Join Date: Jan 2005
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?
I don't have any background in recognizing internal arts versus external arts. I'll leave that to those that are better educated.
However, there are certain things that I am finding which sheds some light upon aikido as a martial art in an overall sense and applies to this thread.
Judo, wrestling, karate, BJJ, MMA, etc.
Have you wondered why it takes someone in aikido far longer to become proficient than their peers in other arts?
I used to come up with all kinds of reasons why this was so. But I also always wondered if there was a piece missing that might equalize things. After all, Kano didn't look down upon Ueshiba, and there were many martial artists who thought Ueshiba was exemplary in Budo.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear some saying that Ueshiba invested more time in his training than we have available. After all, we have jobs and families and etc. Like I said, there are all kinds of reasons. But, really, why does it take people in aikido so much longer than other martial arts?
Why indeed? What keeps aikido from being as viable in the same time span as judo, karate, BJJ, etc? It certainly can't be because we don't have enough time to spend because comparatively, we find other people in other arts also don't have enough time to spend. Yes, there's a point where some people who spend great amounts of time will leap ahead of all others, but comparatively, again, why does aikido trail the pack?
My answer. It's missing a critical component with the baseline skills. These skills would allow aikido to place itself among its peers, in regards to time versus skill. Please note the time versus skill part of that sentence. It doesn't mean that aikido isn't a peer among the others in the martial arts world.
I'm still of the opinion that techniques in aikido are an important aspect. First, they place a range and a boundary for training and learning aikido. They set a condition upon which people learn skills such as timing, distance, body placement, etc. And they create a pathway necessary for understanding Ueshiba's Aikido.
Now, with that said. Techniques also become somewhat hollow when performed in a rote manner with only the understanding of the physical aspect. Hmmm … let me try to make that a bit clearer. If you are just going through the motions of learning the technique and hoping that some day you'll glean some understanding of how to be martially effective, then it's going to take a lot of stealing techniques, repetitive effort, and some very skilled intuitive leaps. Otherwise it's just going to be some basic jujutsu that gets refined over time.
Can that leap be made? I think it can but as with my first point, it's going to take a long time and some great intuitive leaps. How many of us will be able to do that? Ikeda sensei went to Ushiro sensei to help with those intuitive leaps. Guess you can figure out your own chances from there.
If the baseline skills are added to aikido training from day one, I think you're going to have a better martial art that also follows Ueshiba's aikido more closely.
I've read that some of Ueshiba's students rolled out of his techniques because of Ueshiba's power. They would rather roll away than confront his power. Now, I've also read that people attribute that power from a purely physical perspective. Egad. Why? Think about that. Here we have an art that is training you to be as soft as possible and that model came from Ueshiba, yet his power came from a physical grip? That's about as much an oxymoron as I've seen. It wasn't his physical power they were afraid of, it was his internal power being expressed into them that they were afraid of. He was being uke and then changing roles to nage by using internal skills to neutralize their attack. They hit a rubbery hardness that exploded with internal power.
Why do you think Tenryu was unable to overcome Ueshiba? He wasn't doing techniques just waiting for Tenryu to push him over. He knew the secret skills that were the most important part of aikido. Now, did Ueshiba do techniques on Tenryu? No, he had Tenryu try to push him over. Which tells me that these internal baseline skills are a very important part of aikido. If Tenryu, through his sumo training, had the internal framework of whole body integration or whole body movement, then to me, Ueshiba must have known that also. But, yet Tenryu couldn't push him over, so there had to be more. Hence, power, or also pathways of power. Ueshiba knew how to integrate whole body with pathways of power. More internal training and above baseline skills. These are the secrets of aikido.
There are no shortcuts in martial arts training. Just because internal training for baseline skills creates a more valid martial art, doesn't mean it's a shortcut. There is a lot of solo training. A lot. It isn't a shortcut by any stretch of the imagination. What it does give are two things.
1. It lets people practice something outside of the dojo.
2. It lets people make those intuitive leaps a bit quicker and more easily. But only if the time in training is put in.