Page 1 of 5 12345 Last
  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    124

    Some Aikido articles

    Aikido Practice Today
    https://web.archive.org/web/20071121...?articleID=123

    I have alluded in recent articles to our estimates of the degree of growth of aikido both in Japan and overseas. While our figures concerning the number of practitioners are lower than various official estimates, I think they nonetheless represent solid evidence of the penetration of aikido into the world’s major cultures. With this in mind, I have some thoughts about the way aikido is practiced in many schools today and its implications on the long-term development of the art. Aikido is often referred to as a sport when brought up in conversations with non-practitioners. When this happens we sometimes object to the use of the term “sport” and point out that aikido is actually a “martial art.” But if we look a little closer, we find that people often use the term “sport” in the loose sense of the word, and that what they really mean is something like a leisure activity or pastime, rather than a competitive activity. If we stop and reflect for a moment, many of those engaged in the practice of aikido today do in fact treat it as a pastime, hobby or form of exercise. How is this attitude expressed in training? One area that immediately comes to mind is that, as aikido is practiced in most dojos, uke’s movements are little more than caricatures of an attack. This is due to the emphasis on the execution of techniques to the exclusion of instruction on the basics of how to execute a controlled, sincere attack. Sloppy, weak attacks are also a major cause of criticism of aikido by practitioners of other martial arts. Apart from it being difficult or impossible to execute a proper technique against a half-hearted attack, such a relaxed attitude contributes to the development of frivolous or lackadaisical training habits on the part of both uke and nage. These are, in turn, underproductive to the development of muscle and joint strength and overall conditioning necessary for the safe practice of the powerful techniques of aikido. I think that the main responsibility for this casual approach to aikido practice lies with those instructors who have failed to grasp the essence of the founder’s methods and intentions in creating his art.

    NEED AIKIDO TECHNIQUES BE EFFECTIVE?
    It is sometimes also argued that aikido techniques would be of limited use in a real-fighting situation anyway, and that even if they were, how effective would they be against a lethal weapon such as a pistol. The underlying premise is that it is not terribly important that the techniques we practice have a martial application. Therefore, by extension, say advocates of this viewpoint, there is nothing wrong with practicing in a relaxed, enjoyable manner. The major fault I find with this way of thinking is that it overlooks the deleterious consequences of such practices on succeeding generations of aikidoka. If we use the aikido taught by Morihei Ueshiba following the end of the war as the measuring stick by which we judge the present-day art, we already find that far fewer techniques are taught today and there is little emphasis on such fundamental areas as atemi, the use of weapons, and the practice of whole groups of techniques such as koshiwaza and hanmi handachi which were part of the original curriculum of the art. This is to say nothing of the almost total ignorance of the source and content of the founder’s spiritual message. Should this process continue for much longer, I fear that in the future what passes by the name of “aikido” in many dojos will become unrecognizable as such. Aikido has a rich heritage as one of the most important and dynamic expressions of Japan’s long martial tradition. Morihei Ueshiba, the originator of aikido, infused the complex, and sophisticated techniques he learned in his youth with a humanistic vision of the martial arts as instruments for the peaceful resolution of conflict. It is this unique blending of form, utility and ethics which is responsible for aikido’s impact on modern generations. In one respect, the founder’s approach was perhaps too revolutionary. It seems to have been too much to expect the world to make the considerable conceptual leap required to transform the tools of war into implements of peace. Viewed in this light, the present state of aikido as a light form of exercise to be pursued in friendly, relaxed surroundings, is but a sign of the times we live in where whatever is easy and fun holds more attraction than activities yielding rewards only as a result of applied effort over prolonged periods.

    THE AIKI NEWS ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AIKIDO
    Now that our English-language Encyclopedia of Aikido has finally appeared we have been most gratified by your response to it. That you are purchasing the book in such numbers is a great encouragement to the Aiki News staff to work harder and produce more works intended to make your pursuit of aikido deeper and more rewarding. Our basic plan is to offer revised and expanded versions of the Encyclopedia every two or three years and we are currently considering the possibility of publishing Japanese and French versions as well. We welcome suggestions from your part as to how we can improve future editions of the Encyclopedia and make it more useful to aikidoka. In addition to increasing the number and scope of entries in the next version, we hope to more fully incorporate the features of a Who’s Who for active instructors and are considering the feasibility of offering a comprehensive dojo directory with thousands of listings. As in the past, we look to you for input and thank you for your support of our efforts.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    124

    Holes in the Real Attack

    http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...&threadid=3830

    Lately there has been a lot of talk about the nature of Aikido's attacks as they are practiced generally among the members of the Aikido community. The argument, in brief, goes something like this: "Aikido's effectiveness, and thus it's overall integrity, suffers from a common tendency to face only weak or 'unrealistic' attacks when training."

