I had studied Aikido for 11 years before even imagining trying out any other Martial Art. I felt it was hard enough to get to my own school regularly without adding more to my plate. Then my training started feeling like something was lacking or maybe it was a plateau, I don't know. Then I met a Martial Arts instructor that is so jazzed by all of the Martial Arts it was just infectious. He truly believes all Martial Arts are good in their own way, and that all Martial Arts have their own specific shortcomings. I always felt that Aikido had an answer for everything. But now I am learning that was just a biased opinion based on faith. I believe Aikidoists should learn how to kick, so they can practice their defense from an actual skilled kick. Learning the dynamics of how to kick allows you to learn how far away they have to be from the kicker to be susceptible to a kick. What if you are on your back and your attacker is on top of you pounding or choking away? Should probably take some Gracie Ju Jitsu. Can I take Gracie Ju Jitsu and do its' techniques in an Aikido-like way? Can I defend myself from a kick in such a way as to not harm my partner? Questions, questions.
I am sorry this is going on so long but I feel I need to expand on what I am going through as a true Aikido lover trying to base this love on more than just faith. I need to know Aikido can handle everything. To that end I am rethinking what Aikido is to me.
I started taking some Jeet Kune Do classes from my new teacher (JKD -- "The Art of Fighting Without Fighting.", I thought that was what Aikido was). He has clinics through his Association that allows the participants to experience different Martial Arts. Through these I have had the opportunity to try Judo, Ju Jitsu, Hapkido, Russian SAMBO, Knife Fighting and Eskrima. While I am not by any means proficient in all of these with such little exposure, I believe I have gained some insight into how a potential attacker may act. I have seen some stuff that I think I may be able to incorporate into my Aikido. In addition to this if I can use Aikido to defend myself from someone skilled in a fighting art, the common thug on the street will seem a little less intimidating.
I am not practicing as much in Aikido right now, but feel it is a temporary situation. I don't believe I will stay with these other arts as long as I have Aikido, but I do know they are helping open my eyes to many aspects that I just wasn't getting in my training of Aikido. I am not saying the lessons can not be found in Aikido, or that I would not have eventually uncovered these points somehow. The time had come, and the situation arose, so off I went (so to speak).
I think the saying goes something like "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". I sincerely believe this is what happened in my case and don't claim to be able to say it is right for everybody.