View Full Version : Aikido Defense Against Shootfighting?

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08-18-2000, 04:43 PM
I have a question about how an Aikidoka would defend himself if someone shoots for his legs to tackle him so that he can wrestle him?

I have watched some Ultimate Fighting Championships and the best fighters are all shoot fighters who shoot for the legs and try and "tackle" the person and then get on them and try to submit them or beat the hell out of them.

My question is how would an Aikidoka defend himself against someone trying to shoot for their legs to tackle them and get on top of them?

08-18-2000, 05:25 PM
I've often asked this same question myself. The answers I receive always remind me of the importance of Ma Ai. Whenever a person tries to get your legs, make sure your legs are not there!

Wish I had a better answer,


08-18-2000, 07:42 PM
Ah, always an interesting topic! I have spent much time with BJJ people, and I have worked with this a lot. "Proper" ma-ai is not always easy or even possible with these guys when they are very good. You have to really know how to pivot at the right time, how to do your Aikido "a little lower", and how to surprise them. You also cannot give them reference, or they will defend against what they feel you do.

08-18-2000, 07:57 PM
if he goes for your legs, give him a nice atemi with the same limb he's going for, than apply some kind of osae-waza or throw on him.


08-18-2000, 08:03 PM
It's a delicate subject to me. In a way I sense weaknesses in Aikido against BJJ and maybe even some forms of kung-fu that use many fast low kicks, but I have faith that after years of training I will know how to react to them. Being in the early stages of my training I don't feel comfortable with the thought of facing anyone that knows BJJ well. It seems Aikido is really effective when your techniques are very good. Even O'Sensei said it wouldn't work unless done just right. Anyone can jump on somebody and do a crazy BJJ arm-lock with a little training....just a difference in the length of study needed?

The nice thing is, most people who study any martial arts aren't the ones that are out jumping people and starting fights. There's a mutual respect.

Hope that didn't come out too bad :P


08-18-2000, 09:19 PM
not a serious answer, but a friend who trains at a dojo shared by aikido and jujitsu classes once told me he thought a match between a member of each would result in the jujitsu student chasing the aikidoka around the mat trying to get him to the ground, and the aikidoka doing his best to evade :)

brian jones
08-18-2000, 09:39 PM
ATEMI & LOTS of it!!!

08-19-2000, 12:28 AM
I've always wondered this- how effective are leg based atemi versus shootkickers? Couldn't placing yourself that low relative to an attacker, and moving your face and body straight towards the legs, which can be used as VERY deadly weapons, be a really bad decision? If I saw someone shooting for me, I'd knee him REALLY hard in the face, and then use his somewhat less tight arms to do an osae waza. That is, if I was any good.

08-19-2000, 07:53 AM
As stated above, most who study budo won't go for the legs anyways... of course, a less brutal (on your part) way than stated above would be to simply move out of the way and let him hit his head on the pavement :).


08-19-2000, 09:59 AM
Even though the original question was about Shootfighting, considering it in terms of BJJ is a valid way to approach it because in many ways the entries are similar. If anyone is interested in this subject but has never experienced it on the mat, you might want to give it a try. I don't advocate it either way, just saying if you want to "know" then go try it. With someone good, a BJJ black belt for instance, you probably won't be able to do any atemi, or low kicks etc. This is just fact - they know what they're doing, and they train for it.

Many people found this out in the early days of the UFC - but none of them studied Aikido, unfortunately, because Aikido does, in my experience, offer some potential ways of dealing with this.

Not if anyone thinks it's a cakewalk, though. Attitude is a huge part of it.


08-19-2000, 02:55 PM
Isn't one of the first things you must do in aikido is to enter? Be sure to be there first or it's too late. Non resistance, keep a good state of mind not one on competition, If you see weakness in aikido then there is weakness in your aikido.
One of the best ways to learn how to deal with different kinds of attacks is to experiment with them in the dojo, ask a friend to train with you after class maybe? I do it everyday.

