Aikido Champion Explains Aikido Competitions • Ft. William Ball

I will be talking to William Ball a Shodokan Aikido instructor – style which features Aikido competition and the current United States champion in Toshu (open hand combat) and Randori (knife skills).

William will be explaining how Aikido competition works, discuss his take on practical Aikido for self defense and touch some thought provoking questions together with me.

00:00 Intro
03:50 William’s Martial Arts Journey
12:15 What kept you training Aikido?
14:40 Will’s perspective on Aikido’s competition
18:18 How realistic is “The Wire” tv show?
22:20 When martial arts are not enough
25:50 Teaching awareness for self defense
30:50 The difference between Tomiki and other Aikido styles
32:00 Why is Tomiki Aikido controversial
33:37 How does Aikido competition work?
38:50 If pressure testing was removed from Tomiki Aikido
43:40 Was Morihei Ueshiba opposed to competition?
49:50 “if you like to fight- Aikido is not for you. If you want to be able to defend yourself, then Aikido is what you are looking for.”
59:00 How is Rokas’ Aikido journey going?
01:03:47 What do you think about the spiritual aspect of Aikido?
01:05:17 Should Randori be for beginners or advanced people only?
01:06:25 How does the scoring system work?
01:11:34 Have you used Aikido in the street?
01:15:05 What is your strategy in competition?
01:16:34 What is your favorite technique?
01:18:38 How would you describe Ma-Ai?
01:20:00 How much emphasis is put on philosophy in Tomiki Aikido?
01:21:53 Should martial arts teach threat awareness?
01:23:06 To what extent do you see the Tanto as a weapon?
01:24:12 If Aikido is peaceful, how do you defend others?
01:25:36 Would Tomiki Aikido benefit MMA fighters?
01:29:17 Do you train with swords?
01:30:30 A self defense myth you don’t like
01:32:04 A summary of the conversation

:Learn more about William here:

#Aikido #MartialArts #SelfDefense



  1. Man, this is what I’ve been saying since four years ago to pretty much every video I have commented on in this channel: Martial arts are not for fighting. CLEARLY, martial arts are for NOT fighting.

  2. Hello! You touched on an important subject that I always think about when I watch your videos… I live in Brazil, I've been around the world and everyone I spoke to about violence gets shocked when I say that the approach here is always someone with a gun (from pistols to rifles). And when someone high on crack is willing to take your life if you don't give em' money and you don't have money, you ARE GOING TO DIE. My point is: reasoning is not an option in this situation, oc that if you have money, give em', better than losing your life, but if you don't, you must try to disarm the guy and we see A FEW TIMES on the news BJJ praticer disarming ppl in this kind of situation and no other "self-defense" technique (again, a FEW TIMES, not the "you'll always be able to do it" thing). Just wanted to add that so you can use on your future conversations. Btw, I've been to lots of martial arts when younger but I don't pratice anything atm, it's not bias, I'm agnostic of everything, it's just to helpadding to the discussion.

  3. Rokas, I really enjoyed your conversation with William Ball, who seemed like a really cool guy. The mutual respect and openness was a delight, especially after the previous aural assault by Dan the Belligerent.

  4. I really don't see the point of training knife defense or self defense in general. Unless you live in a particularly dangerous area, I don't think it's of any practical use. And even if you live in one of those areas, if someone comes with a knife with the intent of killing you, you're just going to get slashed and stabbed to say the least. You can even see that in Tomiki Aikido competition, the person defending gets hit a bunch of times. It doesn't seem like Tomiki would prepare you to defend against a knife to me as I don't think anything can really.

  5. Tomiki/Shodokan became the black sheep of Aikido after Ueshiba’s passing, in ‘71, at the international Aikido Expo, when Tomiki demonstrated his competition innovation.
    It was not liked by the son of Ueshiba, who was the assumed doshu. Tomiki’s Randori and Toshu was declared “not Aikido”. From that point forward, Shodokan became the bad boy of Aikido.
    I do wish there were more Shodokan dojos here in the US.

  6. @ 1:15:32 when I said fight I did not refer to toshu randori as though it is a fight for survival, same way I would refer to boxing, judo, bjj and other martial art competition as "fights" since there's two opponents enforcing their will and skill on each other. Plus I wrote fight to save on limited letters when you type in live chat.

