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Old 01-10-2012, 10:15 AM   #1
dapidmini
Dojo: Surabaya Aikido Dojo
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how do you describe Aikido to people?

all this time we (in our dojo) describe Aikido as a martial arts of love, where we don't (severely) injure our opponent to protect ourselves.. this approach seems to make people wonder if Aikido can really be used to defend themselves.

we have an embukai coming up and we're thinking if we should stop stressing on the love part and more to the martial part so that people will become more interested. we're hoping that people will understand the love part after they train long enough. what do you think?

how would you describe Aikido to make people more interested?
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:47 AM   #2
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

I often tell visitors and potential students that aikido is a martial art unlike all others because it operates with a rheostat.....we can use the same technique to control our drunken uncle at the family BBQ without hurting him or against a mugger at the ATM machine by turning up the dial on the dimmer switch. That seems to make sense to them anyway.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:39 PM   #3
Marc Abrams
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

When people ask if Aikido is the art of Love and Peace, I tell them that it is the art of love and piece! I can love my attacker to death, theirs of course! and I I can love them to death one piece ripped off at a time .

I like Michael's description. I use a similar one in that I say that Aikido is like a Chinese restaurant in the suburbs. In one place, you can get Mandarin, Cantonese, Szechuan cuisines! It is nice to add the spice when needed.....

Marc Abrams
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:46 PM   #4
DonMagee
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

I describe it as a semi-scientific (or pseudoscientific ) study in how the human body moves in response to physical simuli.

That is where my interest in aikido is currently.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:54 PM   #5
chillzATL
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Kinda like Don, I now describe it as a study in conditioning and using the body work differently than normal and using that to affect another person and control them, in a martial arts framework.... kind of...

or just pick one of these, same thing:

Aikido is the principle of eternal continuation throughout all ages of the one and same system of the Universe.
Aikido is Heaven-sent truth and the marvelous work of Takemusu Aiki.
Aikido is the Way of union and harmony of Heaven, Earth and humanity.
Aikido is, moreover, the Way to take care of the entire creation.
Aikido is the supreme work of kotodama and the Great Way of Universal Purification (misogi).
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:45 PM   #6
Walter Martindale
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Usually verbally.... ;-)

I say it's a bit like origami, but with people.

As well, that you can regulate the intensity according to the person with whom you're interacting as described above - expanding it to include the absolute beginner in training, the drunken uncle (although all my uncles have cast off their mortal coils) or the thug at the ATM...

(however Kawahara shihan used to advise us that if we were ever confronted with a "real" situation we should run away because he didn't feel that either we or our dojo sensei were well enough trained to survive...)

Cheers,
W

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 01-10-2012 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:06 PM   #7
mathewjgano
 
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

It depends on a lot of contextual factors for what I say, but I generally make sure to say it's varied and that there are a wide variety of interpretations ranging from healthy exercise to brutal martial art and everything in between. Then I usually describe it as essentially coming from Daitoryu and describe something equally brief about O Sensei's spirituality; that in general it's a study of the mind/body/spiritual connection with the aim of affecting healthy change.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-10-2012, 05:59 PM   #8
dapidmini
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

thanks for the fast replies

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
Aikido is the principle of eternal continuation throughout all ages of the one and same system of the Universe.
Aikido is Heaven-sent truth and the marvelous work of Takemusu Aiki.
Aikido is the Way of union and harmony of Heaven, Earth and humanity.
Aikido is, moreover, the Way to take care of the entire creation.
Aikido is the supreme work of kotodama and the Great Way of Universal Purification (misogi).
aren't those way too abstract and sophisticated to say for new people? I think those would make them think that they can become gods after training Aikido

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
When people ask if Aikido is the art of Love and Peace, I tell them that it is the art of love and piece! I can love my attacker to death, theirs of course! and I I can love them to death one piece ripped off at a time .
LOL but that sounds brutal.. so you think it would be better to focus more on the martial part of Aikido when explaining to new people?

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
I often tell visitors and potential students that aikido is a martial art unlike all others because it operates with a rheostat.....we can use the same technique to control our drunken uncle at the family BBQ without hurting him or against a mugger at the ATM machine by turning up the dial on the dimmer switch. That seems to make sense to them anyway.
I like this.. but won't it make people think that Aikido only works for people with no martial arts skill?

Quote:
Don Magee wrote: View Post
I describe it as a semi-scientific (or pseudoscientific ) study in how the human body moves in response to physical simuli.

That is where my interest in aikido is currently.
I like this.. but I think it's not quite enough to attract many people..