08-21-2000, 06:08 PM
Hi all,
Please don´t be offended. Seriously. I find it a bit comical that someone might suggest atemi as an effective method of dealing with BJJ or shootfighting (as someone has already mentioned). For the record, I´m in Brazil, train BJJ too, and can tell you that the first two things we learn how to do here is avoid getting kneed or punched severely in the face when entering an attack, and the armlock. Along that line... if the attack doesn´t connect causing at least minor head trauma... your going down! When a shoot occurs, the head isn´t usually in front of the knee but rather to one side guarded by the shoulder. Most Aikidoka just aren´t prone to turn kickboxer mid-attack and would probably go down while trying to punch or kick the incoming head. One consolation is that Aikido is extremely similar to JJ (speaking in terms of locks and joint manipulations, nothing else). Much of the Aikidoka´s arsenal exists in JJ. Ude-hishigi=Armlock kote-gaeshi=mao de vaca. etc. Aikido can work on the ground. The difference is that Aikido doesn´t train ground and doesn´t train leg locks. OOps... I rambled...sorry...
The point: It could be worthwhile to do something about a possible lack of ground-fighting ability. ;)
At your service,

Post Scriptum- There is weakness in everyone´s Aikido.

08-21-2000, 06:09 PM
chrisinbrasil wrote:
Hi all, The difference is that Aikido doesn´t train ground and doesn´t train leg locks.

Incorrect- Wadokai includes grappling techniques, dunno about the other organizations.



08-21-2000, 06:14 PM
Would you say that Wadokai is the exception or the norm Nick? Even if Aikido does train some grappling techniques (for it was not my intent to imply that ground was completely foreign to Aikido), it doesn´t come near the specialization or depth of ground work which JJ develops. I would encourage you to attend, you´d find it enlightening, as would most Aikidoka.
At your service,

08-21-2000, 06:20 PM
I agree- I never said Aikido specializes in ne-waza, I simply felt it should be mentioned that not all organizations ignore grappling techniques. I suppose, because the aim of Aikido is to control your opponent so that a fight does not need to be concluded on the ground.


08-21-2000, 09:50 PM
Just my experience:

At a party, this college wrestler found out I was an Aikido instructor. He kept bugging me, saying he wanted to wrestle. I told him several times I wasn't interested, that Aikido isn't a game to me, and that how well it did or didn't work in a sport environement was irrelevant to me. So I let my conscious mind ignore him and started talking to someone else. Suddenly he shoots for my front leg. Dumb ass. Any of you folks know what men-nage is? It's practiced more in Iwama period dojo, but videotape has a wonderful way of blurring lines of style. Before I go on, I have to say in this situation that I think a knee in his face would have landed me on my butt. To much force against force by the time I got it up there; and indeed, his head was turned to one side, so it wouldn't have been very effective anyway. Anyhoo, I stepped the leg he was grabbing (my right leg) back, put my right hand on the back of his head, left hand under his chin, (palm facing my right, fingers up), and turned my hips 180 degrees to my right while rolling my hands over, taking his head with them. Looks really nasty, like I'm about to break his neck, but is actually pretty safe. His girlfriend screamed, he was stopped mid flip by his back hitting a furnace. Not hurt at all, but definitely aware of what was what as I kneeled on his chest with a hand on his throat, explaining to him that I really meant what I said about not wanting to play games.

Some caveats: 1) He wasn't a shootfighter, he was a wrestler. 2) He was probably a little tipsy. I on the other hand was hammered.

Another thing. An earlier post mentioned that Aikido only works when it's done really well. My experience doesn't bear this out. I was using sloppy Aikido succesfully after about a year of training. I think sloppy Aikido works fine against the AVERAGE attacker. In the dojo, we work against the most dangerous possible attacker: someone with no thought but trying to kill you, who keeps coming even when things don't go his way right off the bat. Most people you'll have to defend yourself against outside the dojo (on the rare occasions you'll have to do it) aren't well trained, and usually have are simply looking for easy prey.

Ne-waza: never had formal training with it, but I used to practice a little with a judo club that met before my Intro to Martial Arts class at the college here. Never had a problem applying Aiki principles on the ground. I don't have any desire to become too comfortable being on the ground, because it's a lousy place to be when the bad guys friends show up. I prefer to stick a finger in his eye and get up as soon as possible.

Keith Engle

08-21-2000, 11:58 PM
keith I tottally agree with u. I have not had any out of dojo situations but I have spared. 2 places 1 of the times i am asamed of the other time it was in tang wei when we sparred ( it was not competion is was to help with our skills and find out weak pionts.) Ill go with when I was in tang wei. my partner and I had our stuff on and my partner really liked to kick. I found it most frusurating at first. sure I could block but i couldnt get in for the kill... so I just steped back then when he landed I quickly took teh two seconds I had and did a nice punch in the gut. ( I did not hurt him but i got kudos for it) all u have to do us have proper maai ( distance) and when he is done wiht the kick go for teh kill.

my second expirence I was at my aikido dojo.the teacher was not there ( he was on his way we clean the dojo so..) after cleaning a school friend came in andwanted to spar he takes JJ and likes to spar I told him aikido is not about competing. he would have no anvil. so I said okay. I asked if he would bow to the shoman and stuff we did and started. of course he had all these fancy kicks and stances. I just had didstans and looked at his ki and we didnt touch me much and I hit him a counple times and ( we did nto have sparring gear either.) then after he was a good sport and said good job. after thinking about the "fight" I thought I disoabyed O-sensi and was a little ashamed ( still am sometimes) and I thought how kicks work. if u have distance and they are either at the end ( like a sweep) and past u but leg still in the air they are only on one leg no balance u could do a Tenkan or urimi easly. or if they jut have their foot down after a kick u could close distanc and throw if they punch while ur at it all the better movment.

I think all u need is distance and stratigy.

08-22-2000, 01:08 AM
I've always wondered whether removing your legs entirely from the shooters line of vision might be a good idea(not by removing their eyes, despite the apparent brutality of my original post...I definitely need to learn more aikido, philosophically and physically)- what I refer to is sort of a Capoeira-like back flip- you'd have your legs in the air, they'd begin to go for your arms and you'd spring off of those. It'd take a lot of training, but might be possible.

Or you could fly away like superman...my ideas just keep getting worse and worse.

Alex Magidow, who will get aikido one day...

08-22-2000, 01:25 AM
chrisinbrasil wrote:
For the record, I´m in Brazil, train BJJ too, and can tell you that the first two things we learn how to do here is avoid getting kneed or punched severely in the face when entering an attack, and the armlock. Along that line... if the attack doesn´t connect causing at least minor head trauma... your going down!

The other thing we always forget is that it's damn hard to cause head trauma. We get a little too comfortable in the dojo and think our punches/atemi will always connect/work. Anyone watch boxers or kickboxing? Anyone practice kneeing people on a regular basis? Hell, how many of your really practice punching on a regular basis?

The other thing I think I've seen with BJJ is that they don't just drop and shoot. They wait until you are off balance or do things to get you off balance and then they shoot.

Hey, chrisinbrasil or Larry do they do any multi-attacher stuff? My first instructor was adamant about not going to the ground. He'd witnessed one too many bar fights and his take was that once on the ground you were a good opportunity for the spectators to join in with a kick or 2. I can't speak to that but my suspicion is that they must have a stand up component to the practice for multiple attackers that we don't see on the outside.

08-22-2000, 09:37 AM
I train in a cross-training dojo, and besides teaching aikido have been training extensively for over three years in Rickson Gracie Jiu-jitsu. I feel you can use aikido against a shoot almost any time. Keeping proper ma-ai is the key. When the shoot comes I tend to retreat(at a angle and not straight back) into shikko or even seiza (almost a hanmi handachi situation) I find that this is how I blend, by mirroring the attacker, and keeping my center lower than his. Just like in BJJ the person with the lower stronger base often can get the upper hand. One word of warning; if you don't have any ground fighting experience don't ever go into the attackers' guard! Sometimes it is good to remember the roots & history of aikido, namely aikibujutsu when it was a complete bujutsu.

