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Gingerdave

Starting Aikido - Any tips?

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HI, so after a few years of not doing any martial arts (or much of anything except work) I'm going down to a local class to have a look at Aikido.

 

I've done various bits of martial arts over the years but primarily its been Jiu Jitsu and Karate.

 

So from those of you who have done Aikido what are your tips for newbies?

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I've only been practicing aikido for ~10 months, so take everything I say with a large grain of salt.

 

I'd make sure that where ever you go that they pair you with a senior student/black belt for the first couple of classes to get you into the groove of the basic movements used.  I'd be wary if they throw you headlong into a class without showing you the basics of ukemi (self protection/falling techniques) as a start.  When I started I asked how many students in the class I watched were new, and how the instructor interacted with them.  I'd almost advise to avoid looking at the techniques that are being practiced (within reason), and focus more on how the instructor interacts with the students.  And then I'd watch how the students interact with one another - at least at my dojo, the best students are the ones who help one another with their best guesses (even if sometimes they are iffy.  But that's why an instructor is around.).

 

In terms of fitness, don't expect much in the terms of strength.  I've been told that aikido is great for keeping you in shape, but it won't get you there.  Which makes sense, as you're are never supposed to exert any energy when throwing your opponent - most of your workout comes when you're the person *getting* thrown.

 

It's also not a martial art you can really practice by yourself.  You can mentally go over the throws, and vaguely mimic the body movements, but the movements are half of the art.  The other half is seeing how those movements affect the body of your partner. That being said, if you can get flexibility training into any workouts, I would definitely recommend it. 

 

That's all I can really think of.

 

TL;DR?  See how the instructor instructs, how the students interact with one another, and expect to supplement the training with strength training and flexibility increases.

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Thanks,  My ukemi is rusty but I think still there from when I did Jitsu, what I am wary of is that I may be doing it wrong for aikido and relying on bad habbits.

 

I did a bit of googling last night about the various Aikido styles.  The local club is a Tomiko club (the sporting one I think) and some youtubeing later brought me to one of thier Katas.  This Kata was 17 moves of which only 2 were throws which does have me a little concerned as I would like a failry heavy throwing component.

 

One question for you though, at which point in your style do the grades get Hakkama, or is it reserved for Dans/instructors.  Always wanted a pair of those....  :)

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My style/dojo reserves the hakama for dan grades only. But from what I understand its dependent mode on the dojo than the style. My dojo is affiliated with the Honbu HQ dojo in Tokoyo, which itself is Dan graded only. Unless you're female. Then they apparently get it at 3rd kyu and above. No idea why.

My dojo also has no kata. At least no unarmed kata. (Or they are under double secret probation lockdown.) Then again like I said - I'm new and clueless.

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My style/dojo reserves the hakama for dan grades only. ... Unless you're female. Then they apparently get it at 3rd kyu and above. No idea why.

 

Originally the GI was just what was worn under the Haks so essentially underwear.  The ladies get them earlier for the sake of Modesty I believe.

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The instructor is the only thing that matters. They need to know what they're doing and be able to teach it well. Really the only criteria for any martial art.

I respectfully disagree with that statement. A great instructor is useless without a decent student. :)

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In my opinion a nerd we have to look at all things critically. Akido is what is known as bullshido. It emphasizes sloppy unrealistic attacks and throws that only work on compliant partners. Try one of those throws on someone beyond a basic level of Judo and they will not work. Ask yourself when was the last time you saw Akido being used in MMA. Wristlocks are effective but they need to be applied in certain phases of combat, they can work well on the ground but they do not work very well while on the feet.

 

One other thing that is required for a martial art to be effective is an aliveness when training. You have to spar with a realistic amount of force, speed, and strength. Akido fails on this point.

 

If your heart is set on taking Akido go for it. Just know what you are getting into. It will get you moving and you learn to fall. Just don't drink the kool-aid.

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In my opinion a nerd we have to look at all things critically. Akido is what is known as bullshido. It emphasizes sloppy unrealistic attacks and throws that only work on compliant partners. Try one of those throws on someone beyond a basic level of Judo and they will not work. Ask yourself when was the last time you saw Akido being used in MMA. Wristlocks are effective but they need to be applied in certain phases of combat, they can work well on the ground but they do not work very well while on the feet.

