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Old 03-10-2008, 04:44 PM   #1
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Aikido without self-defense

I wonder, if you completely exclude the self-defense aspect of your aikido training, if you forget about it completely - will it still be meaningful to you?

In other words: Do you practice aikido in order to learn self-defense, or is that just part of the deal?

Myself, increasingly by each year, I tend to find that I practice aikido for what takes place inside the dojo - not outside of it. The dojo is sort of a budo world that might or might not have baring to the outside world - but whatever the case, I would be quite happy practicing aikido solely for learning how to deal with it in the dojo.

What about you?

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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Old 03-10-2008, 05:29 PM   #2
Cephallus
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

In all honesty, something like Krav Maga would be a much better choice for someone interested primarily in self-defense. A friend of mine studied it for under a year in Los Angeles and he would be a formidable opponent for any attacker. What he learned, however, is exactly the opposite of what Aikido teaches; he was taught to react with pure, brutal, agressive, animal response to a threat. He was taught to act, not think, and to maim or kill his opponent in the quickest possible way. They reinforced techniques like eye-gouging, strikes to the vital areas, joint breaks, etc.

I'm studying Aikido for the exact opposite of self-defense; I'm studying it as a way to gain control of myself, so that my actions when faced with a threat are appropriate in the context of being an adult human being living in a relatively civilized society. I'm also studying it for the health benefits of increased flexibility, agility, coordination, mental acuity, and stress relief.

Ha, so in short, my answer is yes: aikido is meaningful to me despite the aspect of self-defense, not because of it...
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:35 PM   #3
Aristeia
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

I think at heart, very few long term martial artists are in it for the self defence.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:13 PM   #4
eyrie
 
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

There's a huge difference between self-defence, self-preservation and survival - and the nexus between simply "standing up for yourself" and pure animal instinct.

Whether Aikido neatly fits into any of the above definitions is open to interpretation... My feeling is that it *can* be self-defense at one end and self-actualization at the other, and everything else in between.

Ignatius
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:31 PM   #5
JW
 
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

For me, I feel like aikido is an art, in which the medium of the art is martial, physical interaction. I imagine that my uke is trying to kill or hurt me, and imagine myself as surviving that interaction. I feel like training without that spirit would be like studying music by looking at scores only-- it is interesting, but the real magic of music is the feelings you get from hearing it. The feelings of danger and survival are part of the "good stuff" for me, in aikido. Even though I am not thinking at all about outside the dojo, I treat my training like it is a matter of self defense, on the mat. (Usually I die a hundred times every class..)
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:45 PM   #6
DonMagee
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

I have had many goals in my life that I tried to fill with martial arts

first was self defense only, that gave way to fitness and self defense, that gave way to realism, testability, and self defense, that gave way to competition and self defense, and eventually that all gave way to having fun.

I do not concern myself with self defense anymore. I do not concern myself with winning or losing, or what some black belt might think of me. I do not care about budo, culture, kata, fighting, the street. I only care that I am having a good time. For me a good time is learning something I can apply in a direct test against another person under a predefined rule set. Fun is attempting to reconcile stylized techniques with modern combat sports. Fun is getting tapped out by that 16 year old kid who left for the winter to go to a wrestling camp and came back bigger, stronger, faster and better then he was. Fun is finally landing that technique you watched on youtube in a sparing match against someone of equal skill. Fun is having your hand raised after a grueling tiresome match. Fun is losing the very next match and giving your opponent that well deserved handshake and knowing you gave everything you had. Fun is that warm sensation you feel after getting a nice tap on the face by a glove. Fun is knowing that your sparing partner has you so outclassed you are actually lost on the mat, yet trying everything you know how to do just to keep yourself from getting tapped. Fun is when that one setup finally clicks and that catches that same guy who says "Wow, your getting good!". Fun is watching the people who come after you go from hero worship to finding their own path and realizing you have as much to learn as they do. Fun is realizing the only thing that separates you from those who came before you is just time and determination.

Fun is the confidence I have in myself and what I know I can, and more importantly can't, do.

