The Versus Quandary

While I am predominantly trained in Aikido, I have had some fundamentals in other martial arts, and this helps me ‘forget’ Aikido, and recognizes other arts in terms of their merits and limitations.

Personally to me, Aikido is a kind of a brand name for me. It helps me identify with a movement I am part of and proud of. By no means, I look upon Aikido as a be all and end all. In fact, Aikido is like a marriage to me, you marry the person best suited for you, you do not marry the best person. Of course the other sweeping statement is: “One man’s meat, is the other man’s you-know-what.”

Meat or poison, each has its own merits, and when I come across videos in YouTube  with a TKD vs MMA, or other genres vs genres kind of scenario, I always take a huge pinch of salt.

There are also people out there who tries to demonstrate how ineffective Aikido is, in MMA, I too take that with a pinch of salt. I have tried and effectively applied Aikido locks in MMA practice, and my opponent has no idea what he is in for, other than a broken wrist had I continue applying ruthless pressure. There is no need for that.

So while I abhorred those videos, I still do watch them for entertainment purposes, more than education. A lot of times, these people want to prove a point, and the point like all points, narrow and focused on a specific issues. Martial arts is a subject far and wide, deep and often dark, and cannot be fully, completely represented in any video.

It takes years to know an art, much more than a 10 minute clip. Martial arts is experiential and  highly existential, as no two moments are the same. There is little hypothesis in martial arts, much less, ‘what ifs‘, there is a lot of ‘it depends‘ in any martial arts, and any good martial artist will be know enough to shy away from a ‘us versus them‘ discussion, which will often leads nowhere but a clash of ego, to prove which art is better. There is no point in that kind of contest, which will only hurt relationship and turn friends into non-friends. That is not the spirit of Aikido, not the spirit of martial arts.

My brief exposure to other arts helps me discern the technicalities when I look at some of the video clips. Some will professed proficiency in Aikido, but in movement, apply more Systema-style of techniques, while both Aikido and Systema looked the same, they are not. My exposure also helped me spot the similarities. Other arts may apply ‘kote gaishi‘ style of throw, I wouldn’t be so quick to point out Aikido!

There are only so many ways to mechanically and geometrically twist a hand, while a kote-gaishi is quite signature for Aikido, Karatekas also uses that, certainly Jiujitsu practitioners. To me, in an applied Martial Arts sense, it doesn’t matter what it is called, as long as it is effective in employment.



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