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#125490 - 04/06/03 01:44 PM How long to be effective?
Cato Offline

Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 1636
More so than most martial arts, aikido suffers from the charge that it takes too long to become proficient enough to use the art for self defence. I was wondering whether people think this is a justified criticism, or is the end result worth the endeavour?

#125491 - 04/07/03 06:18 AM Re: How long to be effective?

Well, it's supposed to take 10 years to become effective in the SOFTER styles but 1 year in the HARDEST styles. You don't think half the world's riot-police would wait 10 years to adequately train an Officer if it was INEFFECTIVE, do you? You've got to understand the OBJECTIVES of Aikido: You must be as concerned about the aggressor as you are about YOURSELF. I confess I am NOT that spiritual but it may be the sainly "way to go" for those who subscribe to such idealism.

#125492 - 04/07/03 10:50 AM Re: How long to be effective?
raccoon Offline

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 848
Loc: Victoria BC Canada
Cato, whatever you were smoking, I hope you didn't smoke it on duty! And you said I ask too many questions... [IMG][/IMG]

If you are a pig, err, I mean a cop in Japan, you can enroll in a one year black belt aikido program, extremely hard on the body though.

Gobzhad mentioned aikido being a soft art, I seem to remember you (Cato) making similar comments in the past... now, tell me, were you serious? Or were you just kidding?

The way I look at it, most people don't practice aikido hard and fast because injury is a real concern. I think injuries is a fact of life in MA, while some injuries serve to toughen the body, other injuries never quite recover fully, and it gets worse every time you reinjure it. Brain injury is one of them, joint injury is another. Unfortunatelly, aikido practice does put a lot of stress on the joints. I don't mind nursing a 7 inches diameter bruise and a few broken bones from pushing myself beyond my limits in karate; give it time and it will heal, in fact, it will become tougher than before the injury. But in aikido, you do that regularly, and your body is probably going to break beyond recoverable. I haven't seen them myself, but I heard horror stories of Chiba sensei's students, having to retire from practice after 30, because their joints are so damaged it's not possible to practice anymore.

I can see how people get the notion that aikido is a "soft art"; but in another sense, it's extremely harsh and demanding on the practitioner (I think, but then I am only a beginner.) I don't think aikido usually take a long time to master because it's "soft". While aikidoists don't like pushing their limits as much as budoka in other arts, I don't think that make them softies either, I think it's just sensible.

One personal observation from cross training... in karate, we have some really basic moves that we try to practice repeatedly in hope of internalizing them. For my dojo, low round house kick is one of them. We practice it so much it's rediculous. Anyway, I think it's kind of analogous to tenkan practice in aikido. You would think after training for 2 years, you wouldn't still be practicing tenkan ... but then you turn around and look at your sensei, alas, he is practicing tenkan deligently! To me, that means 2 things, not necessarily mutually exclusive:
1) those basic moves are so difficult to master, there are always room for improvement, no matter how much you practice
2) aikidoist are getting a little too ... "sensible"? Ok, it's one thing to be caucious so you don't break 5 joints per practice. But sometimes I look at how we practice in aikido (I have to confess my dojo is a truly softie dojo...), and I find myself whispering under my breathe, "c'mon, put some effort into it, we aren't getting no where"
In karate, we will perform rapid and full power round house kicks to the count, 9 kicks a count, 10 count per student. By the time everybody counted, you could have finished 1500 kicks, and so we start over again, the other leg. By the end of the practice, if endurance is the focus of the day, it's not unusual to get through a good 5000 kicks in 2 hours.
Now... how many tenkan do we do per practice? How "hard and fast" do we do it? And is there any reasons why we can't do it harder and faster?
Some things are so easy to fall into habit ... such as the habit of being lazy and not push yourself in training.

Just my 2 cents.


