First of all, no disrespect to anyone. I am not trying to get into a discussion of which art is better/faster/more effective/etc... I get that the quality of the fighter is more important than the specific choice of style.

However, I am curious to see some real-life examples of Aikido against Judo just so I can appreciate the differences between the arts. There are a lot of videos online that claim to be "Judo vs. Aikido" but very few videos actually feature reputable practitioners. Thus, it's common to see a master of Judo/Aikido vs a student of the other art.

I am wondering if anyone has come across a video of an actual sparring match between two seriously proficient practitioners so I can observe the differences. Again, I don't care at all about who wins/loses. My objective is to see two good examples of the styles.


6 Answers 6


Nearly all forms of aikido are predicated on avoiding any possibility of pressure-testing their skills against resisting opponents in free-sparring or competitive environments. Nearly all practitioners stick to demonstration and practice with cooperative partners. From this it naturally follows that few aikidoka will be caught on camera trying to apply their skills against anyone, let alone someone training in uncooperative grappling, for instance a judoka.

Top-level aikidoka in particular seem entirely content with practicing their techniques on unresisting high-level students who can be trusted to know the proper responses, as one would trust a stunt double to flop to the ground dramatically when the sound effects of a sci-fi laser are made. One trusts those students will not resist to even the slightest degree. There are well-corroborated accounts (e.g. in the book Angry White Pyjamas) of elite aikidoka purposefully injuring their students when they didn't sufficiently telegraph their attacks for a demonstration.

I would expect most judo-versus-aikido match-ups to go like this video: the aikidoka trying in vain to apply jointlocks against someone grabbing their gi, the judoka applying their arsenal against someone with no footwork, no gripping strategy for an uncooperative opponent, no throwing ability, and no sense of hip power. This of course would go differently if the aikidoka already had a solid base of judo (or wrestling, or sumo, et cetera) skill to fall back on. This, of course, was the original pipeline for aikido pedagogy: students were already skilled at judo, sumo, or karate, and only then attempted to learn secondary, low-percentage skills like standing armbars or tricking an opponent into throwing themselves.

This is all in addition to the plain facts of modern aikido pedagogy versus the modern judo pipeline. What do each produce, viewed broadly? How does training change the thousands of people who come through each style's dojo? It's fairly reliable that if you examine someone who has done a fair amount of judo, they received from it the ability to safely take a fall, maintain their balance against an opponent, escape bad positions on the ground, and maybe even execute a few foot-sweeps, throws, pins, and chokes. They're probably stronger, more fit, and mentally tougher than when they started, too, especially if they competed a few times. In contrast, what are the reliable effects of aikido on most students? Certainly they will have learned basic rolls and how to fall safely, though not necessarily from rough throws. They may be somewhat more fit. Beyond that it is unclear.

  • You may have slightly better luck with upvotes if you can provide some references. I know that I'd appreciate it. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 12:34
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    Understandable. The statements you are making are "common sense" for you. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 12:37
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    It saddens me that this is what people view Aikido as: nothing but fall for sensei. I have seen it. I have seen the exact opposite as well. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 13:43
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    @DaveLiepmann: My I am not being clear today... ^_~ Bad: dojo practice Aikido like a cooperative dance. Good: dojo that practice against uncooperative opponents and might have competition be it MMA-style or not. Sad part is that too many people Aikido only has the bad and not the good. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 15:55
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    @Sardathrion: As a practitioner and trainer of Judo (2nd Dan) I would say that a good dojo has to do practice with cooperative partners in order to get an idea of the technique and after learning a fundamental form developing it against uncooperative opponents. Your "good" basically has the problem of people not learning the techniques in a proper way (read: form) first, which is a problem in many Judo-Dojos especially regarding kids these days. So "good" would include both. Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 17:26

From my own experience, a match between judo/aikido starts at a distance doing Aikido and as soon as the distance closes, switching to judo. I have no link to videos as I never bothered filming any. However, this is what Tomiki found when he started to introduce Judo randori style play into Aikido: his students (who all knew some Judo) would automatically revert to Judo as soon as one closed the gap between the players.

Thus, any match between a judo-ka and aikido-ka will rely on whichever is the best at keeping the other at his distance. So, in grappling Judo wins. At a distance, Aikido wins1. This to be taken with a metric tonne of salt based on the skill of both players, what they eat that morning, and how long their hair is. ^_~

Tomiki always viewed both arts as complementary. He was a 8th dan in Judo under Kano and 8th dan under Ueshiba. In fact, Kano asked Ueshiba to take Tomiki as a student during the hell dojo year where Ueshiba aikido was brutal. I think that gives Tomiki some authority over both Judo, Aikido, and how they interact.

