Re: How effective is aikido in self defense?
I've often read through these threads and not really been tempted to post in the before, but the way I look at any martial arts effectiveness always begins with the individual.
Many posts talk about life threatening situations and cross training but none of these address the lowest common denominator - how you will react in a given situation.
Some people can click into their training and react, others can become aggressive and react, others will run away and yet others will stand rooted to the spot unable to do anything.
I liken this to a bad car accident I was in a few years ago. We could see the SUV pulling out in front of us and at 110km/h there was no way of us avoiding the accident. We collided and the car came to an abrupt stop.
My very first reaction was to try to re-start the car and move it out of the way of other vehicles. Of course the front of the car had been totally destroyed so that was a non-starter. A split second later I turned to my wife, asked if she was okay and said get out of the car and get straight to the side of the road. She was in shock (as was I) but it took her valuable seconds to respond whereas I was lucky enough to keep moving.
No one was significantly injured thankfully but I turned to watch the driver of the SUV removing a broom from the back of his vehicle to sweep up debris looking as much as if he was sweeping his verandah - oblivious to everything else.
Why did the three of us have such varying reactions?
Granted, this analogy isn't strictly self-defence, moreso self-preservation, but it gave me much food for thought, and was one of things that came immediately to mind in reading this thread.
Your martial effectiveness, your ability to defend yourself goes far beyond your training of your flavour of martial art. Yes you can take the line of military training in breaking down the individual and teaching people to respond in a set fashion, but we don't train for this in the everyday world.
Will Aikido work in self-defence? I would suggest absolutely, but caveat this by saying the individual's response, the situation, their attacker(s), and virtually any other dynamic you could lay name to will impact on the effectiveness.
If you want so simply create as much damage to your attacker as possible then train an art that emphasises this, if you want to have a half a chance of not seriously injuring your oponent, Aikido gives you some options.
Nothing is ever set in stone and the fight you walk away from today could see you lying in the gutter the next day. How you react and how you respond will be feature parts of this. Does this make Aikido effective or not? That is up to the individual.
I have the benefit of being able to fall back on twenty-odd years of other martial arts training if I fail my Aikido, but I train every time to try and find a better way of confronting an attack or aggressor without the need to hurt them.
I agree wholeheartedly that your sensei have an enormous amount to do with your Aikido and the effectiveness of their teaching and your training will have an effect, but I believe it is a mistake to think of Aikido as technique-based. If you train hard enough and look hard enough you will find the answer to the question of this thread for yourself.