Thursday, 5 December 2013

What's wrong with aikido?

For years now, people have rubbished aikido by saying it isn't a practical martial art. I can see their point. But I think the Founder's aikido was very practical. So what has happened?

In this article:
Todd Jones says the following about students of O'Sensei, "Yes, so they understood these things fundamentally. He didn't have to waste time teaching basics… they were either qualified to step into his dojo or, “Sorry, we don’t have time.” I think, partly because of that, aikido — the way it’s taught today - is built on an expectancy of those fundamentals; those basic skills should already be there. I see aikido as a high level, or graduate school, martial art. If you've done ten years of judo, or if you've done ten years of karate, or if you've done ten years of kendo… it’s very easy to step in and say, “Oh yes, I see.” This just makes training all that much easier, all that more efficient, all that much better."

Let's look at the implications of this. If aikido was originally taught to students who had come from other martial arts backgrounds we can assume they were already taught how to strike, use timing and understood ma-ai. 
Morihei Ueshibi then advanced them further with aikido. 

Now move forward to contemporary aikido and untrained people are walking off the street into that kind of training paradigm. Here, I believe the problems begin. 

Aikido as a set of principles and techniques is a solid martial art in my opinion. However, the training paradigm is wrong. 
I can speak from personal experience around this. I now study a kobudo with others trained in another martial art, most people on the mat are Dan-ranked in a gendai budo. The training is intense as every practitioner is competent in their ability to move their body around. Of course we have our strengths and weaknesses. The karateka strike well but have had to learn how roll and breakfall. I can roll about all day (coming from an aikido background), but must learn to strike correctly. Those trained in Judo find the body throws a piece of cake. 

If I was to take this experience and retrofit it to an aikido dojo, I'm sure the training would be very satisfying. Imagine a group of Judoka, karateka and kendo practitioners working through aikido techniques. Alas, this is simply not the case now. 

I think this would solve problems of colluision between uke and nage. It would stop problems around poor attacks and it would turn aikido back into a serious martial art once more. 

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