Re: aikido vs jiu-jitsu
I personally recommend BJJ to any women looking for MA to avoid rape, or any prison guards. As a matter of fact, I think it should be offered in grade schools. Those are the most realistic situation where people frequently need those skills. I'm male, over the age of 12, and I don't work in a prison so I agree with George sensei that is it rather unlikely that I will need those skills in my life -- unless I join a BJJ club.
I've heard a slogan so many times that "90% of all fights go to the ground, and if you count knock outs then it's 100%". Who the hell is actively taking stats on this?! I've been in a real fight in a bar at UConn where chairs were flying around and everyone was pushing and punching or swinging pool sticks or covering up and running for safety. Here's the thing. I didn't go to the ground and neither did a whole lot of people in that fight. (Some did and I helped them get there! But I got hit with a chair that was thrown across the room - so much for my zanshin!) Anyway, that was a real fight which falls into the scope of "all fights" so the stats are certainly less than 100%. And I'd trouble believing this was an isolated incident.
I think the counter point about how it is realistic that someone might decide to try to tackle you is also a valid point. In that case, someone trying to tackle me might get kicked in the face or if they are smart enough to dip a shoulder then they are probably going to get their balance taken with kaiten nage as that is exactly what that technique is for. I think Chiba sensei has the right idea about doing chokes from that technique. If you haven't seen this, please go find someone who has and get them to show you. (I need to review this. Anyone willing to write down something about this in the techniques section?)
I respect ground fighters. The ones I talked to about it explained that the rules for no dirty tricks are because once you have superior position it would be just torturing the other guy to start biting, gouging, and/or tearing flesh. (And some crazy people do allow this kind of thing - I won't train with them!) My problem with this is that because it is a hard and fast rule - people make sloppy entrances to their takedowns because you are not allowed to stick your thumb in their eyes at that point. Obviously, there are ways to avoid such things, but I think it's like taking ukemi. If you don't actively train to not be open you will probably be surprised when someone takes advantage of your opening. (Also, the UFC had a rule that you couldn't kick people on the ground, and so people were just laying there trying to coax their opponent to come wrestle them. That was stupid and I'm glad they took that rule away in the Pride fights.)
Anyway, it is a totally different skill level in aikido to be able to deal with the kamikazi attacker. People willing and able to take a strike to avoid giving up position or balance are extremely dangerous. I think it is completely level inappropriate for the majority of the people practicing aikido. Maybe work on that around 4th dan +, and maybe not so directly. I do feel a 7th dan should be able to do it - but that's because otherwise what the heck does "mastery" mean.
I think the best way to cross train with these guys is that they have to protect themselves from such things (by simply turning their heads a bit, or dipping their shoulders, avoiding putting their ears into positions where you can rip them off on the way down to the ground, etc...). They should work on setting you up to get you to the ground, and the aikido person should work on not falling for being setup to be taken to the ground. I would work with anyone willing to play by those rules.
The other slogan I hear a lot is that "BJJ is aikido on the ground." Not until a master of both says so period. Yes, there are common principles, fine, please leave it at that. (This is the same thing as when the Arnis people take "Arnis is the art within your art" slogan a bit too far.) The points mentioned about learning how to move on the ground to do aiki there is critically important -- no doubt. However, in aikido, I find that how I hold my mind and how I hold my body so that I receive an attack properly (instantly making center to center connection) is not something I've ever experienced rolling around with the best JJers I could find (who completely demolish me on the ground - I might add). I'm not saying that JJ doesn't work! It works well. All I can say is that my experience is that the JJ I've been exposed to is similar to a lower level of aikido that I used to do. Obviously, their might be JJers out there who can make instant center to center connection, but I've not experienced that "next level" ability. Because it is most often a competition or results oriented art, I'm not sure they even want to take things to that level. This is the problem with competition, at a certain level of competence, once you have something working well it's not to common that someone will be willing to give up success for a long period of time to get to that next level -- like we commonly do in aikido. So, anyway, this is way I say it would take a master of both arts to convince me that they are the same.