That's the sound of my ears perking waaaay
My fave subject of argume...er...discussion
in the dojo - full-out randori. I talk a lot about it; simply because we never do it, and it drives me absolutely bonkers. See; I personally believe that practicing through semi-realism to near-realism is essential to developing one's aikido into a useful defence tool(never full
realism; however brutal, no dojo would sanction that and remain open very long). Trouble is; too many people don't - they have no personal first-hand experience with fighting in the survival mode; and quite bluntly are either unable or unwilling - for whatever reason - to upset their own apple cart and admit their weaknesses within the skill. Given the talents of some of the people I have in mind; that's a real tragedy. They stop at good looking techniques, pretty taigi and dancelike randori and stick with them; either unaware or uncaring that all they know is useless unless they themselves - not just their techniques - are effective.
I reason it thus: First; I think it's a fine thing to study Aikido for its spiritual and social aspects. If that's your goal; great! Just don't delude yourself into thinking a perfectly pretty kokyunage is going to do anything at all to that freak coming at you with a broken beer bottle. All it's going to do is give you a wonderful sense of oneness with the Earth as you pry your occipital lobe out of the asphalt.
They're two entirely separate things: Self defence is self defence; and Aikido is Aikido, and never the twain shall meet. (Unless there's another twain on the same twack; but that's another topic....sorry.
If one wants one's aikido to be effective as a defence tool; one must learn defence in addition
to aikido, AND learn to integrate one into the other.
Aikido is easy. I'll wait for the howls of protest to die down. It is easy! It takes a little dedication, a little practice, plus a lot of interest and a sense of fun to learn. That's it, really. But defence? REAL defence? It ain't fun. And it ain't easy. It's hard, rough, brutal. Because when it happens; maybe that one time in your life when it will be required, you must do it right the first time, every time
. You cannot
try again, you can't say "a little softer, please" to the aforementioned beanbrain. You must
win, or you will lose. Lose a little blood maybe; maybe only lose some prde. But it is also possible you may lose your life; or your self-respect, or more.
Does standard 'mat' aikido teach that? Not a chance. Does 'full-out' randori teach it? No again; although it takes an extremely important step forward: it forces the practicioner to think fast and to act without thought. It forces him to use aikido
, not just techniques. It places him directly in the path of danger; however comparitively mild; forcing him to react on an instinctual level.
Ideally; it gives the student valuable experience; with which he can look beyond the techniques required for the next rank, to see them for what they are and gauge their suitability for HIS OWN defence needs.
To sum; I would put it this way: Dojos that offer standard 'friendly' randori can turn out good students - good at technique. Dojos that offer full-out randori - again structured to be safe, if potentially rough - turn out good students too; good at defence.
And isn't that the point? As I've stated, it's perfectly fine to study Aikido for spiritual purposes, but I submit: Learning Aikido consists largely of learning techniques. These techniques involve taking someone who is trying to attack you and hitting him - through one means or another - with the planet. In other words, to throw him. Sounds like a defence tool to me; not a meditation technique.Study however you wish; that defensive aspect is there; the essential core of aikido. Wouldn't it be best to keep that tool sharp?