    This position would seem to make perfect sense. It is after all a variation of the idea that you "train with what you fight, and fight with what you train." But I think that somewhere in the midst of all this "common sense" we are missing something very vital to Aikido training. Namely, there aren't supposed to be "real" attacks in Aikido training - because "real" attacks can't exist in the dojo - because any attack that exist in a training environment is a priori an ideal attack - that is to say NOT REAL.

    Please bare with me. I do not mean to suggest that attacks should not be made with sincerity - with a unification of mind, body, and purpose. I only mean to point out that that is all Aikido requires of its uke for training: a unification of mind, body, and purpose. This can of course be manifested in strikes that are thrown hard and fast, but this can also be manifested in strikes that are delivered slowly. This can be manifested in right rear crosses and rear leg front thrust kicks, but this can also be manifested in movements like tsuki and yokomen-uchi.

    After all, it is my opinion, that Aikido only requires a manifestation of energy. Energy by which one will learn to harmonize with, deviate from, enter into, redirect, and ultimately launch - to name a few. And for this, any ol' energy will really do - even energy generated by a non-human form - as seen in the training techniques of many traditional Chinese martial arts, for example. The point is, "real" and "unreal" don't really come into play in Aikido training. As well they shouldn't. After all, if real is determined by what one would mostly confront on the street, as the wisdom goes, then perhaps one hasn't been in too many street situations if he/she holds this position. For, as any law enforcement agent, and/or seasoned street rat would tell you, in the street anything is possible, and that alone is what make it real: its infinite nature, its never-ending and unknowable potential.

    With anything possible, better to train, as Aikido does, with planes of ideal paths of action. With anything possible, better to see that you develop the skills that make "aiki" a viable tactic, than to determine whether or not you can address your buddy's haymaker in class. For one (e.g. My senpai's hardest left hook), or even 100 individual aspects (e.g. the left hooks of everyone in my dojo) of infinity (i.e. the total variations of what might actually face in the street) are in the end meaningless. But three planes of action, which mark a three dimensional existence, that stand for both everything and nothing, can and do fully provide one with the energy necessary to develop and cultivate the martial tactic of aiki. And this is done in a way that no left hook, no right cross, no spinning back kick can ever do.

    When we consider the infinity which we are dealing with on the street, we can see that the specialized practices and techniques of various other arts (e.g. karate, boxing, etc.) are in themselves no less ideal than are tsuki, yokomen-uchi, or shomen-uchi. Also - when we consider the infinity which we are dealing with, we can see that even sub-branches such as slow, strong, fast, and weak are themselves but ideals and as such are things cannot exist on the street. This is because the street, or any other environment of violence, can contain no ideals. An ideal is an ideal simply because it can be duplicated and repeated and ultimately predicted and determined. The street, that is to say, the chaos of violence, lends itself to no such type of thinking or acting. What you face in the midst of violence is what you face. It is beyond judgment, distinction, and discrimination.

    That being said, in training, whether a strike come slow or fast, hard or soft, is not really the issue it is cut out to be by many current thinkers on Aikido's "inefficiencies." All that mattes is whether nage was able to manifest and cultivate aiki as a tactic. Toward this end, slow, fast, hard, soft, roundhouse, tsuki, kick, strike, it matters not. Do you demonstrate and cultivate aiki? That's all that matters - that is everything. To believe otherwise is to reify an ideal into something it is not - into something it can never be: reality.

    Though I have posted this amateur attempt at logic, this is not to say that I do not agree with many of the heartfelt positions offered here at AikdoJournal.com on the "problems" of Aikido. It's just that I do not see, for example, that attacking with Karate's ideal strikes over Aikido's ideal strikes will bring any great change to our art. Instead, as an alternative course of action, if we want to deal with Aikido's "problems" - let us look away from notions of fake attacks and real attack and look better at the countless examples of absent kuzushi - no loss of balance.

    For example, if we are honest, if we take the time to look at tapes of ourselves, or tapes of others, we will see a preponderance of occasions where uke is launched or pinned from a base of support that has either two fully grounded contact points or at least one - which in combat would be used by uke to either counter a pin, throw, or strike, and/or launch their own pin, throw, or strike, etc. As a result of the trend to have no actual kuzushi, today, ukemi, "nice ukemi" has come to be synonymous with uke being able to post a foot, if not both feet, prior to "flying through the air". Today, generally, throughout the Aikido community, uke is standing when he/she is thrown. He/she is rarely ever falling before he/she is thrown. And yet, there can be no other way of understanding that when a foot, or feet, is or are posted, that this is a based that is engaged, that this is an absence of kuzushi, that this is a throw or a pin that would never happen in "reality."