Self defense? Eh, if I'm attacked, I am prepared to fight. I am prepared to survive. That may of been something I set out to do once, but that was not how it was achieved. Self defense for me is just a side effect of having fun. When fun pulls me to something else, then martial arts will fall to the wayside.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:50 PM   #7
Ketsan
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
I wonder, if you completely exclude the self-defense aspect of your aikido training, if you forget about it completely - will it still be meaningful to you?

In other words: Do you practice aikido in order to learn self-defense, or is that just part of the deal?

Myself, increasingly by each year, I tend to find that I practice aikido for what takes place inside the dojo - not outside of it. The dojo is sort of a budo world that might or might not have baring to the outside world - but whatever the case, I would be quite happy practicing aikido solely for learning how to deal with it in the dojo.

What about you?
Aikido without the self defence seems to be to be a bit of a simulacrum to me. For me the central focus of all martial arts is the mindset of being in a confrontation because the confrontation, like a cruicible, is the thing that strips you off all irrelevance and contrivances. The struggle then is to maintain that mindset in every day life, which is why we train.
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:23 PM   #8
Kaze0180
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

In business the mission of the company is most important. The system it has and the people in it are second and can change or have new form to it. Aikido is the same, it's mission is the most important; and that is the way of harmony/peace. What we do to achieve this mission can change and we'd still get the mission done. Religion, art, family, nature, can give you the same results.

To put it in philosophical terms, harmony/peace is the cup holding the water that is Aikido. At anytime we can dump the cup out and refill it with more water or even something else besides water....but we still have our cup and whatever is in it will quench our thirst.

-Alexander
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Old 03-11-2008, 04:55 AM   #9
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
I wonder, if you completely exclude the self-defense aspect of your aikido training, if you forget about it completely - will it still be meaningful to you?

In other words: Do you practice aikido in order to learn self-defense, or is that just part of the deal?
I never thought of self-defense as a goal of aikido.

When I started karate as a young boy, I did so for self-defense purpose, but after 6 years of training, I was mostly convinced, that it was more a kind of self-deception, although I still believe I was not a bad fighter.

In my first aikido lesson, I was told, aikido is an effective self defense system, but it might take twelve years to manage it well enough to defense oneself.

So I did aikido mostly for fun and fun it was, even if I tried to learn honestly. Nevertheless due to career and family issues I trained too seldom and too much like Japanese dancing to advance really near to any self defense ideas, when I was in critical situations, I mostly stayed confident due to my former karate skills. Only for four years now I do train twice to three times a week and with clear self defense ideas in mind in order to improve my technique, but more as a tool than as a goal.

I would never blame anyone to study aikido just for fitness and good partner work, and if I get such a trainings partner, I enjoy the easy dance-like movements. But for myself I also need the fighting aspects. Not primarily to learn fighting, but to learn, how to react properly in stress situations. That is real life and aikido as fighting art is in this case a model for life, probably a de-escalating tit-for-tat-strategy.

Just my 2 cts

Dirk
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Old 03-11-2008, 06:00 AM   #10
lbb
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

I have this really great snow shovel. It's got an ergonomic crank shaft, a nice big scoop-shaped blade, a comfortable handle. It's very good at what it's designed to do. The only thing is, it's designed to do one thing -- shovel snow. You couldn't use it to shovel dirt or turn over a garden or edge a lawn, any of the things that you could use a different type of shovel or spade for. It isn't even good for shoveling all kinds of snow -- get a foot and a half with rain on top and freezing rain on top of that, and it isn't going to work very well at all.

I'd say that 99.9% of people who study a martial art for "self-defense" have not only got the cart ahead of the horse, they don't even know where they're going. It's an ill-defined problem that isn't even really a problem for most people. If I ever feel the need for "self-defense", you can be sure that I'll get a good understanding of the specific problem -- what am I defending against, why is this person attacking me, etc. -- and choose the right tool for the job. I'll get a solution (which quite likely won't rely heavily on physical force) that's as well-suited for the problem as my snow shovel is suited for the task of shoveling snow.
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Old 03-11-2008, 07:10 AM   #11
Amir Krause
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

I, like most other vetran students I know (and unlike many beginners), no longer practice for S.D.

