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Wil Branca
09-15-2003, 01:28 PM
I'm a new student of Aikido, having attended just two classes. I'm 36 years old and, in earlier years, was a professional wrestler (yes, the "fake" TV kind). Admittedly, I know virtually nothing about Aikido techniques so far, but as far as philosophy is concerned, I understand it innately.

In my humble personal opinion, ANY program of self-defense study CAN be effective in "real world" confrontations. What makes them effective is not the techniques taught, but rather one's ability to remain calm and focused under pressure. If you acknowledge your initial involuntary fear reaction, you CAN diffuse ANY situation - one way or another.

First example: I've been attacked several times in the following manner: an assailant runs toward me at full speed and consumed with rage (usually drunk). The instinctive reaction might be to charge them in the same fashion in hopes of getting to them before they get to you. What has proven effective for me in situations like this is to remain motionless and use the time it takes your attacker to get closer to you to study him and consider how you will counter his attack. More often than not (as a matter of fact, ALL THE TIME, in my experience), using your opponent's momentum against them works best (if this sounds like Aikido, maybe it is - I don't know - to me, it's wrestling). Prepare to grab his shirt or hair, roll backwards using your feet to support his weight above you through the roll, land on top, choke. By "choke" I mean cut off blood flow to the brain by restricting the jugular veins, rendering your assailant unconscious. Walk away. You'll have about 3 minutes before he regains consciousness, by which time you should be nowhere in sight.

Second Example: A trouble maker has had a bad day & decided to drink it away. Unfortunately, he's decided to do so at the same bar a friend and I are quietly relaxing at. My wearing a deerskin fringe jacket invites his comments, i.e.; "fag," "step outside," etc.

At this point, I have several options. My hand is already gripping a heavy beer glass & one good swing with a weapon like that would certainly do the trick - so I know I'm safe. Next is to remember to stay calm - study the trouble maker. He's clearly drunk and angry about something other than my jacket, but I suppose I look to him like an easy way to assert his manhood. I decided that, since I could always resort to blinding him by shattering the beer glass in his face if I needed to, I would first try an experiment. I looked him in the eye, first of all. I had no fear and that's easy to convey with your eyes. I SINCERELY wanted to know what his problem was. With a GENUINE smile, I suggested that we discuss it over a drink. That if he still wanted to "step outside" after the drink, I'd gladly oblige. Luckily, he saw the futility of his endeavor (and that he had been outclassed). He relaxed immediately, smiled back, and accepted my generous offer of friendship vs. conflict.

One sidenote: I used to drink alot more than I do now. Alcohol is almost always the main ingredient in a fight.;)

paw
09-15-2003, 01:54 PM
Wil,

Welcome.
I'm 36 years old and, in earlier years, was a professional wrestler (yes, the "fake" TV kind).

What promotion did you wrestle for? Did you use your name or have another name you wrestled under? Finally, why did you leave the business?
In my humble personal opinion, ANY program of self-defense study CAN be effective in "real world" confrontations. What makes them effective is not the techniques taught, but rather one's ability to remain calm and focused under pressure.

I disagree. If what makes effective self-defense is that ability to remain calm and focused under pressure, then it would follow that a training method that failed to stress the student would not be effective. Correct?

By observing different martial arts, I suspect that we will find that training methods are generally similar for the same art. That is to say on the balance, boxers use the same training method, reguardless of geographic location (to use boxing as an example).

Therefore, it would follow that particular arts that use a training method that does not stress the student would not be as effective as an art that does in a "real world" confrontation. Which was the premise I set out to prove.

Regards,

Paul

SeiserL
09-15-2003, 02:33 PM
IMHO, where ever the head goes the body tends to follow. So, the mind's intent directs the Ki and the waza. A relaxed and calm minds tends to direct better. It is the willingness of the indivudal to follow through and actual apply the techniques that often makes the difference in the street from my experience (Detroit & Army Recon).

Also, the closer the training situation is to the application situation the easier the training will transfer and generalize.

Wil Branca
09-15-2003, 02:56 PM
What promotion did you wrestle for?
I wrestled for independent promotions on the east coast (U.S.).
Did you use your name or have another name you wrestled under?
I wrestled under the name "Wil DaBeast".
Finally, why did you leave the business?


I suppose the short answer is that I outgrew it. I started at 16 and continued through college.
I disagree. If what makes effective self-defense is that ability to remain calm and focused under pressure, then it would follow that a training method that failed to stress the student would not be effective. Correct?
I'm not sure I understand the premise of your question. What do you mean by "a training method that failed to stress the student"? Stress the student as opposed to what?

Right now I'm getting the impression that we don't actually disagree. In other words, I absolutely DO agree with your assertion that "a training method that failed to stress the student would not be effective."

