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Thread: Aikido: Sink or Swim

  1. #1
    Samurai Jack Guest

    Default Aikido: Sink or Swim

    I am asking a sincere question, which came up on a Friday night's martial arts B.S. session. It would be interesting to hear from Aikidoists on this subject.

    The media has a tremendous effect on young people and there interest in the martial arts, and the popularity of the martial arts. It was not too long ago all it was Power Rangers creating a craze for martial arts in kids, many of them then taking arts like Karate and TKD.

    Unlike the cartoon reality of the Power Rangers the current more realistic and dangerous craze of MA is of course MMA as it going beyond cable and being picked-up by CBS here in the US.

    Now the target group isn't kids with imaginations exhausting their energies in a martial arts class learning a code of conduct and discipline, it is young males savagely beating each other devoid of martial arts traditional culture and hundreds of years of tradition. Thus, MMA is reducing martial arts to its most primitive element that is the most entertaining. Yet, beating many standard fare and other martial arts to the popularity punch, bleeding them of the volume of students once enjoyed.

    The arts that are not surviving the MMA craze is those without ground work, such as Aikido. But on the other hand Aikido being an art (form what I observer) is steep in code, discipline, and values. Will Aikido's popularity sink even more, in the future due to the shift in youth interest. To gain that interest and keeps it head from going under will many Aikido school start incoporating ground work? Or shall it resist and uphold tradition, not pandering to martial arts fight entertainment?
    Last edited by Samurai Jack; 1st March 2008 at 16:16. Reason: minor changes no pun intended

  2. #2
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    It's all about the teachers Jack. The art is secondary to the quality of the teacher.
    Ricky Wood

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    Ground work? You mean like this?

    That's O-Sensei, btw..
    Cito Maramba

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    Mr Robison,

    What is your evidence that aikido is losing popularity?

    It is very difficult to measure the popularity of aikido based on the hard data of numbers training in each country where it is practised. People have occasionally come on the Internet stating that more people are practising aikido in a certain country, the US, for example, than anywhere else, but this is really speculation. In fact, one could argue that it is because of its popularity that the technical standards of aikido are slipping, since it caters for large numbers of people who all have their own reasons for training.

    In Japan, particularly in my own dojo here in Hiroshima, we are doing just fine. We do not need to do any special advertising. Of course, we are not seen as a substitute for MMA.

    Best wishes,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

  5. #5
    Samurai Jack Guest

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    Mr. Goldbury,

    All martial arts are being effected by the MMA craze. MMA has gone prime time for better or worse. This has to have an effect on young kids, teenagers and young adults toward what martial art they have the strongest inclination. One because MMA is on the boob tube (prime time). Two, it doesn't take years to learn- which is highly attractive to the impatient and hormone filled who want instant skill. Third, the youth doesn't yet appreciate the non-combative aspects, like protocol, tradition, codes, etc. over the combative. Finally, MMA offers the youth a quick trip to possible fame and fortune. This target group in general gravitates greater to MMA.

    I will suppose your parents may not have liked you listening to that "Rock and Roll" music. And my preferred you to listen to Classical or Big Band for example. As a young man are you not inclined toward the Rock and Roll that could be danced too? With the advent of Rock and Roll appealing to the youth Big Band Music faded fast into the music archives; just as CD's replaced Vinyl.

    My question's heart is the youth not being attracted to Aikido. Putting Aikido on a shelf as a museum art, because it lacks/emphasizes what is most appealing and becoming more appealing, ground work. This is not to say Aikido is inferior rather it is becoming less appealing when put up against MMA.
    Rather the youth don't see readily the value of all the ethics, tradition, etc. devoid in comparison that comes with a traditional martial art. The audience for MMA is getting huge and gaining in popularity. The youth get a narrow perspective of a fight, and as a result get excited and seek MMA. They youth then has overlooked other traditional martial arts and their values. But alas, the youth drawn addictively to the sound of Rock and Roll and never looking back at the great music that was before it.


    I am neither pro MMA nor AIKIDO or against either, I am more concerned what effective MMA as a primitive element will have on the popularity and appreciation of the more complex and sophisticated martial arts like Aikido.

    For better or worse MMA is the only martial art (at the bare minumum of the defination of martial art) that has been popular enough to go prime time. Heck MMA even rivals (in popularity and amoung the youth) Boxing. How can any martial art compete?
    -------------------------------------------------

    Woody,
    I agree it is upto the instuctors if they want to corporate ground work to make Aikido attractive. It is my understanding there is a type of Aikido that incorporates Judo already and possibly more closely related to MMA before MMA existed. I would be interesting to know if that style has had an increase in interest amoung the target group since the popularlity of MMA. And if it will have an increase once MMA goes prime time.
    Last edited by Samurai Jack; 2nd March 2008 at 09:04.

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    If you were to ask someone what qualities they look for in a mate, you would get a variety of answers. And then, when you ask them if their previous or current partners fulfilled those qualities, you'd find the majority would say, surprisingly, "No." You would, in fact, find the same results if you asked about friends. What then, makes people get together? According to those who have researched love and liking, the overwhelmingly salient factor is...proximity. We may have ideals in our heads, but we don't seek those ideals, we simply select from the available pool of people in our proximity.

