Aikido Pattern

Many Eastern martial arts rely more or less on the principle of 'giving way to superior force'. This can be variously described as 'turning the other cheek' or 'the great outer turning circle'.

The principle is to avoid confrontation or conflict by retreating from an obvious attack and to use the force of that attack in countering in an unexpected quarter.

Many Eastern martial arts are defensive as they believe a front-on attack will invariably produce an unexpected counter.

An AntiPattern springs an unexpected result from an obvious solution. Therefore it works like martial arts on a karmic (ie psychological) level.

In martial arts, if an attack is required (attack is the best form of defence) it should come from an unexpected quarter in order to avoid the 'anti-pattern' syndrome.

'Spring from the void, avoid strong places, attack weak points' -- SunTse ('void' = a place which does not exist (in the mind of the one attacked))

RM - computer programmer and 3rd Dan martial artist


Martial Art - a pattern language for fighting? (This is a little naive though - there's got to be more to it than that. Systematic thought has it's place though: some of the early founders of Ju Jutsu performed postmortems to discover the anatomic details that influence the effectiveness of their techniques.)

I would say that martial arts is the study of fighting while martial art styles are pattern languages. -- JasonYip (No Dans, JustaMartialArtist?)

I'm not sure why this is topic's called AikidoPattern, but there actually is an "Aikido Patterns" book of sorts, "Aikido in Everyday Life : Giving in to Get Your Way" by Terry Dobson (ISBN 1556431511 ), an original aikido dude who's now dead. What he did was adapt physical aikido techniques for mental/verbal use, to deal with communication problems and conflicts. This makes perfect sense with aikido, at least, which is pretty unique. The book was written in the '70s, in a self-help style - there's a more recent intro where Dobson kind of apologizes for the outdated tone. But the content's definitely interesting. I don't know where my copy is, but I looked it up at amazon - in stock, $12. - mm


This is a bit naive. Sure, every martial art teaches a set of techniques (some 'softer' than others), but it is the philosophy or the 'Way' that is of paramount importance - the techniques come second. My sensei told me I would become weak before I became strong when I first started out. What he meant was that I would learn a lot of techniques relatively quickly (2-3 years) but I wouldn't understand the Way for much longer. Armed with only the techniques I would be vulnerable (both physically and spiritually) because I would know what to do but I wouldn't know when and how to do it.

I once had the good fortune to study with a 6th Dan master who told me the only time he ever got into a street fight he bit the ear of the guy attacking him. The guy was so shocked he ran away. This master didn't consider a balance of forces as might be presented in a PatternLanguage as we understand it, he understood the Way to the degree that he knew exactly what to do to end the situation with the minimum of exertion and danger on his behalf and the minimum of damage to his opponent.

I wonder if there is a parallel in the way we apply pattern languages. Having found a pattern language that addresses our domain of concern, will we really know how to apply it?

PD - 1st Dan Shotokan Karate

In Go, a martial art with an incredibly vast PatternLanguage known as joseki, there is the proverb "A meijin [top rank] knows no joseki". At least one Go master, BruceWilcox, 6-dan-professional, teaches a way to learn Go without memorizing joseki, called EzGo ... but he does so only by devising a more economical GoPatternLanguage of his own.

So - there are many competing software patterns in the literature, not just the GangOfFour, but even folk who only use GangOfFour swiftly learn PatternsAreNotClipArt. Learning many patterns will give you some perspective, but only by using them until you directly experience their various properties will you develop the ability to use them to their best advantage. Or when to say, forget this, we can just bite off the guy's ear. -- PeterMerel

"he bit the ear of the guy attacking him"... this is related to ThreeLevelsOfAudience and ShuHaRi. -- AlistairCockburn


Aikido is a deep martial art. You cannot become a black belt in a year or two. The depth lies in not only what is taught, but also in the manner in which it is taught. Especially fascinating is that there are no screams, no kicks, no punches. In contrast with other martial arts, which ask you to tense up in the face of attack, Aikido tells you to relax when attacked, confident with the knowledge that the attacker will fail, and you will overcome him with something more than a physical energy.

There may be no kicks or punches in practice, but O Sensei is widely quoted as saying "Aikido is 90% atemi". (for the layperson, atemi are strikes of any sort). Also, an aikidoka's kiai may sound more controlled than a "scream", but that is to misunderstand the "screams" employed in other martial arts; they are the same thing, but styled differently. -- MikeAnderson

I'd like to know which martial art teaches you to tense up. I've practiced kendo for a long while (an offense driven martial art), and rule number one is that you have to stay relaxed. I've been told the same about Judo and Kung Fu. I don't understand how you could achieve speed and stamina while "tensing up". -- JeanPhilippeBelanger

You are right, Judo does have similar elements, because Judo and Aikido are both derived from jujutsu - which have similar concepts. And it is also known that certain styles of kung-fu (like pa-kua) talk about not meeting force directly but moving in circles. It is known that kung-fu has definitely influenced oriental martial arts. Kendo comes from the samurai traditions of fighting, and also has similar elements. However, the difference b/w Kendo and Aikido is - Kendo talks of attack, not defense. In Aikido, it is a cardinal sin to attack. You never make the first move. Martial arts that ask you to tense up are Karate, Tae-kwon-do and various derivatives. All such arts that talk about moving in a straight line, meeting force with force, require the capacity of tensing up. But those arts that do not require force, talk about relaxation.