Am i missing something? Did I say something that gave you a different impression?:confused:

Thomas Froman
09-15-2003, 07:45 PM
I think you used Aikido in both of your examples. As far as stressing the student to prepare him for the real world,I find practicing Freestyle Randori against multiple attackers to be really effective.

paw
09-15-2003, 09:16 PM
Will,

If you you're still interested in the wrestling business, feel free to join the discussions at

The OtherGround : Prowrestling Q & A (http://mma.tv/TUF/index.cfm?FID=68)

In any case, I'd love to hear any stories you feel like sharing. I suppose the Open Discussion forum could be used as well. But, I digress....
What do you mean by "a training method that failed to stress the student"? Stress the student as opposed to what?
Not stressing the student. Well, I'll get flamed for this but, 99% of all tai chi as practiced in the US is a slow, static form. It's deliberately gentle/non-stressful to the point of being a type of moving meditation. That method simply doesn't introduce the stress of an athletic, uncooperative, attacker. (I'll get flamed because someone will say "real" tai chi is more than the static form, blah, blah, blah....whatever.)

I hope that makes things more clear. I'm not sure what things are like where you are, but in my neck of the woods there are a number of McDojos that are about as stressful as watching tv. So, despite the marketing hype in their ads, I don't believe such school could produce effective self-defense as a result of their training methods.

Thomas,
As far as stressing the student to prepare him for the real world,I find practicing Freestyle Randori against multiple attackers to be really effective.

There's such a variation between dojo as to what and how randori is conducted I think it would be hard to conclusively say. In general, no, I don't find randori to be stressful in many dojo. However, the randori that Mr. Linden describes I suspect would be (disclaimer: I've neither seen it nor experienced it).

In my mind properly stressed students are having a "religious" experience. An honest to goodness, "oh my god I'm going to get hurt, injuried, killed" adreline dump.

Regards,

Paul

sanosuke
09-15-2003, 09:51 PM
At this point, I have several options. My hand is already gripping a heavy beer glass & one good swing with a weapon like that would certainly do the trick - so I know I'm safe. Next is to remember to stay calm - study the trouble maker. He's clearly drunk and angry about something other than my jacket, but I suppose I look to him like an easy way to assert his manhood. I decided that, since I could always resort to blinding him by shattering the beer glass in his face if I needed to, I would first try an experiment. I looked him in the eye, first of all. I had no fear and that's easy to convey with your eyes. I SINCERELY wanted to know what his problem was. With a GENUINE smile, I suggested that we discuss it over a drink. That if he still wanted to "step outside" after the drink, I'd gladly oblige. Luckily, he saw the futility of his endeavor (and that he had been outclassed). He relaxed immediately, smiled back, and accepted my generous offer of friendship vs. conflict.

Way to go, wil. being sincere and calm will be the important factor in your aikido training, keep it grow, may you find your aiki soon...

your story also reminded me on one story I read (I forgot the book title and the author, though), the story is about one sensei who trained in Japan and one night on a train he encountered a trouble maker that the sensei want to gave him some lesson. when eye contact was made, fist clenched and the body gestured for a fight, suddenly an old man rise from his seat, took the trouble maker's hand and asked him to sit beside him and tell all the trouble he had, it turns out that the man has some problems that stressed him while the old man calmly listen to all his trouble. The sensei, on the other hand, realized that the old man has showed what the true budo is, and noted that he need further training in becoming more sincere and cool headed.

Wil Branca
09-16-2003, 02:10 AM
Will,

If you you're still interested in the wrestling business, feel free to join the discussions at

The OtherGround : Prowrestling Q & A (http://mma.tv/TUF/index.cfm?FID=68)

In any case, I'd love to hear any stories you feel like sharing. I suppose the Open Discussion forum could be used as well. But, I digress....
Thanks for the link, Paul. I'll check it out.
Not stressing the student. Well, I'll get flamed for this but, 99% of all tai chi as practiced in the US is a slow, static form. It's deliberately gentle/non-stressful to the point of being a type of moving meditation. That method simply doesn't introduce the stress of an athletic, uncooperative, attacker. (I'll get flamed because someone will say "real" tai chi is more than the static form, blah, blah, blah....whatever.)
OHHHH!!! Sorry, my mistake. I misunderstood what you meant by "stress". I thought you were talking about "stressing" the importance of an individual student's development. You were talking about "stressing" the shit out of him! I get it now, sorry. Anyway, I still agree with you.
I hope that makes things more clear. I'm not sure what things are like where you are, but in my neck of the woods there are a number of McDojos that are about as stressful as watching tv. So, despite the marketing hype in their ads, I don't believe such school could produce effective self-defense as a result of their training methods.
Well, since I've only attended 3 classes so far, I don't feel like I should jump to any conclusions just yet. Thanks for the info, though.

