AIKIDO in MMA
Article by Rik Ellis
UK1 MMA Light Heavy Weight Champion 2012
MMA / Aikido - Cage Fighter
I am often asked " Can Aikido techniques be truly effective in MMA ?" - My answer is always the same "YES" - First you need the spirit and courage to apply them. I am trying not to be disrespectful here, but to be honest I have rarely seen an Aikidoka that could adapt themselves to MMA.
Right ` The Unbendable Fingernail `
Left: ` The Ki Finger fails against an un-harmonious attack.
Most Aikidoka lack the fighting spirit as Kenshiro Abbe Sensei effectively taught in the 1950s - The spirit of which I was fortunate to inherit from my father.
Kenshiro Abbe Sensei
Founder of KyuShinDo
1959 - It was late evening as Kenshiro Abbe Sensei left the Sandwich Street dojo in the King Cross area of London.
Sensei was just a few minutes ahead of the following students.
For a moment the yobs looked at each other a bit bemused, the leader spoke up again demanding “ Kick yer wallet over ere mate or else “ – Abbe Sensei calmly replied “ No ! – I am prepared to die for my wallet – are you ? “ – with that the yobs again looked at each other, unsure what to make of this man. Without speaking they all took a few steps backwards, with a few defiant words of abuse they bravely retreated into the night.
“ No matter your pretence – you are what you are, nothing more “Aikido during the last thirty years or so has gradually degraded from a martial art into little more than an art.
The inception of Aikido to the UK in 1955 by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei was the style of Traditional Aikido which consisted of hard physical training with kicking and punching as an integral part of its core spirit and strength, running was also included, along with push-ups on the backs of the wrists depending on grade of between ten to two hundred each session.
In modern Aikido there is little sign left of that fighting spirit as the martial aspect has given way to what they call `Aiki love` hard exercise is a thing of the past, giving way to nothing more than jumping up and down on the spot and flapping their arms up and down like a demented pigeon
Kenshiro Abbe Memorial Event - Crystal Palace London. 2005
with my father Henry Ellis.
Much to the irritation of many in the Aikido community I am the only professional MMA - Aikido / Cage fighter in the UK with a serious background in Traditional Aikido.
Modern Aikido receives a great deal of criticism from the public, more so from fellow martial artists, the ridicule is most often totally justified.
I too have been vilified by some in the Aikido community for my involvement in MMA, coming from the safety of their computers and pseudonyms, as it has been with my father I have never had a visit or a challenge.
My Aikido is with the ` Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido`. I train MMA with ex-champion Suleman Raja of the `Prize Fighters Gym` Farnborough.
My fight conditioning is with the `Fight Science Gym` Aldershot with Nick head-hunter Chapman. I am a dan grade in Traditional Aikido.
Steven Seagal Sensei
There is a very interesting Steven Seagal video on the "Ellis Video Blog" - Click - Steven Seagal
The question is " an aikidoka who has done strong practical aikido, can also do dancing aikido ----- the student who has only done dancing aikido cannot do practical aikido ".
There has been a great deal of interest in the transference of Aikido technique and movement into MMA with the influence of the action movie actor Steven Segal sharing his knowledge with Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. Seagal with his strong off screen dynamic style of Aikido, a style which is very similar to that taught to me by my father Henry Ellis 6th dan AikiKai, the last of the original UK Aikido pioneers from its inception the 1950s, my father is a direct student of the legendary Budo master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei from 1957.
I admire the Aikido of Steven Seagal as seen in his early training videos showing his positive style of traditional Aikido which is little different to what he . Actually demonstrates in his movies. Seagal Sensei is a man who shows Aikido to be a martial art, there are many in the Aikido community that do not approve of Seagal’s powerful tight body control techniques. As opposed to the greatly exaggerated flowing dance like movement we see today. Many students of modern Aikido have a pseudo religious approach to their half hearted training, they claim that Seagal portrays Aikido in a violent light, whilst they portray an art of peace.
My father met with T K Chiba Shihan for a pub lunch recently, Sensei said to my father “ Most Aikido clubs are little more than social clubs “. He also said how saddened he was to see how modern Aikido has been watered down, my father replied “ Sensei, Aikido is no longer watered down, it is vaporised ! “.
