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Old 07-01-2008, 09:40 AM   #26
Timothy WK
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
I'd dispute that, I'd say kendo is a sport.
Now you're just arguing about labels, which isn't going to go anywhere. Besides, certain branches of aikido engage in (IMO) martially unsound tactics, at least for training purposes. Does that mean they are no longer practicing a "martial art"? Where do you draw the line? And if it's acceptable to practice martially unsound tactics for various training purposes, what purpose does such a distinction serve?

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 07-01-2008, 10:58 AM   #27
Keith Larman
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
When I studied jodo, it was quite clearly not for self-defense. When people came by the dojo and expressed an interest, Sensei always explained to them that as they were very unlikely to be attacked by someone wielding a sword, there were no modern self-defense applications of what we were learning. Then he made them sit and watch an entire three-hour class Sure did weed out those with only a casual interest.
Interestingly enough I remember a high ranking sensei saying something similar about all martial arts when I first started. His point was that the study of martial arts is for the most part a lifetime study. And the reality is that most in the modern world will never get engaged into a full-on drag out physical fight. So given the years and years of practice you're going to invest you should probably realize that there needs to me more reasons for study than just self-defense... Otherwise if you never get into a fight you may have wasted a major portion of your life...

Or as he said that day, if you're really interested in protecting yourself buy a good gun and learn how to use it at a safe distance. Much faster.

Of course there was a deeper meaning there (I agreed completely, have not been in a full-on fight since I started, but I still practice), but I always remember than comment when talking with someone with the overwhelming laser like focus on "effectiveness in a fight".

Everyone trains for their own reasons. But my focus is usually on something else one of my sensei said early on -- it doesn't matter how aiki it is if it doesn't work. For me a larger context (of many) *is* learning to defend myself. I get a lot more than that out of my practice, of course, but at the end of the day I still want it to "work".

But I've certainly met and trained with people who either don't care if it works or are deluded into thinking the things they do in fact would work. Shrug. Not my problem. I'm sure they're getting what they need out of it. It just isn't what I need...

So with respect to the original point of a sensei saying aikido isn't for self-defense... Whatever floats your boat. I find it interesting that people get so wound up about why or how *other* people train or what they think. I just worry about what I do and why... That takes more mental energy than I want to expend just figuring that out...

Listen, smile, shrug, then practice.

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Old 07-01-2008, 02:03 PM   #28
Ketsan
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

[quote=Dan Harden;210079]

As for sport having no value in a martial context, I will personally lay money down on Greco Roman wrestlers of my choosing up against any shihan you care to have step forward.
QUOTE]

I don't know much about shihan, I've only trained with one. But I can think of several less illustrious Aikidoka that I'd put money on. Of course, saying this I'm working on the assumption that wrestlers operate pretty much as judoka do.

A couple of years back a certain pair of enterprising Aikidoka decided to try their hand at Judo. The results were mixed. The judoka found it very hard to throw the Aikidoka or even to break their posture. The Aikidoka also found it hard to throw their opponents, until purely on reflex one of the Aikidoka did what he was trained to do and punched his opponent in the face, after that the throw was effortless.
Fortunately the Judoka were understanding, appologies were made and it didn't happen again.
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Old 07-01-2008, 06:33 PM   #29
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Dan Harden wrote:

Quote:
we don kendo armor and go at it with Shinai, using Koryu trained methods. Were more people in Koryu to do so (and yes some do) they would learn certain inexorable truths.
Absolutely! It is why you have the same experiences with Greco-Roman guys too. They train with a certain amount of rigor and intent (Aliveness).

Keeping in mind the training affects, as you mention make these very good models to learn from.

It is why I always try and get with a Greco Roman guy when I can. It is why I am studying Judo now as well.

If you understand the context of their strategy and how the rules affect what you do, there are very good lessons to learn and habits to build.

Aikido is no different, IMO. You have to understand what it is that you are learning and how it applies to what you are doing.

All kinestetic practices or methodolgies work this way.

Unfortunately, many don't realize this and they project or extrapolate their own ideas, desires, and hopes into the process and it mucks to all up.

Again, if what you are doing is about fighitng and breaking things down on a tactical level, training amazingly all starts to look the same and less stylistically about style. It is why Kit can be on the other side of the country and study Arrestling with the police, and I can study Army Combatives, and we can be on the exact same wave length, albeit maybe some differences based on perspective due to rules of engagement.

It is also why I can walk into a BJJ dojo in Romania, never have trained with the guys and we can immediately establish rapport and common training.

Same with Judo.

I cannot say the same thing with aikido necesarily. It is many times harder to go to different schools and different styles and work with them. Sometimes we have a different perspective or do things pretty drastically different. Why is this?

