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Old 03-06-2003, 11:41 AM   #1
kensparrow
Dojo: Methuen Aikido
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being defeated

Hello all!

I'm new to aikido and even newer to this forum so please bear with me as this is my first attempt at starting a new thread.

From what I've read, the street effectiveness of aikido is a long and hottly contested subject. What I've noticed is that most of the nay sayers are basing their opinion on an imagined conflict between an aikido practioner and someone from another style. I've also noticed that for every one of these posts, there are 10 replies by people who have fought off everything including a pack of rabid wolverines by the skillful application of shihonage and a well placed atemi or two.

So, my question is this: Is there anyone out there who has had (and who will admit to having had) the unfortunate experience of trying to use their aikido off the mat and failing? If so, what lessons did you learn? Did the experience shake your confidence in either the art, yourself or both? Did it change the way you train or how you think of aikido?

Hopefully there won't be too many people out there with first hand experience in this but I imagine that any of you that do would have valuable insights to share.

Thanks
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Old 03-06-2003, 12:10 PM   #2
acot
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hmm.. That I should have ran away instead of walked. Sorry i know it doesn't help. I have not been in a fight since 9th grade in high school. However it is a very interesting thread to start and will be interesting to see the replys.

ryan
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Old 03-06-2003, 12:12 PM   #3
TomE
 
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Re: being defeated

So far, aikido has never failed me (vice versa, though, is a different matter) but I don't tend to get into such situations very often to begin with...

You may find this link interesting.

To do is to be. (Nietzsche) ... To be is to do. (Descartes) ... Do be do be do. (Sinatra).
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Old 03-06-2003, 02:01 PM   #4
faramos
Dojo: University of Chicago Aikido Club
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Winning, Losing, the Difference

I've never been in a situation where Aikido has failed me. Nor do I ever plan to put myself in that situation. After practice several other Aikidoka and myself often fool around on the mat with grappling and other stuff. More often, the person attempting to apply mainly aikido techniques comes out on the bottom. Even more interesting though is that the person in control will often not respond to the applied techniques, and will even wait for such a moment when techniques are attempted. This is not too surprising as is is second nature for many aikidoka is to try a specific entering move that will give them a chance to play out a set of mechanics program in their minds.

Having been in several "real fights" (prior to aikido training), I can almost guarantee that anyone seeking to apply an aikido technique from the moment of conflict is already at a distinct disadvantage. Someone that is attacking is always looking to do the greatest amount of harm in the least amount of time. That is the reason an attacker engages so swiftly. And since most attackers aren't in the best frame of mind when charging, they are more likely to take irrational actions to cause harm. Perhaps that is why we train for the moments leading into, not during, physical conflict.

On a personal level I would attempt to do everything in my right mind to avoid any such confrontation from escalating to the point where physical contact is necessary. Moreover, I understand that if the time does come for me to engage this type of situation, all bets are off if I directly fear for my own safety. And at that point it is already too late.
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Old 03-06-2003, 11:54 PM   #5
PhilJ
 
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Hmmm... my take is that aikido is often misunderstood in this context. O'sensei was not training fighters, but rather budoka. His view of aikido (and most of the shihans') was as an art of budo.

My response to this question is always the same: how many fist fights do you anticipate getting into in your lifetime? How many will you enter into freely and willingly? If more than one or two, maybe aikido isn't a good answer for that someone.

Aikido trains us to defend against the attacks we endure in daily life: nearly 100% come from people we care about, or from people who can impact our lives in a non-life/death way (like a coworker, boss, or neighbor). If we are looking for a fight, then there is no budo. If we are looking for harmony, then we don't want to know how effective our technique is in real life.

So many people are obssessed about this, and it saddens and worries me sometimes about our combatitive natures. I think Frank hit it pretty well -- we strive to prevent escalation by using our techniques in a non-physical way. We try to restore a person's humanity and sense of balance before things get worse. To me, that is effective aikido.

Of course, for the non-physical to work, I believe your physical technique (the basis of our analogies) MUST be realistic and sincere. Using a false pretense as a basis for these analogies is not only useless, but very very dangerous.

