Before his passing in 1994, 10 dan Aikido master Gozo Shioda was living proof that size truly doesn’t matter. At a height of about 156cm (5’1) and weighing in at around 45kg (106lbs) he could still be seen overpowering several larger men at the same time through his training and skill of manipulating his attackers’ own power.

One particular high point of his career was during a visit by then United States Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1962. During the demonstration he invited one of Kennedy’s bodyguards to take part as well.

Before watching the video, beware of its title “Aikido Master Gozo Shida [sic] vs JF Kennedy’s SP” as it’s not JFK but RFK and the guys he’s spending most of the time in the video with are not all the president’s men, but Shioda’s students. The bodyguard comes in at the end.

They’re also not really fighting but demonstrating Aikido techniques. The touch of showmanship to these demonstrations leads many viewers to scoff at Aikido as a whole calling it fake. At the end of the video, however, we see Shioda overpower Kennedy’s guard first by pushing him back until he fell down and then holding him by the wrist.

At least we kind of see it through all that film grain perhaps it’d be better seen in this better preserved footage.

That film doesn’t show the original takedown, but Shioda still seemed to easily subdue the 190cm (6’3), 100kg (220lbs) guy in a matter of seconds. But it still seems as if this demonstration started with Gozo asking him, “Okay, first stand like this, and then grab my hands like that. No, no, not like that. Like this. Right, let’s fight!” This is a technique I wouldn’t advise in a real brawl…unless it’s against me…and my bat.

That’s not to say Aikido is a load of bull, it’s probably just another form of martial arts with its own set of unique strengths and weaknesses. The PR just seems to blow it out of proportion sometimes, but you got to put butts in the dojo somehow. In this video, an MMA fighter who was suspicious about these demonstrations himself goes in search of whether Aikido is just for show or truly effective.

He seemed convinced in the end but nevertheless, the debate rages on over whether Aikido is a real fighting style or not. Naysayers of the art argue that if it truly were so great, then why aren’t MAA leagues full of Aikido champions. Supporters counter that by saying Aikido wouldn’t work in a controlled fight such as MMA, and that it’s more designed to neutralize someone who truly wants to hurt you without rules which forbid eye gouging or hitting below the belt.

Without entering into years of training for it, I couldn’t really say how effective Aikido is. I’m not taking any chances though, so instead I signed up for this new style called Yanagi Ryuken (Willow Dragon Fist). This looks right about in my wheelhouse.

Source: Kinisoku (Japanese)
Videos: YouTube – Marphy Ken, ariacher, SAMURAI, kita h