for use in a 'fight' This is what provides us something to practice with, along with all the other unarmed or armed attacks.
As for grabing someones wrist when they have a weapon in their hand, where I learn my aikido this is not done. It is seen as a route to losing your fingers or worse.
The more time spent looking at the 'fight' aspects of aikido, the less time spent appreciating the sheer beauty of an art that has 'limitless' application.
We should celebrate the art for what it is a way of harmony with ki/nature/spirit.
Multi media art is more creative and ultimately more fullfilling than simply looking at watercolours endlessly.
As far as I know O'sensei was challenged many times and never defeated, why do people keep questioning aikidos martial effectiveness, maybe because they doubt themselves.
So the next time someone starts flouting their fighting credentials, ask them if they have been in a Surma stick fight..
just my 2 penneth worth,
p.s. I think I'd have a much better chance of disarming someone weilding a bokken or jo than one of the Surma with an 8' stick!