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Old 02-25-2003, 11:19 AM   #1
Michael Owen
Dojo: Richmond Aikido Kai
Location: Richmond, VA
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Effectiveness and Insolence

As a new aikido student I find this site to be an excellent resource for consulting more experienced aikidoka on various topics. However, I find that when new aikido students ask about effectiveness or "are there any defenses against..." that they are treated by many of their seniors as insolent children who are accused of being only interested in getting into fights. I find this very troubling. It is one thing if the student asks how to break a femur, but it is another to ask about a DEFENSE. With as many people who take "hard" martial arts for the sole purpose of hurting others I think the desire to know how do defend against kicks or other attacks not generally addressed is very legitimate. Why should these be treated differently from the waza we learn against punches or grabs?
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Old 02-25-2003, 01:57 PM   #2
ikkainogakusei
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Re: Effectiveness and Insolence

Hi Michael,

Thanks for framing this question as you have. It allows us to address the forum rather than the unending debate itself. I think it happens in this manner because there are two significant mind-sets and some people believe in only one or the other. There are still others who find a synthesis, but they don't necessarily find it important to get involved in this discussion.

If one were to begin to examine O'Sensei's discussion of "The Art of Peace" you might see that it accents on the nonviolent. This is taken to heart by many aikidoka. Yet we are practicing a martial art, by it's very nature it has the potential for violence, how do we reconcile the two? Everyone comes to their own conclusion, and in doing so, sometimes they find an aiki-community that helps reinforce that conclusion.

Personally, when a new student asks me "Okay, but how do I apply this in a street fight?" I am hesitant to engage. My own feelings about this is that I would prefer to foster the training and give them time to develop their own ability to apply these things. If they are patient, that understanding will come. Aikido is not a quick learn. If they are pursuant in finding all the street applications now, I might suggest another dojo that fosters such a mind set.

From the perspective of a 'newbie' it might be a little unclear as to whether this art will be effective enough to invest the time. So some less new students might see this as a question of impatience. Many of us have seen the proverbial new student that comes in, trains every day for two weeks, sometimes two months, and then leaves frustrated. Many of those students have the same questions.

I'm sure others could chime in with a different reason, thses are just the one's which come to my mind.

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Old 02-25-2003, 02:35 PM   #3
Dennis Hooker
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I believe the main point is that these topics have been covered in detail and if one is truly interested in the "answers" to the questions then a little research in the FAQ area would be of benefit and one could query the past posts with key words so as to detail the areas of most interest to them. No one is trying to be trite or belittle anyone but as you state you are new to the list. Those of us that have been doing the Aikido computer thing even before Al Gore discovered the internet have seen and responded to these questions until they are a bane upon the eye. If people truly seek an answerer to these types of questions then their time and ours would be much better served if they first read the exhaustive past posts. Then if their questions are not answered they can be asked in a more informed manner and quite possibility contribute something new to the list. If however the desire is geared more toward personal communication with other readers then it is not really the information they seek but something else.

Dennis Hooker: (DVD) Zanshin and Ma-ai in Aikido
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Old 02-25-2003, 06:03 PM   #4
ikkainogakusei
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sorry, off topic

Quote:
Dennis Hooker wrote:
Those of us that have been doing the Aikido computer thing even before Al Gore discovered the internet
Hey Dennis,

Don't you mean -=invented=- the internet?

Hey so if you've been around that long...do you remember FidoNet?

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Old 02-25-2003, 09:01 PM   #5
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
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Quote:
Dennis Hooker wrote:
I believe the main point is that these topics have been covered in detail and if one is truly interested in the "answers" to the questions then a little research in the FAQ area would be of benefit and one could query the past posts with key words so as to detail the areas of most interest to them. No one is trying to be trite or belittle anyone but as you state you are new to the list. Those of us that have been doing the Aikido computer thing even before Al Gore discovered the internet have seen and responded to these questions until they are a bane upon the eye. If people truly seek an answerer to these types of questions then their time and ours would be much better served if they first read the exhaustive past posts. Then if their questions are not answered they can be asked in a more informed manner and quite possibility contribute something new to the list. If however the desire is geared more toward personal communication with other readers then it is not really the information they seek but something else.
Very valid points, Dennis; and I agree - there are far too many 'does Aikido work against... posts and more appearing every day.

However; I would offer this caveat: You have been around the Internet for a very long time; you know its ways intimately. There are many that are not so experienced; they may not even be aware of a search feature; let alone know how to use it. Based on this; I feel it is important to take each and every question on its merits, not its repetition.

