What You Didn't Know About Aikido

Aikido is a really neat martial art. As far as fighting arts go, Aikido is the only one known to have no attacks. It's purely defensive. The movements rely on your opponent's momentum, so if your opponent isn't fighting you, you're not fighting either. The name "Aikido" is typically translated in one of two ways: "The Way of Harmony of the Spirit" or "Way of Unifying Life Energy." Both translations give you a hint as to the kind of spiritual leanings Aikido tends to have. The creator of the art, O-Sensei, once said the secret of Aikido is "to harmonize with the movement of the universe and bring our selves into accord with the universe itself."

As a "fighting style," Aikido reached its peak of popularity in the United States thanks to the 80s bad boy and seriously questionable dude Steven Seagal. Seagal was the first American to ever teach Aikido in Japan and has bragged about his prowess in the art enough that you'd have to believe he's a bad mamma-jamma. But how usable is Aikido in a real fight?

It's not the most usable martial art

There are two sides to this coin. People who practice Aikido will tell you it's a quite usable and realistic martial art, but a lot of other people, such as mixed martial arts fighters and critics, will tell you that Aikido is bunk. To be fair, even the people who teach Aikido believe the art takes years of training before it becomes usable for self-defense. From a purely technical standpoint, Aikido's throws and pins are designed to prevent causing harm to your opponent, so even if you're really really good, you'd have to take your opponent down every time they got back up or be willing to hold them on the ground until the cops show up.

Using an opponent's momentum against them only works if they're giving you momentum. You don't want to bring fists to a gunfight, but if you have to, Aikido isn't going to help you out. Many people in the fighting industry, such as four-time Taekwondo champion and UFC commentator Joe Rogan, don't think Aikido would ever work against a trained fighter. "Never, not in a million years," he says. But, hey, you'd still have one up on Joe Blow down the street. So there's that.