View Full Version : Scenario Training

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09-03-2006, 02:39 AM
I was wondering if anybody on this forum incorporates scenario training into there weekly training schedule. I don't mean randori I mean actually reality based training such as replicating real life situations.

If so could you explain what you do?


09-03-2006, 03:18 AM
If it is what your trying to say then Cottier Sensei did it at some of his classes at Summer School. He was replicating some of the situations people can get themselves into with a knife attack. He wasn't doing the attacks from a tsuki to the stomach but instead from a more realistic stand-off. The attacks were from a hold to the throat, the back (with the attacker to the back) and to the stomach. Since thinking when a knife is pulled out at you, he is quite unlikely to use it, since he probably would av done it by that point.
My thinking to the post, I think it might not be what you are looking for though

09-03-2006, 04:48 AM
Thanks for the reply Wayne,

I can't tell how realistic the training that you are talking about was but from what you explained it sounds a lot more realistic than any other training in Aikido that I have heard of.

I'm not trying to ruffle hairs by asking this question I just wanted to see if anybody does actually train realistically and not just randori style training.

At training on Saturday we went through about 20 Min's of scenario training and it made me realize that what I thought was good technique and would work if I was attacked in real life wouldn't. My technique went down the tube. The reason for this happening (to my understanding) was that when we train we train usually with complying uke's even if uke is resisting in my experience it isn't really resistance in the way it would be in real life. I mean uke never throws punches that if they did connect you would be seeing stars or never really tries to attack with the intent of trying to hurt you. I know that this type of training isn't really advocated but from my experience on Saturday I really think that this should be. At least be Incorporated into the higher ranks training to some degree otherwise someone will be attacked for real on the street and go to apply a technique and it wont work because they don't really know what it is like to apply a technique to a person that is really trying to hurt them.

Any thoughts?


09-03-2006, 05:04 AM
What Cottier Sensei was also doing was with the Uke who was holding the tanto to the throat, the Uke was to respond to the movement that Tori was doing. By this I mean when Tori moved away from the throat hold etc, if Uke could see the intention to move then he was to step or slice; almost being realistic in nature. If you can get what I tried to say there.
But from my what my Sensei tells us when we do Tanto-dori is that there are two types of knife men. They are the "lunatic" stabbing ones, who just thrust. Then theres the much more dangerous "intelligent" ones. These wait for an opening in what you are doing e.g. your hand coming up; they slice your wrist etc.
Maybe instead of stabbing, with Tanto work you could do slicing movements. Which from my thinking is much more realistic to what could happen on the streets. A while back me and a friend were training in the situation described above (a slicing feeling in the attack) and I was Tori. And I couldn't get an opening in him, whenever I moved to his outside he would counter it, it also got me thinking.
Maybe this has helped you further, maybe not.

Amir Krause
09-03-2006, 06:15 AM
Never did it in Aikido. But after several years of Aikido, I practiced some TKD in parallel, with a young teacher who also learned some variation S.D. system and had some practical experience in LE. He did include some minor approaches for scenario driven S.D. I proved to be much better at it (keep calm enough to think tactically) then most others in the group, apparently due to my Aikido experience.


Gernot Hassenpflug
09-03-2006, 07:11 AM
Cottier sensei was my first shihan in South Africa back in 1990. Very impressive, scary hip turning power to compensate for the knees. Did he do the scenario where you're dining in a restaurant, a gunman (or more, I forget) comes in, and you all get down on the floor and hand over your wallets? :-)

Gernot Hassenpflug
09-03-2006, 07:14 AM
Oh wait, there's more! Terry Ezra sensei sadly announced at one point that he was probably not heading back to Columbia, because all the effort just wasn't worth it: his students (police) were periodically decimated by anything from execution, bombs, the usual combat, and car accidents. But I guess we're talking about less deadly scenarios here, eh?

