Four Symptoms of a Martial Aikido: Part II

In writing Part I of this blog, I suggested that a crowded mat was a symptom of a martial Aikido being transmitted. Some did not understand the reasoning contained in Part I, and so I would like to explain this point more fully here. By “symptom,” I am referring to a correlation, a market correlation to be specific. The relationship being noted here is not a causal one. The correlation I am noting is a market indicator stemming from the fact that overwhelmingly most adults that are seeking martial arts training are seeking such training either in part or in total for fight-ability. This market trend explains why there are overwhelmingly more men that train in the martial arts than women, why those men are younger more than older, and why most in the minority category of women that do train in martial arts have some notion that they are training in or for self-defense.

Relatedly, this is why those arts currently reputed to lead toward fight-ability have the largest share of the market population and why those reputed otherwise do not. This does not deny the fact that there are arts that market themselves toward health or wellness, for example, and that there are some people that train in those arts for those reasons. However, this is not the bulk of the overall possible martial arts market population - this by comparison is a fringe, a small one. It is a fringe as much here in the martial arts market as it is to the larger health and wellness market, wherein by comparison only a sliver of such a population looks to, for example, Tai Chi or Aikido and not to western medicine, therapy, gyms, supplements, and physical trainers, etc., for their health and wellness.

While larger market trends change relatively slowly over time, market anomalies are possible and can happen relatively quickly at a local level. Since most dojo actually only function at a local level, this fact becomes relevant – contrary to what Aikido federations are selling. To the point, for Aikido as a martial art in the popular market consciousness to reverse its current reputation as an ill-reputed art pertaining to the gaining of fight-ability, well, this is something that is going to be slow in coming and in fact may never come at all. However, a local Aikido school can gain a reputation amongst a local population whereby it is granted an exceptional status to the popular market understanding of the art: “There, they teach a real Aikido.” “There, they teach a hard style Aikido.” “If you don’t think Aikido is real, go there and find out how wrong you are.” Etc. Such a school is now able to tap into the larger market population. As a correlate that Aikido dojo, now able to pull from the larger market population, has greater potential for a crowded mat. This stands in radical contrast to an Aikido dojo that locally confirms what the popular market understanding already holds for the art: “It is bullshido.” Such an Aikido is only capable of pulling from the fringe populations within the larger martial arts market population. That is to say from a significantly smaller population. This in turn leads to probability landing on a more sparsely populated mat.

Because the larger market population of aforementioned martial arts consumers are men over women, and are younger people over older people, any Aikido dojo that has, so to speak, been able to “anomalize” itself at a local level, will also correlatively show a mat of men over women and/or younger over older. This correlative relationship was not well understood by some readers of Part I and was mistakenly taken as the noting of a causal relationship. Contarily, what is being suggested is this: Aikido dojo that are perceived as “martial” by their local population have separated themselves from the popular perception that Aikido is incapable of producing fight-ability in a potential consumer; such Aikido dojo are thus able to gain access to the overwhelming larger segment of the martial arts consumer population; that segment is predominantly male and younger than the other segments of the martial arts consumer population. An Aikido dojo having a crowded mat, made up predominantly of males, also made up of younger people, is showing the symptomology indicative of a dojo that has risen above or separated themselves from the popular position that “Aikido sucks.” What is not being said is that such a mat causes an Aikido to be martial or that such a mat causes a martial Aikido to be transmitted. Since we are talking about a symptomology, I would say inversely, based upon demographics alone – which is all we are talking about here at this point in Part II of this blog, a geriatric mat population made up of only a few bodies (3 or 4) is not indicative of the aforementioned exception status. Such a mat does not show the symptomology of a martial Aikido being transmitted. Might it still be such, yes. Is it likely such, no.

Another part of the blog that a few readers had issue with are what I would call a “mechanical relationship.” The relevant mechanical relationship does overlap with the market correlation mentioned above, but they are not perfectly identical nor substitutional. The mechanical relationship I am referring to stems from the fact that the skills associated with fight-ability are noted as “perishable” throughout the scientific and empirical literature: They are thus not developed in curriculums limited to or hovering around a few hours per week of available training. They are mechanically requiring official or unofficial curriculums providing 4-6 hours of training per day, six to seven days per week. Likewise, and here is the overlap with the abovementioned, they are requiring deshi capable of fulfilling such curriculums. This means a transmitted martial Aikido has a mat made up of younger people or older people that are themselves anomalous within their generation.

Looking at these two relationships involved in a transmission of a martial Aikido, a market correlative one and a mechanical one, a mat made up of a few geriatric-like moving geriatrics related to a curriculum that holds training only three days a week is by default not symptomatic of a martial Aikido being transmitted. These market correlations and mechanical relationships are not “reasons why,” as one reader understood the blog, such a dojo is not transmitting a martial Aikido. The market correlations and mechanical relations in a mat made up of a few geriatric-like moving geriatrics related to a curriculum that holds training only three days a week are simply symptomatic of a non-martial Aikido being transmitted. Might it still be martial, yes; however, likely not.