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
I say it's a bit like origami, but with people.
what do you mean origami with people? do you mean we get to fold people into unique shapes?
what do you mean origami with people? do you mean we get to fold people into unique shapes?

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
As well, that you can regulate the intensity according to the person with whom you're interacting as described above - expanding it to include the absolute beginner in training, the drunken uncle (although all my uncles have cast off their mortal coils) or the thug at the ATM...
won't this make people think that Aikido is only for fighting people with no martial arts capability? even though Aikido is a pure self defense, won't it get outshined by other martial arts that offer the ability to defend against people with some martial arts skill?

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
(however Kawahara shihan used to advise us that if we were ever confronted with a "real" situation we should run away because he didn't feel that either we or our dojo sensei were well enough trained to survive...)
I imagine some people will also "run away" from Aikido because they will have to train a very long time to even survive in a real dangerous situation if I told them that..

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Then I usually describe it as essentially coming from Daitoryu and describe something equally brief about O Sensei's spirituality; that in general it's a study of the mind/body/spiritual connection with the aim of affecting healthy change.
won't that description requires a much more complex explanations? we only have about 5-10 minutes to explain Aikido in this embukai.. I don't think we can even get half of the Daitoryu explanation before the time runs out and we're kicked off stage..

I need a description that can "sell" Aikido.. I'm still waiting for your other interesting ideas
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:32 PM   #9
lbb
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Describing aikido to someone as "the art of love" may feel good to you, but it doesn't really help your communication. The person you're talking to has no frame of reference that would allow that expression to be anything but misunderstood in some way. That being the case, why not set that aside and describe it in a more pragmatic and concise way, using a frame of reference that your audience can understand?
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:39 PM   #10
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Since it now looks like you are looking for a "sales pitch", consider telling people that aikido is a modern martial art that can be practiced by almost anyone and then talk about self-defense, improving health/balance/coordination/self-discipline/self-esteem. Talk about how a person can find almost anything he is looking for in aikido practice, whether it is martial effectivemess, good health and fitness, spirituality, and how it can be applied in everyday life.

Who is your audience? Tailor your presentation to the audience. Good luck and turn up your public speaking rheostat.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:59 PM   #11
kewms
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

If it's a martial artist, I email them several video clips and let them draw their own conclusions.

If it's a prospective student, I explain that aikido strives to resolve conflict without injury to either party -- but that actually reaching that goal is fairly difficult. Until that goal is achieved, aikido offers a variety of strategies for different situations. And then I invite them to sit and watch the class.

If it's a random person trying to understand why I spend so much time at the dojo, I tell them it's an art that depends on using the attacker's momentum, and that it attracted me in the first place for that reason, but that I also value what it gives me in terms of fitness, mental balance, etc.

Katherine
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:30 PM   #12
graham christian
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Quote:
David Santana wrote: View Post
all this time we (in our dojo) describe Aikido as a martial arts of love, where we don't (severely) injure our opponent to protect ourselves.. this approach seems to make people wonder if Aikido can really be used to defend themselves.

we have an embukai coming up and we're thinking if we should stop stressing on the love part and more to the martial part so that people will become more interested. we're hoping that people will understand the love part after they train long enough. what do you think?

how would you describe Aikido to make people more interested?
I describe it as it is in it's essence and leave it at that. They can take it or leave it.

Having said that we then move from your question into the field of promotion so your question is rather how to promote it or disseminate it, a subtly different question. Thus a subtly different answer.

Regards.G.
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:34 PM   #13
Belt_Up
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

"Ever punched a man in the face? Now, you don't have to!"
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:35 PM   #14
phitruong
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

just tell them it's the art of love with lots of kama sutra foreplay techniques in pajamas, were folks are rather happy and tired, even though there were no happy ending. aikido spent alot of time working on entering, connection and do it from behind. on occasion we like threesome and foursome and somesome. there are times we use external wood aid with the short, medium and long, depends on how we feel that day. sometimes, it just hurts so good.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:29 PM   #15
mathewjgano
 
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Quote:
David Santana wrote: View Post
won't that description requires a much more complex explanations? we only have about 5-10 minutes to explain Aikido in this embukai.. I don't think we can even get half of the Daitoryu explanation before the time runs out and we're kicked off stage..

I need a description that can "sell" Aikido.. I'm still waiting for your other interesting ideas
Not necessarily. I just highlight some key facts of history (a minute or two at most) then describe what I focus on in my training. Admittedly, I'm not much of a salesman though.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:37 PM   #16
Chris Li
 
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Quote:
Geoff Byers wrote: View Post
"Ever punched a man in the face? Now, you don't have to!"
"Strike your opponent in the face."
-Morihei Ueshiba


Really, I don't know why people are so afraid of strikes - you're probably less likely to incur damage from a strike than most techniques involving a fall or the joints.