 

One other thing that is required for a martial art to be effective is an aliveness when training. You have to spar with a realistic amount of force, speed, and strength. Akido fails on this point.

 

If your heart is set on taking Akido go for it. Just know what you are getting into. It will get you moving and you learn to fall. Just don't drink the kook-aid.

 

I can't say a lot about the bad points raised; our 'dojo' is just a bunch of mats in the corner of the gym; our sensi is rejistered to teach but we're very laid back and don't have to room to do much more than static starts. 

 

There are some good points to aikido though, as meantioned before you do lean how to fall properly; your posture can also improve a bit, if you sensi is insistent on you posture you become more aware of it and try to correct it; and balance can also be improved a bit with enough practice.

 

If nothing else aikido does help you make connections with other people, since you are working so closely with the poeple you're training with you end up having to trust them and usually making some very strong friendships.

 

If you want to practice aikido I say go for it and have fun. 

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In my opinion a nerd we have to look at all things critically. Akido is what is known as bullshido. It emphasizes sloppy unrealistic attacks and throws that only work on compliant partners. Try one of those throws on someone beyond a basic level of Judo and they will not work. Ask yourself when was the last time you saw Akido being used in MMA. Wristlocks are effective but they need to be applied in certain phases of combat, they can work well on the ground but they do not work very well while on the feet.

 

One other thing that is required for a martial art to be effective is an aliveness when training. You have to spar with a realistic amount of force, speed, and strength. Akido fails on this point.

 

If your heart is set on taking Akido go for it. Just know what you are getting into. It will get you moving and you learn to fall. Just don't drink the kool-aid.

Wow, there's just a whole bunch of rubbish right there that I'm having trouble finding where to start.  If you really think that way, well you mentioned bullshido - perhaps those forums are more suited to you than here.

 

Yes nerds look at things critically, but we also strive to have open minds and gather evidence from multiple sources where possible.  By the sounds of it, and your lack of response to the question posed by Spider-Dan I take it you have little if any personal experience with Aikido.  Feel free to add evidence to the contrary but your apparent ignorance makes it hard to assume anything else.

 

To start I will say and admit that any martial art performed or taught badly is of course not good.  And I'm not saying Aikido is free from bad practitioners - but then show me an art that is.

 

Your definition of bullshido is also false. Bullshido is more about lies, deception and plain old charlatanism.  If an aikido teacher (or teacher of any art for that matter) was making claims about becoming the next ultimate combat master or being able to defeat your enemies with only the power of your ki after a simple 2 weeks course then this is bullshido.

 

Any aikido practitioner I have talked to are very reasonable and honest about the practical nature of their chosen art.  They freely admit that if you want to learn the highest percentage techniques that will work out on 'the streets' then you might be better off starting to learn another art.  But just because it can take longer to implement the skills learned in an aikido dojo does not make it useless.  And this isn't even going into the different styles of Aikido, some of which are much 'harder' than others.  I have seen this sort of thing way too many times - people need to be wary of painting any art with too broad a brush.

 

While you may not see commonly known aikido techniques in an MMA setting I frequently principles of aikido used.  MMA is nothing but a set of rules and while as a competition it may mimic what is 'allowable' in self defence more closely than other competition formats, there are still many rules that are followed so using the MMA argument is pointless here.

 

You say that aliveness training is also required.  Not sure what you are getting at here as I've certainly seen alive Aikido training. Maybe you need to get out more?

 

Oh and yeah.  I don't practise Aikido regularly but I can personally attest to the usefulness of wristlocks in real, violent and physical confrontations.  And while standing no less!

 

At the end of the day you need to be realistic about what you are training and why you are training it.  I know if I wanted to be the next champion cage warrior ro street fighter then I would be studying something else.  It should be the same with any art.  Think critically and gather all the evidence.  If your instructor is making dubious claims then yeah, it may be worth looking elseware.  But if they are honest then you can learn a lot on a very long and enjoyable journey.

 

But hell, I'm just a random person on the internet.  People should go and experience things themselves.

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Siggles said it better than I could.  And the board just ate my reply.