I would also like to add that there are indeed many on this and other forums (fora?) who tend to answer 'how do you...' or 'does it work' questions with scorn; the old Teaching Mistake #1: the "I know more than you so you'll never know as much as me" mindset is very common among teachers of all experience levels. Aikido, as you would know far better than I, is in many ways extremely counter-intuitive; it takes a while to bend your head around the concept that the use of strength is a detriment, that relaxation is the way to success. In the West particularly; we grow up learning the exact opposite.

So; I would say there's no problem at all if someone new to the forum asks the same old 'does Aikido work' question - it takes nothing to answer, even if the answer one provides is a helpful link to an appropriate thread.
(Hee hee - I would also add that some variants of this question can lead to interesting results - look at the "Aikido Doesn't Work In A Fight" thread - still going strong!)

Dave

Last edited by DaveO : 02-25-2003 at 09:03 PM.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 02-25-2003, 09:10 PM   #6
ikkainogakusei
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Quote:
Dave Organ (DaveO) wrote:
Teaching Mistake #1: the "I know more than you so you'll never know as much as me" mindset is very common among teachers of all experience levels. <snip> So; I would say there's no problem at all if someone new to the forum asks the same old 'does Aikido work' question - it takes nothing to answer, even if the answer one provides is a helpful link to an appropriate thread.

Dave
Amen Brother
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Old 02-25-2003, 09:44 PM   #7
Largo
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Another thing is that these kind of things are hard to explain over the net. There lots of factors involved in any technique. Take a roundhouse kick (mawashi geri) for example. In muay thai, karate, kenpo, and in chinese arts, they are completely different (in speed, form, target, etc). In addition, the techniques vary from person to person. It's not like a video game where every technique is done exactly the same.

My advice would be to ask your sensei. It's a lot easier to get the feel of something than just reading it (at least for me)
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Old 02-26-2003, 04:08 AM   #8
johanlook
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One thing that I have noticed about seemingly endless discussions on the same subject is that sometimes new seeds of perspective can grow even out of very experienced practitioners. Just because we have answered a question one way does not always mean we will answer it the same way in the future. Even the smallest difference in perspective or experience can shed a whole new light on a subject once thought dead and buried. So while the experience of seasoned practitioners can benefit newcomers, the opportunity to once again think over the same issues can also bring the opportunity to learn something new.

Just as we practice the same techniques and principles over and over in the dojo it is often useful to continue to investigate other areas which are also important to us.
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Old 02-26-2003, 04:30 AM   #9
ian
 
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I think that effectiveness is a very difficult question Michael because in real sitations there are alot of unpredictable elements. Aikido does tackle a great degree of this in terms of emphasising principles rather than techniques, and utilising body movement. If someone asks e.g. is nikkyo really effective, the answer is a conditional yes, providing it is used at the right time by someone who can apply it effectively. Another point is that in high stress situations we tend to act on instinct, so learning a technique with the mind is not the same as being able to do it instinctively.

As Jane said, O'sensei publicly pushed the peaceful aspect of aikido (which may have arisen from his feelings about WWII). However if you read Gozo Shiodas 'Shugyo' (which I recommend you do), you may get a different impression.

If aikido has taught me anything, it is that every situation is different and the best way to produce an appropriate response is to understand this.

Although there are often 2 different schools of thought in that some believe it is not primarily a self-defence, I disagree, and I don't think Ueshiba thought that either. However it is much more than just self-defence; it is a method of reconciliation; after all, if you beat someone to a pulp, what have you achieved? The self-defence aspect in some ways is the earlier focus, but once you gain confidence in that and then do not fear losing face in a fight and also meet the challange of facing death, then the importance of this drops away and other things come to the fore.

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-26-2003, 12:52 PM   #10
Erik
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Stick with me on this one.

I think what we have here is a typical business situation.

Customer: How do I get the program to do X?

Tech Support: Grrrr, press alt-ctl-x-y-Z, be sure to capitalize the Z.

Customer: Uh, OK, that was......

Tech Support: Moron! It's in the manual, don't they ever RTFM? How many times do I have to answer the same freakin' question....

Meanwhile.....

Engineer 1: I've got 7 fingers, I think the command should be alt-ctl-x-y-Z-a.

Engineer 2: Great idea! Makes total sense to me.

Meanwhile....

Manager: Everything is great here in my office.

Meanwhile....

Tech Support: Press.......

Customer: ??????????

Repeat endlessly.

And now another story which was taken from a book called the Accidental Salesperson. There was an airline which had 5 crashes in 5 years. This is a lot and it made people uncomfortable flying despite it's safety. The author tells a story about getting on a flight and the captain says, "we have completed all pre-flight checks....". Well, of course, they have. They do this every time they fly but telling people made all the difference. It made them comfortable because they were told it happened.