I just tell people that it comes from the same basic roots as Judo (which everybody has seen), but never moved into competition (for the most part) and if they hang around then we go deeper.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-11-2012, 01:45 AM   #17
dapidmini
Dojo: Surabaya Aikido Dojo
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Quote:
Geoff Byers wrote: View Post
"Ever punched a man in the face? Now, you don't have to!"
won't that defeat the purpose of atemi?

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
just tell them it's the art of love with lots of kama sutra foreplay techniques in pajamas, were folks are rather happy and tired, even though there were no happy ending. aikido spent alot of time working on entering, connection and do it from behind. on occasion we like threesome and foursome and somesome. there are times we use external wood aid with the short, medium and long, depends on how we feel that day. sometimes, it just hurts so good.
+100 for you Phi unfortunately I can't really say that to new people at the dojo, not to mention in an embukai

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Since it now looks like you are looking for a "sales pitch", consider telling people that aikido is a modern martial art that can be practiced by almost anyone and then talk about self-defense, improving health/balance/coordination/self-discipline/self-esteem. Talk about how a person can find almost anything he is looking for in aikido practice, whether it is martial effectivemess, good health and fitness, spirituality, and how it can be applied in everyday life.
nice idea. like this.. maybe I'll start using this to describe and promote Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Describing aikido to someone as "the art of love" may feel good to you, but it doesn't really help your communication. The person you're talking to has no frame of reference that would allow that expression to be anything but misunderstood in some way. That being the case, why not set that aside and describe it in a more pragmatic and concise way, using a frame of reference that your audience can understand?
yes, that's what my senpais say.. I think that understanding will come later after training several decades

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
If it's a martial artist, I email them several video clips and let them draw their own conclusions.

If it's a prospective student, I explain that aikido strives to resolve conflict without injury to either party -- but that actually reaching that goal is fairly difficult. Until that goal is achieved, aikido offers a variety of strategies for different situations. And then I invite them to sit and watch the class.

If it's a random person trying to understand why I spend so much time at the dojo, I tell them it's an art that depends on using the attacker's momentum, and that it attracted me in the first place for that reason, but that I also value what it gives me in terms of fitness, mental balance, etc.

Katherine
like this too..

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I describe it as it is in it's essence and leave it at that. They can take it or leave it.

Having said that we then move from your question into the field of promotion so your question is rather how to promote it or disseminate it, a subtly different question. Thus a subtly different answer.
I know it's the most elegant way but it rarely attracts people into training. although when someone do come for this, he/she will most likely be a true student of the art... but don't you think we need to give people something to attact people more so that they can have a chance to experience it?

I thought I read something like this recently:
only 1/2 of people who come to the dojo will step into the mat
only 1/2 of people who steps into the mat will come in the next training
only 1/2 of people who comes in the next training will train for the next 2 months
and so on..

if we only take in the elites I'm afraid the dojo won't be running for long since we don't have a strong sponsor.
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:14 AM   #18
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Our advertisment poster describes aikido as "Japanese martial art".
When talking to someone I ad "traditional". And sometimes the word "budo". And instead of explaining aikido I invite to take part in our training and to feel it oneself.

Quote:
David Santana wrote: View Post
but I think it's not quite enough to attract many people..
I've made the experience that the intent to "attract many people" doesn't help to practice a budo.

If one needs the money to run a dojo, it's more helpfull to rely on one's own income and think about how to improve this.
If one needs training partners, it's more helpfull to rely on the few who know what they are doing. And there allways will be a few who already practice aikido. At least there is a judoka who maybe interested. Thinking about getting training partners is different from attracting many people.

Quote:
I imagine some people will also "run away" from Aikido because they will have to train a very long time to even survive in a real dangerous situation if I told them that..
It's only truth: They will have to train a very long time to even survive in a real dangerous situation, compared to other ways of defending. If the truth will make them leave it is ok, when they leave.

Quote:
... we only have about 5-10 minutes to explain Aikido in this embukai...
You can't really explain aikido even in an hour. You can just sketch out what is fascinating you. But that's a lot.
And you can show very very much of aikido in 10 minutes.