 

Suffice to say - every dojo is different.  Mine focuses on how to keep aikido martial - including how to perform atemis and keeping uke honest enough that they give the force needed while not just falling down.  I hate training with people who do that more than anything else because I don't learn anything from that.  If I wanted wavy hand movements, I could do tai chi.  I want to learn how to use physics and anatomy to knock people down.  Just because aikido emphasizes getting out of the way of attacks doesn't mean it's not going to be useful on the street.

 

Anyway, +1 to the random person on the internet.  I'm off to the dojo now.

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All I can say is do not let other people's opinions pre-maturely influence you how you view Aikido. It is easy to become biased against something in some way before even having experienced it. There is a lot of practical/applicable skill and knowledge to be taken out of aikido for self defense as well for life in general, but it is also has its flaws like anything else. I encourage you to see for yourself what it is/about and to walk in with a completely open mind, and just see where it takes you. I personally have taken it for about 3-4 years now and love it to death, but it is not for everyone and the only way to find out is to try it. If nothing else comes of taking it, you will at the very least have had an interesting experience. 

 

Here is the website for the Aikido foundation through which I study. There is a dojo directory, and maybe a school that you can check out as an option. Just trying to be helpful here http://www.kokikai.org/.  You can also check out Aikikai Aikido, which is the most prominent style worldwide and most definitely has a main website as well that can be looked up.

Best of luck!

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Again I ask, just what do you base your opinion on SeeGee?

Your statements are not factual at all. If your basis for whether or not something works or not is whether or not you see it in MMA, then I can't say much of your thinking. A lot of people would say that about Taekwondo for the same reason. You don't see a lot of TKD in MMA. However, one of the top 5 professional female fighters in the world happens to be a 3rd Dan in Taekwondo. She only got into ground work about 5 years ago, but has 12 or 13 years of TKD.

You are 100% wrong on how those "throws" work. They are intended to break someone's balance in order to bring them to the ground and not necessarily to "throw" them. Aikidoka use uke I techniques when on the receiving end of those moves to dissipate the energy of the technique. This usually involves them looking like they are thrown. The reality is that if someone who has no training in break falling has a technique like that done to them, they are very unlikely to go flying. More likely they will just break. Those techniques put you in a position of falling to save the joint or fighting it and breaking.

You will find these techniques to be preferred by many military, police, and security personnel. I used to be a bouncer part time, and I know from real work d experience that they do in fact work just fine.

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Also, I have yet to read a thread on bullshido that didn't degenerate into name-calling, style-bashing, or other such infantile Internet behavior. It is a site I think is very negative and does very little for the image of the martial arts.

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I just wanted to chime in as someone whose mind about aikido was just recently and forcibly changed.

 

I'll admit, aikido kind of throws me a bit. (See what I did there?). You have the striking arts and you have the grappling arts, both of which tend to deal with fighting in a macrocosm - the bread and butter things like kicking and punching, and what to do when you end up on the ground. Aikido is focused on a microcosmic element of fighting - joints and the manipulation thereof.

 

Let's be honest about the art for a second. Yeah, Ueshiba kind of lost his mind toward the end of his life, going on about the harmony of the universe. Yeah, aikido is about the strict use of defense. Yeah, it gets invaded by a bunch of hippies who aren't interested in the 'martial' and are more about being 'art' weeaboos. But in being honest, we also have to admit some things. We forget that Ueshiba served as a Japanese soldier in WWI. He had confirmed kills with a bayonet. Let me repeat myself: he killed people via stabbing. We also forget that he did have training in different styles of jujutsu, and that Jigoro Kano himself respected the man enough to send his students to go train with the guy. That has to say something about the man's martial merits.

 

Having thought about it, it almost seems that we have to consider our martial arts within a more artistic context. Think about colors, right? Every color is a piece of light, a spectrum of the same. By mixing and matching spectrums, you make different colors. Grappling describes one broad set of spectrums, and aikido is a specific color in that set, same as judo and BJJ.

 

It's an imperfect metaphor, but I think it helps. And anyway, you should do what you enjoy. What do a bunch of bitter armchair blackbelts on a forum know about anything useful anyway?

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What do a bunch of bitter armchair blackbelts on a forum know about anything useful anyway?

This made me literally laugh out loud. :)

Some other things to consider:

There are two very different major philosophies in Aikido today. The reason for that is Ueshiba had a major religious experience in his life and completely changed his outlook on what he was teaching after that. So, you have those who follow the path that was set before that event, and those who follow the path after it. I does seem that the post-metanoia group is more common nowadays, but they have not stamped out the other school of thought.

