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Old 04-25-2013, 11:58 AM   #49
Cliff Judge
Dojo: Aikido Shobukan Dojo
Location: Columbia, MD
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Re: Can we see that aikido is all over the place in MMA?

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
For better or worse, the heart of Aikido - aiki - is a set of skills that is independent of history, traditions, organizations, philosophy, spiritual goals, and cultural underpinnings of Aikido. If you have one without the other, is it Aikido? I don't think so, even myself, you need both, to have the art that, as the legacy of Morihei Ueshiba, his son, others like Tohei, Shioda, etc., is known as Aikido. Aiki without the wrapping is just aiki, aikido without aiki is just martial dance class. Aiki is the glue that holds all the wrapping together, gives it life and purpose. I can show up to the dojo, wear my gi and hakama, bow nicely, say all the right things, know all the right history, pay respects to all the right people, move my arms to and fro like such and such, but if there is no aiki in it, what am I doing? Just jujitsu with philosophical trappings.

And, eh, neither I nor, I believe, Jon (apologize for putting words in your mouth, Jon ), or, hell, even the people we are learning from *cough*, are claiming to be inventing or innovating or coming up with anything as pertains to aiki. Aiki, the skill set, is old hat. It's just being shown to us, and it was shown to others before, and others before even that. It's just taken many of us forever to find it and learn it in or after our Aikido careers.

Why use the term aiki? Because that is what it is! It is a distinct thing I had never encountered before in palpable form - that is to say, it can be isolated and trained without going so far as using anything that can be construed as recognizable techniques be it throws or locks or atemi. It was conveniently labeled aiki in that form I encountered it - so hence, aiki is aiki. No preexisting name for it within the totality of my experience would do it justice, so, it is aiki!

Aiki as a distinct skill set is not only a potential disruptor for MMA, it is a potential shot in the arm for Aikido. Not aiki as applied in Aikido, but aiki as a distinct teachable entity, so that we can pull it out and verify, when doing Aikido, where is our aiki? How good at it are we? Are we really using it well to best effect to achieve all the trappings that the art of Aikido demands?

MMA sport careers last the blink of an eye, there's a certain age when you have to get in and get out by, be in good fighting condition, etc. and, so, yeah, I don't see MMA guys achieving high levels of skill with aiki, let alone Aikido, in the span of that time. It doesn't mean they still can't get some short term benefits from it, but it is a long road. But after that, when they're just in it to do MMA as budo? The sky is the limit.

As far as things like BJJ or Muay Thai? Aiki does not replace these any more than it replaces Aikido as a way of application. I do BJJ, judo, boxing, some Aikido still, getting into stick work, etc. and aiki does not replace any of these for teaching me how to not get the crap beat out of me, but it gives me a profound new way of interpreting them, however. Aiki will not make you into a fighter, it will just make you a better fighter.
Let me make two or three points here.

First, I think its a bad idea to look at aiki as a skill set. This thread is an interesting place to talk about this, because back on the first page there is a video of aiki happening in an MMA fight. But it was accidental. The fighters wound up in a certain position, and one of them was in a flow state and realized what the situation was and just let the aiki happen. There is no skill on evidence here, it was not a technique he had prepared, it was a spontaneous technique. Aiki manifested itself, and he allowed it to happen.

The lightbulb that should go off here is that it isn't about acquiring more skill in setting this up, it should be about learning how to freely enter the flow state where this can happen, if it is in the cards to do so. I think if you are of the mind that this is a skill, or a technique, or even "power" or "strength" then you are just erecting more obstacles for yourself from ever figuring it out. (I am certainly not saying I have!)

I think aiki is the ultimate flow state basically - your mind is in harmony with the rotation of the universe, so without moving you find yourself at the exact point where forces meet and resolve. When I ask myself what kind of martial art would be good for learning how to get into this state as required, I think a system that emphasized creativity and improvisation of movement, and allowed both partners to do unexpected things to the other while minimizing the chances for injury would be a good place to start. Allowing both partners to work without any particular goal would also be highly important - and that is why competition is right out for me. This is exactly what I strive for in my Aikido training and it is what I think my teacher is trying to tell me.

Second, I think the more you focus on making aiki follow your mind as opposed to your mind following aiki, you can develop some skills and techniques, but these are things that belong in a bag of tricks to use once in awhile or in concert with other, more consistent things, such as leverage, physical strength, timing, awareness, etc. Aiki may be an old concept but it doesn't show up much in martial arts developed by people who fought professionally. It comes to us from a time when the "samurai" were a quickly-fading, legendary part of the past, when there was social foment and people had leisure to focus on impressive tricks. The Chinese arts that focus on similar skills were leisure or religious activities. So I think it is a fine thing to build a martial practice around in this day and age, but what I am hearing from Kevin, who is a professional warrior, is that it served him best to look into other elements of combat and not focus entirely on aiki.

Third, Lee, I find it really funny that you want to lose the budo aspects of Aikido and try to work on a concept you call aiki, but then one of the reasons you think this is a good thing is so you can offer your de-budoed "aiki...do" to retired and late-career MMA guys...as a budo.

Or maybe it is better to say you want to offer your MMA buds something that is not a traditional budo, its a bud.....o.

Last edited by Cliff Judge : 04-25-2013 at 12:01 PM.
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