View Full Version : A Tragic Tale.

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alex padilla
10-13-2006, 03:46 AM
Hi to all,
The story that happen to Brent's torn bicep inspired me to write this story to let those who had injuries know that they probably don't have the worst of it. And that recovery is a matter of time away.

Around 1995, Alfred, Jun and I were best of friends going from one dojo to the other. The dojos were not only of Aikido but of Judo, Karate, Kickboxing and other school related to or pertaining to the martial arts. Even with all those other arts, Aikido remains our staple food when it comes to thought and technicality. The combination of Judo and Aikido when it comes to ukemi can greatly improve one's breakfall.
The creation of a beautiful ukemi, in my point of view anyway, is that of Alfred's.
For two years, up to 1997 we have experimented upon kote gaeshi with uchi mata, sankyo with kata guruma, koshi nage double the weight throw etc. All those techniques performed with grace and with power.
Among the three of us, Alfred is the most unbreakable.He can be thrown anywhere, any which way it doesn't matter to him.

August 1997, After a two hour session in the dojo. Jun, Alfred and I decided to still go on and practice. Since we just finish a session, there is no need for us to experiment or mix techniques. It was a simple jiyuwaza that ensued. We did these only in pairs. The first one is between Alfred and I. The second jiyuwaza of six techniques is between Jun and Alfred. This is were accident strikes.

Jun performs a very basic ryokatatori ganseki otoshi while Alfred is being cooperative in ukemi. Upon lifting Alfred and going for the throw, one of his foot slipped on the sweaty matted floor. Alfred then went down the mat, top of the head first. I could say that he can take that fall but the problem is while going downward he carried Jun's weight with him and the outbalancing of Jun creates a forceful downward momentum directed to Alfred's neck muscle.

The handful of persons left at the dojo scrambled to find first-aid, call dojo doctors, we have 3 Aikidoka doctors but none was available at that time. We then use the gi to wrap Alfred's body tighten by the belts and the ironing board to carry him over a 10 seater cab. On the cab, upon reaching the hospital since most students in the cab with Alfred are teenagers, the taxi driver even has the cold heartedness to ask for more payment because he said he is not an ambulance, the students being young added extra amount plus two candies.

The doctor diagnosed Alfred, if I remember correctly, The C3 of his neck got fractured and his C4 got dislocated.

Today, nine years later: Alfred is in a wheelchair. His legs and knees can not move except for spasms that happen always. His arms can not be used properly, he just flails it to get attention. His hands can't also be use to grip, it has lost that power. The only way he can eat independently is by having a strap on his wrist with a spoon, so he could gain little control of his food.
After all these years he is still helpless.

As for Jun, he never forgave himself. He either burned, sold or gave away all his martial arts belongings. He vowed never to enter or even look at any dojo. The last we saw him was 8 years ago then we have no news of him whatsoever.

This story inspires me to develop more in Aikido, everytime I see Alfred, it is the only thing he wants to talk about Aikido, Aikido, Aikido he never gets tired of it. And that no matter how injured you are, time heals all wounds.
Practice but with Safety always in mind.

Alfred always says:
Kamusta practice? (how's practice?)
Wag kang titigil, (don't ever stop,)
Laro lang ng laro! (keep on practicing!)

To all of us,
Keep the Aikido spirits high.


10-13-2006, 04:02 AM
Hey Alex,

Thanks for telling this story. It really puts things in perspective.

By the way, I had my surgery and I'm recovering very, very well.

Peace my friend.


10-13-2006, 09:13 AM
Wow, it's a sharp reminder that everytime you step on the mat you take your life into your hands. MMA, Boxing, BJJ, aikido, it doesn't matter.

raul rodrigo
10-13-2006, 09:37 AM
Theres a video of an Alfred Atienza taking ukemi on YouTube. Is this your friend?


10-13-2006, 12:11 PM
Reminds me of something in Angry White Pyjamas the book.
He talks of an aikidoka who had a heart attack while training i think. His wife sent a letter to the dojo thanking them for the chance to die while doing what he loved most in life, his aikido.

jason jordan
10-13-2006, 03:11 PM
Wow, it's a sharp reminder that everytime you step on the mat you take your life into your hands. MMA, Boxing, BJJ, aikido, it doesn't matter.