Tomiki wrote a paper on how ideas from Judo influenced the Aikido system (Shodokan) he created. In it, you can clearly see that the both arts are used at different distances: judo is close by, aikido is further away. Here is a diagram from one of Tomiki sensei papers on the subject. I found it in Nariyama's book which refers to it as The Development of Japanese Budo by Kenji Tomiki (1963) on page 33:

Tomiki Judo and Aikido

It clearly shows his thinking on the subject. Tomiki's Judo Appendix: Aikido might delve into the matter some more but I have not read the book so cannot comment and it is really expensive!

Tomiki introduced the tanto in Aikido randori because all his players were old hand at judo and he needed a way to maintain the aikido distance. The other reason was to give tanto a possibility to score thus leading to stronger attacks.

1: As an aside, this is the same way that that kicks/punches wins vs grappling (really biased source) if one player stays at the right distance. But grapling wins close in (yet another really biased source).

  • This is a very Japanese view of the martial arts. Basically, one has to learn three different budo arts to be able to function competently at unknown range. You can also see this with the development of Shotokan karate as well, the inherent grappling methods were discarded and only kicking and punching allowed to remain. The unspoken implication (which never quite made it to the west) being that practitioners should also practice judo/ju-jutsu as all of the Tokyo practitioners did. Known in Okinawan karate circles as "The Tokyo Problem". Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 10:34
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    @css1971 The question is about two Japanese martial arts so a very Japanese view of the martial arts is right on point. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 10:54
  • I agree. It's certainly pertinent and helps explain the current structures. Depending on your goals, it's just not necessarily a very fruitful or pragmatic one. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 14:46

Though they come from similar bases, Aikido and Judo are designed for entirely different purposes.

Judo was explicitly designed as a competitive grappling sport, grappling against other judo practitioners primarily within a dojo or competition hall, and it's techniques and training have expanded to fill this role.

Aikido was designed to provide a mechanism for self defence in an uncontrolled environment which would not harm an attacker. As such it purportedly handles common types of physical violence you might encounter from untrained attackers.

Applying one to the other will simply show that Judo was designed to deal with other grappling martial artists and Aikido was not.

In criticism of Aikido, as @DaveLiepmann I think validly points out, there is very often a lack of real testing of Aikidoka techniques against realistically resisting opponents. To me this is a more important failing than the design of the martial art against common attack types. It's also a club or philosophy specific failing rather than a problem of the art itself.

In criticism of Judo I would say that while it's a strong grappling combat sport, not all of the techniques are appropriate for use outside the dojo. As an example, virtually all of the sutemi waza should probably be limited to competitive use. Excluding any/all inappropriate techniques, would probably limit it to a far more conservative system, possibly more like the Japanese Ju-Jutsus it's derived from.


Short answer : Yes...and none of them turned out well for the Aikidoka. ...and a few more things...

  1. Judo was NOT designed to be a "sport". It was designed to be a jiujitsu that focused on training using modern methods and conditioning. Judo proved it's effectiveness as a combat art in the dojo challenges common in the late 1800's in Japan. Kano's team ANNIHILATED the competition. source: http:judoinfo.com source: http://kodokanjudoinstitute.org/en/doctrine/history/
  2. Japanese law enforcement do not use Aikido or any variant thereof. They use a form of Judo at the core of their hand to hand training that is oriented towards "street fighting" and combat in close quarters. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiho_Jutsu
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    Please provide sources for these claims. These assertions are dramatic and contradict public statements from credible authorities.
    – MCW
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 13:48
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    @Mark C. Wallace I would also like to know what public statements from credible authorities my previous post supposedly contradicts. I have been a Judo shodan for more than 5 years, which entails having a very firm grasp of it's history, and as such I would be very interested in your answer.
    – Ego
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 6:36
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    You should edit citations directly into your answer rather than leaving them in the comments.
    – mattm
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 7:08
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    @Sardathrion: Kano did not found Judo as a sport. He used Judo as a sport to work against the physical decline of Japanese people (in his time in the ministry of education) and to spread his system all over the world. Judo as such is made for education and open combat and - as correctly stated - proved itself against Jujutsu in open challenges with almost no rules but respect for the opponent. One of these against the best Jujutsu schools in Japan decided that Judo will be the main art for police forces to learn. I think your comment exaggerates a bit too much just as the answer itself. Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 14:42
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    @Sardathrion I have seen "Aikido trained with resistance"....and guess what usually is the result ? 1. Their concept of resistance pretty much amounts to performing the same nonsense dance...just a little harder. 2. It ends up looking like two toddlers flailing about as they desperately try to force their Aikido techniques to work. Funny how all the "effective Aikido" is no where to be found outside of internet forum anecdotes.
    – Ego
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 22:49

