“In reality our primary need for self-defense
today is truly defense against ourselves!”
This article highlights a topic of great importance for all aikidoka and martial artists. I have written a number of articles expressing similar viewpoints that I believe are often overlooked in training. I highly recommend that you read and reread Jim’s article. -Ed.Aikido, like all martial arts, evolved from a need to defend oneself against physical assaults from other people – hence the term “self-defense”. The world remains a dangerous place and it may never be so safe that there is no need for martial arts training. However, the reality is that in today’s modern U.S. society the biggest threats we face are not so much violence from other people but chronic diseases resulting from our own sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle. Nearly 88% of all deaths are considered premature due to lifestyle related factors. Foremost amongst these factors is lack of regular strenuous physical activity. In fact, according to a recent Surgeon General’s Report, the single most important thing a person can do for overall health and longevity is regular physical activity. Other controllable factors that can contribute to an early demise include poor diet, obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, smoking and stress. There is always a chance that Aikido technique such as Nikyo, Iriminage or Kokyunage may be needed to defend oneself; but in reality, inactivity and other poor lifestyle choices are much bigger threats to a person’s safety and well-being. Statistically speaking, the chance of a person using a specific Aikido technique to save their life is very remote – perhaps one in a million. On the other hand, statistically one out of two persons will die prematurely from some form of heart disease, and many others as a result of the effects of cancer and diabetes. Being physically fit may not entirely prevent these diseases, but it will certainly delay them and improve ones’ chance of survival. Data show that people who exercise regularly live significantly longer, have fewer dysfunctional years prior to death, and a much greater functional capacity throughout life. While physical threats from others still exist, in reality our primary need for self-defense today is truly defense against ourselves!