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#315067 - 01/15/07 07:47 AM Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questions
crazylegsmurphy Offline
Newbie

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 5
Hello Everyone,

I want to start out by saying that I am sorry in advance if the following topics have been addressed to the point of utter frustration, but after reading countless posts, watching numerous videos, and reading a few books I’m still a tad confused.

I am actually writing on behalf of both my and my friend as we have been talking about taking up some form of martial art for some time. You see, as the city we live in grows we are realizing more and more often that the potential for violence seems to be much more prevalent then it used to be.

As regulars to the transit system we both have seen our fair share of conflict among people and on a few occasions have been in a few ourselves, but through sheer luck avoided any real major problems. We both feel that it is time to learn a technique that will help us if any of these conflicts escalate to the point that we hope never comes.

After researching many of the martial arts techniques currently available, it seems that Aikido has the closest philosophy we are looking for in that we really would like to learn an art that is a simple and effective way of dissolving a violent situation without having to resort to an all out brawl.

Now, I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone here, so please forgive my ignorance, but it seems that in many of the videos we have watched much of the art relies on the attacker performing predetermined techniques for it to be effective. What I mean is that it seems very convenient for the opponent to reach out and grab your wrist, or conveniently roll with your throw, but we all know this doesn’t work like this at all in the real world.

In an attempt to better understand the dynamics of real world conflict, we also watched a lot of videos on the internet featuring the most basic, and typical street flights.

In many of these typical fights it is quite noticeable that it’s nothing more than flailing fists, misplaced kicks, all leading to the inevitable on the ground, “punch until you are exhausted” scenario. This led to the inevitable question of how Aikido would work against this typical “style” of fighting.

I have read a lot of posts on this, and other forums where someone will ask. “Does Aikido work in a fight?” and while there are many schools of though on this, my question is more, “Can Aikido greatly increase your chances of quickly and effectively stopping a fight when the opponent fights in a typical street fight fashion, or does the whole technique fall apart and one is left to simply throwing punches, or getting worked over the whole time wondering why they aren’t sticking their hands out like in the Dojo?”

Our second question is, how can someone totally untrained in Aikido find out if a school is teaching an effective form of it? In our city we don’t have a lot of options for schools, so this might be a mute point anyway, but what are the questions that one must ask before knowing if the school is going to teach a real world application, or simply teach an elaborate dance?

Our third question is, what are the limits of the training when you do not have a partner to train with? When I took Karate as a kid, I could practice punches, kicks, and block techniques on my own. Does this same concept apply to Aikido?

And finally, in many of the Aikido videos we have seen, it seems that when dealing with multiple attackers (or one for that matter) there seems to be a large emphasis on throwing an attacker, and waiting for them to get back up. I remember being in two fights as a kid, and I remember the longer they went, the more opportunity there was to get really hurt.

To me personally, I don’t want to toss a guy around for 20 minutes until he finally gets too tired to get up, that will inevitably lead to getting punched…and man do I not want to get punched!

So the question is if the art itself is effective in stopping an attacker who is coming at you “street” style in the sense that you can actually stop the attacker? What I mean is, I don’t really want to be in a situation where I am walking off the subway, finding myself putting someone in an arm lock, then trying to figure out how to hold them down, get out my cell phone and call for help.

Because to me, the simple fact of the matter is that if you let that person get up, they are going to be really [censored], and I don’t want to be in a position where I push my luck that much.

I realize this post is quite long, but I wanted to explain a little more about what our thoughts were instead up just posting, “Does it work?” We both thank all of you in advance for your replies.

Thanks,

Jeff & Erling

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#315068 - 01/15/07 08:28 AM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questi [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Wow! An excellent post from a first timer...

Let me see if I can help....

Quote:

my question is more, “Can Aikido greatly increase your chances of quickly and effectively stopping a fight when the opponent fights in a typical street fight fashion, or does the whole technique fall apart and one is left to simply throwing punches, or getting worked over the whole time wondering why they aren’t sticking their hands out like in the Dojo?”





Learning something is better than nothing. But learning something that's ineffectual is worse than knowing nothing. At least, if you know nothing, you have the advantage of doing whatever is necessary to survive.

IOW, yes, Aikido can provide you with some basic skills. But be aware that training is quite different to "reality". i.e. training only provides a means to develop martial skills that could be used in a real situation and is not the same as replicating a real situation.

Quote:


Our second question is, how can someone totally untrained in Aikido find out if a school is teaching an effective form of it? In our city we don’t have a lot of options for schools, so this might be a mute point anyway, but what are the questions that one must ask before knowing if the school is going to teach a real world application, or simply teach an elaborate dance?





I would suggest observing a class first. Forget about real world application. Learning to dance will also give you the necessary skills in the real world. Focus on the (body) skills, rather than the dance or the applications. In the long run, the body skills are what you want. The applications will become apparent later.

