International Aikido Federation Announcement: Anti-Doping Standards for Aikido?

Retrieved from Facebook page of the International Aikido Federation:

“We have received notification from WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that the IAF’s anti-doping program development is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.

While some IAF fans may wonder why the IAF is concerned about anti-doping, we have to remind ourselves that this is a requirement of being part of the SportAccord framework and the principles upheld by the world sports community. The inter
face with WADA was undertaken by our Vice Chairman Stefan Stenudd and has been a rather difficult road, partly in explaining to WADA people the peculiarities of Aikido as a non-competitive martial art, and partly due to the complexity of the anti-doping effort. We shall continue to meet the WADA requirements and at the same time demonstrate to the world that Aikido has a very unique value proposition as an active human developmental sport/martial art. (K. Izawa)”

Please feel free to comment below.


  1. To begin with, aikido is not a competitive sport. Doping won’t effect any “results” – win/lose, set a record, etc. On that basis, it seems to me that doping is a personal choice.

    As for doping itself, it appears to enhance abilities short term and to some extent extend lifetime physical performance. Nothing, however, is free. There are side effects to all the drugs of which I’m aware.

    That brings us back to the question of just exactly what are we doing? If I knew that I was going to face a life-threatening incident in the next 24 hours for which I was totally unprepared, I would lay my hands on the most lethal weapon possible, maybe an axe or a sword. If I had a month, I could buy a shotgun. If I had two months I might look for a quick and dirty set of martial arts style techniques. The military has this question and their solution is to instill fighting spirit, teach weapons proficiency, and some really rudimentary hand-to-hand skills.

    Doping could be looked at as a way to enhance fighting performance at a probable cost in health.

    The reality is that most of us live in a relatively low threat environment. We might never have our lives threatened and rarely be physically threatened at all. Aikido, along with some other traditional martial arts can be undertaken to enhance and preserve physical fitness over a whole lifetime. Good diet and moderate exercise are the ultimate drug.

    Yes. Aikido, if trained sincerely and accurately, will enhance combat effectiveness… which might only rarely be necessary in a 21st century American existence. And, of course, it is concerned with only a very small part of the spectrum of conflict – that which occurs within reach. As to how doping is going to improve your ability to deal with an opponent armed with a firearm somewhere between ten feet and 1000 yards away eludes even my active imagination.

    Back to the beginning – if no competitive results are at issue here, why is doping anything but a personal choice? Yet why, given the health costs, is it even a sensible choice? What extremely intelligent and caring individual even wanted to open this can of worms?

  2. Mark Lipsinic says:

    “While some IAF fans may wonder why the IAF is concerned about anti-doping, we have to remind ourselves that this is a requirement of being part of the SportAccord framework and the principles upheld by the world sports community.”

    I have never understood the appeal or need for the IAF to be part of the SportAccord. All it does is open the door for the IAF to be regulated and controlled by outside organizations. WADA is also the group that has been on a witch hunt against Lance Armstrong, even though every test he has taken (50+) has come up negative.

  3. Charles has already said it above.
    1/ Aikido is not a competitive sport.
    2/ Doping would not affect the results.

    No drug can affect self-correction. Aikido is a Way of self-correction. Only regular personal discipline, effort, work and an attitude of service not vitiated by contest can augment self-correction and constructive service in society.

    It is a well know and established fact that prohibitions always have the very opposite effect of that which they purport. (In psychological circles this is nicknamed “the forbidden fruit syndrome.” In other words it’s as old as Adam and Eve – Everyone knows the saying: “If you want something done, tell the kids not to.”)

    This gives rise to questions about motives and this document should seen as the pathetic attempt to attack Aikido that it is which strives to degrade the integrity of Aikido by fomenting problems that have no real existence, but need to be manufactured by appealing to the ill informed.

    As the disease of competition is the very thing Aikido strives to heal, if this document was not fomented by individuals possessed of immense ignorance, that it was directed at Aikido would then reveal it as a considered and insidious attempt to attack the integrity of Aikido by appealing to the weak within Aikido ranks who will now be tempted to harm themselves by contributing to a toxic industry.

    It is a well known fact that the trajectory of Aikido has nothing to do with generating further imbalances by either contest or by toxifying either body or mind. RATHER: To heal the mind and the body and by extension restore, maintain, nurture and protect the environments and infrastructures of both of our own bodies and the world in general.

    On this basis doping in relation to Aikido is a non-sequitur.

    This incident should be taken VERY seriously by all students of Aikido.

