On Aikido: Its Origins and its efficacy

Hanzou

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Some time ago our MMA fighters and others in the club were invited to a seminar which had several different arts being taught, one of which was Aikido. Now bearing in mind that you don't learn a whole art in a seminar it was nevertheless interesting and our fighters picked up several new techniques which have proved useful in an MMA fight. Some of these were from the Aikido instructors who were more than helpful and were very interested in thinking what could be useful for us and we did swap some ideas with them. It was a fantastic seminar actually, we got to try the Bo as well which we all enjoyed as well as Kendo. Did some work with Kubutans as well. ( No you can't use any of them in MMA but there's movements which can be useful) All were open minded martial artists keen to expand their knowledge, coffee break times were full of chat about different ways of doing things.

My point is that there are techniques in Aikido that work well in MMA as there are in just about most martial arts, you will never see one style in a fight, it's an amalgam of all styles, ( hint...that's why it's Mixed Martial Arts). No one style has been designed for MMA but fighters take what's works from any style they can. Everything can be useful for an MMA fighter, don't discount anything from anywhere.

I'm pretty sure Kron Gracie is only using classic Gjj in his fights.
 

drop bear

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What do you think the techniques of Aikido are designed for? Do you really think they're designed for modern Western street violence? Or for an MMA competition?

It doesn't really matter unless there is a specific circumstance it applies to. So a cover to block a punch is not a specific sport technique over grabbing an arm out of mid air. It is just more reliable at stopping that punch. The reason people do that is because it will stop a fully committed punch and a semi committed combination.

So to suggest akido is dedicated to fighting samurai in armour is fine. But you also need to look at how to practically fight that samurai. Because akido may not have the best method for that.
 

Tgace

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It doesn't really matter unless there is a specific circumstance it applies to. So a cover to block a punch is not a specific sport technique over grabbing an arm out of mid air. It is just more reliable at stopping that punch. The reason people do that is because it will stop a fully committed punch and a semi committed combination.

So to suggest akido is dedicated to fighting samurai in armour is fine. But you also need to look at how to practically fight that samurai. Because akido may not have the best method for that.

I have to agree...if we had a time machine I'd wager that a fight between two dismounted Samurai would resemble a brawl more than it would any sort of stylistic martial technique. Any "art" in the melee would most likely be seen like this:

 

Steve

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He didn't miss your point, he just likes to insult Aikido and will take any chance possible to do so. Doesn't really care what the argument for Aikido is, or how legitimate it might be. Just warning you before you end up in the pointless debates he loves for some reason.
These particular arguments for aikido.... Your post implies hanzou is the one who is being unreasonable. I believe any discussion that includes eye gouging is on very shaky ground.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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These particular arguments for aikido.... Your post implies hanzou is the one who is being unreasonable. I believe any discussion that includes eye gouging is on very shaky ground.
I'm not arguing for or against Aikido, since I've never practiced or witnessed it. Simply stating that any time someone mentions it, he responds. He knows exactly what they mean, he knows exactly why he disagrees, and that the argument will turn out the same way each time. Yet, he continues to do it every time he sees a post about Aikido. Just warning Samurai-do before he got caught in the same cyclical argument.
 

Hanzou

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I'm not arguing for or against Aikido, since I've never practiced or witnessed it. Simply stating that any time someone mentions it, he responds. He knows exactly what they mean, he knows exactly why he disagrees, and that the argument will turn out the same way each time. Yet, he continues to do it every time he sees a post about Aikido. Just warning Samurai-do before he got caught in the same cyclical argument.

If someone mentions Aikido along with MMA, I'm certainly going to respond.
 

drop bear

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I have to agree...if we had a time machine I'd wager that a fight between two dismounted Samurai would resemble a brawl more than it would any sort of stylistic martial technique. Any "art" in the melee would most likely be seen like this:

Most of those moves are not even style specific. They are just fundamental basics.
If i really wanted to stop someone in armour i couldn't effectively hit. I would be more inclined to do this.

Given the choices available.
 
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Spinedoc

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I have no idea what Aikido techniques are designed for. On one hand you would think self defense, but then their movements are highly stylized and unrealistic. Further, modern western street violence resembles MMA more so than what you see in an Aikido dojo.