    Hiding behind the flawed common sense of "real attacks" will do nothing to address this (I would say) dominating trend in training. And such a detour from this trend is unlikely to occur since both parties have great stakes in the current misunderstanding of kuzushi. That is to say that uke (speaking generally) is highly unlikely to pursue a type of ukemi that places him/her emotionally, spiritually, and physically in a completely vulnerable position. (I didn't say "more vulnerable" since there is nothing vulnerable at all about being launched from a posted base of support.) And it is unlikely that nage will require such kuzushi skills of themselves since such a skill requires a much greater stability of base (which is as much physical as it is spiritual) - this is because uke's luxury of being allowed to post up, allows nage the luxury of posting up as well. The loss of this pseudo-stability on nage's part would mean that nage would require a dynamic stability, one capable of dealing with the reactionary forces of uke's movement - which would certainly require higher levels of investment in training, etc. - no matter how high those levels currently are.

    Perhaps we do not become more "real" by adding things (i.e. "real attacks"). We seem to become more real by taking things away (i.e. allowing uke to post up before a pin or a throw). And maybe that's just a cute way of saying, "If I allow uke to post up before he/she falls, if I do not throw or pin uke as they are already fully falling, whether my attack was a straight cross or tsuki, even if I demonstrated aiki with it or not, I am just as "unreal" as ever. In the end, to be satisfied with the unreal, and this is where I agree with many of the commentators at AikidoJournal.com, is to have reconciled with nothing, is to have cultivated nothing - not physically, not mentally, and certainly not spiritually.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    124

    Response to previous article - Non-Traditional Attacks by George S. Ledyard

    http://www.aikiweb.com/training/ledyard3.html

    Practice of so-called "non-traditional" attacks is quite useful and has a necessary place in the practice of Aikido as a viable martial art. But that isn't the main thrust of the critics of Aikido attacks, of whom I am one. My problem is that in many dojos I see, there are NO attacks.

    I was at a seminar in which visiting Ikeda Sensei called up a shodan to take ukemi. This young man was directed to do munetsuki but Ikeda Sensei didn't move when the attack was made. Six inches from his chest the young man's tsuki suddenly deflected off into space. Ikeda Sensei directed him to really hit but after five attempts, the young man was still unable to get himself to make contact.

    This is a massive failure of training. This man has gotten up to Yudansha Rank and can't do a tsuki. Having this person for a partner is not just useless but actually counter productive for one's training. Repetitive parctice of technique from attacks which are energetically false imprints a whole range of associations which are wrong and will prove disastrous when a real committed attack is made.

    One doesn't need to get into non-traditional attacks to find out where the problem in Aikido attacks lies. Stick with Shomenuchi, Yokomenuchi, and Munetsuki. I consistently visit dojos in which mid-level yudansha routinely deliver strikes to each other in training which one would find vaguely annoying at worst if one were struck. I have watched Randoris on Yudansha tests in which several ukes did their level best not to strike the nage but rather held their arms out for the necessary time to allow the nage to do the technique of his choice. There was no need for nage to develop proper timing and spacing as the ukes fascilitated everything for him.

    If Aikido is to have any real value other than as a dance form then things need to be seen and practiced for what they are. A shomenuchi is a knife edge strike to the front of the head. Whether you do it off the front foot, off the back foot, as an extension outwards (like the Shingu folks) or as a powerful vertical downwards strike (like the ASU folks) doesn't matter. What matters is that it is a strike and that the uke is attempting to strike the nage. If nage is too junior to handle a full out attack then the attck is adjusted to make it safe. But if he makes a mistake it should still hit him; it just doesn't hit hard enough to injure. When you get to yudansha level you should be seeing committed and powerful attacks. If nage makes mistake he should get hit.

    Attacks in many dojos are completely lacking in intention. You can casually move off the line of attack and the uke will dutifully strike the spot where used to be standing. No matter how slowly you make your entry somehow the uke never hits you. You attain O-sensei level of ability to move around without anyone ever hitting you (as long as the attackers are from your own dojo where this type of detrimental practice is condoned). I consistentlly encounter people at seminars who are shocked to find that they can't actually do the irimi movement they thought they could. Repeatedly my hand stiops touching their heads no matter how they try to escape. Their problem isn't that I am somehow so much faster than anyone else they train with... it's that I have a clear intention to strike when I strike. They'd been cruising along in their dojos thinking that they could actually do that irimi nage and then they find out it was all a dream.

    Once again I was at a nidan test in which the person testing looked fairly competent but was not, in my opinion, being challenged in any way by the ukes who were all from his own dojo. At one point Saotome Sensei called fr a new uke and a student from outside that person's dojo stepped in. His first yokomen strike went right through this fellow's attempted deflection and bopped him upside the head. To his credit he was able to make the adjustment and handled the next few committed attacks. But you could see the shock on his face when that first "real" strike came in. It made it painfully obvious to everyone present who cared to look that none of the previous ukes were actually trying to do a strike.