Gernot Hassenpflug
09-03-2006, 07:23 AM
OK, I'll sober up. Matthew Holland sensei had a couple of drills for us -- and I'm not talking about the one where he keeps us unwary doofuses in seiza on the wooden floor for the duration of a morning class and asks us about our reasons for doing aikido, 1 hour of hell (bucket time, fainting time for some), before jumping up and charging us with a shinai to show us that no matter what, the blood can rush back into the feet in an instant! That story is just to illustrate that scenarios should be pretty brutally intense and honed down to one or two points.

He'd take a tanto and face off. One step forward, partner takes one back. Continue, fast, slow, faster. Cut hands if they're out in front, or legs. Trains to keep the body together. In light of recent training under Akuzawa, this seems like an excellent tool now too.

Another drill. Enter against a sword cut. Very simple. Very painful. Very hard to do. And it just trains the same body skill: keeping the body together.

I would say, keep it simple, change the scenario to whatever you like, and concentrate on just keeping the body together. It's the first thing that you've got to do and keep, and anything after that is bonus.

Just thoughts...

09-03-2006, 07:53 AM
Thanks everyone for your replies.

Wayne, the knife drills that you explained sound very good as uke seems to be more of an experienced person other than the average person on the street which would make your technique as Tori a lot more versatile and realistic?

Amir, after having that experience do you think that the reality SD side of training should be incorporated into weekly training?

Gernot, could you explain what you mean by keeping the body together, I think I have an understanding of what you are saying but could you go into it a little further?


Mark Uttech
09-03-2006, 08:14 AM
One training I have done is where Uke switches tanto to the other hand while nage is in the middle of doing a technique, shihonage, for example.

Gernot Hassenpflug
09-03-2006, 08:46 AM
"Keeping the body together" is a set of ground rules that control your balance and movement explicity. Using that to actually do a technique is a different matter, but self-awareness followed by movement with that awareness are the foundation for what may follow. Robert John has posted in the Training section about this topic, and both he and Mike Sigman are expounding the same thing via different approaches. I am in Rob's camp in practical training under Akuzawa sensei, but I can see the results of something like the method Mike Sigman follows in my aikido teacher, Seiseki Abe shihan.

L. Camejo
09-03-2006, 09:03 AM
Gernot gives some very good basic practice options. One major element of good SD is a solid foundation in practical fundamentals that you can easily, quickly and confidently deploy, not all the fancy, pretty waza.

Amir also hits upon an interesting phenomenon regarding Aikido experience and SD scenarios. Peyton Quinn of RMCAT (http://www.rmcat.com/index.html?fresh=1) who does scenario based self defence training courses has a backgroiund in Aikido among other things. Often the avoidance and tai sabaki drills of Aikido have proven come in very handy in RMCAT scenario-based training. This again pertains to what Gernot spoke of ("keeping the body together" while moving/evading).

Scenario training is not a bad idea for Aikido. We do it on occasion, but with controls so our partners can go to work the next day or come to the next class. Of course we also have the timeless dilemma of how real can you get without crossing the line where you severely injure your partner?

The question is though, how real do you want to get? Aikido waza properly executed in a real life scenario can easily mean severe harm or death for one or more people (including the person doing the technique). Even in courses like RMCAT the attackers are well armored and responses are limited mainly to effective striking and constructive use of the adrenaline dump etc. iow joint locks, chokes and throws are limited, with safety as a main reason along with the effects of adrenaline on fine motor skills.

Imo if one trains regularly and honestly in martially sound technique, does regular drills that train reflexive responses to utilize and place one in position for Aikido waza and utilizes randori training that ranges from low to high resistance including counters, grappling and strikes, then this will enable many Aikidoka to deal with very many scenarios of self protection. The first key however is to be real to yourself and not be deluded into the belief that anything that can be done under cooperative training, minimal or light randori can be done against a determined attacker in the same way.

There is a lot more to self defence than techniques as well. In fact, physical technique is the last option. Another question becomes, does one want to truly deal with self defence (which can have nothing to do with M.A.) or is one just using their M.A. to get some options to use when defending oneself. The two areas of studies are not necessarily congruent.

Just my 5 cents.

Amir Krause
09-03-2006, 10:42 AM
Amir, after having that experience do you think that the reality SD side of training should be incorporated into weekly training?