*Phil

Phillip Johnson
Enso Aikido Dojo, Burnsville, MN
An Aikido Bukou Dojo
http://www.aikidobukou.com
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Old 03-07-2003, 12:55 AM   #6
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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I'm definitely with the "Aikido isn't about /fighting/" camp...but I must say that it's somehow satisfying/vindicating to hear that despite being a peaceful art that recognizes the humanity of the attacker, etc....once a person becomes skilled in aikido, they're actually capable of defending themselves. I'd still do aikido if this weren't true, but it'd be a bit depressing in an abstract way (it'd make it seem more like useless idealism than anything).
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Old 03-07-2003, 01:36 AM   #7
drDalek
 
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Re: being defeated

Quote:
Ken Sparrow (kensparrow) wrote:
Hello all!

So, my question is this: Is there anyone out there who has had (and who will admit to having had) the unfortunate experience of trying to use their aikido off the mat and failing? If so, what lessons did you learn? Did the experience shake your confidence in either the art, yourself or both? Did it change the way you train or how you think of aikido?
I tried "sparring" with a friend who does predominantly percussive martial arts (that is kicking and punching) and I definately lost, I can tell you exactly why I lost:

You cannot attack someone with an Aikido technique you have to outwait them while maintaining distance (ma-ai) however, whenever I tried this, my friend lost interest and was unwilling to chase me, I ended up chasing him and getting worked over for my troubles. If you have to enter, do it with a devastating atemi (not nice when fooling around with a friend)

I was not nearly quick enough to evade his attacks and do anything meaningful with his motion. A puncher / kicker, rarely attacks with any kind of commitment behind their attacks and you wont find any arms or legs dangling out there in space for you to catch. This is where blending comes in, but only if you are fast enough.

I did not realy change the way I trained, I just realised that I still need a heck of a lot of training. The bruised ego was the worst injury I sustained in our sparring match but sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is a ground shakingly bad failure to let you know that you still have far to go.
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Old 03-07-2003, 03:57 AM   #8
Saku
Dojo: Porvoo Aikikai, Porvoo
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Re: Re: being defeated

Quote:
Wynand van Dyk (drDalek) wrote:
cannot attack someone with an Aikido technique you have to outwait them while maintaining distance (ma-ai) however, whenever I tried this, my friend lost interest and was unwilling to chase me, I ended up chasing him and getting worked over for my troubles.
I think you were on a winning side until you decided to start chasing him. I think you should have just kept on staying away from him and when his interest to attack stops, the fighting stops. My point is that Aikido is not trying to subdue the opponent but to have no fight at all.

Saku Ohtonen
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Old 03-07-2003, 04:29 AM   #9
Kensai
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An interesting thread.

My aikido is still very new to me. As for fights, I have never been in one, nor would hope to be. And if I am, then I hope I do the "right" thing at that time.

Firstly Aikido unlike any other style, is about peace and harmony. But I often think (IMHO) that these words can be mis understood. If Aikido stands for all things natural, then a lion killing to save its cubs is natural. So in essence, even though fighting is a horrible thing, sometimes it is the natural harmonous thing.

I think other styles also prepare you for a "fighting" situation better than others. So sometimes cross training maybe beneficial. I have also started Judo, and I find that the randori gives me a stark reminder of what an engagement could really be like, and how would I apply Aikido in that fasion.

However, having sparred with my friends (that study Wing Chun, Ninjutsu and Ba Gua). We are all very new to martial arts (between 6 months to 2 years) I have found that Aikido can would very well, if you are commited.

Regards,

"Minimum Effort, Maximum Effciency."
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Old 03-07-2003, 07:12 AM   #10
acot
Dojo: West Michigan Aikido
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A few weeks ago a 4th dan at the dojo I train often had been involved in a boched robbery attemted of a 7/11. He did absolutly nothing to stop the robbery (their was 4 of them the large knives, very few guns here in Taiwan) in progress. However the unlucky robbers decided to attack him (apparently didn't like that he witnessed it). He did a variation of ikkyo to the first one attacking, and after that they rest ran off. Can aikido techniques be used effectively? Depends on ones talent and determination to survive.
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Old 03-07-2003, 07:21 AM   #11
ian
 
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I was in a night club and saw a big bruiser pushing people to see if he could get a reaction. I saw this one bloke get pushed near me, and as the pushee went to remonstrate the big bloke took a swing, without thinking I slipped inbetween them and tucked to the inside to do irimi nage. However his back was against the wall so I just held him there and for some reason whispered in his ear for him to calm down. After about four seconds he realised what was going on and bodily threw me backwards across the floor. Luckily I did a reverse ukemi and stood up again. By that time the bouncers had got to him.

