“How practical is practice?” by Bruce Baker

What are you doing! That is NOT Aikido!

I am sure somewhere, someplace, sometime you will either hear that phrase or read that phrase in some article or blog and wonder …. what the hell was going on that made it necessary to say those words.

Ya know, if you practice Aikido then go try Brazilian Jujitsu, which is more often wrestling and grappling than what you do as a practice of Aikido, you wonder … what good is this if a group of people attack, or someone is shooting at me with a gun? And then the people who practice striking arts wonder what the hell aikido people are doing with all that falling, throwing, and letting people use you as a human crash-test dummy for their practice, why aren’t there any kicks, strikes, or more violent techniques applied?

Gee, everybody knows that if you activate three pressure points on a given meridian you can knock someone out, so just just keep striking until you get an accidental knockout then remember what you did to repeat the results, right? Just kidding, but that is more often the training in striking arts, trying to find that magic combination while your opponent is doing the same and you both are trying to protect yourselves from the magic knockout, right?

How practical is aikido practice in the real world where more often than not … it is usually an unarmed conflict or group conflict where a riot is going on?

I guess you have to be in the middle of trouble, or have someone get froggy with you as their temper or attitude is out of hand to realize that practice is only practical when the parameters of the situation are within the parameters of practice. I find aikido with Wally Jay’s Small Circle handles most in close encounters or problems on the street. It depends on who it is and their level of training to how far you have to go to neutralize their attack.

Everything you learn has the practical application of seriously injuring the person attacking you if you study the human body, study the weaknesses and strengths of how to use what you know to the proper degree so that it meets the situation at hand. That knowledge may be far beyond your Aikido teacher and you may have to go to other styles of martial arts to understand the shorthand that has become aikido to find what is hidden in the practice to make what you practice a practical application.

To be honest, most people who have training can be talked out of violence, but the kids with an attitude who think you are less skilled than they are/ they are more skilled then you are in fighting/ defending yourself … those people are the biggest danger to you or to themselves.

How practical is the practice of Aikido? How much are you willing to search and study to find out? How far are you willing to go over the course of your lifetime to acquire that knowledge? Are you willing to put in the time, as well as take the negative encouragement that some teachers will give you to see if you really have what it takes find the ceiling for what is hidden in the practice?

The more you learn about what the practice is supposed to be geared towards, how so much is hidden in the practice, the more you will appreciate what you can ADD between the lines so that you can switch gears, adapt and change, so you are not just doing the practice but learn the application also.

You have to study the human body, the way different techniques are used to attack or manipulate that human body, and how to heal as well as harm that body to find what is hidden in the practice. It is in many different styles of martial arts, and the history of Aikido is a study of not just one art, but of many brought into one style for it’s own style of practice.

You will spend a lifetime learning one style of practice, but you must also take time to study ALL styles of practice to find what is practical when you facing trouble.

Young teachers commenting that an old man is doing “old man aikido” don’t understand … the body changes, the parameters of what the body can do changes, so the old man does what the young man cannot do but in comparison the young man can do what the old man cannot. Each is doing what they can, and it is perfectly alright because each is in harmony with what their body tells them they can do without causing harm or damage to themselves or others as the continue their practical practice.

So, I guess I am disturbed about the mindset of some people. Some seeking recognition, or status, or judging others by what they can do or what they expect others to do. At the end of the day it is you all alone with no one else. It is you deciding what is practical where ever you are for what is safe and practical verses what is expected during practice with your mat partners during Aikido practice.

Will you have to vary from that practice and restrain yourself from any action at all, or will you have to use some degree of interaction to find a resolution to some violent situation that is unavoidable?

My thought is this: it certainly couldn’t hurt to study other styles, research and learn the knowledge, because it will take a lifetime to absorb just a portion of what it takes to understand the deep meaning of the simplest practice of aikido and its deep meaning for what it’s practical application is capable of.

Be humble. Be polite. Don’t bring attention to yourself. Keep your eyes open, and your mind alert. There are hundreds of people in the crowd but only one person on stage. But, that one person is thankful for the support of all those people around him and in the crowd, let alone, he can just as easily step off the stage and be happy being one of the people in the crowd too.

Always keep your mind open, there is a lot to learn. And it is not always by winning or being the center of attention.


  1. Important reading for my students this year… Thanks for sharing…

  2. Ron White says:

    A great article! As a jka karate-ka for 48 years an aikido student for the last 15 and a sometime judo student I realized sometime ago practice is only practice and must be enjoyed as such.The truth about application is much harder to find. We must search it out, take off our blinders and look and keep training.

  3. Keoni May says:

    I have found Aikido to be street and prison usable.

    The very basic techniques are actually the most usable techniques.

    You throw someone backwards or forewards, with the necessary force, to over rotate their fall.

    Training forces people to throw each other correctly.

    Street and prison fighting requires that you throw someone incorrectly.

    Most people do not know how to fall correctly.

  4. bruce baker says:

    You gotta play the fool and try to avoid violence, the laws of this modern day will kill you if you get suckered into using force. Even if it is the least amount of force necessary, someone will lie, cheat, and steal to accuse you of using undo force and causing an injury.

    The more I learned about the lawsuits that some people would use to back up their hollow threats, I came to a conclusion. There are no accidents, we can’t afford accidents, but we can afford accidental deaths. There is always an insurance policy for accidental death, right? So I tell people who are on the fence about accusing me or who I work for about accidents,” … we don’t have any accidents around here, just deaths. Our insurance policy only covers deaths.” which is a joke, but most people look twice and thrice before they have an accident after I tell them that. No one should be looking to take advantage of someone else, but human nature is to take advantage of others for profit, however they can.

    Just like locks can only keep out an honest man, so too, you can only keep someone with morals on the right track. Those who are immoral will use your morality against you and make you the fool, which is alright as long as it is just words, but at some point, you need to have knowledge, take advantage of that knowledge in the right time and place.

    You are not gonna get that knowledge here reading blogs. You gotta go study and practice, find the applications. Of course, some funny stories are here, and maybe reading will clear up some question you have, but until you have lived enough years, made enough mistakes, the words won’t make sense of the practice, and the practice won’t make sense of the words. Give it time, survive the years ….. it will.

Speak Your Mind