So all of those self defense systems that have incorporated Gjj/Bjj into their curriculums are misguided/misinformed?

And how many Aikido dojos have you actually trained in? I'm asking respectfully, because, while YouTube is interesting, watching Aikido demonstrations does not reflect typical practice.

We practice with progressive resistance to the point where, when you are a higher kyu student, you need to be able to make your technique work against a fair amount of resistance.

Many dojos don't do that. What I will say is a legitimate criticism of Aikido is the extremely varied method of teaching the same techniques. Some dojos are soft, more spiritual, focused more on inner development, others, like mine, are more martial, harder, and focused more on the development of a martial spirit and ability.
 

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The problem with this argument is that it only takes 5 -7 years to reach instructor grade in Aikido. That's significantly shorter than the "ten years to get competent in Aikido basics" time frame. For comparisons sake, as a purple belt I'm very good at Bjj fundamentals, and I teach fundamentals to beginner Bjj students. If I was simply competent at Bjj fundamentals, I wouldn't be allowed to teach them, and I'd probably still be a blue belt.

In Aikido we supposedly have people who are incompetent in the fundamentals teaching classes and even opening dojos.

That should be considered a problem.

Who said ten years to get competent in the basics? I've said that under USAF guidelines, practicing 10-12 classes per month, it will take about 10 or more years to get to yudansha, but guess what, so does BJJ.

We have brown belts teaching from time to time, and I even help teach ukemi and basics, and in BJJ, I would equivalent to an upper blue/lower purple belt. I'm quite good at the fundamentals.

FWIW, I don't know of ANY teaching Sensei level instructors in the USAF Aikido system doing so after only 5-7 years. My Sensei (dojo-cho) has been practicing 18 years. The head of our main dojo in the cities has been practicing since 1976. The assistant head instructor (my testing/main person for me) has been practicing since 1994.

I'm not sure where you are getting 5-7 years?

Mike
 

Spinedoc

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Some time ago our MMA fighters and others in the club were invited to a seminar which had several different arts being taught, one of which was Aikido. Now bearing in mind that you don't learn a whole art in a seminar it was nevertheless interesting and our fighters picked up several new techniques which have proved useful in an MMA fight. Some of these were from the Aikido instructors who were more than helpful and were very interested in thinking what could be useful for us and we did swap some ideas with them. It was a fantastic seminar actually, we got to try the Bo as well which we all enjoyed as well as Kendo. Did some work with Kubutans as well. ( No you can't use any of them in MMA but there's movements which can be useful) All were open minded martial artists keen to expand their knowledge, coffee break times were full of chat about different ways of doing things.

My point is that there are techniques in Aikido that work well in MMA as there are in just about most martial arts, you will never see one style in a fight, it's an amalgam of all styles, ( hint...that's why it's Mixed Martial Arts). No one style has been designed for MMA but fighters take what's works from any style they can. Everything can be useful for an MMA fighter, don't discount anything from anywhere.

LOVE this post, but one question, did you mean jo staff? We don't actually use a bo staff in Aikido.

Mike
 

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Hi Mike,
Thanks for giving the article a look over, I appreciate it! yes I am aware that Sokaku Takeda is generally accepted to be the founder of Daito ryu, certainly as we know it today, my point was simply that this is the master that Ueshiba studied under and thus that Daito ryu is the basis for many aikido techniques.
As regards the difference in nature of technique between the two. If I implied that Linear movements were a part of aikido, then I must apologise, as this is not at all what I intended, Aikido is of course based on circular technique. I would contend with you on Daito ryu, however. The way that atemi and kuzushi are used in Daito ryu is different to what you would see in Aikido. There is an emphasis in Aikido on keeping Uke moving (hence the circular movements) whereas Daito ryu techniques involve destroying posture using linear atemi and more conservative movements. Similarly there is a much lesser emphasis in Daito ryu on getting off the line of attack, whereas this tai sabaki is THE fundamental technique in Aikido.
Over to you Mike for your rebuttal! :)
all the best,
Jack


Hi Jack,

I would argue that Daito Ryu seems to have started as Chris said, with Takeda himself. The proposed lineage is 900 years, but there is nothing to support that. That being said, Takeda was an INCREDIBLE martial artist and one of the finest swordsman of his generation.

