Aikido, Martial Arts and Instinct
Aikido is a great martial art. It truly is. You will never realize this until you’ve used it without thinking or meaning to in real life. There were several instances in my life where I’ve utilized the physical aspects of Aikido without meaning to do so. This is probably what Bruce Lee meant when he said: “When I was a beginner a punch was just a punch, a kick was just a kick. When I trained in martial arts a punch was no longer just a punch, and a kick is no longer just a kick. Now a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.” I paraphrase, but the message is self-explanatory. If you train something enough times it becomes ingrained and hard-wired into you and becomes a part of who you are.
Instances where I’ve used Aikido in real life:
-A “shoving match” with a big, 6 foot tall, 240+(?) lbs. guy. (Sorry Ronald.) I seriously don’t remember what happened or what I did with his hand/wrist or how I moved with my body but he ended up on the floor to his, my, and a witness’ amazement. It wasn’t a painful move (ala Kote Gaeshi or Nikkyo,) since he was unhurt, so I really don’t know how it happened. I just know that it was something from Aikido because it was the only thing I was trained in at that time. It was a pure “Aikido moment” both physically and mentally; I really don’t know how else to describe it. Him, me, and the witness ended up having a discussion on how I did it afterwards and we still couldn’t figure it out. The feeling was nothing short of Magic. To this day I think of that moment sometimes when I’m training or sparring in rigorous physical martial arts such as boxing, BJJ or MMA and realize that those moments only come when you need them the most. A “real” or perceived “real” threat is the motivator for instinctual, adrenaline-fuelled action. A sparring or competitive match simply doesn’t motivate your subconcious like this. This is also when I realized that what they say is true: You fight like you train.
-While in a running event in college. The starting line was chaos as people all crowded in a small driveway that served as the start line. I started jogging/running and tripped over someone or some thing along the way–
Then I was back up and running. The people jogging/running beside me where half-amused, half-amazed saying things like “What was that Ninja shit!?” What I did (again, without thinking,) was do a front roll, then get back up to my feet and continued running without breaking stride. Doesn’t make much sense in words but it was a fluid action that was pure instincts. In Aikido training we did countless front rolls, jumping front rolls, front rolls over people etc. it just kicked in without me thinking and I was thankful because I could’ve skinned a knee or whatnot without it. Might seem trivial but it’s another example of the truth of how you can program your body to automatically react certain ways to certain stimuli and circumstances which is the ultimate goal of any martial art. BJJ too achieves this in some respect. A good dancer can emulate a black belt karate kata but won’t be able to grapple with even a BJJ blue belt because he wouldn’t have the right programming (instincts.)
-While playing basketball in some college retreat. Basketball is a rough sport. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I’ve been hurt more times in basketball than in boxing or MMA. What you don’t see or expect coming will hurt you more. The person carrying the ball drives to the basket and I stand in front of him to receive charge. The guy slams into me knees first to the chest (he jumped,) and I get knocked down backwards-into a backroll and back up on my feet. I didn’t think of doing it. I just did it. It was again an example of my Aikido training at work with my instincts.
In conclusion, you are what you train. If you train something enough times, it will be hard-wired into you and will manifest itself in moments when it will matter the most-(When there is 0 time to think.)
Remember this when choosing a martial art to dedicate yourself to.