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Old 10-09-2004, 04:53 PM   #1
Yokaze
 
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More than the sum of its parts

Disclaimer: Please remember that all of this is my own personal take on things, and I don't think my opinion is any more qualified than anyone elses. In other words, the entire following post is all IMHO.)

I keep seeing all kinds of back and forth debates over the practicality of Aikido as a method of self-defense, as a way to "win" a fight, as a way to stay safe. It seems to me that many who believe Aikido is impractical are failing to see the true meaning behind the art.

Let me start by stating that I am a beginner. I have been told, and I believe wholly, that there are a few big steps in Aikido. When you first walk into the dojo and complete your first lesson, you have proven that you're willing to show up. Once.

When you take your first test (In my case, the 5th kyu test), you've demonstrated that you're willing to keep showing up and working.

Only at the rank of Shodan have you demonstrated that you are ready to actually begin the learning process. Only at the rank of Shodan does the real learning begin.

What I am doing right now, as a kyu, is exercise. Training my body to memorize moves and distances by repeating them over and over again. Do I think that I'm going to be able to execute iriminage on an attacker that gives me plenty of warning before he strikes? Of course not.

The essence of Aikido is melding with your partner, or attacker, in order to keep yourself safe. In doing that, you need to know how to move. How to avoid an attack, how to disarm and restrain the attacker. No two attackers are the same, so you will need to know how to read your opponent's moves and how to keep the danger as far from your center as possible.

In the end, Aikido teaches these things. How to stay focused under pressure, how to move so that your opponent has no chance to hurt you. How the human body works, what areas of the body can be manipulated to restrain without injuring. How to be confident enough in your abilities to move WITH an attack instead of simply away from it.

Most importantly, Aikido teaches us that the easiest fight to win is the one that never happens. In our case, "winning" does not mean beating the tar out of your opponent. It means defusing the situation so that there's a minimum of violence. What's the best way to protect myself? Ensure that I'm aware enough to keep myself out of harm's way in the first place.

So try not to view Aikido as merely a collection of motions. Instead, I try to go through the training without thinking of how it may be useful to me later, and make learning its own end.

I'm fairly certain that the rest will fall into place.

Any comments would be welcome, I'd love to hear anyone's point of view, agreeing or not.

Last edited by Yokaze : 10-09-2004 at 04:55 PM.

"The only true victory is victory over oneself."

Rob Cunningham
3rd Kyu

Icon courtesy of Norbert Knoll http://www.aikido-verein-hannover.de
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Old 10-09-2004, 05:14 PM   #2
senseimike
 
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Re: More than the sum of its parts

Quote:
Rob Cunningham wrote:
Let me start by stating that I am a beginner. I have been told, and I believe wholly, that there are a few big steps in Aikido. When you first walk into the dojo and complete your first lesson, you have proven that you're willing to show up. Once.

When you take your first test (In my case, the 5th kyu test), you've demonstrated that you're willing to keep showing up and working.

Only at the rank of Shodan have you demonstrated that you are ready to actually begin the learning process. Only at the rank of Shodan does the real learning begin.

What I am doing right now, as a kyu, is exercise. Training my body to memorize moves and distances by repeating them over and over again. Do I think that I'm going to be able to execute iriminage on an attacker that gives me plenty of warning before he strikes? Of course not.
After achieving a dan ranking several years ago I finally understood what this meant. The way that I relate this point to students is that the kyu rankings are like an elementary and high school education. Dan rankings are the equivalent of college degrees. It takes some willpower and dedication to achieve these ranks, as it does to achieve a bachelors, masters, etc. The kyu rankings are to build your basics, dan rankings to expand your knowledge and specialize.

In using this statement to tell students about the difference, I also like to remind them that there is no GED in Aikido.

Mike Taylor
Godan
Chief Instructor, Rising Star Aikido
South Bend, Nebraska, USA
www.risingstaraikido.com
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Old 10-09-2004, 06:36 PM   #3
disabledaccount
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Re: More than the sum of its parts

In my opinion, the most important thing to evaluate in any system claiming to teach "self-defense" is whether or not the system can keep it's adherents safe. In that regard Aikido more than foots the bill.

Aikido will keep you safe when you slip on a wet floor or an icy street.

Aikido will keep you safe when you find yourself without another outlet for stress.

Aikido will keep you safe when you suffer from a genetic propensity for cardiovascular illnesses.

Aikido will keep you flexible, healthy, and calm.

Aikido will keep you safe from the self-destructive urge to clash with someone physically.

Aikido will keep you safe from legal troubles that result from harming another.

And finally, Aikido will keep you safe should you find yourself in a situation where your only option is to physically engage an assailant.

I must point out that the last scenario is the least likely to occur in the average person's lifetime. That being the case, shouldn't we be looking to the auxiliary self-defense benefits to studying our chosen arts?
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Old 10-10-2004, 11:24 AM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: More than the sum of its parts

IMHO, your learning process and the ability to apply technique in and out of the Dojo is a matter of your own personal commitment and intent. I have seen green belts be very effective and I have seen Sandan (3rd degree black belts) not have a clue.

I do agree that in the beginning you are learning the basics and its exercise in learning how to move and a new model for confronting conflict, the parts. Things just keep revealing themselves if we hang in there, more of the parts. As parts come together, they do equal more than the whole.

Now, back to training.

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 10-13-2004, 10:54 PM   #5
Yokaze
 
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Re: More than the sum of its parts

It just bothers me when I hear people claiming that "Aikido is not practical" or "Aikido is not useful at all in a fight."