I think there is a misunderstanding regarding linear vs circular with Daito Ryu. It doesn't look like Aikido, therefore, it's not circular, when in fact, it still is. The difference is small circle vs big circle. When you watch Aikido, particularly someone like Tissier Shihan, you notice BIG circular movements, and with most high ranking Aikido people, Isoyama Shihan, etc., the circles are rather apparent.

But Daito Ryu is closer to it's older Japanese jujutsu brethren. Virtually all jujutsu is circular, spiral, but with the older systems, the circles are much, much smaller. IOW, the circles are still there, just smaller, more difficult to recognize.

That's my opinion.

Kindest,

Mike
 

Hanzou

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And how many Aikido dojos have you actually trained in? I'm asking respectfully, because, while YouTube is interesting, watching Aikido demonstrations does not reflect typical practice.

We practice with progressive resistance to the point where, when you are a higher kyu student, you need to be able to make your technique work against a fair amount of resistance.

Many dojos don't do that. What I will say is a legitimate criticism of Aikido is the extremely varied method of teaching the same techniques. Some dojos are soft, more spiritual, focused more on inner development, others, like mine, are more martial, harder, and focused more on the development of a martial spirit and ability.

Honestly only a couple. A lot of my experience comes from former AIkido students who eventually end up in Bjj and comment about the previous practice, and/or rolling with Aikidoka who are trying to add some practicality to their Aikido practice. To be fair, I've only attended Aikikai schools, and I wasn't really impressed with what I saw. Far too much compliance, and having to do things "exactly right" in order for it to work properly.

Is it fair to say that the vast majority of Aikido schools are of the soft spiritual variety? After all, isn't this one of the head instructors for the Aikikai, the largest Aikido organization in the world, the school of the founder;


That above would appear to be an evolution of the no-ki stuff that Ueshiba was doing towards the end of his life. Is this something that Aikidoka actually believe? Do you honestly believe you can throw or lock someone down without touching them?

Who said ten years to get competent in the basics? I've said that under USAF guidelines, practicing 10-12 classes per month, it will take about 10 or more years to get to yudansha, but guess what, so does BJJ.

We have brown belts teaching from time to time, and I even help teach ukemi and basics, and in BJJ, I would equivalent to an upper blue/lower purple belt. I'm quite good at the fundamentals.

FWIW, I don't know of ANY teaching Sensei level instructors in the USAF Aikido system doing so after only 5-7 years. My Sensei (dojo-cho) has been practicing 18 years. The head of our main dojo in the cities has been practicing since 1976. The assistant head instructor (my testing/main person for me) has been practicing since 1994.

I'm not sure where you are getting 5-7 years?

Mike

"Ten years to get good at the basics", or "ten years to become competent" is what I've heard various times both on this forum and other places. The number certainly varies, but in any case the argument is that it takes multiple years to be able to utilize Aikido effectively.

I'm getting 5-7 years from Aikido school sites such as this;

Frequently Asked Questions | North County Aikikai

According to them, it takes 800 hours to earn a black belt, and the average student trains 12-15 hours a month. That equals about 5-7 years of training, and that isn't the only Aikido location I've seen that states this.
 
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Spinedoc

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Honestly only a couple. A lot of my experience comes from former AIkido students who eventually end up in Bjj and comment about the previous practice, and/or rolling with Aikidoka who are trying to add some practicality to their Aikido practice. To be fair, I've only attended Aikikai schools, and I wasn't really impressed with what I saw. Far too much compliance, and having to do things "exactly right" in order for it to work properly.

Is it fair to say that the vast majority of Aikido schools are of the soft spiritual variety? After all, isn't this one of the head instructors for the Aikikai, the largest Aikido organization in the world, the school of the founder;


That above would appear to be an evolution of the no-ki stuff that Ueshiba was doing towards the end of his life. Is this something that Aikidoka actually believe? Do you honestly believe you can throw or lock someone down without touching them?



"Ten years to get good at the basics", or "ten years to become competent" is what I've heard various times both on this forum and other places. The number certainly varies, but in any case the argument is that it takes multiple years to be able to utilize Aikido effectively.