So, what does all of this have to do with the thread? First, kicks are clearly an issue in our art. Effectiveness is also an issue. They are issues because the question constantly comes up. Whether they are real issues is irrelevant, it's a perceived issue, therefore real and should be dealt with. If so, then the question becomes how to solve it?

We are going at it from a tech support perspective. "Yes, we have defeneses for kicks......." Engineering sits in a world innoculated from this concern because they are worrying about whatever they worry about. The customer sits there scratching there head because in the movies they kick and in the dojo no one does. Management has no clue because they don't talk to customer service, customers or engineering.

It seems to me that as much as anything we have a perception problem, hence, we need to change the perception. The solution is easy. Incorporate kicks into the testing curriculum. All you need to do is require a technique against a front-kick, side-kick and roundhouse-kick somewhere in the testing curriculm. It wouldn't even matter if the techniques taught were any good (although presumably they would be) just that we did something and showed it clearly.

Changing the testing curriculum would show people that we take kicks seriously. It would show people that we take effectiveness seriously. Most importantly, it would end the water-torture aspect of this for everyone.

Anyways, for what it is worth.

Last edited by Erik : 02-26-2003 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 02-26-2003, 11:58 PM   #11
Kelly Allen
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Erik that was beautiful! A little long winded, but a very well described valid point. The Dojo I train in show technics to defend against kicks. There are no tests for them but they are valid defences just the same. They, with all the other attacks, are practiced at first with proper technic in mind, then practiced with the attacker useing true intent. From what I have read on this and other forums this isn't always the way other dojos train and it should.
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Old 02-27-2003, 05:20 AM   #12
mike lee
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turntables

Quote:
They, with all the other attacks, are practiced at first with proper technic in mind, then practiced with the attacker useing (sic) true intent.
Isn't Technic a division of Panasonic?
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Old 02-27-2003, 06:25 AM   #13
happysod
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You dare question in the dojo? Shame on you, haven't your realised you true place in heaven's hierarchy that is embodied on earth by the dojo?

Seriously though, I have no problems with questions, as long as it doesn't interrupt the flow of practice. A common complaint by many teachers in any subject is often new students want to run before crawling and sometimes end up in a continual case of "but what if ...". However, treating others as insolent for being curious points more to a lack of confidence in the teacher, rather than a problem with the student...

To get back to your main query on kicks etc. I agree, there shouldn't be any "out of bounds" attacks in aikido (may draw the line at firearms?) and you should learn how to deal with them. Again, there's a "but" - kicks and more advanced/"deadly" attacks normally end up with (at the very least) harder falls and more pain, subjecting new students to this may be excessive?

Disclaimer: this reply has been passed through Word to avoid Mike's new fatwah on "baad speeling", so take it up with Microsofty me old mukka
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Old 02-27-2003, 06:44 AM   #14
Kelly Allen
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LOL Ian! I'm starting to leave intentional spelling mistakes so Mike is otherwise occupied from flaming ppl.
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Old 02-27-2003, 06:59 AM   #15
mike lee
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Cool toast

Quote:
I'm starting to leave intentional spelling mistakes so Mike is otherwise occupied from flaming ppl.
A likely story.

Anyway, I think the term "flaming" is a little harsh. I prefer "singe."

In any case, I'm going to work on being a nicer guy from now on because I'm finally starting to realize that aikidoists are a highly sensitve lot.

I often hope that if I ever get in another street fight, that it's with another aikidoist, because I wouldn't have to punch them, all I would have to do is hurt their feelings.
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Old 02-27-2003, 07:30 AM   #16
Edward
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Well, regarding the kicks, even though I am for practicing techniques against kicks occasionally, it seems to me that kicks do not offer the same didactic potential and blending possibilities as strikes or hand grabs. Ukemi from kicks is also a little awkward since you have to fall from already a stretched one footed stance. Also defences tend to be very direct, kind of irimi like rather than tenkan....
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Old 02-27-2003, 07:40 AM   #17
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Re: Effectiveness and Insolence

[quote="Jane Tao (ikkainogakusei)"]

Hi Michael,

If one were to begin to examine O'Sensei's discussion of "The Art of Peace" you might see that it accents on the nonviolent. This is taken to heart by many aikidoka. Yet we are practicing a martial art, by it's very nature it has the potential for violence, how do we reconcile the two? Everyone comes to their own conclusion, and in doing so, sometimes they find an aiki-community that helps reinforce that conclusion.

