Can Aikido Survive in the Modern Age?

Can Aikido Survive in the Modern Age?


Aikido is traditional martial art that trains both the physical and mental aspects. I’m probably pretty biased having practiced it for most of my life, but I think that it is highly effective and a great art to practice regardless of what you want to achieve from a martial art. Aikido does come under a lot of criticism however. 
In high school terms, Aikido can be seen as the wimpy, geeky kid that gets picked on and beaten up by the high school jocks. So I ask can Aikido survive in the modern age? An age of fast food, fast fixes and unfortunately fast black belts! People enter into the martial arts for a variety of reasons and to me Aikido can fulfill a number of needs for people; fitness, self-defence, discipline and community among many others. All martial arts have something to offer to the modern age, be it traditional martial arts such as Aikido, reality based martial arts such as Defence Lab or Krav Maga, or sports based martial arts such as Mixed Martial Arts and so I believe that not only can Aikido survive in the modern age, it can thrive. Here’s why….
Me at a recent Aikido demonstration…


Aikido can appeal to the masses. As already said, it’s a traditional martial art and completely the opposite of some arts which are very much male dominated macho and, dare I say it egotistical. Aikido to me is more than a martial art, it’s a way of living. Look up any background on Aikido and you will see the spiritual and religious influences behind it. The founder, Morihei Ueshiba, as well as being a bad-ass martial artist, was also a very spiritual man in his later years, adopting the Omoto religion into this life. 

The whole religious aspect of Aikido is way over my head to be fair, but what I do understand is the idea of uniting people through Aikido. I’ve practiced a variety of martial arts and can honestly say that Aikido is the most sociable and cooperative that I have practiced. In Aikido, we work with our partner to achieve the technical knowledge that is required, and believe me A LOT of technical knowledge is required. People can study Aikido their whole lives and still be finding new angles, new principles and new techniques within their training. From the very first lesson, regardless of style, you are working with a partner trying to understand the deeply complex nature of this art and unravel the principles of the techniques. This to me is what I love about Aikido, but also what I hate. It’s just so damn hard! I’ve been studying it for around 15 years now and still don’t have the foggiest half of the time, but this is what makes me keep going back. No way am I going to be beaten by it! One day I will understand! Aikido has a unique mind-set and approach behind it in that it combines a heavy essence of spirituality, along with the physical training.
I say there is a lot of spirituality involved with Aikido, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. Type in Aikido on google or YouTube and you will find thousands of videos. As always, some are better than others but some seem to take the spiritual aspect a little too far, throwing people without touching them and in one instance giving someone a death stare that ultimately left the opponent unable to do anything. 

I love Aikido, and these guys aren’t doing Aikido, they’re doing weird Jedi mind tricks that looks great in movies but in reality will get you a punch in the nose. Aikido works on principles that are found in nearly every martial art going. Take the opponents balance, keep yours and then follow up with a strike, throw, lock, pin, bite, shin kick or Chinese burn, take your pick! Pretty much all martial arts/combat sports work on this principle. The knockout blow in a boxing match normally comes when the opponent has just thrown a hook or cross. They miss leaving them off balance when a counter punch can then be thrown, often causing the knockout due to being off balance and unable to defend properly. The same principle applies to Aikido

There is often a misconception that Aikido never focuses on striking as much as other martial arts do. I argue that this is incorrect. The founder himself said that around 70% of a real altercation consists of striking and although we do not hit Makiwara or punching bags in our training, we do hit each other. We practice strikes to the head, body and legs, both receiving the strikes and inflicting the strikes, and this is great training for both parties. The receiver builds their body and stamina up by receiving strikes, and the striker builds theirs up by hitting an increasingly harder opponent. 

Aikido also focuses on locks and pins which can be great for self-defence in terms of restraint. Many security services as well as the police employ Aikido as means to restrain and lock someone up, due to the fact they can be incapacitated without doing long term damage. We now live in a big brother society with CCTV on every street and kicks, headbutts, stomps and punches could get you out of a situation, but also in trouble with the law in some instances. 

Aikido is not flawless in terms of self-defence, but give me a system that is? If that system existed we would all be doing it.
So as argued, Aikido can offer so much to the world today. It is a great source of fitness and if you look up Jiyu Waza or "freestyle attack" on YouTube, you will see a host of athletic, cardio-vascular and dynamic performances that build general strength and conditioning. Through regular Aikido practice we build both the body and mind, gaining flexibility, strength and endurance. In addition to this, the spiritual aspect has already been mentioned and Aikido is a great way of developing relationships with people and generally making the world a nice place! As already said, I’m pretty biased for Aikido, but I say go and give it a go. So much depends on a good style and a good instructor, so if you want to give it a go, do your research, find a decent school and get on the mats, I guarantee you won’t regret it!
About the Author:

Dan Holloway has been training in martial arts since he was six years old. He started with Karate and then moved to Aikido which he continues to train and teach, holding a 2nd Degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido. Dan has training with some of the best instructors in the world including Joe Thambu Shihan who Dan spent a month in Melbourne with training full time, as well as Robert Mustard Shihan from Canada, and Yasuhisa Shioda Shihan, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido’s son. 

Dan has also trained in various other martial arts including Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, KFM and MMA under various instructors and professional fighters. Dan is passionate about martial arts and self defence and has recently become a trustee for the self defence charity 'Just Give It A Thought'. Dan also owns his own blog - The Martial View.

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