Getting people to fall over and/or pass out with no touch has long been the province of money-grubbing televangelists and the lowest form of dullard martial arts instructors, with students so needy and credulous one's heart goes out to them. The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, practiced identical fraud. He's the Benny Hinn or maybe the Benny Hill of martial arts founders - preaching piously about peace and integrity while teaching bunk to generations.
Soke Hinn, for comparison:
Ueshiba's No Touch takedowns in the video were far from an isolated incident. They are in fact characteristic of his teachings. And let's set aside the apostle of peace following fascists.
Consider the widely retold story of his dodging bullets. This account comes from one of his leading students, Gozo Shioda, in his autobiography Aikido Shugyo. According to this telling, six trained army officers with "Olympic-level shooting ability" were unable to shoot O'Sensei.
The six men then positioned themselves, aiming at Ueshiba Sensei. While staring at him, I kept thinking helplessly that twenty-five meters is a considerable distance, and was wondering what on earth Sensei could do from there.
One, two, three. The six revolvers fired at the same time and a cloud of dust whirled around us. Then, suddenly, one of the six marksmen was flying through the air! What had happened? Before we could figure it out, Sensei was standing behind the six men, laughing into his beard.
We all were bewildered. I really and truly could not understand what had happened. Not just me, but everyone present was so stunned that we could not find words to express our shock. The six inspectors were not yet convinced and asked if Sensei could do it again. “All right” he answered indifferently.
Once again, the six barrels were aimed at Ueshiba Sensei and were fired. This time the inspector at the edge of the group flew into the air. In exactly the same way as before, Ueshiba Sensei was standing behind the six inspectors before we knew what was happening. I was dumbfounded. That time I had promised myself to watch carefully in order to see exactly what Sensei was doing. But even though I had tried very hard, I was completely unable to see how he had moved.
Maybe you think this account is unfair, as it comes from a student of Ueshiba's. Here is another farcical account directly from the founder himself.
One evening while I was walking through the training grounds, I felt something strange going on. I felt that something was up. Suddenly, from all directions, from behind bushes and depressions many soldiers appeared and surrounded me. They started to strike at me with wooden swords and wooden rifles. But since I was accustomed to that sort of thing I didn’t mind at all. As they tried to strike me I spun my body this way and that way and they fell easily as I knudged. Finally, they all became exhausted. ... The other day I met one of the men who attacked me. ... While scratching his head he related to me the following: 'I’m very sorry for that incident. That day we were talking about whether or not the new professor of aikido was really strong. A group of us, hot-blooded military police types, were discussing the matter and decided to test the new teacher. About 30 men lay in wait. We were completely amazed that we 30 self-confident men could do nothing against your strength.'
And here is Ueshiba holding back four men with a wooden sword. This isn't mystical power or breaking the laws of physics, it's fraud.
No Touch knockdowns don't work. It's a fraud. Dodging bullets from half a dozen military marksmen didn't happen. It's a fraud. Defeating 30 men armed with wooden swords didn't happen. It's a fraud. And Aikido itself doesn't work.
While there are moves in Aikido that have the potential to work, like a front kick, the cooperative nature of the practice ensures that no practical ability is earned. The center of martial arts practice is active resistance, in countless forms. Without it, you cannot defend yourself effectively.
Aikido is a remarkable example of the human capacity for self-delusion. In the 100-year history of the style, no one has actually tried it for real and succeeded, verifiably. Literally, every single Aikido expert has a story about its effective use. However, mysteriously, not a one was captured on video. There is security cam and smartphone footage of wrestling, taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, judo, boxing, etc being used successfully, thousands of times. But for Aikido, the number is zero, while the anecdotes are countless. And it's far easier than that to determine Aikido efficacy.
There are thousands of mixed martial arts gyms worldwide. Any Aikido expert can try his art against actual resistance that includes competently executed punches. Go to any reputable fight gym, and explain that you want to test your art.
Then test it. If you have a phone that can record video, record it. If successful, you will become a pioneer, a giant even - the first in your field to verifiably try Aikido successfully against trained active resistance that includes competently executed strikes.
This method has been tried, by a wonderful, open-minded Aikido black belt from Lithuania called Rokas Leonavicius.
Rokas learned a lot. There is no earthly reason Aikido practitioners shouldn't do likewise.
However, please don't do this experiment on the street, either by choice or by chance. Failing in the gym leaves you at worst with a few bruises, and, hopefully, some useful confusion. Failing on the street can leave you without a life. If a martial art has zero value in the safe, careful confines of a gym, it is far, far worse than worthless on the street. Believing otherwise is yet another example of delusion.
The simple, sad fact is that Aikido, in fact, makes people worse at self-defense, as it stifles innate defensive responses, like keeping your hands up and digging for an underhook. Aikido, unfortunately, attracts a type of person whose sense of self gets caught up in the art to an unhealthy degree, which makes it extremely hard for adherents to see the evident truths about the style.
This has nothing to do with the importance of any given martial art being practical for self-defense. It has everything to do with integrity. Tai Chi isn't particularly useful for self-defense, but it is not a fraud. It is, in fact, one of the world's most popular and beneficial martial arts. It purports to offer adherents increased health and well-being, and delivers. Yoga too is a warrior art, but teachers generally conduct themselves with dignity and integrity, promising increased health and well-being, and delivering.
Aikido is, in fact, a beautiful art, of great cultural significance. But it is based on lies, which ruins all that it could be.
If you walk into an Aikido dojo and pick up that little trifold flyer, you will find the words "self-defense" and that is fraud, which is entirely unsurprising, as the founder was patently a fraud. To anyone who disagrees, rather than argue here, the time would be better spent verifiably trying Aikido against trained, active resistance that includes strikes.
Greatness awaits, or at least actual knowledge.