    I think that people need to make an attack be what it is. It is a strike and the person doing it needs to think of it that way. He should be trained to have the strongest intention to hit that safety allows. This starts with the teacher. If the teacher accepts unreal attacks from his ukes than the whole basis for training at the dojo is undermined. My teachers, Ikeda Sensei and Saotome Sensei absolutely expected you to do your level best to nail them. On those very rare occasions when one of us would succeed you'd get a smile and a "very good". We trained with each other the same way. In my early yudansha days I got hit as many times as I succeeded on my entries. But as frustrating as that was sometimes, when I pulled one off I KNEW I had pulled one off. I didnt have to wonder if my partner had given it to me.

    In many dojos there is so little intention in the attacks that when someone who can really attack does so, the students can not stand in front of it and keep their centers. You can feel their energy field collapse as you start to move forward with the strike. If you can't hold your mind steady when the attack is delivered, then no amount of training, no amount of technical acquisition, no amount of detailed understanding of how a technique works will make any difference. If your Mind goes into retreat at the instant of the attack, everything else is over before you even make physical contact. It doesn't matter that you know hundreds of techniques. They are simply hundreds of techniques which you can't do.

    This is the fundamental issue with Aikido training today. You take care of this issue and adding some practice once in a while using non-traditional attacks is just a detail in the development of the students skills as martial artists.

    George S. Ledyard
    Aikido Eastside
    Bellevue, WA

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    124

    Challenging the Status Quo

    https://web.archive.org/web/20071121...e?articleID=12

    by Stanley Pranin
    Aiki News #98 (1994)
    The role and direction of Aiki News has periodically shifted in the twenty years since its inception. We began our research focusing on the life of the founder and evolution of his technique. Our findings gradually steered us towards an in-depth study of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, the technical fount of aikido, and its connection with modern aikido. This effort in turn led to a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda. In a similar manner, our recent thrust has been to delve into the topic of the Omoto religion and its charismatic leader, Onisaburo Deguchi. The subject of the influence of the Omoto sect on the thinking of Morihei Ueshiba has not thus far been treated to our satisfaction and we wish to conduct a thorough exploration to further our knowledge and for the benefit of our readers.

    As we have passed through these various stages, quite naturally, our understanding of the nature of aikido and its philosophy has deepened. We have found that many of the representations of the man, Ueshiba, and his art, aikido, found in books and articles prior to and coincidental with our own efforts have been superficial, misleading, and exclusionary. This has often placed us in the awkward position of publishing research whose results have stood in direct contradiction to prevailing views. This approach has brought us both accolade and condemnation, such I suppose being the lot of historical journalism.

    Let me sum up our “controversial” conclusions on the founder and his art. Morihei Ueshiba was an eccentric nonconformist who pursued a highly personal path in his development of aikido. Many of the opportunities afforded him in the first half of his life were made possible by the generosity of his loving father, Yoroku, and his considerable means. Ueshiba’s creation of aikido was viewed by the Daito-ryu school as an act of rebellion and show of disrespect towards Sokaku Takeda. Ueshiba was, on the other hand, loyal in the extreme to Onisaburo Deguchi, and most of his ethical views on budo were derived from this Omoto leader’s teachings. O-Sensei expressed his visionary views on budo as a tool for the peaceful resolution of conflict largely through the metaphors and symbols of the Omoto doctrine and this message has been simplified and altered with the elimination of this religious context as aikido has been popularized.

    To continue, Ueshiba’s religious and ethical views assumed greater importance in his concept of budo due to the physical and psychological devastation Japan suffered during World War II. Aikido in its modern form developed during the founder’s intensive period of study in Iwama which spanned the period of 1942 through the mid-1950s. Ueshiba’s main impact on aikido during the postwar period was in a spiritual and symbolic sense, rather than technical. The major technical influences after the war and those primarily responsible for the dissemination of the art were Gozo Shioda, Koichi Tohei, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and to a lesser extent, other second-generation senior instructors.

    The aikido seen commonly today differs considerably from that developed by the founder during the Iwama years in the following respects. Atemi (strikes to vital points) have been de-emphasized or eliminated. The number of techniques commonly practiced has been reduced. The focus on irimi (entering) and initiation of techniques by tori [person executing the technique] has been lost, and the distinction between omote and ura blurred. Practice of the aiki ken, jo, or other weapons is infrequent or nonexistent. Aikido, although still considered as a budo by some, retains little of its historical martial effectiveness due to the soft, casual nature of practice and as such has been transformed into what could be better called a health or exercise system.

    I suppose that by boldly making the above statements I am “casting a stone into the calm waters of the aikido pond,” however, long-term readers will recognize them as logically deducible from the research that Aiki News has labored to present over the years. In this connection, Aiki News has found an unlikely bedfellow in the person of Mr. Yoshinori Kono. Mr. Kono has gained considerable recognition in Japanese martial arts circles in recent years through his theories and books. A former aikido practitioner and avid martial arts researcher, Mr. Kono has of late been a frequent contributor to Aiki News and we feel he is uniquely qualified to make observations on nuts-and-bolts technical issues and the dynamics of movement from a fresh perspective. He is the rare combination of a superb technician and deep thinker and his example of engaging in relentless experimentation and training exchanges should be an inspiration to all.

