Is Aikido a martial art?

K-man

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I hate when I visit aikido dojo and I get treated like a child because I don't naturally understand the story of how and why uke is supposed to move as nage ineffectually moves around
I think there is a misunderstanding in the role of Uke and the methodology of the training using a compliant partner. Those that have been around a while might recall my advice to people asking about finding a good school. I copped some stick for my suggestion. For me, if I was looking for a school I would be looking at the quality of the senior students to see whether they could actually do the techniques. Then I would ask them respectfully if they could demonstrate the technique on me while I was resisting. That is using my physical strength to resist. Normally that would be done softly and slowly. If my partner could do that I would have no qualms at joining that school.

In this example I am a non compliant Uke and I think this lies at the heart of the problem. Henry Ellis mentioned it as well when he was talking about 'dance' and people throwing themselves about before they were thrown.
Aikidoists are often accused of practicing Choreographed Aikido and to be honest I must admit that these claims are very often justified, with Uke (attacker) preparing to break fall long before he makes his attack, and most of them attack off balance , therefore making any multiples of techniques possible with the minimum of effort and of course this makes Tori (defender) look fantastic.


What is really sad is that these people believe that this is good Aikido.


Kenshiro Abbe Sensei would always say to us that two students are training at the same time, one is Uke who is learning and improving his attacking techniques and his opponent Tori is also learning and improving his defensive techniques, whilst we were training with Abbe Sensei if Ukes foot or heel came off the mat as he attacked Abbe Sensei would give the offending leg a good whack with a shinai (bamboo sword) he would then say My English is very bad but my shinai speaks fluently!.


If Uke attacks on balance then it is obvious that Toris technique must be good and strong to throw him, and as Abbe Sensei said so many times two students are training .

I don't expect people who haven't trained Aikido to a reasonable level to understand what Henry Ellis is saying here, but often accused is the key. To do all the fantastic rolls you see in Aikido requires Uke to 'take a dive'. In real life against the technique is happens so fast you are straight on the ground, in a painful heap. That shows Tori can perform the technique but does little for Uke. Receiving well in Aikido is a highly developed skill. I admit I am hopeless at it because I am too old and too stiff to perform the acrobatic feats you see. But I do try to receive for my partner so that my partner can learn the technique and in blending with my partner's technique I am learning to go with my partner's strength and not clash, the fundamental rule of Aikido. This is part of the training and it is where a lot of Aikidoka let themselves down. The techniques are never tested. Uke attacks and Uke goes down regardless as to whether the technique was performed correctly. If the technique is not corrected then we just have a bad dance. The other part of learning to receive is learning to reverse the techniques. That is you as Uke attack, Tori takes ikkyo, for example, you blend with his movement and reverse the situation so now you have ikkyo.

If you have felt being "treated like a child" in an Aikido school, I would be walking away. Sure it is a little complicated but a good instructor should be able to explain clearly the basic theory of Aikido practise.
:asian:
 

hussaf

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I guess what I was referring to was the frustration derived from some shihan applying weak technique and he, and many of his students, expect me to as Uke to move a certain way because "nage could destroy me" if I didn't have the presence of mind to fall down the correct way during ikkyo - vice actually, you know, falling down the way in which nage throws me.
 

K-man

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I guess what I was referring to was the frustration derived from some shihan applying weak technique and he, and many of his students, expect me to as Uke to move a certain way because "nage could destroy me" if I didn't have the presence of mind to fall down the correct way during ikkyo - vice actually, you know, falling down the way in which nage throws me.
I'm with you. I'd be out of the place quick smart. There is a time for total compliance and there is the time for total resistance. A good school will balance the two.

I trained with a 4th dan Hapkido guy a few months back. None of his stuff was effective. It relied on strength to work and I was strong enough to stop him even though he was a lot bigger and younger. Same happens in Aikido. You will see it a lot at demonstrations where a top level practitioner will only demonstrate with his own Uke. That way he will always look good.
:asian:
 

hussaf

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It's not my school. But I travel a lot for work and visit many dojo. It's just frustrating that a nage puts me in a certain position then kicks me because I'm not where he wanted me to go, saying he could kill me and I need to protect myself and I'm just sitting there trying not to counter the **** out of his mediocre technique. It's good training to bite your ego, but I feel like a visiting shihan should set a better example. The frustrating part is that's just the culture. Even his uchi deshi was pulling the "as Uke it's your job to stay connected with me because I can kick or punch you.". I'm sorry, I don't know the play preprogrammed in your head, and the oblivious disgust by the uchi deshi I was working with suggests poor training. When I was uchi deshi I was taught to find ways to help students understand what's being taught...not repeat the same thing over in the same way and expect others to understand. But thread relly: the excuse for this is "this is a martial art." I've done martial arts my whole adult life, just simply coming up with stories as to why Uke is supposed to move a certain way and say "nage will kill you" does my make it martial. it makes it delusional. Nage is responsible for what happens to Uke, regardless if Uke is too flimsily, resisting, neutral or attempting countering. Coming from a martial background it's frustrating that people can be so adamant and trick themselves into thinking they are the "real deadly" martial school of aikido.
 

