What's Useful in Aikido • Martial Arts Journey



Everything has two sides. While I was very critical of Aikido lately, I wanted to make sure I also recognize and share the good things I learned while training Aikido. This is why in this Martial Arts Journey video I’ll be taking a look at the good things I’ve learned in Aikido.

What benefits did you find in Aikido or your martial arts? Let me know in the comments. If you liked this video and want more Aikido ant martial arts videos, subscribe to the Martial Arts Journey YouTube channel.

What Good Have I Learned in Aikido

It is said that there are two sides to everything. For the past year I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing Aikido and it’s lacks and rarely, did I speak about the good sides of it. Having practiced it for almost 14 years, surely I learned not only about it’s flaws, but also about many positive aspects that it offers, which I’ve left unsaid of. Thus, in this Martial Arts Journey video I’ll be sharing the Good Things I’ve Learned in Aikido.

Aikido often times is referred to as a more philosophical martial arts practice and that was also my experience of it. It’s founder Morihei Ueshiba, also known as O’Sensei, was a deeply spiritual and religious person and he spent a lot of time teaching about how Aikido should be an art of Peace and how it should help a person grow as an individual. Being exposed to this philosophy all the time, definitely had an impact on me. The teaching which most probably had most impact is known as “Masagatsu Agatsu” or in other words: “True victory is victory over yourself”. I have found that many martial arts promote overcoming the ego, yet Aikido’s unique approach to promoting it through non-competition and having no form of tournaments, aside a single style called Shodokan Aikido, shaped me into appreciating that life is not all about winning.

In Aikido you always perform a role of either the defender, known as Nage or Tori, or the attacker – Uke. When I first started learning Aikido at 14 years old, I was still internally driven by competitiveness and in the beginning I could not comprehend – how come during the training I will have to be quote on quote “winning” against my attackers only half of the time, even if I will be better than them, and the other half of the time I will consciously have to allow myself to be beaten. While I was not happy about this principle to begin with, years later I learned how much it helped me grow as an individual. Through this way of training, I first of all learned that sometimes being defeated is an inseparable part of life which should be accepted, appreciated and that it should not be resisted against all the time. Being attached to victory all the time can be a great source of stress and to learn to sometimes allow ourselves to lose can actually be relieving and healthy.

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32 comments

  1. Hello I love your videos and Aikido isn't the art I am going to do but I respect it none the less. From my understanding from the videos I watched other arts don't feel it's practical because the moves are complex and you don't spar? Could they adjusting the art and still stay true to the art and add some basic moves in Aikido and spar with the basic moves so they can get some skills in being hit. It's just a thought I know some arts are classes as soft arts where you just learn in dememstration and hard arts where you use them in sparing.

  2. Could the weapons techniques of aikido be used in self defense since I didn't heard anyone tackling this topic because they might useful in self defense such as applying the weapon techniques of the jo and ken to improvised weapons such as mop and umbrella so I think there's hope for aikido being effective in self defense but it will be more in using weapons than using empty hands such as kobudo since they practice using weapons for self defense instead of using our fist to grab, and punch we use weapons !

  3. I'm almost certain you can find application of Aikido in actual fighting, if you practise it with hard sparring. Most Aikido classes are done with very light resistance, if any. You will get better at whatever you practise doing.

  4. Aikido is amazing, I've only been learning for a few months, it's a great club, I've had a lot of shit in my adult life and the lessons Aikido teach became apparent in a profound way, even as I left the house for my first class. I would also add the style they teach where I train is not soft, there's some tough blokes there who could use some Aikido techniques to great effect in confrontation.

  5. I train karate and I did train Aikido for 5 months, many years ago. In these months I learned things I still apply.
    1st, the footwork in aikido is pretty different from karate and the backwards and side steps and turns are very effective.
    2nd. Dodging or deviating hits rather than blocking.
    3rd. How to fall, roll, and with the right momentum, rolling back on my feet. In my class they usually remark how I usually fall to the floor without a sound.
    4th. I see some of the simpler grappling technicques would be useful in a street fight. And once you gain control, sending youd opponent to the fllor and controlling him.

