For those who may not be aware, Aikido is that martial art that Steven Seagal used in all his movies when he started acting. It's a lot more than that though and Seagal's fighting style in the movies may paint a somewhat inaccurate picture of the art in fact. It's not meant to be brutal and bone breaking at every turn, though it certainly could be used that way. The founder of the art actually called it the art of peace and sought to keep from harming people with it. Aikido experts can demonstrate some of the most awesome looking defenses you're likely to ever see anywhere. There are a few problems between where they are and what they may show you and where you or I may be sitting now though. This article is going to talk about some of those.
One of the biggest complaints from people who have interest in learning Aikido is how long it takes to learn. This may sound a bit whiny and even like people are just being lazy. After all, it's been fairly common knowledge for quite some time that many arts profess to taking many long years of training before someone can master them. That's where the difference comes in with Aikido though. We're not simply talking about mastering the art. We're talking about being able to use it effectively for self defense or even competition. You see, Aikido is not usually taught in such a way that a student can train in it for a month or so and then defend themselves against an attacker. Karate, for example, teaches many different scenarios and defenses usually and while some would argue that you can easily get lost in katas and routines, it's undeniable that Karate teaches you at the very least how to block, punch and kick. And if you can block, punch, and kick, you have a better chance of defending yourself. At least you have something you can use. Aikido doesn't teach strikes generally. It also doesn't teach in a very time sensitive way. There is no hurry in getting you on your way to becoming sufficient enough to defend yourself.
The art is usually taught in a very traditional and respectful way with a lot of discipline. There's nothing wrong with that, but when it gets in the way of learning you have to start rethinking some things. I've been taught some Aikido from a nontraditional source, picked up some things from more traditional ones, and studied further through books and video. I don't have a rank in the art, but I do have a firm grasp on it and am very confident that I could use it to defend myself if I had to. However, as I said, I don't have traditional training in it. I didn't have to go through endless routines or memorizing of names of techniques. One of my friends who has taken the art in its traditional form can't seem to stop himself from going on about the technique names of everything whenever we work out together or I show him something I've been working on. Here's an example of one of our conversations; me: "Here's something I've been working on." my friend: "Oh. That looks a lot like nikio." me: "I have no idea. I just know it works and why." You see, that's what's important. It doesn't matter what a technique is called. What matters is that it works and that you are aware of why it works so that if something doesn't work you can fix it. I'm not saying that the way Aikido is taught is all wrong, but I do think it could be improved on. If other arts can make people more capable faster, Aikido should be able to also. It's not a question of Aikido being an inferior art.It's not. Quite frankly, thanks to its fluidity, I believe that Aikido surpasses most arts in several areas, including weapon defense and defense against multiple attackers.
All the good stuff aside, Aikido does have a few drawbacks. Most of these can again be traced back to how it is taught. As I said before, I was not taught the art in a traditional school myself. However, I have seen footage of it being taught in such places. One of the worst parts of what I've seen is how they feed their defenders. Now, I'm of course not talking about them eating fast food. I'm talking about how the training partners go about delivering attacks for the other students to defend against. One of the most important things about learning to defend against an attack is to make that attack as realistic as you can. That doesn't necesarily mean going full speed and force and trying to take your training partner's head off. But it does mean throwing a realistic punch in the same manner it would be done in a real fight. For example, if you've ever seen those commercials for the Gracie combatives programs, you've seen the scene where a defender shoots in for a double leg take down after his opponent throws a punch at him. Well, if you paid attension, you'd notice that the attacker throws his punch from something like eight feet away. And then, he basically stands there and waits while the other guy takes him down. That's not realistic. It's just not. While Aikido doesn't do that exact same thing, it's still got a similar problem. In Aikido, they don't really teach you to strike. So, a lot of times, when you have a partner feeding you a punch or a kick, they may not really know how to punch or kick. You may not get into a fight with a kick boxer on the street, but that doesn't mean that through experience or some other type of training they don't know how to punch you or kick you and make it hurt. So, in order to learn to defend against these things, you must have someone who knows what they are doing to work with. And they need to feed you more than just one type of punch or kick. To be even more specific, they need to give you different angles of attack with their punches and kicks. People don't always hit straight on. There are roundhouse kicks, uppercuts, hook punches, and overhands to consider.
Don't let all of this discourage you about Aikido though. It's a very good art and very effective once you know how to use it. It's just that getting from point A to point B part that can be a real pain. So, any time somebody tells you Aikido doesn't work, they're probably saying that at least in part, because of one of the points I've listed. It just takes a while and that's probably it's biggest drawback. Some people are out there trying to fix that though. I was fortunate enough to find a teacher who is in that category and if you get a similar chance, I suggest you take it.