K-man

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It's not my school. But I travel a lot for work and visit many dojo. It's just frustrating that a nage puts me in a certain position then kicks me because I'm not where he wanted me to go, saying he could kill me and I need to protect myself and I'm just sitting there trying not to counter the **** out of his mediocre technique. It's good training to bite your ego, but I feel like a visiting shihan should set a better example. The frustrating part is that's just the culture. Even his uchi deshi was pulling the "as Uke it's your job to stay connected with me because I can kick or punch you.". I'm sorry, I don't know the play preprogrammed in your head, and the oblivious disgust by the uchi deshi I was working with suggests poor training. When I was uchi deshi I was taught to find ways to help students understand what's being taught...not repeat the same thing over in the same way and expect others to understand. But thread relly: the excuse for this is "this is a martial art." I've done martial arts my whole adult life, just simply coming up with stories as to why Uke is supposed to move a certain way and say "nage will kill you" does my make it martial. it makes it delusional. Nage is responsible for what happens to Uke, regardless if Uke is too flimsily, resisting, neutral or attempting countering. Coming from a martial background it's frustrating that people can be so adamant and trick themselves into thinking they are the "real deadly" martial school of aikido.
Understand exactly. The fact is, you are hanging on to a wrist for the sake of the exercise, not that someone will kill you. In real life those throws will not occur because you would just let go. It is your job as Uke to stay connected but often that is just not possible.
:asian:

Edit. I must apologise .. I assumed from your posts that you were a relative beginner. If I were you I would have sat him down on his **** and walked out ... or something like that. ;)
 

hussaf

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Oh man, I'm not even talking about grab techniques. I mean like shomenuchi and nage does a 180 pivot and I'm supposed to keep pressure against his blocking hand because, if I don't, he'll jab me in the face. That's fine, I get it, I've done karate longer than aikido but how do you expect someone to just know that. you can't call it realistic and martial because it's not a natural relation for me as Uke.
 

K-man

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Oh man, I'm not even talking about grab techniques. I mean like shomenuchi and nage does a 180 pivot and I'm supposed to keep pressure against his blocking hand because, if I don't, he'll jab me in the face. That's fine, I get it, I've done karate longer than aikido but how do you expect someone to just know that. you can't call it realistic and martial because it's not a natural relation for me as Uke.
Sounds like a poorly performed tenkan without the irimi to set it up.
:hmm:
 

hussaf

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I just don't see the reason for a full on 180 pivot on shomen. But yeah we are basically facing in the same position and I as Uke am only slightly more off balance than nage. Granted nage's hand is atop mine but really, backhand me in the face from that distance and see what it actually does to me.....not much,
particularly since nage's hips are in the wrong direction to generate power. I dunno, I just don't like acquiescing to a narrative as Uke. when I was uchi deshi and Otomo to a Yoshinkan 7 th dan the rules were basically attack as hard as you can and you go where the teacher puts you...with just a couple exceptions... for Ukes sake.
 

K-man

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I just don't see the reason for a full on 180 pivot on shomen. But yeah we are basically facing in the same position and I as Uke am only slightly more off balance than nage. Granted nage's hand is atop mine but really, backhand me in the face from that distance and see what it actually does to me.....not much,
particularly since nage's hips are in the wrong direction to generate power. I dunno, I just don't like acquiescing to a narrative as Uke. when I was uchi deshi and Otomo to a Yoshinkan 7 th dan the rules were basically attack as hard as you can and you go where the teacher puts you...with just a couple exceptions... for Ukes sake.
Unless it is purely an exercise in receiving. Occasionally we will do something similar with shomenuchi iriminage where we do follow around, the rationale being that the attack has failed and you as Uke are still trying to attack.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsv-fDnY7vA
Do you still train Yoshinkan?
:asian:
 

hussaf

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yes. As much as I try I don't like the ASU and USAF squat down follow around thing on iriminage.
 

Argus

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It's not my school. But I travel a lot for work and visit many dojo. It's just frustrating that a nage puts me in a certain position then kicks me because I'm not where he wanted me to go, saying he could kill me and I need to protect myself and I'm just sitting there trying not to counter the **** out of his mediocre technique. It's good training to bite your ego, but I feel like a visiting shihan should set a better example. The frustrating part is that's just the culture. Even his uchi deshi was pulling the "as Uke it's your job to stay connected with me because I can kick or punch you.". I'm sorry, I don't know the play preprogrammed in your head, and the oblivious disgust by the uchi deshi I was working with suggests poor training. When I was uchi deshi I was taught to find ways to help students understand what's being taught...not repeat the same thing over in the same way and expect others to understand. But thread relly: the excuse for this is "this is a martial art." I've done martial arts my whole adult life, just simply coming up with stories as to why Uke is supposed to move a certain way and say "nage will kill you" does my make it martial. it makes it delusional. Nage is responsible for what happens to Uke, regardless if Uke is too flimsily, resisting, neutral or attempting countering. Coming from a martial background it's frustrating that people can be so adamant and trick themselves into thinking they are the "real deadly" martial school of aikido.

