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Old 11-22-2005, 01:35 PM   #1
bratzo_barrena
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Aikido And Self- Defense

AIKIDO AND SELF- DEFENSE

The most controversial subject of discussion regarding Aikido is its effectiveness as a method of self-defense. Usually people with experience in other martial arts, or with no experience at all, consider that Aikido is not effective, and that its techniques and principles wouldn't be useful in a real confrontation.

Who's to blame for this wide-spread but inaccurate point of view? Unfortunately, aikidokas themselves. We can't deny that even many aikidokas consider that Aikido wasn't actually created for self-defense, but only as a way to develop inner peace, love, harmony. One can see how this mistaken point of view reflects in their techniques, making them weak and ineffective, with no martial essence whatsoever. It is obvious that anyone (looking for a reliable self-defense martial) who has experienced Aikido through this so called "masters", will come to the conclusion that Aikido is a mere dance; therefore, ineffective and useless.

It is true that Aikido, as any DO (path), is meant to develop inner peace, a calm mind, and a peaceful spirit, but these inner aspects of the art, should not come into conflict with the effectiveness of its techniques, on the contrary, these inner aspects are fundamental for such effectiveness when self-defense is required. A calm mind and a peaceful spirit are indispensable to correctly perform any technique and successfully dealing with an aggression.

Aikido techniques are not magical, nor use mystical powers. Aikido techniques are based upon body mechanics and laws of physics. They take advantage of the momentum and power generated by an aggressor in his/her intention to harm us. Aikido uses different angles for creating openings, thus avoiding a direct confrontation; circular movements and leverage to the joints to redirect the attack, dissipate the energy, and disrupt his/her balance; and Atemis (strikes) to the attacker weak body points. All these movements and strategies are designed to defend one self from an opponent, or several opponents, of even superior size and strength.

Aikido techniques were designed by O'sensei Morihei Ueshiba to achieve total control over the aggressor(s) with smooth, fluid, stable, and centered movements, using the less necessary amount of strength and causing the less necessary harm on the attacker, but total control over the attacker(s) is the main goal. It is important to understand that the "less necessary harm on the attacker" doesn't mean that you never hurt anybody. It means that you cause the minimum amount of damage necessary to achieve total control over the attacker(s), and in some occasions, the minimum amount of damage necessary may result in a broken nose, arm, or worse. Obviously, when training, sensei and students must work in a safe manner to avoid injuries.

Denying this martial aspect of Aikido is a mistake. Centering the practice of Aikido only as a way of inner development, almost like a religious experience, is wrong. Negating Aikido's purpose as a martial art of self-defense is just unacceptable.

Aikido must be understood and practice for what it is: an effective, non-competitive martial art of self-defense.

article publised at: http://martialartsandfitness.typepad.com/martialarts/

Bratzo Barrena
Instructor Aikido Goshin Dojo
at Anta's Fitness & Self-Defense
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:46 PM   #2
Devon Natario
 
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

It seems like this always comes up.........

Does it really matter?

If you love Aikido, go for it. If you do not, don't.

I personally think Aikido is far more martial than say Isshin Ryu Karate or Tae Kwon Do. I also feel it is less martial for todays world than Jujitsu, Jui-Jitsu, Muay Thai and Vale Tudo. But in all honesty, it doesn't matter what the majority thinks or I think, it matters what you as a practitioner think. If you think it is the best art out there for self-defense, then sweet, I am happy you have found your art of self-defense. . . . . . . . . .
not everyone studies Aikido for self-defense either.

Devon Natario
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:49 PM   #3
aikigirl10
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

I think aikido is effective in some situations and in some it isnt. The same goes with its techniques , some are truly useful while others may just be used for improving other techniques. Im no expert but im positive that there is more to aikido than love and peace. Of course its peaceful and of course its principles are just, but that isnt to say that it can't be applied in real situations.

I think i stated this in another thread, but if you ever need to disarm someone with a weapon, pin someone, or get yourself loose of someones grip then aikido can definitely come in handy. And i think that goes for these as well as many other situations.

In the end theres only one way to see if aikido is effective in real life and thats to use it in real life. And as long as no one here has (hopefully) then theres not much more we can say other than "if this" "if that"

-Paige
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:08 PM   #4
bratzo_barrena
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Taking away the self-defense aspect of Aikido would be like taking away the goals in soccer. Maybe one would enjoy running around in a soccer field with a bunch of friends kicking a ball, but if scoring goals is not part of the game, sorry, it's not soccer (even if you call it that way).
Same with Aikido, maybe one loves to dance around with "aikido-like movements", one can even feel "illuminated", and that is entering to a new level of spirituality, but without the self-defense aspect, it's not Aikido.
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:18 PM   #5
bratzo_barrena
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Quote: In the end theres only one way to see if aikido is effective in real life and thats to use it in real life. And as long as no one here has (hopefully) then theres not much more we can say other than "if this" "if that"

Answer; this thread wasn't meant to discuss Aikido in any specific situation or against any specific attack, personally, I don't like "If this's" and "If that's". It was meant to express a general, basic, and fundamental part of Aikido: self-defense.

