Peter Goldsbury wrote:
So, like the columns, this review essay is targeted at the thoughtful practitioner of aikido, who takes training very seriously and cares very much about the art, but who also ponders the important questions: questions raised both by the type of training actually practiced by the ‘sensei' and offered in the dojo, and also by the questions raised in this and other Internet forums about the ‘efficacy' of the art. Is there something missing, either that should have been there all along, or that should be practiced additionally, in order to make the aikido training more ‘efficacious', whatever this might mean?
I see that you've kept busy.
I just wanted to post my thoughts on this small part of your article.
There has been quite a bit of debate for years regarding aikido and its effectiveness. There has also been debates for years regarding aiki, ki, and how either relates to aikido. Since we all know there was a change (not stating good or bad, just that there was) from the founder to his son regarding the martial art, aikido, I'll stick to just focusing on the founder and his vision.
Not wanting, or really having the luxury, to spend a lot of time here, I'll use two people as examples: Tomiki and Ohba.
First, Tomiki. I believe he was a 4th dan in judo when he met Ueshiba. So, by most accounts, Tomiki was competent and skilled. Some even go as far as highly competent and very skilled. But, by at least one account, Ueshiba tossed Tomiki some 60 different ways on their first meeting.
(Just a side note here, but had Kano had internal skills, how likely is it that Tomiki would have been that impressed with Ueshiba to dedicate his life to studying under Ueshiba?)
By this account, we can guess that Ueshiba had skills that were well beyond most skills found in judo. Fast forward to today and how likely is it that 4th dans in judo will be tossed 60 different ways by someone in aikido?
Tomiki himself, after studying with Ueshiba, displayed similar skills. As noted by posts here on Aikiweb about a display that Tomiki gave, Tomiki held out his hand and judo people couldn't throw him.
Add in the actual years that Ueshiba, Tomiki, etc trained before they were very good and you begin to paint a picture of skills that are not among most in the current aikido world.
Second, Ohba. Ohba's example relates to the parameters of just what these skills were used for by Ueshiba. Ueshiba built his martial art with a spiritual vision and very decidedly left out competition (defined as UFC type competition). Ohba, as uke, in the Manchurian demonstration showed that Ueshiba had skills that went outside his spiritual vision.
Shigenobu Okumura wrote:
At that time I was a student and I saw this demonstration. The demonstration was as serious as any I have ever seen. I could tell that it was not a prearranged demonstration at all.
Ueshiba was very angry until appeased by the words of Hideo Sonobe, who gave praise. It would appear that Ueshiba's chosen demonstration of how he viewed his art of aikido was ruined by Ohba's very strong and unrehearsed attacks. We know that Ueshiba's main influence for martial training was Daito ryu, so it's not a very big leap to suggest that Ueshiba relied upon his Daito ryu jujutsu, or more likely his Daito ryu aiki no jujutsu skills to handle Ohba's attacks.
So, we can start to see that Ueshiba definitely had the skills, but chose to only show or use certain aspects, or certain subsets, in his vision of aikido.
In conclusion, even if one did have the aiki skills as Ueshiba had, using them in any competition such as the UFC, boxing, etc, would be completely outside the vision of Ueshiba's aikido. Going one step further, I believe that Ueshiba's trimming of the Daito ryu curriculum also removed quite a bit of the underlying jujutsu skills, so that even if one wanted to use aikido in competition, one would be hampered from the start.
However, having said that, one who did have the aiki skills as Ueshiba had, should be able to utilize those skills in those venues (providing the appropriate training is undertaken) and stand out as different from the rest. After all, Ueshiba still learned jujutsu. It wasn't just the aiki skills that made him martially adept.