The One wrote:
I recently started taking lessons in a style called "Aki-Jitsu". It is an ecclectic of many systems and styles of martial arts including aikido, judo, karate, wing chun, and tai chi.
What I would like to ask is, what do you guys think of a school that teaches a form of aikido combined with the kicks and strikes and different concepts from karate and wing chun?
Why not? Sounds like it is very practically oriented. Unless you are specifically trying to get to the heart of what O-sensei's Aikido was about, in which case a more traditional style would serve you better, there's no reason this couldn't be a good style of training.
Would you consider them non aiki? How effective or traditional would you think the aikido in this form would be?
It may be very effective if the originator of the style was very experienced. It is not traditional, but do you care? I will say that in my experience the people who often have run out on their own and created very eclectic styles of Aiki based arts generally aren't very sophisticated in their Aiki. Aikido people spend the majority of their time investigating the most minute details of movements that are designed to effect the center of a partner / opponent. Usually the people who have gone off and started eclectic styles like this don't have the background or understanding of the Aikido part of their training to be really high level. This is not to say that what they do is not valuable or effective. I did a style of Escrima for a while that was a combination of Filipino Escrima and Aikido. It was very effective, quite devastating in fact. The teacher under whom I studied was one of the most senior practitioners of the style. His understanding of the details of the locks that they applied was not as sophisticated as mine. Which made not one iota of difference as the style was very powerful and his ability to apply the locks in the context of their training which was with sticks was superior to mine. So this style wasn't traditional Aikido nor was it traditional Escrima. But it was a great style because the Founder of the style was very advanced and could really do what he was teaching.
So the value of what you are doing is: a) up to you; do you like it? and b) based on the depth of knowledge of the Founder of the style and the experience level of your particular teacher. The latter may be difficult for you to assess as a beginner since everybody looks good when you are new. So that is where a traditional style originated by a generally recognized teacher may be important. At least you have some idea of the credentials of your teacher. For instance I do Aikido which was originated by Morihei Ueshiba, generally considered to be a great martial artist. I learned my Aikido primarily from Mitsugi Saotome Sensei who was a direct student of the Founder for many years so I can rest assured that I a received the best training possible. My students can be reassured from my own association with Saotome sensei that they aren't being taught by some charlatan. When you have someone who goes off on his own and creates some new style, you lose that security of knowing what you are getting. Sometimes they are lying about their backgrounds. Other times the reason they started their own style was that they were thrown out by their teacher. Once you are in a non-traditional system you have a very hard time knowing.
History usually takes care of these things. O-Sensei took off on his own and created a new martial art that was very different from what he had studied. Initially he had to do some fighting in order to gain credibility for the art. Over time he became generally accepted and Aikido became an art that now has its own tradition that is widely accepted and recognized. That could happen to the style of training in which you are participating if it is really good or the style will disappear if it isn't, time will tell.
In the case of a non-traditional style you can make the best judgement by looking at the experience of the teacher (as stated by him or her) and judging if it seems reasonable. Thirty year olds are not 8th Dans in any reputable arts, there is no way a guy in his twenties has advanced black belts in four or five arts, etc.
You are best off if the teacher has trained with people whose names you can recognize ie. Dan Inosanto of Jeet Kun Do, the Machados or the Gracies of Jiu Jutsu, an Aikido teacher that appears in Stan Pranin's Aikido Encyclopedia, or some such. This is valuable because you can then verify whether the teacher is telling the truth about his background. The Jeet Kun Do folks post their registered instructors on the net. Every major Aikido organization will tell you if a teacher is certified by them. Do some research... If you find that you can't substantiate the claims of the person with whom you are considering training I would bolt. He is almost certainly not really advanced in what he claims to teach.
There are a large number of so-called eclectic styles that are taught by people who have no depth or essential background in any of the arts they profess to be teaching. So "caveat emptor".
[Edited by George S. Ledyard on March 29, 2001 at 04:58am]