Quote: I think aikido is effective in some situations and in some it isnt.

Answer: In theory, as any other martial art, Aikido can be effective in any situation because its principles are universal, and respond to the laws of physics and body mechanics, but we are humas, and WE may not be ready to confront any situation.
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:22 PM   #6
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

bullets and bad guys that ambush you also adhere to universal principles. So I agree wtih you that we are not ready to confront many situations, nor will we ever be.

I say your time is much better spent doing "other things" if you focus is self defense.

Check out many, many other threads on this topic through the search engine.
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Old 11-22-2005, 04:26 PM   #7
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Bratzo,
Aikido is budo, so it is a way of war, i.e. about learning former times fighting techniques, which are modern nevertheless.

So yes Aikido without fight is like soccer without goals. Maybe I will miss some points about soccer as I do not know very much. In competion in soccer you try to shoot into the goals, right? In training you do it sometimes, as you want to be prepared for competion. But most of the time in training you just do fitness exercises and improve your handling the ball without taking care of the goals standing around all the time. That is at least my impression.

Now there could be a trainer who thinks it might be good to get soccer beginners not fixed to the idea of setting goals and have them just playing around the field without shooting goals. Maybe he would fail as he would not get enough participants, but assuming he gets, would you say he is not teaching soccer. He might even get some world class soccer players.

So the question is not "is aikido self defense or just Japanes dancing?" but "at what point is it essential to get realistic self defense scenarios in aikido?"
Starting with the self defense idea too early gets people concentrated in "fetching this hand", etc. If you start too late (theoretically, as I cannot define too late) people would never get the chance to score (coming back to your metaphor).

I have seen a lot of these Japanese dancers, and yes many of them would not even trust themselves on their self defense ability even at shodan level.

But seeing them as sandan, there are very few (assuming they are younger then 70 yo), I would dare to attack. I did never test and if the attacker is much heavier and stronger they might not be able to mobilise all their potentials. But on their movements are clear, exact and kind of reflex, that probably your first mistake could be your last while standing

Just my 2 cts.

Dirk
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Old 11-22-2005, 05:01 PM   #8
bratzo_barrena
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

hello Dirk,
I don't disagree with practicing Aikido movements that are not made for self-defense, some movements are just made for understanding principles and teaching body movements. They are useful and absolutelu necessary. I also must make clear that in the Dojo, there is no competition, nobody wins and nobody looses. But you should never loose the self defense aspect of the art. Taking your example:

Quote: But most of the time in training you just do fitness exercises and improve your handling the ball without taking care of the goals standing around all the time. That is at least my impression.

Answer: in soccer, you train drills, how to move the ball with your feet, how to kick a ball , with specific exercices that have nothing to to with scoring goals. But you learn that as a previous step to be able to play properly and score goals. You just don't learn to kick a ball for the sake of it.

By the way, I'm not a "fighter person", I've had very few fights in my live, and nothing more than children stuff. I guess the last time I had "fight" (a couple of punches basically) was at school, when I was 11, I'm 35 now.
So self- defense doesn't mean to go around hurting people just because is fun, or I wanna feel strong.
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Old 11-22-2005, 08:33 PM   #9
RobertFortune
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Thumbs down Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Aloha Bratzo (Did I get your name right from memory?),

Aikido is of course multi-faceted. One of the things I believe about Aikido is that it is an *intelligent" martial art. As I see it, extra care went into it beyond most other martial arts. I suspect that are those who firmly believe that superior brute force and hardcore hands on brutal combat experience cannot be overcome. The animal side of man versus the strategic intelligent side of man argument.

Clearly it comes down as usual to a fine balance between the two to achieve the optimum outcome. An intelligent being *with* the ability to unleash any amount of brutality instinctivly that a given situation calls for, but who otherwise does not seek to promote themselves as a brute animal.
Peace, Justice & Love.

