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Is Aikido Effective for Self-Defense?

People who learn martial arts are often reminded that they should not use them violently, particularly to start combat. In some countries, people who have black belts in any martial arts are registered as wielding blunt weapons all the time, so in case of any combat situation, a black belt would always be at a disadvantage in the eyes of the court.

Regardless, one needs to be able to defend oneself. How does one go about doing that? There are martial arts and combat sports that one could learn in order to defend themselves. Is aikido one of those martial arts? It could be, but it greatly depends on the practitioner and school of aikido.

The True Spirit of Aikido is Not Violent

Aikido is not a violent martial art. It focuses on joint locks and holds which are supposed to use the opponent’s own energy to disarm them and dissuade them from continuing to fight. Most aikido practitioners are taught not to be violent and not to use force, particularly deadly force.

Attacking in aikido is uncommon. In a street fight, aikido might not be the best martial art to try and master. It could be helpful because one would know how to handle punches and kicks, but not if one starts fighting dirty.

Different Aikido Styles Might Have Different Results

The most commonly taught aikido style or type in the West is Shodokan aikido or sport aikido. It is called this way because it is the most prominent and the first aikido style to be used for tournaments and competitions. However, aikido tournaments and most aikido styles are devoid of striking techniques. 

This is problematic, particularly in a situation where one might be attacked by an opponent who can spit, throw groin kicks, shoot for the eye, the neck, or anything other considered ungentlemanly or unethical.

There is a relatively specific style of aikido called Full Contact Aikido which is taught in Japan, which adds striking as one of the main components, alongside traditional aikido techniques. This style of aikido might be more suited for self defense, particularly because they emphasize aliveness or free sparring, rather than scripted technique practice.

Aikido can be good for self defense but only if one is willing to disregard some of its teachings and moral views. Street fights have no rules and one needs to remain uninjured first, and then they can hold the moral high ground. Some styles of aikido are better suited for self defense, like Full Contact Aikido.