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Old 07-01-2008, 07:35 PM   #30
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

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I cannot say the same thing with aikido necessarily. It is many times harder to go to different schools and different styles and work with them. Sometimes we have a different perspective or do things pretty drastically different. Why is this?
Very True but then you have guys like Stan Pranin whose Aikido Expos showed how much the different flavors of Aikido had in common and celebrated this diversity by treating everyone with respect when it came to demonstration and practice.

At his last Expo in 95 I met several folks that post here... including Ellis Amdur, Toby Threadgill, and George Ledyard.

I sure wish we could do a few more of those... Just imagine getting everyone together to demonstrate what they know... teach/share it and break bread in the spirit of Aikido.

William Hazen

Last edited by Aikibu : 07-01-2008 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:58 PM   #31
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Sorry I meant the Aikido Expo in 2005

William Hazen
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:03 PM   #32
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

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Kendo is a martial art that is not for self defense.
Good point. While I tend to think of Kendo as sport, I suppose "Martial Art" refers more to the tradition from which it came than how it is applied today. Still, I think the unifying theme among all martial arts is centered around self-protection, even if the particular means are highly situation specific. By definition, all martial arts are born from the various issues which result from conflict and its various forms, aren't they...even if semantically we use the phrase loosely?

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Old 07-01-2008, 08:07 PM   #33
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

William, I understand from that perspective, most definitley.

Certainly we can find commonality in just about every case and it is always good to celebrate and share our different perspectives. I think that is indeed a big part of what Aikido is and should be about.

My comments are addressed more specifically to the whole "martial" thing.

It really begs the question asked in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance..."how do you define quality?"

I think this is the essence of the issue when dealing with budo that has been adapted from martial systems.

Systems that focus on core fighitng understand what the definition of "quality" from a martial perspective. They have the exact same definition, even if they have never seen or talked to each other.

It is when we start applying rules, ethics, religion, and philosophy to it that the definition of quality starts to change.

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Old 07-01-2008, 08:40 PM   #34
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Re: Kendo
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Don Magee wrote: View Post
Until you look at it from a stick fighting point of view. Then it becomes much more relevant.
I almost said this word for word, but insecurity got the best of me I guess. I'm glad you said it though because I think it illustrates an important aspect of self defense most people (perhaps?) miss. Self defense as I see it is a matter of whatever you have on hand (ie- your mind; your body; your environment) and how creatively you can make it work to your advantage/goals. I'm always a little flummoxed at some of the stuff i hear people say is and isn't for "self defense." If all I have is a spork (you know, those little plastic fork-spoons...er...spoon-forks), I'm going to try and find a way to make it help me.
Now that I've got that out of the way...
Anyone want to take up Matt-ryu Spork Fu? You'll never have to give up your dessert in a cafeteria again!

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Old 07-01-2008, 10:49 PM   #35
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Matt, good points.

There is another element to having stuff on hand. You have to practice using it.

We have done a ton of reviews in the army of hand to hand engagements where people had knives on them but failed to use them because the either forgot or did not have the skill to use them. Same goes with sticks and whatever else. Under pressure you tend to gravitate to the habits you form and the level of your training.

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Old 07-02-2008, 06:08 AM   #36
Ketsan
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
Now you're just arguing about labels, which isn't going to go anywhere. Besides, certain branches of aikido engage in (IMO) martially unsound tactics, at least for training purposes. Does that mean they are no longer practicing a "martial art"? Where do you draw the line? And if it's acceptable to practice martially unsound tactics for various training purposes, what purpose does such a distinction serve?
Off the top of my head I came up with this........

If there is training value to the unsound tactics intended to produce some martial benefit and they're clear about this (i.e. they know what they're doing and why and explain it to their students) then they are practicing a martial art.

If they're unaware that they're teaching rubbish but their intentions are right I'd say they're teaching a martial art, providing they're working against a reasonable range of self defence senarios.
So if they're practing unsound tactics originally intended to produce some kind of benefit but aren't aware of the nature of what they're teaching then they're in a grey area and it would depend on how usefull the training was as a whole wheather you defined it as a martial art or not.

If they know full well that what they teach is nonsence, from a self defence point of view, or don't care then they're not practicing a martial art.

