View Full Version : Aikido, defence, and tactics

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03-05-2003, 08:29 AM
Hello, friends!
This is a topic I hope some will enjoy discussing; here, I'd like to talk about Aikido specifically in its use as a self defence tool.
Now; Aikido practicioners tend to fight very little; a purely defensive martial art does not lend itself to aggressive behaviour on the street. Therefore many even highly-ranked aikidoka may have little or no experience at fighting. That being said; as a person progresses in a martial art; he/she develops a sense of self within the art; knows how he/she reacts and prefers to respond to situations. Also; it can be taken as axiomatic in any martial art that the attack determines the defence; however even so; people have preferred tactics; techniques or styles that they find most helpful in the execution of defence.
Therefore; my question: Keeping in mind the above points; what tactics/techniques do you prefer or find most helpful in defensive situations? How do you - or would you - respond to an attacker once the attacker makes the decision to attack?

Me first: :)
I'm a fairly large individual; (6'4", 210lbs) with good fighting skills but limited Aikido. My preferred tactics are based around these conditions. I prefer to get in close; inside my opponent's comfort range and crowd him out. Get in his face; as it were. (No-one ever said defence had to be passive. ;) ) I prefer to go for quick elimination; to remove the threat before the fight becomes established - i.e. to pin/immobilize/subdue the attacker on his first strike. This prevents the attacker (hereafter; I'll use the Japanese Tori - it's easier to write) from discovering my means of defence until its too late; it also allows me to resolve a situation without the possibility of exhaustion or escalation. To this end; I'm willing to take a little damage (i.e. getting hit with the left while grabbing the right) if I can't avoid it altogether.
I work to frighten; not injure, definitely - if I can scare/intimidate tori out of his pants; that one attack may be the only one I have to deal with. In a situation that happened recently; I succesfully put a nikkyo onto an attacker; his Mariah Carey-like shriek gave his two buddies pause to stop and think about what was happening next; thus keeping them out of the engagement.
Technique-wise; my Aikido is limited yet; so I stick to quick; easy-to-make techniques: nikkyo; sankyo, tenshin-nage (sp?) and the like.

How 'bout yourself? I'd like to compare notes. :)

03-05-2003, 09:17 AM
My turn:

I've only been in Aikido for about six months now but I have been in alot of fights in my time. I now have two different perspectives of the attack/defense situation. First of all, however, I should probably explain that I'm a fairly large individual (6'0", 375 lbs.) with decent fighting skills that I've adapted from a couple of other forms that I've studied over the years.

Then (before Aikido)

I always knew that I was a big enough guy that the Jackie Chan/Jet Li stuff was never going to be in my repetoir (sp?). I would fight from the outside of the attackers range and work my way in. The other guys' punches would almost always either miss completely or hit somewhere less effective than where they where intended. Kicks were pointless cause I was really quick to either block or knock away. That was my defense, my offense was slowly working my way in or letting the other guy in just enough to get close to a strike zone that would put him on the ground or make him not want to fight anymore.

Now (since Aikido)

I don't really know if I would call what I was in a fight cause it was over way too fast and I don't remember having the feelings that I used to have when I would fight. I've only been in one skirmish since joining class but the attacker was way too close and he was coming in from around my visual blind spot. By the time he got to me it was almost too late but I got out of the way of the attack and got a decent kotagaeshi and down he went. It didn't feel like "fighting" at all and I know that's going to sound really corny but it's the truth. I was calm through the whole thing, minus the shock of a perfect stranger trying to blind side me.

03-05-2003, 11:47 AM
I don't like 'set tactics' since they can easily be overcome and can often be inappropriate to the situation. My 'tactic' is understand the situation as it is.

I think people's perception of a real attack is very missplaced; often they consider a strong man who is going to spring from nowhere and strike or rape them.

I'm not female, so can't comment on the attacks they suffer (which may be more random). However for me attacks generally start with an argument, someone trying to intimidate you into a fight (through physical grabs/pushes etc) or through getting involved in fights where you are defending other people.

