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The Aikikai is "killing" the martial side of Aikido

#1
Hey guys. My name is Carlos. I'm an advanced aikidoka but there is something that its really bothering me lately. As an advanced student of Aikido it affects me to see how Aikido has gone from a true martial art to just an art. By this I mean that the way aikido is taught in the Aikikai is WRONG!!!!. They waste too much time teaching nonsense techniques that don not have any application whatsoever. And they make students wait until their black belts to start teaching weapons disarming and jo waza, tachi waza, tanto waza which is what aikido is for!!!!!! (take a look at the techniques for testing in the aikido federation and u will see what i mean). Shouldn't it be better if we started teaching this amazing and useful techniques at an early stage just like Iwama Ryu does????. Is the real true meaning of aikido as a MARTIAL art lost forever?????. Let me know what you guys think please. To conclude let me just repeat what Take sensei once said ..."lets not forget that Aikido is the martial art of the samurai".
 
#2
Seagal is ranked in the Aikikai and his Aikido is pretty pure Aikikai so the quote is fairly hypocritical considering the stance you take in the rest of your post. The Aikikai is more concerned with self-promotion and preservation/perpetuation of their organization than imbuing actual martial skills. If they were to teach in a harder/more dynamic method like Iwama-Ryu their student base (i.e. money flow) would quickly disappear. You seem interested in harder training, but how many other practitioners do you know who would be willing to stay if things suddenly got "rough and tumble"?
 
#3
Hey Ryan of Yamaguchi thanks for commenting on the topic. Seagal's Aikido is not pure Aikikai, if you see his aikido videos you will notice his aikido is practical, rough, and very straight forward, his aikido is very useful for self defens e. Altough he still recognizes his style to be aikikai (wich I believe is the reason why many people get mislead), himself and all of his students call it Tenshin aikido, and none of them belong to the Aikikai federation anymore. In fact, I believe one of his students in Florida actually started a Tenshin Aikido Federation. If you trained in a USAF aikido dojo before, you would notice that the training is very soft and full of unpractical techniques that make no sense. I personally know many students that left aikido because of this, me being one of them. On the other hand, I believe there is people that like this kind of training and benefit a lot from it. However, I pray for them not to be in a life or death situacion, because they will not know what to do. Aikido is a beautiful martial art, the problem is that many senseis either forget the MARTIAL part of the art, or they are just too scared about upsetting the heads of the organization. As for me, I started karate about a month ago, and I am enjoing it a lot more. It has a lot of art but its also very practical for self defense. I agree with you in that everything depends on what you are looking for. =)
 
#4
I think that Carlos is right. I was always interested in aikido because of his potentials but the way it is taught is unreal, I explain it better. There is nothing wrong with the techniques but the way these are practiced. I went to see two dojos in my town (in Italy) where I could possibly start doing aikido, but the attackers were sloppy not aggressive, simulating a real attacker. In this way our body and mind don't develop the right sensations causing almost surely a failure in a street fight.
Maybe Carlos and ppl like him (and me) should look for aikijutsu?
 
#5
Hey Maurizio. You are absolutely right, if I ever decide to train in a samurai martial art it would be either aikijujutsu or Iwama aikido (more of a hard style). Unfortunately, Seagal sensei doesnt have too many dojos arround (take sensei's aikido is amazing). Anyways, to anyone that is going to start doing aikido I will sugest that you watch some videos on youtube and compare the different styles, because you might be very dissapointed. Thank you for your comment on this Maurizio.
 
#6
Thanks for the advices, in fact back then I chose yoseikan budo which is a mix of aikido, judo and karate. Thanks to my master I learned how to be effective in self defense, the reason why I would like to learn aikido is due to my religious beliefs. I would like to learn techniques that don't hurt the attackers, I know it must endure a lot.. Anyway the way we studied the aikido techniques is more or less the way take sensei does, even if in yoseikanbudo they're called with other names, I think the original names that Takeda sensei called them before teaching them to Ueshiba..
 
#7
Yes Maurizio. In fact all of the aikido, hapkido and related samurai martial arts, have techniques that are very similar to takeda sensei's aikijujutsu techniques. I have strong religious beliefs too, but I think everything you do has to be done with the right heart. If your intention is to hurt people then you should not practice martial arts at all, but if your heart is on the art and the physical and mental training, the martial arts are for you. What I like about aikido is that you can practice the techniques both in a soft way and also in a hard way. The problem is that I like to have that option, and unfortunately, in most aikido schools they don't allow hard training, if you try to train adding some atemi to it they don't like that. There is so much politics in the organization that its really disgusting and sad at the same time because they are all about the growth of the organization and not the growth of aikido.
 
