Does Aikido work
I want to write a pro-Aikido answer to this question.
I have been training in Aikido for 2 years. I studied a traditional Karate for 4 years. I have dabbled in fencing, kung fu, and another japanese arts. None of which qualifies me as an expert, and I won't pretend to be one. But I will share my experience and why I believe Aikido is the best martial art have ever studied. Oh yeah, and it teaches you how to be a samurai (sword and staff fighting etc.).
And for proof that Aikido is awesome, before I share my experience, I present to you the following news article from the BBC.
There are 4 rules I have come to learn that make up good Aikido:
Rule #1 - find a safe place. The great advantage about being in a safe place, is that it usually means you are also in a place to be able to strike.
Rule #2 - protect yourself, whether you are the victim of an uncomfortable position, or defending yourself from attack.
Rule #3 - be flexible to the situation at hand and recognize the opportunities that an attacker presents.
Rule #4 - how to apply the right force to the situation at hand, whether it be an out of control friend or child, or an attacker bent on ending your life.
When you train in Aikido, there are a lot of misconceptions in the beginning. But, then that is true of all martial arts. When you start, if you have good instructors and experienced class mates, they will do their best to not frustrate you. That means people will be "easy" and fall even when you do the technique wrong. Why? Because if it takes you 5 minutes the first time you do a technique to move the person, then you will never come back. There are very few people with the necessary stubbornness to see this as a challenge to overcome.
Second reason you'll see this happen? Because the second rule of Aikido, is always protect yourself. So, we fall, or tumble, or roll, when we might have been able to resist and somehow defeat your crappy, inexperienced techniques. But, I ask this question, how does that help you learn? Once you begin to gain muscle memory, then we give you resistance. On a sliding scale. My favorite instructor has this mastered. When he thinks you are ready to be challenged, he can be like an immovable mountain, but he will always scale his resistance to his student.
And not being able to perform the technique on a newbie? That is usually more about the lower ranks. If your instructor can't perform it on you, then yeah, that could be a problem. Some techniques, though, just don't work on certain body types. At least not unless you are a master!
Aikido is an art that applies principles of logic, physics, and physiology. It is not about being faster, but being "right". It is about reading your opponent, moving in balance, and being flexible in thought. This is an art that takes a lifetime to master.
We also practice what is called (forgive my poor spelling) Juwaza and Rondori. This is where you are in the middle of a circle and attacked at random by the people surrounding you. This is an exercise to allow you to reach peace within yourself, learn to anticipate action, and be able to respond under pressure. In the first, everyone comes at you one at a time, in the second, there are no rules.
Aikido is not a "dancing art" and does not have the drills and katas that most other martial arts have. It is a partner art. It involves learning how to give and receive energy and how to maximize the application of that energy. I have met a variety of people from different dojos as they have come and gone, passing through our doors. There are variations in the techniques and the applications, but the principles, the "rules" if you will seem to be universal.
Lastly, in illustration, I have a classmate who is a police officer, he has shared many tales of using Aikido to subdue suspects and how it has saved his life. I have a classmate who works with special needs students. She has told me how she has used Aikido to bring down (without injury) dangerous students with and without weapons.
All that being said, Aikido will change the way you interact with others. It doesn't require you to be aggressive to prove a point, and it doesn't require you to "give" energy that you haven't already received. If you are considering Aikido, and have gotten all the way through my rambling answer, then please find a good dojo and train!