Now then about the tactics themselves. We in our dojo regard ourselves as very martial BUT we do some seemingly daft things. However, we also say or rather Sensei will say "This is exercise to develop................" and it is IMO important to make the distinction for two reasons:

1. So that students don't accidently do anything stupid through ignorance in a real situation.

2. To make sure that the knowledge of the dojo is preserved and passed on in a complete way.
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Old 07-02-2008, 06:16 AM   #37
Enrique Antonio Reyes
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Lightbulb Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
As for sport having no value in a martial context, I will personally lay money down on Greco Roman wrestlers of my choosing up against any shihan you care to have step forward.
.
I agree that betting on the Greco Roman Wrestlers would yield the best return. However, I believe that these wrestlers have long established their martial art effectiveness. Wrestlers dominated the early stages of mixed martial arts after bjj and still we find a lot of them making huge waves in that sport.

Last edited by Enrique Antonio Reyes : 07-02-2008 at 06:22 AM. Reason: spell check
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Old 07-02-2008, 06:21 AM   #38
Enrique Antonio Reyes
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post

So with respect to the original point of a sensei saying aikido isn't for self-defense... Whatever floats your boat. I find it interesting that people get so wound up about why or how *other* people train or what they think. I just worry about what I do and why... That takes more mental energy than I want to expend just figuring that out...

Listen, smile, shrug, then practice.
Good point. Even better suggestion.
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:22 AM   #39
Timothy WK
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

The ultimate answer is that some people will view their Aikido as martial, and will (hopefully) train accordingly. Others won't, and will focus on different aspects in their training. It's a personal thing, pure and simple.

That said, here are some points to consider:

1. Look at Toby Threadgill's articles on psycho-chemical stress, or PCS (here & here). Also look at Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's books "On Combat" and "On Killing". As we look at the psychological and physiological effects of violent encounters on the individual, can we actually say most dojo's are preparing the student to fight? Toby seems to argue that psychological & physiological readiness is just as important, if not more important, than tactical readiness. How does that fact, if true, effect the debate?

2. My own argument is that the specific topic of "self-defense" is distinct from the larger topic of "combat". My own belief is that "self-defense" involves a lot of "non-combat" issues, like conflict resolution and crime prevention. If you accept this argument, then it's perfectly reasonable that certain martial/combat arts (like iaido/kenjutsu, jodo, etc) don't actually teach self-defense... Though I can't say that the teacher of the original poster had this distinction in mind.

3. I will also point people towards the article "Off the Warpath", by respected scholar and martial artist Karl Friday (here's an excerpt and some discussion of it). In it, Karl argues that preparing individuals for the practicalities of combat was never the primary goal of martial ryu-ha. (Somewhere in there it was pointed out that there existed a parallel "school system" for teaching the common soldier combat practical techniques---but I can't find what it was called right now...) Rather, Karl argues that the (ko)ryu-ha were always meant as a vehicle for self-improvement and enlightenment. So while that's a somewhat separate issue from whether or not Aikido is "meant for self-defense", this fact must be kept in mind as we try to define what is or isn't a "martial art".

Last edited by Timothy WK : 07-02-2008 at 09:29 AM.

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 07-02-2008, 09:39 AM   #40
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
The ultimate answer is that some people will view their Aikido as martial, and will (hopefully) train accordingly. Others won't, and will focus on different aspects in their training. It's a personal thing, pure and simple.

That said, here are some points to consider:

1. Look at Toby Threadgill's articles on psycho-chemical stress, or PCS (here & here). Also look at Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's books "On Combat" and "On Killing". As we look at the psychological and physiological effects of violent encounters on the individual, can we actually say most dojo's are preparing the student to fight? Toby seems to argue that psychological & physiological readiness is just as important, if not more important, than tactical readiness. How does that fact, if true, effect the debate?
Well as a personal side note. I was mentally never prepared to fight by any of my training previous to starting a combat sport. I 'thought' I was ready, but my first taste quickly showed me how mentally unprepared I was for the realities of fighting. I think contact sports in general and most defiantly combat sports help build the mental skills needed to be prepared for a fight of any kind. To further that, the confidence built by combat sports (although sometimes backfires) usually gives you the presence required to stave off most 'attackers'. Most people who want to fight or rob you are usually looking for weak victims. That confidence and awareness will go a long way to stopping them.
Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
2. My own argument is that the specific topic of "self-defense" is distinct from the larger topic of "combat". My own belief is that "self-defense" involves a lot of "non-combat" issues, like conflict resolution and crime prevention. If you accept this argument, then it's perfectly reasonable that certain martial/combat arts (like iaido/kenjutsu, jodo, etc) don't actually teach self-defense... Though I can't say that the teacher of the original poster had this distinction in mind.
I would submit that most of this is just self confidence, awareness and common sense. These skills (except common sense, you can't teach that) are gained in any sport, marital or not. I do not need martial arts to know when I'm a bad area, I need common sense.
Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
3. I will also point people towards the article "Off the Warpath", by respected scholar and martial artist Karl Friday (and some discussion of it over at E-Budo). In it, Karl argues that preparing individuals for the practicalities of combat was never the primary goal of martial ryu-ha... Somewhere in there it was pointed out that there existed a parallel "school system" for teaching the common soldier combat practical techniques---but I can't find what it was called right now... Rather, Karl argues that the (ko)ryu-ha were always meant as a vehicle for self-improvement. So while that's a somewhat seaerate issue from whether or not Aikido is "meant for self-defense", this fact must be kept in mind as we try to define what is or isn't a "martial art".
I think you can break it even further. You have teaching for combat, teaching for fighting, and teaching for self/mutual development. For example, very few martial arts actually address combat. Sure they teach a knife defense, or weapon disarms, but this is not combat. If they taught a phalanx, or squad based tactics, maybe even hwo to break a line of spearmen, that would be combat. Instead they are teaching fighting, be it one on one, or one on multiple, weapons or not. Some arts do not claim to teach either. Judo's main purpose is stated as developing mutual benefit and welfare. It is a system of teaching people how to learn. It just happens to impart some very useful fighting skills.

