Brian Gibson wrote:
...I've watched some ridicoulous videos of some of the "softer Aikido", that I would never consider in in the least. ...I had read that the Aikikai? "post WW2" stuff was more realistic, applicable and intended to be trained for realistic SD purposes etc...how Aikikai differs from the softer Aikido......and any experiences regarding the different camps/styles
Hi Brian, I hope I can help. I've trained with several different clubs in the UK and have used Aikido in self-defence 4-5 times, including a knife attack.
Firstly, styles are not too important. The quality of the instructor is far more important.
Secondly, aikido is different to many martial arts in that it is not technique based. By this I mean that aikido is a METHOD of training (just as e.g. systema is). All the aikido techniques are found in other martial arts esp. ju-jitsu. I would say the main purpose of aikido is:
1. to develop instantaneous reactions
2. be able to change technique fluidly if the attacker resists/moves differently
3. to be able to utilise appropriate force and thus reduce aggression from the attacker.
4. develop awareness (esp. for multiple attacks)
5. develop timing and distancing
Working in law enforcement you'll know that unarmed self-defence is the last line of defence and ideally situations are dealt with more effectively with other means. I've found aikido useful since it is not an on/off martial art like typical striking arts, but allows a graded response dependent on the level of aggression. We have taught several policemen at our dojo who have used it very effectively.
Pre-war aikido could be considered to be 'harder' although I would ignore the talk of hard and soft. The dojo is a training arena and anyone who believes it is anything like real is fooling themselves. The reason why some aikido looks 'soft' is because people are developing sensetivity which enables them to change technique rapidly and to react (blend) to the attack.
Aikido is really very very simple (a necessaity in real self defence), but it involves overcoming our natural tendency to struggle and instead utilising blending to move with the attacker (whilst maintaining posture). Conversely, some 'hard' clubs are doing nothing but staged ju-jitsu style techniques. Now, I can't vouch for your local aikido clubs, but I can say that you must be clear what you want to get out of your training so you can assess these, and don't presume that because someone is doing it in a hard (or a soft) way it is effective.
People who trained with Ueshiba (aikido's originator) have said that they often felt like they'd fallen over themselves, but no matter how they tried to attack they couldn't stop being thrown. It's a bit like being a butcher - a good butcher does not hack at the meat, they carve it gently and precisely. Neither someone who hacks at the meat, nor someone who gently prods it with the blade could be considered good.
1. find a good martial artist rather than a style (it doesn't even have to be specifically aikido, although I think the training method is most suited to self defence)
2. Find someone who is effective but efficient.
Hope this helps! - if in doubt, just try it