Thus the first step is - be aware of what is actually going on (esp. if you have been drinking!). Many fights can be stopped before they are started.

If the altercation gets more severe than this you don't really have time to think of 'tactics' and you operate on automatic. Admittedly you could train in certain tactics, and I believe in aikido that is what I am trying to do - train in damage limitation (for both parties).

Also, on a practical level, if you can train to be responsive to the persons body movement they have less chance of overcoming you - this is why good aikido takes many many years whilst the basic techniques can be learnt relatively quickly.

One of the reasons Ueshiba is supposed to not want to formalise the training method is because 'aikido techniques come from heaven', from this I take it to mean; they should be intuitive and appropriate to that exact moment.

I would agree with much of what you say Dave, but can see many situations where such tactics are inappropriate and there are better ways of dealing with things.

In conclusion; training in tactics may have some use, but I think they should evolve to a point of 'no-tactics'.

03-05-2003, 11:49 AM
P.S. Vince I would agree with you whole heartedly in that I too don't feel the same way about fights pre and post starting aikido. I no longer see 'enemies', just potential aggressors.

03-05-2003, 10:24 PM
Hi Ian; good points. :)

I wasn't referring to training in specific tactics; I meant (sorry if I didn't make my point clear :) ) which tactics - or 'preferred methods of action', if you prefer - work best for you in an individual sense. The difficulty (if there is one) might be in the word 'tactic' - it means different things to different people. I use it in the textbook military sense; that is 'a method used or a course of action followed in order to achieve an immediate or short-term aim'. (Quoting word for word. lol) In other words, whichever action you choose to employ to resolve a situation. Therefore; your decision to employ 'no-tactics' to use your term is in itself a tactic; and a good one if it works.

I would debate you on a couple points; if you don't mind. :)

1st; If the altercation gets more severe than this you don't really have time to think of 'tactics' and you operate on automatic. Admittedly you could train in certain tactics, and I believe in aikido that is what I am trying to do - train in damage limitation (for both parties).
In this type of endeavour - i.e. self-defense - you're absolutely right to say training in specific tactics is a no-no; situations are generally far too fluid for that to succeed. However; tactics - again as I use the term - don't work along those lines; when the body responds to an attack 'on automatic'; it still works along a preferred line of action. In my case; that line is to get in close where I'm comfortable and my opponent likely isn't. Another person - and this is what I'm trying to explore with the question - might prefer ranged techniques - operating from a larger distance. Therefore; it isn't a matter of thinking of specific tactic; its more a matter of dealing with a situation in the way in which you're most comfortable.

I hope I made myself clear; Lady knows; I confuse myself half the time! :D

Thanks for the response, Ian; great post!

03-05-2003, 10:49 PM
make every attempt to diffuse the situation in non violent non aggressive terms first. if that fails then as soon as i see an attack is imminent i would make a lunge straight at the face of attacker keeping his first move in check and with a big irimi movement (because i am tall and lanky with long arms) i would get straight behind the attacker and apply a choke hold or take shoulders of attacker and pull backwards. and then walk away before attacker gets up.

not entirely aiki, but aiki enough for me haha.

then again each situation is different and that is just a preffered method using my physical attributes to what i see is their advantage.

Russell Davis
07-24-2010, 10:54 AM
I used to train with some guys in a nightclub (out of hours) Im 5'8" and about 150lbs. the smallest of our group. we would use the seating layout, plastic bottles and glasses filled with water, then improvise a number of scenarios;
2 against 1 and 3 against 1, suffice to say it was very interesting and what worked for me, did not always work for the other guys.
one of the guys was the nightclub manager, and also a former full contact Karate champion, the other was a world champion Kali/Escrima, another was a really BIG body builder.

We used an arguement as the start point, from being in a corner seated position, then we moved on to the dance floor, then finally to the bar, The tiolets were simply too dangerous to train in.

For my part, I found that because of my size, I would always elect to strike/Distract them first, if the opportunity arose, however the main focus for me we to just get the hell out of their . so I find turning and zoning off very usefull. Re direction was another usefull tool in the box.