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Old 09-19-2002, 05:53 PM   #1
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 6,053
Cross-Art Influences

Hi everyone,

For folks who have taken (or are currently taking) a different martial art than aikido, what kind of influences have you had from these other arts into your aikido training?

What were the obstacles? How about advantages you brought into your aikido training from your other arts?

(And, please -- no "this style is better than that style" flamewars...)

-- Jun

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Old 09-19-2002, 06:31 PM   #2
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
Hi. Jun! Before I started Aikido, I've taken karate, jiu-jitusu and that weird but effective mix of JJ and ninjitsu called Canadian Forces Unarmed Combat Training. I also took Judo as a kid, but I don't count that. There have been a few obstacles; I have a strong 'strike first' tendancy I have to control and an even stronger tendancy to thrust straight in to uke - tenkan doesn't come easy to me.

However, those obstacles are trainable and minor compared to the advantages gained. I'm a good fighter from a tactical perspective; I've faced enough opponents through the years that I have a good idea what a person (or persons) will do, and how to avoid/overcome that attack. I've learned quite a bit about reading an opponent's telegraphy as well.

One thing Karate teaches is the use and counter of speed strikes - one area in which I think Aikido is a bit lacking. Case in point: taking shihonage from a strike; one of our instructors says time and again: 'Catch the hand as it comes towards you!' Sorry, folks, but that won't work against a karateka. Few - if any - people can move out of the way of a speed-punch, much less catch a flying projectile in mid-air, which is exactly what a fist is. So, Karate and the other MA have helped me with a more thorough knowledge of the act of fighting itself, as well as personal confidence on the mat.


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Old 09-19-2002, 08:06 PM   #3
Kevin Leavitt
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Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
My background is very similar to Dave's...and experiences about the same.

I think I have learned to deal with the emotional context of a real fight a little better studying karate than is possible to learn in aikido.

Also, from karate I learned how to deal with the fakes, combinations, shoots, and deceptions that occur at full speed in a real situation.

I laugh everytime I think about the first time I went back to my karate dojo and tried to "catch" a punch as it went by...got whacked in the face pretty good.

The downside is that I think I have had to unlearn many things that karate taught me. I like to fight from a stance and tend to stand still and use strength. I also tend to go straight back when being attacked...but my karate sensei was always getting on me for that as well.

I think I have a good understanding of atemi, although Aikido has shown me things that I never learned about atemi in karate, so that has made me much more effective in the karate dojo.

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Old 09-19-2002, 09:23 PM   #4
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
Hi, Kevin! Good post. I'dd like to discuss a point with you.

You said:
The downside is that I think I have had to unlearn many things that karate taught me. I like to fight from a stance and tend to stand still and use strength.
1st, I personally think that's an upside, not a downside. 2nd, I'm not sure I completely agree with the fighting stance bit, for this reason:

The most common stance I see used is the Karate-style 'high-lead' stance - i.e. facing side-on to the opponent, forward hand raised to eye-level, rear hand behind it and high to cover the face, 60% weight on the rear foot (It's a lot easier to do than to describe...LOL).

I don't use it because (a) it's outwardly aggresive and can provoke an attack, (b) with the weight more on the rear foot, it's easier to be destabilized and (c) it's an unready position - i.e. you have to conciously put yourself into the high-lead stance.

Aikido on the mat teaches one to work without a fighting stance, but for the street, I'd personally recommend the 'low-lead' position - similar to the high lead, except that the forward hand is held low, relaxed near one-point, rear hand is relaxed and bent near the ribcage, 60% weight over the front foot to aid in stability.

Again, hard to describe; I'll use the example of the opening stance of Jo-kata #1: hold the jo as you were about to start the kata, then drop the jo. Bring your rear hand up loosely to the ribcage, and you've got the low-lead position.

