Re: effectiveness: experience on learning
I got into my first fight ,y first day of kindergarten at five years old. We were lined up and the teacher took role for the first time, and the kid in front of me had the same first name as me. I accused him of lying and demanded he tell his real name. Ironically and perhaps less cognitive of me, I am a junior, so the whole premise under which I beat this kid was faulty. Basically I was offended he was trying to steal my first name.
I spent my mornings as a toddler watching Kung Fu theater, and was exposed to the drunk migrant workers fighting, on the ranch my grandfather was foreman on. I grew up fighting from there, and finally when I was eight my parents referred me to a family friend to learn discipline and respect in Kajukenbo. My school principal told my parents if they signed me up for Karate she did't know if she could allow me to continue to go to that school. She questioned their judgement in taking a kid who basically fought and beat up every kid in the school and actually training him to fight. I trained in Kaj for two or three years and was pulled up to the adult class. My school fights had stopped as I had Sifu to answer to and the answer was always exhausting and painful physical exercise and training.
I took these life experiences with me when I started training in Aikido. Coming from the original hard style of Emparado's method of Kaj, I looked for realism in Aikido. When My first Aiki Sensei asked for me to attack him I did as I would in Kaj. I really tried to hit him in the face as hard as I could. cause to any less in Kaj was disrespectful and usually meant receiving a harder technique because of it. Sensei liked this, and often used me for his demonstrations even though I was just a beginner. Some times his demos would last almost a half a minute of me attacking him over and over till he got tired of throwing me. I didn't know how to quit or go half hearted. This was the reason Aikido hooked me. I was attacking this sixty year old man with everything I had, and I was a good fighter. He just shrugged me off and pinned me at will almost. I wanted to learn that!!!
Now, in my own training, I think I may a bit harsh for some. When I train with 4kyu and above or maybe a 5kyu who has been around a while, I make sure I apply the techniques as I would if they were one of the inmates I work with. On the uke side, I make sure to exploit the openings they leave for me. I don't go so far as to totally stifle their technique but make them aware that something just isn't working in the technique.
As far as a non-physical approach, the concepts we use in the dojo, are every bit applicable to the real world. If you are having a confrontation with someone, don't leave an opening, close the space between you, move when he moves. Like others have said, personal and situation awareness are key. You have to absolutely know where you are and what is going on around you.
When I lead some classes a while back, I did some exercises where we stood about halfway down the mat with our back turned to a single line of attackers. The uke were to approach the nage and place nage in a headlock from behind. We worked on the technigue for about fifteen minutes, and then I told nage to go ahead and start the technique, not when they were grabbed, but when they felt the threat or urge to turn around. No uke made it two steps before the nage would turn around. I wish I had more time there, cause the next step was having uke speed up and go for the attack regardless of nage initiating his movement. The point of this exercise though, was for the class to realize their personal and situation awareness, before the attack ensued. We train regularly to defend against an attack in motion. How often do we train to position ourselves to prevent an attack?
I think for martial relevance we should take time each week to train from more modern attacks. Not that the traditional attacks are out dated, but so we can get a feel of how we apply Aiki technique to a modern situation. I think we here on this forum can agree Aikido can be effective on you average guy or a drunk trying to aggravate you. With the rise of MMA and MMA gyms everywhere, more and more people are training, and some of those people may have anger or other issues. To stay Martially relevant I think we need to familiarize ourselves with some of the attacks this type of training utilizes and figure out how to best apply Aiki techniques and principles, to defend against them.