    In fact, Aiki News has just completed a first-of-its-kind [Japanese-language] training manual in which Mr. Kono traces the birth and evolution of his theory of igeta jutsuri. Largely at our suggestion, Mr. Kono has presented his discoveries as they apply to the execution of aikido-like techniques and employed terms which will be familiar to aikido practitioners. I think this volume will be an outstanding contribution to the technical and theoretical literature on the art which has over the years tended to be mostly repetitive and derivative.

    Inherent in several of Mr. Kono’s concepts are criticisms of the way aikido techniques are executed today and I find myself largely in agreement with his views. I know for certain that Mr. Kono has ambiguous feelings about revealing his technical findings which often imply criticism of the aikido status quo. I have found myself in a similar position and have wrestled with this same dilemma on numerous occasions. Such a stance is sure to attract criticism from some quarters in turn. Although most of our mail has been very favorable with regard to Mr. Kono’s observations, there have been a few negative reactions too. In order to stick to our open discussion policy, we have unhesitatingly published some of these counter views.

    I, too, have been on the receiving end. I remember one incident several years ago when I received a long letter from a well-known senior instructor which took me to task for delving into the subject of Daito-ryu to such an extent and for publishing comments which could be construed as critical of the founder of aikido. He then accused me of being disloyal to the aikido cause by engaging in such actions. Even though it hurt to read these things, there was never any question about whether or not we would publish this “unflattering” letter. To add to the indignity, we had to translate and edit these stinging words for publication. As it turned out several readers jumped to our defense with some “unflattering words” of their own directed at this disgruntled shihan. It takes a thick hide to stay in this field and be a survivor. And to think all I really wanted to do was to hole myself up in a library stall somewhere and write a few scholarly monograms that a maximum of fifty people would ever read!

    After so many years in this field my conclusion is basically as the old saying goes, “if you’re going to dish it out, you have to be able to take it!” Such critical comments from detractors, well-meaning or otherwise, can be likened to a sword thrust which should ideally be anticipated, avoided, countered with no intent to injure, and ultimately used to polish our own spirit!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    124

    A Dilemma Deferred: An Identity Denied and Dismissed by Minoru J. Shibata

    http://members.aikidojournal.com/pub...and-dismissed/

    In the mid 20th century, Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei introduced a martial art that is unique to this day. There are many witnesses living worldwide today who were there, saw him, heard what he said, and physically touched him. There also is a significant amount of recorded and anecdotal history about him and his art, as there are practices and seminars that have been proliferating for many years that appear to be directly related to what he founded. Yet, we find little, if any, evidence of anyone, even those who were close to him, having understood his aikido with certainty and clarity, so there seems to be no acknowledged transmission of his art. Therefore, the aikido that he founded still remains unique and the legacy of what he founded exists as a redundant series of tentative, invalidated interpretations of his original idea — or some other concept and practice of “aikido.”
    This other façade of a common art with a singular goal has been essentially a combination of tentative interpretations which has amounted to a repetition of monotones. The uniqueness of the art seems to have been dismissed by those who have been concentrating the chronicles of aikido on an ambiguous form of the art. Furthermore, this art is supposed to have been founded by an idiosyncratic, multifaceted, legendary person who has expanded the art(s) that he learned from others. These efforts and thoughts clearly have been a salvaging of what O-Sensei had completely discarded. The many interpretations of his art obviously have carried forth the martial arts paradigms that pre-date his aikido and they have been substituted and adjusted to the contemporary mindset. This has only further widened the separation from his aikido. This discontinuity has resulted in a travesty that has retarded further evolvement and development of O-Sensei’s martial art. References to techniques by silly notions as “soft or hard” styles or even “world class” aikido only add more spin to blur what has been vague from the beginning. Somehow, “aikido” has become a terminology for a collective diversity of wishful interpretations instead of a diversity of something original.
    The frequent gathering of workshops and seminars for all groups and styles seems to support what is already there but does not address what is missing. The commendable effort of sharing information and cross training through friendship and openness is an over-simplification that does not address the real issue — as in the familiar folk tale of the emperor with no clothes; i.e., aikido with no O-Sensei. Most practices, if not all, are interpretations of an idea of “aikido” without any validation that they are O-Sensei’s aikido. There is no clarity in what integration of martial and philosophical strategy and discipline that the practices are supposed to express, satisfy or embody. Its identity is hidden or does not exist, and therefore, it could be anything. Paradoxically, without the presence of O-Sensei’s aikido, the probable potential that is sought remains limited to other than his aikido.
    Many of us can only vicariously imagine from past documents and anecdotes of O-Sensei, his personality and character and his relationship with those who were very close to him, including his family. We find little evidence among practitioners of aikido, religious or not, who have accepted his spirituality as the primary essence within his aikido paradigm. We read or hear more about his idiosyncrasy than his spirituality.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    124

    A response to the articles by Stanley Pranin - Martial arts in a state of decline?

    http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19324

    Just before you read this I am quite capable of yada yada yada too

    But I prefer not too as I can't spelle or write or do sweet F.A.