    What is the second biggest factor? Reciprocity. We like people who like us. The third factor? Exposure. We like what is familiar.

    What does this have to do with aikido and MMA? I think you'll find the same is true of people and the martial arts they choose. Sure, there are certainly a few who, having seen or heard of a particular art, traveled and sought it out specifically. But, if you were to take a survey of all the members of E-budo, I think you'll find that for the majority it was a case of having an interest in martial arts, visiting the dojo in their proximity, and choosing the one that "felt" like the best environment. (I think Ellis Amdur's accounts of how he came to study both aikido and Araki Ryu Torite-gunsoku both amply illustrate this idea.)

    Boxing has long been much more popular than aikido in the U.S. So has karate, kung-fu, and tae kwon do. For a period, so-called "ninjitsu" has probably been more popular. All of these arts offer someone interested in martial arts the various strikes, kicks, and attacks that have long been considered representative of "martial arts". Aikido generally offers none of these, beyond the Big 3 of shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, and tsuki, all highly stylized. And yet, through all this time, aikido has done just fine.

    Aikido's biggest strength (and, in a way, it's greatest weakness) is that it can be all things to all people. Interested in working with Japanese weapons? Aikido's got ken and jo. Interested in martial arts philosophy? There is plenty of that in aikido. Self-defense? Aikido is known (perhaps wrongly) as a purely defensive martial art. Do you like circular flowing movements? Aikido's got that. How about a hard, realistic style, useful for police? Aikido's got that, too. Mental and internal strength training? Aikido's got that. What about if you like all of that, but feel that some kind of active resistance training and/or competition is absolutely necessary? Well, as a matter of fact, aikido's even got that, if you want it.

    Perhaps MMA is experiencing a boom in the States now. Even if that is so, it will likely have little effect on aikido because the "aesthetics" of MMA have more in common with boxing than with aikido. Most of the people who find themselves in a dojo observing an aikido class are looking for a dojo, not a gym. There is certainly overlap between those who seek a dojo, and those who seek a gym. But they don't go looking for one in the other. Thus, aikido will continue to attract those who just aren't the type to set foot in a gym, as well as the "gym-rats" who want something MMA can't provide -- tradition, history, Japanese culture, and maybe even, depending on the dojo, an edge to their MMA.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, žonne he ęt guše gengan ženceš longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearaš. - The Beowulf Poet

  7. #7
    Samurai Jack Guest

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    Good points, thanks.

  8. #8
    Samurai Jack Guest

    Default Comment: Something worth noting

    Something I think in worth noting is that Japan naturally has a strong interest in Aikido (Japanese martial arts). Just as the USA has a strong interest in Baseball (sports). Aikido in the US like any other martial arts takes a back seat to sports. Sports in this country have always had a great appeal especially to kids and young men. It goes with out saying, the use of steroids in Baseball's concern effects on the youth. And the connection that baseball has with the Government. The most talented athletic US youth gravitates toward sports and not martial arts. This of course, points to MMA being more attractive overall to the US youth because it is more sport and less- if any- art. MMA is now replacing the dilapidated Boxing venue and has gained great commercial popularity, i.e. on cable and network TV- am waiting for the movie, oh ya, I forgot they made one. Point being in the US there is more of an up hill climb for martial arts in general because of our history, fanaticism, and obsession for our established sports. Whereas in Japan, it is a different story.
    Last edited by Samurai Jack; 2nd March 2008 at 23:22.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samurai Jack View Post
    Now the target group isn't kids with imaginations exhausting their energies in a martial arts class learning a code of conduct and discipline, it is young males savagely beating each other devoid of martial arts traditional culture and hundreds of years of tradition. Thus, MMA is reducing martial arts to its most primitive element that is the most entertaining.
    Rubbish.

    I was typing out a detailed rebuttal, but realised I would be hijacking your thread to go way off topic. Suffice it to say that your view of just how much discipline, effort and technique is required to train MMA is naive and ill-informed. But yes, it is entertaining.

    On-topic: I agree with Josh - aikido is doing just fine.
    Cheers,

    Mike
    No-Kan-Do

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    Mr Robison,

    Thank you for your reply (Post #7). In response, I would repeat my earlier question: what is the evidence? I have not trained in the US for many years, but I do not see the march to MMA among Japan's youth. I suppose that it depends from which age range you collect your data, but here in Hiroshima University (age range from 19 to 22), it is still judo and kendo that dominate the major sports clubs, with baseball, soccer and American football following. Behind these come the other Japanese martial arts, such as karate, aikido and SK, with sumo bringing up the rear. However, if you consider the average yearly intake of students, a large number do not join sports clubs at all, but keep fit (if at all) by the compulsory sports classes and workouts in the gym.

