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DaveO
08-27-2002, 06:44 AM
Hello, All!
At our dojo, we use Sunday as an informal day; once we bow in, stretch and do hitori-waza and ki tests, we do basically what we feel like. That means, trying new techniques we saw/read about, developing uke positions for jo/bokken kata, practicing harder ukemi, basically having a bit of fun with Aikido.
Last Sunday, we were discussing what we wanted to do with our instructor, and we decided what we would really like is to work on aikido as street defence; i.e. take the dojo-useful techniques and apply them to real-life. So, starting next Sunday, that's what we're going to do.
I'd like a little group advice from this forum though; what's the best way to start? Just standing up and having uke rush nage with a full-force charge (which is where we want to go eventually) is a recipe for disaster, so we need to 'tone down' the start, but where would be the best level to start?
My own thoughts would be to ease in with increasing resistance to techniques from uke, increasing until he's struggling violently. We tried this already and it was quite sucessful, demonstrating a) how effective ikkyo can be when done right, even when uke is doing his best to get out of it and b) how easy it is to break ikkyo if it isn't done right.
Anyway, anyone have any ideas on this subject? Many dojos out there center more on street situations than we do, so I'd like to hear from your experience.
One thing I'm going to insist on is the following 'stop' rule: while tapping out or saying "Ma-Te!" are the acceptable ways of stopping a technique, anyone involved can say "STOP!" at any time if they see/feel something that could become dangerous. That applies to uke, nage, the instructor, and anyone watching - from a variety of viewing angles, someone may catch something those engaged may have missed.
Thanks, friends!
Dave

chadsieger
08-27-2002, 09:30 AM
Firstly, I think that this is a great idea. I personally feel that this aspect of Aikido is lacking in too many dojos. This does not mean that anyone has to change their focus, rather I feel that self-defence is a larger portion of the art then many would admit.

Having said that, you are quite correct Dave, jumping right into full on attacks is not an advisable way to start. I believe that to begin to teach self-defence in Aikido, you must start with footwork and body position.

A great self-defence drill to start on developing these traits is as follows:

1. One nage and one uke

2. Uke delivers a shomenuchi (start slowly)

3. Nage steps accordingly (tenkan, irimi, sidestep, ect.) The nage can use their hand to divert the attack, but the focus should be on good foot work and body positioning. At the end of the attack, is nage more stable and in better position to technique?

4. Repeat as uke sees fit.

Once the body and feet are working, the hands may be added. Try your best to blend with each attack.

This is a good way to begin down the road of self-defence in Aikido.

Hope this helps,

Chad Sieger

Erik
08-27-2002, 10:58 AM
Interesting stuff. I've been kicking around a number of ideas as well, albeit on a mellower level than an all-out charge. One of the things I struggle with in this art is the "one attack, one technique" concept which underlies most of the practice and many of my thoughts center around this, rightly or wrongly. I'm not sure the following is street-real, so to speak, but it is outside normal parameters for the majority of classes I've been in.

I've done some classes where you couldn't execute on the first attack. All you could do is block or move. For what it's worth, the block is probably more realistic as it's instinctual. I still flinch when surprised although it's gotten much better over the years. You then apply a technique on the second or third attack from wherever you wind up. I also vary the direction of the first attack. It can be from behind, the left, the right, wherever. Sometimes I script, sometimes I don't. More on scripting in a bit.

I'm also going to do a class where the primary attack is altered and not of aikido form. I'm thinking I'll start with the classic lunge punch, then add something from a punch to the face, then a yokomen which is quickly morphed into a hook. The end result is that nage must be aware of any possibilities, deal with them and none of the attacks would be of a classic aikido form. Speed varied for level of course. Mostly, I just want it so that people don't get clocked by the first right cross they didn't see.

Another possibility is setting up structured form movements or kind of a sparring kata. My inspiration for this was Saotome's kumitachi of all things. I looked at the movements and realized that the attack response nature could be worked without the weapons and to be honest your attacker may not just charge blindly. I've seen fights where things squared off a bit or one of the participants backed up to get space and distance. I think you can drill it and I did it once but the class was relatively new and I decided we were better off going back to basics before I tweaked the basics.

