Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Matl Sensei Says...

Matl Sensei is a great Judo player and teacher. I believe he is 8th or 9th dan in Judo, and believe me he deserves it. He is short man around 70 years old. He speaks in such a heavy Czech accent I can only understand every two or three words. I have a great respect for his approach to judo and his technical ability.

He seems to appreciate aikido, but has a useful critical eye for it too. Here are some quotes from the master himself on aikido.

“I like Aikido. It is perfect Judo technique. One thing though – in real life perfect Judo is very hard to do. In real situation in order to get technique you have to put a foot in the way.” (referring to the difficulties of pure Te waza)

"Tai Chi is meditation by your self. Aikido is meditation with some one else. Judo is meditation against someone."

Matl sensei has another quote when he asked the Round Rock aikido teacher to shiai with him. "You aikido guys need to shiai every once in while. Otherwise you are just sitting on the couch, eating pizza and smoking cigars." While this is a somewhat cryptic and humorous quote, especially if you know the man, I think it makes a point.

I think there is a theme building in Sensei’s quotes and observations about aikido training. I am hearing him say in the subtext of his quotes that aikido is a great art, but a lot of aiki training methods hover around some of the gritty difficulties of a martial encounters.

I think his observations are interesting and worth including into your own evaluation of aikido. I think we aiki artists can justifiably rationalize some of his observations away, but returning to face them every now and then is probably wise.


  1. Matl Sensei is a truly profound Judoka. I've had the great opportunity to train with him on a few occasions, and frequently end up with a lot of notes to implement later. A very fine technician.

  2. Very true. We study a martial art, and we should probably remember that yes, there is art, but it's also "martial", it's combat, it's war. It's gritty, it's not necessarily pretty, but there it is, big as life. I don't think judo or aikido needs to be put to that test (full-on shiai) ALL the time, but neither should it be ignored or blown off.

    It's interesting, too, what he said about putting a foot in the way, because the longer I do both aikido and judo, then more I sense a natural tendency in aikido to do just that at certain points! I try not to do that to my aikido-only partners, though (seems a tad rude...)

  3. I truly feel that Sensei is a bridge that spans
    that chasm that often exist between Aikido and
    Judo. A chasm many have fallen in!

    He taught me there is one way to do any martial art,the right way.