    Best wishes,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Bigger Fish, Bigger Pond

    MMA is the big fish in the US martial arts pond, no doubt about it. But that pond has also gotten significantly bigger. How many mainstream folks had ever heard of an armbar or a roundhouse kick before the UFC? Through MMA, people find out that there are styles such as kempo, judo, jkd, etc. These styles are all connected in some way to others -- there's a kinship between MMA grappling > BJJ > Kodokan Judo > Aikido > standup Jujitsu, and so forth. As those with an interest find out that there are more branches on the martial arts tree they may branch out themselves into complementary styles.
    Michael Hobson

    Mukyudoka

  12. #12
    Samurai Jack Guest

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    I am not really sure if this question can have evidence as there really no way of knowing as there are not any published consensus on much of anything related to martial. The closest thing I see is with MMA to some extent. I don’t think anyone knows how many people take Aikido, schools, etc. With the lack of accurate reliable information it is hard to frame an answer within such terms. The amateur means of measurement is the growing popularity of MMA being broadcasted on cable and the network TV and the advent of a movie coming out in very soon about MMA being released. The next thing would be to do a local survey of the number of MMA vs. say Aikido schools in your area, or closest major city. All of course in this is within the US. I am sure there are other informal ways of measurement that I will spare the time going into. That is if you’re interested in having such information. I am out in the dark on this subject and not aware of such formal information, as well. I would be interested in seeing such information btw.


    Here is the link to the movie I mentioned FWIW. I personally like comedy. Too old to feel my oats, not enough testoserone (old age) running in the blood stream any more for me to get excited about this movie. Now if I was 20 something and single...
    The trailer official site
    Yahoo site for the movie
    Last edited by Samurai Jack; 3rd March 2008 at 03:11.

  13. #13
    Samurai Jack Guest

    Default

    t
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWilliams View Post
    Rubbish.

    I was typing out a detailed rebuttal, but realised I would be hijacking your thread to go way off topic. Suffice it to say that your view of just how much discipline, effort and technique is required to train MMA is naive and ill-informed. But yes, it is entertaining.

    On-topic: I agree with Josh - aikido is doing just fine.
    I just don't understand where this is coming from, and why. This isn't about just Aikido. It is about all martial arts. Aikido just HAPPENS to be a martial art that hasn't sold out that has maintained many aspects of martial arts like I mentioned before. Therefore let me stress with caps, color and bold lettering for those who really don't read, think of it as a light house beacon. AIKIDO is an IDEAL CANIDATE for DISCUSSION when it comes to being an GOOD EXAMPLE of traditional martial arts VALUE, because such VALUES are easily identified and are in contrast to the increasing popularity of BEATING THE HOLY SNOT OUT OF SOMEONE WHICH IS DEBASING and DEVALUES WHAT MARTIAL ARTS REALLY SHOULD BE.

    Now as Kiai said (and what other posts with emotional stability said too providing their own postive input) is that with the raise in popularity many MMA fighters and fans are developing a respect for traditional arts. Here a gain TV has played a role in helping disseminating that view. As a result, it is beneficial to everyone. The question then is like many famous Rock and Roll bands with age unplug and appreciate finer music. But, they didn't start out that way and the audiences and fans who listen to these Rockers when they started were young as well hungry for something fresh and call their own. Many young musicians shunned classical musicianship for rock and roll. Today, this is still true for hip-hop etc. and popular music.

    Aikido enjoyed a great popularity among the youth with the Segal movies in the US. I am sure many young people wanted to do what he did. Now there is a shift to MMA with the youth, will Aikido (representing all traditional martial arts) be effected and if so to what degree. Will Aikido popularity ever regain, and will it be looked at by the youth is something to do after MMA.


    I remember my dear old Mum, who had paramount distain for professional wrestling in its early televised years. She would intensly admonish my Grannie (her mother inlaw) who loved Pro Wrestling well into her 90s. Yet, when my Mum was in her late 80s she became a die-hard-fan of it. She never missed a match on TV. I always thought that was strange.
    Last edited by Samurai Jack; 3rd March 2008 at 03:59. Reason: being the better man and not going into pro wrestling

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    Mr Robison,

    Your initial post in this thread did not specify any country where aikido is practised. Mike Williams, Josh Reyer and myself do not reside in the US and so it is quite likely that our thoughts on this question might be different from yours.

    Best wishes,

    Peter Goldsbury
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

  15. #15
    Samurai Jack Guest

    Default since it is such a concern

    Also, Mr. Williams, Woody pointed something out, I point you in that direction. It dealt with will Aikido incorporate, not that is has or doesn't have groundwork, to appeal to the youth as what is appealing to the youth is groundwork in MMA. Woody intelligently stated it is up to the instructor or school to pursue that avenue. This, in my mind, would be a good indicator.

    Remember the youth is the future, and over looking that can lead to big problems.

    I like to function when posting on the high road when it comes to topics like these of discussion. It is my wish that some individuals don't slip from high calibar discussions on topics like these. I hope they will refrain from dwelling on the lowest ground under bridges, or from slow moving boats while fishing .
    Last edited by Samurai Jack; 3rd March 2008 at 04:19. Reason: staying on higher ground

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