It’s no secret that, at Shin-Gane, we’re dedicated to the art of aikido. As we’ve discussed aikido with others and looked at information and training tips online, we’ve noticed something a little disturbing.
There seems to be a never-ending stream of MMA fans ready and willing to diss our practice.
While we know that each martial art is different, with its own strengths and weaknesses, MMA bros just love to point out how ineffective aikido would be in a “real” fight.
Why the negativity? Does this focus on competition breed a meathead mentality? Is this the reason for aikido’s supposed loss of popularity?
While it’s tempting to throw a few barbs of our own, we decided to take a real look at the pros and cons as we defend our artform. After all, aikido has value on its own merit. Let’s dive in.
What MMA Practitioners and Fans Say About Aikido
MMA fans argue that aikido doesn’t work “as advertised.” In their opinion, the wrist locks and defense moves we practice in aikido wouldn’t work in a “real fight.” In countless online rants, they pick at this or that technique, crowing that once an opponent is on the ground with punches raining down on him or her, aikido training will do absolutely no good.
It’s true that modern combat sports are more aggressive than aikido. That’s just a fact. Aikido is probably not the best response in an MMA fighting arena. But that’s hardly the point, is it?
We argue that the world of combat sports is vast, that principle and technique are equally important, and that there’s plenty of respect to go around.
What Aikido IS … And What It Isn’t
Aikido may be incompatible with the MMA style of fighting. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth practicing, both in terms of self-defense and for the good of the art itself.
At Shin-Gane, we appreciate our practice for what it is, even as we respect other martial arts. We’re not here to make false claims, but we do think that aikido is a perfectly valid martial art to use for self-defense.
Let’s face it: If you’re in a real-world self-defense situation, you probably won’t be faced with an MMA-level fighter. You’ll be faced with a regular person with regular weaknesses that aikido can help you exploit and overcome.
Aikido is a defensive art, not an offensive art. It’s about absorbing and minimizing conflict. And it’s not just a self-defense practice; it’s a philosophy as well. It’s a practice that welcomes everyone – young and old, male and female. It doesn’t take a particular body type or a particularly aggressive stance to practice aikido. At its heart, aikido is more about exploring conflict and conditioning the mind to live life better, not winning a street brawl.
The Benefits of Training in Aikido
There are innumerable benefits of training in aikido. Think about the skills you develop: quicker reflexes, a better sense of balance, the ability to calculate the range between yourself and your opponent, improved mobility and spatial awareness, small joint manipulation, and so many more.
Some practitioners argue that, when we train in aikido, we should approach our techniques – including wrist locks – as if they were taking place in a real-world situation. Even if there may indeed be situations in which a straightforward punch in the nose will be more effective than a wrist lock or hold, we should always focus on efficiency of movement.
Other practitioners emphasize the principles of aikido. They argue that aikido is one of the purest martial arts because of its sophisticated and peaceful philosophy. In an aikido dojo, we are encouraged to be collusive rather than combative, practicing self-awareness, patience, and respect.
There are plenty of fighting techniques out there. Some of them, unfortunately, lose sight of the principle. That is something that aikido never does.
What’s Your Opinion?
We’re inspired by these words from the founder:
The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter – it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.
– O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba
Maybe, in today’s combative world, it just isn’t cool to practice the kind of relational communication that is at the heart of aikido sparring. On the other hand, maybe more MMA fighters should try aikido before they discount it. They might just learn something.