Just my humble opinion,

08-22-2000, 10:25 AM
I am a big fan of the grappling arts and have been competing in them for years. Striking is not the answer. Strking requires planting your feet for a moment which is exactly what a grappler wants you to do. Even in high school wrestling guys learn how to take people down when kicked or punched. Also everyone talks about BJJ takedowns. I have done BJJ for 2.5 years, also wrestling and Judo,and their takedowns are all taken from wrestling. It is the millions of Judokas and wrestlers out there who have the good takedowns and should be feared. THE ONLY WAY TO AVOIN SINGLE OR DOUBLE LEG TAKEDOWNS IS TO LEARN HOW TO WRESTLE. THE ONLY PRACTICAL DEFENSE AGAINST THESE TAKEDOWNS IS TO SPRAWL, WHICH IS LEARNED FROM ACTUAL WRESTLING STYLE SPARING. So go join a wrestling club and learn. It is no coincidence that free style wrestler and greco-roman wrestlers have been the most successful no holds barred competitors. And if you watch the UFC videos striking has neverworked to avoid wrestlers takedowns.

08-23-2000, 12:22 AM
Forgive me, but some of the responses I've been reading in this thread worry me. Especially those in the vein of Chocolateuke's: I found it most frusurating at first. sure I could block but i couldnt get in for the kill... so I just steped back then when he landed I quickly took teh two seconds I had and did a nice punch in the gut.I'd hate to think that the ideals of aikido have changed in the minds of so many, but aren't thoughts of these nature with respect to aikido skills completely contradictory to the ideals set forth by O Sensei and all those who learned from him?

The fundamentals of aikido as an art involve dealing with aggression in a way which is undoubtably effective, and yet does not cause permanent harm to your attacker. Obviously if your life is in danger, your first goal should be to protect yourself, but if you believe in the full realm of aikido dogma, you would never find yourself on the offensive, or looking for "the kill". Blend with the attack launched on you and redirect it harmlessly away.

In my opinion, aikido was never meant to be a competitive art, and using it for sparring, or comparisons between the strengths and weaknesses of different arts is irrelavent. Others arts are meant to hurt, debilitate, and kill, and aikido is meant to be the antithesis of all that.

Another longwinded two cents from:

08-28-2000, 08:51 PM
No offense, but I have studied a variety of systems that train grappling/ wrestling and you guys would be smart to look into BJJ, shooto, or catch wrestling because those guys will find a way to take the fight to the ground. If you haven't trained there you're toast! It's really that simple. It's a different range of combat and you should really be prepared to fight kickboxing range, infighting/ trapping range (this is were you guys live now), and groundfighting. If you're not your opponent is likely to take the fight to your weak range. Hope you realize that a lot of the guys out of the mixed martial arts arena cross train, and may know what you know. Do you know what they know?

[Edited by naga on August 28, 2000 at 07:54pm]

08-28-2000, 10:06 PM
We have worked against this type of attack in our dojo. There seem to be a few good defenses, but some depend on mai-ai critically. We have found that IF you have sufficient awareness of the intent and can enter to the side, you can capture an arm in nikkyo and pin to the ground or throw away using the forward motion of the attack. Also, a type of "sacrifice" throw that will work is to fall under the attacker, throwing them over, much in the same way you might continue the motion of someone striking yokomenuchi. The timing again has to be exquisite and nage must not lay there congratulating him or herself but must immediately be up with good zanshin, for all you have done is throw the attacker from a low starting position.

One other technique we have practiced, while not exactly a traditional aikido technique, is to blend with the forward motion and capture the head/throat in a choke. Done well and quickly it can break a windpipe and quickly stop the attack. Must be very very careful practicing this one though. Not for novices.

We have also practiced applying aikido immobilizations from a ground position. It is possible and effective, but not something you normally practice.