I'd also suggest you look into some of Mark MacYoung's stuff. I have not taken any of his classes but he has an approach which makes a lot of sense to me. If you are really thinking self-defense you've got to drill things besides technique.

If you play all out, you've got to account for strikes and very direct movement. You got to know how to punch and how to react to it. In other words, a direct entering with a hand to the head or throat. If done correctly, uke either gets out of Dodge quickly, gets laid out or maybe nothing at all happens as you do it poorly. Sometimes they get laid out on their way out of Dodge. The Gozo Shioda clip on Aikido Journal demonstrates the effectiveness and the consequences very well.

Finally, holding the technique line becomes a bit iffy in this realm. For most of us, me included, this is not everyday territory. Consequently, there is a risk of training things you shouldn't. People get out of control and so they respond with muscle or force. Often with an aware uke this gets countered but if someone resists, as I've been known to do, you can wind up with an ouchie or ingrain bad habits, particularly with beginners.

I've got a lot more but those are some things I've been thinking about. By the way, I like the stop idea. I think it's also important for nage to be relatively egoless. There will be times, many of them, where someone gets them. Self-defense is not absolute. If you get in a 100 fights with your peers, and win 80 of them, are they really your peers in terms of skill.

guest1234
08-27-2002, 11:01 AM
Are you doing this to really train for self defense on the street? If so, consider the wisdom of training the students to stop the technique when someone yells 'stop'. Like the old joke "how do you stop an Aikidoka who is mugging you" answer "clap twice"... we are creatures of habit.

mike lee
08-27-2002, 11:10 AM
From one of my earlier posts:

When teaching an aikido class, I think it would be helpful if, after teaching the many basic movements that we learn for training purposes, if instructors would include one or two "practical" applications. It can help the students to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Take, for example, shomen-uchi ikkyo. Now have the students lunge for a choke hold and use the same type of ikkyo. Suddenly there becomes a sense of reality and usefullness to the standard movement that we learn almost mindlessly, day after day. Women seem to respond especially well to this kind of training.

Another example would be to take a move commonly seen in Ultimate Fighting competition -- the tackle or leg take-down. One aikido defence is to simply move sideways while blocking one of the attacker's forearms and execute a kaiten-nage. If the attack is fast and committed, a linear throw is very effective.

I was amazed at how fast the students picked this stuff up. I think part of the reason was that their basic training was solid, but it was also because they believed that what I was showing them was practical and useful for real-life applications.

P.S. I think it would be best to practice at the same speed that students usually practice -- otherwise the chance of injury will increase. Basic-level students need to practice more slowly. Advanced students can pick up the pace once they learn the movement. Don't throw caution to the wind or someone may discover how dangerous aikido really can be -- and end up in the hospital.

DaveO
08-28-2002, 12:11 AM
Are you doing this to really train for self defense on the street? If so, consider the wisdom of training the students to stop the technique when someone yells 'stop'. Like the old joke "how do you stop an Aikidoka who is mugging you" answer "clap twice"... we are creatures of habit.
Were this a classful of soldiers, I'd consider designing a course with no safety structure in place. As it is, only 2 of us have any real-life experience with fighting; although our Sensei has several years of gung-fu, giving him a formidable combination approach.

IMO, the more realism the better, but not at the expense of minimum safety standards. :)
As time goes on, I'd gradually relax the rule; giving them just as much rope as they can handle at the time.


Dave

ian
08-28-2002, 04:17 AM
As I've said on previous posts, adding a sense of realism isn't about putting more force or resisting a technique. I honestly believe the problem with realism in aikido is that people often don't realise what the training is about - developing simple, quick repsonses appropriate to a situation.

However, saying this, I have considered running 'scenarios' instead of just attacks to help people decide when it is appropriate to respond in situations where there are grey areas, and also to instill a larger sence of indecision and fear. For example, the attacker starts verbally abusing the other person in a sudden and very load voice before attacking, or they just give them gentle pushes in an 'egging them on' form of starting a fight. Also a simulated 'rape' style attack with suprise and from behind(obviously just ending in a floor pin or choke) could be useful (as long as it within the bounds of decency). Another could be the 'crowded' attack' - where everyone is very close together and one unexpected member of the group attacks. Also, being pinned against walls is a useful simulation. One of my favourites is a randori situation where there is one attacker, but another attacker comes from behind without Nage having prior knowledge (very common in reality).