    In response to the articles by Stanley Pranin - Martial arts in a state of decline? An end to the collusion?

    I know this will probably cause eruptions amongst some aikidoka and I know that criticism like this has surfaced time and time again but I think maybe we should do this just to remind the (many) complacent amonst us. If it does irk a few into rethinking what it is they do in their own practice and the present state of aikido then maybe I've hit the right nerve! I will not make any apologies and would say that this is a keen and clinical observation and dissection of aikido on my part having practised now for 33 years. Previous to aikido I have had some experience in amateur boxing, judo, karate and gungfu as well as experiencing some nasty situations (in my time) outside of the dojo! My honest opinion is that most aikidoka today really have no idea as to their true combat ability and are either totally deluded or most probably not that concerned, hence the view today of many who criticise aikido's combat self defence effectiveness….. Even to the point that those who supposedly practice the art, in all its myriad forms, arguing who, what, where, is better or not. This is plainly seen on many internet forum.

    Critics from the majority of sports orientated combat arts of whatever persuasion and also those of a street orientated nature view so called traditional (kata only styles) martial arts, traditional aikido styles (or should we say purist's styles?) sadly ineffective against someone who is hell bent on giving a purist martial arts practitioner a thorough pasting!

    As a Tomiki/Shodokan aikido player, (and I can hear the purists saying ‘not another Shodothug'!) I can well understand the reasoning behind those arguments and would have to confess that I would have to agree to a great extent, having seen the seductive and well performed, choreographed demonstrations performed from limp and awkward looking telegraphed striking attacks and silly grabs as it seems is often the norm in ‘purist's' training and demo's! I cannot honestly help but feel and know that this is ‘oh so very true!' It's even happened in some Tomiki Aikido groups where so called traditionalists/purists of even high grade now only practice kata and sloppily at that! In all honesty it looks more like aikido performed by geriatric string puppets who have never really practised any good randori or practised randori/shiai, (kumite) at all!

    Aikido performed in this way does not do the art any real justice, especially when you get such criticism from those of the more combat orientated martial arts. Many from karate, judo, kendo, etc., were attracted to aikido and its Founder Morihei Ueshiba. There are enough anecdotes to imply that Mr Ueshiba could really do the business as his teacher Sokaku Takeda could and apparently proved beyond all doubt!

    Is it true to say that after the 2nd world war, as Professor Ueshiba grew older, infused with his spiritual influence, he really wanted aikido to become a highly refined harmonious practice? Are successive postwar teachers watering down or even eliminating the martial practice of aikido altogether? Are the majority of aikido teachers today just too biased towards health, harmony, philosophy, etc., the self defence effectiveness of aikido just being ‘switched off' or are they just deluding themselves and their students? If this is the case, how does one expect combat effectiveness in what has basically become a completely co-operational dance like ‘martial art'? Is aikido meant to be something ultra soft now, which in their eyes is aikido, which resembles aikido but somehow without the martial? In other words has it really become a health system based on a martial art? The martial effectiveness of aikido not being the goal but rather just the spiritual, feel good type practice becoming or establishing itself as the preferred or ‘ultimate' method?

    The almost dance like movement and ukemi akin to gymnastics or acrobatics that is seen practised today is fine from an harmonious health and fitness point of view, but it is virtually useless in an actual combat scenario, when an opponent or opponents will absolutely not co-operate and take beautifully controlled falls for you! It's fairly obvious that ukemi practice is neccessary to avoid or escape injury from truly applied techniques but should ukemi be performed just to be pretty or to make nage look good? All these things are referred to by others and often read in articles such as those mentioned in the heading.

    In all honesty, wouldn't one be better off training in dance, gymnastics or ice skating or a mixture of all three as many do? These activities are exceptionally good for health, fitness and harmony. Its also quite ironic that good dancers seem to make good traditional/purist/cinema choreography ‘martial artists' too!

    I personally feel to some degree that Professor Kenji Tomiki (8th Dan Judo, 9th Dan Aikido) foresaw what would probably happen to aikido and addressed this with his rational idea of introducing one on one randori and sporting shiai (contest) coupled with kata training in equal measure to understand the mechanics/principles of technique. This system is gaining many more adherents around the world and is still in developement and fine tuning so we could still see things changing depending on the will of top ranking teachers and innovative individuals within the Shodokan. Yes, we know that sport shiai doesn't look pretty and its not ‘real' in the true sense, but it is the closest that one can get in aikido given safety parameters. All or most Shodokan players are amateur in the sense that entering competition shiai is not done for a purse, much the same as in judo.