Anyway, although aikido isn't supposed to like stances, I use - and discuss - this one because of the following advantages: (a) Side-on to your opponent, you present a smaller profile to attack. (b) It's a non-agressive stance; in fact, it doesn't really look like a stance at all. (c) The hands are in a very fast defensive position, ready to react to any attack with a minimum of movement. (d) It creates the illusion the head and upper body is open; inviting attack into an aikidoist's strongest area of defence and (e) With 60% weight over the front foot, kicking is out, but since we don't kick, that's ok - the added weight over the front foot places one-point just aft of the front heel; an extremely stable place to be.

Anyway Kevin, I'm pretty sure the fighting-stance bit is just personal preference when taking the street into consideration, but I'd like to hear your comments on it.



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Old 09-19-2002, 09:35 PM   #5
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 788
Dave Organ (DaveO) wrote:
one of our instructors says time and again: 'Catch the hand as it comes towards you!' Sorry, folks, but that won't work against a karateka. Few - if any - people can move out of the way of a speed-punch, much less catch a flying projectile in mid-air, which is exactly what a fist is.
This sounds like the instructor's problem to me, not Aikido's. Have you asked his/her teacher about it?

At the club where I train now, we have two people who teach classes that look at and 'catch' the tsuki (sp?) - one shodan and one 1st kyu. I asked them both about it, and they defended the practice. My prior teachers - two godans - always said never, ever try to catch the punch. A godan from Japan gave a seminar here and sternly lectured against catching the punch.

They were all quite clear in stating that your visual awareness should be large, taking into account nage's whole body, at least, not narrowed down to the few square inches required to focus on grabbing a punch. That is, you should not be looking at it, you should be looking at them. If you aren't looking at it you can't catch it. Because they were trying to hit you, and you know where you are (were), you don't need to look at it (provided you don't move so slowly or telegraph your movement in such a way that they can adjust and track you) - an ancient samurai secret.

What you can do, is parry, move your body, and not get hit. In order to do a given technique on someone who is using quick, retracting punches, I think you're looking at some kind of atemi to disrupt their balance and render them unable to retract it, or take their mind out of the proper completion of the punch.

Easier said than done, of course. However, this is something I think you could ramp up to in more advanced training. The reason we usually practice with 'lame' punches/thrusts that just hang out there is because it's a protracted training circumstance that allows one to work on various other aspects of the technique. Without the addition of training at higher speeds, with more realistic retracted punches and appropriate atemi/disruption, you're out of luck. I think if the instructor you mention tried such training, he'd change his instruction. My guess as to why the two people I mentioned here are not aware of the issue is that they have never trained at a dojo where they have witnessed or participated in this level of training.


Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 09-19-2002 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 09-19-2002, 09:52 PM   #6
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 97
I personally do not have any other martial arts experience, but my sensei has and he showed me how aspects of it have helped him in self defence situations. He took Kung fu (I believe wing chun) and applied it to Aikido as a method of "bridging the gap". The application of this system deals in large with handling quick strikes. It stresses not waiting for your uke to strike but to move in simultaneously, and create an easy opportunity for an Aikido technique to be applied.

The only area where Aikido really lacks is in dealing with quick strikes (I agree with Dave). We usually only practice strikes where uke has committed themselves fully, which is not totally beneficial. All other aspects of Aikido can be applied when the gap has been bridged. My sensei has always said that Aikido (for self defence purposes) is ment to teach us body basics: how to move in an efficient and powerful manner, how to focus on our center line and our hara (ex. dropping your weight and maintaining a stable balanced posture), and learning how to unbalance your opponent while keeping these things in mind.

