What we practice in Aikido, is trying to make the fake go away. Surely we are practicing, but every time we grab our partner’s hands, legs, lapels, we can escalate it, or de-escalate it, dependent on the proficiency, of the practitioners. That is why we always practice grasping, gripping and grabbing. Aikido hence, is technically a ‘full contact’ martial art.
Of course when you proceed further, some contact are not necessary, that is where we begin to proceed to explore the principles of timing. But we never advance to a no contact stage. All Aikido techniques are born out of a contact, connection is key. From static, we move to dynamic.
That is why Aikido can never be a sport. Some martial arts has evolved to a ‘sports martial arts’ where full contact is detrimental in points. So people train to pretend a hit, but never hit. Some martial arts, where a kata or form is practised, a person can train to a very high level, to look as if a person is hit without hitting a person. Without as much as a contact, you can never know how it feels to be hit, or hit someone. There are some choreographed martial arts kata to demonstrate in great drama how a martial arts school take 2-3 attackers in dramatic high kicks and loud punches. These moves are perfected through countless of hours in training not to hit. the punch some so close so that the effect looks real, and yet it is faked. No one gets hurt in such a closely choreographed fight sequence. The point is, the design of the entire sequence is for dramatic effect. It was never designed to be real and effective in a fight.
The moment you step into Aikido, you are trying your best to lose that fake. Sure sometimes we do give ‘charity’ in our falls and locks, but as you progress in the years, you realise you would want to lose that hypocrisy, you realise that you grow in confidence in the moves and you can actually go a little more full on with your partner. Hence, Aikido, is designed to be real, there is little or no room for pretense. Everything we do has to work, one way or another. Everyday we train to make it real, and a little less fake. It was never designed for choreography, we need the moves to work, whether in full contact or a timed one. It cannot be fake, it cannot be faked. To be dramatic was never the first purpose of Aikido, but the result of a well trained real time Aikido movement can be unwittingly dramatic