Lv 4
Ippon asked in SportsMartial Arts · 9 years ago

Is AIKIDO's strength for self defense in defense or tweaking it to be more aggressive?

People that usually give Aikido a chance as a self defense system, usually talking about tweaking it and use it aggressively. They advocate using strikes, bone breaks, hard falls, chokes, and the like, that are opposite of Aikido's passive/defensive philosophy.

To me, if you do this to Aikido, it makes it like every other martial art out there. It makes it something it isn't. Doesn't that take away it's strength then? Isn't this like making Karate a primarily grappling art (something it isn't)?

Isn't Aikido's strength in being defensive? To wait for the attack? To escape whenever possible? To difuse the situation with soft words/actions if possible? To restrain (if all possible) over seriously injuring? Isn't this where Aikido becomes unique and it's real strenght lies in self defense?

Or do you have to just get real, and tweak it to be a semi aggressive smash them up, bone breaking, violent art?

11 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Best Answer

    First and foremost, aikido is not about being passive (and I'm sure that Sensei Scandal will be among the first to point out that the notion how karate is NOT primarily about grappling is not correct.)

    Anyway, aikido's strength is in blending with and redirecting the power/momentum of an attack (including grabs; an aikidoka is NOT supposed to wait for uke to form a firm grip before responding.) The key is in responding when uke is fully committed to attack; so in a sense, aikido will always be "defensive". This is both a technical and a philosophical principle: If uke does not attack, nage will not have anything to "work with", and nage will also have no reason to do anything against uke.

    The problem lies in the way many aikidoka practice: There is too much focus on trying to make it look and feel as soft as possible - and this, sadly, often extends to the belief that if uke is feeling even slightly uncomfortable, then the technique's execution is "not aiki"; thus few aikidoka train with any sort of intent behind their techniques. This is what's behind all the talk about using it in a more aggressive manner; it's people who are (rightly) dissatisfied with the lack of realistic training in many aikido dojo.

    But aikido has all the elements that allows hard and even aggressive approaches to self-defense (note that Ueshiba Morihei's original dojo is nicknamed Jigoku-dojo, or Hell-dojo; I don't think that's the sort of name bestowed on a soft, wishy-washy martial art). Ueshiba Morihei is known to have said that "In a real fight, Aikido is 70 percent atemi and 30 percent throwing." And if you look at, say, some of the kihon waza drills - especially in Yoshinkan aikido's curriculum - you can see nage taking the initiative with a strike, then using uke's reaction to either block or parry as an entry point for the particular waza.

    Ueshiba Morihei also often quoted the old samurai adage: "Cause Pain before you injure. Injure before you maim. Maim before you kill. And if you must kill, make a clean kill. Squeeze every drop of life from your opponent, for life is too precious to be wasted."

    Basically it's about appropriate use of force. Aikido techniques allow practitioners to avoid causing injury; but the potential to do otherwise up to killing your opponent is available. The fact is that even the most basic pins and throws taught to complete beginners can be used to seriously injure of even kill an opponent should the practitioner chose to do so. There's even no serious "tweaking" needed; simply minor changes in the amount of force applied; whether nage allows uke to safely fall down or maintains pressure to cause maximum impact; and - in the case of joint locks - whether nage stops at causing pain or immobilization, or continues to hyper-extend the joint until past the breaking point. This, in turn, is decided by nage's intent; which - hopefully - is determined by his/her ability to assess the situation.

    Same thing with avoiding or talking your way out of a confrontation. If it is still possible then by all means do it; but if your opponent has committed himself to attack you, then the response needs to be appropriate.


    Yeah, now that I'm rereading it, the double-negative has me confused as well...

    And, you know, instead of my answer, I'd recommend hanging up some of the posts from:

    http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=69 and


    A much, much more comprehensive look at aikido and self defence and violence from some of the most well-respected aikidoka who regularly venture online.

  • Dawn
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    I do take aikido (just over 2 years now), and I don't agree with you. It is not limited to ground fighting. Why would it be necessary to use full contact to get out of a situation requiring self-defense? That's the whole point of Aikido - use the opponent's own initiative against himself. The more force he applies, or the faster he goes, the worse off it is for him. In practice, when an opponent tries to attack an aikidoist, he should find himself scratching his head as if, "why am I doing this to myself". If course, if he has a weapon, the aikidoist is free to use as much force as s/he wants (well, even if there isn't a weapon, this can still be done). It is practical for self-defense. But like any martial art - and this is the key - it requires time and practice. Without either, no martial art's techniques are going to be effective - the practitioner has a skill that s/he does not know how to use. This is often one of the reasons taekwondo is bashed so much - people spend 3 years training to get a black belt with the idea that they are now an expert, only to get pounded and trounced when called on to use their skills. What they don't realize is that belt color has no effect on anything, and that they spent only a third of the requisite time to learn techniques that would be effective, had they spent more time. Many never come to realize this. So yes, it is very effective. It's philosophy keeps one out of the court rooms, too. There are actually 3 requisites for learning any martial art: time, practice, and good instruction. If you have good instruction, the rest is up to you.