Failure? Maybe - I didn't complete the technique. However it seemed to impress alot of people when I was thrown and got straight up and it gave the people in authority the time to intervene. What I was suprised at was the instinctive reaction from someone taking a swing!

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 03-07-2003, 07:25 AM   #12
ian
 
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P.S. I know Ueshiba has said that as soon as someone attacks they have failed. In a way I believe that too:

As you say, when most people think of a fight they think of competing and the victor being the one left standing. For me you fight or defend yourself because it is the appropriate thing to do - winning or loosing in the physical sense is irrelevant, you just do what you have to do.

The most bitterness you will feel is if you hate yourself in the future for doing something cruel, or for not acting when you should have. In my mind aikido gives you the opportunity to settle differences without resorting to violence, and when violence does occur it is not through your own incitement.

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 03-07-2003, 07:31 AM   #13
kensparrow
Dojo: Methuen Aikido
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Quote:
Phillip Johnson (PhilJ) wrote:
My response to this question is always the same: how many fist fights do you anticipate getting into in your lifetime? How many will you enter into freely and willingly? If more than one or two, maybe aikido isn't a good answer for that someone.

Aikido trains us to defend against the attacks we endure in daily life: nearly 100% come from people we care about, or from people who can impact our lives in a non-life/death way (like a coworker, boss, or neighbor). If we are looking for a fight, then there is no budo. If we are looking for harmony, then we don't want to know how effective our technique is in real life.

*Phil
I couldn't agree more. Maybe I didn't ask my question correctly to begin with. What I'm really interested in understanding is how an aikidoka deals with real world defeat after the fact. The form of the attack is irrelevent because as you said, most attacks we face in life take the form of minor arguments and such. Given that, I'd like to expand my original question to include the following: Have you ever tried to blend with a verbal or psychological attack and been whipped? Were you able to execute a graceful verbal ukemi and escape (I guess that would considered a victory ) or was your psyche dislocated? Did it affect your perception of aikido and your training methods?

Thanks for the replies. Keep 'em coming!
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Old 03-07-2003, 09:06 AM   #14
Cyrijl
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This is what bothered me in my short stint in aikido. Nobody wants to face the fact that sometimes aikido doesn't work. Sometimes nothing works with an aggressor, even running away. It did not take this thread long for people to say "well, we would never be in that situation"...sometimes people are unlucky.

Ken, i've never lost a fight, nor won one. But i think being on the losing end of a struggle gives the best opportunity to revise one's way of thinking and training. Where i do my MA we do alot of sparring. You learn quickly what works and what does not. You learn very quickly that getting hit is not fun and you want to avoid it. So you train movement. You realise that one's opponent may stagger or sway, so you learn coordination. But, unless you fight everyone, you'll never know everything.....

just my .5 cents...

melior est canis vivus leone mortuo
Bog svsami!!!
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Old 03-07-2003, 09:28 AM   #15
Joseph Huebner
 
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Self-defense is the absolute last reason I chose to study aikido. The ultimate reason for me was for health.

I'm a paramedic who has dealt with the best of humanity, and the worst. The drunks, druggies, idiots out to kick anyones butt, including those in uniform. I'm a relatively good sized guy, so I can use this to my advantage. Another advantage is the patients are laying down, I'm upright. Perhaps aikido will serve me well when a patient tries to strike me, or cut me as has happened in the past. I would like to think that aikido also teaches restraint, and will further my capabilities of being rational. I would consider defeat as unnecessarily hurting another.

Joseph

If you think you can, you will. If you think you won't, you're right.
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Old 03-07-2003, 05:55 PM   #16
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Yes, everytime I have used Aikido as a "method" to "fight" an opponent I have "lost".

Sometimes I got hit in the face tying to irimi and "catch" a "real" punch. OUCH!

Other times I let me ego get the best of me and I used my skills to take advantage of my opponent at his/her expense.

So you see, even though I physically won...I spiritually loss.

