Join Date: Aug 2000
Perhaps it is the head-up awareness of our surroundings that aikido instills in its students, the realization of potential threats and possible escapes (physical, emotional, or psychological), that separates us from practitioners of other styles. Maybe that is why we see far more shades than just:
white: no fight
black: let's get it on
Really, reading some BJJ/NHB posts, you'd think that the escalation of agression went something like: 1) a cross-wise look across the bar, 2) two guys locked up on the floor in groundwork-fest. It's like one guy says to the other, "You wanna fight?", and upon acceptance, the first gets down into a grappling position and awaits the other to join him. There is this mindless acceptance that there will be a "fight," which is why I don't think that NHB have much to do with real life self-defense.
When those oxen-brutes step into that octagon, it is for nothing else but a fight. They aren't there to exchange recipes, nor is there the myriad of other shades that might color such a meeting on the street: perceived threat, bystanders, weapons, oxen-brutish friends changing the odds, early withdrawal, multiple exits, legal questions, etc. That is why, in those matches, there is the flip of a light switch from, "Let's meet the combatants," to, "Let's get it on."
That isn't what my aikido trains me for. I have often thought of my aikido as an "attack" of the attack. Like tae sabaki with bokken. The kiai of my strike sounds in the same moment as my opponent's. There is no action, reaction. In the words of O'sensei:
If you wish to weaken
The enemy's sword,
Move first, fly in and cut!
Which is not an unwarranted, surprise attack at all, in my mind. Not to over-analyze that doka, but I cannot weaken the enemy's sword if it isn't already drawn. Seeing his intention to attack we make a pre-emtive strike... or exit... or statement... or phone call... or change in posture... or whatever. Unfortunately, what aikido gives a martial artist really must be experienced to be understood... and must continue to be experienced for continued understanding to develop.
Maybe the BJJ/NHB post-ers are happy going from "zero to Full-On-Brawl" in 2 seconds flat, but for me to be there means that I have failed as an aikidoka (not to mention a martial artist, but then, they have failed in that, too). I have failed to notice a potentially bad situation. If confronted in that situation, I have failed to deflect the other persons energy sufficiently to avoid physical escalation. And if it becomes physical and I get taken to the ground, then I have failed to physically turn his energy enough to allow for safe resolution of the situation. (Notice, these are descending circles of awareness, from the highest "eye of the samurai" to the lowest, most base physical extraction... something to think about there, I think). So, if a BJJ gets me to the ground, I have failed at least THREE times as an aikidoka and martial artist.
And who knows if aikido would work on the ground. Maybe IT would, and maybe mine would not. But I can tell you this, in that situation I would still be using the principles that aikido has given me. In other words, I might not be doing "aikido" on the ground, but you can bet it's going to be "aiki-" something. Mind and body working as one to get the best result from the least effort. It might be "aiki-get-my-arse-out-of-a-jam-do," or "aiki-call-for-help-do," but my aikido would still be assisting me.
I can tell you this for sure, no self-respecting aikidoka of any enlightenment at all is going to indulge in "aiki-start-a-fight-to-prove-my-skills-do." And if you do that, then please don't say that you practice aikido. You don't. You practice "thug-do."
End of sermon.