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Old 01-23-2009, 12:28 PM   #1
Mitchell Rister
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What if I have to use aikido?

I have noticed that many people who study aikido have de-emphasized the importance of training In aikido as a practical self defense. They seem to come up with many reasons why they do so, such as the spiritual and philosophical aspects of aikido are more important. I agree that these issues are an invaluable part of aikido, but I also feel that the practical techniques should be heavily emphasized as part of the aikido journey. I hate to see how aikido has become so heavily criticized as being an ineffective martial art. When I see they way that many people train I can see why there are critics.

If I ever have to use Aikido to protect my family or myself, I want it to work.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:30 PM   #2
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Quote:
Mitchell Rister wrote: View Post
If I ever have to use Aikido to protect my family or myself, I want it to work.
All I can suggest is; if your aikido doesn't work, don't use it!
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Old 01-23-2009, 01:12 PM   #3
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Mitchell Rister wrote: View Post
If I ever have to use Aikido to protect my family or myself, I want it to work.
Well, of course. And if you ever have to use your door locks, or your ability to dial 911, or your simple common sense to protect your family or yourself, I hope those work too.

I think the point that people are making is that a)if you want aikido to work in a self-defense situation, you're going to have to put some real work into your training, and b)if you rely on aikido to save you, but neglect such simple remedies as (for example) not being a butthead and getting into confrontations, it's like grabbing a life vest and then knocking a big hole in the side of your ship.
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Old 01-23-2009, 01:32 PM   #4
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
it's like grabbing a life vest and then knocking a big hole in the side of your ship.
Being a boater, I really like the life vest comment. You are absolutely right - just because you have a defense tool does not mean you need to go looking to use it. Physical conflict is the last thing you want to engage during a confrontation - however, if it is thrust upon you, your conditioned training takes over on a subconscious level, you just do not have time to think about. So the more you train, the more you get conditioned and the better you will be able to handle the unexpected, etc.

Greg
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:45 PM   #5
Mitchell Rister
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Mary,

Thanks for clearing that up for me. As a student of aikido and a boater I realize the importance of wearing a life vest and also not knocking a hole in the side of my boat.

How do you feel when critics say that aikido isn't practical for self-defense? It bothers me when people speak negatively about the art that I have devoted a lot of time to. On the other hand, I have seen some methods of teaching that don’t offer students practical self-defense techniques.

Mitch
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Old 01-23-2009, 03:05 PM   #6
Michael O'Brien
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
it's like grabbing a life vest and then knocking a big hole in the side of your ship.
Although this is a cute analogy I don't think it really applies to what he was saying.

I think the point he was making is more "I'm already in the ship and I want to make sure I have a life vest".

Even if you don't go out looking for trouble, sometimes it still manages to find you and you need to be prepared for that, period.

How you can "know" Aikido is going to work for that is a different question. In our dojo some of our classes are very "practical" Aikido oriented where we look at the more how to make sure you can defend yourself options in techniques.

Also, we have an open mat class with no formal instruction where you can just show up and find a partner and train on whatever you want. Those are good times to get a partner, or two, or three and do some freestyle type stuff. Have them attack with punches, kicks, tanto, etc and see how it goes.

Just my .02 worth.

Mike

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 01-23-2009, 03:24 PM   #7
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

I agree with your line of thinking Mitchell.

I also believe in martial arts being trained as, well, Martial.

However what kind of events are you picturing when you think of defending your family?

Are you picturing a scene where some bad guy comes into your home, and you fend him off using kotegaishi?

If you are looking to unarmed means for "self-defense" you are looking in the wrong place. Not with Aikido per say, but with unarmed martial arts period.

Even one of the great MMA fighters would be ill advised to defend his family using unarmed means of "self-defense". Weapon use swings the odds largely in your favor, which is what you want when your loved ones life is on the line.

Most of the people who critique Aikido as a system that doesn't work in a "self-defense" situation, are people who are confused about what a "self-defense" situation is.

Most have this glorified idea that "self-defense" is some kind of magical system that allows one to richeously defend themselves against armed people who are better at fighting, and bigger then they are. Unfortunately there is no such system.

If you are truly interested in defending yourself and your family you should train in weapons. I personally believe that Aikido is one of the best weapon support systems one can train in.

