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Old 07-01-2013, 02:43 AM   #15
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 243
Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.
Each human being is a unique personality with unique choices and paths in life. Yet, in most civilized countries, there is a common ground that everyone has to cross regardless of his future choices, that of education and training.
For example, a boy goes to school and starts learning his alphabet one letter at a time, sometimes it gets hard to learn how to "draw" each letter and some of them are more difficult than others but eventually he learns. The same goes for grammar and spelling. He learns to read or write using a set of rules in very simple sentences that have nothing to do with the way we speak or write in our daily routine and they look "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
When the time comes for the boy to write a composition the topic is speciffic and he has pre given directions about the way to develop it, something that never happens when someone wants to write an essay as part of his research. Once again the path to knowledge looks "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
Now the boy wants to learn the guitar so he goes to a teacher and he starts doing finger exercises. And then he plays simple scales. And then he plays the scales faster and the teacher adds more complex scales. Then he learns to combine them. Still, nothing that the teacher makes him play has anything to do with what a rock band plays in a live show. Again the path to learning looks "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
Now the boy has grown up, he has become an astronomer and has written two books on his research and one science-fiction novel. On his free time he likes to play with his rock band mates in an old garage. They play rock songs that were hits when they were young and lately he has written a couple of tunes on his own.
Where would he be without all of his "stylized", "unrelistic" and "ineffective education and training?
Each and everyone of us has had similar kinds of training during his life. Yet, when it comes to martial arts, we get confused and start asking questions about the bleeding obvious.
The attacks in aikido are realistic and effective and so are aikido's techniques. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can start with realistic approach from a begginer's level. It would be as stupid as asking a 6 year old boy to write an analysis about Wagner's operas. He doesn't know how to write, he doesn't know how to develop a subject and he doesn't know Wagner. Yet, he may be a future Wagner analyst.
Aikido supply us with the tools of martial knowledge and esoteric self discovery. The part of it that looks stylized and unrealistic is one step of the way but it is not what it looks like. It may look ineffective from the outside but it is the most effective that the student is capable at the moment, so it is realistic for his level. And he must use it to go to the next level and go on step by step until one day he becomes a warrior.
When a person is a capable aikido warrior, is something that cannot be defined or set in the timeline of his training and it cannot be trully tested by exams or contests just as you can't tell the exact date when the little boy became a scientist and an author. There is no date, only the sum of one's training.
I agree with Graham's comment about effectiveness. The lack of it, is only sign of incompetence on the side of the person who fails to be effective. You can't put the blame on the art in order to get an excuse for it. The attacks and the techniques of aikido have their roots in the samurai martial training to be used in the battlefield. It can't get any more realistic and effective than that...
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