#125493 - 04/07/03 01:00 PM Re: How long to be effective?
Cato Offline

Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 1636
aaah, raccoon, you are, I think, making a classic error with regard to aiki training. Soft doesn't refer to weak, ineffective or gentle. In aiki practice it most usually refers to way in which an attack is recieved. Blocking is a "hard" way to stop an attack. The direct contact of bone on bone is necessarily hard, and if done badly may well result in injury to the defender. Aikidoka never block in that sense, but recieve the attack, harmonise with it and redirect it. That is what I mean by "soft". People from other arts often sieze on the aikidoka's admission of it being a "soft"! art to try to suggest it is in some way inferior as a martial art. I really don't think it is.

I'm very sure you can enrol in an intensive program for just about anything, and aikido is no exception. But I personally would look very carefully at the quality of what you are getting,, as compared to training in a more conventional manner. I also wouldn't necassarily agree that injury is an unavoidable consequence of martial artrs training. One of the reasons why aiki is practised with a certain amount of co-operation in the early stages is to help stretch and strengthen the tendons in your joints so as to avoid injury. Rush into a full force sankyo or nikkyo and the chances of such an injury are greatly increased.

I'm not even sure that the world's riot police actually do learn aikido, or any martial art for that matter. Riot tactics negate the need for hand to hand combat, and oly a few arrest techniques are required to be learnt, not a full program of martial arts with all the attendant weapons training, kata and philosophy that goes with it.

And finally, "Pig"??? a little ungenerous, don't you think? Do you know why police are reffered to as "pigs"? No...? It is because they spend so much of their time surrounded by shit.


#125494 - 04/07/03 04:17 PM Re: How long to be effective?
Jamoni Offline

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 1514
Loc: St. Louis, MO, USA
Cato, great explanation between soft and hard styles. I personally believe Aikido takes longer to develop "combat effectiveness" than many arts. My reasoning is that, based on the few schools I've trained at or observed, Aikido teaches principles first, and fills in the variations later, where most MA teach specific techniques and patterns, then teach principle at higher levels. Hence the "Frankenstein" attack is a symbol of any straightforward attack. Shomen uchi is a symbol for any downward attack. ETC.
Not only this, but the movements are very intricate, and to learn good irimi nage is a little harder than learning a good left jab.

#125495 - 04/07/03 05:18 PM Re: How long to be effective?

In MY studies "soft" means less or no kicks/punches. "Hard" means MORE kicks/punches (as in Yoseikan branch of Aikido and other branches etc.).

#125496 - 04/08/03 03:08 AM Re: How long to be effective?
raccoon Offline

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 848
Loc: Victoria BC Canada
sorry for double posting

[This message has been edited by raccoon (edited 04-08-2003).]

#125497 - 04/08/03 03:10 AM Re: How long to be effective?
raccoon Offline

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 848
Loc: Victoria BC Canada
Mr. Godzhad> I am glad you said "less"; just like you can’t take out contact or kata and still call what you do karate; you can’t very well take out atemi waza and still call your practice aikido. You argued that aikido takes long time to learn because softer arts in general require longer time to acquire proficiency; I agree to a certain extend. It's a lot easier to punch your opponent silly and give him a clean KO, than to subdue them without outwardly using more aggression than the situation calls for. Aikido seems to be great in that respect, because the intensity often depends on how hard the aggressor attacked. Now, that said, by your definitions Judo and Jujitsu would also fall under "soft art" category. I confess I know next to nothing about those two arts, but my perception is that judo and jujitsu doesn't take NEARLY as long to acquire proficiency as aikido does. Any thoughts?

Cato>… sorry about the pig comment, that was not funny. I can only imagine how much sh!t cops have to deal with; it is very ungenerous of me to call them pigs.

I made the comment about “softness” in response an old e-mail (regarding contact level in karate). You said (jokingly I think) “But then, I do study aikido so perhaps I'm just soft!!!!” So my interpretation is that when you said “soft”, you meant the girly notion of "the lovingly protect all things". I see that we are using “soft” on the technique side of aikido practice here, so let me adjust.