  4. In the recent past I joined the Australian Jujitsu Federation, its Australia’s peak body for Aikido, as far as the Australian Sports Commission is concerned anyway ;). Why would I bother to do this? conforming to the norms of the sporting world enabled me to gain recognised qualifications and to be seen as a ‘legitimate sporting organisation’. It was a pragmatic decision and the recognised qualifications are a way of demonstrating/formalising duty of care, emerging as essential to access many sporting venues available for hire, and gave access to good insurance, etc. FWIW for many in the coach training it was their first exposure to formal coaching methods and all it entails. At this time the anti-doping policy appeared and formed part of that pragmatic decision, rather than being viewed as a small intrusion on liberties.

    I imagine that the IAF weighed carefully the pragmatic vs. the idealistic and probably many others issues carefully, and I note in the correspondence that this would seem to be so and be great to hear more on this in due course.

    FWIW I know I still have access to the performance enhancing effects of caffeine, pain killers and baking soda (for the really keen). So it’s not so much an issue for me, though in the wider aiki community where sometimes recreational substances are occasionally used I can see it might be more of an issue.

  5. True victory is complying with global regulatory agencies.

  6. Joe Peterson says:

    Aikido and doping, is like worrying about doping for a pie eating contest. I understand WADA’s aggressiveness to keep sports clean. Support it, I do. WADA fails to see these things, Aikido doesn’t recruit, or try out athletes looking for the best elite athletes. The pressure to compete to win in Aikido isn’t the same as in sports. Aikido was not intended by Osensei to have competition, he built Aikido away from competition. Aikido competition or non-competition participants will more likely suffer from hypogonadism. Have men 50 years old, or over on Hormone Replacement Therapy treatment. Diabetics. Postmenopausal women-stoping the stimulate growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells. Or other afflictions suffered by Aikido participants requiring drugs banned by WADA.

    To solve this problem, one is to comply willingly and completely without complaint, and privately. Or second, stop competition altogether. Osensei didn’t want competition Aikido in the first place, it is clear in his words and in his Aikido platform. It is a bit ridiculous to think any WADA restricted drug would in enhance an Aikido practitioner. It would interfere with their success. If anyone really knows Aikido, they know within the Aikido platform muscle mass strength works against you both as Shite and Uke.

  7. This situation is so ridiculous it’s becoming sad. What “in-competition testing program” is the letter referring to? You need to have structured competitions to even go down that road.

    The IAF needs to decide whether Aikido is non-competitive or if it isn’t. Seriously. This sort of behaviour is actually negatively affecting the development of actual competitive Aikido (Tomiki Aikido) in some countries since the IAF is Sportaccord affiliated and many governments do not recognize any other national Aikido body that does Aikido as sport, for example Tomiki schools. Sportaccord is seen by many governments as the highest level International body that oversees the sports within their purview (such as Aikido). As a result, only IAF dojos can get sport funding from many Governments for Aikido development, but IAF dojos don’t actually engage in competition so for them it’s a non-issue.

    The result is that actual sport Aikido associations have no access to Government funding for development of national teams or sport Aikido in general. So the IAF’s position in Sportaccord is in a sense a great move in limiting the spread and development of Tomiki’s revolutionary but controversial approach to Aikido.

    Interesting indeed.

    • Keith E. McInnis says:

      It is all about the money and marketing of television rights. Aikido isn’t a sport so why bother complying with any sports rules? Aikido doesn’t need government funding so why worry about that. If you want to do Aikido in a seminar, rent a space and charge what is needed to cover expenses such as insurance.

      • Larry Camejo says:

        Hi Keith,

        Most of Aikido is not a sport in the common sense of the word. But there is at least one style that IS a sport in the typical sense, and we operate under the same rules as any other sporting body in the world.

        Prior to the Olympics do we not see national sports bodies apply for Government and Corporate support to send athletes to international competitions that are either directly or indirectly related to their competitive development? Or to the Olympics itself? The same goes for Sport Aikido (Tomiki Aikido). The easiest parallel to how it operates is the sport of Judo. In general, if there is no financial support from Governments or Corporations these competitive sports cannot develop, especially in poorer countries. This is not something experienced by other Aikido groups because there is no “competition” or organized tournament system. It is not the same as a seminar, I am referring to the long term strategic development of Aikido as a sport in the same line that Kendo and Judo are planned and developed.

        My main point is that the IAF, as a member of Sportaccord, has placed itself as the authority for all Aikido within the realm of sport (whether that was its intent or not, this is how the IAF is viewed by national sports ministries and corporations due to the view that Sportaccord is the equivalent of the IOC). This has effectively hindered the development of actual Sport Aikido (Tomiki Aikido – the one that is competitive and has organized tournaments etc.) It’s quite interesting really.

        I guess the whole thing seems hypocritical. People, from the days of Ueshiba M. to the present day keep reiterating that Aikido is not a sport, but then the IAF places itself in one of the largest global sports governance organizations. I think that it is important to “be your brand” it goes a long way towards earning and retaining the respect of ones peers and members. If I were leading an IAF affiliated dojo I’d be wondering what’s going on?