Kicking &amp;amp;amp; Punching in Aikido
I began my Aikido training at five years of age with my father both at home and in the junior section of my
fathers dojo at the ` Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido`.
My father taught me the art of 'Traditional Aikido' as it was taught to him by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei in the 1950s and 60s. From an early age kicking and punching was an integral part of my Aikido training as it continues to this day.
Modern misguided Aikidoka say " there is no kicking or punching in Aikido! " Believe me, there is in my fathers Aikido as taught by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei ( See my photos and fight videos ).
I don’t see Aikido !
These same sad people bleat on my MMA video comments, " I don't see Aikido." The reason they don't see Aikido is because they are looking for their own stylised choreographed dojo Aikido where two people are harmonising with each other. In MMA my opponent has no intention of harmonising with me.
Anyone who has had to use Aikido in a truly hostile situation as I have, will tell you that it looked nothing like the Aikido training in the dojo, one needs to be able to adapt him / herself and their technique to any situation that arises. For me, my Aikido is in my mind and my body. Most Aikidoka work together so softly and caringly they could qualify for a spot on the popular TV show ` Come Dancing `..
The Need to Adapt
I make no pretence of offering myself on a plate to my opponent / assailant with a normal stylised Aikido defence posture, the biggest mistake one can make in the cage or street is to offer your opponent your leading leg or arm, you will be down before you know what has happened, and all their Aiki love will be pounded out of them. ( welcome to the real world ).
Most students of Aikido have their favourite uke ( student ) to practise with, that goes a big step further with senior teachers who travel across country or even abroad, they will take their personal uke with them, WHY ? My father when taking a seminar in the UK or abroad would use as many different students as possible. My father told me that when the Doshu Kisshomura Ueshiba came to Britain many years ago , he insisted that he must have his personal assistant with him, this came at some great additional expense to the organisers, yet there were many high grade teachers on the seminar who were quite capable of taking ukemi ( break falls ) from the Doshu. ( Doshu: world head of AikiKai Hombu Aikido ).
Aikido - Ego and the Birth of the Plastic Samurai
Make no mistake, I respect Aikido and its principals. I do not respect the people who over the years with their inflated grades and ego's, they have tried to change what was once a respected martial art into some quasi religion to suit their own inadequacy or needs and purposes. These people use this BS to avoid a real situation or a conflict where they may one day need to apply some of the vaporised BS they have been harmonising and teaching for years. If a student like myself have a strong spirit they are often condemned as having ` a fighting mind `.
I believe it was Confucius that said
“ You build your house or dojo with bullshit it will eventually all fall in on you “.
Gladiatorial - As real as it gets.
Your opponent in the cage is for real, he is more real than your street assailant, the difference being, the MMA guy is a professional fighter who has no intention of trying to harmonise with you. You will not see me turn my back on my opponent, I will, and do, apply wrist locks and arm bars, but you will not see any large circular movements, if you open your closed Aikido mind to some reality, you may just see a fighter who is "very" relaxed before and during each fight. Look a little closer, you may just see some very condensed body contact techniques - irmi nage or an irimi tenkan to put my opponent into or off the cage wall.
Effective transferable technique
In ground work training I have often submitted my opponents with Kotegaesh ~ Nikkyo and Sankyo very effectively. My father, who came from Judo to Aikido, says that the best of the early Aikido masters came from Judo, such as Kenshiro Abbe, Tadsashi Abe, Masahilo Nakazono, Kazuo Chiba, the first British student of Aikido was Ken Williams Sensei who was a 3rd dan Judoka! These teachers knew how to apply their bodies to maximum effect in close contact with tight techniques. Judo is one of the basic foundations for MMA.
Ring a Ring a Rosies
I often read of Aikido students who actually believe that their pure mind and body will help them in a real `street situation' they are going to be sadly disappointed. Don’t believe me ?, just wait, whether they want it or not, trouble is never too far away in this day and age. If you are a student of Ki Aikido don't wait around for your assailants to fall down before you touch them, they don’t know they are supposed to do that ! And please, don't tell your street opponent that Aiki is love, when you wake up you will realise what a really stupid mistake you made.