Quote:

Our third question is, what are the limits of the training when you do not have a partner to train with? When I took Karate as a kid, I could practice punches, kicks, and block techniques on my own. Does this same concept apply to Aikido?




My biggest beef with Aikido is that there are no solo exercises that one can train in - apart from the "warm up" routine. By definition, aiki means to join with another's ki, and it is foreign to aikido to train solo. Because of this, I mostly do standing (zhanzhuang) exercises and have also devised a series of solo exercises based on aiki principles that could be performed solo. If anything, I would focus on the aiki-taiso exercises like funekogi, sayu-undo and ibuki breathing.

Quote:

And finally, in many of the Aikido videos we have seen, it seems that when dealing with multiple attackers (or one for that matter) there seems to be a large emphasis on throwing an attacker, and waiting for them to get back up. I remember being in two fights as a kid, and I remember the longer they went, the more opportunity there was to get really hurt.





As I said earlier, training is NOT the same as reality, but training does give you the required body skills to deal with a real situation. You just have to know what the difference is.

Quote:


So the question is if the art itself is effective in stopping an attacker who is coming at you “street” style in the sense that you can actually stop the attacker?




There is a certain mental hurdle that one needs to overcome in order to bridge that gap. On the street, you do whatever you need to do. Yes, it's not going to look pretty, or anything like you train in the dojo. Once you understand that, you'll be fine.

Good luck with finding a dojo and all the best.

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#315069 - 01/15/07 01:45 PM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questions [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2573
Eyrie gave a very good response. Just a few things to add

Look, the Riot Squad of the Tokyo Police Dept learns Aikido. In their line of work, I don't think they have time to learn something that doesn't work in a real life situation.

In my experience, Aikido teaches you avoidance skills that are superior to most other arts I have encountered. Best thing to do is not be there to get hit!

The reason people get back up again in multiple attacker training situations is because... well, they’re training situations!!! No point in crippling Uke (attacker) at the first time of asking. Its better to have a strong, constant flow of attack. It also helps teach you the concept of Zanshin (an English speaker can understand this as "Aliveness"). Just because you throw someone in real life doesn't mean you turn your back and think it is over. Always be ready for the next attack.

Also would point out that Yoshinkan Aikido practice solo kata. Tomiki/Shodokan Aikido practice Unsoku, a method of moving Kenji Tomiki developed by himself while a POW in a cramped prison cell. If you have either of those types of Aikido to hand, they do have solo exercises. Am sure other styles have solo exercises too. And a lot of stuff you do with the Bokken and Jo CAN be practiced alone.

BTW if any of the Aikido schools close to you have websites, you could post the links and we could give you feed back on them. Or if you tell us the area(s) that are handy for you to travel to, we may be able to locate a few more schools for you.


Edited by Prizewriter (01/15/07 02:20 PM)
_________________________
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

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#315070 - 01/15/07 01:59 PM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questi [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
Joe Jutsu Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/09/03
Posts: 575
I agree that this is a very well thought out and written post.

All I can offer is my personal experiences. I have used aikido to save my butt during a few altercations, all at a time when it was the only martial art that I studied. I since have taken up iaido as an adjunct to my aikido training. One thing that you have to understand is that aikido with an uke who knows nothing of ukemi is not going to be pretty. Anytime you see a pretty roll from a throw, if the throw is done correctly that is most likely uke's teeth or chin hitting the ground. Ukemi is about keeping yourself safe. So the beautiful ukemi that you see is essentially uke choosing the smart option (a forward roll) as opposed to the unwise option (a trip to the dentist).

If you take your aikido training seriously, over time you will develop a certian presence (ki) that doesn't scream "victim." Muggers or general evil doers aren't looking for a challenge on the street. That said, I harbor a certain look (dreadlocks down to my butt) that many people don't understand, and I have been targeted a few times because of it, the last being about a year and a half ago by a frat-boy testosterone junkie type at a party. Sure, I was not in the best of places to avoid a physical situation, but at the end of the day this guy wanted to look tough for his friends. It all happened very, very quickly, but I saw the haymaker he was throwing a mile away and sort of did a tenchinage thing, blocking the punch as I moved with my whole body mass directly in as I put my open hand in his face, with a strong upward motion. Without getting into the (bloody) details, I walked away fine, and now have a few nicknames that I am still struggling to put behind me.

One of my sempai (seniors) in my dojo is a correctional officer who trains other correctional officers. He has had some previous MA training, but aikido is now his central art and he has literally relied on his aikido training to stay safe and alive on a day to day basis. Essentially, if you can find a good school and take your training very seriously, as in your training could be the difference between life and death, you'll develop fundamental ways of efficient movement that will enhance your ability to survive a violent confrontation. There are no magic techniques. But aikido offers a sound basis for self-discovery as well as self defense.

There are also many exercises that you can do on your own that will strengthen basic body/mind skillset that in turn will translate to better kumi waza/two person techniques, but you do need to have a training partner to actually practice the throws. But since it looks like you might be joining a dojo with a friend, there you go. I wish I would have had that luxury!

