Recommended reading: “Cultivating a Martial Spirit” by Stanley Pranin

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Aikidoka sometimes see shortcomings in their art in comparison to other martial arts. Consequently, it is tempting to debate “what if” scenarios in discussing the effectiveness of aikido techniques. But are we really training to be able to defeat a championship karateka, a professional boxer, or an Olympic wrestler? How will channeling our energies toward such goals help us in our lives to prepare for the kinds of attacks we might be exposed to? There is no real way to rank the arts in some hierarchical order of efficacy because no objective standard can be devised to measure their relative merits. This mental exercise may provide good grist for bulletin board discussions, but the hypothetical nature of any matchup makes any conclusion purely speculative.

The Aikido Journal archives now include more than 800 articles in twenty different languages and numerous video clips. We are constantly adding new articles and translations in our effort to document aikido and related disciplines past and present. If you would like to support us in this effort by taking out a subscription to the Online Aikido Journal we welcome you to do so by clicking this link. Remember that if you subscribe or renew for two years you will now receive both the Aiki News / Aikido Journal Archival DVD and Stanley Pranin’s latest book Aikido Pioneers-Prewar Era absolutely free of charge. Don’t pass up this special offer!

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  1. bruce baker says:

    When you truly come to a conclusion that you will be injured, or killed in certain scenarios, let alone you can’t fix or adjust for every single thing that will be thrown at you, you begin to truly realize … I must master my fear.

    It is never the absence of fear that one should seek, but to master that fear when it comes.

    We train, we prepare, we learn to adapt to the world around us so that we are better able to face our fear and the situation when and if it should arise.

    Two lessons come to mind. When you are training with a teacher who has something to give you, something to teach, listen and learn. Don’t ignore the world around you, but learn what they are teaching.

    Number two …. when you are not with them, question everything they are teaching and do your own research.
    Don’t become a brainwashed cult following zombie. Respect your teacher, but follow the road to knowledge also.

    I don’t know about you, but nothing annoys me more than having some karate student come to class and thinking they can neutralize everything we show them in aikido class when in fact … we are showing them the most gentle way to learn instead of the practical application taken from techniques designed to kill or injure. Most of us, over forty years old, have had some kind of training in some other martial art. Either we decided we had had enough of being injured in that art, or we saw something of value in continuing training in Aikido. It doesn’t mean we gave up what we learned early on, it just means our main focus to train shifted, and I guess that is the point of taking up aikido.

    You never give up what you have learned somewhere else, but you now expand what you have learned and try to take it to another level.

    Did you know .. the majority of killers in the west shot their victims in the back or from ambush? As sad as it sounds .. he who runs away .. can shoot someone in the back another day. The most divine of techniques is to turn that enemy into your friend so they are protecting you instead of gunning for you. Eventually, we modify social behavior and find peace … but that is another can of worms for another day of fishing, eh?

  2. One day in Washington Square Park, a big black guy showed up at class and said, “If I could ever leave the booze alone, you would be my master.” It took me a week to figure why he looked so familiar. He was the lead in a 3 man mugging attempt I foiled a few years before. He never came back though.

    That great American strategist, John Boyd, summarized martial mastery: Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. The one who gets through the cycle first is likely to win. Dojo practice helps with the last three. The first can really only be trained on the street, so train well.

  3. the 3 most dangerous things for a martial artist are;
    letting your physical condition deteriorate

  4. …very good Aaron! would add – inattention. what was it Musashi said? something like ‘pay attention, even to details. do nothing which is of no use…’?

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