  8. Keith E. McInnis says:

    Now for my true concerns: Is IAF/USAF going to refuse to acknowledge rank promotions if the aikidoka aren’t drug tested? Are seminar participants going to be refused access if they aren’t drug tested? Is Hombu dojo going to refuse to grant reciprocity through other organizations if they don’t drug tests? What about those with disabilities who come to Aikido to find some peace in their lives and who must take some of the things on the WADA list for medical reasons, will they be refused advancement, admission, recognition? That would create serious legal issues in the US re disability rights and discrimination.

    This is bad for Aikido in every way. It is clearly a capitulation to get the money from broadcasters and possibly government grants but at what price to the quality and spirit of the art?

    Prediction: An exodus away from IAF if the above issues come to bear.

  9. Kevion Rogers says:

    I don’t understand this, because Aikikai Aikido and most other forms of Aikido except for Tomiki ryu, is not a sport especially not a competitive one. It is closer to yoga and taichichuan than wrestling. I got into Aikido to get a way from competitive wrestling while still in the grappling motif, because it is more about the principle than the point. I like the fact that there are no weigh-ins, medals, trophies, referees, random testing, or bureaucrats who have no interest in the activity itself for its own sake. Competition and commerce is what makes Olympic combative sports a parody of its namesake.

  10. It seems to me that the idea of doping is so much against the principles of Aikido as a way of harmony (with yourself as well as with others, as I understand Aikido), that anyone who chooses doping is choosing something other than Aikido.

  11. We are not a sport (for most organizations). We are not a religion. Dojos are typically businesses, but almost invariably not get-rich-quick schemes. Aikido does not compete with MMA in that regard. International seminars – what do we call ourselves when arranging it? An amassing army, a religious gathering or a sporting event?

    So, when there is federal funding available for new mats for another sporting body, those who are too proud to refer to us as a sport don’t qualify for funding. We don’t qualify for accident and medical insurance because we haven’t demonstrated our compliance with organizations that oversee “similar” groups, because “similar groups” are identified as sports.

    Or, you can suck it up and jump through a few hoops that make all the difference in federal funding and but involve philosophically barely relevant issues.

    There is a new, younger generation of aspiring Shihan. I wonder how many would use substances to recover from injuries faster, or get physically stronger so as to appear superhuman. We don’t test, and I am glad of it.

    • Sorry, religious organizations have tax advantages that we do not. Also, to be identified as a “school” involves jumping through many bureaucratic hoops. Really, easier to be a sport. I missed putting this in my entry above.

  12. スタン says:

    Here is the scoop:

    People wonder why IAF has anti-doping standard, and people wonder why IAF joined SportAccord.

    Anti-doping standards are a requirement for all members of SportAccord. For example, International Kendo Federation has them for Kendo/Iaido/Jodo, even though neither is an Olympic sport. Why? IKF is a member of SportAccord. Same with IAF – you join SportAccord, you *must* have anti-doping standards.

    So why did IAF join SportAccord?

    SportAccord is an umbrella organization for all Olympic and non-Olympic sports organizations. In reality, if you join SportAccord representing a sport, your organization becomes “it” for that sport.

    SportAccord only accepts one organization to represent a sport (so both organizations A and B can’t be representatives for sport Foo, but organization A can represent sports Foo, Bar and Baz), so IAF joined SportAccord, even if they potentially have no desire to ever host an Aikido competition, precisely so that no-one else would join SportAccord as representing the martial art of Aikido.

    Basically, if IAF would not have joined SportAccord, then potentially some other organization, claiming to represent Aikido, could have joined, and then pushed for, say, Aikido in Olympics.

    • This is the world of politics and unintended consequences. How would the Founder have reacted to this turn of events?

      • スタン says:

        Frankly, the Founder lived in simpler times, where world was larger, and things that we take for granted today (globalism, internet, global surveillance, international terrorism, etc) were unheard of concepts.

        We can guess how he would have reacted all we want, but the fact of the matter is, if a sport or martial art is not a member of SportAccord, then the name of sport can be hijacked, and original creators can be pushed aside, and sued for infringement. And even if they manage to defend themselves in the court, it costs a lot of money, nerves and time.

        So we might laugh at anti-doping standards in Aikido, but, frankly, I am glad that IAF did this (since they have a reputation for being more or less aligned with the goals of Aikido). Imagine if one day you would have learned that “Real Combat American Aikido” (made up name to illustrate the point) joined SportAccord, and is now in charge of developing Aikido as a sport?

  13. Closed minded old guard blocks the future of Aikido.
    Shame on the IAF, fabricating a competitive structure to block development!
    The marketing gimmick of ‘there is no competition in Aikido’, doesn’t work. Modernise or die out!

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