My sensei always reminds me that we trust each other with our lives.

When taking ukemi for me or his other students he'll say "I trust you with my life" "This is aikido keiko"

I pray that God will heal Alfred. I have often thought about if something were to happen where I might not be able to train,.....It does help me to see how much I love this way called Aikido, and helps me to empathize with Alfred.

Glad to see him still encouraged, He will train again.

alex padilla
10-13-2006, 05:19 PM
Hi Brent,
Glad to hear you're on the road to recovery.
Keep it up!

Hi Raul,
Yes that's Alfred. Five months before the accident.

And thanks for the prayer Jason.

Roman Kremianski
10-13-2006, 05:25 PM
That's quite a sad tale Alex. Reminds me why I train in Aikido and how I should be going through with it it. Thank you for sharing.

10-15-2006, 11:45 AM
Yeah I remember that day. Upon hearing the news we gather up the group and went to the hospital. Upon seeing us he smiled, we were the evening class. Alfred's and Alex's group were the afternoon class. We see and train with each other between classes. They stay after class and we come in early for class. Sunday classes we meet too. Yes aikido even on a Sunday, we have no life.
At the hospital we were very sad, specially when he told us what happened. I remember Rey, a physical therapy student that time saying" OK lets start your therapy". then he started massaging his hand up to his arm. We were a tight group, and still are. Maybe I'll see you next year Alex.


10-15-2006, 12:02 PM
Theres a video of an Alfred Atienza taking ukemi on YouTube. Is this your friend?


Here is the link ...


Super ukemi, I could only wish to ever look that smooth :)

10-16-2006, 05:18 AM
That is very unfortunate, also for Jun. I suppose it illustrates that the intention, and the response to an event is often more important than the outcome of the event itself. i.e. if Jun had done it on purpose or had no remorse we'd be thinking what a beast he is, whereas now I'm sure everyone has great sympathy for him. Makes even more sense then, that Brent should be wary of a dojo that has no remorse over the injury.

Also, some people - no matter how life tries to break them, always stay strong in spirit. Maybe Alfred has learnt a lesson in aikido some of us will never aquire.

I think its very valuable to hear about aikido injuries, because it will make us more vigilant in trying to prevent them.

Peter Goldsbury
10-16-2006, 07:08 AM
Do you still regularly practise ganseki-otoshi (I assume that this waza is similar to that regularly shown by Isoyama Shihan, and not that which appears on the front cover of one of Saito Shihan's books)?

Best wishes, especially for the uke,


EDIT. Perhaps one should also ask, just for the context: would the aftermath have been different if this had happened in the US or UK, or Japan? As a resonsible dojo chief instructor, I have the possibility of litigation in mind, at the behest of the victim's family and to make clear responsibility in an impartial venue like a court (always apart from the expressions of sympathy we might feel for both uke and tori).

alex padilla
10-16-2006, 11:52 AM
Goldsbury Sensei,

I think, I could be wrong though, that Isoyama Shihan's version is a Kata Guruma that falls on the front and not on the side? The ganseki otoshi in one of Saito Shihan's book is exactly what took place. It was a shoulder mount by nage and the uke is belly up in which uke is suppose to flip to land on his feet, unfortunately Alfred didn't complete the flip.

As for litigation:
Alfred, how should I say these, is economically challenged and Jun is twice in monetary discomfort as Alfred.
The reason we could maintain practice then is because we can pay a monthly of 300 pesos or equivalent of 6 dollars today, if my math is correct, and we can attend class at a maximum of 12 sessions per week, so we maximize at least 7 times a week, that was then. Alfred's wheelchair and meds were from charity.

Anyway, I just hope that one day he walks up again. His last visit to the doctors some years ago said that the damaged nerves have already healed and that maybe someday he'll wake up, and then sit, and then go to relieve himself.
I just wish that's true.