I'm getting 5-7 years from Aikido school sites such as this;

Frequently Asked Questions | North County Aikikai

According to them, it takes 800 hours to earn a black belt, and the average student trains 12-15 hours a month. That equals about 5-7 years of training, and that isn't the only Aikido location I've seen that states this.


Well, to be honest, Watanabe Sensei is kind of considered fringe at best. He's doing something he believes in, but it's not a martial aikido in the least. You also have to be careful just watching that because he is trying to demonstrate something. I've worked with a shihan who doesn't touch you, but you almost fall, because unlike Watanabe, he is throwing a fast, hard atemi at your face when you are unbalanced. You have a choice...get hit, or get out of the way, getting out of the way will make you almost fall (or fall, depending on your balance) and look unbalanced. However, no, you cannot throw someone without touching them.

I also don't believe, nor is there any widescale belief in Aikikai that I am aware of, that you can throw someone without touching them. I belong to USAF, which is under Aikikai. I've never seen the current Doshu or Waka Sensei espousing this.

Here's Tissier Shihan's thoughts on Watanabe Sensei.

Mario Lorenzo - In South America we can see that those who emphasize too much on the KI in their practice are not technically serious. Do you see this in other countries? And what do you think of Watanabe Senseis no touch Aikido?

Sensei Tissier : They are two different things. On the one hand people who talk about ki, and on the other the ones who practise aikido like Sensei Watanabe. He developed something in which he is especially interested in: it isnt a ki work but one of anticipation, sensations, whether you like it or not, or whether it works or not. It works when you know the code, but martially it doesnt work. Being in Japan I worked a lot with him, Watanabe wasnt like this before. He is a physically solid practicant who wanted to develop something different. I think that if I were head of an examination table I wouldnt take what he produces.


Now, people who talk and make constant reference on ki around the world are looking for something to justify their lack of technique. Because we all have ki, everything is ki (opening his arms), the problem with ki is its fluency. How does ki flow? When there is no block. When somebody is doing a technique and doesnt handle it, this person doesnt have an unblocked body. The objective of the technical aspect of the sport is to unlock every body part where there might exist a block. Someone who performs an exercise with stiff shoulders will not have a real ki flow.


Okay, well, I can see North County is California Aikido Association. Their testing requirements are different from USAF. We don't count hours, only days. For us, you can practice 4 hours or 1 hour in a day, and it counts the same. For USAF purposes, it takes 1040 practice days to reach 1st dan. Most students practice 2-3 days per week. Which equates to 7-10 years.

Here's the thing. THAT assumes that everyone never misses any classes (not reality) and tests as soon as they have the day requirements, which isn't realistic. We have a student now that has had the day requirements for his test for 3 years. However, he doesn't have the techniques down well enough to test to the next level. He misses quite a few classes, and then struggles still with some of the techniques.

I also know of a few people that have never tested. I know of at least one guy who has practiced Aikido for almost 20 years (and is pretty damn good) that has never taken a test and has already said he doesn't really ever feel the need to do so.

I also think you are conflating "getting good at the basics" and "competent". Competency requires context. I would say that the average Aikidoka should have a pretty good handle on the basics after 2, maybe 3 years. NOW, competency will vary depending on what context. Handling a drunk in a bar? Probably after 3-4 years, going up in a street fight against a skilled attacker?, probably closer to 6-8 years, getting in a fight with another really skilled martial artist? longer still. Without context, commenting on competency isn't really appropriate. I will say, after doing BJJ for a short while now, that ironically, BJJ and Aikido are the same. One is just on the ground. Principles and movements are very similar. I was told by a GJJ BB out east that had done Aikido for 6 years prior to switching to BJJ that BJJ was simply Aikido on the ground. There is actually more than a little truth to that.
 

Tez3

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LOVE this post, but one question, did you mean jo staff? We don't actually use a bo staff in Aikido.

Mike

It wasn't the Aikido guys who were doing the Bo, they were only one of a few different types of martial arts instructors there. It was a multi style seminar. hence we got to try each other styles.
 