Aikido to many, is a complete martial art. From what I have learned it is complete in a psychological sense, but very close (not quite) in self defence. But what do I know, I've only been doing Aikido for six months.
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Old 09-23-2002, 10:48 AM   #7
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 48
I would have to say that my limited Kung-Fu experience has changed my Aikido experience greatly. Most definitely on quick strikes, because Kung-Fu in any of it's forms is all about speed. The forms of Kung-Fu with heavy leg emphasis definitely benefit Aikido students most heavily, because that is another area Aikido is lacking badly. The legs are harder to use than movies make it look, but for opportunistic strikes, they are both powerful and indispensable. Kung-Fu has a huge problem of getting obsessively fixated on various "styles" though, and really that problem is found in many martial arts. What little Karate I have done certainly gets overly fixated on stances and show-off moves like board breaking. It is both through the strengths of these arts, and those weaknesses that I benefit when doing Aikido, though my Aikido study is limited due to poor sensei accessability at the moment. The weaknesses teach me things that Aikido can do for me that those other arts cannot, or teach me to improvise when no art fills those needs.

My personal recommendation based on method and philosophy is that most students who want to go multi-art start with Aikido first and truly absorb the philosophy and the restraint, and then delve into a striking art like Kung-Fu. Aikido teaches so much about appropriate force, and centering that no other art really quite matches... it's definitely the best place to start.

"Those who beat their swords into plowshares plow for those who keep their's" -Ben Franklin
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Old 09-23-2002, 02:17 PM   #8
Dojo: Avon Kempo & Aikido Academy
Location: Avon, CT
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 32
Having had achieved Shodan level in JiuJitsu prior to studying Aikido I find that my past experience is both helpful AND challenging.

It is helpful in that many of the moves are similar if not exactly the same making learning easier.

The difficulty is in keeping an open mind with this new art and not brining too much preconception to my current training. Often I find myself wanting to 'finish' a move with a strike or a kick, a definite no-no in Aikido. As is said, old habits die hard!

All in all I would say my old experience has been more help than hindrance.
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Old 09-24-2002, 04:14 PM   #9
Location: Chicago, IL
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 432
I my aikido has benefited (sp?) from my previous experience in kenpo in terms of some of the footwork, learning correct strikes/atemi, and maai. My taijiquan experience has helped in terms of better centering and keeping relaxed.

Some of my old habits were also (at least) initially a hindrance, such as some of the Chinese stances (both kenpo and taijiquan) and certain kinds of footwork in taijiquan.

Robert Cronin
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Old 09-24-2002, 09:29 PM   #10
Kevin Leavitt
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Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376

I actually do use traditional stances a fair amount in aikido, however, they are not static. I find the exact same principles apply from karate to aikido..and you move through the same motions in both arts.

My point is, a typical training affect from karate causes most new karateka to be static instead of dynamic in the stances and punches and blocks.

I do think that is has been helpful to receive traditional karate training, but again, many of my instincts are to freeze in these positions instead of carrying the range of motion through to the next dynamic.

The advantage I think I have is when something suprises me, I tend to have a very good first instinct with a stance, block, or atemi, the problem again, is moving through that motion to completion of the dynamic sphere!

(hope this makes sense!)

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Old 09-24-2002, 11:42 PM   #11
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
Yup, and agreed 100%.

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Old 09-25-2002, 02:37 AM   #12
Ta Kung
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 237

I've practised some Judo and alot of Taekwon-do (ITF style) before my Aikido carrer. Judo has been a great help in my ukemi. Taekwon-do has helped me with an aspect that I didn't realize until after a few months. I acctually learned how to move in the various techniques, using Taekwon-do. Or perhaps I'm used to another "type" of watching the instructor as he shows a technique.

In Taekwon-do, we often talk about "the front or back foot" when we're in a stance. This helped me figure out which foot to move first, and how to move it, when executing an Aikido technique.

It may not sound as much, but compared to the other (former) beginners, I progressed a bit faster. They were often confused as to which foot to move where, and I wasn't.


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Old 09-25-2002, 04:56 AM   #13
Dojo: Aiki Shoshinkan, Aiki Kenkyukai
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 813
I think what helped the most from my martial arts background was the discipline.

In tae kwon do, the instructors were brutal. If you couldn't stretch, they'll practically pile up on you until you could. But because everyone went through that process, it felt fine and unabusive.

So learning another like aikido which requires a lot of patience and dedication comes easier. Because it takes discipline to concentrate on what the sensei is talking about or demonstrating.

