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Old 10-25-2013, 01:16 AM   #1
Dojo: Seishinkan Dojo
Location: Copenhagen
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 111
My forum pet peeve: "I never got in a fight - the ultimate self-defense!"

First off, I write "forum pet peeve", because it is something I have most frequently read on these forums, though you do also see it used on other sites (such as YouTube, blogs, and so forth).

What I mean is this: it pops up in discussions when discussing the martial aspects of Aikido, and it's realistic use in a self-defense scenario. In the mists of discussion, someone acknowledges that (their) Aikido will not physically work, or be effective, against an opponent in a realistic self-defense scenario. Yet them, almost without fail, they will follow up with "But Aikido has taught me never to get into a fight - that is the ultimate self-defense!", or perhaps a variation that often goes like "Aikido has taught me to stop fights without the use of physical actions, that is the ultimate Martial Art!".
You also often see this pop up, in questions from people unaffiliated with Aikido (yet), asking questions about the art on this forum, or looking for feedback on whether they should start practicing Aikido or not.

I think it's fantastic if people have learned to avoid fights. But that simply doesn't have anything to do with Martial Arts, or Self-Defense. It is weaseling out of the dilemma and discussion. Yoga may very well teach you the inner calm you need to never get into a fight, but that doesn't make Yoga a Martial Art, or Self-Defense. I, personally, have been able to avoid fights my entire life, simply by repeating the mantra "Oh, I'm sorry!" (whether I truly am or not, is utterly irrelevant) over and over and over again, in all hostile situations. But that doesn't mean that saying sorry should be considered a Martial Art, or can realistically be considered self-defense. Nor do I understand why people need to train Martial Arts, to learn how to say "I'm sorry". I can only imagine the amount of mental instability you would need to have, for Military/Martial Art/Sports training to be needed, just to calm your inner anger. Besides, I'm sure that anger management courses would probably have suited you better anyway. Or perhaps just general courses in conflict de-escalation?

At this point, I'm sure some will chime in and say "well that's just your definition of Martial Arts/Self-Defense". And no, it's really not:

Oxford Dictionary
Martial Arts
various sports, which originated chiefly in Japan, Korea, and China as forms of self-defence or attack, such as judo, karate, and kendo

Oxford Dictionary
the defence of one's person or interests, especially through the use of physical force, which is permitted in certain cases as an answer to a charge of violent crime
Martial Arts
any of various philosophies of self-defence and techniques of single combat, such as judo or karate, originating in the Far East
the act of defending one's person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant: the art of self-defense.
Martial Arts
"Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons"

People can't just make up new definitions for words, to make them mean what they want them to mean. And even if you COULD argue that "self-defense" might include things like verbal de-escalation, it is clearly not what was originally intended to be discussed in those, ehm, discussions.

This is not a matter of Aikido being martially effective or not. Nor do I have anything against people that train Aikido, or any Martial Art, or anything in general, purely for the philosophical or spiritual benefits that they may feel they gain from it. But I really wish people would stop making threads like "I used Aikido in a fight." - "Oh? How did it go?" - "Well, someone was being really aggressive, and I calmed them down. That's true Aikido."
That has nothing to do with Aikido in particular - it's a common social trait available in most calm and sensible human beings.

If people wish to discuss such benefits specifically, that's all fine and dandy. And as I said, if people want to train for that specifically, if they feel that's what they get out of it, that's all well and good. But please, stop using it as a way to weasel out of the actual questions being asked.
Stop making the questions into what you want them to mean, just so you can reply with the answer you want. It is not only dishonest (as well as utterly irrelevant) to the person asking the question, it is also just horribly frustrating to read.

And last, again, just to stamp out some frustrating replies before they get written:
As I've said multiple times by now - If you wish to train purely for that, go for it. If you feel that's what you're getting out of your training, and that's fine with you, good for you. I have nothing against such practices, nor anything against such people. Just please stop twisting questions into meaning something different, just so you can reply with the answers that personally suite you the best.

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