Sun, 20 Jul 2003

Knowing how to take care of yourself with aikido

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Have you been mugged on the streets and had a knife pointed at your chest?

Do you know what you would do, especially if your only weapons to fight back are your arms and legs?

Even if we have not become one of the capital's crime statistics, it is important to have a plan of action if the situation does occur.

"The term self defense itself implies that we have the skills to defend ourselves from whatever threats," Mark A. Hadiardja of Aikido Shodukan Indonesia told The Jakarta Post recently.

"But it does not necessarily mean that we have to face those thugs in physical contact in exploiting our skills and techniques."

Hadiardja was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on aiki- budo restraint and removal held last month.

"Restraint and removal means that we neutralize the opponents without causing any injuries, by using joint locks and throws instead of kicks and punches," said the holder of a second-degree dan black belt.

Aikido was developed and founded by Morihei Ueshiba, honorifically known as O Sensei, from another Japanese traditional martial art jujitsu, especially Daito-ryu jujitsu.

Modern judo also derives from jujitsu.

Before 1942, O Sensei called the martial art aiki-budo before changing the name to aikido.

He incorporated techniques from spear and sword fighting arts, taking the joint locks and throws from jujitsu and combines them with the body movements of spear and sword fighting.

He also developed his own moves.

Participants at the seminar did not simply sit on benches to listen to the speakers -- they also had firsthand experience on how to apply aikido techniques under certain conditions.

According to Hadiardja, it is important to keep alert at all times and to assess the situation even if we are confident in our self-defense training.

Part of the defense training is to think ahead.

"It is stupid to show off your jewelry while passing through a dangerous area," he said.

"Not going to or passing such areas is already a self-defense action."

But what if the worst does happen?

"Well, we have to assess the condition quickly. What do they want? Money? Your cell phone?" Hadiardja said.

"Most common thugs are eying our possesions so it would be better if we just give them away instead of playing hero."

People must size up a quick escape route.

Suppose the door of a public minivan is in your left and the thug is in your right.

"We should make a diversion by throwing the cell phone or the wallet the thug is asking for to the right while quickly getting out at our left.

"Such evasive action allows us ample time to get away from the thug who is after our possesions."

Hadiardja said such an act should be considered one of defense, not cowardice.

Aikido Shudokan Indonesia was established last November and currently has 20 aikidoka (aikido practioners).

"I need to strengthen the base first before developing the organization. It is better to have a few qualifed members than more members but who are less qualified," said Hadiardja.

"We are of the Yoshinkan style while the majority here follow the Aikikai style."

The styles come from the same tradition but developed along different routes.

"The Yoshinkan style emphasizes effective and efficient movements and techniques," he said.

"I can say that the Yoshinkan style was the aikido developed by O Sensei in his 30s and 40s, while aikikai was developed by O Sense during his 70s."

The many styles of aikido

As with other martial arts, there are several styles within aikido which derived from its developmental stages or as offshoots from the proponents who practiced it together with founder Morihei Ueshiba, honorifically called O Sensei, and his early students.

Aiki-Budo. This is the name given to the art O Sensei was teaching early in its development. It is very close in style to previously existing jujitsu forms, such as Daito-ryu Aiki-jutsu. It is considered to be one of the harder forms of aikido.

Aikikai. This is the common name for the style headed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, O Sensei's son, as taught under the auspices of the International Aikido Federation. Most regard this school as the main line in aikido development. The aikido taught by Ueshiba-sensei is generally large and flowing, with an emphasis on a standard syllabus and little or no concern for weapons training.

Shin'ei Taido. Founded by Noriaki Inoue, who was a nephew of O Sensei and was orginially associated with the early Ueshiba dojo. He has claimed that the art is different to aikido but others consider it very similar to the aikido of the early period.

Tomiki-ryu Aikido. Founded by Kenji Tomiki, an early student of O Sensei and judo founder Jigoro Kano. Tomiki believed that a "rationalization" of aikido training, along the lines that Kano followed for judo, would make it more easily taught, particularly at Japanese universities. He also believed that introducing an element of competition would serve to sharpen and focus the practice since it was no longer tested in real combat. This latter view was the cause of a split with O Sensei, who firmly believed that there was no place for competition in aikido training.

Yoseikan. A composite style developed by Minori Mochizuki. It includes elements of pre-war aiki-budo, judo, karate, old style ju-jutsu and kenjutsu. Mochizuki was an early student of O Sensei, sent by Jigoro Kano of the Kodokan in 1930 to study for a year as an uchi deshi (live-in apprentice). He later trained in Mongolia.

Yoshinkan. This style was taught by Gozo Shioda. Shioda-sensei studied with O Sensei from the mid-1930s. After World War II, he was invited to begin teaching and formed the organization known as the Yoshinkan. It is a harder style of aikido, generally concerned with practical efficiency and physically robust techniques. It is taught to many branches of the Japanese Police. (Source: