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Old 01-14-2008, 01:29 PM   #18
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Tongue Re: real world aikido

David McCormack wrote: View Post
thankfully ive never been in a situation where ive had to use any aikido outside of my dojo, but i was wondering how effective people think aikido is/would be in the real world.

I would like to have someone explain to me what this so-called "real world" is... It always seems to be thrown out in some context that infers that the world of conflict, violence and confrontation is somehow more "real" than the other world we train in.

What is it that we are training for? It is a fact that the vast majority of folks practicing this art will NEVER in their lives use an Aikido technique for self defense. People seem to completely fail to understand that O-Sensei had a fundamentally different outlook about what he meant this art to be. If it had been about defeating bad guys, he never would have made the changes to the art he did.

This obsession with "fighting" and "winning" on the part of Aikido folks distorts the art. It was precisely the opposite of what the Founder intended. When Mochizuki Sensei went to France, he had to deal with a number of challenges. When he returned to Japan, he expressed his reservations about what he had been doing by informing O-Sensei that he had prevailed in these challenges but by resorting to "tricks" he had learned in his karate and judo training. O-Sensei chided him by asking whether had he not understood the point of the training.

Aikido is not about fighting... period. To make it so you will have to devolve it into its combat roots. While there is nothing at all wrong with the antecedent combat arts, they are quite valuable in and of themselves, and I in no way want to imply some moral high ground on the part of Aikido that other arts do not have, I do maintain that the fundamental purpose of the art is about not fighting, rather than fighting.

Can someone explain to me how not fighting is less "real world" than fighting? Martial arts folks so often get into the arts because of fear based insecurities. Rather than deal with the essential causes of these fears, they attempt to become more and more powerful, as if they can paper over their fears by being able to defeat any enemy.

Power attained because of fear does not result in a loss of that fear. It results in aggression. The founder created this art as a way to lose that fear, not just paper it over. The art is about systematically reprogramming ourselves to lose the fears that cause conflicts in the first place.

Say you actually managed to develop your art into an undefeatable system in which you could defeat any attacker? So what? How is that something that relates to your so-called "real world"? In my "real world" I have had to deal with divorces, raising my children, my career, running a dojo, teaching in a way that inspires people, etc. I cannot see how a focus on "real world" application of technique would have helped me with any of these things. When my ex told me she wanted my out of my own home, would an extraordinary fighting ability have helped me one iota? When my son was going through issues and was hanging with a bad crowd and getting in trouble, would an ability to punch him out and render him unconscious have helped at all? These are the kinds of things that I run into in my "real world". My ability to handle them had to do with changes I have made inside myself, not with some extraordinary martial prowess acquired through focus on fighting, self defense, etc.

Aikido has this on-going inferiority complex that results in a sort of schizophrenic identity crisis. The founder left us with quite a bit of information about what he saw as the purpose of his creation. His son, Kisshomaru wrote even more on the subject.

The focus on proper technique is important, not because we rely on those techniques to defeat some imagined attack in the future but rather because it is in the mastering of proper aiki principle that the transformative aspect of the art exists. The elsewhere commented on lack of understanding of what real aiki principles actually are results in a problem with the art's transformative purpose. Focus on fighting is not the way to fix that problem. Devolving the form of Aikido into its antecedent forms is not the way to fix the problem.

Preserving the form, understanding what O-Sensei intended as the purpose of his art coupled with acquiring a broad experience of related arts, taking advantage of the deep knowledge which other arts contain, and then bringing that technical knowledge back into our Aikido is the proper direction. Understand the form Aikido contains, don't change something you never understood in the first place simply to make it apply in an essentially unreal vision of a so-called "real world".

I'm not saying that there isn't a lot of bad Aikido out there... I'm saying that worrying about applied technique and its effectiveness in fighting isn't the point and it distorts the art. I'd love to see people make connection between effective aiki and the process of personal transformation... the doing of the art using a proper understanding of principle is transformative in itself. That transformation directly relates to the "real world" in which most people exist. Let's put some focus on how the art can make our every day lives better rather than how it might save us our lives from some unlikely future threat. Aikido is not about fighting, it's about not fighting. I just fail to see how not fighting is somehow less real world than fighting.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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