Most aikidoka will maintain that there is only one aikido. Well, that may be true from a certain point of view, but the ideas of the system have adapted over time (like any other art). This means there are some subtle differences in the different lineages out there even if they can be traced to the same source.

Another thing to remember is that the original intention of these techniques pre-modern day training was not to lock up someone and force them to submit through pain compliance. The original intent was to destroy the joints of an enemy to make it easier to kill them. It was a battlefield skill first. Modern society has molded these techniques into a kinder and gentler way due to modern law and morality.

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A couple things I'd like to add as side comments that I have kind of come to understand after studying with some very skilled Aikidoka for about 3 years:

  • It will take you much longer than with a hard style to develop a level of nuance in Aikido that allows you to use it effectively in an actual situation. It requires a long-term commitment with a lot of dedication.
  • The arguments against aikido in regards to using it against someone like a boxer or mma fighter are in fact based in truth and any honest and experienced Aikidoka will be open about the style's weaknesses. Aikido has a strong reliance(not solely though), on fully committed attacks to be applicable. BUT, that is not as big of an issue overall as Bullshido individuals would have you believe because they seem to be living in a world in which they perceive everyone as being super efficient fighting/killing machines, and that fights only happen with two dudes squaring off like in Mortal Kombat. In reality the total percentage of people in the world who can ACTUALLY box or fight using mma or muay thai is really a very small in comparison to everyone else. And the percentage of elite martial artists most people negatively compare Aikido to is even smaller. When you put it into perspective like that, you can expect most people in every day life to just swing and hope they hit something if they get in a fight. That is a much more likely scenario, which in hand makes the prospects for an experienced Aikidoka coming out of a fight maybe hurting, but not on their way to the hospital much more promising than people would think. That said, everything is still quite relative and the outcome of an encounter still largely depends on the the skill levels of both people involved, as well as luck playing its part as well.
  • A few things that can factor into whether Aikido will work in a real life situation: 1. Whether you keep your studies to yourself to remain unassuming to others, or arrogantly announce your black belt status to the whole world whenever possible. 2. A good understanding of attacker psychology as well as attacker body language and how to use that knowledge in your favor, ie manipulate those two things. 3. Use Monty Python's self-defense technique known as "RUN AWAY!!!!" whenever possible.(It's totally valid). 4. Not allowing your ego to place your wallet in higher priority over your physical health when you happen to be staring down a barrel.

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I understand what see-gee was getting at, even if they were blunt and not particularly respectful.  Martial arts are completely dependent on on what your goal is.  If you want to be lethal, get a gun.  If you want practical self defense against a mugger or a gang of thugs, use Krag Maga or Silat.  If you want to be able to sort of defend yourself in a fight, maybe, against an untrained, similarly sized person, do an martial art (kung fu, tkd, aikido, karate, etc).  If you want to be able to defend yourself in a realistic scenario or against a drunken brute in a bar fight without killing the guy, do BJJ/MMA.

 

Do not think for one second that a skinny or fat (basically, out of shape) black belt in TKD is going to stand a chance against a drunken football jock in a sports bar.  The slaps and deflects won't work for a second, and whether he tackles you immediately or just plain knocks your ass down, you WILL end up on the ground.  And then, your weak defenses will not do much as he proceeds to beat the snot out of you.  (Ground and pound is just a brutish tactic, no skill to it outside of MMA, IE: a drunk idiot can manage it)

 

Silat and Krav Maga teach real world application disarms, knife fighting, and soft tissue strikes (yes I know other arts acknowledge it, I'm talking about TRAINING around fighting with it... Silat ends most ground moves with a strike to the throat or groin.  It literally trains your muscle memory to cause serious damage to organs.)

 

MMA is quite simply the most realistic form of self defense.  The reason that out of all the martial arts you see in the world, a zillion kung fus, tkd, etc, most of what you see in MMA is ground fighting, boxing, takedowns and locks, is because it works.  I'm sure that somewhere on the bar circuit, some fool with a black belt in eagle claw kung fu climbed in a ring with a beginning MMA fighter and got his ass handed to him.  "But guys," he proclaims, "I couldn't use all my moves, so many of them are illegal in MMA, its a sport."  Its BS.  What, you think the MMA guy doesn't know how to eye gouge, strike pressure points, etc?  He's holding back in the ring because of the ring.  Go no holds barred outside of the ring and the MMA guy will not only win, he'll probably kill you.

