How appliable is aikido for self-defense?

Discussion in 'Aikido' started by kehcorpz, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Ok. So I look at that and think what is the point?

    What is it even training? or what is it showing even?
     
  2. O'Malley

    O'Malley Green Belt

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    What I meant by "I don't understand what he's doing" is closer to what drop bear asked.

    Did some research on him, his demonstrations are controversial. Regarding his aikido ability, people seem to agree that he can make the classic techniques work really well even though E. Amdur says that Watanabe doesn't really bother with correct positioning. And he is reported to offer very good technical advice and some of his students are outstanding at conventional aikido.

    So maybe he's just having fun with the concepts?
    Maybe he's really good at connecting with people and does "sympathy throws" like "would you please fall down here"?
    Maybe he's delusional?
    Maybe he messes with their sense of distance/movement in a very subtle way?
    Maybe it's just an exercise to teach his students sensitivity and responsiveness?
    Maybe he is trying to push the limits of the connection that happens between him and uke?
    Maybe he's experimenting and not caring about keeping it martial anymore?
    Maybe it's a combination of the above?

    Anyway this sensei is certainly intriguing, I hope I'll get good soon enough to go feel his aikido for myself.

    For those interested here are reports/discussions about what he does:

    It Had To Be Felt #9: Watanabe Nobuyuki: How the Mighty Have Fallen - AikiWeb Aikido Forums

    Weird No Touch Aikido With Sensei Watanabe, Is It Real!? (recent video reposted from a Russian channel) • /r/aikido

    And an interview: Interview with Aikido Shihan Nobuyuki Watanabe, Part 1 and Interview with Aikido Shihan Nobuyuki Watanabe, Part 2
     
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  3. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I think these three are quite likely, as is the "combination thereof". All of these are things many instructors will do at times, perhaps only in their own investigations, and all are places where movement like shown in that demo would be appropriate.
     
  4. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    Sorry for misspelling your name Gerry, I've a bud who is "Jerry" and the fingers automatically do that.

    In my/our own Tomiki aikido, we talk about the strikes all the time. In fact, 1st five techniques of the first actual kata are strikes...
     
  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    No worries. I changed the spelling in 3rd grade (there's a short story behind that), and my grandmother still calls me "Jerry with a G". For about 30 years most of my birthday cards from her had "Jerry" with a G written over the J.

    I think the offshoots of Ueshiba's Aikido that have a specific emphasis on strikes have a tactical advantage. Practicing good strikes, with proper intent not only opens opportunities for better use of Aikido techniques, it also tends to breed better attacks.
     
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  6. Spinedoc

    Spinedoc Purple Belt

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    LOL...yes, my sensei's spend a great deal of time discussing how mushin is so important. No thought. No focus, simply reaction. One of the yudansha was saying the other day how you spend years and years learning tai sabaki and all of these techniques and how to execute them, etc....and then, after you reach shodan, you spend all of your time trying to forget all of that and simply execute without thought...it takes time.
     
  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'm curious about how others have experienced that transition. In my experience (in NGA, a related art), it's not all during a single period. One technique will get to that point early on, then a few months later another, and so on. The pace picks up somewhere around ikkyu in mainline NGA. The difference may be partly due to how we define "technique", which is somewhat different (and more visually-based, IMO) than the conceptual divisions between techniques I see in Ueshiba's Aikido.
     
  8. ST1Doppelganger

    ST1Doppelganger Brown Belt

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    I highly agree about the overly-compliant uke's in the video and find it mind boggling how a large percentage of aikido practitioners hold the no touch manipulation concepts so close to their hearts since O-Sensei became very esoteric in his later years.

    I've had several training sessions where I have come across over compliant uke's that will flip or drop before you have even started the actual portion of the lock/throw that manipulates their center or balance.


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  9. ST1Doppelganger

    ST1Doppelganger Brown Belt

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    I highly agree about the overly-compliant uke's in the video and find it mind boggling how a large percentage of aikido practitioners hold the no touch manipulation concepts so close to their hearts since O-Sensei became very esoteric in his later years.

