Was I Wrong About Aikido?

I challenged Aikido practitioners to prove that their martial art works. The videos I received made me reconsider my previous opinion.

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

#Aikido #MartialArts #MartialArtsJourney



  1. Correction: "Real Aikido" is Serbian, not Czech. I always have to mess something up with geography 😑
    Links to videos featured:
    1) CCTV Aikido kotegaeshi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FLC0sWiobE
    2) "Real Aikido" demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3YqcGhZYkA
    3) Dan The Wolman's Aikido: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnoMMNa7kkg
    4) Remy's footage (at end of the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVTCOwCHbxI
    5) Lenny Sly's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CIYdnp7l1w
    6) Aikido vs Wrestler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLP_DInpPHE

  2. When someone grabs hold of your fingers all bets are off. That is the reason why people cannot get out of rear naked choke‘s, because in the UFC you are not allowed to grab the fingers and break them. Why don’t you run a test on that?

  3. I've trained quite a bit in both Aikido and BJJ/Gracie Jiu-Jitsu… and one name comes to mind that no one seems to throw out there when speaking about pressure testing aikido… especially in a bjj setting… … Roy Dean… someone please interview this man. Because he's married so many Aikido concepts and techniques in BJJ as a whole. His particular expression of martial arts is so founded in traditional Japanese arts themselves. He started out as an Aikidoka and still hold on to the lineage and tactics even whilst running a bjj gym/dojo. Can you please reach out to this man and watch his methods?

  4. Martial arts are not practiced for fighting or self defense. They"re based on fighting, but used as a tool for self (and group) improvement by practicing. Side-effect: some degree of self defense skills.
    Combat sports are for self (and group) improvement or a way to have fame and carrier by fighting. Side-effect: much better self defense skills. If you are often being attacked, you might want to practice combat sports.
    2 different things, compared and misused even by practitioners of those styles.
    The problem is that some martial arts schools promote their classes as self defense training. There is no training for self defense without actual fight. I'd be like learning to swim without water.
    Other interesting topics:
    – If you are not better than your opponent, you will lose. So there's no point in saying: "I beat my student in the video because I'm the teacher (i.e. bettter)." Obviously the better would win any fight.
    – Why would you want to fight with a resisting opponent? What is he resisting against? You. So when they are resisting, you are the attacker.
    – There are no aikido techniques. Every technique of aikido can be found in some other martial arts. Aikido is a way of thinking. If you use a technique without that thinking, it's not aikido, even when the form looks similar.
    – People always talk about real life situations. What part of your training (martial arts or combat sport) is really used in YOUR life? Is it your attitude? Is it your physical skills? Is it your fighting skills? And if you can answer that, what do you really mean by effectiveness? If I trained martial arts for a future fight for decades, I'd be very disappointed at the end, if that fight never happened. Let's be honest: martial artists and combat sport practitioners are somewhat paranoid… And yes, I practice aikido 🙂

  5. People like Andy Hug used karate effectively in MMA, and karate has similar problems to aikido, albeit probably to a lesser degree.
    I'm no martial art expert, but judging by the words of other practitioners, I'm under the impression that yes, some martial arts are more practically effective than others in real fights. Not because traditional arts can't be, but simply because those styles are easier to pick up and are easier to apply effectively in a real fight situation.
    At the same time, it seems to me that fighting prowess has more to do with the practitioner than on a specific martial art. The best competitive fighters seem to draw from different styles, anyway, not just one.
    Which makes me wonder: is Aikido stagnant?
    What if the problem wasn't Aikido itself, but the fact it has stopped evolving?
    Maybe it has potential to be improved on. Who knows, it could originate a different martial art, much like Judo led to BJJ.
    Oh, and I do agree with your conclusion that real life fighting experience is relevant. I addressed that point in another comment to another one of your videos previously, in fact.
    Andy Hug, again, is probably a good example because he trained in Kyokushin karate, that uses contact.

    P.S. According to other people who commented on the video, Aikido as it's taught today isn't even the same in scope and application as Aikido originally was, since it was conceived as a style for people that were ALREADY accomplished martial artists, based on a philosophy of defusing attacks applying less force and violence.

  6. As bouncer it is completely different thing – you are (in most cases) much more bigger and stronger than your opponent, and you also know (at least in civilized countries) that you can't just beat up your "opponent". Opponent, who in 99% of cases is extremely drunk. Who might not even want to fight for real, because he knows that loses every time – if not on one bouncer, then at least when his friends come to the party (not to mention the police).

    It is not a sport, or even a real fight, if the other person is so drunk, that he can barely even walk. Sure, there are occasions when you have to "fight for real", but then it becomes a boxing or a wrestling match, and the aikido is thrown out of the window.

  7. The way we do Aikido in dojo is to learn the flow of movements, foot works and redirect/deflect incoming FORCES…
    When facing real threats, an Aikido practitioner can avoid incoming attacks, move away from the dangerous zone ( if surrounded ) .. then use punches, kicks or whatever you can use to take down the attacker… AIkido is the art of harmony in dojo.. but Aikijutsu is what we should use in real life.