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Old 01-23-2009, 04:16 PM   #8
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Quote:
Mitchell Rister wrote: View Post
How do you feel when critics say that aikido isn't practical for self-defense? It bothers me when people speak negatively about the art that I have devoted a lot of time to.
Well, there we differ -- personally, I just don't care. I mean, yeah, I care about aikido too, but I just can't care too much about things that don't affect me, like other people's ignorant statements about aikido. Remember that every time you hear such a statement, you're dealing with someone who can't define "practical", can't define "self-defense", and is incapable of constructing a rigorous argument. It's like wrestling with a pig.
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:22 PM   #9
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Greg Steckel wrote: View Post
Physical conflict is the last thing you want to engage during a confrontation - however, if it is thrust upon you, your conditioned training takes over on a subconscious level, you just do not have time to think about.
Or it doesn't. Sometimes people find themselves in situations that they've allegedly trained for, and they freeze. Training isn't always at fault, either -- I've seen people with first aid training who fell apart completely when it got real, while people with identical training did fine. I think a large part of the story is how you approach your training. It's not a matter of fantasizing about the Crack-Crazed Urban Scum -- some people can be in a dojo with nice smooth mats, facing another person wearing funny clothes, and can train with a sense of "realness", while others just don't get to that point. It's not what you're doing, it's how you're doing it.
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Old 01-23-2009, 05:56 PM   #10
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Or it doesn't. Sometimes people find themselves in situations that they've allegedly trained for, and they freeze. Training isn't always at fault, either -- I've seen people with first aid training who fell apart completely when it got real, while people with identical training did fine. I think a large part of the story is how you approach your training. It's not a matter of fantasizing about the Crack-Crazed Urban Scum -- some people can be in a dojo with nice smooth mats, facing another person wearing funny clothes, and can train with a sense of "realness", while others just don't get to that point. It's not what you're doing, it's how you're doing it.
Amen. One of the things I have come to consider fundamentally distinctive about Aikido is its manner of practice as opposed the content of the practice. DTR Aiki is NOT aikido for this very reason, whatever technical commonality in method of physical action there may be.

This is not merely its -do aspect as a means to personal development, (although it is, but so is tea ceremony, which is distinctly un-martial). The point I am considering is in fact VERY martial at the same time as it aims for something larger and deeper as the very means (not merely the ends) of its martial aspect.

I speak of love. Not pink horsies, "magical candy mountain, Charlie" space-cadet love., I mean momma-tiger love. The kind that don't fear nothing and don't back away from nothing neither, and is happy to jump int the face of a threat five times it size without concern. Mother-love, father-love and brother-love -- in its fiercest and most implacable form.

When O Sensei talked about aiki as ai(love)-ki this is what he meant. This is why we do not compete. This is why we do not train in circumstances that provoke fear responses -- because we are forging a very different pathway in the body and the brain.

It would destroy the fundamental motivation we are trying to create to fight competitively or to try to construct "realistic" fear-based scenarios. I am more daring and intrepid in trying to protect my enemy out of love than I am in trying to destroy him out of fear -- but creating a fearful, stressed environment does nothing to produce the goal in mind.

In fearful circumstances both anxiety AND aggression rise. Under oxytocin-modulated threat (protective instinct), aggression rises but anxiety drops, and the oxytocin cascade takes over the control of the adrenal system. And unlike the adrenal cascade which can be exhausted, oxytocin is positive feedback -- the more of it you make the more your body will make -- until you don't need it any more -- it can build and go on like this for hours -- as it does with women in labor-- whereas the adrenaline is short-acting and has negative feedback to progressively reduce its expression as it increases. Oxytocin has effects on contraction of smooth muscles in the trunk and muscular fascia -- increasing core stability and ability to withstand higher loads than without that action. -- Adrenaline does not do that at all. --

Oxytocin is less effective in males than females but still highly effective in maintaining male parental protective aggression and social bonding. -- But this only emphasizes the necessary strictness of our non-competitive training methods -- especially for naturally competitive men - who are more susceptible to fall into adrenal-driven pathways.

Aikido trains in protective aggression, which is psychologically neurologically, and hormonally, less limited and less hesitant in action, and more durable in its ability to maintain that level of aggression, than either fear-based aggression -- or dominance based aggression (which is inherently calculating, and will give out well before either of the other two).