I agree bone to bone contact is necessarily hard, but I don’t know very many styles that teaches that kind of block. Most karate blocks are meant to deflect by rotating the blocking limb at the moment of contact, which allows more contact surface and redirection of energy. There are a few notable exceptions, such as when you block with your knee/ elbow, but not very many style use that anymore (cos it hurts!).

Now, you might argue, “that’s how it’s *supposed* to work, but in reality, most karate student fails at it. Therefore the contact is still hard”. But the same goes for aikidoists… Many beginners in my dojo seem to enjoy making me wince at how they receive my “shomen uchi” (of course I am the notorious renegade who ventured into the karate arena…) – they hurt me a whole lot more than the karate folks! Blocking in karate hurts when a beginner hasn’t mastered the deflecting rotation; blocking in aikido hurts because nobody ever teach those kiddies the art of deflection, they are just taught to “practice until you can step off the line without crashing into the attack”, which is a lot harder to do full speed and full power.

If, deflection and redirection principle is what makes aikido soft, then karate isn’t very different. We just don’t place so much emphasis on harmonizing the attack after first contact. We deflect and stay engaged in the fight; while aikidoists get past the first attack and perceive the conflict is over.

And I am sure you already know I don’t think aikido is a weaker or inferior MA, I just think it’s a lot harder to learn!

As with injury prevention, I agree with every word you said. I see that (giving practitioners time to strengthen joints) as one of the major reasons why aikido takes so much longer to learn. True, the techniques are a lot more complicated than just strike and block. But the intensity we practice at also plays a role. You are a lot more prone to irreversible injuries if you rush things in aikido, than you would in karate. In that respect, aikido is a lot tougher than any other arts.

My God, how I rambled [IMG][/IMG] I need to learn the skill of summarizing my points!

Yours in aiki

#125498 - 04/08/03 05:57 AM Re: How long to be effective?

Osensei DID say "Atemi waza" is 90% of Aikido." I've often thought while training at my (NON-Aikido) Dojo: "What's to stop people from abusing and misusing this knowledge?" The ETHICS of Osensei DOES stop transgression BEFORE IT EVEN STARTS!

#125499 - 04/09/03 02:07 AM Re: How long to be effective?
Joe Jutsu Offline

Registered: 04/09/03
Posts: 575
Hey guys (and gals). I'm new to the forum, but I saw this thread and I could not help but to add my two cents. I am a relatively new Aikido student (I've been studying a little over a year and a half) and I have to say that some really good points have been brought up in this thread. I study Ki Society Aikido, the softest school of the softest MA [IMG][/IMG]. Does that mean that my Sensei is a softy?? That question seems very silly to me. What I have always heard is that it takes longer to develop a proficiency in a soft art than a hard one. This makes logical sense to me anyway. However, I live in a college town with LOTS of belligerent drunks. Within the first six months of my Aikido training, I had to use Aikido twice to keep safe in physical altercations. With that said, though I am still far from proficient, my breif training was enough to keep me unharmed. Was I able to actually deliver a beautifully timed koteoroshi or shihonage?? Well, no. But our work with keeping appropriate distance (ma'ai) and ki awareness was enough to keep me safe. Granted, I was not facing an accomplished martial artist, thank god, but it was enough in those circumstances.

The other Aikido experience outside the dojo that I have faced was when a Tae Kwon Do friend of mine wanted me to show him some Aikido. A skeptic to the last, I could not really finish a technique for fear of hurting my friend. So he asked me to spar with him. I reluctantly agreed. Again, keeping proper ma'ai was enough. He eventually got tired of "chasing me." End of conflict. He was smart enough not to overextend to give me a chance to try my unrefined techniques on him, and I was smart enough to stay just out of his reach.

Sorry I'm rambling, but here's a realization that I've come to recently, so I'm going to throw it out there. Hopefully other Aikidoka can chime in to support/debunk my theory. (Ideally), you learn the techniques to learn Aikido, not the other way around.

Peace my friends.

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