Conversations about “which martial art is better” are a lot like the “my dad’s better than your dad” argument that happens every day on elementary school playgrounds. Mostly unproductive. First, the choice to train in Aikido derives from much more than either basic self defense or learning to fight. Second, differences between various teachers within any art vary enormously when it comes to skill, experience, training emphasis and personality. Third, the talent of individual students within any school varies greatly. That being said, the heart and soul of Aikido is budo (martial art) and practice must always done with precise and effective technique.
Both traditional and modern martial arts exist because they have withstood some degree of rigorous testing. In the case of MMA the testing is in the cage, one-on-one. There is no denying that these guys are tough and brutal. In the case of Aikido, the techniques derive from samurai combat practices where the situation ranged from an open field with multiple opponents armed with razor sharp swords to the very close quarters inside a feudal castle and the constant possibility of surprise attacks. The situations and the goals are different so the techniques are different. The center of traditional Japanese martial arts is a code of honor which places a high value on personal refinement. A martial artist must endeavor to elevate their spirit through practice and not merely become a fighting animal.
Since all martial arts are born out of necessity, it is pointless to argue about technique. Every technique has its place and anyone who endeavors to improve themselves through training is to be commended.
Even so, if you’ve ever wondered how a good aikido practitioner stands up to a karate or MMA practitioner this video might help answer that question. Here, some skeptical MMA and karate people take a field trip to Japan to see for themselves. They come away with a whole new level of respect.
~Philip Greenwood, Sensei