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Old 10-29-2012, 05:13 AM   #21
Lee Salzman
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 406
Re: Too Busy Too Far

Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Here's my $0.02, take it for what it's worth. For your purposes, I think any martial art would work as well as aikido, as long as it's a decent and honest dojo, and as long as you're honest with yourself. A lot of people are attracted to the "philosophy" of aikido, and to images they've seen in the movies or on television, but an aikido class is not a philosophy class, and it's nothing like the movies. It's not Master Po or Mr. Miyagi or Bruce Lee teaching the art of fighting wit'out fighting. An aikido sensei is not going to spend class time talking about compassion, and you aren't going to learn anything in the average aikido class about philosophy, spirituality, gently and compassionately dealing with an attacker so as to do no harm, etc. If that is your goal, you should know that it takes a lot of skill to even have a chance of protecting yourself from a determined attacker without harming him/her (and I suspect luck plays a large role too).

So, in my view, the "philosophy" isn't a reason to choose aikido -- it just won't be a large element of your training. And it won't necessarily infuse the spirits of those you train with, either. Don't come to aikido feeling like it's a bastion of enlightened beings and you want to join the ranks -- you will be disappointed.

Another reason to consider another martial art is that aikido has a pretty steep learning curve for a beginner. Aikido's basic techniques are more complicated than, say, karate's -- which means you spend even longer failing to get it and looking silly. I mention this because you mentioned feeling sufficiently humiliated by a few comments from strangers on an internet forum that you went away in discouragement. If those comments (which were pretty mild, I thought) were that discouraging, you'd probably find the actual practice doubly so. There are other martial arts that are less frustrating for the average beginner, and that would serve your purposes equally well, and that might be more convenient for you.

That's not even to say that aikido is somehow deeper or more profound as a result of that learning curve, just that it has a steeper learning curve. That's just how aikido's pedagogical method is.

If you can find any sort of martial arts environment with honest, sincere seekers, any MA can be deep and engaging and enjoyable as budo, even MMA, BJJ, boxing, or whatever. It can encompass many of the reasons people seem to for whatever reason uniquely single out aikido. If you find an environment full of testosterone, pretentiousness, or any number of other undesirables, any MA, even or perhaps especially aikido, can just be unproductive hell.

But you can't find those environments by going and reading descriptions of these arts on paper, just go out and try what's in your area and see what appeals to you when you're actually doing it! So if there is something nearby that is not aikido, don't write it off just because it is not aikido - you might be surprised.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 10-29-2012 at 05:15 AM.
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