Aikido is the martial art we practice here at Aikido'Ka. Just so you know, I studied karate before I started training in aikido . . . a very, very long time ago.
Morihei Ueshiba founded aikido in the 1930s. Ueshiba Sensei (know as O'Sensei -- great teacher) was an extremely accomplished martial artist and was expert in several arts. O'Sensei largely based aikido upon daito ryu aikijutsu, a very hard form of Japanese Jujutsu. Aikido is still a form of Japanese Jujutsu.
O'Sensei's idea was to create a martial art which has the remarkable approach of trying to resolve disputes -- even violent disputes -- without necessarily hurting anyone. O'Sensei specifically intended Aikido to be a budo, a Japanese martial art emphasizing self development.
Rather than existing to teach us to destroy people, aikido exists to improve our lives and our relationships. Now don’t get the wrong idea. Aikido is martially effective. Depending on your practice, it can be devastatingly effective. You can train as vigorously and powerfully as you want. And you'll get there with respect and by building trust with your training partners.
Here's another way to consider the value of Aikido training . . .
To my knowledge, except for Aikido, all martial arts have the following basic self defense perspective: If you're convinced that you're about to be attacked, strike first, strike hard. Keep striking first and hard until you disable the attacker or unquestionably convince the attacker to stop.
Notice the combat principles? Speed, surprise and violence of action.
Here's a quote from an article about the self-defense value of a particular form of karate. “When we train, we're as serious as we would be during a life-and-death struggle. Our mindset throughout each session is that we're really defending ourselves. We're conditioning our minds to see our attackers and to fight them with every move we make.”
In other words, see the people you’re training with as your enemy and treat them that way. After years of this type of practice, how do you think you’ll respond to any type of a threat, whether physical or emotional?
Well, here’s what the article says about that:
"When students practice, we try to develop reaction. Ideally, when you’re attacked, you’ll react automatically. The further you go in your training, the more your techniques will become reactions. They’ll become second nature to you.”
I agree that it’s absolutely true that training should create fast, precise movement. If you have to think about how to respond to a physical attack, then chances are your response will be too late. But if year after year you practice a violent response to attacks, then that’s how you’ll respond to any perceived attack – without any thought and lightning quick.
Indeed, that’s the point.
The self-defense aspects of Aikido are about resolving disputes, even potentially violent disputes, with no one getting hurt. With Aikido, we look to blend with our attacker. We use evasive movements to unravel the attack and place the attacker in an un-defendable position. We practice these movements until we can precisely perform them without thought and lightning quick. So if you do perceive an attack, you will not automatically respond with violence.
And that’s the point.
Unlike the explanation of karate practice above, here’s how I describe the roles that attacker and defender have in Aikido practice:
You bring the attack in such a way so that your training partner can do his or her technique perfectly. Likewise, you perform your defensive techniques so that the attacker can receive the technique perfectly. We’re people, so we don't do anything perfectly.
Nonetheless, that’s the goal.
As we practice and improve, we increase the speed and intensity of our attacks and techniques. We practice to support each other’s improvement. We’re not pretending to be enemies. We’re partners in our practice, and working together for mutual self-improvement and to learn whatever the thing is that we’re working on.
The dojo is a safe place for everyone who trains at Aikido'Ka. We do not hit each other in the head. We practice falling so that you learn not to hit your head when you fall.
Aikido training comes in various styles from the least martial (what I would call dancing) to very hard forms (what I would call combat). At Aikido'Ka we do effective martial arts, not combat. Aikido self defense involves getting out of the way, throwing a person to the ground, and causing them to give up because of a joint lock or other pin. You can get into fine physical condition practicing aikido and it can be excellent self defense.