    It seems evident to me that the progress of aikido under some banners as a martial art, will most likely develop (or decline depending on which way you look at it) into a health system similar to exercise Tai chi with rolls and falls, which to some extent it already has! This is fine if you are more interested in an all round exercise only practice but should it really be relied upon for self defence or combat effectiveness?

    Its also interesting to note that the watering down of martial effectiveness has also occurred in some other martial arts so its not just aikido that is suffering from this kind of criticism. I also feel there is another reason why this has happened. Not everybody wants to become a lean mean fighting machine but would prefer to do a martial art or physical discipline because they are just attracted to the beautiful kata side of traditional martial arts and the mental and health benefits that can be derived from it. People who prefer and want this kind of practice only should be made fully aware of this! Unfortunately the problem arises when unaware people are misguided into thinking that kata only practice is sufficient for self defence. The more rational amongst us know that this is not true! It's really down to the teacher of any dojo being honest about what they are teaching, rather than letting a deluded student find out for themselves when it's too late!

    It's obvious that many so called professional martial art instructors today either know this and prefer not to inform their students, or are just totally deluded themselves, leaning too much towards the philosophy and hiding behind it!. They have never been really tested so do not know their true ability…… or are really just con artists! Truth is most traditional martial arts teachers today have never been in a real altercation in their lives. Not that its advocated in today's so called liberal modern societies! It's more likely that these instructors know that they can get away with it and are more concerned about how many students they can sign up and in so doing increase their incomes and grossly inflated status. If instructors only teach what can only really be classed as co-operative martial art dance, or mock combat, then there will always be those, who don't know the difference, who are unfortunately going to be duped and deluded. This is a total con and an uneccessary delay to a completely unaware novice student who is looking for self defence/combat instruction.

    Thankfully, there are honest teachers amongst traditionalists who do inform their prospective applicants that this is indeed the case and will direct those people who are looking for just self defence instruction to a more combat orientated martial arts school.

    We all know in aikido (as in other martial arts too) kata practice is important to understand the mechanics and principles of technique. From a self defence/combat point of view, training really should be practised right from the start, initially from light atemi, (and not just from the usual traditional attacks) light resistive grabbing and gripping. Then as players become more accomplished, gradually employing full strength grabbing/grappling and fast strong atemi. When one becomes more skilled, the kata techniques learned in principle are properly understood, transformed into applied techniques which have developed into alive full grappling or randori and sport shiai against an uncooperative partner or partners, rationally testing one's technique for effectiveness, these methods employed within the comparative safety of the dojo.

    I personally believe that one cannot possibly know if one is truly effective if these methods are not employed to some extent. It's not necessary to enter tournaments or get beat up, but it can be practised in the dojo within reason! What other alternative is there? It's becoming apparent that more and more disillusioned ‘traditional' aikidoka have discontinued training, or are now supplementing their aikido practice with judo, b.j.j., m.a.a., boxing, karate, kick boxing or even switching to or studying Shodokan aikido (Sorry had to get that one in).

    One gets to hear about incidents inside and outside the dojo or in the street where challenges have been taken by so called skilled martial art traditionalist/purists/aikidoka who have found out to their disgust that their kata only practice is completely useless in a real broil! Then it's too late! The damage is done. Aikido/traditional martial arts get bad press! It's hardly surprising really.

    Stanley Pranin of Aikido Journal recently wrote the articles about traditional martial art schools being down on membership and the apparent lack of interest in oriental traditional martial arts. Could this be one of the main reasons? A lot of young people I come across and talk to today openly say that if they were to do a martial art they would probably look for a mixed martial arts club or something of that nature having seen the difference in martial arts on youtube. They see and sense its more ‘real' so its probably better to do for self defence! A growing attitude and response amongst many young people today is ‘But what for? we'd rather go clubbing and ‘ave a bundle with the doormen after we come out or with any body that happens to get in the way'! As I remember more than one young lad saying filled with ‘Dutch Courage' as is often the case at night : ‘Why do something like aikido! It's a bit naff (English slang for stuffy, boring, useless, out of date)' A typical reflection on modern society today?

    Stan Pranin also referred to the multitude of diversions that young people have today are vast, so why spend time trying to learn something that's going to take half or all your life to learn anyway? (Another myth of the 20 year techniques and all that bull?)

    Generally speaking, in the fast pace of modern life, young people interested in martial arts who want to learn self defence, want it yesterday! Modern hybrid martial arts do offer that alternative because it is much less complicated with less bla bla! hands on, almost straight away effectiveness! So who can really blame them? Judo and tae kwon do are still very popular as they tend to receive more coverage in Olympic and World events.

    I feel that its really all down to the ‘hippy hoppy, you don't harmonise with me quasi religous types' and their warped idealism that has really damaged aikido's credibility. If aikido does not evolve ‘back to the future' and redefine its act, it's probable that mainstream, or should I say, present day ‘purist' aikido will just decline or change into a pure exercise system based on a martial art originally known as aikido!