Well, actually, you should have understood from my previous post that I am not so sure with regard to the importance of scenario training if you have the right M.A. teacher who increases your awareness to the subject and your own imagination is developed enough.

We hardly ever practiced scenario training in Aikido. We had lots of drills against various and multiple attacks, and Korindo Aikido Randori is a free initiative type of training (the level of intensity may vary from very low and most sensitive to loss of balance, to very high intensity and speed and still very sensitive but now for opportunities of Kaeshi-Waza, Resistance is always kept at low to improve the sensitivity). I have also practiced similar Randori with weapons (Jo, Bokken, Tanto, Wakizashi, Bo or combinations). And had practiced Ran-Sen, with multiple assailants.
But Our scenario based training was at most limited to someone shouting while stabbing with a knife.

Passing a knife from hand to hand is a common tactic in Tanto Vs empty hand half-Randori (only the tanto wielder attacks, hence the "half" terminology), if one is too negligent, he will find the knife is stabbed at him while he fumbles with bad control and loses his Zanshin (I noticed someone complaining of such behavior while learning a technique, during Randori there is no question - this is to be expected!). I would not call this a scenario.

Yet, when I was faced with much more elaborate scenario based training, my responses and approach to most subjects was very different compared to others. I had the tendency to take care of my safety first, and think coolly on the means to achieve this, others tended to respond without thought.
Simple examples would be multiple assailants scenarios, you know they will attack you but not who will start - I tended to break from being in front of all and then and grab someone to hide behind.
When it came to all against all scenario, I took hold of a corner and attacked fiercely anyone who came close, preferably, from behind.
When we were asked to fight group Vs group, all other groups thought of matching who against whom. I thought of breaking the match and attacking all on one.
With a scenario of escalation, I naturally looked at not being in front of my attacker. This scenario was aimed at teaching a psychological point of not letting the other touch your body, this lesson I attribute to the TKD teacher.

Scenario practice is important if one has not been able to think and imagine for himself, or as a way to examine the situations you have imagined. When all you have to do is the latter, the difference can be seen from a far.

My experience has increased my confidence the way my sensei teaches is the best for me, and delivers not only the overt technical aspects but also some deeper M.A. content. I therefore do not find scenario based training to be vital.

Oh, and do not think I did not have my own problems with TKD. The stances, the sharp movement etc. were impossible for me to learn.


Camejo - I agree with your massage. S.D. is not technique nor is it fighting - avoidence pre-fight is the main S.D. element. In fighting Tai-Sabaki and reading the other are more important then specific technique...

09-03-2006, 10:56 AM
Gernot, I've never had the pleasure of that scenario. Sounds very interesting. The one Sensei usually plays is the muggers or the one when you are out in India and attacked. Either you are close to your hotel and can afford to give him your belongings; or you are quite a distance away and have to defend yourself. A very interesting man to study under, eccentric might come to mind.
Matthew Holland did something like that at this years Summer School, he asked everyone in the Dojo (all 4th,3rd and 2nd Kyu) what they thought Kokyo-Ho was. Although not the hour but it was for some time.
I think when doing Tanto-dori, Jo-dori or Tachi-dori; the level of training instantly will step up. Possibly in the mind of your Uke, he will almost prevent himself from attacking as powerfully or dedicated as he would with empty hand. So maybe ask your Uke to give a committed attack; possibly an over-committed attack. Gernot gives a good exercise, with the Tanto. It gives a good feeling towards the ma-ai, and the focus power needed in weapons work (also Aikido as a whole).
My Sensei says and also Kanetsuka Sensei have said that, for example with a tsuki attack; if you are training against a well developed Karate man then he won't just hold his hand out and wait for you to a Kotegaeshi or a Irimi Nage. Instead he will instantly withdraw his hand ready to initiate another attack. Maybe you could to things like this where your Aikido attacks are not held or statically immobile, this can also apply for things like Mae Geri etc.
Hope this helps you further, trying to apply this isn't all that easy.

09-05-2006, 06:22 AM
Thank you everyone for your replies, they have been very informative.