Still I agree :
Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
For me, I feel like aikido is an art, in which the medium of the art is martial, physical interaction. I imagine that my uke is trying to kill or hurt me, and imagine myself as surviving that interaction. I feel like training without that spirit would be like studying music by looking at scores only-- it is interesting, but the real magic of music is the feelings you get from hearing it. The feelings of danger and survival are part of the "good stuff" for me, in aikido. Even though I am not thinking at all about outside the dojo, I treat my training like it is a matter of self defense, on the mat. (Usually I die a hundred times every class..)
Aikido will not be Aikido without the the martial \ practical \ S.D. aspect. This is the mirror for ones performance. Aikido without this aspect is like drawing without canvas\paper. The core of Aikido is a way of dealing with phisical conflicts and S.D. in a certain way - aiki.
You can meditate, or practice break-falls and moving around someone in a dance. Without the S.D. concept, with intent, it would not be Aikido.

Amir
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Old 03-11-2008, 07:35 AM   #12
lbb
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Amir Krause wrote: View Post
You can meditate, or practice break-falls and moving around someone in a dance. Without the S.D. concept, with intent, it would not be Aikido.

Amir
But what is "self-defense", Amir? What are you defending against?

I think you're using the term in a way that it isn't typically used by people who say that "self-defense" is why they train. You're saying that you train with an awareness that the skills you're learning are fundamentally fighting skills, not decoration or dancing. I'm all good with that, and that's how I train too. That, however, has little to nothing with the goals and desires of the typical person who says they train for "self-defense".
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Old 03-11-2008, 08:38 AM   #13
Amir Krause
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
But what is "self-defense", Amir? What are you defending against?

I think you're using the term in a way that it isn't typically used by people who say that "self-defense" is why they train. You're saying that you train with an awareness that the skills you're learning are fundamentally fighting skills, not decoration or dancing. I'm all good with that, and that's how I train too. That, however, has little to nothing with the goals and desires of the typical person who says they train for "self-defense".
As I wrote, I do not practice for S.D. abilities, not anymore. However, dring practice, I keep my focus on the fighting aspect, or S.D. aspect.

Amir
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Old 03-11-2008, 09:12 AM   #14
Marc Abrams
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Stephan:

The idea of self-defense has as an underlying assumption of another entity threatening you so that there is a need to defend some aspect of your being.

In my Aikido training, the connection with the other person is the first part of process (Ai). In truly making that connection, I am having to engage in a necessary paradigm shift. The beginning point is the other person and myself. The shift occurs when the connection results in "us." At that point in time, I am not defending myself against the other person, but moving in unison with the other person. I would simply be dishonest if I did not acknowledge that my movements, based upon my positive energy connection could easily result in the other component of "us" destroying him/herself because of the negative energy actions, but that is not my intent.

Learning this process has taught me the effectiveness of learning how not to fight/defend one's self. It has helped me to connect in a more positive manner with those around me. It has helped make me a more centered/calm person. Overall, I believe that Aikido continues help me evolve into better person. The founder viewed Aikido as a personal, transformational process that can result in our world becoming a safer place. As we become more connected with others in a positive manner, the "necessity" to have to defend should hopefully lessen.

None of what I have written about means that I train in an idealistic/new-age manner. The fluffy notion that because we are connected, atemi is not needed, or other types of unrealistic/idealistic notions & practices do not enter into my training. Living with your head in some idealistic cloud is just as much of a lack of connection as it would be for me to simply be reactive to the attacker in order to defend myself. The better job I do at connecting, the more effective my Aikido is becoming at helping negative energy expressed towards me, result in the entity's energy stopping the entity. If people would like to define that as my Aikido becoming a more effective form of self-defense, then I can understand that perception. It is just not where my mind/intent is at, at that moment.

Marc Abrams
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:53 AM   #15
lbb
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Amir Krause wrote: View Post
As I wrote, I do not practice for S.D. abilities, not anymore. However, dring practice, I keep my focus on the fighting aspect, or S.D. aspect.

Amir
Okay. So, since you keep your focus on the "S.D. aspect", what is that aspect? What exactly are you envisioning in this "S.D. aspect"?