Hug a Tree Today
Sadly Aikido now attracts so many of the tree hugging types, with Aikido to music, the idiotic bizarre examples of Aikido movement demonstrated with multi coloured ribbons complete with flashing strobe tube lights complete with music. Ki Aikido students being taught to breath through their toes. Ki students trying to knock apples off each others heads with the power of their Ki. They believe their fantasy technique is real, claiming " The first duty of an Aikidoka is to protect their attacker ", your first duty is to protect yourself, make sure your opponent does not get up and attack you again .are these people really so deluded as to believe they can totally control and dominate the outcome of any hostile situation ?.
I find it embarrassing to watch the ` no touch ` throws that are only effective on their own students, It is strange that in the early days we simply had ` Aikido ` until Koichi Tohei broke away from Osensei Ueshiba creating his own style of Aikido ` Ki Aikido ` . Ki has always been an integral part of AI-KI-DO.
Quote by Gozo Shihoda
Gozo Shioda Sensei summed this issue up with the following statement, reflecting what I said earlier about lack of spirited training.Gozo Shioda, [Quote:]
Today’s aikido is so dimensionless. It’s hollow, empty on the inside. People try to reach the highest levels without even paying their dues. That’s why it seems so much like a dance these days. You have to master the very basics solidly, with your body, and then proceed to develop to the higher levels…. Now we see nothing but copying or imitation without any grasp of the real thing…. [Unquote]
My father has said many times that he would never have studied the Aikido that he sees being offered today. Aikido is a "martial" art and should be protected from the Plastic Samurai.
My father would say “
Do not come to me looking for spirituality – get that from your local church. Do not come here expecting me to make you a better person – that was the chore of your parents and school teachers. If it’s the mystical you are after, see Houdini. I am here to teach you the martial art of Aikido.”
The Samurai spirit is all but gone.
I have added the following message with my father’s permission, an extract from an email from my father’s friend Jiro Nakazono Sensei the son of my fathers teacher Masahilo Nakazono Shihan.I am 60; though I was too young to be a part of the "Pioneer Generation" of European Aikido, I lived right next to the warriors who at each demonstration they gave invited any challenger on the mat from the public.
When my father was invited to the Foreign Legion in Marseilles with Tadashi Abe sensei, they were met with two big soldiers hiding behind both side of the door with Baseball Bats... They were true Martial Artists, and their students were aspiring to follow their footsteps. Some did, and some chose a more civilised way, which is today's Aikido.
I met Henry Ellis sensei on the mat for the first time in 2007, I believe he was over 70, and he gave me a Nikyo I felt for 4 months afterwards. It was a completely different generation.
Jiro Nakazono ( 45 years in Aikido).
Rik's MMA Blog
Article " Is Aikido a Martial Art ? " - Click > Is Aikido a Martial Art ?
Kenshiro Abbe ~ ~ Masahilo Nakazono ~ ~ Masamichi Noro ~ ~ Kazuo Chiba
Henry Ellis 6th dan AikiKai Hombu - Co-author of "Positive Aikido". Relates stories of direct training with the early Budo Masters from 1957 _______4 Articles - featuring 1st Kenshiro Abbe Sensei - 2nd Masahilo Nakazono - 3rd Masamichi Noro - 4th TK Chiba_______
CLICK the ARTICLE of YOUR CHOICE
1st - Article: Kenshiro Abbe _____“Trying to Catch the Wind”_____
Click Here - AikiWeB Article - "It Had to be Felt".~ Kenshiro Abbe - "Trying to Catch the Wind".
2nd - Article: Masahilo Nakazono ______”A Man of Peace and Pieces”______
.Visit Aikiweb Click here >- Aikiweb - Nakazono Sensei Article
3rd - Article: Masamichi Noro ______The White Tornado__
Visit Aikiweb - Click Here - "The White Tornado"
4th - Article: Kazuo Chiba ______Two Handsome Young Men___Click here - "Two Handsome Young Men"