09-05-2006, 06:47 AM
Hi Ben, only just saw this thread.

I have recently revised the 1st semester (we have a university club) to incorporate scenario training specifically targetted towards self-defence. We are ordering heavy duty head guards, mitts and chest guards (also need boxes and gum shields).

The objective is not to necessarily to have sparring matches, but to incorporate realism into the response. For in a recent multiple attack I was recently involved in I realised that the attackers may try to get as close as possible in a psuedo-friendly manner before initiating an attack simultaneously (usually from the side) - very different from the usual randori scenario.

In addition, verbal pursuaion and the attack ritual will be part of the training. The key being to try to diffuse the aggression or respond appropriately (even with pre-emptive striking where necessary).

I haven't done it yet but here are the scenarios:
1. aggressive female
2. a man physically abusing his partner in the street
3. male ego trip (usual pub brawl type abusive behaviour)
4. a spilled drink
5. suprise attack (2 on 1)

These all require very different initial responses (prior to combat). I believe the pre-combat response is extremely important and although aikido does help (in remaining confident, calm and neither aggressive nor submissive) I think for self-defence, more training is required in this.

'Geoff Thompson - Dead or Alive' is the best self-defence book with regards to this (rather than a million and one stupid techniques).

I think it would also be useful to generate additional scenarios from real experience and documented responses rather than supposed or idealised responses.

- the reason for the head guards is two-fold:
i. the first scenario people will be in, anything goes and extreme violence will be expected (in terms of attack) - although this will be strictly controlled and as much protection as possible (and also of similar size/weight). The reason being - to get the students to feel the incapacitation of the adrenalin rush. This will only be done once.
ii. following this we will focus on incorporating strikes and throws together* but not overdoing scenario training since skill levels need to be improved though simple aikido training, and I want people to understand the hard sudden violence that is more realistic than the sparring sessions seen in competition (twhich obviously we cannot do too much of).

*atemi is 90% of aikido, but really it is hard to get that distraction unless we practise with real atemi and are able to incorporate it quickly into aikido. I sincerely believe in the standard aikido training method, but I think realistic (but protected) training has enormous potential benefits. Aikido has worked many times for me, but I don't think many students realise just how scrappy and different it is outside the dojo and what the purpose of the standard training method is.

09-05-2006, 06:53 AM
P.S. I hate to go on, but I think this relates to the yin/yang aspect of aikido. It is true a karateka (or indeed many people) will not hold there arm out. What is required in reality is timing and/or an ability to strike to take attention from their arm. If someone realises you want to grapel, they will try and keep you at a distance and jab. This is another reason I am also teaching newbies to strike very hard and effectively (which hopefully will also make them better uke).

P.P.S I was going to include a link from youtube on the myth of realistic knife defence which, at the end, lists the numerous top martial artists killed by knives in the street - however it has been removed (possibly because of some of the grusome images). I have defended myself against a knife attack, and aikido did help (moving off centre line mainly) - but I count myself very lucky (I still ended up with a small slash on my neck and wrist).

09-05-2006, 07:17 AM
I remember watching Steven Seagals Path Beyond Thought and in there Sensei Larry Reynosa stated something like; that in some places you see the punch stop right in front of the face. Which to me says an unrealistic attack.
I remember a friend of mine saying he was training once with my Senseis most senior student, and they were doing techniques from Tsuki. He was saying that the senior punched him in the mouth or nose, he ran out to the toilet to clean up. The one that punched him came out to see if he was OK and said if you come back in and you don't move I will punch you again.
To me that is the sense of a realistic attack, where the feeling isn't to the face but it is instead has the feeling of going straight through you. This I think is important for the correct development of a persons attitude, where he instead of panics; he relaxes into it.
Kanetsuka Sensei constantly talks about the scars that are in his head from tanto, bokken and jo attacks given to him by Chiba Sensei. Possibly people are moving away from strong and committed attacks because they might be afraid of getting injured. Maybe, who will now?

