Dojo: Wasabi Dojo
Location: Houston, TX
Join Date: Mar 2013
Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness
I'll swing at this, below, but I do want to ask about the term "Aikido Warrior." Isn't that non sequitur? Aikijutsu "warrior" would be more correct, the way I understand the meanings behind the Japanese suffix of "Do" vs. that of "Jutsu." But, I may be off there, that just "rang wrong" in my ear, the warrior part. If you are training for a warrior's psychological standpoint of reacting to aggression, that would be bujutsu in one of it's forms, would it not. OK, enough on that.
I very much enjoyed Corky's initial post, he said, in a much more literate way than I typically do, what I've been telling people for years. "The bad guy ain't gonna quit that easy, so stay on top of him." Very much less impressive use of language on my part.
On to the Q&A:
Q1: "What are aikido's standard attacks?"
A1. IMO, Aikido doesn't have attacks. Aikido training simulates attacks, by borrowing other martial ways' attack forms to be performed by uke. That's my way of explaining part of the weird dichotomy inherent in practice. Maybe a poor one, but it works to transmit a concept to beginners. Still, the attacks I arm ukes with are more similar to PhiTruong's list than a very traditional school might, as nobody I know, or have ever met anywhere, including overseas, has ever been attacked by a guy with a bo staff, a sword, edged, blunt, or wooden. Knife? Certainly. Gun? Unfortunately, yes. Bat, club or stick, you bet. Fists, slaps, elbows, kicks, etc? Absolutely. (No we don't chase our beginners with batons, but we have dealt with attackers wielding them in upper-belt practice.)
Q2: "Are they ineffective?"
A2: I hate semantics, but you need to define "effective" in order to get good answers to this question. Effective for what? Training proficient people? If that is the goal, read the posts above and I'd say yes. If effective means that every attack could effectively end a confrontation, because the attacker gained a dominant outcome by using it, I'd say no, not in the beginning stages. The attacks which we use in class, especially in the begging stages, particularly with kyu grades, are very stylized, though it explained how the stylized form is derived from, but does not simulate/emulate an actual overhand right, good left hook, or a Thai leg kick. Still, one must have a place to begin which reduces risk ... and fright on the part of the beginner.
Q3: "Are they unrealistic?"
A3: In the beginning, I would say a definite "sorta." Standard beginner showmen "can" be delivered as a technically-correct palm-heel strike from certain traditions, so... that can be realistic. Are they being delivered in a realistic, tactically-effective manner? Probably not, not with beginners. But, one must learn to stand before one can compete in the Olympic 110m high hurdles, right? So, in this sense, the "unrealism" has a purpose, as long as it is understiood that this period is akin to training wheels on a child's bicycle... they'll come off eventually, if you really want to Ride the bike.
Q4: "If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?"
A4: It can be any one, or any combination of two or more of the above, or all of them.
Q5: "If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?"
A5: If we didn't start out learning against the other, "unrealistic" types, there would be MANY more injuries in class. Students would be broken before they can learn how to deal with such, dojos would close up, the art would die out, and everyone would stand around bored talking about the good old days.
Q6: "If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?"
A6: I think I covered this in the above.
Q7: "What are effective and realistic attacks?"
A7: PhiTruong's list is a good, rhythmic start. One could say that anything which steals uke's body control, balance or posture is an "effective" attack, e.g. gently nudging someone hip-to-hip out into traffic in front of a bus. Quite effective, very realistic ... and sneaky. Still satisfies the point.
I think it boils down to learning curves, and how steep the curve the dojo's main instructor(s) wish it to be. Gentler learning curves will keep "real" out of the class for a longer period, and probably enjoy a higher-retention rate than steeper curves. However, there is a certain point one must reach, on the way up, before a full-speed lower gut fighting knife slash, designed to make one bleed to death rather than a traditional tanto stab" could be competently handled.
And, the only way to find that out is to have some dude or chick try to take your belly and open it like a ziplock baggie. I'm not going to personally get in that line yet. You?