Aikido is a martial art that has a lot of respect but a lot of haters. Steven Seagal made the art popular with his films such as Nico, Hard to Kill and of course Under Seige where he would throw people around and break limbs like most people snap a Kit Kat.
However, with the growth of MMA, a lot of individuals considered Aikido worthless as it simply would not work against an MMA fighter. “Just good for fighting drunk guys with no experience” is what people said.
On the WOMA.TV blog we have discussed before how Aikido should not be compared with sport martial arts due to the nature of the art.
However today we are going to share with you the overlooked technique that makes Aikido far more devastating that anyone realises.
Taking The Back (While Standing)
In BJJ or ground fighting one position is greater than any other and they call this ‘The Back’.
Once you are on the back of an opponent on the ground, you can strike them and then sink in a choke in relative safety.
However, in self-defence being on the ground comes with a risk because you could get hurt easily by a third party joining in.
So is there a better option?
Well there is, and Aikido mastered this years ago, however here is the thing. It will not work against take down techniques because it was never designed to, but for the 99% of other styles of attacks, it will do just fine.
Aikido was never designed for an MMA fight in a cage. It was never meant to be an art for sport and as such the techniques reflect that.
So it might be useless at defending against a Kimura, but if a guy attacks you with a machete, you actually have a chance due to the arts-heavy links with the Samurai.
Ok, so more about the whole taking the back.
How Aikido Is Similar To Bull Fighting
The footwork in Aikido specialises in circular motions that go outside an attack. Think about it like this;
A bull fighter or Matador (we are not promoting Bullfighting by the way) will stand still while an enormous and angry Bull comes at him.
The fighter using a stick with a cloth on it called a Muleta which the bull targets are giving the Matador room to move.
To avoid the Bull, the fighter must move ‘off line’ and to the side of the Bull with their body and the principles of defence are the same as in Aikido.
Going head on is dangerous in any situation, and in self-defence, it is the most dangerous thing you can do.
In a self-defence situation, you either have a ‘known’ risk or an ‘unknown risk’. So if you are in the street and a person you do not know bumps into you, he is an unknown risk. You have no idea of his skill level or his ability.
But what if you know that person is ‘Dave’ he is a local MMA fighter who has been to prison a few times for assault. Well, this information changes things because you are now in a position of advantage because you know how he might likely fight you.
But in self-defence, you rarely have this information, so everyone is an ‘unknown risk’. For this reason and many others, you do not want to trade punches with a person that could be a far better striker than you.
The solution is finding a way that gets you ‘off the attacking line’.
Aikido had to find this way early on because it was largely based on dealing with attacks with a sword when you were unarmed. The result was an evasive system that would make Floyd Mayweather proud.
Of course, once you are off centre with an attack you have a range of options and most notably going to the back of an opponent is very easy to do.
Now, this is where Aikido differs because they are looking for a way to resolve the situation without causing serious physical harm to the attacker. In real life, this needs to be a secondary consideration.
It is easy to see just how devastating getting this position can be, take a look at this Aikido expert Christian Tissier in action.
Once you have the back of an opponent, it really should be all over!
‘Hold on’ I hear the doubters shout ‘But if it was that good why are they always going for someone’s hands.’
This is a major misunderstanding in martial arts. As stated Aikido is heavily focused on weapons and imagine heading over to Japan and you met an angry Ronin on the street. If he pulled his sword out, you have an issue. The only real way you have a chance is to grab the hand holding the sword and get your ass out of the way (and use a technique)
You also have to remember we are talking Samurai swords here and not pen knives.
So Aikido was a system developed from a very different time and with arguably far higher skilled and more dangerous opponents.
Now you can probably start to see how Aikido has its uses in the modern world of violence with knives, broken glasses, etc. which are far more widespread than coming up against an attacker who has MMA skills (remember most martial artists are cool guys and girls)
The Aikido ability to get off the line and gain opponents back is incredible and devastating. But remember you are probably never likely to see it because 99% of people who do Aikido lead lives that would rarely see them in situations they would use their techniques.
Thanks for reading