Quote:
I need a description that can "sell" Aikido.
If you understand aikido as a budo, then don't "sell" it. Just practice. And let other people see your practice. The ones who are made for doing aikido will find your dojo.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:23 AM   #19
chillzATL
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Quote:
David Santana wrote: View Post
thanks for the fast replies

aren't those way too abstract and sophisticated to say for new people? I think those would make them think that they can become gods after training Aikido
IMO, no. It's just another way of saying what I said to begin with... in Ueshiba-ese.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:58 AM   #20
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Taking care of yourself (self love) and martial are not concepts that need to be far apart. I was taught about the concept of "least possible harm", which will change as each student grows and matures and because of each specific circumstance. I have the right and responsibility to defend myself. By making that decision I am well on my way to safety. Extreme self care involves looking at the dark side of myself and others.

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Old 01-11-2012, 12:30 PM   #21
Walter Martindale
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

You want "the elevator pitch" - you're on the ground floor, going up 10 or 15 floors in a building and someone's asked for "what's Aikido"...

One description I've used is along the lines of:

Aikido is a martial art, initially developed in the early 1900s. Is uses a lot of movements that have been adapted from styles of jujitsu and kenjitsu as a modern form of self defense. It's possible to practice Aikido with a "combative" sensibility, or with the goal of training for physical fitness and health, and the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. A lot of the practice involves being thrown and taking turns with partners, and you get a lot of physical fitness from continuous work with a partner. Most of the exercise comes from getting back up off the ground. Injuries are relatively rare, because we try to work within the capabilities of our training partner - if we hurt them, we can't practice with them, so we're a bit careful that way. WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME AND WATCH AND/OR GIVE IT A TRY?
(not shouted - emphasis so that you remember that's the most important part of the pitch)
Cheers,
Walter
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:24 PM   #22
lbb
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Quote:
David Santana wrote: View Post
I know it's the most elegant way but it rarely attracts people into training. although when someone do come for this, he/she will most likely be a true student of the art... but don't you think we need to give people something to attact people more so that they can have a chance to experience it?

I thought I read something like this recently:
only 1/2 of people who come to the dojo will step into the mat
only 1/2 of people who steps into the mat will come in the next training
only 1/2 of people who comes in the next training will train for the next 2 months
and so on..

if we only take in the elites I'm afraid the dojo won't be running for long since we don't have a strong sponsor.
But think about what that 1/2 statistic is based on. It isn't some kind of a law or a constant -- that is to say, if you were to round up a thousand people off the street and march them into your dojo, you wouldn't get 500 to step onto the mat. However many people come into the dojo, only the ones who see something that they want to try will step onto the mat, and only the ones who get what they want will keep coming. So the solution, I think, is to give them something of value from the first class, even if it's a small thing, and to show them the value of what they're getting. This is hard to do in an instant-gratification world and still be honest, but if you try to sell aikido by saying "aikido is love" or "the art of peace", it sounds a wee bit cultish. You have to talk to people in the language they understand, not baffle them with stuff that sounds to them like mystical BS.

Also (want to say this before I lose track of the idea) Mary's phrase "taking care of yourself" caught my eye. It depends some on the environment and culture in which you are located, but here in the United States, there is often a real lack of "taking care of yourself" (as opposed to self-indulgence, of which we have plenty), and at the same time there's a craving for same. Explaining aikido as something that you do to take care of yourself, in many ways -- self-defense, but also exercise, also flexibility, also getting you off the couch and away from the television and doing something with other people, et cetera -- is going to have more credibility, as a near-term benefit, than either claims of love/peace or being able to defend yourself.
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:56 PM   #23
Keith Larman
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

I really like Mary M's explanation here. I will often use Chri Li's "kinda like judo" as a starting point but then talk a bit about how people will do it for a myriad of reasons. And that over time most who stay end up doing it for a reason unique to them. It can be about self-defense, it can be about self-improvement, it can be about empowerment, and so forth. So I suggest they watch and consider taking a few classes to get a feel for what it is all about. Then they can figure out if there is something there for them that speaks to them. I encourage, but I don't sell. It is what it is. I also make sure they understand it's not UFC board breaking high kicking power ranger ninja kung gu karate-do. And that it takes time and commitment.

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Old 01-11-2012, 08:34 PM   #24
NekVTAikido
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

Been wondering about this myself...don't have a ready answer, but looking around at the dojos I've been to - it's a pretty small percentage of the general population that joins and sticks with it. So, I'm not sure that attracting a lot of people is going to get you anything really worthwhile in the long run, instead, maybe focus on attracting the right people.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:09 AM   #25
Alberto_Italiano
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Re: how do you describe Aikido to people?

I'd describe it as the most ambitious way of fighting. However, i'd add the caveat that most dojos won't train you for being prepared to the ugliness and ruthlessness of a real fight.
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