Aikido IS a practical contemporary martial art
PLEASE don't see this thread as an attempt to revive any kind of "does aikido really work?" discussion. Nothing interests me less. Instead, I thought it would be useful to share what I personally love about Aikido...
My brother has trained in kick-boxing for quite a few years and loves UFC, etc. I, on the other hand, have studied aikido for about 3 years and despise UFC. He is particularly interested in the 'practicality' of martial arts and that got me thinking what one would want out of a contemporary martial art.
It seems to me that it might have to have 3 elements:
1) It teaches you how (not) to fight
Does the martial art actually develop us as moral beings, teaching us how to promote peace, as much as how to fight?
2) It makes you feel more relaxed, not more violent
Following on from point 1 above, does the martial art help you dispose of the stress and tension of the day, removing those unwanted knee-jerk resorts to violence?
3) It enables a gentle application of the martial art
Given that many contemporary scenes of violence involve friends and family, we may not want to always go all out. Does the martial art then allow the possibility of using the least possible resistance?
4) It is an effective form of self-defence
Much of 'self-defence' is covered in the earlier items, although some might still use the term in its more tradtioinal sense of physical defensive techniques to defend against physical attacks. Given that limited definition, does the martial art provide tools and techniques to defend against attack?
5) It is effective against multiple attackers
Does the martial art provide techniques for defending oneself against a group of attackers?
If these questions are relevant, it suggests to me that much of what we see in things like UFC is as far as one could get from likely contemporary scenes of violence. Conversely, aikido actually scores quite highly in terms of a practical contemporary martial art.