    I though that Aikido wass too ritualized and focused in philosophical aspects more than I liked, and maybe some things were too complicated. But the origin of it's techniques were kumiuchi and jujitsu and other that were developed for it's use in battlefield in medieval Japan, after all. So there's some combat use to be found, even theough they were adapted by Ueshiba to a peaceful purpose.

  6. I remember a chubby aikido guy training for a few months at our BJJ gym, in the beginning he would sometimes say things like "Yeah i know, we did this in Aikido" and every single time he was doing everything wrong haha

    Was a true pleasure rolling with the guy for the few months he was there! 😀

  7. Hmm was more expecting you to say some wrist locks etc are useful for a self defense scenario if someone grabs you by the shirt… or you feel more confident regarding a knife attack as this is not trained in MMA. Aren't there any techniques you're glad you learnt? Besides the philosophical stuff…

  8. You do great job man. If someone see only one of your videos, he could see that you are biased or hater or crazy on ,,effectiveness" point. I do have such a thoughts. However, after watching more of your videos, on various topics, I know that you do a very great job. Thanks for your message man 🙂

  9. I agree what you said in this video. I have practiced aikido for 6 years and now also practice other martial art for combate
    form. The way Aikido demostrate is really a Philosophy for life. For the way you act with other and the way you live, all has
    been affected by Aikido and it really make you become a better person or even a peacful fighter. I won't say Aikido is a
    combate martial art, morever, it is a martial art for protect your opponet. From the Morihei Ueshiba's core idea of Aikido to
    how the way the Aikidoist demonstrate, it is all about "How to train and grow with each other". So if someone what to find
    a martial art to defeat someone easily, you really can't find it in Aikido; because there are many other types of martial art
    can choose and you will really find your goal without doubt.

  10. Fitness,social connection with people,an embrace of the Japanese culture & recent tour there,learning something new all the time,spiritual growth & journey,an activity I have had to give up due to stiffness of knees,wish it had been available when I was a lot younger,I've missed out on green-belt level.

  11. I think the good thing about is that it at least in many people gives them the mentality of not wanting to fight and staying out of situations they should be avioding rather then lacking self control and giving in to the urge to fight.but i relieze aikido will not satisfy the goals of everyone in the martial arts comunity.

  12. Judo and aikido can be figuratively. described as different routes up the same mountian they can both help there practitioners achieve the same goals but some of those goals such as self defense or spiritual development are quite likely going to come much harder or much easier to achieve depending on what route you choose but thats martial arts in general.

  13. Judo compared to Aikido as far as its techiques are preaty much the same .They are both derivatives of jujitsu the only big difference is the way it teaches and the goals that they put stronger empashis on.

  14. I think the only true victory is to avoid the fight which is what draws me to aikido. I have never studied any martial art aside from a bit of tae kwon do as a kid and aikido is the one I'm most interested in now. The thing is, I have a defibrillator and my doctor would probably kill me himself if I tried to learn a martial art with a risk of getting struck in the chest. (It hurts INSANELY bad and risks damaging the device). I don't like to hurt people, I don't like to fight, I've never been in a real fight and probably never will. In my situation Aikido seems to be the most logical place to start. I agree with the philosophy and if on top of that there's any chance at all it will improve my chances in an inescapable physical confrontation, that's all I'm really looking for. It's a bit disheartening to see tons of BJJ and MMA (no disrespect to either art) guys constantly dunking on it, but I really think it's a disconnect from the philosophy. Of course fighters are going to fundamentally misunderstand a martial art with the goal of not fighting, they like to fight! I don't, and it would be just as silly of me to put myself in a situation where I'm constantly fighting. There is value in aikido as a martial art, if there was no place for it, if it was "fake" it wouldn't still be here. What are the odds that some asshole trying to start shit on the street is some master fighter? He's probably just some dude who's been in a few bar fights at most. If I really feel the need to learn self defense, I'll take a self defense class, aikido is a way of life, that's what the morpheme "do" means. I would rather avoid the fight in the first place so it's pointless for me to dedicate so much time to fighting in another martial art.