Aloha,

-Robert
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Old 11-22-2005, 09:39 PM   #10
bratzo_barrena
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

answer to robert fortune:
hello Robert, I think you might be answering the wrong thread, I never talk about brute force. I talked about self-defense.
You can defende yourself with brutal force, or as Aikido allows, with the use of techniques that are posible with the minimum amount of muscular force (when properly done). So don't be confuse:
I'm not talking about Aikido being applied with brute force, I think you need to re-read my thread, is the absolute opposite.
Aikido allows you to defend yourself with the minimum amount on muscular force necessary. But you have to use your muscles anyway. Just to touch your nose you have to use your muscles to take your hand to your nose, or to be standing, you need to use the muscles of the legs to support you.
So maybe your answer came because I stated that sometimes could be necessary to hurt someone (if the situation required it for any particular reason), well, you don't have to use brute force in that case either, with just a gentle blow is easy to brake a nose, or with a gentle presure break a joint.
What makes Aikido what it is, is that its techniques allow you to control a person without hurting them, but also they allow you to really hurt anyone.
Now I'm not advocating hurting people at all, but that is a tool that is there to be used ONLY IF NECESSARY.
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Old 11-22-2005, 10:04 PM   #11
6th Kyu For Life
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

"People say 'Aikido doesn't work.' I say 'No, aikido works. Your aikido doesn't work .'"
- Hiroshi Ikeda

Actually, I think the real problem is terminology. The phrase "self-defense" does not accurately describe aikido. Aikido is not defensive, nor is it offensive. I would argue that aikido transcends the concepts of "defense" and "offense," but at the same time includes both. In other words, aikido lies not in Uke or in Nage, but in both. In any technique, both uke and nage are at some points "on offense" and at other points "on defense," but the whole technique is aikido, not just the defensive part.

On another more philosophical/religious note, the idea of having a self to defend is problematic as well. A fundamental tenet of Buddhism is that we have no self (anatman) to begin with. Therefore, what "self" is there to defend? This is a valid point of view because many aikido practicioners, not only O-sensei were and are Buddhist. However, this is a gross oversimplification of this Buddhist doctrine, but it's been on my mind lately...

Of course, this does not negate the martial applicability of aikido. Seeing Aikido as self defense is not entirely inaccurate, because if you get good at Aikido, yes, you will be able to defend your self if need be. But I think that it's better to talk about aikdo as "martial arts" rather than "self-defense."

Peace,
Tom Newhall
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Old 11-22-2005, 10:35 PM   #12
xuzen
 
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

I think many confuse self defense with fighting/brawling...

With regards to self defense... let's see.

1) The ukemi learned in Aikido is good self defense against accidentally slipping on a piece of banana skin or ground frost.

2) The cardio that you from getting up and being thrown all the time is a good defense against cardio vascular disease.

3) The workout you get improve you stamina and lung capacity.

4) The body co-ordination needed to do aikido improve balance and is a good defense against falling down

5) The good environment in a typical aikido dojo is a good place to enhance mental well being.

6) etc etc ...

And one last word... Shioda Kancho said aikido enable harmony even in confrontation. Not many martial art is able to let its practitioner do that, is it?

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 11-22-2005, 10:46 PM   #13
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Quote:
Tom Newhall wrote:
"People say 'Aikido doesn't work.' I say 'No, aikido works. Your aikido doesn't work .'"
- Hiroshi Ikeda

This is a valid point of view because many aikido practicioners, not only O-sensei were and are Buddhist.
Tom Newhall
Hi Tom,

I like H. Ikeda's quote. As for the part of O'sensei being budhhist, may not entirely be accurate. He was a shinto devotee, not buddhist as far as I know.

Saying he is buddhist may be like saying the Pope is an Anglican and the archbishop of Cantebury is a Catholic. This being the closest analogy I can come out at the moment.

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 11-23-2005, 05:25 AM   #14
Nick Simpson
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Did anyone see Neighbours yesterday? Boyd's only trained a couple of times and hasnt been to class for a few months but he can throw Dillon with mad kokyunages against any attack! So Aikido must be great for self defence!

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 11-23-2005, 05:44 AM   #15
darin
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

I think aikido is about as effective as any other martial art. It really depends on the person, situation and the opponent/s. Most of the schools I have been to where the instructors talk big about self defence are very boring.
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Old 11-23-2005, 05:55 AM   #16
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I say your time is much better spent doing "other things" if you focus is self defense.
(New here, and quite new to aikido. Hi everyone!)

My feeling on this is that if my goal was to be able to kick sand in the face of 98 pound weaklings as soon as possible there's no way I'd be doing aikido. On the other hand, there's a strange authenticity thing that I wouldn't study aikido if I didn't feel that it was, in principle, martially effective. I don't mind that I'd have to spend years studying to get the speed and accuracy to not get knocked out by a moderately competent boxer, provided I know that it is possible.

