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Home > General > "Real" Aikido
by Carol M. Shifflett <Send E-mail to Author> - 17. May, 1997

Editor's note: This article was written as a contrasting viewpoint to an ongoing discussion on the Aikido Mailing List regarding subjects such as Hollywood Super Bad Guys, Movie "Martial Arts," Automatic Weapons on the Street, the "killing techniques" found in aikido, and the "impossibility" or "stupidity" of protecting the attacker.

David Berger wrote on Aikido-L:
What we are all striving for is complete control over an attacker, a perfect combination of timing and sensitivity and power that allows us to go untouched as we "move" our attacker wherever we want. This may be onto his head or this may be simply to the other side of the room where he is, temporarily, no longer a threat (your choice). But at that level of control, you have that choice. I think that Aikido (by concensus) suggests what you do with that control.

And Carol says "Yay David!"

Now we're talking Real Aikido, responsibility, range of options.

One of the problems I see here is defining the notion of "attacker". To this end I offer the following personal experiences:

  • Drunken Buddies
    Many karate jocks walk into our dojo, immediately conclude that "it's faking" (as I did) and walk right back out. One guy, however, came HOPING that it was for real -- Tae Kwon Do black belt whose fraternity brothers were coming home drunk and throwing punches and kicks at him so he would "show them his moves" -- not realizing that his moves were designed to smash teeth and rip out lungs. His unwillingness to harm was getting him beaten up. "What can I do?" he said. "These are my brothers. I don't want to hurt them!" We showed him tenkan. He stayed.

  • Abusive Children
    When my husband's 12-year old son came to visit us he took to hitting me, slapping me, kicking me at every opportunity. When I spoke to him, he "wasn't doing anything" or he was "just playing." Understandable -- he loves his Mom and loves his Dad and tho they'd already been divorced for 7 years when we met, it's clear to a kid that if only this strange other person who he doesn't know at all would just GO AWAY, then Mom and Dad could get back together again. Wrong -- but understandable. Problem was, the "kid" was as big as me and weighed more. And being abusive. What am I to do? Yell "just wait til your father gets home!!" at every incident? Pull out my handy .45 or Uzi and blow him away? Hmmmmm. Time for some Real Life Aikido! The next punch got him flipped onto the couch. The next grab got him rolled gently across the rug and the next kick got him a firm but authoritative face-plant. Any combination of these got him thoroughly out of breath (as he's also fighting gravity) but he was allowed to live.

    And I did not get arrested for murder.

Now imagine yer basic high-school fullback drunk, strung out on drugs, whatever. This is your kid, your brother, your friend -- and under the circumstances, your ATTACKER. AIEEE!!! SLAM! SMASH! But wait! . . . Are you going to purposely smash that person you care about? Do everything you can to crush and destroy? or -- Be rendered completely helpless by unwillingness to harm? Or are you going to be effective and real glad that the effectiveness and control come with the option NOT to smash and destroy?

And maybe you might train for that?


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