The fact is, if the teachings of Aikido don't work for a particular person in a fight, it's not the fault of the art itself, it's usually a failing in the student.

Aikido is not like boxing or wrestling (both of which I've done.) It will not begin immediately to teach you how to kick someone's tail. Boxing and wrestling teach you practical ways to hurt your opponent on the first day.

Learning how NOT to hurt your opponent is a more complicated task.

One cannot expect to, even at the rank of Shodan, be able to take control of any situation using Aikido. Yet, how many of you would want to fight your sensei, even if you outnumber him or her? Mastery is required for practicality, and nobody who is less than a master has any basis in telling us that Aikido can't be used in a fight.

"The only true victory is victory over oneself."

Rob Cunningham
3rd Kyu

Icon courtesy of Norbert Knoll http://www.aikido-verein-hannover.de
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Old 10-14-2004, 05:55 AM   #6
paw
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Re: More than the sum of its parts

Quote:
Rob Cunningham wrote:
It just bothers me when I hear people claiming that "Aikido is not practical" or "Aikido is not useful at all in a fight." ...

One cannot expect to, even at the rank of Shodan, be able to take control of any situation using Aikido.
Respectfully, you should be able to see how someone who is new to these things can say your last statement contradicts your first.

Quote:
Rob Cunningham wrote:
Yet, how many of you would want to fight your sensei, even if you outnumber him or her?
Not sure what you're getting at here. A sensei, any sensei is flesh and blood just like the rest of us..they have good days and bad days...they are not: infallible, all knowing or perfect. Personally, I find that an encouraging thing as it shows that no matter how long we train, there is still more that we may learn.

Quote:
Rob Cunningham wrote:
Mastery is required for practicality, and nobody who is less than a master has any basis in telling us that Aikido can't be used in a fight.
Sidestepping the obvious question of what is "a master", anyone can have an opinion.


Regards,

Paul
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Old 10-14-2004, 06:28 AM   #7
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Re: More than the sum of its parts

The only way to settle the debate of whether Aikido works in a fight or not is to use it in a fight. If this means bumping shoulders with your friendly neighborhood streetgang or entering into a widly televised UFC then so be it. I dont understand the moral objections people have against doing this. Its not competing, its silencing the uninformed objectors.

If you manage to alleviate this constant, bloody itch about effectivity with one altercation then that is worth it. If you get killed then the rest of the Aikido world can point at you and bring out that old chestnut about it being the martial artist not the art and how one person's lack of skill should not be representative of the entire community.

If you succeed and manage to win then the entire rest of the Aikido world will look at you fondly and remember you for years as that guy that silenced the bjj ruffians and the mma-is-better-than-everything crowds.

The moral objections people give are often along the line of: but osensei said not to compete! Yes sure, but he also accepted challengers to his dojo and gleefully allowed his students to beat the snot out of them (according to Gozo Shioda's Aikido Shugyo)

Its the same issue here, our dojo just happens to be the worldwide community of practioners and every day, uninformed idiots and macho-bullyboys challenge us and we just shrug and go on with our holier-than-thou schtick. If Aikido Shugyo is to be believed, bones would have been broken by now.

A few other cliches that get brought up alot is that old one about how Aikido should be practiced for the side benefits of good health and fitness, nonsense, if your chosen MARTIAL art does not give you MARTIAL prowess through the sincere and diligent practice thereof, then it cant be called a MARTIAL art anymore.

In a few short years, I will feel qualified enough to open my own dojo and I will gladly accept challengers and gleefully break faces to silence the detractors. I can afford to do that because litigation is neither cheap nor easy down here so the risks to me and my business will be greatly reduced.
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Old 10-14-2004, 08:57 AM   #8
ian
 
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Re: More than the sum of its parts

Quote:
Wynand van Dyk wrote:
The only way to settle the debate of whether Aikido works in a fight or not is to use it in a fight. .
I agree in sentiment, but I think it misses out a large part of aikido. People are very deluded when they think of competitive 'fights' as representing reality. e.g. argument in a bar over a spilled pint, they agree to 'go outside' - the 1st person goes outside and picks up a brick and hits the second person on the head as he comes through the door way. (this actually happened).

Aikido is more than the physical aspects of the fight; it is about awareness and conflict resolution. This is not achieved through lengthy discussion, but through solid dojo practise taught by good martial artists and an opening of the mind.

Aikido is no different to any other martial art except for its training method and focus on blending. To compare it to other martial arts is b**locks. If you are sincere in your training and understand the purpose of your training, it won't matter what your martial art is, you'll search out what works for you.

I think we should forget the 'I do this martial art, you do that' attitude. As Lynn says (who I'm sure is like my guru in a past life) we follow our own path. I do aikido at the moment 'cos that's where I have to be at the moment. I have no obligations to it (even though without it I don't think I would be alive today)

Last edited by ian : 10-14-2004 at 09:06 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-14-2004, 01:15 PM   #9
Jordan Steele
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Re: More than the sum of its parts

I agree with the analysis of the learning process, but disagree that aikido is an effective martial art regarless. No martial art is superior to another and none of them are effective for self defense if the operator doesn't use them properly. Aikido has great tools, but how those tools are handled is an entirely different story. You don't use a hammer on a screw. Putting aside effective self defense ideas, it is my firm belief that Aikido techniques are almost useless in a fight situation, but Aikido attitude is vastly superior to those of other arts. It is all in the person though.
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