09-05-2006, 07:26 AM
Hi Ian thanks for your reply,

this statement

The objective is not to necessarily to have sparring matches, but to incorporate realism into the response

is exactly what I was trying to get at. I feel that in the majority of Aikido training that I have seen and experienced has had this element missing. I also believe that this element is and should be a vital part of Aikido training today. The reason I say this is that now days these scenarios (and many more that haven't been descibed) are more frequent and the possibility of them happening are very high in most peoples lives. Not only that but it also brings your Aikido to a different level of intensity as the adrenaline is actually flowing from fear of being injured/hurt (fight or flight response). In training with out the inclusion of scenario training how can you learn to deal with 1) the adrenalin and 2) the feeling of a totally non compliant attacker?

I think that the scenarios you have mentioned would be great to start with and work up into others as the students progress and feel more confident in dealing with this sort of training.

I also agree with you that verbal de-escalation, pre emptive striking, awareness, pre fight indicators and even learning how to run fast are all very important for SD as well and should be incorporated at some time during training. But in saying that, how would you incorporate them in to training with out impeding on the "traditional" Aikido training (I have used the word traditional only to distinguish between the two training methods as I couldn't think of another way to differentiate them).


09-05-2006, 08:44 AM

One of my teachers use to have a practice session we called "Elevator Techniques" , where you and your partner would choose a small section of mats and do techniques only in that small area. It was a lot of fun and very eye-opening to what you can and cannot do. And later, with a good uke, you can actually practice in a small hallway or in an elevator..that`s what we did and it was so enlightening.
I have recently began training again and another class I am instituting is that every Sunday we would have class at a school or building and work out our techniques between parked cars, in stairwells..anyplace that people might have to physically use Aikido movements.
We had a nightclub owner/bouncer in our class and occasionally we would set up the dojo like his club ( chairs, tables and lots of innocent bystanders) and act out scenariors. Our first lesson was always to run away ( even in randori we loom for the first safe opportunity to escape) but when tecnique had to be used, it became very interesting.
We also practice with several participants standing around you playing "the family" and U must protect them from an armed assaliant, multiple attacks, or drunken, drugged states. Sensei has even occasionally made us hold a baby doll as if we are carrying a child and engage in multiple attacks. All this outdoors in a real enviroment. It is very hard but it also shows the reality that we all have to deal with and takes away much of the fear that paralizes most people in a confrontation. We even worked on family disputes where we attempt to calm situations which I loved because that is what I have always believed Aikido to be...an martial art designed to bring peace to conflict.
Mind you, that your partners must have their ukemi first and foremost as they will be falling on stairs, concrete, cars, into and onto others. This made it for more of an advance class for us but it gave the other students something to look forward to and they were allowed to participate as Nages only..this also helped the advance students train even more on their ukemi. Give it shot, start VERY SLOWLY and safe.....it`s agreat add-on to regular classes.

09-05-2006, 09:02 AM
I am very wary of knife scenario training. I just do not see it done very well. Most knife attacks I've seen on video or read about are the prison stabbing type. Basically a guy walks up behind you, or engages you without ever showing the knife or taking a offensive posture. Then he stabs fast a close range. Most people do not even know their attacker is attacking or has a knife until they are already stabbed. In most other cases the person pulling the knife really doesn't intend to use it, so the situation can be diffused without force.

The best training I've seen to date was dog brothers sparing where one of the partners would have a knife tucked away and pull it at random and go on a stabbing spree. It shows how the knife shows up without warining turning that boxing style block you were using into a cut up forarm or a stab in the gut.

I'm not a big fan of most senario training though as I find it to become even more choreographed then kata and turns into some kind of action movie sequence. I'd perfer to just add more randori.

Amir Krause
09-05-2006, 09:34 AM
The best training I've seen to date was dog brothers sparing where one of the partners would have a knife tucked away and pull it at random and go on a stabbing spree. It shows how the knife shows up without warining turning that boxing style block you were using into a cut up forarm or a stab in the gut.

Pulling a tanto in the middle of the Randori, I love doing that :D
And it is true, even at low to medium intensity level the other is rarely aware of the knife.