May 9, 2021

How Effective is Aikido in a Street Fight?

Aikido is very effective to incapacitate your opponent as well as to defend yourself in a street fight. It has a very holistic approach to everything, which means you are receptive to everything happening around you and you respond accordingly. 

Look, Aikido is not just another martial art. It’s a way of life, a philosophy which helps you grow and find balance and energy in yourself and the world around you. This means that you have very low chances of finding yourself in a situation where you’ve to fight in the first place. 

Training in Aikido over years makes your instincts stronger and you can sense things before they happen. This applies to all types of different situations, whether you’re driving or fighting or in a relationship. It enables you to see everything from a different, more sensible perspective. 

Aikido techniques that help in a street fight

There are a whole plethora of techniques which you learn while in Aikido training. And each of them has its uses in different situations. Let’s look at three of the most effective and efficient techniques you can use during a street fight:

1. Tenchinage

Also called the heaven and earth throw, tenchinage is one of the elementary throws in Aikido which is practiced a lot in dojos. In this technique, the fighter first moves forward (ryōte-dori), and in a very vital step, takes one hand down (signifies earth) which unbalances the opponent. 

To execute the throw completely, the other hand sweeps upwards (signifying heaven) toppling the opponent. This is quite a popular technique and can be done at a rather high speed, which is more effective in fights. This throw is used especially in cases where the opponent has grabbed both your hands. 

2. Sankyo

One of the basic techniques of Aikido for pinning your opponent, Sankyo is a very simple but effective technique. It includes twisting the opponent’s wrist and it is quite painful if done even a bit forcefully. And which is why it is not overdone during regular training, to not damage the wrists of your opponent. 

The important part of the technique is not how you’re twisting your opponent’s wrist, but rather, how you’re controlling his/her whole body. This technique is slightly related to the sword technique yokogiri or the horizontal cut. Keeping this fact in mind helps in how you position yourself and how you take steps. 

3. Hiji Shime

An elbow locking technique, hijishime is a complex technique which is very helpful during fights. In a single motion, an opponent’s balance can be disturbed, a strong joint lock exerted, the opponent taken down in a pin. It’s a powerful and fast technique, something which can quickly give you an advantage over your opponent. 

This technique can be used to control a single attacker easily. Also, you can use this to disarm someone. Once you get hold of the weapon arm, a hijishime executed well can take the weapon off without having to try to control the weapon directly. This technique isn’t for the beginners and is only practiced by the experienced Aikido practitioners. 

Weakness of Aikido

Aikido relies heavily on your technical skills rather than your physical prowess. To add to that, Aikido’s techniques are very complex and intricate. These two points combined means that it takes a long amount of time for a new student to master the techniques up to the level that he/she can use them in a real-life situation. 

And that is the biggest drawback of Aikido. Time. It takes years for practitioners to properly master the techniques of Aikido. What students of “more aggressive” martial art forms learn in a year in terms of striking and defending, Aikido students learn in years. 

Also, Aikido fighters try not to fight in the first place, as one of its principal philosophies is to try not to harm even the enemy. Because of that, there’s not much training in how to kick or punch effectively in a fight. And why there are lesser chances of Aikido winning in a fighting contest being organised in a closed arena. 

Is Aikido Practical? 

One of the criticisms Aikido (unjustly) faces is that it’s a very impractical martial art form which has little to no use in real life. While in fact, that statement is as far from the truth as is possible. While Aikido takes a lot of time to master (relative to other martial arts), it’s very effective and practical in every sphere of life. 

In regular life

One of the best parts of learning Aikido is being more receptive to the external world and honing your instincts. Be it in your relationships, or jobs, or even daily life decisions, you tend to be as far away as possible from any sort of negative energy. You rarely, if not never, get into fights in the first place. Let that sink in. You wouldn’t have to fight in the first place by mastering Aikido. Isn’t that much better than getting into a fight in the first place? 

Again, this is something which comes with months, if not years, of practice. 

Aikido teaches you how to be in sync with the energy around you, and how to have inner peace and harmony in your life. This results in a better and happier life. It is a philosophy which grows your character in several ways. 

During a Fight

If you do get into a fight, Aikido training gives you a major advantage in any situation. For one, the footwork in Aikido is very elusive. Hitting an Aikido fighter in the first place is a small wonder in itself. It’s swift like a breeze. Unlike other martial art fighters who duck, punch, deflect, Aikido fighters simply get out of the way. 

It’s not very flashy and glamorous as, say, boxing or kung fu, and why many people criticize it: it doesn’t fit into their preconceived notions. Because at the end of the day, Aikido maintains the center line, uses hip power, and takes advantage of any leverage as much as any other martial art form. 

Aikido is perhaps the only martial art form which was developed for defense against multiple attackers. A one-to-five fight is identical to a one-on-one fight in Aikido. Plus, Aikido techniques require more of your skills without the requirement of muscle strength which makes it effective for people of any age. 

Comparisons with other Fighting Techniques

Aikido vs Muay Thai

While Aikido makes sure you don’t get into a fight in the first place, if you do get involved in one, Muay Thai is much more effective and lethal. Muay Thai helps with striking and grappling and putting down your opponent as soon as possible. Muay Thai is more aggressive and attacks the opponent repeatedly unlike Aikido’s maneuvers to deflect the opponent’s strikes. 

One also has to keep in mind that Muay Thai requires physical prowess which, to some extent, limits who can execute Muay Thai. And therefore it requires the fighters to be in their prime, unlike Aikido which can be practiced and executed by anyone of any age.

Aikido vs BJJ

A primary difference in the fighting strategy of Aikido and BJJ (aka Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) is that while the former is taught a series of steps to follow, the latter is trained for the very unpredictable of situations. Also, a BJJ fighter would try to get through his opponent’s guard and try to make him submit by various techniques. While an Aikido fighter is rarely the aggressor, their primary focus is on deflecting the attacks rather than striking. 

In Aikido, there is usually a chain of techniques the fighter follows. First, do this, then this, and so on. This means that there are fewer backup plans here. While on the other hand, in BJJ, fighters learn plenty of backups in case the main technique fails. This helps the fighter to adapt and mould himself/herself according to their opponent’s changing tactics. 

Aikido vs Boxing

The biggest drawback of Boxing relative to Aikido is the lack of self defense training. While Boxing does teach defense, that’s mainly for those areas which can get points on being hit. This doesn’t work in real life. Also, boxing demands physical fitness in the fighter or else the punches wouldn’t have the same effect. 

Aikido on the other hand trains you for various self-defense scenarios, increases your awareness in day to day life, and helps you be safe and sound. It’s more about efficiency and skills, and Aikido experts can easily and safely fare through fights with one or many opponents. Then again, Aikido training takes a much longer time than boxing. 

How much time does it take to learn Aikido? 

While it varies from person to person, an average person practicing on several days per week would most likely earn his black belt in 4 to 5 years. 

In Aikido, mastery over techniques and physical level isn’t enough. You must have the right mindset to earn a black belt in Aikido. Many instructors don’t promote a student who lacks the required mindset.

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