Protective aggression reckons neither cost nor risk before acting, and stops at nothing other than the protection of the subject of its care -- therefore it acts sooner, and more completely, than either fear-aggression or dominance aggression, and will not give up before the others have run their own much shorter biochemical course.

Momma and poppa birds drive away cats and dogs and hawks -- all the time. Nothing frightens a predator more than a snarling, sniping prey without fear or caution because its mate or offspring is behind it. We train to transpose those motivational cues -- to our enemy -- of all things.

Do you know what animal kills more lions than anything else? -- Zebra -- no fangs, no claws -- just a big lovin' family, with attitude to match -- and those sporty stripes.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 01-23-2009, 10:02 PM   #11
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Quote:
Mitchell Rister wrote: View Post
I have noticed that many people who study aikido have de-emphasized the importance of training In aikido as a practical self defense. They seem to come up with many reasons why they do so, such as the spiritual and philosophical aspects of aikido are more important.
I think the cases where there's no balance between the spiritual-philosophical and the martial aspects of aikido some kind of coping appears.
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:56 AM   #12
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

"coping"?

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Old 01-25-2009, 03:53 AM   #13
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

The thing with practices and methodologies such as Aikido is that it reallly covers a spectrum of conflict and violence.

To me, the methodology is about how to deal with conflict skillfully. Conflict comes in many forms, physcial, spiritually, and mentallly. It also can be internal and external.

"self defense" I think comes up alot as it represents what most people perceive should be primarilly what a martial art is about. The external/physical portion of it.

Certainly it is valid and should be addressed as it is a part of the "whole" of the system.

That said, I think we also have to be very careful not to form an over attachment to this aspect in our practice, albeit we push to the back the other aspects of the study of violence and conflict that are, IMO, much, much more important and provide us much, much more opportunities for "use" of the art.

So, when you consider the practice of AIkido has a whole, I think it is a fair conclusion to say "there are better ways/methods to address Self Defense".

We as Aikidoka should actually consider that a compliment and not a shortcoming as hopefully, our practice is about much, much more than that one small aspect of physical and external.

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Old 01-25-2009, 12:10 PM   #14
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
"coping"?
People use coping mechanisms when they they fail to overcome the difficulties they face, in this case the aikido difficulties.

Example A: I can't use aikido waza succesfully in a physical encounter... let's go spiritual.

Example B: I don't understand what O Sensei said in his philosophical writings.... let's break some wrists as in Seagal movies.

Example C: I can't use aikido waza succesfully in physical encounters nor understand O Sensei philosophy... let's dance and sing kumbaya.

And more...
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:19 PM   #15
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Quote:
I speak of love. Not pink horsies, "magical candy mountain, Charlie" space-cadet love., I mean momma-tiger love. The kind that don't fear nothing and don't back away from nothing neither, and is happy to jump int the face of a threat five times it size without concern. Mother-love, father-love and brother-love -- in its fiercest and most implacable form.

When O Sensei talked about aiki as ai(love)-ki this is what he meant. This is why we do not compete. This is why we do not train in circumstances that provoke fear responses -- because we are forging a very different pathway in the body and the brain.
-

For a long time I've had this thought, that there may be a way of expressing the love in Aikido as "extreme love",
in contrast to the term "extreme prejudice", an expression often heard in movies, since I am not a military person, I do not know if this is a correct military term.
If it is, then maybe "extreme love" could be what we are aiming for !
A love of action so to speak.
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Old 01-25-2009, 01:37 PM   #16
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Never heard the term "extreme prejudice" in the military. In fact, that kind of talk would actually get you in a great deal of trouble more than likely. Rules of War, Law of Armed Conflict, and Geneva Conventions are pretty clear about what is allowed and not allowed.

Militarily speaking, we try to keep emotion out of our military objectives, and simply do what we need to do within the constraints of the rules to accomplish our mission.

When you start injecting words like love and prejudice into the equation, you are getting into an area that is very dangerous ground militarily speaking.

Sure on an individual basis, people are motivated to act for many different reasons, but on a collective level and decision making, action level...it really needs to be void of all that I believe.

