“Aikido is for losers,” by Bruce Baker

I know we have all heard the phrase from just about every fight fan, or jerky kid in an audience who watches fighting, Aikido is for losers! And that statement may be far more true than that idiot gives it credit for.

What are we Losing? We lose the attitude that aikido will make us great fighters, or movie heroes.

We lose that selfish self-aggrandizing attitude somewhere down the road by year two or three of training, and replace it with a quiet respect for knowledge learned in all styles of martial arts, right?

LOSE the attitude! Become the happy spirit in harmony who is hidden, not the loud-mouthed spectacle who is center of attention. The quiet loser will be the survivor!

(Let’s not confuse small social circles with war and genocidal maniacs, I am referring to community, and the small social circles we participate in everyday.)

The quiet changes that come when we realize, ONE OF OUR GREATEST WEAPONS IS our quiet, positive attitude to blend in as one of the crowd and effect positive change in the society around us. The martial arts are nothing more than a tool we use to lose that bad attitude, lose that blindspot, lose the fear (or should I say control the fear) so we can be active participants in life itself as we find OUR PLACE in not only nature, but the society of civilization human beings create.

I like being lost. I have found I can get by on what I need and not overindulging on the things I want. I am in the MAJORITY, and not the puppet of managers, or a slave to some career. Sometimes people don’t understand that I am doing what works for me as I refuse testing, or don’t want to try out for American Idol, or want to be the center of attention. What works for me is to be me and just step up occasionally to impress people for a moment or two, then quietly vanish back into the crowd. That kind of being lost is what the MAJORITY of us will be most of our lives.

Why fuss over the losses? Why not just enjoy the little victories, enjoy the good things in life, the little things?

So if losing the attitude, losing the blindspot, losing the stupidity is what Aikido helps one do, sure, add it to your list of things to try out. Move it up on your “bucket list” you should have made when you were a kid realizing that you ain’t gonna live forever and there are things you want to do before you die.

Downgrade what you wished you could have done when you were a kid to what you can do for who you are right now in whatever stage of life you are in. Deal with what you need versus with what you get.

You finally realize it doesn’t matter what other people think about what you want to do because once you have a positive moral compass set in your life. It isn’t their life, but it is your life that you need to be concerned about as life is about the MANY, MANY LOSERS who are not the winners.

Lose the attitude, lose the self-pity, get your butt in gear! Enjoy life! The happiest people on the mat are those who conquer the little problems in their technique, their falls, their clumsy skill level that finally improves for their aikido practice.

When each famous, rich, successful person reaches their goals, their goal is to be satisfied at being the average person who enjoys the simple things in life! I say, “SHORT-CUT!” Downgrade your dreams to things you can reach, and go straight for satisfaction of the little things in life.

Don’t get me wrong, because if the opportunity to reach your upgraded dreams comes along you should try in some way to reach for those dreams, but don’t go off the rails because you fail.

We don’t all need to be movie stars, billionaires, or influential people because most of us will simply be LOSERS, and for a fact, losers run the world.

Not everyone can be Bruce Lee! Who cares! Our goal in not to be great fighters who want to be rich movie stars, our goal is to be better people who have good health, a wealth of friends and acquaintances, let alone find our place in the world.

The goal of the so-called aikido-losers is not to fight against the world but to learn to live in harmony with the world.

I am not worried about the sports-fighting, nor about the mixed martial arts talk, but I am worried about becoming one of those mindless idiots who think that might always makes right. There is a point where we must stop the escalation of violence and say enough is enough. We need to lose the attitude, gain some insight and use commonsense.

If Aikido helps to you to lose, helps to give you commonsense, adjusts your attitude, count me in, I am a LOSER!

How about you? Are you paying way too much attention to what other people say?


  1. …for those of us who were losers in youth, objects of derision, and fair game for bullies, the desire never to be there again is motivation for a lifetime of training.

  2. Downgrade your dreams to things you can reach?

    Upgrade your attitude and ability to reach your dreams!!

    I find the downgrade your dreams attitude appalling!! it is why most people walk around unhappy. They settled for mediocrity when they could have striven for so much more.

    You may not ever achieve the goals you set, but the journey could enrich your life in ways you never imagined.

    I agree with everything else except that statement.