The seriousness of Aikido has been maintained, and special steps are taken to preserve its status - no competitions. Many good martial arts have been destroyed by making them competitive, wherein a lot of dangerous elements of the art are removed, and the training class becomes more like a sports activity, instead of concentrating on the philosophy.

Some styles of aikido include competition, arguing that it is necessary to maintain martial realism. There is a great deal of debate about this in the aikido community. While aikido does not emphasize attack, effective aikido absolutely requires control of the initiative. You may not make the first move, but you control what first move the attacker makes. Saying that aikido is purely defensive is a radical oversimplification. Cf. http://www.aikidofaq.com.

Some of the wisdom seen in ExtremeProgramming today, seems to be present in Aikido (ExtremeProgrammingAndAikido). In the workplace, co-operative work produces harmony - which leads to a better product. ExtremeProgramming does a lot to remove negative competition within the team.

-- SomikRaha


Martial arts that ask you to tense up are Karate, Tae-kwon-do and various derivatives. All such arts that talk about moving in a straight line, meeting force with force, require the capacity of tensing up.

Karate requires kime, which is focus at the end of techniques. One remains relaxed and loose during the execution of a technique until the moment of kime. Karate styles like uechi-ryu do use tension in their training but not during kumite (fighting). 9 times world kumite champion Wayne Otto practices uechi-ryu and is very relaxed during kumite until the moment of impact, at which point you feel as though you've been hit by a car (I know this from many painful years of training with him).

As for straight lines; in styles such as shotokan there is an emphasis on straight lines during beginner training (< 1st dan), but if you examine the kata and basics carefully you will see many circular movements (particularly in properly executed blocking - something not taught well in general). In Okiniwan styles, seidokan, goju, etc there is a great emphasis on circular movements as a component of tai-sabaki and blocking to redirect your opponents force. You should not attempt to meet force with force, it is simply not effective.

At the end of this all though, I don't think that making analogies between programming and martial arts is particularly helpful. I have practiced martial arts for 25 years and programming for 20, and have found some similarities. But then I have found some similarities with playing music and solving problems in academic research. It comes down to focus, concentration and clarity of thought, which one finds in all aspects of human endeavour.

-- ChanningWalton


If two masters (in Aikido) face each others, there shall be no fight, because nobody attacks !

If two masters face each other, there is no fight because neither master presents an opening. To attack where there is no weakness is to commit suicide. This is true in many martial arts, not just aikido. If for some reason the fight is necessary, then one master - of aikido or any other art - might present a pseudo-opening to entice the other. The strategy is a little more complex than your generalization.

But in Judo on the contrary you have to attack, otherwise you lose the match (it's a sport: what do you think of a baseball tournament - for instance - where all the players sit down, meditating ...) They call it a PitchersDuel?

The point is that you can't compare those two categories of martial arts, but as far as I'm concerned I enjoyed the Judo practice (I played Judo: it's fun) a lot more than Aikido practice (interesting, but boring). (I practiced both: about 32 years Judo and only 3 years Aikido)


"every martial art teaches a set of techniques (some 'softer' than others) but it is the philosophy or the 'Way' that is of paramount importance "

Not all martial arts concentrate on "the way". Of the Japanese arts, roughly those whose names end in "do" ("way", the Japanese version of tao) (Ai ki do, Karate do, ken do, ju do, etc.) emphasis the way, while those that end in "jitsu" ("art") concentrate on technique (ju jitsu). Other martial arts are much less spiritual and concentrate much more on pragmatic technique and mechanics: Muai Thai (especially as it is taught in many western schools), orthodox (western) boxing, fencing and the Russian "System" are all in that camp.


Not to be nitpicky, but it's jutsu, not jitsu.. The former means technique, while the latter means berry, and is used as a slang for certain erogenous zones of women. And, as an analogy, do (way) is indeed used to describe a way that leads somewhere specific, jutsu (technique) is used to describe techniques to get where you want to, and po or ho (heavenly truth) is used in reference to the higher order of certain arts, and describes a state of being more than a place.

jujutsu, jujitsu - what's in a name: http://www.jujutsu.org.uk/articles/jujitsu


See Also: WuWei, MartialArtsAsSoftwareDevelopmentMetaphor

CategoryPattern CategoryProblemSolvingStrategy CategoryEasternThought

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