  • 9 years ago

    Striking has always been there in Aikido, it's just not emphasized much in many places nowadays. An Aikidoka can and will strike to create openings or draw a reaction before transitioning to another technique. Aikido's strength lies in the intention of the practitioner. What may seem defensive in appearance can have far more drastic consequences depending on the intent of the practitioner and the circumstances he/she is in. For example, an attacker can be locked and taken down with ease or simply dropped onto hard pavement. The techniques of modern Aikido may look "gentle" and "soft" given its philosophy of defensiveness and non-violence, but it still retains movements that hearken back to the type of art that was originally taught by Morihei Ueshiba, before refined and modified into Aikido. That would be Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu - Aikido's aggressive and hard-line predecessor which did include strikes, breaks, locks and throws that were meant to cripple, not preserve, the opponent. The "secret" if you will lies in its movements and its roots. That requires no further tweaking other than expanding one's understanding of where it came from.

  • 9 years ago

    Basically Aikido is seen as being only passive self-defense. That is the picture given more often. However, Aikido is taught as a flowing smooth, art, and as one that is more slam/dunk. S. Segal's Aikido is done both ways. Aikido already has strikes and aggressive techniques in it. They are not always used in training. When they are done they are sometimes hidden so that they are not obvious. to those that talk about tweaking Aikido, I say this,....... you only need to look deeper into Aikido to see that it already has the things you think are lacking. One of the things I like about Aikido is the way it accomplishes some things without showing them.

    If you stop and think about it, Aikido was created from the older Aiki-Jujutsu that the Samurai warriors used. Surely that was not soft and defensive only..... And neither is Aikido in all cases. Then there are different styles of Aikido.


    Source(s): Martial arts training and research since 1967. Teaching martial arts since 1973.
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  • 9 years ago

    One should try not to be so rigid in studying a martial art. If a martial art transfomrs you, then you should also be able to transform an art. The reason why so many martial arts are similar is because they copied other arts, seeking to modify and adapt to make it more effective. Besides, didn't guys like Jigoro Kano and Morihei Ueshiba change Aiki-Ju-Jutsu to develop Judo and Aikido? If anything, changing it only adds to its strength. I tend to follow Bruce Lee's philosophy of martial arts... be dynamic, change, adapt, and always learn as much as you can- never stop learning. If you try to keep something pure, it will become stagnant and ineffective. Bruce Lee never really labeled Jeet Kune Do as a martial art because there really was no tradition or foundation. Jeet Kune Do is YOUR art. It's what you make it. Every martial art should be like that. I've studied everything from Aikido to Wu Shu. Study Aikido for what it can teach you and study other arts for the same reason. Aikido has great techniques, but if you limit yourself, you do Aikido a disservice. You can learn violent and aggressive techniques, but that doesn't mean that you have to use them. Add as much to your arsenal as you can.

    Source(s): 30+ years of martial arts experience in several arts, black belts in Shotokan Karate and Kodokan Judo, MMA for the past 8 years.
  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Its important to mention in this discussion that O-sensei (the founder of the system always told his students to find their own way if they were to ever achieve his level of mastery...they never did. The point of Aikido is that it takes Jiujitsu techniques and combines them with a larger philosophy as well as religious beliefs that led to the personal revelation of the founder. Is it okay to add things, the simple answer is of course its okay to do so. The problem In changing comes not in the changing of the technique but in the changing of the spirit behind the technique. Movement is movement nothing is inherently good or bad about it, the practitioner imbues the movement with overall spirit and O-sensei preached the Way of harmonious spirit, so personally i say do what you gotta do! I do understand the desire not to "pervert" an art. The secret to any system's effectiveness is the realism and intensity it is trained with so you find some down and dirty intense aikido guys i'm sure they've thought of how to be effective as well as true to the philosophy...i just never have.

    good luck and train hard!

  • possum
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    @Shiro Kuma... you really ought to frame your response and hang up on a wall. That was a very well-said response (except the double-negative, that confused me). Thank you.

    Aikido's strength lies in both technical and philosophical points. From a technical point of view, I agree with Shiro Kuma. And from a philosophical point of view, the ideology of preservation of life and to give the opponent every opportunity to rethink his actions will go a long way - saving you time and aggravations - in the courts, in church, and in the counselor's office. If you did all that you were taught, you can be at peace - whatever the outcome.

    I was recently a spectator for a 4th-dan Aikido test. The student was asked to perform a technique, which he did. One of the senseis from the table asked that the technique be repeated, only this time, execute it without hurting uke, yet apply enough force such that the uke would not want to continue with his attack. (Yes, the look in uke's eyes was just as memorable as the look in his eyes!)

    It was an interesting application of the ideal to apply pain before injury before maim before death.

    (He did it, though I don't know how - I was (and am still now) only a beginner in Aikido, and was unable to discern the difference)

    EDIT: wait a minute... I'm going to hang Shiro's response up on a wall...

  • 9 years ago

    Hmmm, have you considered that some schools of aikido actually incorporate striking in their training, and have done so bearing no ill will from aikido's recognized founder? Also, initially Ueshiba would not accept you as a student unless you had documentation of having studied a 'violent art' as you put it. I feel there was a good reason for this: When idealism failed, there was practicality to rely upon.

  • CTC
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Dude a MA is a MA. Its the individual martial artist that is passive or aggressive. The philosophy of all MAs is to be passive because they were all created for self defense. MAs are just tools of the martial artist.

    Source(s): Common Sense
  • 9 years ago

    short answer you are right they are perverting the purity of the art, Aikido was the art of the samurai's of the later dynasties to hold face without slaughtering people, it redirected the force used against you towards the person that dealt it to you

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