Early on, beginners find it hard to remember the simple techniques that we take for granted now. With martial arts background, the remembering and doing is easier.

All in all, aikido helped my tae kwon do more than vice versa... i think. Its been a decade since I last practiced aikido, but recently I sparred with a 1st dan, and it was a good match. I couldn't kick fast and high anymore but the kicks I could still do found their target. Concentrating on my maai and irimi helped a lot.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 10-02-2002, 08:17 AM   #14
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
Although I am very partial to Aikido, I still attend seminars for Pressure Point karate, and Wally Jay jujitsu twice a year, not including various research into other arts as the spirit moves me. Some of the bad habits from wanting to use sweeps, kicks, strikes while trying to keep the classical qualities of Aikido practice intact have led to inaction in the conflict of trying not to let my natural instinct of letting motions happen in martial arts practice to see what new variations will appear. Most times the teacher takes this as Brain Fog, the loss of connecting thought to motion because the fog has rolled in and you can't see the road anymore, and he/she comes over to detail the technique they want to be practiced.

This aside, I have to bite my tongue to keep from speaking up in practice.

Many times, I am appalled at the way Aikido students think punches and kicks should be performed, or at their simple misuse of knife hand, shomenuchi, or not linking the need for silent falls in ukemi to lessening the time and impact force being greatly decreased giving a quicker recovery time. Don't even get me started on pain, pressure points, and prearranged forms, kata, being a form of learning arts of striking on particular areas of the body where pressure points are the target.

I guess, ignorance is bliss in training.
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Old 10-02-2002, 10:47 AM   #15
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Maryland
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 123

I've never posted before, been lurking about for over a year though...anyway

I was karateka for several years as a youth (ahh my mis-spent youth...) and I would point out one thing that I learned that helps in Aikido practice: punching. It is difficult to train properly against a punch that is ineffective to begin with, so I guess this helps nage's training somewhat (some appreciate it more than others!)

On the negative side, I would say that I too tend to skitter backwards under hard attack, which is not appropriate in karate either, so I'm not sure where that came from!
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Old 10-02-2002, 05:55 PM   #16
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Dojo: Midwest Center For Movement & Aikido Bukou Dojos
Location: Hudson, WI
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 407
I have studied: Ryu Te from which I add Kyusho jitsu to my Aikido. Judo for leverage. Capoeira for the rhythm. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for the groundwork. Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu because it is a cool art.

What I get from other arts is how to defend myself against someone with martial arts training. I think having this kind of exposure is beneficial in helping my Aikido become more advanced.

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
For Movement &
Aikido Bukou
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Old 10-02-2002, 07:48 PM   #17
Kent Enfield
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Location: Oregon, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 224
I did aikido for about four years before I started kendo and iaido, which has been nearly three years now.

The advantages of that prior training in aikido when coming to kendo and iaido was only of a general nature. Things like body awareness, moving from the lower body, and relaxed shoulders, as well a what turned out to be only cursory knowledge of sword work.

There were disadvantages as well. The main one (besides having to learn different footwork) is that I was (and to some extent still am) much to passive and stay in a reactive rather than proactive mode.

The advantages in my aikido training have been somewhat more subtle. I've gained a new understanding of how to be a good uke: attack so that it's difficult to for nage to apply a technique, then we both get better. I've also gained a new respect for how quickly combat can occur, and how attacking isn't inherently disadvantageous--I knew that rationally before doing kendo, but it's been driven home.

The only "disadvantages" to my aikido have been reevaluating the likelihood of success. In particular, tachi dori now goes in the "it's better than doing nothing" catagory.

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Old 10-03-2002, 03:12 AM   #18
aries admin
Dojo: Aikikai Philippines
Location: Philippines
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 34
My experience

Before Aikido I practiced Tae kwon Do for years. I have several TKD tournaments under my belt. I was also trained by my Father in Boxing and kali from different instructors. One good thing that really happened after doing Aikido is my movement during sparring in TKD, Boxing and Kali. Before I do a force to force confrontation which is like you punch I punch and you kick I kick. With Aikido training I move around more than I used to do. I go around punches and kicks look for an opening before launching my own salvo. I didn't know it was happening until they pointed it out.It was just training.

