Fell Off the Wagon
At the start of the year, I had forever forsaken my JJJ roots, blinded by the glory that is Jiu-Jitsu. I cut all my ties to my old school, snickering at their wrist-grabby, overly compliant ways as I started training BJJ five times a week. I was a man on a mission.
As time rolled by, however, something in my subconscious started calling out to me, yearning for more tradition in my training. I tried to repress my unbidden urges to bow to things and exchange jumbled Japanese with my fellow students, but the desire remained.
As something of a joke, I looked up if there were any Aikido schools in my area; it's often thought of as *the* stupid, ineffectual dancey style around here, so playing e-mail tag with them for a laugh seemed like good times. I got in touch with a number of schools in my general area, asking them all the same three questions:
1. Does the training incorporate sparring?
2. How much Buki Waza is in the curriculum?
3. What is the average age of attending students?
Obviously, the unanimous answer to the first question was a resounding NO (according to the definition I supplied, where there is no designated Uke/Nage and both parties try to win), which didn't come as a great surprise; it's Aikido, after all. After using the other two questions to filter out some less great-sounding schools (one of which admitted most of their classes were filled with 11-16-year-olds, and the other which curtly suggested I take up MMA), I was left with one Aikikai school about 30 minutes by bus from my house. The guy I had been mailing with from the school came off as very honest and straightforward, admitting that sparring wasn't a (noticeable) part of the curriculum as I defined it, but that there were other more "flowing, freestyle" drills that were somewhat close to what I had been getting at. "What a nice guy," I thought, "If I was ever very bored and too old and lame to do BJJ, I might check that place out in a few decades."
Cut to two days later, as I'm face-down on the tatami bowing to a picture of Ueshiba.
Now, let me be perfectly clear; I understand the reputation Aikido has here, Aikikai in particular, and even with just two months of BJJ under my belt I understand why. A lot of the techniques were a little odd, being performed off of half-committed slow-mo punches and the like (I had to be reminded to fall down once or twice), but some of it stuck out to me. One technique in particular involved sidestepping a push kick (stepping to the inside of the opponent), grabbing the kicking leg and tripping the other one, which looked straight out of Muay Thai or something similar. For added lulz, the instructor even finished the technique with an ankle lock!
There was some Buki Waza, and the instructor explained that they usually do at least some weapons every class, as he feels it benefits the rest of Aikido. This was the first time I did two things; it was the first time I did *any* committed weapons work, and the very first time attempting a Kata, in this case with the Jo. It wasn't very applicable to most modern combat scenarios, but it was actually a whole lot of fun.
Understand, by the way, that I was the youngest in the class by about 20 years, and all but one of the 7-8 other students was a black belt, so I was a little intimidated at first, but everyone was very cool and welcoming. When I mentioned to the instructor after class that I do BJJ, one of the other black belts even mentioned that he was also training MMA; both the instructor and the class seemed very aware of the limitations of the art, and the instructor talked a little bit about how the arts overlapped in slight ways, which MMA man seconded. I left the dojo feeling pretty content, and pleasantly surprised by this often-mocked art.
Now, I plan to keep up with BJJ, because it's good exercise and I might not be crap at it forever if I keep at it. I understand that Aikido would likely do little to improve me as a fighter should I choose to train in it as well. I understand that the magic pants are funny. All that said, I viewed it less like a self-defense, learn-to-fight-type of deal, and more like a chilled-out historical re-enactment-dance type of deal, and for what it's worth, I actually enjoyed myself.
Allow me to apologize profusely for crapping out this wall of hakama-praising text, but I was curious if anyone else has experienced a similar relapse, where more alive training might not lead you to disown more traditional stuff altogether, but simply see it through a different lens, and perhaps appreciate it for different reasons than before? I know there's a fair number of high-ranking Aikidoka on the forum, any thoughts from any of you guys?
Nothing wrong with having a good time. If its your thing its your thing.
It sounds like you found one of the rare aikido dojos that is actually pretty awesome.
There is value in both kinds of training. I trained in BJJ and Aikido simultaneously for a little while, and appreciated both for different reasons. I've known a fair number of other Aikidoka who trained in BJJ, FMA, CMA, and karate, but stayed or returned to Aikido because they were getting something there they weren't getting anywhere else.
Originally Posted by Hadzu
I believe that a MA should, first and foremost, teach how to fight, but that doesn't mean there aren't other physical and mental or emotional benefits resulting from MA practice. It really comes down to what you want to accomplish. For example, the point was made recently in another thread that judo is an effective fighting MA, but it can be somewhat destructive to your body over a period years. Is it more important for you to learn to fight, or to prolong your physical health? How you strike a balance between your needs and values will determine your best choice of practice.
If you want to train Aikido, train Aikido. Contrary to popular impressions, we at Bullshido have no problem with this.
If you want to train Aikido because you think it will make you a deadly killing machine underneath a veneer of civility, that's when we have a problem. Provided you're not deluding yourself with impressions of martial efficacy where there is none to be found, more power to you.
You trained BJJ for two months? You know nothing.
Speaking as a slightly older noob, I can assure you it gets even more interesting when you start having some basics.
And yeah some Aikido for relaxation is not that bad of an idea if the people are nice.
Just keep training your BJJ and Aikido and write back after some more months.
Honestly, I'm not sure where I want to take my training in the future, I'm kinda having an MA identity crisis at present. I *really* don't want to be the kid who did BJJ for two months before giving up and switching to friggin' Aikido, just as a matter of principle.
Originally Posted by jnp
I'm definitely sticking with BJJ for the time being, since I agree that I'm not in much of a position to evaluate it yet. If my schedule and high schooler's budget allow, I'll look into taking up Aikido eventually, but for now it seems smarter to kind of focus on one art. I guess I'm just at a point in my BJJ journey where it's basically fun-free for me, and incredibly frustrating, but I figure it'll get better eventually if I stick with it.
Originally Posted by killface
You know, I never realized those guys look as similar as they do; coincidence? I think not!
Originally Posted by Styygens
Last edited by Hadzu; 3/03/2014 4:04am at .
Nothing credible, as far as I'm aware. The closest we have is Glima, which is more Icelandic than anything else. JJJ has a history in Sweden dating back to somewhere around the 1800s, after some guy trained with some British military officer and started teaching it here; other than that, MA as a concept wasn't really around until the 1900s.
Originally Posted by doofaloofa
Last edited by Hadzu; 3/03/2014 7:35am at .