Remember, too, that "fighting" and "self-defense" are two different things, even when they're properly defined, which almost no one does.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:09 PM   #16
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Wink Re: Aikido without self-defense

My perception might change with time, but after a year and a half of training, I find it unwise to forget the practical application of the techniques I am learning. Martial arts training, whatever the style, is a quest for perfection, and how can you perfect something if you forget its primary purpose? In every class I attend, I hear Sensei providing corrections, and I hear him say: "Your technique is not good, because if you do it like this, your opponent can do that".
So far my short experience has shown me that the only defense against a correctly initiated Aikido technique is proper falling. The only other option seems to not let the opponent start the technique to begin with.
It is normal, and good also, to move to a higher perception as one is progressing in an art, but the down to earth purpose of this beautiful science cannot be forgotten.
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Old 03-11-2008, 02:30 PM   #17
Chris Lacey
 
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
I wonder, if you completely exclude the self-defense aspect of your aikido training, if you forget about it completely - will it still be meaningful to you?

In other words: Do you practice aikido in order to learn self-defense, or is that just part of the deal?

Myself, increasingly by each year, I tend to find that I practice aikido for what takes place inside the dojo - not outside of it. The dojo is sort of a budo world that might or might not have baring to the outside world - but whatever the case, I would be quite happy practicing aikido solely for learning how to deal with it in the dojo.

What about you?
The initial draw to Aikido, for me, was getting back into shape and loosing weight and the cardio workout. This has been a very successful endeavor in that respect. When I started, I was 6 foot tall 236ish pounds. My body fat has reduced from about 29% to 23% in three months (6 hours a week at the dojo) I am down to 229 and I am feeling more healthy, don't get winded after 3 flights of stairs and have more energy. I look forward to many more health related benefits.

There were some unexpected benefits. My posture improved, I became more limber, my self confidence improved. We all have these stories.

I live in..what is commonly referred to as "the bad side of town". As I was walking from the corner store, with my gallon of milk, around the corner came a man (he was not small) moving quickly. I avoided him by simply stepping off the line. I sure was glad I knew how to do that, I would have been knocked flat.

However, his focus was not on me but over his shoulder at a guy much smaller than him (but about my size) coming around the corner swinging (get this) his belt and yelling obscenities...and the poorly aimed belt buckle was coming at my head. I reacted, without thinking, I "blended" and "helped" the man swinging the belt to the ground with me standing over him with my knee in his elbow giving him a little stretch...much to the surprise of the local police who were across the street. Don't ask me what technique I performed, it happened too fast.

The man running away stopped, the police came over, took the statements of the men and the belt swinger was taken off to jail.

So what is the moral of this story? Absolutely, the techniques that you learn on the mat have a place off the mat. Absolutely the (what some call) spiritual aspect (AKA: attitude) that you learn on the mat has a place off of it.

I still cross the street if I perceive a danger and I, in no way, place myself in situations that could be dangerous. But when facing the choice of having a Lennard Skynnard belt buckle imprint on my forehead or not, I feel that the fact that there is even a choice in the matter comforting.

To summarize, "self-defense aspect of your aikido training" is a fringe benefit of a larger system of living that includes physical health, physical ability and positive mental attitude when you are on the mat and when you are out in the world.

Sadly, the gallon of milk did not survive...but the local law enforcement officers found "unbendable arm" fascinating.

Last edited by Chris Lacey : 03-11-2008 at 02:33 PM.

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Old 03-11-2008, 03:01 PM   #18
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Chris, loved that post! Thanks!
Ron

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Old 03-11-2008, 06:00 PM   #19
Robert Cowham
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

My one "self defense" story was being accused by a bouncer in a trendy restaurant of taking cocaine in the toilets. He move to grab me both hands, ryokatate dori style, and I just cut his hands down, didn't grab but held them open handed. When he moved and nothing happened, his eyes changed. From that point on it was verbals only, no attempt at bodily contact, manager called etc.

Weeks later I enjoyed the resulting free apology meal with my wife in the more expensive partner restaurant across town
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Old 03-11-2008, 06:07 PM   #20
Robert Cowham
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

p.s. self defense figured in my initial reasons for aikido, and for a few years I had little faith that I could do anything in that line - unless my attacker was trained in aikido ukemi! A year or so of kashima shinryu kenjutsu as an adjunct to the aikido changed that perception for me - I felt I could do something in response to an attack (although running away afterwards was still a good option).