Best of luck!

Joe

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#315071 - 01/15/07 02:55 PM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questions [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
You asked the question on another topic board as well, good. I have straight out answers because I'm lazy and don't feel like typing a book so personally I would not take Aikido for your main purpose that you posted, that is just my opinion and of course others my say different. People have asked me the question many times about Aikido and to me it is a great MA but I always like a quality kicking and striking art as a "foundation". After years in one of those types of arts then on to Aikido if you like. Oh, and I'm not a big fan of cross training either unless you have at least five years of your core art under your belt.
_________________________
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

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#315072 - 01/15/07 03:40 PM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questi [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
crazylegsmurphy Offline
Newbie

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 5
Thank you so much for your replies everyone!

Of course, a few of your answers have brought up more questions, so I hope you don’t mind if I rack your brain a bit more.

Quote:

IOW, yes, Aikido can provide you with some basic skills. But be aware that training is quite different to "reality". i.e. training only provides a means to develop martial skills that could be used in a real situation and is not the same as replicating a real situation.




This is basically what I am concerned with and a real world fight is a bad time to learn that all that time you spent in the Dojo doesn’t amount to anything in that situation. With that said is it common to approach different schools using different techniques and ask for sparing time with their students?

While I realize that other martial arts might not be that similar to a real world conflict, might it serve to help gain a better understanding of the limits of the technique when faced with someone who won’t do what your fellow students would do in a training situation.

Quote:

BTW if any of the Aikido schools close to you have websites, you could post the links and we could give you feed back on them. Or if you tell us the area(s) that are handy for you to travel to, we may be able to locate a few more schools for you.




As of yet, I have only been able to find this website, which I’ll admit I haven’t fully gone through, (http://www.calgaryaikikai.com/ ). I currently live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and am able to travel all over the city.

Joe Jutsu, thank you! It’s good to hear about real world experiences to know if something will work or not. It sucks to hear that you were in a fight, but it’s nice to hear that the training seems to have worked.

schanne, ya I was asking similar questions in another topic. I have noticed from my limited experience that Aikido seems to lack a lot of actual striking techniques. I may be totally wrong in this observation, but it does seem like one might benefit from a martial art that focuses on such techniques.

Thanks again,

Jeff

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#315073 - 01/15/07 04:32 PM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questi [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
NewJitsu Offline
Member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 130
Loc: Midlands, UK
You must be spoilt for choice for Aikido schools in a city. Try a couple out and see what suits. Only you will know if it's a style that works for you, as I truly believe what's an effective MA for one person might not be for another. Yes, Yoshinkan Aikido is an aggressive style (just watch some David Rubens videos) but I suppose like Jiu Jitsu some may say it lacks atemi waza. For multiple opponents, it's hard to beat Western Boxing but again a Yoshinkan senior is not someone to pick a fight with!

It really is hard, looking at different arts and styles and trying not to always think that yours is the best! I love Jiu Jitsu and it's worked for me on the street but against multiple opponents I'd be in trouble. And unless you take part in Animal Days it's hard to understand the body mechanics of fear, adrenalin and real life situations.

But now I'm waffling. Go meet a few sensei and one class is bound to leap out and say 'I'm the one for you, mate'.

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#315074 - 01/15/07 04:53 PM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questi [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2573
Found another place to check out:

http://members.shaw.ca/tanren/index.htm

It seems most of the dojos in Calagary are Aikikai.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aikikai

Some more about Aikikai.
_________________________
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

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#315075 - 01/15/07 05:51 PM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questi [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
JKogas Offline
Prolific

Registered: 01/25/03
Posts: 10818
Loc: North Carolina
Crazy legs,


If I had to choose, I'd pick judo over aikido any day of the week. I'd highly consider doing so yourself.


-John

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#315076 - 01/15/07 06:50 PM Re: Thinking about joining Aikido, but have questi [Re: crazylegsmurphy]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

Quote:

IOW, yes, Aikido can provide you with some basic skills. But be aware that training is quite different to "reality". i.e. training only provides a means to develop martial skills that could be used in a real situation and is not the same as replicating a real situation.




This is basically what I am concerned with and a real world fight is a bad time to learn that all that time you spent in the Dojo doesn’t amount to anything in that situation. With that said is it common to approach different schools using different techniques and ask for sparing time with their students?

While I realize that other martial arts might not be that similar to a real world conflict, might it serve to help gain a better understanding of the limits of the technique when faced with someone who won’t do what your fellow students would do in a training situation.





There is no such thing as "sparring" in aikido. Besides, sparring is merely a tool to practice finding the openings and entry angles in a dynamic context. It is easy to confusing "sparring" for a "real" situation.

If you want to test the limits of technique, try this... find a school, ask to take ukemi from the instructor, then proceed to take the instructor apart... if he/she fails, leave... and find another... if he/she can consistently put you down on your a$$, despite your best efforts, maybe stay a while and see if you can learn anything....


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