The purpose of aikido IMHO is to reconcile your own inner turmoil and conflict and bring peace to self. By doing so you can set a great example for others to follow and also see your way past ego and your own paradigms clear to see all the options for resolving conflict at the lowest possible level.

you have basically three "selfs" physical, mental and spritual, four if you count emotional. Aikido is designed to train all of these "selfs".

When most people talk about the effectiveness of aikido they are generally focusing on the physical applications. When we focus on physically defeating our opponent, we may be successful in that arena...but at the expense of not only our opponent, but of your other "selfs". We suffer mentally by pumping our ego full of the fact that we just won a fight which serves to further delude us in future battles that we may fight by giving us a false sense of security.

We may also suffer spiritually since we damage the spirit of the other person which generates bad "karma" or negative emotions/energy that may be used against us or someone else in the future.

I know it may be called upon to use our "skills" to physically defend ourselves one day....but we must also consider the healing process that must take place after the fur flies. Both you and your opponent must be considered in order to put things back in balance.

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Old 03-07-2003, 11:40 PM   #17
shadow
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there is no victory without defeat.

to have one you must have the other.

to have neither is what i consider our aim.

happiness. harmony. compassion.
--damien--
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Old 03-08-2003, 04:23 AM   #18
Hagen Seibert
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Hello Ken,

this is a very good thread you´ve raised there.

Basically, I have never got into a fight after starting Aikido. Before, once, I was attacked by a drunken person, decided not to fight back, just yielding, and he soon lost interest and his comrades did not join him.

Probably wise, but I did not feel happy with it. Because that I came out with just a bruise was only luck.

Later, after being Shodan I attended to a seminar of JuJitsu an immidiately realized that my Aikido will fail on these people. Any green belt would beat me up.

I believe it is a question of mind, as many aikidoka are harmonyseekers, and not interested in the dirty side of fighting. Unfortunately this side is there, and - although your goal is self-perfection instead of kick-everybodys-ass-like-hell - you have to look at it if you do not want to delude yourself.

In the meantime I have done some training and research myself to get over this, and now believe that the principles of Aikido do work well indeed, and just 95% of the teachers fail to realize the full potential of the self defence side of Aikido. (There ist a very good article by Stanley Pranin "Realizing Aikido´s Potential" on his Aikinews website.)
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Old 03-08-2003, 01:45 PM   #19
Matt Stevenson
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Various Rumours

So here's some things I heard about 9th hand, so take this for what it's worth. I have no personal experience to share, sorry. I can substantiate none of what I am about to share and cannot vow for any truth which might happen to occur in the following stories. Just passing on some aiki uwasa.

I heard actor Steven Segal was in a bar fight not too long ago with some big polynesian. Segal kept trying to do kotegaeshi with no success. Eventually he got clobbered. The moral? If a technique for whatever reason does not work with someone, for heaven sakes don't keep trying to do it! Even if they have never seen aikido before, they can get the idea of what you're trying to do to their wrist pretty fast.

Second, I heard a fairly prominent aikido instructor from Japan was giving a demonstration in America. A skeptical wrestler challenged him and the instructor agreed. The wrestler floored the instructor with a basic take down. How did the instructor respond? Not by discrediting a clash of fundamentals, but rather by being very impressed and began training in ground techniques to compliment his aikido. Humility.

Lastly, perhaps the most classic example of aikido vs. some other style would be Tohei Sensei taking on an American wrestler type on the 1950's film "Rendevous with Adventure". Though Tohei Sensei doesn't "lose", you may be interested to see the match. A rumour witin a rumour is that the American had heard before hand from some Judoka that you should never initiate the attack with an aikidoka. That explains the reluctance on his part.

Ja, hoped this helped more than it hurt if I'm unwittingly spreading horrible falsehoods. I guess I justify myself in the idea that the principles shared is what counts. Right?
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Old 04-01-2003, 03:10 PM   #20
Phillip Armel
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Hmm I'm still relativly young but i've been in a few fights myself. You must think though that most 99% of the time your opponet is going to rush you and clobber you not going too stand at mai distance and whap ya(normally). The thing too remember is that even if you can't use a technique on him you can still(hopefully) get out of the way and do what is needed to win. Even if you can't do a technique on him you can still get behind or bside him, which normally isn't good for him. The thing too realize is that there's always some one bigger,badder,tougher and meaner out there and NO ONE will win them all, but as said earlier you can't have victory without a defeat
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