 

FWIW, there are some moves and styles from specific arts that have bearing in MMA.  Take the chain punch from Wing Chun.  You actually see flurry strikes sometimes, and even some guys who hold a semi traditional wing chun guard...

 

Btw, This is coming from someone who did TKD, Two forms of Kung Fu (Yes, Eagle Claw :) ) and Penchak Silat.  I'm now doing MMA.

 

However, much like being fat and crticizing someone for their workout regimen as "not optimal" is hypocritical and idiotic, most people who study any martial arts should respect other arts enough to at least not bash them for what they are.  Any martial art that trains your body and mind is better than doing nothing but playing video games all day long.

 

Hope this is helpful :)

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Can't say I agree with the comment on MMA being the most effect martial art. But that is probably because it is not a martial art per se, it is a concept. Unlike boxing, which could be considered a specific style, MMA is a sport that allows for specific techniques to be be applied. The technical background of the fighter could be any number of things from extremely traditional training in one or more disciplines to training that is specifically adapted only to what is allowed in MMA.

I do think there is more to a fight than just the technical side though. There is spirit, and man the MMA crowd has that in spades. That alone is probably the single thing that would make them more likely to defeat a trained martial artist. Where the average martial artist practices their material in a sterile and controlled environment, the MMA fight is in a very fluid situation where little can be controlled in a moment and sometimes it is only their will that keeps them in the fight. Many of today's traditional martial artists are never tested like that, nor would they care to be.

However, if you can take that spirit and hone it in with superior technique (traditional or MMA), then you have a winning combination. Superior technique with superior spirit equal win.

I did compete in an MMA match a long time ago. I was getting ready to start teaching a few friends privately, and had this notion that I should really do something to prove to myself I was ready since I was no longer actively training under anyone else and didn't have any credentials to teach from any organization. I didn't want to go pick a fight with somebody. I'm not that kind of guy. So, MMA it was. The fight went very well for me. TKO called by the ref because I left my opponent so punch drunk he didn't really know what was happening anymore. I was pretty unscathed. However, I did decide that was the only time I would do that. I could tell by the match that I was stronger both in spirit and technique, but that if I continued down that path I would likely find several who really wanted to kick my butt more than I wanted to kick theirs. :)

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Spider-dan, I don't know if you're referring to my post or not.  But I'll respond anyway :P

 

MMA is a practical form of real world applied non lethal self defense that happens to be a sport as well.  People talk about MMA and immediately confuse it with UFC.  Also, you're right.  MMA is not an "art".  Its a combination of arts.  However, many martial arts started out as a combination.
 

Jeet Kun Do was a combination with its roots in Wing Chun, but drew heavily on Bruce Lee's real world fighting experience, combined with traditional boxing and heavy cardio training (which at the time was pretty unheard of in Asian martial arts.)

 

Doing a horse stance for 10 minutes straight is impressive but so is running a 5 minute mile...

I'm not sure I buy into "spirit" blah blah, but MMA guys typically are no stranger to being hit (even lightly) or slammed on the ground, or at the very least experiencing some kind of pain.  Thats a huge benefit when going up against a "trained" martial artist who has never really sparred.  I've seen countless "masters" get hit once and its ALL out the window.

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Yes, actually I was answering your post, so it's all good. :)

I can't say I agree with your first statement 100%, but I certainly respect your point of view.

Yes, most martial arts start as a combination of other arts put together. It has been going on for a really long time.

My point though in saying that MMA is not an "art" was more to the point of saying that there is not a formula that every MMA fighter uses that is the same. Some come from a boxing background. Others from a kick boxing background. Some from wrestling. Yet others from BJJ. They all eventually try to fill in the gaps in their training so that they can cover all their bases in the ring, but how they get there isn't always the same. That was all I was getting at.

Jeet Kune Do had a specific recipe that went into it and is to this day the nucleus of it. Not all MMA fighters share the same recipe (nor do they necessarily need to).

Call it spirit, or heart,or will. Doesn't matter. They are tough. They are tougher than most traditional martial artists of the modern area.

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