Years later I feel that my abilities to respond to attacks in the verbal/email/internet arena are called in to question rather frequently, and unfortunately I am still often found wanting - now that's real self defense in this day and age! Plenty of opportunities for study.
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Old 03-12-2008, 11:06 AM   #21
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
I wonder, if you completely exclude the self-defense aspect of your aikido training, if you forget about it completely - will it still be meaningful to you?

In other words: Do you practice aikido in order to learn self-defense, or is that just part of the deal?

Myself, increasingly by each year, I tend to find that I practice aikido for what takes place inside the dojo - not outside of it. The dojo is sort of a budo world that might or might not have baring to the outside world - but whatever the case, I would be quite happy practicing aikido solely for learning how to deal with it in the dojo.

What about you?
At a point I made the observation of my own life that my REAL life was in the dojo. It wasn't like that was a fake part and the rest was somehow 'on'. I didn't use this as any kind of 'out' for my training practices, but I used it for a realization that my life wasn't fragmented it was whole. It was because of a decisionI made that my life was 'safe and whole' and that decision was to commit myself to training myself and others, eventually. In so doing, I removed myself from the environments where violence dominated and put myself in a place where focus was king.
You see, I came from a violent place to aikido. And while I now go to places where violence is present, I come as a person who has experienced something else.
I'll say more later.
Thanks,
jen

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 03-12-2008, 11:33 AM   #22
dps
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
I wonder, if you completely exclude the self-defense aspect of your aikido training, if you forget about it completely - will it still be meaningful to you?

In other words: Do you practice aikido in order to learn self-defense, or is that just part of the deal?

Myself, increasingly by each year, I tend to find that I practice aikido for what takes place inside the dojo - not outside of it. The dojo is sort of a budo world that might or might not have baring to the outside world - but whatever the case, I would be quite happy practicing aikido solely for learning how to deal with it in the dojo.

What about you?
I believe that the martial/self defense part of Aikido was the foundation for O'Sensei's developing Aikido and should be the foundation for everyone's Aikido. As you progress the self defense may not be as important, but it should be there always.

David
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Old 03-12-2008, 01:07 PM   #23
SentWest
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
In other words: Do you practice aikido in order to learn self-defense, or is that just part of the deal?
It's part of the package for me, without which I'd probably be doing something else.

My primary concern though is developing fitness, strength, flexibility and precision of movement. I am certainly not disappointed in my progress, though I've only been involved since the first of the year. I told my instructor he needed to use me as a testimonial: I've lost no weight, but shrunk 4 clothes sizes since the first of January. My posture also feels better, and I'm increasing in my ability to deal with discomfort while exercising.

Although I see people suggesting that mastering aikido techniques proficiently enough to use in self defense situations will take a number of years, but I feel that the benefits one will receive from general increased fitness should be available immediately, as will be the ability to react purposefully when someone invades your space. As I place behavioral self defense at the top of my mental list, I doubt I'll be in a position where I need to physically defend myself (and hope not as well), but I feel that even with this small bit of training I could at least present myself as simply too much trouble.

As far as using the more formal techniques, I've already had a chance to try a nikkajo successfully. It works great, and my husband now concretely knows it's a very bad idea to jump out of the closet and grab me for a scare.
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Old 03-12-2008, 01:14 PM   #24
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
As far as using the more formal techniques, I've already had a chance to try a nikkajo successfully. It works great, and my husband now concretely knows it's a very bad idea to jump out of the closet and grab me for a scare.
YIKES! Good on you! Last time he does that! I hope he didn't require a trip to the hospital to get his wrist taped!
Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 03-12-2008, 01:43 PM   #25
Demetrio Cereijo
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 2,078
Spain
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Re: Aikido without self-defense

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
I wonder, if you completely exclude the self-defense aspect of your aikido training, if you forget about it completely - will it still be meaningful to you?
If this implies leaving innocent, weaker, loved ones defenseless, then no. Self defense is not only about oneself, imo.
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