Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Today's Quote: Patrick Parker brings the beef!

My post, Is Aikido Effective for Self-Defense was a response to Patrick Parker's Mokuren Dojo post (A helpful handful – Aikido for self-defense) about the Aikido techniques he considers universally effective for self defense. In said post, he dropped this gem, "I can honestly say that of the martial arts I have experienced, aikido appears to me to be the best self defense there is." That means a lot to me, as Pat is black belt ranked in several styles and an experienced instructor who's been around the block (sorry Pat!). In my post and comments to him, I requested elaboration on why he considers Aikido the best. Without hesitation, he responded:

With My kung fu is more powerful than yours!, then No, MY kung fu is better than your puny technique!, and I'm betting there'll be more. This is worth reading, then re-reading:

Superiority, equality, or inferiority

What is self-defense? Defense of the self. Not necessarily offence against some other. Sure, sometimes there are people that “need killing,” but that is not self-defense. For example, if you know a given martial art so well, have trained it so long and so rigorously that you know, absolutely KNOW that you are completely superior to some particular enemy, is it self-defense to destroy that enemy? If you know that you absolutely outclass them then it’s not self-defense – it is retribution or punishment or murder or something like that.

It is only self-defense when you are immediately afraid for your life or well-being.

When are you most reasonably afraid? When you’re surprised in the dark on uncertain footing and outclassed and out-gunned and the enemy knows what is going on and is younger and stronger and faster and bigger and better at what he is doing than you. You are most afraid in a situation of weakness and inferiority and lack of knowledge.

Karate, etc… is generally built from an assumption of superiority. All other things being equal, the karateka will use superior technique or training or strength or speed or leverage, etc.. .to prevail.

Pat summarizes his views:

... aikido is based on an initial assumption of inferiority or weakness or slowness. We invest in that weakness and slowness by avoiding the necessary use of strength and speed to make things work. As we invest in that state of weakness, we try to figure out how to work it to our salvation. Thus, aikido, by its definition and its nature, is all about self-defense. Aikido is THE art of self defense. Karate, and even sport judo, are not even about self defense in this sense because they predominantly operate from equality or superiority.

That is, indeed, a different way of looking at things, which reflects well on Pat as a martial artist, instructor, but more as a human being. What do you think? Comments welcomed here, or over at Mokuren Dojo.

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Chris | Martial Development said...

Aikido is not a unique martial art in its presumption of weakness. It is only unique, in my opinion, in its emphasis on training maai.

I also do not think it is fair to say that the self-defense label only applies when you are afraid. Fear is the seed of aggression; that it begins as SELF-destruction (passive aggression) does not make it any more virtuous or palatable.

Anonymous said...

A couple of points I would like to make, first my definition of self-defense is doing whatever it takes to survive an attack. If the antagonist attacks - my own views of my comparable capabilities do not matter from my ethical point of view or legally. Secondly one should not underestimate an opponent by trying to do the lesser technique (because it would probably suffice) instead of a devastating one.

To put this in perspective in training I have often held back to allow my students the feeling of success so they could grow as fighters. Because of this I have been injured more by students than in sparring or real fighting. If one puts some throttling mechanisms on their own warranted, self-defense moves - they are, in my opinion, taking a needless risk.

Having said all of that - I enjoy watching Aikido defenses as having more tools in your bag of tricks, are always better.


John W. Zimmer