  8. There's no martial art as Bruce Lee said! There are a collection of moves that makes a fight, and in a real fight there's no rules, period! Even the Bjj or wrestling are not complete for fighting cause well: they have rules! So the best is to fight to train in fighting such as to be good at driving you have to drive! 😁

  9. I think it would be enlightening to reverse the direction of the conversation. If practitioners were sending clips to prove that "some certain BJJ techniques COULD have real-life applications provided you are already highly experienced with combat in general," would we seriously be asking ourselves whether BJJ "works"? Would we be impressed with boxing if we could say nothing more flattering than that?

  10. I don't think many could sum this up better. The training methodology is key for most martial arts. I train in 4 martial arts, predominantly Korean based, but only find effectiveness in some schools because they choose to test with live resistance.

  11. Pretty sure judo and bjj are different bc from early on they tried to make judo an Olympic sport and so lots of "unsafe" techniques were dropped. BTW my understanding is that judo's triumph over jjj was due to superior politicking, not because it was better, which is the traditional narrative. What I've heard (which may be wrong) is that the veracity of those triumphal early judo vs jjj matches should be questioned

  12. Rokas, I am sorry, it is very simple: you are not a good fighter, neither in Aikido nor MMA nor any other art. Stop complaining about Aikido, choose a martial art that you think is good, and go practice it silently for God's sake.

  13. There is a thing that is common to most bouncers: they are big people with an advantage of strength, and in bouncing they are mostly dealing with untrained opponents

  14. There's several things about Aikido that I keep pointing out. First off there is no real "best" or "worst" martial arts style, the best style is the one that works best for you. People are… different, we all have different strengths, different weaknesses, different tastes and styles, so expecting one uniform style to fit everyone is just silly. Take myself for example, I'm 5'10" and 280 lbs., decently muscled if I do say so myself, but my agility and foot speed are shit, so expecting me to do well in a style that focuses on fast high kicks would be ridiculous, but give me a style that focuses on grappling and throws and somebody's going to Suplex City. Aikido might not work for you but that doesn't mean it doesn't work.
    Another thing is people keep getting the wrong idea about Aikido, they watch Seagal and Morpheus from The Matrix and they see Aikido the same as other martial styles: a way to kick butt and look cool doing it. But that's not what Aikido is. Aikido by itself isn't a combat style, it's about harmony and balance, it's for people who are done with fighting, it can be used for Defense and used quite effectively if what you're looking for is a purely defensive style, but most people who use it for combat train in other styles too, incorporating their offensive techniques with Aikido's defense

  15. I think you are failing to comprehend the difference between defensive combat in surprise situations in real life, and Sports Combat. None of the traditional arts are going to work when they are not unconscious reflex driven. Having to think of doing a technique is NOT the same as the technique just happening as a response to an attack out of the corner of your eye. I know this because I have deflected a surprise stab to my chest with an arm bar block that I had no time to think of doing, it just happened.

  16. I worked doors in various pubs in Sydney with a so called 6th degree Aikido black belt., Every time it kicked off he used to run away to the toilets or even worse stand behind me. Aikido does not work, it is like wing chump, bullshitikan and the rest of the dancing in white pijamas crap.

  17. What ten years of Aikido left me for a street fight:
    – lower centre of balance
    – footwork
    – perceiving unbalance in the opponent
    – a mindset to find opening

    What I lack in a street fight
    – strike back
    – ability to react to light hits without weight behind them
    – what to do in a struggle after being grabbed

    I'm not sure if it was Tada sensei or Ueshiba that stated that grab means cut, you can't be grabbed or it's already over. Aikido deals in ideals and that's a problem. Also what do 10 years of training mean? Twice a week, a couple hours, alone training at home. I can totally believe students who spent most of their life in a dojo can gain a sense of awareness uncomparable to my own, but in our society, you don't have that time. There's also another question: what's the point in having so many techniques? If you can pull off any of the kyons, kotegaeshi, koshinage, anything clean, the fight is over, you can immobilize, you can break joints. "Samurais" used to fall on a couple techniques, I don't see any reason aside from choreography to learn more.

    We can argue if Aikido leads you there in the long run, but the sure thing is many other disciplines teach you ways to do that faster. You won't be attacked by Bruce Lee or Leonidas on the street, you'll be attacked by some goons who won't go after you if the trouble is too much, it's a matter of efficiency. Some self defense courses might be the best, but don't listen to me, I don't know those

    Still, attacking isn't part of Aikido and it shouldn't be. Possibly Aikido should (and definetely used to) spar with other martial arts, it's really common to fall in a cooperating mindset when "playing" the uke in Aikido

  18. maybe the question should be – what is the purpose of a martial art? It seems to me that all these – mostly japanese – highly specialised martial arts should not be viewed as complete martial arts. It feels like, in a traditional sense, a martial artist should practice aikido for one hour, judo and ju jitsu for another hour, karate or whatever.