#8
Yes Maurizio. In fact all of the aikido, hapkido and related samurai martial arts, have techniques that are very similar to takeda sensei's aikijujutsu techniques. I have strong religious beliefs too, but I think everything you do has to be done with the right heart. If your intention is to hurt people then you should not practice martial arts at all, but if your heart is on the art and the physical and mental training, the martial arts are for you. What I like about aikido is that you can practice the techniques both in a soft way and also in a hard way. The problem is that I like to have that option, and unfortunately, in most aikido schools they don't allow hard training, if you try to train adding some atemi to it they don't like that. There is so much politics in the organization that its really disgusting and sad at the same time because they are all about the growth of the organization and not the growth of aikido.
I totally agree with you!!!!
ciao
 

tenshinaikidoka

Martial Art Student
#9
We should all understand that Aikikai is an umbrella orginization, not a "style". So you will see different Aikikai instructors teach in different ways and with different intent...my opinon, for what its worth!!!
 
#10
Hey guys. My name is Carlos. I'm an advanced aikidoka but there is something that its really bothering me lately. As an advanced student of Aikido it affects me to see how Aikido has gone from a true martial art to just an art. By this I mean that the way aikido is taught in the Aikikai is WRONG!!!!. They waste too much time teaching nonsense techniques that don not have any application whatsoever. And they make students wait until their black belts to start teaching weapons disarming and jo waza, tachi waza, tanto waza which is what aikido is for!!!!!! (take a look at the techniques for testing in the aikido federation and u will see what i mean). Shouldn't it be better if we started teaching this amazing and useful techniques at an early stage just like Iwama Ryu does????. Is the real true meaning of aikido as a MARTIAL art lost forever?????. Let me know what you guys think please. To conclude let me just repeat what Take sensei once said ..."lets not forget that Aikido is the martial art of the samurai".
Hey Carlos,
Just to clear up a few things, Seagal Sensei is under the Aikikai, and he does not refer to his style as Tenshin. In fact, he has corrected me on this and insisted that his functional approach to the art is what sets him apart, however, he is still a Shihan under the Aikikai and follows their rules and guidelines.
This page has more info on the subject:
www.middlesexaikido.com/aikido.htm

It is difficult to find a Martial Aikido dojo, but there are a few out there. Unfortunately they are not mainstream Aikido, so they are a bit hard to find.

I hope this helps
 
#11
Hey Aikibushi. Thank you for the insight on the subject. I did some research of my own a while ago, and everything you say its true. He is still Aikikai and I know they dont like him very much in the USAF because of his hard style. But, lets be honest Take sensei aikido is the best out there!. I started aikido because of watching him on youtube videos. However when I went to my first dojo, in which I stayed for about 5 years, I left very dissapointed (everything was bullshido instead of real bushido). Thankfully, just when I was ready to quit aikido, I found another dojo a little far from my house, but at least they do a little more rough aikido (not the kind of aikido I would teach, but at least is not bullshido). I am doing Isshinryu karate as well right now. Oh well...I guess I will have to continue with respect to my senseis and the art, and then maybe when I get 3rd dan open my own aikido school haha =p. By the way I checked your dojo website and very nice picture with Take sensei!. =). I would love to visit your dojo when I am in Boston sometime next year (I usually go for the weapons seminar at new england aikikai every year). Thank you for your reply. Take care
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
#12
Umbrella organizations, as Tenshinaikidoka mentioned, for which I have been given the following information (I may be wrong):

There is Ki Society (which is the type of aikido I believe Seagal refers to as 'dancing'); there is Aikikai (includes various styles developed by various students of O Sensei after they left the nest, so to speak); and there is Yoshinkan, also developed by a student of O Sensei. Ki Society I know very little about. What I know of Yoshinkan is, in the end, Aikikai and Yoshinkan end up in the same place, it's how they arrive there that differs (as a friend of mine put it after we'd been to a demonstration of Yoshinkan, 'Aikikai starts off fluffy and ends up soft. Yoshinkan starts off rigid and ends up soft').

(I'm omitting Tomiki which is competition aikido which O Sensei did not want for aikido.)

Now, everything that I've read that Carlos has been talking about upstream is very much against O Sensei's 'Way of Spiritual Harmony'. Aikido is about love, not about being rough. It takes years of practice to learn the techniques in such a way as to apply them in a practical manner, and in a way that DOESN'T hurt your opponent (unless absolutely necessary). What I'm hearing is that it should be rough, and if it isn't, it isn't MARTIAL.

We had an interesting class yesterday. Several techniques were demonstrated that are no longer "officially" taught that would have satisfied anyone's lust for MARTIAL. I, for one, am thankful that they aren't among the testing requirements.

A lot of techniques can be harmful, which is why care is taken learning to give and receive. Shihonage, for example, done correctly on an opponent who doesn't know how to protect themselves, can break the wrist, and dislocate the elbow and the shoulder, all in one swift move. The attack 'kubishime' - all you have to do is move your hand upwards from the lapel a few inches and you have a classic neck snap. That'll stop your opponent - permanently. Gokyo pin - broken wrist. Aiki otoshi - broken neck (nearly broke mine the first time I took ukemi for that - never again!).