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Old 01-25-2009, 03:20 PM   #17
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
People use coping mechanisms when they they fail to overcome the difficulties they face, in this case the aikido difficulties.
That's an interesting article you link to. I'm sure, although that definition of "coping mechanism" may be new to some of us, we've all seen those kind of behaviors in action. Still, I note that your examples are all negative, forms of avoidance or denial, while the article you cite also includes positive ways of coping. Why not cite them as well?
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Old 01-25-2009, 04:29 PM   #18
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
That's an interesting article you link to. I'm sure, although that definition of "coping mechanism" may be new to some of us, we've all seen those kind of behaviors in action. Still, I note that your examples are all negative, forms of avoidance or denial, while the article you cite also includes positive ways of coping. Why not cite them as well?
Positive or negative ways of coping...fake dichotomy. Find the balance between martial and spiritual, no need more coping mechanisms.
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:13 PM   #19
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Positive or negative ways of coping...fake dichotomy. Find the balance between martial and spiritual, no need more coping mechanisms.
Expand on this thought, if you would. In practical and specific terms, what does handling the situations such as you describe without "coping mechanisms" look like?
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:18 PM   #20
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Expand on this thought, if you would. In practical and specific terms, what does handling the situations such as you describe without "coping mechanisms" look like?
I don't know people who have managed to find perfect balance between both the spiritual and the martial sides of aikido (so they don't need coping mechanisms to deal with their failure at one or other aspects of the way ) look like. Never meet one of these. Maybe O sensei was the first and the last.
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:47 PM   #21
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
I don't know people who have managed to find perfect balance between both the spiritual and the martial sides of aikido (so they don't need coping mechanisms to deal with their failure at one or other aspects of the way ) look like. Never meet one of these. Maybe O sensei was the first and the last.
So, all of us put-our-pants-on-one-leg-at-a-time human beings use these "coping mechanisms"? Then my original question -- why do you only cite negative examples of "coping mechanisms" -- is perfectly valid, and not a false dichotomy at all (because, ya did, blanche).
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:16 PM   #22
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
So, all of us put-our-pants-on-one-leg-at-a-time human beings use these "coping mechanisms"?
Probably

Quote:
Then my original question -- why do you only cite negative examples of "coping mechanisms" -- is perfectly valid, and not a false dichotomy at all (because, ya did, blanche).
The false dichotomy is in the negative coping mechanisms vs positive coping mechanisms. Doesn't matter which ones one use, they are still coping mechanisms and don't adress the issue, be it the failure in the martial side of aikido, the failure at the spiritual side of aikido or, more important imo, the failure at balancing both aspects.
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:38 PM   #23
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Militarily speaking, we try to keep emotion out of our military objectives, and simply do what we need to do within the constraints of the rules to accomplish our mission.

When you start injecting words like love and prejudice into the equation, you are getting into an area that is very dangerous ground militarily speaking.
... and yet, I dare say, nearly every Medal of Honor awardee acted not from a rational sense of the "constraints of the rules to accomplish the mission." By definition they went way, way, above and beyond those rules -- as an act of supreme love -- and we rightly laud them in that manner as the highest achievement of martial spirit.

Some worthy reading: http://www.history.army.mil/moh.html

As only a recent example, pulled at random, I quote the award citation in full because he is utterly deserving of a complete recounting:
Quote:
*DUNHAM, JASON L.

Rank and Organization: Corporal, United States Marine Corps
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham's squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander's convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Always faithful.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:36 PM   #24
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

Quote:
Mitchell Rister wrote: View Post
If I ever have to use Aikido to protect my family or myself, I want it to work.
As an expecting father, I hear ya loud and clear! What do you do to test your training? Or what kind of evidence do you have one way or the other about how well you're training?

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:17 AM   #25
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Re: What if I have to use aikido?

We have a saying...

It only works if you work it.

Doubt is one thing... It's good to question the practical side of Aikido's Martial effectiveness. Keeps an Aikidoka humble and open minded...But if you don't believe that Aikido will serve you or conversly you can't get past other's "doubts" about Aikido it may be time for you to go find something else to do.

If it's Practical Self Defense you're looking for May I suggest a good semi-auto pistol and lots of range time with a few combat pistol shooting courses thrown in for good measure.

William Hazen
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