  19. Aikido is a pretty good option for a bouncer who may not want to hurt someone and is just trying to remove or restrain a possibly intoxicated subject. Like mentioned in the video the people who used it were bouncers. It is not great for fending off an aggressive attacker. But as mentioned in one of your other videos it’s being aware of the threats and avoiding the confrontation in the first place that’s the most important thing in self defense.

  20. @9:07 YES!!!! That is the correct question… And it is the methodology that has often suffered in this world where people want to buy and sell something, and learn how to fight without actually fighting…. Does it really make sense that an art that survived for hundreds of years and has clearly went through much thought and revision never actually worked?

    Train to fight and fight to train….

  21. Long story short martial arts are cool in movies, but martial artists ruin it with their egos making each dojo and gym into a shit heap where genuine challenging and learning is avoided and replaced with boasting, seniority and hazing.

  22. In one of the Gracie books I've read (I wish I remember which one), they made a very accurate assessment of traditional martial arts training methods.

    The logic went like this.

    There's basically three components to training martial arts.
    1. Your strategy, what are you trying to accomplish with respect to the conflict.
    2. What techniques you have at your disposal to effect that outcome of your strategy
    3. How you obtain proficiency in your techniques so that you can rely that your techniques will work under duress.

    When I took Karate as a child I was told the best strategy in a street fight was to run away. That is avoid the fight altogether, we'd then immediately say 'But if you can't do that, then you'd do this' and we'd work on some techniques.

    As far as techniques go, we had all sorts of poison fingers, ridge hands, chicken wrists, palm heel strikes etc that were explained to work on the eyes, the hollow of the throat, the groin, etc. We'd always practice these against the air during something a kata. Which is to say, devoid of any real strategy for what we were trying to do, or without any sort of live resistance. This was explained, of course, as reflecting the super street lethal, deadly nature of these techniques.

    Then finally we had live sparring, live sparring never allowed strikes to areas like the eyes, throat, or groan, in fact we avoided delicate areas of the body all together and focused on the torso, where most strikes have little crippling affect.

    So we had our best strategy.. running, which we never really thought too much about in terms of training for or executing, we had a whole bunch of random techniques that in theory 'could' work that we never practiced on resisting opponents and then we trained not to implement our best strategy (running) or using or best techniques (groin and eye pokes) but instead we trained to hit people in parts of the body likely not to cause any real damage.

    The idea was that in a 'real' fight that all 3 of these aspects would intertwine into a lethal cocktail (a real fight being defined as a life or death struggle, not a social altercation where you just needed to stand your ground) where we'd strike fragile targets with pin point accuracy using very specific hand positions. At least I think that is what the idea was.

    When you switch to BJJ you find that those 3 components of training are actually just one thing in BJJ. That is, BJJ has a fundamental strategy of 'control'. The idea being that if you are in greater control of a situation, you can adapt more easily to changing conditions. You never hear the question 'when would I use this move?' in a BJJ class, because every move in BJJ takes you from a position of less control, to a position of greater control. You use the move to increase your control always. And finally, these moves are trained in their exact form against live resisting opponents. So the strategy, the techniques and the training in BJJ are accomplished all at the same time. This is why BJJ practitioners achieve effectiveness so quickly.

    They aren't relying on a magical blending of 3 distinct components of training to synthesize during a panic situation. The military has a saying 'You will not rise to the occasion, instead you will default to the level of your training'. I agree 100% with Rokas on training being the key differentiator.

  23. Rokas, my understanding about the history of Aikido (and I'm not in anyway an expert) is that the context it was applied in was in large battle fields, where the opposing force was running at you full speed. Basically attackers would run in (probably screaming 'Aaaaaaaaah') and would maybe throw a strike, but that they wouldn't really stop to fight because they would get trampled by the people running behind them, so they'd keep running and attacking people behind you as they ran by.

    The idea of blending energy (there was a lot of incoming energy due to the opponents running full speed) and the movement restricting armor meant that you couldn't 'grapple' in a Judo clinching, wrapping, trapping sort of way, so you 'grappled' using movements where your arms and knees never bent more than 90 degrees (armor restrictions).

    In this environment falling to the ground was likely fatal because you'd either get trampled or you'd have difficulty even getting back to your feet with all that armor on (Imagined not being able to bend your knees or elbows past 90 degrees and trying to get up, on your back you'd be stuck like a turtle). Samurai trying to stand back up after falling over is depicted in many movies and appears quite slow and difficult. It also would explain the emphasis in Aikido on the takedown.

    Is there any validity to this 'history', again I'm not speaking as any sort of authority. I just understood it to be the context under which Aikido came about. If this is the context from which it came, then it is also the context under which it should be judged.

  24. I am a small man. 5'7". I studied aikido in the early 1990s. I have applied it two times. Once when someone was choking me from behind and once with a sanku to get a vagrant out of the store I was working at. It was highly effective. I think the basic idea of beat the opponent and cutting the ki is the principle. "Move like a beam of light: Fly like lightning, strike like thunder, whirl in circles around a stable center" – Morihei Ueshiba

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