Hello,

The book called "The Art of Peace" is a collection of the Founder's sayings put together & edited by John Stevens and published by Shambala Publications. Are these the discussions you have in mind? I ask because very often the Founder's sayings are taken out of their original context. I want to be sure that I have understood exactly what you mean by O Sensei's discussion of "The Art of Peace".

Best,

P A Goldsbury
_______________________
Hiroshima, Japan
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Old 02-27-2003, 08:30 AM   #18
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, there are many of us here who do practice Aikido as a martial art and welcome the question of effectiveness.

IMHO, Perhaps the issue is one of patience on the part of new students who want the quick-fix McDojo style of training and guarantees. They tend to ask or expect effectiveness far too soon.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-27-2003, 09:15 AM   #19
Carl Simard
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
Well, regarding the kicks, even though I am for practicing techniques against kicks occasionally, it seems to me that kicks do not offer the same didactic potential and blending possibilities as strikes or hand grabs. Ukemi from kicks is also a little awkward since you have to fall from already a stretched one footed stance. Also defences tend to be very direct, kind of irimi like rather than tenkan....
It's the same thing for our dojo. I may also add that training a lot against kicks doesn't make much sense in a self defense effectiveness point of view. If you're attacked on the street, there's not much chance that the guy in front of you will start with a circular kick... There's a much higher probability that it will try to grab/puch you at first...

And, even if it's the case in movie, in real life, apart some martial artists, there isn't much peoples that know or are able to give an effective kick.

So, it's simply make more sense to train more against the kind of attacks that you have the most chance to defend agaisnt: grapple and punchs...
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Old 02-27-2003, 09:44 AM   #20
ikkainogakusei
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Straight Face

Quote:
"Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello,

The book called "The Art of Peace" is a collection of the Founder's sayings put together & edited by John Stevens and published by Shambala Publications. Are these the discussions you have in mind? I ask because very often the Founder's sayings are taken out of their original context. I want to be sure that I have understood exactly what you mean by O Sensei's discussion of "The Art of Peace".

Best,
Uh, somehow this seems like a preamble to forensic discussion. Yes, you are correct, I was referring to the mas-marketed 'keepsake' style book which is easily accessable to the general public. It is my understanding that John Stevens did get the words 'Art of Peace' from the term/word Aikido, which is not an exact translation.

The intention was to refer someone to the most readily available source of writings not meant to be how-to's on Aikido. Though I will not say that John Stevens is the ultimate authority.

respectfully,

me
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Old 02-27-2003, 09:56 AM   #21
Erik
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Quote:
Kelly Allen wrote:
A little long winded
Not me! No way! You gotta be referring to the other Erik(c)'s. And, thank you.

Ok, shorter version.

In sales there are 2 basic ways to handle an objection:

a) Respond to the objection over and over and over and over.....

b) Gear your presentation so that it deals with the objection prior to the customer raising it.

I believe that showing a kick defense in a demo or including them on a test would eliminate 50% or more of the effectiveness questions we continually get. Then all we'd have to deal with are the 'what happens if we go to the ground' group.
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Old 02-27-2003, 05:37 PM   #22
Edward
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Good question, Eric! So what happens if we go to the ground? Is aikido effecticve on the ground?

Last edited by Edward : 02-27-2003 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 02-27-2003, 08:24 PM   #23
jk
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And what about small arms fire? Will aikido work against small arms fire? How about torch-bearing peasant mobs? English football hooligans? Jilted ex-lovers? And so on and so forth...

Erik, the idea about incorporating kick-defenses to testing requirements sounds good, but as Edward mentions, what about defenses against wrasslers who want to take you down? You could very well end up with serious curriculum bloat...like some versions of hapkido I'm aware of.
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Old 02-27-2003, 09:56 PM   #24
ikkainogakusei
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Quote:
John Kuo (jk) wrote:
And what about small arms fire? Will aikido work against small arms fire? How about torch-bearing peasant mobs? English football hooligans? Jilted ex-lovers? And so on and so forth...
You've forgotten about Vx, nuclear attacks, and asteroids like The Hammer of God. All of which are still less dangerous that jilted ex-lovers. :P :P

'Blend grasshopper, you must blend around the nerve gas.'

Sorry, I just had to jump on the silly wagon for a moment.

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Old 02-27-2003, 11:38 PM   #25
SmilingNage
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I think its human nature to ask those sort of questions when entering a martial art. I for one would be abit weary about the motivations behind the questions of that nature. I think a good answer would be " train, train, then train some more. Maybe you will be able to answer your own question." The answer to their question can only be revealed through intensive training. Kick defense, etc. may not be taught in the dojo, but with training, and experience , I think many of the theories taught will prevail in such instances.

So if you have those questions, keep training and answer them yourself

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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