One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is that your aikido does you little good if you do not remain aware of your surroundings at all times & keep zanshin. How will your training at the dojo help you if you are hit on the head with a blackjack by an attacker while you are obliviously fumbling to find your keys?
A friend of mine, who is also the assistant instructor at our dojo, has an agreement with me that I can try to sneak up on him while he is teaching class & try to pin, throw, or hit him (not maliciously, of course
). I will occasionally stop practicing with my partner to try and get the jump on him when I think I have an opening. Most of the time, I end up buckling up & riding the friendly skies, but from time to time I slip a punch in that we can both laugh about and learn from.
There are many wonderful ways to supplement, experience, & further develop the skills that you are learning on the mat.
Depending on your level of training, get a fellow aikidoka to put on some boxing gloves and REALLY try to hit you. They don't have to try and knock your block off, but the pressure of balanced minimally committed multiple attacks will show you rather quickly how far your aikido has progressed. Try turning tenkan on a right cross that is delivered immediately following the three lightning-fast jabs that you have deflected. It is really hard to get the timing right!!!If one doesn't learn to keep your center covered, establish good mai, & learn to move uke off of you center line (normally we move off of uke's line of attack) then a good boxer will eat you up & spit out your hakama!
My main point in all this rambling is that many people make excuses and sweeping generalizations to compensate for what is lacking in their aikido. Some will say, "Oh, well aikido doesn't work well against a boxer"..."aikido isn't about self defense, it's about personal developement"..."we aren't interested in learning how to fight"... I think all of that is nonsense. We each make our own aikido what it is. My current sensei always says that "Aikido, when
performed properly, can be used to control any attacker using any attack".
So yeah...this stuff really does work, & it is really fun! Although it is a blast to mess around & amaze your friends out of the dojo (I do), keep in mind the words of O Sensei as well - "The purpose of aikido is to train mind and body and to produce sincere, earnest people. Since all the techniques are to be transmitted person-to-person, do not randomly reveal them to others, for this might lead to their being used by hoodlums"
and the late Doshu:
"The aim of aikido is to develop the truly human self. It should not be used to display ego."