Thanks for the insight into Aikido as it applies to the world of MMA and real life situations. I wondered how it was viewed by fighters like yourself.
I too have found in Aikido training the lack of realistic "street" fighting for self-defence and have come across guest instuctors (no disrespect towards Sensei's intended) who bring their own assistants that offer no resistance and assist the instructor in their techniques without resisting or attacking in an unpredictable manner, and I found myself wondering about real-life situations.
I have a background of some hard style martial arts (just dabbled and by no means am I an expert or proficient) and I've been in real fight situations as a younger man and it seems to me that it all comes down to WHY one is training in Aikido.
If one is training to be an aggressor than he's there for the wrong reasons. This is more than opinion as O' Sensei said himself not to casually teach Aikido techniques to anyone in case it is used by thugs.
I understand that you're talking about strikes or the lack thereof in Aikido and I agree...but if I could go back in time and learn JUST Aikido, no other martial arts, then I think I would apply the fluidity and adaptiveness of Aikido as O'Sensei intended and my mind would not be occupied by thoughts of "what if" and "should I". I would react with pure Aikido and keep myself AND my opponent unharmed.
As it is I am a beginner and my cup still has some emptying to be done. If I were confronted at this stage I would no doubt strike out first because I know my capabilities: on the other hand, the reason I started Aikido was to be the civil, empathetic person that I truly am, devoid of ego and strive to be the the loving person that O'Sensei envisioned people of peace loving character to be. I have no desire to knock teeth out...it's reprehensible to me. Once again am I fighting for pride or protection? If there's a child involved than I guess anything goes.
Now I know you're a MMA guy so you're coming from a livelihood angle in a way and I respect that.
As you said; O' Sensei was in real, potentially deadly fights and it honed his skills immeasureably and the development of Aikido benefitted.
Perhaps O'Sensei did the real fighting for all the younger people in generations to come who need not know real violent aggression in their life. Some younger Kohei and Sempai I have come into contact with probably couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag...but the development of character and in time technique will make these youngsters into men that an aggressor will be sorry to confront, regardless of strikes or no.
The rejection of ego and the love of peace are paramount to Aikido proficiency as it pertains to O'Sensei's vision.
Once again WHY does one train in Aikido?
Hopefully for the DO to KI and AI.
Thanks Eugene, that was an excellent post.
I can understand where you are coming from.
To be honest, Steven Seagal was the reason I joined Aikido way back some 16-17 years ago. I'm sure many of us can say the same with Aikido enjoying a huge surge in popularity while he was in fashion. Who wasn't attracted by the fluidity, dynamisn and basically the effortlessness of Aikido against a physically stronger opponent? I'm not a 'MMA fighter' as you put it, as I actually started with Aikido and only have been training in MMA for a year.
I was also the more passive type, didn't really like to start trouble and all these combined made Aikido seem to be an ideal form of self defense to take up.
There are those that do Aikido purely for its philosophy, the way it changes your world view or just for some good ol fun. In fact, I still practice Aikido because I still enjoy doing so despite knowing its limitations.
However a significant percentage of Aikido practitioners also do it because they believe it's applicable as a self defense and is often marketed as such.
The thing is O'Sensei probably came up with a viable art that could be used in self defense. For him and many others, Aikido works in real life situations as well. Perhaps someone who studied Aikido a little could counter it but generally, if you didn't know what he was doing, Aikido works. In fact, Aikido once protected me when I was attacked at knife point on the street where I disabled the attacker (somewhat ungracefully I might add) but in this scenario I had the element of surprise + a static knife target. It was still an unnecessary risk but that's another story.
Nowadays, the way Aikido is being taught does not prepare one for such real life scenarios. I was lucky that the target was static in my real life application but most of the times, your target will be a moving, raging, unpredictable opponent.
Aikido requires you to remain calm in a confrontation, something that cannot be developed unless you've been in a real fight yourself where you truly fear for your life. Sparring is a close approximation which still is for the most part safe. Randoori is on a step lower where you are generally limited to a certain preset kind and rhythm of attack and to me is insufficient to develop that sort of calmness.
O'Sensei, Gozo Shioda (in fact I heard Gozo Shioda actively looked for fights in his youth to test his skills) had acquired the necessary calmness and understanding of fight mechanics to make Aikido work. If u were just in an average dojo, these things would not be picked up.
Okie one instance where I tried using Aikido where I allowed my friend to attack me anyway he wanted. I quickly realized that ma-ai was not something that can be grasped from randoori or class. After getting hit several times in the face, I then truly had an 'ah ha' moment where I understood what it meant by ma-ai and the whole purpose of having your hands out. Occupying the space, and distancing yourself properly made it difficult for him to attack me unless he made a truly committal attack. I eventually got taken down through a mad bull rush takedown which I was ill prepared for :P but throughout the session both parties weren't' getting any headway, I wasn't pulling off any techniques (my friend knew Aikido too so he knew exactly what i was doing) but he wasn't landing any punches in either.
So in short, what I'm saying is that there are new tools that SHOULD be introduced into Aikido. To me sparring is NOT competition, it's about learning. In a sparring match, there's no real 'winner or loser', sure you may realize you have been 'outplayed' but I generally come out feeling hey, I learnt something even when I was 'outplayed'. As such, I really don't see why more realistic training cannot be introduced into Aikido at least at a brown belt level.