Aikido conversation with Dan Trailescu

Taiji Rebel

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Why did you post this? What did you get from it?
Because I found it inspiring and believe others will too. It would be fun to hear what others think about these interviews. There are many branches in Aikido these days as you all know. Some people are focused on the spiritual approach, others like the martial applications. The best aim in aikido would be to harmonize the two approaches.
 

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Could you please share some of your key takeaways? This would help as the podcasts are several hours long and not all people would engage with that without even knowing whether it's of their interest.
 
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Could you please share some of your key takeaways? This would help as the podcasts are several hours long and not all people would engage with that without even knowing whether it's of their interest.
Are there many Aikidoka on the forum?

Both interviews address the practicality of aikido, punching techniques/attacks, weapons, self-defense and more.

The key takeaway was the variety of content, so if you practise aikido and enjoy stimulating conversation then give yourself the time to listen to these interviews.
 

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Here is another podcast from the series to inspire:
I listened through this one although at times was distracted with a bit of house cleaning so I may have missed some things.

First of all, Im a complete newbie to aikido having only been training for a few months. However, Ive been training martial arts for close to 40 years and have had the opportunity to train in a few systems in that time, so I have a bit of experience and some insight from that.

I guess my takeaway is that I question the premise upon which the discussion was based: that there is an existential crisis in the aikido world as a whole, centered around the problem that aikido training isnt fit for learning viable self-defense skills (my paraphrasing).

I am not clued into what politics may exist in aikido and I dont really care. But I find it doubtful that this crisis exists, or that some majority of aikidoists, particularly those with seniority and who are leaders within their respective groups, would feel this way. Im just really not buying it.
 

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I listened through this one although at times was distracted with a bit of house cleaning so I may have missed some things.

First of all, Im a complete newbie to aikido having only been training for a few months. However, Ive been training martial arts for close to 40 years and have had the opportunity to train in a few systems in that time, so I have a bit of experience and some insight from that.

I guess my takeaway is that I question the premise upon which the discussion was based: that there is an existential crisis in the aikido world as a whole, centered around the problem that aikido training isnt fit for learning viable self-defense skills (my paraphrasing).

I am not clued into what politics may exist in aikido and I dont really care. But I find it doubtful that this crisis exists, or that some majority of aikidoists, particularly those with seniority and who are leaders within their respective groups, would feel this way. Im just really not buying it.

Which makes the situation worse if the higher echelon refuse to recognise an issue.

We had a stage where people could not really compare martial arts easily. You had to go to another school. Mabye against your instructors wishes. Mabye have to fight animosity at that other school. There was a whole thing.

But now you can just jump on youtube and see.

And schools are more open to external influence as the threat isn't as high.

So just ignoring and pretending doesn't work anymore.
 

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Well the numbers are dwindling (as for most TMA) but the big federations can withstand that. For that reason the big hats don't seem that worried. It's more the smaller organisations and local dojos that are dying. In the dojos I know (not a big sample) unless the club is relatively big (usually in bigger cities) you hardly find anyone below 40. For example I've never really practiced hip throws because I had no training partner physically able to take the fall.

As mentioned part of the problem may lie in the way aikido markets itself. If you market it as some kind of social gymnastics or an artistic activity or cultural whatever, then you might get people that are interested in this type of activity, just like pottery classes or floral arrangement classes get their students. The best answer you can give to "why should I do aikido" is just "try, you might enjoy it" . The problem is when you start marketing it as a self-defense method, because we are not in the 80s anymore: people have access to information and the layman's understanding of what a fight looks like is now closer to the UFC than to Steven Segal's movies. They will start asking questions for which aikido people typically don't have good answers. It's difficult, because many instructors are not lucid about the goals and limits of their training.

Since politics were mentioned, there is something that is worth knowing. The Aikikai (the mainline aikido organization) has been trying to get recognition by Olympic bodies in order to get subsidies. Nothing wrong with that but they seem afraid of smaller organizations that try to obtain recognition of aikido as a sport (because what if those guys become the main reference point of the Olympic Committee? They do competition, while the Aikikai doesn't. My money!). So when a local aikido organization in Russia organised a tournament under Shodokan rules, the Aikikai released an official statement saying that "there can be no competition in aikido because it is the immutable will of the founder". No **** it's immutable, guy's been dead for ages. Both the founders of judo and karate were opposed to competition and look where those arts are now. And there have been competitions in perfectly legitimate aikido organisations for more than 50 years now. So the biggest aikido organization in the world has thrown a tantrum with no right to do so because they were afraid of losing money. In bird culture, this is considered a dick move.

So all in all the aikido world is currently undergoing restructuration, but maybe it's for the best.
 

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Ok. Aikido and self defence. Karate and self defence. Practical vs theoretical.

Imagine we have a 150kg gu vs a 60 kg girl. And we give them a list of tasks.steal a hand bag, evade an assult. Fight in a car on a boat in a car park.

Whatever it almost doesn't matter.

The 150kg guy will probably win every scenario because he is more likely to be able to physically control the 60kg girl in basically every scenario.

All the clever logic does not change this advantage.

So with martial arts your goal is to at least get that as best you can.

And to do that there are elements that have priority. And the classic concept of technique isn't that high a priority.
 