In answer to Carlos' other complaint about weapons, he does have a point: many dojos don't start weapons practice until five minutes before the first black belt test that requires them. And even then, many examiners don't bother testing weapons because of the sheer weight of numbers in the testing pool.

We are fortunate in my dojo to have an excellent weapons master and that our sensei has included weapons requirements for every kyu test (5th and onwards. We have an unofficial '6th kyu' test that doesn't require weapons.).

Some of Carlos' complaints can be attributed to the poor quality of the instructor. Because there are so many Federations in the US that have political and ideological differences, there seems to be no consistency over teaching methods and requirements. This results in a lot of inconsistent training (I've watched some YouTube demos that have left me speechless in dismay, and in the case of one ukemi 'how to' from Florida - speechless in horror).

There are a lot of bad teachers of aikido. There are a lot of good teachers of aikido. Sadly, access to the good ones may not be available to those who live in smaller centres where selection is limited.

That's why going to seminars is so very important: it gives you the opportunity to experience a variety of techniques and teachers from all over the world and also opens up access to the various lineages and styles from O Sensei's students, who, sadly, are dying off.

Understand also that in Japan martial arts are like hockey or baseball here: it's accessible to every child and they grow up with it much the same way as we do our sports here in North America (as is soccer, cricket, and other sports elsewhere in the world). Most North Americans come late to martial arts, so we're always in a hurry to get to the 'end'.

What I've learned is that aikido is more than just learning the techniques. I had an instructor once tell me, very early in my training, that my techniques were terrible [at that time I had only been practicing for about a year] - but my aikido was good. It took me a long time to figure out what he meant - how could my aikido be good if my techniques were not? was a real puzzler. But I've come to understand what he meant.

Aikido isn't just about techniques - techniques just teach you how to move. It's the practice over time that teaches you how to feel - the spiritual part of 'aikido' - which seems, from my reading of Carlos' comments, an aspect he doesn't appear to be interested in. One of my teachers calls this feeling 'the strength of no strength'. How do you achieve that? It can't be taught, it can only be learned. Does that take away from the MARTIAL aspect of aikido? In my opinion, not at all. It's what makes critics of aikido say it's 'fake', when it is really a subtle combination of mechanics, the laws of physics and 'feeling'. Aikido - the 'way of spiritual harmony' - is aptly named.

Miss or misunderstand one component, aikido becomes dissatisfying, inadequate, not MARTIAL enough.

I think this is what is missing in your training, Carlos: the fundamental understanding of why aikido was developed and what O Sensei was looking for while he was developing it.
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
#13
Seagal is ranked in the Aikikai and his Aikido is pretty pure Aikikai so the quote is fairly hypocritical considering the stance you take in the rest of your post. The Aikikai is more concerned with self-promotion and preservation/perpetuation of their organization than imbuing actual martial skills. If they were to teach in a harder/more dynamic method like Iwama-Ryu their student base (i.e. money flow) would quickly disappear. You seem interested in harder training, but how many other practitioners do you know who would be willing to stay if things suddenly got "rough and tumble"?
I get a whiff of the political issues in the US surrounding aikido from time to time, but I can tell you that here in Canada, for the most part, the aikido dojos are not-for-profits - the fees are only for expenses (dojo space and all of its attendant costs, gis, etc.). Even the ones not affiliated with the CAF, and by extension, Honbu Dojo, are run as not-for-profits.
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
#14
Hey guys. My name is Carlos. I'm an advanced aikidoka but there is something that its really bothering me lately. As an advanced student of Aikido it affects me to see how Aikido has gone from a true martial art to just an art. By this I mean that the way aikido is taught in the Aikikai is WRONG!!!!. They waste too much time teaching nonsense techniques that don not have any application whatsoever. And they make students wait until their black belts to start teaching weapons disarming and jo waza, tachi waza, tanto waza which is what aikido is for!!!!!! (take a look at the techniques for testing in the aikido federation and u will see what i mean). Shouldn't it be better if we started teaching this amazing and useful techniques at an early stage just like Iwama Ryu does????. Is the real true meaning of aikido as a MARTIAL art lost forever?????. Let me know what you guys think please. To conclude let me just repeat what Take sensei once said ..."lets not forget that Aikido is the martial art of the samurai".
I'm curious: how long have you been practicing aikido, with whom and at what rank are you? (Rank really isn't important, it just gives me an idea of where you're at in your training, so you don't have to tell me that if you don't want to.)
 

Kotegashi

Master Of Disaster
Staff member
#16
I agree with TDWoj.

Aikido has many variations, some spiritual and some more on techniques.

Aikikai is the mainstream variation that has the most affiliation with O'Sensei. I have seen several senseis of different styles and it's a matter of what your personal preferences are. Are you more spiritual then you need to seek out such a style, if you are a bit more physically orientated the go to a style like yosinkan or aikikai.

And it's not just in aikido that there is a diversity in styles, karate, jiu jitsu and many more have different styles.

Peace

I do believe it is a petty that the different styles cannot seem to work together.