Interestingly,and at a slight tangent, I was watching people do kakari geiko at training a few days ago, and worrying about openings that they were leaving because they knew that the only possible strike was a right handed tanto stab - people were standing open to knees to the groin, left hand punches and so on. This worried me slightly in a 'randori practice only improves your randori' sort of way. Then I saw a couple of the higher graded students doing the same, and was reassured - when the techniques were done properly, there were no openings whatsoever. Nice to know!
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Old 11-23-2005, 07:26 AM   #17
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Quote:
Nick Simpson wrote:
Did anyone see Neighbours yesterday? Boyd's only trained a couple of times and hasnt been to class for a few months but he can throw Dillon with mad kokyunages against any attack! So Aikido must be great for self defence!

I did, I wish I was as good as him

But seriously, he actually had a point when he was talking to Dillon about the philosophy of it, a bit trite, but if it gets the point accross to the masses, then....

Aikido doesn't work? My Aikido works, what on earth are you practicing?!
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Old 11-23-2005, 07:27 AM   #18
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

i beleive aikido originally was done for self defence,
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Old 11-23-2005, 08:17 AM   #19
Nick Simpson
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

I wish i could do aikido as well as boyd too, seriously.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 11-23-2005, 08:40 AM   #20
SeiserL
 
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

As my usualy stance, of which I never tire repeated, people are effective or ineffective, not systems.

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 11-23-2005, 09:15 AM   #21
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
As my usualy stance, of which I never tire repeated, people are effective or ineffective, not systems.
Up to a point, Lord Copper.

In pure terms, muay tai (for instance) may not be a more effective system than aikido, but I suspect that in the short term, muay tai will probably make you an effective person more quickly.

This assumes, of course, that by 'effective' you mean 'good at violently injuring people'. I don't, which is part of the reason I choose to take up aikido.

You're right of course that any discussion of this kind tends to get clouded by the fact that as well as the variation from art to art, there's variation from style to style, class to class and student to student. Coming from tai chi, I know that all too well...
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Old 11-23-2005, 11:27 AM   #22
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Quote:
Xu Wenfung wrote:
He was a shinto devotee, not buddhist as far as I know.

Saying he is buddhist may be like saying the Pope is an Anglican and the archbishop of Cantebury is a Catholic. This being the closest analogy I can come out at the moment.
This is probably something for the "spirituality" section, but oh well.
Xu, you're kind of right. Oomoto kyo, the sect that O-sensei was a part of is probably best classified as Shinto-Buddhist syncretism, that is, it combines elements of both, but is not really one or the other. But this could also be said about most Japanese religion. According to the CIA World Fact Book 84% of Japanese people observe both shinto and buddhism. So basically, Japanese religion works differently than Christianity in that you can be both Buddhist and Shinto at the same time. So this could not only apply to O-sensei, but to many of the founding figures of aikido, and to Japanese aikidoka today. So yes, he was Shinto, and yes he was Buddhist. If the pope were japanese he could be both the pope and the archbishop of canturbury. Just kidding .

But I should also mention, that the doctrine of "no-self" is probably more important in Buddhist doctrine and exegesis than when it comes to the day-to-day Buddhism of Japanese people. So maybe my point is really pointless.

Peace,
Tom Newhall

Last edited by 6th Kyu For Life : 11-23-2005 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 11-23-2005, 11:34 AM   #23
Fred Little
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Quote:
Xu Wenfung wrote:
Hi Tom,

I like H. Ikeda's quote. As for the part of O'sensei being budhhist, may not entirely be accurate. He was a shinto devotee, not buddhist as far as I know.

Saying he is buddhist may be like saying the Pope is an Anglican and the archbishop of Cantebury is a Catholic. This being the closest analogy I can come out at the moment.

Boon.
Most Japanese are Buddhist when they die. Because the Shinto priests don't have anything to do with dead bodies as a basic matter of ritual purity.

That's a little bit flip, but really, almost every Shinto shrine has a small Buddhist space within it and vice versa.

Most Japanese are Buddhist, Shinto, and Confucian, see no conflict there, and their ritual practices are context appropriate.

It would be fair to say that Shinto appears to have been the dominant theme in the Founder's practice during his lifetime.
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Old 11-23-2005, 11:35 AM   #24
Fred Little
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

Terry Dobson was fairly adamant on this point:

"Aikido is not an art of self-defense. Aikido is an art of protection."

Make of that what you will....
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Old 11-23-2005, 12:52 PM   #25
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Re: Aikido And Self- Defense

This was posted recently on Aikido Journal but it seems relevant to the discussion...
True Self Defense
Hope this is of interest...

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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