This is actually a very good question. The simple answer is, yes. Aikido (合気道) is a Japanese martial art derived mainly from the martial art of Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu in Feudal Japan. It was modernized by Morihei Ueshiba (O’Sensei) and refined by Sensei Koichi Tohei. Aikido is an effective means of self defense which was used, in its early form, by Samurai against multiple and single armored opponents on the battlefield.
In contrast to the “movie Aikido” made famous by Steven Seagal (an accomplished Aikido practitioner in real life), Kinokawa ryu is a form of Aikido which emphasizes the unconditional acceptance and blending of energy (Ki). Its focus is to achieve the unification of mind, body and spirit into one movement with total concentration and purpose. Kinokawa means “River of ki” or ” River of spirit”. Kinokawa ryu remains focused upon the application of Aikido as a usable martial art and as a path for spiritual growth.
Critics focus upon the lack of competitions in Aikido. Aikido is not a sport like Judo. It is a purpose-oriented martial art to which there is a strong spiritual component and connectivity. Critics focus on the nature of the attacks sometimes witnessed in dojos. While you may get struck if you fail to move during an attack, the goal of practice in the dojo is to prepare your mindset and that of your fellow students, not to injure them.
Aikido is a powerful martial art whose source of power is not immediately apparent. Unlike “hard” styles of martial arts such as Karate, which many of us have practiced prior to finding Aikido, the stance and movement of Aikido is relaxed and welcoming.
Rather than opposing an attacker with force or blocks, Aikido enters and blends with the motion of the attack, redirecting the force and using the attacker’s own momentum to advantage. This relaxed style should not lead one to believe that you could not use what you learn in Aikido should you be required to defend yourself or others.
So whether long or short answer, Aikido is, in fact, an effective martial art when practiced with the attention and dedication required of any true martial art. If you practice “going through the motions” in an absent-minded fashion then you may expect to perform similarly should you have need to use your art.
If, however, you apply the proper attentiveness and approach your practice with an open mind and an open heart there are no limits to the effectiveness of your Aikido.