Aikido ,Self Defence, washing up & the movies
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It seems that most people who arrive at the aiki dojo seek self-defence skills, perhaps even (subconsciously) myself?. What are the truths regarding the self defence aspects of aikido I wonder. In the past, and perhaps even now I have resisted the notion of Aikido as self defence….it seems just too crude!.

Tonight whilst washing the dishes I had this thought……..

As a comparative newcomer to Aikido (say up to 5 years practice) if you were to encounter a real incident in the street, with your training in mind, you would try to respond in an Aiki way because you believe in the system of ethics attached to Aikido, and because you are above "brawling". However this would not be your "natural" response. The likely result (though not definitely) would be that your Aikido would fail you, whereas if you had done the natural thing i.e lashed out or run like crazy, you may have been better off. No-one can criticize you for trying to do the right thing but this theoretical scenario, I believe, demonstrates Aikido's limitation as a form of self defence.

Having spent considerable more time practicing Aikido (at least 10 years, much more in my case!!!), I believe it becomes ingrained into your very being and therefore becomes your natural response
to real life aggression. As a truly natural response your body-mind will operate more efficiently and unified and the chances of a successful outcome are increased. So given time Aikido can become naturally effective….but only with time!

So please don't be misled into believing that after 3 months of Aikido training that you will fare better on the streets, because the truth is that you will probably fare worse!!. However stick at it for 20 years or so and you may be in with a half chance…trouble is, by then you won't really give a toss about self-defense!. This is one of the many paradoxes of the martial arts.

As a secondary train of thought………………………………………..
One of the most important aspects of Budo training is about Attitude or perhaps self-confidence. I would suggest that most victims of aggression invite it by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by their negative ("attack me I'm a weakling") body language. Both of these easily avoidable traits should be naturally remedied by the awareness and attitude that comes from training in budo.

The above is my personal opinion, and occurred to me whilst washing up so feel free to question my dubious reasoning. But please don't give me any stories such as …" my friend had been practicing aikido for just two weeks when she was set upon by 3 youths and………….blah, blah, blah,………and this just shows how effective shihonage really is!"………yawn!, coz I just won't believe it, I've seen enough of this crap from American contributors to internet forums. No!, life is not just like the movies, unless you happen to be Steven Seagal!!!

Tony Hughes - Nidan - Assistant instructor ,Koshinkan Aikido

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