Traditional Aikido.

I like this guy. He’s nuts beyond belief, but I like him. I was watching his video on dealing with hooks and I saw it after he did a rant about “traditional Aikido” and I was thinking that, actually, it didn’t look any different from what we do and if anything it was a lot gentler than what we do.

“Traditional Aikido” is a fairly meaningless term, actually. It makes a lot more sense to talk in terms of lineages. Like the lineage that comes through Chiba sensei is very different from the lineage that comes through Endo sensei for instance but both are “traditional Aikido”. Coming through Chiba’s line I’m not going to drop my forearm into his neck as he does in the video on hooks, I’m going to grab the opponent’s throat, partly because if you grab someone’s throat it tends to disorientate them, especially if you give it a good squeeze, but more importantly for all intents and purposes you’re holding onto their spine so taking their balance becomes relatively easy. The third thing is that if you grab someone’s throat and everything goes wrong it’s likely to go wrong in a reasonably predictable fashion: they’re probably going to want to get your hand off of their throat. If not then you’ve got an arm between you and their free left hand.

Not that dropping the forearm into the neck is a bad thing to do but to say that it is something outside of “traditional Aikido” is wrong. All “traditional variants” of tsugi and irimi ashi, the entering movements that we initiate to defend ourselves from strikes, incorporate striking. What form that strike takes be it an open palm to the face, a throat grab, a blade hand strike into the neck, dropping the forearm into the neck, conceivably elbowing the attacker in the face, is all up to the individual practitioner. It is true to say that it’s not part of the basics but then that’s why they’re called basics, they’re a common ground to build on, not a prescriptive way of how a person’s Aikido should be.

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