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Old 05-21-2010, 03:15 PM   #31
David Board
Dojo: Aikido of Reno
Location: Reno/NV
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 74
Re: The purpose of Aikido?

I should keep my mouth shut as a true beginner in Aikido but I found it interesting that this thread and an article about Bernie Lau from Blackbelt magazine posted on the Aikido Journal followed each other so closely. Since many of the sentiments seemed to be similar I tracked down the date just to investigate how long this "problem" in Aikido has been around. The article was from 1986 and the disillusionment of Lau was in the early 70's.

Going a bit further, I found this reprint of a 2001 article about Bernie Lau and the similarities of the concerns and issues of the OP stood out even more. Both the lack of effectiveness of Aikido [in self defense or police work]:
Lau's interest in karate was sparked by two separate incidents in which properly applied aikido joint locks failed to subdue the people he was trying to arrest. "I tried traditional aikido techniques," he says, "and they simply pulled out of them. We're talking big guys who knew how to street fight." He himself did not get hurt as a result, but both suspects and a partner did. This bothered him. "I felt that if I could have better controlled the situation, then things might have turned out differently."
And the concern with Aikido politics:
Unfortunately, the Seattle aikido community was not doing so nicely.[...]So, with that thought firmly in mind, he decided to build an apolitical dojo in his backyard.
From a beginner's perspective it is a little troubling that this issue has dogged Aikido for so long without an apparent solution or at lest satisfying response. One quote that struck me from the article was:
Many people think that aikido's philosophy is inherent in the techniques. While true in an absolute sense, no one teaches well enough, is skilled enough, or lives by the philosophy so well that he or she can convey the meaning behind the technical skill solely through hands-on experience. Recognizing this, important parts of Tohei's instruction took place during discussions in the restaurant after class.
One last quote (am an in academia I tend to use a lot of quote or at least sources):
"It is not a question of which is better, aikijujutsu or aikido," Lau said. "They both have their merits. It is more a question of which system will better serve the needs of the individual: self-protection or self-perfection. The theory of no enemy is fine, but try explaining that to the lumberjack who's trying to relocate your nose."
Combining the last two quotes leaves me with the realization that learning on the mat is very much the path of Aikido but that it will not be the only part of the path.

Now I don't think that this or anything in the articles lead me to any great insight about Aikido. I debated posting anything at all since the only thing I am bring to the conversation is old articles about another person who found Aikido lacking in part. But the repeating concerns and patterns interest me, so I thought others might find them interesting. This is a decades old debate that is not likely to end soon. It forces me as a beginner to look more closely at what Aikido is and what I want out of it. For the time being I find what I am learning useful and satisfying. I am happy to be learning Aikido and taking small steps in self protection and self perfection.

Links to the Articles:
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