The Future of Aikido • Ft Christopher, Francisco, Nathanael, Rokas



Four people at the top of the questioning of Aikido game sit down to discuss what it would take for Aikido to have a bright future. How should it evolve? Why is it in a crises? Where does Aikido stop being Aikido and much more.

Listen to the audio podcast version here: https://anchor.fm/martialartsjourney/episodes/32—The-Future-of-Aikido–Ft-Christopher–Francisco–Nathanael–Rokas-ehka4m

Learn more about each participant:
Christopher Hein • https://www.youtube.com/user/ChuShinTani
Francisco de los Cobos • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HupRx0zKdHk
Nathanael Chawkin • https://www.youtube.com/user/IntegralMartialArts
Rokas Leonavičius • https://www.youtube.com/MartialArtsJourney

00:00 Intro
01:30 Is Aikido in a crises?
09:30 Discord between Aikido styles and schools
11:59 If you change Aikido techniques is it still Aikido?
15:05 Understanding the proper context of Aikido
20:16 Training without feedback doesn’t teach you how to fight
25:23 What Aikido offers that others can’t?
42:20 What’s the baseline of Aikido?
56:34 The three things Aikido should focus on
01:09:39 Summary

Welcome to the Martial Arts Journey YouTube channel!

My name is Rokas. I’m a Lithuanian guy who trained Aikido for 14 years, 7 of them running a professional Aikido Dojo until eventually I realized that Aikido does not live up to what it promises.

Lead by this realization I decided to make a daring step to close my Aikido Dojo and move to Portland, Oregon for six months to start training MMA at the famous Straight Blast Gym Headquarters under head coach Matt Thornton.

After six months intensive training I had my first amateur MMA fight after which I moved back to Lithuania. During all of this time I am documenting my experience through my YouTube channel called “Martial Arts Journey”.

Now I am slowly setting up plans to continue training MMA under quality guidance and getting ready for my next MMA fight as I further document and share my journey and discoveries.

If you want to support my journey, you can make a donation to my PayPal at info@rokasleo.com

SUBSCRIBE to see when the next videos will come out:
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Check the video “Aikido vs MMA” which started this whole Martial Arts Journey:
► https://youtu.be/0KUXTC8g_pk

If you want to support me and this channel on a regular basis check my Patreon page:
► https://www.patreon.com/rokasleo

#Aikido #MartialArts #SelfDefense

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40 comments

  1. So Aikido turns in to:

    – Self mastery and psychology to prevent or resolve conflict non-violently.

    – Cross-train so that if violence does happen, you aren't trying to use useless Aikido techniques.

    Lol. Sorry, that isn't an evolution of Aikido, it's just the beginning of recognizing the end of it.

    Basically – meditate, take a self defence course on situational awareness and de-escalation, and do BJJ.

  2. Aikido doesn't need "deescalation" training. It needs the opposite. Its biggest problem is already the lack of fighting relevance. Only by actually fighting, do these martial artists realize what works. Deescalation only further divides Aikido from reality. It needs to become violent and rabid. The Gracies didn't make BJJ to what it is by "deescalation" training. They welcomed fights.

  3. Christopher Hein's insistence that there is difference between combat sports and "real fighting" and that aikido could better represent it, is the most stupid talking-point of TMA. All evidence we have shows that combat athletes are best equipped at defending themselves in "real fights".

  4. "Rediscovering" "Everything has already been invented" – These kinds of thoughts are a part of the TMA bubble but not seen anywhere else. No scientist in the world would cite Atlantis as a possible culture with more advanced martial arts techniques. Any empirical approach to martial arts would show how we are now at the best we've ever been when it comes to MMA. You have to be very ignorant of the developments in MMA and BJJ and Boxing to not understand that.

  5. Self defense training needs to prepare you to defeat someone who is stronger than you, who has street fight experience and who has received martial arts training. That is the reality of the common street thug willing to engage you in a fight. Aikido is deficient in every of these three aspects when it comes to their track record of producing martial artists. They are always the least athletic, least fight-experienced and least skilled.

  6. Any discussion about fighting or combat from the perspective of Aikido is like virgins discussing sex. The biggest issue is that you have generation after generation of Aikido instruction without any experience of fighting. And the more experience with skilled fighting one had, the more he can contribute to such a discussion.
    If you make claims about Aikido's viability or value for fighting, you cannot ask an aikidoka. They don't know fighting.

  7. That Christopher guy has zero experience with any actually practical martial arts. It's all nonsense. That guy could go to any other martial arts school and he'd be the worst martial artist in the room.

