Making Aikido Into a Combat Art

Making Aikido Work in a Real fight

One of the most astounding facts in all the martial arts is that Aikido does not work well in combat. The reason this is astounding is because it is derived, to large degree, from Daito Ryu Aiki Jujitsu, which is one of the most combat ready arts in existence. Interestingly, it doesn’t take much to make Aikido into a formidable combat ready art.

koichi tohei aikido style
Controlling an opponent’s every move…
aikido kung fu
Fantastic aikido course!

To understand why the aiki art is not street ready one must understand the founder’s purpose. Morihei Uyeshiba, the founder of the art, designed the art around his enlightenment. This is to say that he designed it for brotherhood, world peace, and love thy neighbor.

Of course Morihei had the ability to destroy that neighbor, so he was safe in loving him. The modern Aikidoka, however, studying an art distilled for ‘getting along,’ does not have that ability, and so the art becomes unworkable. Thus, one has to tailor the art, explore it specifically for techniques that do not enter and present themselves as ‘get along’ techniques.

In traditional aiki classes the attack is exactly prescribed, and they are designed to feed the flow, and therefore the ‘spirituality’ of the defender. What one should do is, after delivering a flowing attack designed to fit the technique, is apply an attack in a more ragged manner, that is not designed to fit the flow. Thus, the defender must solve the problem of being attacked in more real terms.

If an attack is presented, say a lapel grab, with the arms extended, one must explore that attack with the arms bent. Further, the attack must be explored with the motion of the attack to one side or the other, or in conjunction with the movement of feet in all directions. Thus, the defender learns to not just go with the flow, but to make the flow work no matter which way it is flowing.

The procedure I am describing here is nothing more than exploring all the potentials of motion, and not just the politely described entry techniques of a zen shaped art. This is the procedure we used in rough and tumble karate schools, and we managed to stay polite, and yet became aware to anything and everything that could happen in a real fight.

I have meant many Aikidokas over the years, and the better ones have always subscribed to some variation of this procedure. Many a night I stayed late, after class, after the polite ones had gone home, and explored the nuances and deviations necessary to survival in a real fight. And for any Aikido practitioners out there who object to my opinions on this matter, I suggest they research the Hell Dojo of Ushigome, and other practices of the founder.

In reality, with the right attitude, Aikido can be one of the most combat ready arts in the world. It does take an enlightened mind, however, to embrace violence, as well as peace. These, however, are the principles we embrace when we embrace Matrix Aikido.

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