Re: MMA as catalyst for change in Aikido?
Interesting thread which I'm glad to see come up.
A year or two ago in one of those "does aikido work on the ground" threads, I opined that the mma/and particularly internet phenomenum was going to threaten the growth of Aikido if the community is not careful. I was laughed down at the time, but I still beleive it.
Yes there have always been fads. The difference now is the internet. What did we all do when we first decided we wanted to do a martial art. Picked up the yellow pages, saw a flier down at the local library. Maybe picked up a few books.
What do people do now? They go straight to google. The vast majority of first timers will soon be walking in much better educated not just about Aikido, but about other arts and what other martial artists think about Aikido. They will not be getting this info from books like we did - which are pretty tightly controlled forms of information. But from message boards and discussion forums and youtube.
What does this mean for Aikido? I think it means we need to be very clear and honest about what Aikido is and is not for.
In the past I've heard alot of people, both in person and on the net run the "aikido is all you need" argument. That is the talk that will get people in trouble I think. Like anything, the first thing you need to sell is yourself. If Aikido instructors start by saying "oh yes Aikido is great for self defence it's the best thing you can do, it will take care of all your self defence needs" within I think 5 years, that talk will turn off most prospective students. Whereas in the past it may have helped to get them to sign up, in the future they'll simply smell a rat and leave.
Now the upside is the internet pehnomenum gives access to many more potential students, so you can better afford to play in a niche market - which is what aikido is. so it can be a real boon. But it *will* require the art to be clear on what it is and is not for. And it *will* require many people to drop the defensiveness when things like groundfighting come up and say "you know what, that's not really what we do"