Monday, March 31, 2008

Is Aikido Effective for Self-Defense

In a word, yes. As always, it depends on the type of training provided, and the attitude, determination, and aptitude of the student, but Aikido addresses many aspects of "street" self-defense, while neglecting some others. Pat at Mokuren Dojo posts A helpful handful – Aikido for self-defense:

Over the past 23 or so years I have studied taekwando, karate, judo, aikido, hapkido, and jujitsu and I can honestly say that of the martial arts I have experienced, aikido appears to me to be the best self defense there is [Emphasis mine- Nathan]. The following are a handful of aspects of aikido that I think make it particularly suitable for self-protection purposes.

  • Ukemi – the art of falling safely – particularly the simple side fall and the forward roll. Proper reflexive falling skills will likely save you from many more hazards during your lifetime than any other martial arts technique or skill. Check here for a collection of good articles on proper falling.

  • Evasion and the aiki brush-off – the ability to efficiently get out of the way of an incoming force and push the opponent off of you or push yourself off of the opponent. This is the fundamental skill in aikido, practiced in every class as the foundation of every technique. To read more about the aiki brush-off, check out this article.

There's more, much more to this post than meets the eye. In his usual understated way, Pat gives hints and glimpses of what may take you decades to learn in a manner that suggests it's obvious - and to him it may, indeed, be. The post also covers striking, groundwork, and something he calls calibrating the "hyperactive reflexes."

To elaborate on what I said above about Aikido neglecting other aspects of self defense, read my post Its not what's there, it's what's missing for my thoughts - Aikido, like many other systems can form the foundation of an effective style, but has weaknesses in it's strengths.

Please click over to Mokuren for more. I will ask Pat in the comments why he'd characterize it as the "best there is" for him.


Patrick Parker said...

There's more, much more to this post than meets the eye. In his usual understated way, Pat gives hints and glimpses of what may take you decades to learn in a manner that suggests it's obvious - and to him it may, indeed, be.

Well, I'm glad you enjoyed that post, Nathan. I really like being asked to defend my position with more than a handful of very general assertions. You really make me think.

You're right that I may be looking at it from a place where my opinion seems obvious but from other perspectives it may not be so obvious.

I'll be glad to reply in more depth but it might take me a few days worth of thinking, so be patient...

Patrick Parker said...

part of my response:

Patrick Parker said...

more of my response...

Anonymous said...

I dont think that aikido would be as good for when example fighting a boxer or a muay thai fighter.I have seen some aikido moves and i guess it will take some time to execute them when fighting someone who knows how to fight

Dennis Dang said...

I believe aikido is aimed strictly towards self-defense. Effective in a random street-fight if one is proficient enough, but much more difficult to apply in a strict 1vs1 fight.

Nathan at TDA Training said...

Thanks for the comment Dennis. I agree to a point. I agree that it defensive, if that's what you mean, but I'm not sure I know what you mean by more difficult to apply in a 1vs1 fight. If you mean in an offensive manner, I'd agree. I don't see how it would be less effective in a random street fight. Did you mean an attack?

markdeso said...

I think that the key point is, "is it self defense or is it something used to win in a fight?"

Remember that the key to self defense is getting to a safe spot. This means doing enough so that you can run for help or evade your attackers. This means that we do NOT defend ourselves with our egos. We defend ourselves and others for the love of them. It does not serve anyone to attempt to stand toe to toe with an attacker and try and "win" in a street conflict. It is stupid and you put yourself and your loved ones at risk.

That said, I whole heartedly agree. Aikido can be an extremely effective martial art for self defense.

I remember a great scene in Enter the Dragon where Bruce Lee used Aikido principles. He was asked what his style was. He answered, "my style is the art of fighting without fighting."

He blended with his opponent, and put himself in a safe place!

Anonymous said...

Just one question: what do you do if you can't run and there isn't enough space to apply fancy evasion manoeuvres? Evasion and blending are nice principles but not always applicable. If evasion and getting away is the most important skill there is in self defense I'd think training the 100 metres sprint would be more useful than aikido.

Of course anyone will claim his style is the best for self defense but I'm not convinced by this argumentation. Of all the arts mentioned I'd pick jiu-jitsu since it contains breakfalling, aiki-like evasion tactics, striking à la karate and the locks and throws commonly found in aikido and judo. Jiu-jitsu is a compound art containing a lot of techniques and it's specifically geared up to self defense while aikido is more of a spiritual art and since it left out the more dangerous/combative techniques from aiki-jutsu it's quite understandable it's less suited for fighting although in a number of situations it can be used as such (just like a kitchen knife, while not designed specifically for fighting, can still do serious damage if needed).

What Dennis might mean is that in a street fight people usually are not trained and come at you full force which I imagine would be easier for aikido to deal with since they can pick up on the energy. 1-on-1 probably means somewhat trained individuals who approach each other cautiously and feel each other out like boxers do. That's at least my take.


Anonymous said...

i went after my sensi's wife... she is a first degree black belt in aikido... i got sensi's permission to use "street" fighting against her cuz i was not convinced that it was a good style for self deffense. i threw my first punch found my self sitting in an arm bar then was thrown to the ground. i think it is an excellent style of self deffense. an sensi told me to take the train knife an try stabbing him as fast as i could i wound up sittin on the ground face down hurting like a son of a B8tch excuse me for my language.. but i think aikido is an excellent mean of self deffense