  15. Very good video. The more videos of yours that I watch the more I see very similar & in some cases basically identical experiences /lines of thinking between your martial arts journey & mine . I find this quite comforting it's like the whole "oh good it's not just me" kind of realization lol. While the aikido dojo I train at is very much up front about the not so effective aspects of the art of aikido and they incorporate things to try to change that i would still find some of the more strict traditional Hombu dojo ppl getting frustrated with my approach I guess . For example after taking my last kyu test it was mentioned to me that I should not stand with my hands up (they weren't even fully up like a western boxer but they definitely weren't at my sides as was suggested) there were definitely alot of ppl (including the owner of the dojo) that appreciated the extra self defense aspect i literally couldn't believe that i was told that I shouldn't do that smh . From my experience in high school wrestling and some traditional Jiu-jitsu & judo as a child I found it very difficult to divorce myself from the athletic type of training I've always done with strength resistance exercise , and the other arts . But I' do love aikido and I think it does have very useful things and techniques. Now that I'm training mostly jiu jitsu (both modern & traditional& tai jutsu) I am really enjoying finding it a great experience I will continue doing aikido and cross training but finding the new balance and learning new things as well as relearning stuff I couldn't be happier . Idr my point cuz this turned into a rambling comment . Keep up the good work . If ya ever on the east coast USA Maryland/ DC area give me a shout we will train brother .

  16. There are so many positive things, which Aikido has taught me. That's eventhough I am leaving Aikido for a few years to practice a more functional martial art (Yoseikan Budo in my case).

    My favourite positive teachings have been the strong connection which you must have with your opponent, both in exercising a technique as in being submitted by the other. I have really experimented that using softness is a bettter way to go. If you use strengh against strengh, you end up hurting yourself (usually, both of you). By using softness, you can drive your opponent in ways he does foresee because of the lack of strength.

    The art of falling is also a great asset for me. There were so many classes where I arrived with my back suffering. After one hour of practice, my back had receive a full soft massage from the ground and I felt no more pain. It usually last a few days.

    The proportionality of force and respect for your opponent is also very enriching. I practised one session of Penchak Silat and discovered that many aspects of this teaching are dedicated to strike on the very weak points of the body : of course the groin, but also the parts where bones are accessible, the face, the solar plexus… This is certainly useful in a situation of life and death, or in a situation where you are in inferior strength of your opponent. But for situation where a fight occurs, and you are in similar strength or maybe even stronger than your opponent, Aikido is a much more adequate response. Because you don't want to kill or harm your opponent, you just want to end-up the fight.Also, applicating limited force and pain to your opponent is much likely to cool down the situation.

    The way you hold your guard in Aikido is also interesting. Your arms are extended in front of you, your hands are half-opened. While it certainly protects less than a boxing guard, it also sends a different message to your opponent : I am not afraid of you, I am ready to accept your moves with my hands. If on the other hand, you are faced with somebody using a boxing guard, you can't help to think "that guy is ready for punches, let's go for that".

  17. Aikido show u how to move harmonisedly so not only aikido but to improve any kind of sports u have to train smart and try to focus your mind on synchronise your mind and body cuz all srenghts generated in the spine and center of the body and also the breath

  18. I totally agree with all your points and have found I learned the same things from my 5 years of aikido training, which I took when I was also a teenager, from about 16-21. I'm 39 now and I've recently started taking hapkido classes with my wife and my aikido training has definitely helped me in picking up hapkido much more quickly. Hapkido is a more functional art with punches and kicks, which I'm enjoying learning and which I feel only adds to my previous aikido knowledge.

    I also wanted to comment that I really appreciate your journey and I feel you have been very clear in explaining why you think aikido is not functional and that you are not bashing the art itself, only that the art has different goals than functional martial arts. And you have been very clear that your goal of being a more complete functional warrior is what's guiding you. I just think that people get emotional naturally when they think someone is (fairly) criticizing something they love, like aikido. But if people get past their emotions, they would see how objective and fair you have always been. Thank you for your honesty and sincerity and I will continue to keep following your journey.