    One of my sayings to my more advanced students is bullshit baffles the untrained novice! (sorry if for some of you that is too strong a word) Sooner or later the rational, more wordly, young people of today will realise they might be wasting their time doing something like aikido or ‘traditional martial arts.'

    Its all very well for the love and harmony types to say that we do not fight, aikido is the art of love and peace and the peaceful resolution of conflict and so forth. But can they honestly back that up to any extent when really confronted by some asshole who will not listen to reason and wants to take your head off?

    This, in my mind, is precisely what undermines the credibility of aikido as a self defence art. If one is an instructor of a dojo and not confident enough to take a challenge inside or outside the dojo, whether formally or without warning, then you shouldn't really be teaching a self defence art! If you are too old or maybe no longer physically able to meet such challenges, then maybe you should have a younger student or instructor that would be capable of taking your place! Just like it once was! Unfortunately, the old bill (English slang for police) can't always be there in time to save you, so if you know in your mind that you are not up to it, run like a bat out of hell (if you still can) or die trying ‘cause if you don't, it's going to happen anyway!!

    In conclusion, you will always get the deluded, the con merchants and the dreamers and those that will cater to them. There is not much one can do about it unless they are exposed. Gullible people are many and easily duped! So it's really down to the prospective martial art student to establish what it is they really want.

    Best advice, search out genuine, honest teachers of martial arts irrespective of what rank, organisation or affiliation they belong to as this is no real indicator to their true ability. It's really quite a mine field out there, so you truly have to use your gut instinct to find what you are really looking for.

    To try and simplify things: if you want only self defence/combat effectiveness and an art that evolves with the changing times then you should join a school that practises in this way! If you are looking for just health, harmony and the cooperative, feel good kata only practice, there are plenty of those around! If you want all aspects then join a school that does exactly that. They do exist, it is just a matter of searching them out!

    By a nobody called Tony Wagstaffe 4th Dan Aikido Habatakukai, Winchester, Hampshire, United Kingdom Occupation: Owns and operates one man taxi cab service and is senior instructor to the Aikido Habatakukai.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    234
    Style
    Judo and HEMA
    The only one of those articles that doesn't make me vomit from the amount of non-sense in it is the one from George S. Ledyard

    That guy at least SOUNDS somewhat legit. I would also venture to say his aikido probably looks nothing like what you would expect from say, an Aikikai demo.

    He is basically STARTING to refer to aliveness. I actually LIKE Aikido, and incorporate several of it's principals and techniques in to my Judo and Jiu-jitsu practice, but this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyAJN2OYi1s

    Is suitable only for looking pretty at demos.
    And, in my opinion, that is the heart of the problem with Aikido. They are mostly training to look pretty at demos. Not to be able to DO any of the things they are actually demonstrating.
    Last edited by AcerTempest; 12/15/2017 12:44pm at .

  8. #8
    BKR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Bonners Ferry, Idaho
    Posts
    17,790
    Style
    Kodokan Judo/BJJ
    https://web.archive.org/web/20071121...e?articleID=12

    by Stanley Pranin
    Aiki News #98 (1994)

    This one was OK.

    Prannin is trying, but his own apparent lack of experience at anything remotely resembling alive training is a handicap.

    Kata is a closed drill type training...it's one tool, but aikido then tends to do what I would call uchi or nage-komi and call it randori, when it is still drilling (yakusoku renshuu of a sort). Moving towards adaptive or open ended drilling (where there are multiple potential outcomes, dependent on uke reaction or action towards tori).

    They could do randori (as in Judo, unscripted other than safety rules )in aikido, but rarely if ever do.
    Falling for Judo since 1980

    "You are wrong. Why? Because you move like a pregnant yak and talk like a spazzing 'I train UFC' noob." -DCS

    "The best part of getting you worked up is your backpack full of irony and lies." -It Is Fake

    "Banning BKR is like kicking a Quokka. It's foolishness of the first order." - Raycetpfl

  9. #9
    DCS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    6,699
    Style
    Jits
    Quote Originally Posted by BKR View Post
    This one was OK.

    Prannin is trying...
    Not anymore, he died last March.

  10. #10
    BKR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Bonners Ferry, Idaho
    Posts
    17,790
    Style
    Kodokan Judo/BJJ
    Quote Originally Posted by DCS View Post
    Not anymore, he died last March.
    RIP...
    Falling for Judo since 1980

    "You are wrong. Why? Because you move like a pregnant yak and talk like a spazzing 'I train UFC' noob." -DCS

    "The best part of getting you worked up is your backpack full of irony and lies." -It Is Fake

    "Banning BKR is like kicking a Quokka. It's foolishness of the first order." - Raycetpfl

Page 1 of 5 12345 Last

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Log in