David Sim wrote:
As part of the 'why do people hate aikido' digression on kicking, there was another statement of the standard thing about high kicks being essentially martially useless.
Coming back, there are several reasons, why people claim high kicks as 'useless':
1.) Some guys tend to claim everything as useless, they cannot perform sufficiently.
And they are right. Those techniques are useless for themselves at that time. Claiming they are useless for everyone in every case is just hiding incompetence
2.) Many MA (including aikido) try first to teach their student to keep stability. If you are not firm, you offer your partner something. So in the first (20?) years, you learn standing firm on the ground. High kicks are counterproductive to these lessons and thus useless in this stage.
3.) Many high masters found after growing old, that there are principles of Budo, which if applied correctly can help you keep priority in a conflict without all these good-looking, but exhausting or even dangerous (for their body) techniques. They say that after all their years in budo, they recognised those techniques as useless or superfluous. Often the citations, that high kicks are martially totally ineffective, is a misinterpretation of what the master said.
4.) A new argument, but also a kind of synthesis of the above: Very fast and precise high kicks while being centered well (even when flying) are highly effective. You have to train very long for performing them well. You will see them very often, if the rules of competition encourage high kicks and in all other MA competition at a very high level, as you need all skills to get world champion, especially those, which are not expected, by your opponent. High kicks on lower level championships look often good, but quite often are as dangerous for the performer as for the receiver. But as some people gain some unexpected victories, they all try hard to do so.
So my personal opinion is that you should first train basic and stable techniques and much more principles. For most of us the efforts on those pay off much more than the others. In the meantime you can train high kicks, ushiro kicks, etc to get an idea, how to apply the principles to those attacks. When you master those principles, you can add, whatever you are missing. For most people in budo the reward-risk-relation is negative. In this meaning those techniques are inefficient and even useless (so not generally, but for most of us). It is totally different in competition, as when you fail, you just get up and try again. That is the environment and for this environment these techniques are developed and they match it perfectly.