  19. This is similar to the version of aikido history/philosophy that was sold by Aikikai after founder of aikido, Ueshiba Morihei passed away and his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, nicknamed "Bookworm," took over the mantle from Koichi Tohei (top disciple, chief instructor at Aikikai who was eventually booted out by Kisshomaru Ueshiba).

    The rationale for these versions is that quality and ability of Ueshiba's aikido to beat just about any systems effortlessly became lost when Ueshiba's son, Kisshomaru, booted out Koichi Tohei and assumed the mantle of technical head himself despite not being half as proficient as Koichi Tohei himself.

    During WWII, IJA (Imperial Japanese Army) spy school incorporated aikido because Ueshiba Morihei (founder) was basically invincible, whether he fought one person or many, armed or unarmed.

    His top disciple, Koichi Tohei, was a former ranked judoka who found aikido superior to judo, including kosen judo (basically today's BJJ) and used aikido to triumph over multiple fighters in exhibition matches in US during 1950s.

    While Ueshiba did talk about love and peace, primarily due to US/Allied forces' restriction on practices of martial arts in Japan (during immediate post-WWII period), it was also a code for actual, physical fight strategy whereby, you increased your ki power while your opponent lost his.

    Both Takeda Sokaku (Daito ryu master who taught Ueshiba Morihei the basics of aiki-jutsu which formed the foundation of aikido) and Ueshiba Morihei were invincible, even in their eighties. In fact, Ueshiba lost only one match in his lifetime which was to Takeda Sokaku which prompted him to learn the basics of Daito ryu aiki-jutsu.

    When Koichi Tohei came to US during 1950s to bring aikido to the West, he was constantly challenged by local Asian martial artists as well as Western sports fighters. If aikido was not effective back then against just about all martial arts and full contact fighting sports, aikido would not even have started in US!

  20. I remember your channel when I was still teaching Aikido. I have been following your journey over the last few years closely. I took a path similar to your own.

    I started training in Aikido in 2003 and I was an Uchideshi for a year. I am now a Sandan (3D Black belt for belt oriented folks).
    I started taking it for anger management, it's emphasis on not harming an opponent helped me learn to get along with others better.
    With that said my Sensei taught Aikido which has shorter movements it is less style and faster. He was an up front Okinawan man who explained early on that Aikido by it's very definition had the practicality of it removed by O sensei after the war.

    My sensei stressed the importance of learning the "combat triangle" which was: Striking, Grappling, and Situational awareness. He was a Godan in Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate and a Rokudan in Aikido but he did not teach Karate just Aikido. He would stress to us the importance of learning outside Aikido. Learn boxing, or Muay Thai, learn JiuJitsu or Judo and then learn how to survive in dangerous urban areas by taking police or security training. Aikido gave none of the combat triangle instead he taught it for spiritual balance.

    I ended up taking Aikido obviously.
    I then took Taekwondo for a while to learn some striking (sadly acrobatic kicks annoy me)
    I took Krav Maga for a while to learn some situational awareness which the do teach well just do not buy into their BS about multiple opponents or their grappling
    I took BJJ to learn grappling. I settled on BJJ as my favorite martial art to take. Sadly where I live we lack a solid Self Defense based BJJ school so I have to use my understanding of body mechanics and combat to put the defense against striking back in.

    I think it is interesting that Roy Dean, you, I and likely many others have gone through a very similar journey in life. We end up recreating a Japanese combat system that likely existed hundreds of years ago but was split into disparate parts.

    I think the journey you are on is important. For Aikido practitioners I do not think you have said Aikido was bad or you hated it, you just felt slightly cheated in that you learned something that would not help you. I refuse to teach Aikido because I will not teach students something that gives them a false sense of security. If any martial artist gets upset because their art form is being challenged then they are a bad martial artist. This is not the by gone days of just assuming things work, we have real world knowledge of what works and what does not. Many, very many martial arts of the past do not work. They can be made to work but that is not how they have been taught for the last few hundred years.

    What matters is that you are happy in life. If you are ever in Missouri in the US let me know I would be happy to roll with you.

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