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On Aikido: its origins and its effectiveness
I hope this might provide something of an insight to those who criticise Aikido for not being prevalent on the MMA scene :)
Feedback, comments etc. always appreciated! :)
Purest Aikido as you have succinctly appraised it in your ultimate paragraph never has nor ever will bear any relation whatsoever to ring fighting. MMA and competitive martial arts are practiced for their own reasons in their own ways. Therefore any comparative criticism like you outline in your OP it is like criticising an apple because it is not a pear, no?

If you actively pursue the practice of your Aikido then I would like to ask you please why you wish to change the minds of whomever are those folk that criticise Aikido? Can you say why would you have any mind to convince another person that your apple can stand scrutiny among their pears? J
 

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The problem with this argument is that it only takes 5 -7 years to reach instructor grade in Aikido. That's significantly shorter than the "ten years to get competent in Aikido basics" time frame. For comparisons sake, as a purple belt I'm very good at Bjj fundamentals, and I teach fundamentals to beginner Bjj students. If I was simply competent at Bjj fundamentals, I wouldn't be allowed to teach them, and I'd probably still be a blue belt.

In Aikido we supposedly have people who are incompetent in the fundamentals teaching classes and even opening dojos.

That should be considered a problem.
If those time differentials are accurate to each other (not questioning you, but wondering if they are coming from different sources), then that is a problem. My experience has been that every instructor I've met in that art seems to be quite capable with the principles of the art. Mind you, none were brand new instructors, and they'd be beyond that time differential, so I have no data to either agree or disagree.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Well only sort of. In general your actual defences either dont work or only work against bottom tier guys. I mean if we are to relate to what happens in mma and look at rear bear hugs. In the last ufc just gone there were examples of rear bear hugs used successfully.

So to suggest that your defences work when a top fighters doesn't means you dont understand the problem.

Basically they are letting you go to make your defence work. Which is why you have such a high success rate.
My experience with these types of defenses suggests there are a few issues at play:

1) most of us would be nearly helpless against a top-tier fighter (certainly with my knees, etc., I'd be no match for a well-trained fighter in his prime who is both conditioned to take a beating and likely has genetically lower response to pain), regardless of our art or background, so I'll leave that be to start with.

2) Every defense - especially those that use "aiki" (sometimes simply described as acting where the low-effort response is available) - require a certain amount of awareness of and "feel" for the exact situation. They can't be made to work, you have to learn to recognize the opportunity when it exists. Someone who understands the physical principles can shut those down. This is why my students learn both the "aiki" and "non-aiki" methods to use our techniques, since sometimes you just don't have time to wait for a great "aiki" opportunity.

3) There are other responses to attacks that don't require that "feel", and most folks will focus on those. If I were training for fighting, I'd eliminate a large portion of what I've studied, and focus on a smaller group. Since aiki principles require more patience, I'd ditch those in favor of things I could "make" work with enough force and skill. (Since I'm not training for fighting, but for defense, I have the leisure of taking the time to keep adding tools once I'm competent for defense.)
 

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According to them, it takes 800 hours to earn a black belt, and the average student trains 12-15 hours a month. That equals about 5-7 years of training, and that isn't the only Aikido location I've seen that states this.
As a note on this, I can't speak for the associations, but I know that some of them don't see shodan as an instructor level. One I spoke to (in Iwama-ryu, I think) said sandan was the starting point for instructors. All of that is based on my highly suspect memory, so take it all with a grain of salt.
 

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As a note on this, I can't speak for the associations, but I know that some of them don't see shodan as an instructor level. One I spoke to (in Iwama-ryu, I think) said sandan was the starting point for instructors. All of that is based on my highly suspect memory, so take it all with a grain of salt.

I think that we can both agree that a shodan should have a decent command of the fundamentals at the very least.

That said, I have been in Aikido associations where shodans are instructing classes.
 

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I think that we can both agree that a shodan should have a decent command of the fundamentals at the very least.

That said, I have been in Aikido associations where shodans are instructing classes.
Agreed, on the first point, though I've met those who assert that shodan is a starting point that need not include any competency. I think you and I would both cringe at that assertion - I expect a shodan (really anyone with a black belt) to be pretty danged competent at their art. Within NGA, for example, shodan is commonly an instructor rank (not in my curriculum, but that was my choice, and contrary to the rest of the art), so I have no issue with folks using that as an instructor rank, so long as commensurate competence is in evidence.
 
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