Karl E. Geis, Hanshi
10th Dan Aikido, 9th Dan Judo U.S.J.A., 8th Dan Jyodo
Often the question comes up as to the value of the martial arts in the pure art form. It often arises in terms of self defense and is confusing to many practitioners of the arts. One of the standard responses to this question is an attempt to cover up one's lack of technical martial arts capacity by undertaking the study of many other arts and methods of dealing with martial arts questions. This tends to act as a cover with which one masks the lack of true knowledge with size, strength and natural athletic ability or all three. It is possible to find teachers of some cleverly named martial arts systems trying to integrate Judo, Aikido, Karate, Sumo, etc. into one viable martial arts system in a attempt to be all things to all people and to answer all possible variables with an intellectually precise and convincing answer. These systems, when attached to the esoteric concept of brotherhood developed in the martial arts by Dr. Kano, (and used as the foundation theme of all churches), often stands up on paper but falls far short of the mark in real life.
Almost one hundred years ago, Dr. Jigoro Kano theorized that a normal person, by practicing a few principles over and over could in fact, defeat a much stronger and more athletic person who practiced a conglomerate of the arts.
In early days practitioners of the martial arts came from the strong athletic group of the community. They studied various methods of grappling, striking and bending of the joints. Knowledge was important but strength and natural athletic ability were paramount because little principle was understood at that time. It took strength and athletic ability to make the tricks work.
Dr. Kano realized that during certain periods of movement everyone, regardless of strength or ability, becomes helpless in various ways and that even a very weak person, by constant practice in a very limited area, can learn to take advantage of such weak moments, so that the weak person can easily defeat strength and athletic ability over and over. Dr. Kano further understood that even though one might study many variations, when it comes down to reality and the pressure of competition or self defense is upon us, we always use our favorite technique (Tokui Waza). Dr. Kano's theory was proven in 1886 in combat between Kodokan Judo and the best jujitsu schools of the day. Subsequently, Dr. Kano's concept of principle study was adopted by the Japanese police as their principal physical education system.
A short time later Master Ueshiba Morihei (a noted strong man and jujutsu expert) began to apply Dr. Kano's theories to his particular brand of jujitsu. He researched and subsequently developed his non-resistance art of Aikido. Both of these arts had as common ground brotherhood concepts as well as the quality of giving even the weakest student the ability to viably stand up to the strongest adversary with the confidence necessary to win. These pure art forms soon took the martial arts world by storm and have remained paramount ever since.
It is therefore reasonable to ask, why then do teachers strive to revert to impure forms in terms of conglomerates. I say impure forms because when one mixes Judo with Aikido with Karate, etc., the new form cannot be said to be any of these. Each follows its own principles and when grouped together these principles are often in conflict and are, therefore, useless. Further, the mixing of forms leads to a contamination of the Tokui Waza principle by diluting it. Of course if one is quite large, very strong and has natural athletic ability, these techniques can be made to look very viable and effective. However, when normal men and women are faced with a threat of overpowering dimension, they must act instantly and directly with efficiency and speed. This can only be accomplished by the internalization of a Tokui Waza by studying a pure art form. This is the only effective answer for those of us that are not overlarge, overstrong, or athletic.
We should be very thankful to the giant minds of the past such as Master Ueshiba and Dr. Kano, among other great thinkers in the arts who, through their discovery of the need for purification of the arts, made it possible for the common person (and as we grow old even the strongest among us becomes common) by pure study, to be able to achieve equal status with those among us who are gifted by natural size, strength and ability.
These men have given us a great gift. We would be foolish to throw these treasures away by reverting to a naturally contaminated process.
Let us then take the pure lessons taught to us by these remarkable men and go forward, spreading to the least among us this knowledge and the self confidence that can only be achieved by the internalization of a pure art form.
Karl E. Geis
Summer Clinic Newsletter
1980, Houston, Texas, USA