Ian

Abasan
08-28-2002, 04:42 AM
How about if you have someone shove nage first so that he loses balance (behind, front, sides). And then uke proceeds to attack (grab, atemi, whatever).

I think most attacks occur after muggers see they have a definite advantage i.e. after a sucker punch. or a sucker question like, whats the time mate? You look at your watch and you're history! :p

DaveO
08-28-2002, 09:38 AM
You know, the more I read this and similar threads, the more convinced I become that, with all the 'how to' and 'what is' Aikido books out there, a 'How to Teach Aikido' book would be a very helpful addition to any instructor's library. Are there any out there?

Dave

paw
08-28-2002, 10:00 AM
Dave,
Last Sunday, we were discussing what we wanted to do with our instructor, and we decided what we would really like is to work on aikido as street defence; i.e. take the dojo-useful techniques and apply them to real-life. So, starting next Sunday, that's what we're going to do.
FWIW....

You wouldn't walk into a hardware store with a hammer and then ask how to build a house using only a hammer. You would walk into a hardware store and ask how to build a house and what tools you would need.

If I were responsible for street defense, I would start with an explaination of the national, state and local laws. What are my legal rights and responsibilities before, during and after a street defense situation?

This includes personal protection devices and a basic understanding of their use. (Firearm, knife, chemical spray, etc....) I may choose not to use them, but I would want that to be an informed choice based on their advantages/disadvantages, legal implications, etc...

I would then look at my lifestyle. For example, neither my wife nor I go to bars. So a bar situation isn't likely to occur for us. However, both of us bike a great deal, so "road rage" situations are probably pretty likely.

Then I would look at situations and train responses. If the response is an aikido one, great. If it isn't, who cares? It's not like if I run away from a mugger and make it safely home, my instructor is going to call me on the phone and tell me to go back and get a new mugger so that I can do a "proper" aikido response.

At least that's the way I would approach things.

That might not be what you've asked though. If you've asked about make a technique street effective, let me know, but my short answer would be randori (a lot of it) in that case.

Regards,

Paul

"probably just adding noise"

wanderingwriath
08-28-2002, 12:37 PM
I can't add anything to the above advice. However, I just had to post. I'm REALLY happy to see this many people agree with me on training the "martial" end of our martial art. It does my heart good. :)

opherdonchin
08-29-2002, 01:49 AM
I'm REALLY happy to see this many people agree with me on training the "martial" end of our martial artAnd, to be honest, I feel just the opposite. I have been considering starting a thread questioning the oft quoted and rarely challenged idea that AiKiDo is somehow more 'real' or more 'pure' or something (I'm not sure what) when its philosophical side is seen as an afterthought of it's martial application.

I think it's great that people discuss how to bring AiKiDo to any situation that interests them, including muggings and road rage as well as many, many others. However, I think that one must ask whether one is, ultimately, seeking a martial answer to the problem posed or an AiKiDo answer. A martial answer would be one in which appropriate use of force decides the situation in my favor. An AiKiDo answer is one in which a redefinition of the situation or a different perspective on the problem or a slight shift in the place I've chosen to stand makes force unnecessary.

I don't mean to derail this thread, though, and I apologize. I've just been sitting on this for a while and I probably should have started my own thread.

mike lee
08-29-2002, 02:30 AM
One of the most important things we learn during the course of our aikido training is to move with control and power. With experience, we can become creative and adapt our techniques to an ever wider range of situations.

The problem with teaching "creative responses" too soon in aikido is that students end up quickly losing their form and begin resorting to more primitive responses. Next they quickly run out of gas, and then they just give up -- unless they're special-forces people; they just end up hurting uke.

The aikido teaching method is to gradually add more rondori as the students gain experience. The kind of rondori depends on the level of experience.

Generally speaking, below black belt, the teacher will have only two students attack one student for a relatively short duration -- and with only ONE type of attack. The defender may respond with two or three defenses -- usually ones that had just been taught in that class on that day. (Kyu-level students seem to have very short memories.)