  3. russell waddell says:

    Nice job putting it into words what everyone deep down feels but are afraid to voice and “loose” face with their idiot peers…I have been there with you for years now. Russell

  4. Brett Jackson says:

    Well said, Bruce! If I can interpret what you say as “losing” as a (the) way to “WIN”. Reminincent of the sub-title to Terry Dobson’s book, “Giving in to get your way” (as I recollect). It’s win/win thinking (contrast “me vs the world” thinking)! Yikes! Just think of the applications to marriage therapy (of losing to win thinking)! *Smile* In fact I’ve never actually heard anyone say that “Aikido is for losers”, though I don’t doubt it’s been said or that the attitude it expresses is common enough. Anyways, I like your reply to those folks! If one can transcend the sports context to get back to the real-world (Nev’s last post was on this wavelenght too) things become much clearer.

  5. Well said, Bruce.

    I wrote a similar thing for my own little magazine a few years back that may be of interest to you:
    Learning to Lose
    by David Lynch
    (“Hakama” Magazine, July 2000)
    The media recently had a field day over the decision by the organisers of a certain children’s sport not to reveal the final score after a match, the idea being to discourage small children from an excessively competitive approach.
    Howls of ridicule and derision filled the airwaves, and TV producers made up skits depicting football teams playing “solely for the love of the game”, prancing around on the field hugging their opponents and declaring they didn’t really care who won or lost or what the score was. It was all very hilarious and patronising.
    But to my mind the media were the losers, for not making the slightest effort to investigate the other side of the story or acknowledging that the policy was aimed at very small children not, for pity’s sake, a bunch of hulking great international rugby players.
    Amid the cries of alarm from all sides about the terrible damage such a non-competitive approach would have on New Zealand sport, the voice of those behind it was barely audible, even though they revealed that the same system had already been operating for some years in Australia with no negative effect on the sport there.
    News readers, who almost certainly spend more time in the pub than practising any kind of sport, and talk-back radio callers who pride themselves on being great sport ‘fans’ from the comfort of their couches, all rose up in a body to decry this threat to the great New Zealand sporting heritage.
    “Children must learn to lose” was one argument used for dismissing the very idea of non-competitive games. This ‘losing experience’ was something the children would need in later life.
    But, since when was “learning to lose” the exclusive domain of competitive sport? Indeed, one might ask just how well this great life lesson had been learned by some of our top sports people, from the woeful immaturity they display when they fail to win all the time. Verbal abuse of referees, even physical assaults on fellow competitors, are not unusual. And there are not a few famous ‘winners’ who have clearly lost a lot in their personal lives through their relentless will to win: divorces, scandals and spectacular falls from grace.
    If we have learned to lose so well, how come we don’t seem to be very good at it, or particularly dignified in learning our lesson?
    In aikido, although it is a non-competitive activity, we learn to lose all the time. As ‘uke’ we allow our partners to throw and pin us, while both learn valuable lessons in the process.
    There is also plenty to learn from the frustration of not being able to get a technique to work as well as you would like, even with a co-operative uke. And there’s lots to learn from the ego-pain when you train with someone who outclasses you completely (‘losing face’), or when you come across a movement you simply can’t get the hang of.
    Then there is the deeper lesson that occasionally makes its shocking appearance, that you are doing something that in a real situation could involve death — the ultimate loss! You can experience that on a mental level, and it is a powerful lesson.
    There is a lesson, too, in hard training, day-in day-out, all year round, for no material reward: no trophies, no big payoffs, and no publicity.
    You learn from all these things and may eventually develop a certain equanimity and a positive outlook towards losing, compared to which simply learning to lose in a competitive sport seems a relatively minor accomplishment.
    The Government spends big money encouraging a highly competitive approach to sport, which results in a select group of heroes, with whom vast numbers of largely sedentary people apparently identify themselves. These ‘winners’ often live overseas where they can get maximum competition, only appearing briefly in New Zealand to bolster the national ego by winning a few local competitions, before they return to Europe or the USA. When the few heroes who live here leave for bigger money overseas we search frantically for others to take their place as figureheads. It is a very curious thing.
    Of course, the Government doesn’t spend money on martial arts like aikido, even though it can be practised by people of all ages and fitness levels for their whole lives, and can give them so much in return. Never mind the fact that aikido teaches attitudes towards others, such as respect and harmony, that can only be good for society at large,
    Naturally, the Government isn’t going to spend good money on something that is not competitive and doesn’t involve going abroad and bringing back gold.
    It seems we can’t win.
    So we will just have to carry on learning to lose.

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