Dr. Nick Hallale concludes his analysis of how the concept of aiki fits into aikido, which is often viewed as a nonviolent martial art, and aikijujutsu, which is regarded as more aggressive.

When comparing aikijujutsu and aikido, some generalization is necessary because several styles of aikido and branches of daito-ryu aikijujutsu exist. Although the technical influence of daito-ryu on aikido is still clear, according to Antonino Certa, a daito-ryu teacher in Milan, Italy, the two are now separate arts with different outlooks. Certa, a longtime student of aikido prior to taking up daito-ryu, stresses that genuine aikijujutsu is not simply “hard aikido” or “aikido plus strikes and weapons.” For one thing, Certa found that the number of techniques in aikido is far fewer than in daito-ryu. Morihei Ueshiba distilled a core of about 20 main techniques — including shiho-nage, irimi-nage, kote-gaeshi, ikkyo and nikyo — as the basis for aikido. United Kingdom-based aikido instructor Dave Humm agrees but points out that aikidoka can use those core techniques to generate an infinite number of variations based on circumstances, situations and methods of attack. The ethos, he says, is to be able to make any one of those applications fit any given situation. In daito-ryu, however, the approach is very different. The techniques number several hundred, and each is performed only in a small number of situations for which it’s deemed most suitable — for instance, when kneeling, when standing, when attacked from behind, when attacked by a taller person and so forth. No attempt is made to fit a technique to all situations. Sogaku Takeda’s son and successor, Tokimune Takeda, sits with students in their dojo in Hokkaido, Japan. Certa found that aikido practice is generally conducted in a more “free” way than aikijujutsu, with a continuous flow and the use of circles to bind movements and applications together. In contrast, daito-ryu uses mostly formal, two-person kata practice. The techniques are short and direct, and tend to be more linear and angular than circular. Daito-ryu also tends to favor throwing with a dropping motion, rather than an outward projection as in aikido. The objective in daito-ryu is to keep the thrown enemy close so he can be finished off, if need be. Also, where aikido often favors controlling (osae) the opponent without causing excessive pain or injury, daito-ryu leans toward breaking (kansetsu). Relative Lethality Another important point is that daito-ryu doesn’t claim to be a purely defensive system: There are several formal techniques in which one makes a pre-emptive attack rather than waiting for the enemy to strike first. Although much of aikido seems to be practiced as a defensive form, Humm believes that it can be employed proactively in real situations simply by changing the mind-set. His experience as a prison officer serving in high-security establishments has shown that while the application looks nothing like the techniques in the dojo, the principles behind the techniques (distancing, blending and unbalancing) are definitely valid and have served him well when he’s had to initiate encounters. The martial and often brutal spirit of daito-ryu is illustrated by the explanations of Takeda’s son and successor Tokimune Takeda. In an interview in Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, by Stanley Pranin, Tokimune states, “The essence of daito-ryu is to keep alert until you have cut the enemy’s throat.” In modern times, health and safety regulations and the hassle of lawsuits make it a little impractical to actually cut the throats of partners in training. Therefore, the essence of the final kill has been preserved in a symbolic way: The practitioner delivers a sword-hand strike to the downed opponent, accompanying it with a sharp kiai. Daito-ryu features more use of atemi waza (striking techniques) than do most aikido styles. In the early days, aikido training did include a large amount of striking — Ueshiba is famously quoted as saying, “Atemi is 99 percent of aikido” — but this seems to have been de-emphasized in many styles as the years progressed. The atemi in daito-ryu use the fist, the edge of the hand, the elbow and the feet, and are crucial parts of many techniques. There’s also a difference in the use of weapons. Some daito-ryu branches incorporate the classical sword style of ono-ha itto-ryu and consider kenjutsu important for understanding the daito-ryu system. In addition to the sword, some techniques involving the tessen (iron fan), jutte (truncheon), tanto (knife), shuriken (throwing stars) and other weapons are taught at the higher levels in some branches. A few substyles of daito-ryu are alleged to contain aiki nito (two-sword) and spear techniques, but they’re rarely seen today. Aikido, on the other hand, is largely an unarmed art, although some styles, notably the iwama style, do include some sword and jo (staff) training. The advanced teachings of daito-ryu also include aiki no jutsu, which are throwing techniques that appear to have been one of Ueshiba’s specialties, forming the basis for the kokyu nage (breath throw) of aikido. Certa regards aiki as an important part of daito-ryu but eschews the kind of fantastical interpretations described earlier. In the above-mentioned interview, Tokimune Takeda remarked that, “Aiki is to pull when you are pushed, and to push when you are pulled.” Certa met and studied under Tokimune prior to the latter’s death in 1993 and seems to share this pragmatic view. In his opinion, aiki is but one of the tactics a skilled fighter can use. At a mechanical level, it’s a particular way of meeting force that differs from simply opposing or yielding. He offers this illustration: The opponent attacks and projects his force against the defender, who momentarily resists. That makes the attacker react in the opposite direction, and the defender yields in that new direction using the force of both people to execute a throw. Rather than being a secret “no contact” power, it’s an application of physics, physiology and psychology. Conclusions Daito-ryu aikijujutsu and aikido are very different arts, despite their technical and historical links. Neither can be called better than the other, as they have quite different objectives. It would be wrong to assume that aikijujutsu practitioners are automatically better at fighting. A good way to summarize things is to say that aikido is a modern philosophy and way of life that can also be an effective defense system, while aikijujutsu is a classical combat system that can also lead to self-improvement. As for the exact meaning of aiki, it has proved difficult to pin down with a single definition. In fact, interpretations vary enormously from art to art and even from teacher to teacher. But returning to the question posed at the beginning of this article — namely, What’s so aiki about peace, love and understanding? — the true answer must be: Originally, nothing! Read Part 1 of this article here. About the author: Dr. Nick Hallale has practiced the Chinese and Japanese martial arts since 1988. He has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and taught for several years at the University of Manchester in England. He has written freelance articles about the martial arts for the past 10 years. The author is grateful to Antonino Certa and Giacomo Merello of Milan, Italy, for providing much of the technical information about daito-ryu. He also wishes to thank Dave Humm of the Higashi Kaigan Aikido Dojo in England. (Photos courtesy of Antonino Certa)

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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