T Nation

Yoshinkan Aikido

“The Martial Art of the Japanese Riot Police”

Really? A friend of mine has just been telling me about how he has just read a book about Aikido called Angry White Pyjamas, and how he now wants to study Yoshinkan Aikido. Apparently there is a school in Japan where you train alongside riot police for a year. So I did a google search and everywhere I look I see that Yoshinkan is the “martial art of the Japanese riot police”. Is that true? I mean, not knocking aikido, but you know it doesn’t get much respect from the MA community, so why are these tough bastards using it?

Yoshinkan Aikido is occasionally called a “hard” style because the training methods are a product of the gruelling period that Yasuhisa Shioda spent as a student of Morihei Ueshiba before the war.

In some elements it resembles judo and peices of karate, techniques are drilled over and over with very heavy empahsis on basics. But still lacks resisted training. If anything its absolutely insane conditioning techniques they sue that gets them the hard bastard rep.

Ueshiba went soft after the war and started intertwining harmony ideology into his aikido this is the style of aikido that is propigated around the world. With that aikido became nearly a form of dance in some cases with talk of ki nonsense.

The single person i had met who had training at Yoshikan for a year had a black belt in Judo and Japanese jujitsu. He was a bad ass grappler.

I did Aikido for a while. Not the Yoshinkan style, mind, but I expect they’re similar enough. Here’s my take…

A lot of traditional martial arts get a bad rap because of the lack of sparring, even of the controlled variety, in their training. While sparring is a useful tool for anyone who wants to know how to fight I think it is wrong to discount the values of purely static training.

Remember that Aikido is a method of self-defense. It was never meant for the octagon. Furthermore, plenty of dynamic fights evolve out of purely static scenarios. While I would never recommend the Aikido method of “redirecting the flow” of a punch, its techniques for use against grabs etc. are quite effective. I’ve used them before… they work.

That said, the primary reason the Japanese riot police are using it is one of tradition. And giving them no proper dynamic training at all is insane. Aikido, like most things, has its place, but using it exclusively is a recipe for disaster.

The Japanese police wouldn’t be able to stop two women fighting over tube socks in aisle 7 of Walmart, let alone anything that even vaguely resembles a riot.

There are clips floating around…one of which shows 4 officers RUNNING away from one guy with a stick, and another in which the Japanese equivalent of the SWAT team takes 24 hours and sustains 2 fatalities trying to extract ONE guy from a residential home.

No relation to Aikido, but I’m just saying…if the “Tokyo Riot Police” train in it, it may not be all that good.

(Yes, I am aware that Shinya Aoki was a cop here…)