Here are a couple of ways Aikido practice is very beneficial for your ability to defend yourself in a violent situation:
– As with all martial arts, you become much more aware of what is going on around you. You also improve posture and confidence, which along with awareness makes you appear a lot less like the perfect victim in the street. Two kinds of responses to first contact are more likely to trigger an attack: if you are easily provoked or easily scared. Aikido practice promotes neither, it will train you to keep your calm and walk away if possible, and to respond with an appropriate amount of force if needed.
– You routinely practice with multiple attackers in mind. The most basic forms of movement are constructed to allow you to turn swiftly to face new opponents. The most basic forms of techniques are constructed so that you can use your opponent as shield against other attackers. One simple step in the right direction at the right time might allow you to have all of your opponents in front of you instead of on all sides, which can make the difference between life and death.
– Because you practice in agreement with your partner, you can practice techniques that otherwise would be too dangerous. In Aikido you twist and lock small joints, punch throats, groins, kidneys etc. If competitions were introduced, it is my belief that the art would gradually shift so that you started practice to hit safer parts of your opponent.
– But you also learn to produce an appropriate amount of force. Violence are more likely to happen in a lot of other situations than a street fight. If you are attacked by someone you care about, who are intoxicated, sick or just plain angry, you don’t want to harm them. Aikido is not about trading punches, it’s about controlling a situation at the first sign of conflict or even before that. This is one of the reasons it is the preferred martial art for many law enforcement officers and prison workers.
– Most Aikido techniques does not differ at all depending on if your attacker is wielding a knife, baseball bat or is empty handed. The patterns of movement are the same. For example even when you practice empty handed, you keep your opponent’s hands away from your body in case he or she is holding a knife. Research shows that in a street fight you will most likely never notice the knife until you start bleeding.
– A huge part of the training is about absorbing force without getting hurt, most prominently when falling to the ground. Thanks to Aikido, I have survived falling off of my bike on asphalt without a single bruise at least four or five times the past 10 years (one time very violently). You feel your body relaxing instead of tensing up and you instinctively protect your head from hitting the ground. It happens before you can think, and it is a great feeling afterwards when you realize how deep into your spine your Aikido practice have changed how you react.
– The practice is devised so that you can keep it up your entire life. You are probably as likely or more likely to be a victim to violence at later stages of your life and any skill you learn will fade when you stop practicing.
Last but not least, if you practice Aikido you start to handle everyday non-violent conflicts in a different manner as well. You learn to pick your fights because you are neither easily provoked or easily scared. You can keep your calm and your mind is not as easily blanked out in stressful situations such as when someone is very upset or you need to talk in front of 500 people.