- Don
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:14 PM   #41
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

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Matt, good points.

There is another element to having stuff on hand. You have to practice using it.

We have done a ton of reviews in the army of hand to hand engagements where people had knives on them but failed to use them because the either forgot or did not have the skill to use them. Same goes with sticks and whatever else. Under pressure you tend to gravitate to the habits you form and the level of your training.
Well said. I think the best approach is generally to get your hands on a wide variety of things and play around with them, whether it's on the mat or playing a sport, or whatever. My own personal aims are to pick things that seem to translate well or to at least try and see how I can translate a skill set into new contexts. Because we can't foresee everything that's coming down the pike I think this idea of translatability is paramount to self defense.
I bet those can be fascinating reviews to make. Do you know if there are any public versions available?

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Old 07-02-2008, 01:50 PM   #42
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

I really have no comment on the various arguments of technical efficacy that various posters have made, beyond saying that I think technical efficacy is a good thing.

What I can say--clearly, unequivocally,and with no concern regarding contradiction-- is that Terry Dobson was insistent that aikido is not an art for self defense. It is not intended as a "goshinjutsu." Terry was insistent that aikido is an art of protection, and that precise point was forcefully and repeatedly made in the last classes that he gave at Bond Street Dojo.

When teachers know that their time is short, they generally cut to the pith; if the particular pith laid out above is a problem for you, then I would suggest that there are a couple of possiblities:

1) maybe all you're interested in is goshinjutsu, in which case you're in the wrong place.

2) maybe your interest in goshinjutsu is merely a minor aspect of a larger concern, in which case you're in exactly the right place, but you need to engage with your larger concern as much as you're engaging with its minor aspect.

Best,

FL
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Old 07-02-2008, 01:50 PM   #43
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

I'm a lot better teacher then I am a fighter. I see it in the guys that I teach. I know I'll never be a great fighter, I am just not built for it. I can however learn what it takes to be a great fighter and do my best to be as close to that as possible. Then hopefully show others how to be a great fighter.

I think it is because I am willing to try new things and adapt to the situation I am presented. I do not feel tied into the method if you will. I just do what I feel will help each person learn and develop skill the fastest.

- Don
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:48 PM   #44
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Quote:
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2) maybe your interest in goshinjutsu is merely a minor aspect of a larger concern, in which case you're in exactly the right place, but you need to engage with your larger concern as much as you're engaging with its minor aspect.
FL
Thanks, Fred. This put the topic in a nice perspective for me. I think i tend to assume people mean no self defense when they describe Aikido as not being for self defense.
What little I've read of Dobson's comments on Aikido have always struck a chord in me.

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Old 07-02-2008, 05:17 PM   #45
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Timothy,

Good stuff in your post. I agree with your comments in post #47.

Don, as usual, I too agree with your comments.

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Old 07-06-2008, 05:27 PM   #46
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

I love this topic because it is pretty much omnipresent in all discussions and addresses the paradoxical nature of the popular understanding of Aikido; as well as many other endeavors, martial or not.

I also love it because there is no answer. Not really. The term "ineffable" I believe was developed for things of this nature.

But that of course ought not to disuade folks from discussion because it is the discussion which joins solitary inquiries together to form community in the quest of...mystery?

Anyway, I think it's a good thing.

I've only trained in the aikido world for five years. Just long enough now to kind of start getting it on a personal level but more than long enough to observe the many who have come before me. This of course has greatly enhanced my understanding of aikido gained from personal training.