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Aikido has changed a lot over the years. Some are looking to return to a more practical approach. A whole lot more are happy with the modern spiritual/pacifist model. Tai Chi Chuan faces a similar situation. Most of the world know it as a way for old people to stay fit and healthy. Not too many are aware of the martial applications. Aikido and Tai Chi have a lot in common. Some tai chi students believe in the magical powers of chi, just like many in Aikido believe in the supernatural tales of Morihei Ueshiba.
 
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Ok. Aikido and self defence. Karate and self defence. Practical vs theoretical.

Imagine we have a 150kg gu vs a 60 kg girl. And we give them a list of tasks.steal a hand bag, evade an assult. Fight in a car on a boat in a car park.

Whatever it almost doesn't matter.

The 150kg guy will probably win every scenario because he is more likely to be able to physically control the 60kg girl in basically every scenario.

All the clever logic does not change this advantage.

So with martial arts your goal is to at least get that as best you can.

And to do that there are elements that have priority. And the classic concept of technique isn't that high a priority.
This is not 100% accurate. And it certainly doesn't relate to the conversation topics made in the podcasts.

Have you taken the time to listen to both discussions?
 

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This is not 100% accurate. And it certainly doesn't relate to the conversation topics made in the podcasts.

Have you taken the time to listen to both discussions?

I listened to some of it. And it relates to the bit I listened to.

Because it goes on for an hour. And you didn't put a focus on any element of that discussion.

You get what you get.
 
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Aikido is really a philosophy. Fighting is pretty simple. The post-war approach to the martial arts is very clever. It makes them more appealing to Western audiences.

One thing I find strange is how often martial arts are equated to fighting over here - you only need look at the showbiz events in Las Vegas.

Martial techniques were only one small part of the systems. Jigaro Kano thought the physical aspect of Judo to be the least important part of his system. It is the same with Aikido and it changes year by year. There are of course a number of people who would like it return to its more brutal pre-war style.

However, there are many more who enjoy the peaceful and harmonious style of aikido. This has evolved massively since the end of the second world war - yes, the philosophical, non-violent approach is the stronger of the styles and will only continue to grow with larger support over the coming years.
 
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When you try to break your opponent's wrist/elbow/shoulder joints if he doesn't flip his body in the air, that's not non-violent approach.

Aikido has grown beyond the mat. It is a philosophy and way of life. A person can live the way of harmony without ever having stepped foot in a dojo. What you reference above is a martial technique which can be found in many different fighting forms. If you read the works of Ellis Amdur you will discover a lot more than wrists, elbows and shoulder joints have been damaged over the years.
 
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What do you mean by this?
Aikido is just a name.

We can see this in the aikido world. There are so many branches and varying styles. Most schools are stuck in a certain period of development. You have the pre-war and the post-war. And even there you have many variations. Some schools eschew the martial application altogether. Others have dropped the spiritual aspects. And Kenji Tomiki's strand even hold competitive matches and events. This kind of happening is natural in the martial arts and those of us who have been around the block a few times will have noticed many iterations.

So what do I mean?

Think of Terry Dobson and Richard Strozzi-Heckler as two examples of taking Aikido beyond the mat. Koichi Tohei is another. Ellis Amdur also addresses these kind of concepts in his writings.

Aikido is full of methods/ideas which can be easily demonstrated and applied to everyday life. In many ways it has transcended the dojo much more than any of the other arts. It appeals to those with spiritual and pacifist values. As a result it has a more balanced member base than the majority of martial arts out there.
 
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Well the numbers are dwindling (as for most TMA) but the big federations can withstand that. For that reason the big hats don't seem that worried. It's more the smaller organisations and local dojos that are dying. In the dojos I know (not a big sample) unless the club is relatively big (usually in bigger cities) you hardly find anyone below 40. For example I've never really practiced hip throws because I had no training partner physically able to take the fall.

As mentioned part of the problem may lie in the way aikido markets itself. If you market it as some kind of social gymnastics or an artistic activity or cultural whatever, then you might get people that are interested in this type of activity, just like pottery classes or floral arrangement classes get their students. The best answer you can give to "why should I do aikido" is just "try, you might enjoy it" . The problem is when you start marketing it as a self-defense method, because we are not in the 80s anymore: people have access to information and the layman's understanding of what a fight looks like is now closer to the UFC than to Steven Segal's movies. They will start asking questions for which aikido people typically don't have good answers. It's difficult, because many instructors are not lucid about the goals and limits of their training.I
I think the underlying point you make isn't about marketing, it's about some clear idea of what a student can expect to learn. What does a student actually learn in a typical Aikido class? If you can answer that question, the marketing takes care of itself. I took pottery classes for three years at the local parks and rec studio, and it was great. What did I learn? I learned how to turn clay on a wheel into all kinds of useful and practical things. I produced a lot of bad dishes, and by the end, some pretty good dishes.
 

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I think the underlying point you make isn't about marketing, it's about some clear idea of what a student can expect to learn. What does a student actually learn in a typical Aikido class? If you can answer that question, the marketing takes care of itself. I took pottery classes for three years at the local parks and rec studio, and it was great. What did I learn? I learned how to turn clay on a wheel into all kinds of useful and practical things. I produced a lot of bad dishes, and by the end, some pretty good dishes.
In a sense, yes. Regardless of how you practice there are things to learn in an aikido class (up to a certain point, I guess). However, as you rightly said, one needs to have a clear idea of one's abilities and of what one can teach. Aikido instructors typically don't, the most obvious example being those that do compliant training that they think makes people fighters.
 
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