Welp, a few months into Aikido now, and this post accurately sums up my... minor frustrations with it? I'm content to just be humble and learn as well, and it is good stuff at the end of the day, but I cannot help but think that many Aikidoka really have a poor understanding of martial arts in general. I feel that Aikido is an art that you should probably enter with previous training, lest you fall into a really narrow and artificial perspective on martial arts.

Of course, I'm sure there are some good, pragmatic Aikido schools out there. But in general, the culture seems to have absorbed a whole lot of borderline fantasy interpretations.
 

K-man

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Welp, a few months into Aikido now, and this post accurately sums up my... minor frustrations with it? I'm content to just be humble and learn as well, and it is good stuff at the end of the day, but I cannot help but think that many Aikidoka really have a poor understanding of martial arts in general. I feel that Aikido is an art that you should probably enter with previous training, lest you fall into a really narrow and artificial perspective on martial arts.

Of course, I'm sure there are some good, pragmatic Aikido schools out there. But in general, the culture seems to have absorbed a whole lot of borderline fantasy interpretations.
I hesitate to paste what I know to be good Aikido because people with no understanding will often jump in to criticise but for what it's worth, this school is reality based.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fPei-spftzg
:asian:
 

Tony Dismukes

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I hesitate to paste what I know to be good Aikido because people with no understanding will often jump in to criticise but for what it's worth, this school is reality based.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fPei-spftzg
:asian:

I might have nitpicks about some of the material, but it's obvious that the instructor knows what he's doing.
 

hussaf

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Welp, a few months into Aikido now, and this post accurately sums up my... minor frustrations with it? I'm content to just be humble and learn as well, and it is good stuff at the end of the day, but I cannot help but think that many Aikidoka really have a poor understanding of martial arts in general. I feel that Aikido is an art that you should probably enter with previous training, lest you fall into a really narrow and artificial perspective on martial arts.

Of course, I'm sure there are some good, pragmatic Aikido schools out there. But in general, the culture seems to have absorbed a whole lot of borderline fantasy interpretations.

I love aikido, but I don't often recommend it to people because you have to be willing to find a good teacher. I don't mind training at a variety of dojo because I've been training aikido for 15 years and other martial arts longer. Also realize dojo are a living thing - there are slow months and great months of training. sometimes all it takes is a guy to come back from paternity leave or a military deployment to completely change the atmosphere of class.

But having a true master as an instructor makes a huge difference. By "master" I mean someone who has dedicated their entire adult life to that martial art and spent much of that seeking out and training with the highest level instructors in the world.
 

K-man

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That looks great. Unfortunately there's no where you can go to see it applied against a fully resisting opponent. :(
I am often the resisting opponent, like most of the time! All you have to do is call in. I'd love to take a break and let some other bunny have a go. ;)
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I hesitate to paste what I know to be good Aikido because people with no understanding will often jump in to criticise but for what it's worth, this school is reality based.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fPei-spftzg
:asian:

I have tried to understand this for a long time. May be you can help me on this here. Here is the Aikido clip:


If we compare it with the Judo "Osoto Gari", the "cutting - backward hooking" motion is missing in the Aikido clip.


If we compare it with the Shuai-Chiao "front cut", both the "cutting - backward hooking" motion and the "forward stepping" motion are missing in the Aikido clip.


What's your opinion on this?
 
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Chris Parker

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I hesitate to paste what I know to be good Aikido because people with no understanding will often jump in to criticise but for what it's worth, this school is reality based.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fPei-spftzg
:asian:

Always fun to see Mal in action… I am curious, though, would you class this example clip as "reality based", or is it something else in the class?

I have tried to understand this for a long time. May be you can help me on this here. Here is the Aikido clip:


If we compare it with the Judo "Osoto Gari", the "cutting - backward hooking" motion is missing in the Aikido clip.


If we compare it with the Shuai-Chiao "front cut", both the "cutting - backward hooking" motion and the "forward stepping" motion are missing in the Aikido clip.


What's your opinion on this?

Er… what makes you think that the technique should be the same in the first place? The Aikido waza is not Judo… nor is it Shuai Chiao… expecting different systems to be the same is just, well… wrong.

In other words, there's nothing "missing" from the Aikido technique at all. You're just unable to see the difference between arts, or why they're different. This has been a long standing issue with your posts, John…
 
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