Caught between two worlds
I don't count the time I spent doing Judo as a kid as martial art experience. When I started I believed the smallest-can-win blurb and continued on for some time. Being the smallest, of course, I never won, nor did I learn. Almost from the beginning, I realised that only the big and strong learn. Basically, you can only begin to learn in Judo once you begin to be able to throw. You have to stick around long enough so that you gather a little skill and become able to throw the beginners. Once you are able to throw a few people, you slowly begin to make sense of the movement. If you are always thrown, you just can't even begin to learn Judo. A sudden growth spurt saw me change from being the small kid to being the tall lanky kid - neither are good for Judo. On leaving skool I discovered Aikido and instantly liked it because I could throw people, but only because they allowed me to. But still, I learned plenty - indeed, in Judo I had learned barely anything at all - the teaching was generally hopeless at the best of times. Rather, they showed you something, you tried it a couple of times, then it was back to full-on randori. Despite having a rough deal with Judo, I have always remained suspicious of Aikido's methods - even though now it is my main art. For a start, I don't recall learning ukemi in Judo apart from rolling about as a kid but could always take being thrown hard; throw people hard in Aikido and some accuse you of being nasty, of having some kind of complex. Anyway, in order to learn good technique, ukemi is not the be-all-and-end-all. No one boasts about being good at ukemi in Judo. In the Judo sense you need to find people you can beat and train on them. Then you need to find people you can almost beat and train on them until you can. Those who you can't beat are simply busy doing the reverse to you. That was my conclusion, made when I was still a teenager.
As there is no 'beating' in Aikido, how is it possible to truly learn? Through ukemi? I think not. Being good at ukemi does have lots of self-defence advantages and does offer insight into technical detail, but it does not easily progress to learning to stand your ground and throw people about, especially if those people are of a more violent temper.
[I should add that in Japan, small people can win as the teaching is better - just my experience]
Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 12-17-2006 at 09:44 PM.