More Thoughts on Aikido

An open runnIng page with comments  inspired by my tentative return to the practice of akido after 17 years. For context, see my earlier Thoughts on Aikido


There is a tee-shirt which reads, “Touch me and your first lesson in aikido is free”.

This is decidedly not the public ideology  of aikido. But it does reflect some of the underlying passive-aggressive emotion whch is part of its pacific stance toward the world. The reason it remains plausible for aikido to claim it is an ethically different martial art is that all of the techniques start with, indeed cannot occur without someone touching another person, in the strong sense of the word ‘touching’,: hitting, grabbing, assaulting with a weapon.. 


Aikido is spun off from Japanese feudalism and part of its attraction is that it enables us to retrieve, if only within the comparative safety of the dojo, the sense of nobility among equals samurai or budo warriors practiced.

Outside of the dojo things are, alas,  much more democratic.


When I suggested to a Russian-speaking resident of Odessa, now definitively Ukrainian, a friend with whom I practice aikido, that both sides in the current war might look to the lessons of aikido, he replied, yes, but unfortunately Putin’s preferred martial art is judo.

What this might mean can be seen in an excerpt from Paul Wildish, Principles of Aikido: p. 63:

[The difference between aikido and]  judo and other jujitsu styles, is that in the latter, uke [the attacker] is most often held down on his back by the weight and pressure of nage’s [the defender’s] body on top of him,  restricting his movement and ease of breathing..

To supplement these physical hold downs there is a sophisticated range of choking  and strangling techniques designed to cut off the supply of blood to the brain and ultimately bring unconsciousness.  This requires considerable exertion  on both nage and uké’s part and is a contination of the close grappling character of judo on the floor.

Aikido has discarded this element of classical jujitsu or judo techique from its curriculum, eschewing any grappling or contention on the floor, [relying] instead on techniques that can be applied from a standing or kneeling position to keep uke pinned face down to the floor.

Not clear what this metaphor means in terms of the Russo-Ukrainian war, except that after three months of less-than-successful engagement Putin, a black belt in judo, has decided to draw his adversary into a ground game.






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