“The aikidoka would have no chance against a rapid attack
because the time window to respond is too small.”
I can’t count the number of times I have read that aikido is a “self-defense art,” or that “aikido doesn’t initiate the attack.” These sorts of utterances are commonplace when one attempts to define the essential characteristics of the art to the general public. I must confess that for many years early in my career, I parroted the same statements reflexively without carefully analyzing the implications.
Consider one of the obvious — at least to me — implications of such statements. Taken at face value, this implies that an underlying principle of aikido is “go no sen,” that is, a situation where the attacker seizes the initiative and the aikidoka responds in self-defense.
If you pause for a moment and think, you might see some problems in operating on this basis.
If the attacker seizes the initiative, the defender has a greatly reduced amount of time to respond. The defender must attempt to get off the line of attack, unbalance the attacker, and execute a counterattack in fractions of a second. Given the compressed time frame available to the defender to respond, this is a tall order indeed!
There are some further implications of thinking of aikido in such terms.
If the attacker has gained the initiative, the aikidoka has been caught unaware of the impending attack. This would suggest a lack of situational awareness.
Assuming a scenario where the attacker has the initiative, the attack must be executed slowly in order to practice. The aikidoka would have no chance against a rapid attack because the time window to respond is too small.
Practicing slow attacks leads to “no attacks” in the sense that the attack is devoid of intent and commitment. It is difficult to apply aikido techniques on an uncommitted uke due to the absence of attacking energy to animate a counterattack.
The consequences of thinking of aikido in these terms are far reaching. I would suggest to you that Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba viewed the art he created in an entirely different manner. Take a look at this video and see if you think that Morihei Ueshiba’s ukes have seized the initiative and the Founder is responding after the fact.
I look forward to your comments!