Over the past 23 or so years I have studied taekwando, karate, judo, aikido, hapkido, and jujitsu and I can honestly say that of the martial arts I have experienced, aikido appears to me to be the best self defense there is. The following are a handful of aspects of aikido that I think make it particularly suitable for self-protection purposes.
- Ukemi – the art of falling safely – particularly the simple side fall and the forward roll. Proper reflexive falling skills will likely save you from many more hazards during your lifetime than any other martial arts technique or skill. Check here for a collection of good articles on proper falling.
- Evasion and the aiki brush-off – the ability to efficiently get out of the way of an incoming force and push the opponent off of you or push yourself off of the opponent. This is the fundamental skill in aikido, practiced in every class as the foundation of every technique. To read more about the aiki brush-off, check out this article.
- Shomenate and aigamaeate – the first two striking techniques taught. These make wonderful strikes, separators, and set-ups for other techniques. We have acid tested these two techniques in resistive, fast, relentless knife randori (free play) and found them to be the simplest, most effective techniques in the syllabus. Here are a couple of good articles about shomenate and aigamaeate.
- Defensive groundwork - One of the common complaints about aikido is that there is no groundwork. This is not true. In all aikido there is suwariwaza, which is a limited form of groundwork, but in our aikido classes we practice a wonderful defensive groundwork system for aikidoka which I have personally seen proven outstandingly effective in combat in the street with a single aikidoka against multiple attackers.
- Re-calibrating hyperactive reflexes so that you don’t make your situation worse through spastic motion when you are surprised. This is sort of a surprise, or side effect of aikido training. The aikido learning method tends to make your reflexes less spastic so that your reflexive movement is much more efficient and effective. Here you can read about a practice that showed this aspect pretty well.