Except taken from “experts.about.com

Hello, I am drawn to the philosophies of aikido, but am concerned that it is not a real form of fighting or defense. All the video I have seen of it online show the attacking students throwing themselves away from the defender. It looks completely fake. Also, if it is not fake, why aren’t any aikido fighters in the UFC, Pride, or other MMA events? Seems to me like they would get their ass beat up – quick. Additionally, does Aikido even have defenses against BJJ? Interestingly, Segal always looks like he would beat them up… But I’ve heard what he does isnt even Aikido. Please let me know your take on this as an expert. Thanks!

Hello George, Thank you for your questions. They are often asked. The short answer is – No, Aikido is “not a real form of fighting”. It was never meant to be. It was – and is – a way to stop a fight, not to engage in one. Aikido is not a competitive martial art, which is why you don’t see students of Aikido in the UFC, etc.

The term “aikido fighters” is an oxymoron. Steven Seagal does not show aikido in his movies, although he is trained and used to teach aikido. He shows, among other arts, a form of aikijitsu, which is a fighting art.

Aikido works with moving with and redirecting energy. More importantly, it works with the concept of harmony. It is impossible to understand harmony if winning a competition is your main goal. The short answer to your question about “attacking students throwing themselves away from the defender” is: As the attacker, you will go down. How you go down (e.g. splat vs roll) is dependant on your level of skill.

The ability to receive an aikido throw is at least as important, and maybe more so, than learning how to throw. I like a friend of mine’s (Don Angier, a master of aiki jiujitsu) reply to this query about the reality in receiving the throw. His answer is “You learn to roll so that you can continue to train.” That’s one aspect, for sure. You learn to take a fall safely, so that you can get up and continue your practice. With a lot of the throws and pins of aikido, if you don’t learn that, you get hurt.

I tore both shoulders during my early years because I was not skilled enough to take the power of the throws involved. How you take the throw often depends on the energy involved. Often it is easier to high fall than to roll. Sometimes the mat is so crowded you want to high fall just because it uses up less space. Sometimes you take the roll because it is simply the most comfortable way to accept the throw. (If you are training all day, it is far easier on the body to roll than to fall and get up repeatedly.)

Mostly, the rolls and break falls (high falls) are the only logical way to handle what is going on. Another good reason to learn to fall well, or take the roll, is because it creates space between you and the thrower, which is a good thing! Anytime you freeze during a throw, you’ve opened yourself up to some potentially nasty punches and breaks from the thrower. So we keep the motion going, giving the thrower no reason to escalate their response into a more combative arena.

But perhaps the best reason to learn to accept a throw well is so that the thrower can go all out. If he or she feels you can safely accept whatever is going on, then the throws can be given with their full power. No one is going to get hurt. But this takes time to learn, on both ends. Years, in fact. Also, if you can handle a throw well, you are able to attack more powerfully. In aikido, the energy you give to the attack is transformed into the energy that throws you, the attacker.

Any tension or fighting of a throw creates pain and often damage to the attacker. So while the receiving looks effortless and even unreal, it is neither. It is simply the safest and sanest way to receive the throw. Please don’t ever use aikido to attack or engage in a fight, because win or lose, by definition, the lessons of aikido were not learned. Aikido teaches an alternative to fighting, not a better way to do demolish another.

Best wishes,Shari

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, and I hope it makes you want to find out more about Aikido