  7. I am an Aikido Black belt and for me it wasn't created for competition . It is a path that leads the practitioner to self-enlightenment and communion to the universe . Nevertheless, it wasn't what I found in the Dojo that I attended , it was a battle of egos. Furthermore, I realized that people got promoted because they paid for it . When I started working on belt exams in my federation, I could see that it was nothing but a commercial issue . So, I quit Aikido and I don't do it anymore . However, I will always have a deep respect for the Art and for Morihei Ueshiba's teachings.

  8. Great interview, when discussing where aikido fits into other martial arts you should interview Paul Cale. He holds multiple black belts 3 of them in aikido styles as well as BJJ, judo, karate and Kudo. If you’re wondering how he was able to he is a former Australian Commando who was responsible for training so he was basically given time to train in martial arts to be able to pass that knowledge over to soldiers.

  9. So if your martial art is not good at fighting you need to say that the objective is to spot danger and evade it.
    That's a great skill but is definitely not a martial art and is dubious as best that someone is gonna tech you something like that in a martial art class.

  10. Great interview!!! Very honest. You might also be interested in Yoseikan budo. It's kind of a mix between Aikido, Judo and Karate and they also have a type of competition

  11. ROHAS, and when will we get that APILOGY for calling us EGOISTIC HATERS in delusion, just because we nicely pointed out to you the fact that you consider yourself a sensei and actually have a very undeveloped awareness and knowledge of aikido? Many many aikidokas are as deluded as you were, but luckily you started waking up. Thank you for shaking them too with your youtube channel. The problem is that with your rating on youtube, you now have a public responsibility and obligation, to break and delusion and skepticism about aikido as much as you can.
    I trained from the start with black belts and after "more than a decade" of intense training I got a black belt. My coach who has been training aikido for 47 years then told me that I now know most of the techniques, that I have mastered the principles and that I can now “start learning” aikido.
    greetings from Serbia

  12. I have cross trained in several martial art for years. My based as always been karate and Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. I studied aikido with an sensei. I have used aikido to set up situation. Especially in bjj. I have used irimi nage several times to win competition. I respect all marital arts.

  13. shodokan/tomiki is a good start, but i find it interesting that no one from tomiki has crossed over into any other grappling competition rule set, let alone been the base style of a successful MMA fighter.
    by successful i don't even mean UFC/bellator/ONE, but not even a competitive amateur at a regional level.

  14. I liked this discussion, and my reflection may rub some people the wrong way. In a real world self-defense scenario, your #1 rule is to stay on your feet, not in the least to be able to run like hell. So, for self-defense BJJ really sucks and MMA is halfway stupid too. To just sit down on your ass is about the one most stupid thing you can do, and that is what BJJ is 90% about. It is somewhat useful for MMA because of the rules of MMA!

  15. William Ball certainly seems like a likable guy and I enjoyed listening to him. He also seems fairly skilled from watching his videos. Despite that being the title of the video, I didn´t feel there was much of an explanation of the Tomiki competitions in the discussion, though we did get a bit of a better perspective of it during the questions phase. It´s not like this discussion convinced me Aikido is that effective, but given the choice, I´d certainly be more open to trying a class with William Ball than most other Aikido instructors.

  16. I really am starting to think the reason the MMA community is so hard on Aikido, but mostly isn't hard on other weapons-derived martial arts like Kendo/Kenjutsu, Eskrima/Arnis, Kyudo etc — is basically due to a lack of critical thinking, not the opposite of that.

    These arts like Kenjutsu and Jojutsu don't directly translate to MMA in any capacity, and Aikido at least a little bit does, even though it's really still got more in common in a lot of ways with Kenjutsu and Eskrima than it does with Judo (in terms of strategy and mentality — it definitely has more in common with the weapons based arts).

    Basically the MMA community conflates Aikido with Judo (and doesn't conflate Arnis with Judo) for reasons that barely make sense (I'm still trying to work out why that is — maybe Steven Seagal is the main reason behind it?) and as such, end up reducing Aikido to something it isn't, while not reducing Arnis to something it isn't, again, in a way that barely makes sense, if at all.