Wil Branca
09-16-2003, 02:18 AM
I disagree. If what makes effective self-defense is that ability to remain calm and focused under pressure, then it would follow that a training method that failed to stress the student would not be effective. Correct?
Wait a minute, I changed my mind. I still agree that stressing a student is an effective method of preparing him for the possibilty of a real fight. However, the reason you stress the student is to desensitize him to the stress. The object being to develop the ability to remain calm and focused under stress.

happysod
09-16-2003, 04:04 AM
Hi Wil, nice to have an ex-pro around, my only worry is it'll give Paul far too much backup :) Good stories, got any more (mind, fringes on a decent leather jacket... please tell me you don't practice with a knife as well)

Paul, agree with you about tai-chi up to a point in that most tai-chi isn't geared towards combat. However, I wouldn't say tai-chi is stress free. I've come away from tai-chi trembling before due to the strain of being "relaxed" while ever so slowly going through some serious contortions - I think the stress in tai-chi comes from the practitioner and how committed they are to getting the moves right, which ain't easy.

(less of a flame, more of candle?)

Wil Branca
09-17-2003, 02:56 AM
Hi Wil, nice to have an ex-pro around, my only worry is it'll give Paul far too much backup :) Good stories, got any more (mind, fringes on a decent leather jacket... please tell me you don't practice with a knife as well)Thanks! Actually, it was suede. Never practiced with knives but we used to wrestle with razor blades taped to our fingers.

Wil Branca
09-27-2003, 01:47 AM
Well, it's been a couple of weeks now & I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I'd have been better off elsewhere. I was hoping that we'd be sparring at some point, but evidentally not. It's my understanding that Shodokan Aikido might be more to my liking. Has anyone had a similar experience while starting out in Aikido? Any suggestions/advice?

Alfonso
09-27-2003, 11:26 AM
Ok , I'll say it: this is fairly typical especially for a beginner.

Sparring is sort of an extracurricular activity. For many people Aikido is more like Tai-Chi , a self improvement discipline, without competition and without the kind of stress that you would associate to a combative art.

From what I've seen Aikido is "kata" based training (in pairs) for a few years, and then slowly discards kata..

Maybe you would be better off looking at Judo.

Of course exceptions exist, and it all really depends on the dojo's culture.

When do Shodokan players get to spar regularly in practice?

the only suggestion I have is, if you still want to stick it out where you are at now, talk to the sensei. There are reasons for starting slow, not every beginner is capable of taking care of themselves. Ask seniors if they're willing to play; you may have to make your own exceptional case to get to where you want to go.

PeterR
09-28-2003, 07:48 PM
When do Shodokan players get to spar regularly in practice?
Two answers - right away and after a short time.

We have distinct levels of randori from simple tanto taisabaki (avoidance) to full blown randori. Generally the latter is not practiced during class time at Honbu but during free practice. As a rule the more simple the randori the more often it is practiced in class. You do have people with less than a year of Aikido who love and do the full blown randori. In certain university clubs randori training gains more dominance and a good part of every class is dedicated to randori practice.

Wil Branca
09-29-2003, 09:25 PM
Thank you, Alfonso & Peter. It occured to me that I must have forgotten why I started studying Aikido in the first place. I suppose that, too, is fairly common for a beginner.

Jesse Lee
09-30-2003, 05:27 PM
Reza, you are thinking of "A Kind Word Turneth Away Wrath," by Terry Dobson. one of my favorite short stories ever.

Wil, awesome post. I hope aikido does it for you and I look forward to reading more stuff from ya

Wil Branca
09-28-2004, 02:07 AM
Well, here we are a year later...

I took my first Aikido class almost exactly one year ago. I often found it frustrating and even had one small problem with one student. After my initial 3 months were up, I tried Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 6 months. I loved BJJ! We all beat the crap out of each other & had fun doing it. Not a whole hell of alot of "art" in that Martial Art, but fun as hell.

Now my initial 6 months at BJJ are up & I'm considering whether to continue there or move on to something else (maybe Wing Chun?).

So why did I stop by the Aikido dojo tonight? Why have I been feeling drawn back to Aikido lately? Looking at the websites again? Looking at the books in the book store again? Downloading all those video clips online again? Remembering the way it made me feel again? (Was that "Ki"?) Etc.?

My guess is that it's because I needed to get some agression out of my system and now that I've done that, maybe I'm ready to start over again.

Anyone heard any similar "newby" stories before? What's going on???!!?!!... :)

-WIL
:circle:

PeterR
09-28-2004, 02:35 AM
Hey Will - exploring different martial arts is the best way to find what suits you.

I find doing Judo once a week gives me something I don't get with regualr Aikido practice. Ever consider taking a major/minor combination of martial art.

Wil Branca
09-28-2004, 03:07 AM
Hey Will - exploring different martial arts is the best way to find what suits you.

I find doing Judo once a week gives me something I don't get with regualr Aikido practice. Ever consider taking a major/minor combination of martial art.

Hi Peter,

Yes, the thought has crossed my mind. I've actually been looking around for a Judo dojo close to my house to no avail. At this point, I may just stick with the BJJ in addition to Aikido.

- WIL

:circle:

PeterR
09-28-2004, 03:25 AM
At this point, I may just stick with the BJJ in addition to Aikido.
That works just as well in my opinion.