This is an interesting conundrum in which all manner of instant experts abound. I’ve heard this discussion and criticisms most of my life. Coming from non-practitioners of Aiki arts such arguments hold no water because they don’t see what’s going on.
Yes indeedy sir, the uke were cooperating with the old guy because he would up the ante if they did not! And that means serious pain if not injury.
We forget that combat requires killing. Or at least injuring. We have become all sportified in our attitudes. Or worse, sanctimonious. And the obvious–Why would anyone deliberately damage a compatriot in a demo–seems to evade some minds.
Having said that, some aikidoka are indeed self-deceived by their own lack of experience, opinions and complacent comfort zones of the mind.
In ancient China, “soft” methods were feared, whilst “hard” methods of fighting were usually laughed at. This seems to be the opposite of commonsense and some of the modern “soft stylists” have indeed deceived themselves as well.
There is a silent communication that occurs during budo training, similar to the “telepathy” that happens in a real life and death encounter, but not as intense.
In training it educates. In real encounters it educates if you survive. Otherwise it kills you.
When used in conjunction with other communication tools such as Tapping Out or Taking Ukemi in lieu of conducting kaeshi, this communication teaches.
In other words: Absorbing ki using ukemi to buffer the the impact of receiving a full technique, if genuine and mutually honest in training, has immeasurable value.
In a real encounters, of necessity, you modulate the intent to harm differently and this either communicates to the attacker to cease and desist, or he sustains an injury by his intended action.
This is the salient feature of Aikido and Aikido-like arts. They depart the contest paradigm entirely because of a different attitude and different way of looking at things. We want to Restore Harmony instead of proving something about ego.
Embracing the essential unity that is the Universe and all therein contained, the Aikidoka does not resist or strive to repel the attack. Rather, musibi and ki no nagare, not mystical but practical terms, are invoked; whereby you give the attacker what he wants by assisting him. Simultaneously retaining your integrity by being flexible about recapturing your balance status and retaining your centre by not relinquishing it. Instead dictating the terms of the agreement.
What most see on the surface is not what’s happening, but isn’t that the case with everything in nature?
It takes lots of hard training, not theorising. It’s experiential, not a talkfest of opinionated ideas.
To quote well worn cliches you “give them more rope till they hang themselves” or are “hoisted on their own petard.” Instant karma if you will. All the defender has to do is NOTHING but this with skill. In other words get out of the way of the attack.
The shapes of “Aikido” arose out of these principles of physics and natural movement. They are not arbitrary. They are also not wishy-washy, but can be devastating to an attacker in a real encounter. (If training was true)
When these principles become entrenched in human consciousness, violence will minimize and it will change the nature of warfare entirely, where, unlike now, where expensive reliance on gadgets of mass destruction and political blame games of finger pointing cripple resources better used. Instead, we will mostly be able to go about our business of harmonious and practical creativity, and attackers will transparently make fools of themselves.
We don’t have any choice but to travel in this direction because the other trajectory is a globally genocidal one. It will requires an evolutionary shift in consciousness and whilst inevitable, I think we still have way to go.
Removing the intent to harm in training and demos is essential. Notwithstanding, in a high intensity situation the aiki-principle is devastating. To an attacker. Because they receive their own ki.
Read O’Sensei. He’s already said it all. It’s somewhere in AJ and I’m not sure why we are all still debating the issue except perhaps because of insufficient training, and not working in an industry requiring application, some of us have not experienced it. So we talk.
Training is better.