This, in a nut-shell, is the way to do it. The reason there's no books written on it is because it requires a lot of preparation and judgement calls by an experienced instructor. I don't think that rondori should be run without a qualified instructor present, or without the head sensei's permission.

Solid ukemi skills are critical, or people will get hurt.

I would feel uncomfortable with anyone below nidan running a rondori, or for that matter, ad-libbing in the training format. I've seen people suddenly try to do a lot of stupid things during rondori, like nearly break uke's arm off with a bad shiho-nage. An experienced teacher will be watching for that and jump in before a serious injury occurs.

Sometimes students panic, freeze up -- how does one handle that situation properly?

I can see this situation from many angles. Young students are looking for applications, and rightfully so -- but aikido takes time. Older teachers like to think out of the box and move well beyond fighting.

I myself, simply like to cover all the bases.

DaveO
08-29-2002, 06:05 AM
Thanks, all! I'm so glad to have recieved so many excellent replies; all pros, cons, agreements and disagreements have been extremely helpful. I now have what I need to begin work on a prospective training plan. It should be ready for initial critique in about a week; I'll put it up on my little 'downloads' page so anyone here who wants can give me their opinions on it. :)

For the moment, I'd like to respond to a few points you've all made:

Paul (PAW) said: If I were responsible for street defense, I would start with an explaination of the national, state and local laws. What are my legal rights and responsibilities before, during and after a street defense situation?
So right, I consider it essential as well. Although I firmly believe in the concept 'better tried by 12 than buried by 6', I also believe firmly in the absolute minimum use of force in any situation, not the least of which for the legal ramifications. That said, aikido's essentially peaceful philosophy makes this easier than a harder MA, such as Karate.

Paw also said: You wouldn't walk into a hardware store with a hammer and then ask how to build a house using only a hammer. You would walk into a hardware store and ask how to build a house and what tools you would need.True also, but this IS Aikido, after all, not generic self-defence. However the TP takes shape, it will be done according to the precepts of Shin-shin Tuitsu Aikido. :)

Opher said: However, I think that one must ask whether one is, ultimately, seeking a martial answer to the problem posed or an AiKiDo answer. A martial answer would be one in which appropriate use of force decides the situation in my favor. An AiKiDo answer is one in which a redefinition of the situation or a different perspective on the problem or a slight shift in the place I've chosen to stand makes force unnecessary.
A very good point, but while Aikido is very philosophical, it is a martial art - a defensive fighting art. It's crucial not to ignore aikido's philosophy, but the same holds for its martial aspects. To use an analogy, you can't win at poker if you can't bluff; but you can't bluff if you don't know how to play.

Ian had some good points, although I think ultimately such 'play-acting' (not to take away from the idea, Ian, I just couldn't think of a better word) would take away from the training. However, there is a teaching technique called PSD (Progressive Scenario Development) used extensively in Canadian peacekeeping and rescue training that can be adapted for use by students with a certain level of proficiency.

Abasan said: How about if you have someone shove nage first so that he loses balance (behind, front, sides). And then uke proceeds to attack (grab, atemi, whatever). A bit more realistic, yes, but not enough to offset the potential risk. In my experience, there are easier and more effective ways of teaching and practicing stability.

To everyone else; sorry I couldn't pick out one or two bits from your posts, but they were all excellent. I agree with many points, disagree with others, value all of them.

Thanx, all!

DaveO
09-02-2002, 12:40 PM
Hello, all - me again.

I thought I'd just let you know: We held my first class on 'Aikido as Street Defence' yesterday (Sunday), and it went over very well. Although the Training Plan is not yet complete, I've put it up on my little page (http://www.geocities.com/drachenca/Download.html)for you to take a look at - the only things missing out of it are the next 4 Lesson Plans, so you'll get a good gist of the course's framework.

Anyway, let me tell you about it:

1st, we had a total of 5 students there; with a wide range of experience and abilities, ranging from our senior instructor to our newest recruit.

