I wrote this description of a dojo I visited in response to a question regarding "bad martial arts." I'd like to go on record here as saying that I have spent some time in an aikido dojo many years ago, although one not quite as anal-retentive as the one I wrote the following story about.
Both dojos were big on instilling the idea that aikido was, for lack of a better description, a way to make fighting civilized.
I can't wrap my mind around that concept. Civilized behavior is what happens prior to a fight, and after a fight.
A fight itself is the antithesis of civilization, and should remain so. A fight is savage, brutal and barbaric. It should tweak the reptilian hindbrain and draw out your inner Viking.
If it doesn't, and you go up against a foe for whom it does -- you're going to lose.
There are a considerable number of people out there who don't like to hear that. I am sorry, but not liking to hear a fact does not make that fact go away.
Is aikido a good art? To me, no. It doesn't suit my personality, although I have used bits and pieces blended into other skills successfully.
For other people, aikido may be the best thing since sliced bread.
Just take that mindset about civilized fighting with a large box of salt, okay?
Co-worker of mine waxes enthusiastic about this aikido school he's going to. Insists that some friends and I just have to come and learn at the feet of this sensei.
I'm curious and I'm always up to learning something new. So co-worker and I and one of my buddies load up one evening and drive 200 miles to this class.
I've seen at lot of unarmed combat instructors, but this guy was the first one I've ever met who wheezed when he talked. And I guarantee you that he's never missed a meal. And most of them were baked cheese or something.
And he's got this Martial Arts Death God thing going. Folks, I completely understand and agree with the requirement to show respect to the dojo and to the sensei, but I've this thing about grovelling. It's the stiff Scottish neck, or something. Can't do it.
Anyhoo, sensei waits until the class has grovelled to his liking, then makes his Pronouncement for the Day and class begins. I guess. I think.
He does a technique, and then gestures grandly to the class, and they try to imitate what he just did while he screams and wheezes at them.
Seriously. I'm talking purple-in-the-face, veins-popping, dude-you're-gonna-have-a-coronary, slobber-slinging abuse at the top of his lungs.
Well. Co-worker is flying around the dojo, banging his forehead off the mat every time sensei walks by and my buddy (I'll call him Bob) and I are looking at each other with our eyebrows climbing into our hairlines and wondering if we've stumbled onto a secret Oriental S&M training camp, when sensei deigns to notice our presence.
He stops the class(?), waddles up to us and asks what we think we know. Bob respectfully (never insult an S&M practitioner in his own home) answers that we've studied kickboxing, some stick-and-knife stuff and a little bit of grappling.
Sensei opines at the top of his lungs that he will teach us things [wheeze] about the knife that lesser arts [wheeze] will never know. Or things to that effect. Student is summoned, runs up, bangs his forehead on the mat, runs off, comes back with a rubber training knife, bangs his forehead on the mat (what is it with the forehead banging?) and sensei tells him to attack.
Student stabs, sensei grabs his wrist, pulls him left, pulls him right, pulls him left again (I think), grabs the students face, student goes flying, all other students bang their foreheads on the mats.
Sensei tells Bob to attack his senior student. Bob asks how the student would like him to attack. Sensei replies that the ki [wheeze] of the senior student will allow him to sense and [wheeze] react to any attack Bob could come up with. Sensei furthers instructs Bob to [wheeze] go full speed and to try to [wheeze] do his best, so that Bob will learn [wheeze] how much he has yet to learn.
Or things to that effect.
Bob shrugs, takes the knife, lunges into the student, slashes him twice across the chest, student grabs Bob's wrist, Bob twists his wrist loose, fires a thrust kick into the students tummy, steps to the right and slashes him twice across the side of the neck as he bends forward, then leaps back into a low guard.
Standard streetfighting smash-and-slash attack.
We're summarily ejected from the dojo.