    I've had several training sessions where I have come across over compliant uke's that will flip or drop before you have even started the actual portion of the lock/throw that manipulates their center or balance.


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  10. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Everything works when it is a drill.
     
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  11. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    Yeah, Drop ... when in drill mode lots of things work because that's the purpose of drills, so you learn the steps of the dance.

    But later on, when you've learned the dance and are starting to DO the dance, the challenge is to forget the dance steps and just make it rain.

    I've had a similar experience as Gerry, and I'm not doing NGA of course, but certain techniques internalize faster in some people than in others, and those have techniques which internalize for them faster than I "get" them. It's a neat phenomenon.

    For me, kotegaeshi to throw, not to crumble-submit, is still very challenging. I just had one spontaneously happen in last Tuesday's class that felt ...hardly anything at all and yet the uke I was dealing with at the time went for a big ride. But, I can do the compliance version on just about any body type without thought now that I've been working on it for... 18 years? Makes sense, I think. Maybe I'm right on schedule. My original Tomiki sensei said that kotegaeshi is a "20 year throw," and if that's accurate, then OK. I'm on target, I suppose. But, let me get into the hand/wrist/elbow locking things that corss over between hapkido and aikido and judo, and it all is pretty natural, relaxed and unconscious. But... those big throws... Ah well. You look up the mountain while climbing.
     
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  12. Hanshi

    Hanshi Yellow Belt

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    Certainly one does have to learn to do ukemi so one can train without injury; it's not learned so one can fall on the street. One of my best students is now in her late 70s and still takes falls; it is truly mind over matter. I've had a few students who had to defend themselves using aikido techniques. As far as defending against karate goes there's no need to do anything unless attacked with force. Walking away from confrontations works perfectly well. If you're then attacked it means the attacker is giving you his energy and that's all you need. There is never a reason to fight, only a reason to stop violence quickly and assure the attacker is rendered null and void. Most importantly, NEVER fight the "style"; fight the man.
     
  13. GreatUniter

    GreatUniter Yellow Belt

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    In my opinion, very appliable! But, it's all in the way you train, who is your teacher and what you train in the dojo. Modern aikido teachers reject "martial" from aikido. It's shame that nowadays it is no longer trained like before. So, that is main reason why aikido is underrated and most people think that it's not appliable.
     
  14. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    It really depends on the sub-style of Aikido. Yoshinkan (which is a lot closer to the Daito origins) Tomiki Ryu (which has actual randori) are both very effective and embrace the "martial" aspect. Shioda Sensei explained that his Aikido is different because he left studying directly under the O'Sensei before he started down the more metaphysical path. I think this timing is one of the reasons Yoshinkan still has good relations with Aikikai. He taught what he was taught, no more or less, so there was not as much "drama" as he wasn't "perverting" what Aikido had become.
     
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  15. O'Malley

    O'Malley Green Belt

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    Yoshinkan is indeed an awesome style but even in his later years O'Sensei's aikido was very martial, the fluffy modern stuff came from his son (Kisshomaru)'s teachings (the current Doshu recently recognized that Kisshomaru changed the techniques: Budoka no Kotae - Talking to Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei - Aikido Sangenkai Blog, Honolulu, Hawaii and you can read a more detailed account of the history here: The Ueshiba Legacy - Part 2, by Mark Murray - Aikido Sangenkai Blog ).

    Another martial line of aikido is Morihiro Saito's line, also called Iwama-ryu aikido. Saito is the person who studied the most with the Founder and stayed with him until his death (well after he started being all metaphysical). Saito was extremely loyal to O'Sensei and was hung up on teaching exactly was the Founder had taught him, so what you said ("He taught what he was taught, no more or less, so there was not as much "drama" as he wasn't "perverting" what Aikido had become") would apply to him a fortiori.

    Yet there is much more tension between the Iwama line and the Aikikai Hombu than between Aikikai and Yoshinkan. My uneducated guess would be that Shioda left early and it was pretty clear (even to the Founder) that he was doing his own thing, which everybody accepted, whereas the Saito line kept teaching what they claim is "the traditional, unaltered aikido of the Founder". Even if it is technically true, it doesn't make the Aikikai happy...

    To get back to the applicability of aikido, I think that live training (with the right timing, energy and movement) is essential but uke needs to be able to receive the live techniques without hurting himself. I've got barely two years of training under my belt and I don't think I could do randori yet, my ukemi skills are not good enough. For now I'll stick to my teacher's Iwama methodology: study distance with the jo, study timing with the sword, get the movements, structure and mechanics right through strong and slow kihon, put the techniques in a dynamic framework with ki no nagare, and only then you'll be able to put it all together.
     
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  16. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    I definitely did enjoy Yoshinkan when I studied it. I was rather upset when my Sensei moved out of the area. Now all the schools around me say "we don't teach for self defense but many of the techniques we teach can be used as such."

    I will say one thing initially frustrated me about Yoshinkan, at least where I studied it, but I eventually understood why. With the exception of basic entries, striking and standing grappling the first however many months was basically ukemi for new students. I probably flopped around on the mat for at least half of each class. I stuck it out though and once the Sensei felt I "had it" I realized why he had such a focus on it.

    I concur with your assessment btw. Shioda Sensei left with the O'Sensei's permission. So much so even after he was doing his "own thing" the O'Sensei promoted him to 10th Dan AFAIK. He also made it clear that he was simply teaching what he was taught in the pre-war era and didn't make any grandiose claims.
     
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  17. GreatUniter

    GreatUniter Yellow Belt

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    Aikikai is also good line, but it really depends on that who is teaching. It's really disappointing how today Aikikai line is taught. I saw many Aikikai teachers that put aikido to shame and teach some bullshido (instead of aikido). Sensei Tamura, Isoyama, Yamada and Suga are great aikido masters and their Aikikai aikido is deadly. On the other hand, I don't really see the differences in Yoshinkan and Aikikai line (Tamura's way) except in small differences in techniques names. Those two are lines that I know of (Aikikai, Tamura's line as practiced by my sensei and I have visited some seminars with Yoshinkan teachers). Other styles of aikido I saw only on videos.

    So, all in one point, I think that really that matters is the martial art practitioner, as I'm aware of really potentially good aikidokas from other aikido styles. Personally, I find surprising that I know some people that train aikido (and only aikido) but know lots of kicks and punches aside from that "aikido is peaceful martial art that only teaches hand flapping and ballet" - talk from uneducated people when there is topic of aikido - that really defend themselves on the streets. So, as great masters say: "never underestimate or overestimate anybody, including yourself". Also, what Toshiro Suga said on one seminar: "this [aikido] is martial art, this is for killing people" as referring to that even if aikido (as all martial arts) can be deadly and when someone attacks you, there is no time for peace (even so all we aikidokas strive for not hurting or killing people, but defend ourselves if attacked).
     
  18. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's not only from the uneducated. There are a lot of Aikido instructors - including some with high ranks (5th dan and up) who say that about Aikido. That's part of the problem Aikido is dealing with, IMO.
     
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  19. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    Exactly. I don't know where, when or how it happened but somewhere along the way many in the community started to see Aikido in a way similar to "exercise" Tai Chi. It is seen by them as being for health, fitness and spiritual cultivation through mindfulness.
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I have even heard instructors say that in a defensive situation, the aim is to gently subdue with no injury. They seemed to expect it to work like the stylized drills in class.
     
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  21. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    Well that is where O'Sensei was in the end himself
    His son I believe took it to the next level when he took over the organization. So while i am sure you do have some Aikikia instructors who teach something more "physical" but I know there are none in my area who are affiliated with that organization who are truly "martial". Then you look at something like Shinshin Aikido and you get into the whole "everyone else forgot it's about the cultivation of Ki" and their Taigi Competitions which, and sorry if this sounds snarky, is basically the Martial Art equivalent of pairs figure skating.
     
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