I began by discussing the nature of real-world conflict, and the difference one experiences between the Dojo and real-life. I talked about the legal aspects, spent quite a bit of time on them actually, describing the laws and discussing how they apply to us as martial artists. (For those of us in Canada, the relevant parts of the law are contained in the Criminal Code of Canada, sections 26,27, 34-37 and sec. 494. Check it out, if you wish, with the online Criminal Code from McMaster University: http://insight.mcmaster.ca/org/efc/pages/law/cc/cc.html ) I discussed Intent to Do Harm, and the reasons (moral, tactical and legal) for the minimum use of force.

To round out the theory part, I discussed the difference in considerations between open and closed (obstructed) environments - i.e. being attacked in an open space as opposed to between parked cars, a phone booth, against a wall, between barstools, etc.

Then we started to have fun. The approach I chose was that of attack-based training: instead of teaching a technique, we discussed a single attack - in this case, the relatively benign 2-hand grab to the chest.

My teaching style is to ask questions and have my students give me the answers; it keeps them involved and thinking. It worked very well here. We discussed why an attacker would use a 2-hand grab (intimidation, destabilization, prelude to further attack, etc), the hazards to the defender (very intimidating, violent though not painful feel; unless you're Tristan - I got a handful of chest hair through his Gi. LOL!) and the hazards to the attacker that the defender can exploit (leaving his arms and wrists wide open to attack, for one.)

We then discussed a variety of counters to the attack, and the sitations in which each would be useful. In Sunday's class, the counters were: Avoidance (getting out of the way), Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Tenshanage(sp?) and Kokyunage. (I also demonstrated the non-aiki technique of just poking the guy in the throat - just did it very, very lightly. :) )

We practiced each technique in line format, starting with low intensity, gradually (over the course of 45 minutes) increasing to full power...MY full power. Long before we reached the end, the students, even the newest recruit, were performing the appropriate counter to the 2-hand grab quickly, comfortably, and with little effort. We finished with a discussion of real-world situations where this attack would occur, then a discussion with the other teachers on how to tighten up the lesson plan. The entire class took 1 hour, twenty minutes. (subsequent classes will take 1 hour - there's no need to re-cover the introduction.)

Overall, though there were rough spots to be ironed out, I was very, very pleased with the way the class went. The focus was to increase the students' comfort in their own abilities while increasing the level of intensity to full. While its not there yet, of course, it's a good first step.

As to whether or not this approach works, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. One of our students is a teen, easily the student least able to defend himself. (A real bag of rags - poke him in the stomach (lightly) he drops squealing to the mat, giggling hysterically. He's ridiculously ticklish. :D) ) Anyway, near the end of the class, just as we were to bow out, as a test I launched a full-scale attack at him - completely unexpected, from his rear quarter, accompanied by a roar of insane rage - something I imitate very well. (cleared it with our instructor - his mother - beforehand.) He whirled, planted and before my hand could close on his Gi, dropped me with a perfect (and completely painless) ikkyo-tenkan, before he even thought about flinching. Although it's a long way to becoming an effective defender, that demonstrated to me that this style of training works, and works well.

Cheers!

Dave

deepsoup
09-02-2002, 06:20 PM
I thought I'd just let you know: We held my first class on 'Aikido as Street Defence' yesterday (Sunday), and it went over very well. Although the Training Plan is not yet complete, I've put it up on my little page (http://www.geocities.com/drachenca/Download.html)for you to take a look at - the only things missing out of it are the next 4 Lesson Plans, so you'll get a good gist of the course's framework.
Hi Dave,

This all seems like excellent work to me, and very interesting, well done. Will you be publishing your other lesson plans in the future too?

I'm not sure if its still relevant, but harking back to your first post on this thread:
One thing I'm going to insist on is the following 'stop' rule: while tapping out or saying "Ma-Te!" are the acceptable ways of stopping a technique, anyone involved can say "STOP!" at any time if they see/feel something that could become dangerous. That applies to uke, nage, the instructor, and anyone watching - from a variety of viewing angles, someone may catch something those engaged may have missed.
It seems to me that in encouraging Uke to 'struggle' you're taking a step towards competitive randori, so perhaps a couple of observations from a Shodokan point of view would be helpful..

Your 'stop' rule seems very sensible to me. In shiai that is one of the most important functions of the referee(s), for exactly the same reasons.