There was this mid-90's PPV MA show called "Fight Zone." It appears to be choreographed 1 vs. 1 fighting ... but the blood and no-holds-barred style appear real. So, I'm not 100% sure what to make of it. Anyhow, they had this "Badd Karma" challenge. This "Badd Karma" fighter was not big at all but was undefeated. They would pick all kinds of fighters around the world with varying concentrations and Badd Karma would defeat them all and make it look easy. His opponents appeared to not be able to handle Badd Karma's Aikido throw and lock techniques. He would wait for his opponent to attack and then parry/catch/throw his opponents to the floor rather hard. His defense was at an incredible advanced level. Then when his opponents weakened from all the throws or holds, then he could strike weakened opponents with great force. His opponents seemed ill-prepared for the defense of Aikido. They were surprised with Badd Karma's defensive techniques. Perhaps they should have studied Aikido to prepare for the Badd Karma challenge. He claimed to be an "underground" fighter who never lost a match.

  • Do you have a source/reference for this? Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 6:53
  • A quick Google search will inform you that "Fight Zone" was a 1995 worked fight show with MMA overtones. Basically, Professional Wrestling with more striking and less grappling. So no, the work of a particular actor's fight choreography says nothing about the martial art they're claiming to practice and its efficacy. Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 13:56
  • Well, I use bing.com (which is a better search engine than google.com) and very difficult to find information on the show. You can find matches or a few full shows on YouTube or other sites. It's strange you won't find much more information than that. In today's social media age we live in, I couldn't find any information on that guy who played "Badd Karma." He probably was a real underground MMA fighter who wanted to keep his identity secret, except for his Fight Zone matches to show his advanced self-defense techniques. They need to bring that type of fighting back. Real MMA. Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 20:48
  • They probably can't bring advanced underground MMA back because they would fight until the opponent was knocked out or incapacitated on the ground. You can't tap out. The combatants fight until one cannot fight any longer. A true test of real, advanced MMA. Because of this, this bloodsport fighting may be illegal, which is probably why it's hard to find information on this show. They probably confiscated everything they could and tried to seal everything about Fight Zone. Fighters were risking critical injury. Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 21:00

Aikido techniques will work against judo but, and its a big 'But' they get more dangerous the harder you train them. As noted by the other replies those who practice aikido often get injured if they learn a style (of aikido) that does the techniques hard, see angry white pyjamas. The version learned by the japanese riot police would be effective for example. However the successfully applied aikido technique would result in a broken arm. the point of all the elaborate falling is simply to prevent limbs being broken. for this reason you will not see this done in a training or friendly sparring environment.

many styles of aikido remove this aspect due to these dangers. As a result these versions are much less effective.

judo on the other hand is designed for competition. you can do the techniques safely so long as you are on a matted floor. for this reason judo will usually come of better in a friendly match.

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    -1 doesn't answer the question, pure theoretical speculation and claims of being too deadly to test Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 13:41
  • @daveLiepmann Have you ever trained in Aikido or with anyone who uses it? I think you are overly critical of this style.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:03
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    You seem to think that lack of competition is the same thing as lack of testing. I would argue they are two different things. One of the Aikdo dojos I have attended has had its own form of sparing with non complient attackers but this was hardly a test because although they resisted the technique but always telegraphed the attack. conversely the founder O-Sensei liked to challenge those from other styles (in his way). He certainly was familiar with many judoka. They didn't always 'spar' but he did techniques and they worked compliant or not.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 18:02
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    @HuwEvans It is very hard to provide any kind of real "proof" that O'sensei was able to use Aikido against resisting attackers. Even if he had some magical ability which we do not, Aikido as a martial art should be able to produce at least some living representatives who can live up to the claims. Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 18:19
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    There are also eyewitness accounts of Ueshiba teleporting and dodging bullets. There are modern eyewitness accounts of people levitating, of Bigfoot, of the time that Karate Jim popped the eyeball of a wrestler who challenged him (I actually heard that one). Eyewitness accounts of anybody are unreliable, of martial arts accomplishments even more so, and eyewitness accounts of a known cult leader like Ueshiba defeating all naysayers are extremely unreliable. Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 7:27

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