For instance a few years back I was at a seminar with Anno sensei. I saw him respond to a bokken strike of great speed with a minimum of five atemis with a jo during the time it took for the attacker's bokken to swing down in its shomen strike.

I was blown away. I couldn't understand how Anno sensei could do all that in such a short period of time. Even more amazing was the fact that I could see it happen. It kind of freaked me out. Maybe I felt a little like Carlos Casteneda felt when he described seeing Don Genaro or Don Juan fly for the first time.

Now, maybe three years later and thousands more shomen strikes experienced in my training I am beginning to understand not what Anno sensei did but rather something which pertains solely to my own perception.

Time is slow. There is alot of time between time. On occasion, maybe when I'm real conciously connected to Ki - I don't know - I can see that shomen strike coming at me and I realize, wow there is a lot of space in here for me to hang out and do my thing. I can practically read a novel before I need to get out of the way of that strike.

When I feel like I want to analyze this - which is often - I sometimes think I might realize what OSensei meant by an attacker losing the moment the attack begins for if we are all one than one cannot fight oneself. And its physical application is simply that the attacker, with their strike, opens up an incredible window of time for nage to respond.

Now I could go off on a big time tangent here but I won't. I stop now to say simply yes, I believe aikido to be very martial.

I've been fortunate in my training to have seen and trained with many fabulous aikidoists. Some of these folks are literally unattackable. They're like slippery eels being chased by molasses dipped turtles. Ok...that's kind of a weird image.

Moving on...unattackable. Yes, of course one may attack but they cannot be successful. They just can't. There are too many gaping holes in their concept of time.

So yeah...to me that's about as martial as it gets. Well....not really. Then there is the ability to transmit this information to the attacker before they attack which of course negates the very idea of an attack. I've seen that too. Yep. That's about as martial as I've yet seen.

The whole idea of martial arts in the three dimensional physical sense I believe is somewhat false and very limiting. The universe is big. Much bigger than a shomen strike and maybe, just maybe it's even bigger than a kokyu response. Though if it's not, I'm ok with that because the kokyu will keep me busy for as long as I live.

Last edited by Dan O'Day : 07-06-2008 at 05:29 PM. Reason: grammatical errors
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Old 07-06-2008, 07:03 PM   #47
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
If all I have is a spork (you know, those little plastic fork-spoons...er...spoon-forks), I'm going to try and find a way to make it help me.
Now that I've got that out of the way...
Anyone want to take up Matt-ryu Spork Fu? You'll never have to give up your dessert in a cafeteria again!
Even if someone say's "Fork You"!
........step away from the keyboard and no one gets hurt.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 07-06-2008, 09:39 PM   #48
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

I think .... therefore I am deluded. Wait a minute, that's not what I meant to say!?! No, instead, arts that limit themselves more are clearly going to retain more group focus than those that express philosophies that are more general and can be interpreted wildly^W widely.

A "do" is clearly more general than a "jutsu" in a social sense; and one such as Aikido has been expanded in application by virtue of its possible philosophical interpretations by anyone far more than, say, Kendo. I would say though that in Japan all of the "do" which I have seen emphasize to a fairly equal degree the amount of social education, whether it be tea ceremony, Aikido or some other "do" which is found and practiced much like a club activity.

The application of the practice is geared specifically towards society. By isolating the dojo practice from real-world (martial) situations and stylizing it in some way (no matter what the practical rationale may have been), suitable (in the eyes of the seniors) behaviour can be inculcated, and the success of behaving in the expected manner translates into respect, rank, and status in the club or "do", which is then transferred out of the dojo boundaries into the society at large (I hesitate to say "real world" since it is the national or even more local society that is meant here).

An illustration of this might be (poor in my eyes but it happens a lot) that people you meet in sushi restaurants, bars and the like can introduce themselves as being (as happened again just last night) kendo teachers and then carry on about the beauty of the nihon-to, meander on through various aspects of Japanese culture, and generally portray themselves as upstanding members of society. Just as they might state that they are university professors, or some other public or semi-public servant. The implication is that they are involved in some task for the social good.
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Old 07-06-2008, 10:08 PM   #49
boyana
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

I live most of the time i n Port Morseby-PNG.
I am alive and well.What do you think ?
My answer is both!

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Old 07-07-2008, 12:51 AM   #50
Aikibu
Dojo: West Wind Dojo Santa Monica California
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Re: Aikido is a Martial Art and not for self-defense???

Quote:
Boyana Stone Levy wrote: View Post
I live most of the time i n Port Morseby-PNG.
I am alive and well.What do you think ?
My answer is both!
Great Answer and the only correct one!

William Hazen
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