Re: Why Aikido has such strange strike defense.
First for the record I think Chris’s video is an excellent explanation of why the classical strikes are the way they are. I strongly disagree with the notion that these are the only attacks we should train to, but that is a different matter (I am not saying that Chris implied this). The discussion tendrils of this tread have diverged into many interesting directions…the large tent strikes again!
Prior to my becoming an Aikidoka I had a nidan in kicking and punching and viewed Aikido attacks as unrealistic and contrived. But the beauty and simplicity of the locks and throws were so compelling I had to learn the art (it helped that sensei was world class). In fairly short order it became obvious (and this is the point I think other martial artists and armchair ninjas don’t get) the objective of much of our training is the perfection of the class of lock or throw; less focus is placed on intercepting a “realistic” attack. Yes we practice leading, movement, ranging, parrying, slipping, blending and a host of other skills, but the bulk of time on the mat is spent working the core materials with different body types and angles of attack. Perfecting the core body mechanics.
Other than the mental aspect and some speed considerations hitting a big guy is not much different from hitting a small guy (effects vary widely but the technique used to deliver that strike are not substantially different), whereas as we all know throwing a 6’ 4” 250 pounder is different from throwing a 5’ 1” 150 lb person, geometry and mass distribution matters. Locking a weight lifter is different from locking up a yoga aficionado. Learning to feel those differences and adjust accordingly in real time takes a lot more repetition and constant maintenance.
When I started on the mat it was explained to me that we train techniques in the uke/nage paradigm rather than sparring because of safety (a broken nose heals quickly a broken elbow is forever); I know this is not the only reason. We train slowly, if you can’t do it at the speed of mud the only reason it vaguely works at full speed is luck and momentum. This plus idealized attack in kata format allows us the freedom to perfect and maintain the technique.
Unless you want to stay wholly within classical mode or an aikido variant niche (perfectly valid) you do need to train to deal with boxers, mma, and other martial flavors dejour. If no one has ever thrown a rising hook or an elbow in your direction you will be hard pressed to recognize it in time. You don’t have to spar, but your ukes need to mix it up a bit. Aikido techniques work just fine with these attacks, you just have to see the attack for what it is. This is why I have always said if you don’t cross train at least go hold some focus mitts for strikers. You will see full speed, full power strikes in the plane of contact with getting bloody.
While we typically only see the three classic attacks, I do wonder why that is. I used to get razzed about throwing double strike atemi’s (solar plexus and throat - after spreading uke’s hands) until I found a picture of O-Sensei using that exact strike (one of the large ”found” old photosets). So does this mean they were never trained or just not seen during demos and omitted by those that actually formalized the pedagogy? I also pose the question, how many train to take the technique off the second, third, or forth attack? I’ve wandered a bit Chris but everyone else jumped off the bridge so…