Why Aikido is not always functional
This guest article was written by Cris Eyza. Cris is the author of ‘Aikido Solution, Eyza Aikijutsu Revolution,’ which can be found on Amazon.
Aikido is a beautiful martial art.
I truly believe that. However, many of its practitioners have asked themselves why it doesn’t work in a fight. Perhaps you are one of them.
Keep on reading: I’m about to present to you the three main reasons for Aikido’s ineffectiveness – which I have discovered during the decade that I practiced the martial art myself internationally.
Aikido only has defensive techniques. The initiative is given up to the enemy, who is in control of the situation – never the aikidoist.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Every martial art needs defensive techniques. Offense doesn’t solve everything. Things happen.
But … it’s only half the story.
Because the purpose of defense is . to get back to offense again!
Here’s a Japanese saying for all the traditional Budo afficionados out there, which illustrates the right attitude to have:
“shinbu ni sente nomi” (Friday, 1997, p. 90)
(In real Budo, there is only the first strike)
Also, it’s really close to impossible to catch a punch with your hand. Same thing when the attacker is armed with a knife, only worse.
Over-complication is a big problem in Aikido. There are two sides to this technical over-complication. They are both problematic. I will start with the aspect which is most counter-productive in a fighting situation.
A. Tyranny of choice.
In Aikido, with every attack, the aikidoist has so many techniques to choose from, it’s crazy. The sheer number of basic techniques makes effective decision-making impossible.
These are some of the basic techniques the aikidoist can choose from:
B. Endless variations
Now, let’s talk about the other aspect of over-complication. When the attacker strikes at me from a certain angle – let’s say, from above (shomenuchi) – in Aikido, I have a gazillion ways to respond to that strike.
I could go to the inside and the outside. Now, when I go to the inside, I can do a cross-block and grab his wrist for shihonage, cross-block and cut over his hand for kote gaeshi or iriminage, I can grab his hand from above for nikyo, I can block his arm for ikkyo and so on. And also, in which of the two available ways will I circle my body in the second phase of the technique?
And we haven’t even talked about what happens when I step to the outside at the beginning of the technique … But I think you got the picture. There are just as many options. This “tyranny of choice” makes it impossible to choose one of dozens of technical variations, when all the aikidoist needs is . just that one technique . and he needs it fast.
The attack is underway. He has a split-second to react …. But instead of reacting, the aikidoist is paralyzed. “Which one of the plus 20 variations am I going to do?” he thinks to himself. And then … it’s too late. The attacker has already made contact with the aikidoist’s face.
Now, I am not going to give the solutions here. That’s for later. First, we have to finish our discussion of the problems of Aikido. The “diagnosis”, if you will.
3. The mentality
Most Aikidoists have good intentions. They want to learn a martial art with which they can defeat and control an attacker without killing or hurting him. This attitude is not wrong, however, it is very incomplete.
The priority of self-defense is what’s in the name: to defend yourself. Regardless of the cost. It was the attacker’s decision to come at you. His health cannot be the main thought on your mind while he tries to harm or kill you.
That said, I think that needless damage to your opponent is unnecessary. If you already control him or her and it’s not dangerous for you to continue the hold? Sure, keep doing just that until the police arrives. But only then. Don’t be naive.
Another thing. Saying “violence isn’t right” doesn’t work in a fight. When fighting, violence is good. The more violent you are (until you have attained your goal, which is self-preservation) the better.
Dear Aikidoist: I care about you. You are compassionate and benevolent – a trait which is not always common among warriors… But you need to explore the effectiveness of your fighting style. Don’t assume you will just be ready when the moment is there. Learn to defend yourself against those with less noble intentions than you.
A martial art should work. I mean, that’s the deal you make, right? You trade your time, your effort and your hard-earned money for the ability to hold your own when it goes down, not if. But right now, in traditional martial arts like Aikido, nothing less is true.
Friday, K.F. (1997) Legacies of the Sword. The Kashima-Shinryu and the Samurai Martial Culture. Honolulu, Hawai’i. University of Hawai’i Press.
Check out Cris’s book Self Defense Aikido