Location: Baltimore-DC area, US
Join Date: Jul 2012
Re: Don't waste your time practicing AIKIDO
I've read this whole thing, and realize that's it's years old. But, I have to chime in, if only because it seems every time I read something about Aikido online, it soon follows with someone saying it has no practical use. In fact, the main reason I shied away from Aikido for years was that an early instructor in my MA "career" (if you can call it that) said Aikido is "good for kids" but "no good for self-defense." So, consider this post directed to anyone trying to sort this out in the present or future. Anyway, I am now a newbie to Aikido and have to say how bogus I feel these statements to be. Here's why.
First, exactly how often are people finding themselves in street fights? And, why? In my life I have been in a few scuffles and have witnessed a few more. The best defense is to not put yourself in situations where fights will happen, and to have the strength of character to associate with the right people, and to not associate with people who will get you into fights. Aikido probably has as much or more to offer in terms of strength of character than most MAs. Arguably, age is the best tool for this. But, Aikido practioners, on the whole, I've found to be more grounded and mature people than I've met in the numerous other arts I've studied (various Kung Fu, Jujitsu, and American Kenpo). Of course there are exceptions, so this is only my experience and my general observation. No offense meant to anyone.
Second, have the people saying these things actually been in a street fight? I have. They are usually sloppy, ugly, and fueled by alcohol or drugs. Most of the time, they amount to pushing and shoving and maybe an obvious haymaker. Any martial art can help you defend against this type of "attack," but Aikido seems to me to be as good as any in dealing with this nonsense. I have yet to meet a truly skilled martial artist who goes around looking for people to beat up. I guess I've not run in the same circles as Mike Tyson.
Third, let's say you do get in a fight and you decide to use your karate or kung fu to really mess someone up. You break their arm or leg, or tear out an eye. This may have been fine in some pre-agrarian society or somesuch, but in civilized society, you are likely to find yourself on the receiving end of criminal or civil charges. You may end up in jail. So, which art is the most "practical" for modern, civil society? Again, Aikido makes sense to me (and is probably why it's taught to police).
Fourth, the primary threat that I concern myself with, and which seems to me to be the most germane to our times, is the threat of knife or gun violence in a robbery or rape type situation. Against a knife, your best bet is to run if you can, and if not, a swift kick to the nuts or a well-timed eye gouge. In other words, basic self-defense, not martial arts. Now, some MAs, particularly the Kenpo I took, do emphasize nut kicking and eye gouging. That said, you can easily train yourself to kick groins or poke eyeballs in your own home. It's not really an art, you know? If you do want to get fancy, I think Aikido has good disarming techniques. As for guns, your best bet is to throw your wallet and run. If the attack is about something else (like rape), then disarming is your best bet. I've never seen a gun disarming technique that will work 100% of the time. In fact, I'd say it's always a less than 50/50 proposition, but if it's all you've got, then I guess that's what you've got to do. Again, Aikido has some of the best techniques for this, IMO, matched only by Japanese Jujitsu (which, obviously, is related to Aikido). Get out of the line of fire, lock up the hand with the gun, and separate it from the attacker.
Fifth, fun. Personally, I think rolling around and being slammed to the mat is the most fun. It's also good exercise. Maybe all don't agree with that, which is fine. Do what you find to be fun.
Sixth, as a side benefit of all this rolling and slamming, I find that Aikido provides some measure of what's it's like to take a real hit without armor or padding. The only other arts where I've seen this are traditional Okinawan karate schools where they do body conditioning hits. Again, to each his own.
Seventh, time and again I read people saying that fights go to the ground. In my experience this is nonsense. I've witnessed a few skirmishes and fights, and only one went to the ground. And that was because both guys were basically small pretty boys who didn't want to get hit. Ground grappling is great for competition, but in a real situation, there's a good chance your opponent's friend(s) is going to kick you in the head or neck, or maybe stab you while you're down. Again, Aikido makes sense to me here - throw them to the ground or hold them there while you maintain your upright and alert position.
Really, though, fights are not that common, in my experience, and can be largely (and best) avoided if you are a strong enough person to stay out of situations where they occur. With the rest, Aikido is as good as anything (though, like all, not perfect), and IMO, more fun to practice. Again, to each his/her own. So, yeah, do what you enjoy doing! Anything is better than nothing, and none are fool-proof.