    Basically, it's all due to an intellectual inconsistency that might actually boil down to Steven Seagal (as far as I can tell?)

    Otherwise, let Aikido be like Escrima, and stop comparing either of them to Judo — or double down on all martial arts that are predominantly focused on weapons attacks and weapons defenses.

    Go after archery for not being MMA applicable, go after stick fighting for not being MMA applicable, or else stop criticizing Aikido — or else face having extremely questionable logic, I guess.

  17. This was great, I loved it. Once thing regarding self defense and street fighting: Ramsey Dewey said something that stuck with me and I am paraphrasing here:
    He said a street fight is at least two people being mad at each other and resorting to fighting until they are both exhausted and hope their friends pull them off so they can keep face.

    Self defense on the other hand is a legal term and not a set of techniques or a style of fighting. One resorts to self defense in an aggravated assault which is what most people call a "street fight" even though it isn't really fighting.

    In my mind that closely fits to what Mr. Ball said at 52:00 about fighting.

    Furthermore that makes self defense a more realistical term because it also encompasses the idea of not walking into a situation and thusly not even having to resort to dealing with a dangerous situation.

  18. For Karate we do hold the belief one strike one kill, we also believe that the first strike that lands wins the fight, but most importantly we believe there is no first strike in Karate. This sounds like a contradiction but in every kata you learn in Karate the first technique is a block of some kind. Basically the mentality is you don't start fights and you actively try to de escalate but if a fight finds you your goal is to not let them hit you and finish the fight as soon as possible.

  19. I've done that with four attackers and they were resisting my throws, to the extent that if I weren't at least close, they wouldn't be thrown. Most of what you do is manage distance, plan ahead, and try to throw one person at the rest of them. Had to survive 60 seconds and I did.

    It's not "sparring" but I definitely went for some techniques that were resisted, and there was some idea of keeping things honest. Basically if I wrecked their posture significantly they would roll out, otherwise not

    It's way more stressful than rolling (more than double) and I am saying that as a blue belt in BJJ

  20. -If you’re not proficient against one attacker, then you cannot be effective against multiple.

    -gentle grappling techniques do not exist, it’s the skill and the will of the user that determines the potential to apply them gently.

  21. Former national champion and international champion and friends with William. Will missed your question about the rules.

    What are the rules/how does competition work?
    3 minutes, 90 seconds each.
    One player has the tanto and attempts to strike toshu (other player without tanto) with a strike that lands from the belt to the collarbone, 360 degrees around the body. Strikes have to have good posture with forward motion and the tanto (foam) must bend to show penetration. Can’t stab backing up and can’t strike under contact between the two players (prevents punching the shit out of toshu). If toshu has two hands of contact or attempting a technique, tanto can counter with the first five (atemi) techniques.
    Show tai sabaki (get out of the way) of the strikes and use the basic 17 techniques (junanohon) to break balance or complete a throw. Based on amount of balance broken or throw, points are awarded.

  22. One thing I carry on my mind for some time about pressure testing and 'will it work on the street' is about the sports setting. In the discussion with William Ball it appears quite often. Safety while training and doing pressure testing leading to the belief a technic is effective and could be used on the street without hurting someone. Lets say I am on the ground and someone holds me in an armbar. I take my keys out of my pocket and jap it with the sharp side into the Achilles tendon with all power. Lets not forget the Achilles tendon is presented right near me and it is not moving. Or lets say I am in a choke hold and within seconds I put my hands on the opponents throat and crush it. Or jap my fingers in the persons eys. Even on the street many people are too kind to do that but what if you encounter someone who does it and you are sure that a choke or armbar is a technic that was pressure tested and works ……….In one other video about no touch fighting it was said that even critical people who discover no touch as a fraud will follow the request of the magice artist because of social pressure…… me developping technics in clubs under pressure testing with the aim of hurting nobody and then transfering it to a setting on the streets where the aim is clearly to injure or kill somebody seems quite contradicting…… Karates credo is that the attacker has the first punch……only than it is the aim of the defender to bring the attacker down with one strike……..well that is the theory

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