  8. There's countless simultaneous practitioners of BJJ and kickboxing and literally none made those moronic claims as at 15:30. Only someone of severely limited experience with those martial arts could spout such nonsense

  9. I'll give you that most of the discussion is about aikido and Rokas is the "moderator" but pretty often it touches on "real fighting/conflict" and yet they have no questions for the person who in a fight in the parking lot of a supermarket let's say, would most likely stomp all of them….Rokas.

  10. What about the Aikido school that is presented in the "Rogue Warriors TV" channel? That school seems like it is moving to modernize Aikido with functional and hard-hitting techniques. have you ever had dialogue with them?

  11. I think it’s a matter of perspective. People practice things for what they are. If you want to be a cage fighter than you get involved in UFC / MMA oriented martial arts. Aikido is more about meditation, circular motion, breathing, balance, flow of energy, philosophy and very close to a religious practice. I think you should preoccupy yourself with what YOU are interested in and just allow others to practice what they chose. Good video! Nice talk.

  12. I just came across this video and found your guys' conversation incredibly interesting as I have never trained in modern Aikido, (but have some training in the older Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu system as well as Goju-Ryu Karate and Japanese Jujutsu together with Nakamura Ryu Kenjutsu) and I have to say to try and re-invent the wheel would be pointless. The comparisons between the Daito Ryu and the various styles of modern Aikido (with a few exceptions) is vast. There is one teacher, namely Katsumi Yonezawa, who habitually travelled a few times a year to California (your hometown?) to teach Daito Ryu (before the pandemic) and from what I've read he is a harsh teacher with attacks being realistically conducted (pressure testing?).

    In my understanding of things Rokas, Japanese Jujutsu and Aikijutsu were both sides of the same coin and that Aiki technique was probably something of an advanced study as opposed to Jujutsu (grappling). Is it not possible that Aiki was used originally in Muto Dori (without sword) against a swordsman? This is something to think about because in most demonstrations (that I have seen personally) of Aikido against weapons its done a lot of times against a sword which is what the classical Samurai warrior would normally have faced in medieval times in Japan. Its possible that it was used as a specialization technique in that sense. Aiki technique has a lot of sword movements and all the principles of ma-ai (distance) and tai-sabaki (body management) are used in both Aiki as well as Kenjutsu (sword art). Nowadays I think that the modern warrior will more than likely face a knife, handgun and probably a club or baseball bat and the focus on self defense should take these into consideration when training. The Daito Ryu covers all these things, but I'm also a great fan of learning new things as well. There is only one method of fighting and that is the human way.

    Taking modern Aikido and trying to make it work in the street as opposed to a system like Daito Ryu is like taking Whiskey and putting water in it to make it more "palatable". You cannot go back to the original after the water has been mixed! (and even if you can seperate the water from the whiskey its too much damn trouble!). Rather empty your glass and pour yourself some good old clean whiskey! In other words, it would pay you to go and search for a very good teacher that can instruct you in Daito Ryu technique. Why can't we get it right in modern times when the Samurai got it right all those hundreds of years ago). I work in the private security sector in South Africa and our country is but a violent one. I have used Daito Ryu technique to place people under arrest on 2 occassions so far and am very thankful that this stuff does in fact work. But I agree with you guys that pressure testing is needed in any form of self defense training regardless of the style.

    Good luck in your martial arts journey and I will be following your videos with great interest! 🙂

  13. Another great video and awesome point about the "context". I have successfully used wrist locks on people in real life! But they weren't expecting it, their hands were by their sides and they where relaxed enough to let me get a quick kotegaeshi off. In a way this was essentially a "sucker punch" however I felt it was needed otherwise it was going to turn into a real fight. I could have punched him in the face, or kicked him in the head, or gotten him in an aggressive choke hold. The kotegaeshi in this context seemed the better diffusion tool as it left them a little bewildered and curious but no pain or aggression.

  14. 30:00
    This is the best point I have ever heard in favor of aikido:
    What if YOU have a weapon and your opponent doesn't? In that case, these wrist grabs all make sense, the lunging.. well not quite everything but a huge chunk of aikido is at least possible if you have a knife.

  15. I have recently seen a drop off in YouTube aikido channels activity in the last year. Many preCovid. “ the last Tenshin Warrior”, Iwamma in Virginia Beach plus many others I don’t even see anything from Rogue Warriors in almost 3 months. Is this more situational or a stronger trend in any of your opinions.