Aikido improved my other MA skills!

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Old 10-09-2002, 11:29 PM   #19
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 498
Indeed, a rare thread

I have to say that this thread is nicely balanced, and completely positive. I believe that is derived from the place the poster comes from when asking his question. So rare - truly wonderful.

I started with TKD in 1979 or 1980... I loved to spar, but excelled at forms, where inner focus and concentration were key to performing well.

Aikido showed me everything I ever wanted to know about TKD... Read that sentence over again...

As others have noted, TKD training, at a traditional Dojang, was brutal. Two hours of non-stop stretching, kicking, punching, forms and sparring. Double that in the hours before and after class. That training, pushing beyond the limit and then needing to survive a confrontation, is what randori training was (and is) with my teacher, Haruo Matsuoka Sensei. Take a look at the aiki-expo demonstration video tape #2...

Ultimately, the focus and intensity that I nurtured through TKD's forms came from the isometric exercises that I taught myself when I was 9 or 10 years old. Moving forward, this all came back into play when in Japan studying Misogi with Abe Sensei. Misogi is all about internal focus and intensity - then learning to channel that outside the body.

Having said all that, when I came to aikido, although fascinated by the "philosophy," I believed that the techniques were designed to work using "pain" as the encouragement to make the techniques work. While in Japan, I was shown pure kokyu techniques - i.e. being thrown, and held down without being touched by the nage. At that point, I realized pain had nothing to due with making techniques work. Nothing. After all, how do you cause another pain when you are not touching them. That is another thread though...

For the first 18 months or so of my aikido training, I abused many uke with my "good" techniques and poor attitude. Fortunately my senpai graciously returned to me all the energy I misdirected at my kohai, in spades of course to help me see the "error of my ways"... again another thread.

The bottom line for me - I not only had to empty my cup coming into aikido, I had to smash my cup against the floor, wall, and my head, repeatedly, just to get a clue that I had no clue.

All these years later, I find that my TKD training helps me with my students. I teach them proper kicks and punches, as my teacher insisted that we attacked with controlled full-force kicks, punches, chokes and grabs. Atemi is a major part of the aikido we practice, but not to make technique work, only to show where the uke's openings are.

I always like training with others who have had previous martial arts experience, especially when that experience is in an art that portends to have advantages over aikido - including BJJ, Thai Boxing and shoot wrestling. I find that my aikido, at least lately, is strengthened when I am confronted by the power and complexities of other arts. Aikido, in comparison, is so simple - do nothing, let go of all of your power and move out of the way - and uke will fall down with tremendous force.

I still haven't figured out the part about keeping them pinned to the ground... I guess it is time to go back to Japan for more of Abe Sensei's "encouragement"

I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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Old 10-23-2002, 10:05 PM   #20
Location: Metro Manila
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 8
As a kid I used to buy these kung fu books to emulate some of the conditioning exercises there (Shaloin Chin Na, Chi Kung, etc.). No doubt this was influenced in no small part by all those Jacky Chan films I used to watch.

From college onwards, I've delved into Karate, Judo, (Western) fencing, Jeet Kune Do and Taekwondo.

Aikido is the latest art I've been into and the longest I've been seriously training under (since 1999).

I can say that my exposure to striking arts has made me appreciate proper atemi, sensitivity to openings and proper kicking attacks. Although I noticed in free practice I also have this tendency to back away from an attack rather than do irimi.

At the same time, the concepts of centering have made me understand better the kung fu exercises I used to do before. Most striking is the importance of proper footwork, in any martial art. So when at home, I still practice some of those exercises to help me in my aikido practice.

However, I still make a go at the punching bag everyday practicing knee strikes, elbow strikes and what not.
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