There are a few other things which were introduced into the shiai rules (which, incidentally, can be read in full here (http://www.tomiki.org/standards.html)) on safety grounds.

All aikido techniques can be dangerous to an Uke who is resisting inappropriately of course, but I'd like to sound a note of caution about three techniques in particular:

In the early days of Shodokan shiai, there were problems with injuries resulting from nikkyo, wake-gatame and mae-otoshi.

Against resistance, nikkyo tended to lock the wrist, and the others the elbow, so suddenly and so powerfully that damage was done before anyone could stop it. Nikkyo ended up being removed from competition altogether (along with other 'dangerous' techniques and variations we just stick to practicing it in the 'cooperative' format). Mae-otoshi is allowed up to the point of kuzushi only, so that points can be awarded for an effective technique, but it stops before the elbow is locked out. Wake gatame (cf hiji kime) was modified to control uke without applying direct pressure to the elbow.

Of course what you're doing isn't shiai, and I'm sure you want to keep the 'rules' to an absolute minimum in the interests of realism. As you move towards a 'competitive' format though, its important to be aware that Uke can start to make an emotional investment in not being defeated which, at worst, can momentarily push self-preservation into second place. Something to keep an eye out for!

I'll be very interested to learn how these sessions progress, will you post again when you've done some more?

Wishing you safe and successful practice.

Sean

x

Bruce Baker
09-03-2002, 07:05 AM
Although it is not normal practice, the use of simulated weapons, rubber guns and knives, or real quick weapons such as pipes, tire irons, baseball bats and the like should be introduced as practice progresses to a more physical defensen situation.

The verbal lessons of understanding the softer striking points of the body that respond immediately, choke holds, and various diversions to keep you safe from weapons should be inroduced.

Some of this street defence is not the normalfare of aikido training, nor should it be for the novice, or immature. But, with insight, learning to adapt and change, it will open your eyes to the other possibilities of adapting more rugged martial techniques to the control of Aikido's techniques so that they protect you, but don't involve bloodying your uke's, or attackers so you have to go to court to defend yourself.

My pet pieve is to get partners to learn to remove looseness in techniques without injury or undue pain. Most good street defense depends on this kind of sensitivity to be effective.

I don't think we should do a Pink Panther attack where the butler is staging attacks to prove effectiveness, but getting out of restaints, spotting attackers before they attack, and awareness drills are just about as helpful as physical mat practice too.

Don't forget to cover tactics as well as physical practice too.

Have fun.

Jucas
09-03-2002, 12:14 PM
This might be better presented as a "dan only" session. I do not know if this is possible where you are training/teaching, but it seems to me, this might redirect the flow of "traditional" aikido training. That being said I personally think this is a great idea and one that would be very interesting to explore.

-J

DaveO
09-03-2002, 12:52 PM
Some excellent and interesting responses, thank you. :) Sean, you provide some very valid and thought provoking points; although I believe wholeheartedly in the non-competetive aspect of my style of Aikido (Shin-shin Toitsu), your Shodokan experience gives valuable insight into that area; it gives good advice on pursuing this project safely and effectively. Thanks for the link. :)

Bruce, I agree completely with most of your points, some excellent insights. Thanks. :) The only thing I disagree with, and this goes for Jonathan's post as well, is that this should be only for more senior students. Please allow me to elaborate: Aikido takes a long time to learn well, it's true, it'll be a long while before I myself can say I 'know' Aikido. I am not, however, teaching Aikido - it would be arrogant presumption of me to do that. What I am teaching is within my range of expertise: I'm teaching self defense, or defensive fighting, if you prefer, using Aikido. The difference in words is slight, the overall efect signifigant. My focus is to take skills and concepts already taught by the Aikido instructors (Mike, Jill and Gary) and teach their real-world application. In my opinion as a teacher, these are concepts that one should not wait to learn, they should be developed as early as possible in a person's training, so that the habits of self defence become ingrained to such an extent that as a student learned new skills, he can view them from a street-knowledgable standpoint.

That's all my own opinion, of course. To my way of thinking, whatever works best for you is the best way to do it, this is the way I've found that works the best. :)

Cheers!

Dave