The Problem with Aikido

Osensei

COMPETITON

People are always comparing.

People are always critical over things they don’t understand.

People are always wondering the efficacy of Aikido.

Well, it can’t be helped, as Aikido is a kind of mixed bag.

I think I’ve finally figured out what and why people think there is a problem with Aikido.

The Number ONE question is:

“Does Aikido Works?” 

Well, nobody really knows, actually.

Because Aikido doesn’t encourage competition, and without the typical competition, you really cannot tell who is better who, and what works and what doesn’t.

A typical Aikido (me included) don’t really experience loss, defeat or setback, bestowed by an opponent. No one in Aikido wins a medal, and since there are no winners, there are no bitter lessons for losers to learn.

There is no way to validate if Aikido is effective in a controlled, rule-based environment. There are no championships to decide who is the best Aikidoka out there.

Fake Aikido

Which leads to the accusations flying all over the place, ripping into Aikido that looks ‘fake’ and the mysterious ki force that ‘Grand-masters’ uses and causes people to fly all over the place at a touch, or worse, no touch. Almost every Aikido ‘Grand-master’ wants to look fantastic and awesome!

There are no fake Aikido, only fake representation of Aikido. Remember, it is the Singer, not the Song. If it works, Aikido works, and if it doesn’t, blame me as a lousy practitioner. This will apply in any martial arts, just as there are fake MMA fighters, and excellent street brawlers.

Aikido as designed and engineered by O’sensei in his days, isn’t capable of standing up to a variety of barrage in our current era. There is no concrete proof out there that really says conclusively Aikido works. Period.

We are not the sum of the medals we won, or lost. 

False Sense of Security

So most Aikidokas goes to practice in an environment, that doesn’t pit you against one another, so we will never know what works and what doesn’t. And Aikido works best in a constructive, helpful environment, unfortunately it also imbue into people that if your Aikido works in the dojo, your Aikido will work as a self defense platform. Which, is two totally different matter altogether.

Blame it on the spirit of Aikido, which is love, peace and harmony, all those hippy slogans. Hard, fighting people wants to know if it works, and proof that it does. No Aikidokas has appear to be so generous to step up and to put those questions to rest, one and for all.

So it might work, it might not, don’t get too comfortable with it! Just practice, practice and practice some more!

One of its kind

Then again, there are so many questions about the effectiveness of Aikido, precisely because it is a very unique martial way. As an Aikidoka, we are not walking mainstream, we don’t get into fights, just for the sake of proving if it works or not. Aikido takes away extrinsic competition, so that we can have the time to reflect within. We are not pressured by competition (which is plentiful nowadays!Robots and AI!) to perform. We prefer to tuck ourselves away, quietly work on improving our own techniques, help each other get better, build and collaborate, not fight to destroy.

True, putting other people into our performance and competition, steeps up the learning curve, which is precisely what we do not endorse. We, as humans bloom at our own pace, and we all with wither, sooner than we think. Why spend our time in vain trying to prove if it works or not? Sure it might not work as well as we wanted it to, which is why we practices right? We need to turn up at the dojo and practice like no tomorrow, since there is no right outcome. For an Aikidoka, the outcome is a continuum, a process, and it is never completed. We are not the sum of the medals we won, or lost.

Aikido is

There cannot be a comparison. O’sensei created Aikido in post-war Japan. I cannot imagine the horrors he has to witness and seeing friends and students go to war, and never return, those returned; never the same again. O’sensei himself fought in a couple of wars. While I have never experience war, (Thank goodness!), war changes people, and O’sensei saw that, I can only presume that he created Aikido to promote love, peace and harmony, which is so much lacking in his time and surely our time as well. So if you want to fight, compare and win medals, there is always an octagon around the corner, but please, not in an Aikido dojo.

Beginners Class!

Beginners Class!

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There was a large crowd for the beginner’s class at NUS last Tuesday, unbeknownst to me, it was a new academic term for the University and of course there will be new blood! Plenty of new blood!

People are always curious about Aikido, because as a martial art, it seem so ‘strange’. We are one of the quieter class in the Multi Purpose Hall, where we share our space with other folks practicing Muay Thai, Kick Boxing, Silat, Table Tennis, Capoeira . To add to the ‘problem’ of our auditory challenge, Harry sensei is a soft speaker, unless he is bellowing at you for screwing up too badly on your Waza.

“We do take our time to resolve matters so that we can have a mutually amicable outcome.”

It is strange, because in the world of martial arts, where there is plenty of emphasis on the ‘martial’ of the arts, but not that many look at the ‘art’ of the martial.

The emphasis on the ‘martial’ part is partly due to our humanistic struggle. We struggle to make sense of our struggle. ‘O’ sensei also struggled, I’m sure, and he saw the light to the struggle, Aikido is that light.

Most of the arts are born out of struggle and strife, it necessitates the killing of our fellow human being for our self preservation. Aikido, is also born out of struggle and strife, the distinction is the higher more visible emphasis on killing our ego for everyone’s preservation. So when we think ‘big picture’ in this aspect, we strive to to use our energy more efficiently, effectively.

Which is why Aikido movements are long, circular and seemingly flowing. We do take our time to resolve matters so that we can have a mutually amicable outcome.

Not many art trains you to handle an attacker in such a manner where the attacker walks away attacking you relatively unscathed.  So it make people curious as to how this is so? Is it collaboration? Is it an act? Is it effective? What happens if a person kicks? What happens if this happens? What do we do if that happens? Well, all the answers to the questions, come to the mat to find out.

Posted on 18/9/2015