  16. My disappointment of years of Aikido training was reversed when I moved toJapan – unrelated to Martial Arts. A friend introduced me to the Shodokan Honbu Dojo, headed by Nariyama shihan.
    In 1972, Aikikai snubbed Tomiki when he presented his Sport Aikido, aka Shodokan, to the World Aikido conference. The heads of Aikikai were “insulted” by the introduction of resistance to techniques.Tomiki was told not to call what he presented “Aikido”. Aikido can not be a Martial Art without introducing some kind of sparring and resistance to techniques.
    Shodokan uses Kano’s Judo syllabus adapted to Aikido. This “flow” of one technique to another when a technique is resisted, that you guys mentioned, is actually taught in this school.
    “Randori” in Shodokan is one on one sparring, with Resistance allowed.
    Please, Aikidoka, look into Shodokan. The training exercises alone are invaluable for developing Ma-ai, Me-tsuke, Tai-sabaki, and Kuzushi, among other fundamentals.

  17. I think we should to go back to the original O’Sensei teachings to find true answers about Aikido. According to documented lectures given by O’Sensei himself, Aikido is not a fighting practice, it is a spiritual practice. This is why unrealistic attacks don’t matter, they are there for spiritual development, not for fighting. Yes, Aikido stems its roots from a fighting art, but the whole point of changing its name to Aikido was to emphasize the non-fighting nature of the new practice. If you want to learn fighting style of Aikido, you need to go back and learn pre-Aikido styles, such as Daito-Ryu, Aiki-jitsu, etc. These styles had a lot of strikes into vital human organs (windpipe, eyes, etc) and were actually aimed to kill, not to fight for sport. Those strikes were not necessary in Aikido because the purpose of Aikido was to build human spirit that is free of hate and violence. In Aikido, an attack is just a physical representation of violence in general, which is supposed to be countered with a genuine feeling of love and compassion. Our natural response to violence is more violence, which O’Sensei saw as the core source of evil in the world. Training our minds to respond to violence with genuine love and compassion was his solution to bringing “heaven back to earth”. He believed that he found the way to achieve this through new way of practicing martial arts – not for fighting, but for mental (spiritual) transformation. He believed that if one practices every day to meet his/her attacker with love instead of hate, and focuses on not hurting the attacker, then our violent instincts could be naturally overwritten with instincts of compassion, which would bring more love in all aspects of our life and gradually transform the world into a better, much more peaceful place. Someone being rude to you, yet you don’t feel any hate in response, instead you want to help this person overcome the aggression together. You win when you remain emotionally (spirituality) centred, calm, and compassionate toward your opponent no matter how violent and aggressive his actions are. Physiologically, people feel less aggressive if they see acts of love and compassion directed at them. So by remaining calm and compassionate at all times, one can defeat the act of aggression without lifting a finger. But this state of mind can only be achieved with special practice. And that is the ultimate goal of the new practice, which O’Sensei called Aikido. It is a wonderful idea, but completely misunderstood by the followers. This is why I feel frustrated watching people talking about the future of Aikido without clearly understanding what Aikido truly is. They keep focusing on making Aikido into a fighting, violent Art again, completely ignoring the ultimate goal of phycological transformation into a peaceful, nonviolent mind.

  18. Aikido just needs to go back to it's jujutsu roots. There is alot of grappling in aikido. Plus understand that when it comes to defending against punches you are only deflecting or redirecting the strike. So that you can get into the right position. When i did tomiki aikido it was about escaping then executeing if need be. Kuzushi. Taisabaki and atemi are all important parts of aikido. There are also already jujitsu guys on you tube doing standing wrist locks or arm bars like waki gatame . which can lead to other aikido movements.

  19. I have something to say…

    We in Aikido tend to practice a lot of techniques, and in every school I've went to they always say "Aikido is 90% Atemi" and, honestly, to me, that's just learning how to at least defend positionally from boxing and pointfighting techniques… and yeah, that means we need to live practice some type of pressure boxing (Atemi) to create openings for Aikido takedowns to flow better…

    Honestly, Aikido was created for seasoned Karatekas and Judokas who wanted to keep going to dojos without destroying their bodies. Most of these guys knew how to fight already…

  20. Christopher was correct: the pacifism/conflict-resolution of Aikido can't be fully understood until you are trying to disarm an attacker with a weapon or using a weapon to protect yourself against multiple attackers. No weapon sparring = no Aikido.

  21. The problem in aikido nowadays is, that it claims it can be used and modified to self defense, yet it goes it's way claiming that arts that have combat sport orientation cannot be modified to self defense.

  22. Some techniques are simply better at winning. It has everything to do with technique. People in fighting sports practice better with everything – technique, conditioning, sparring uncooperative opponents. All of these are better techniques for effective self defence. There’s nothing wrong with traditional training, but the world has evolved past thinking they are the ultimate in self defence.

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