View Full Version : Real attackers attacking again

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07-27-2004, 12:34 PM
The real attack vs. uke simulation topic has been discussed generally in many threads, but something specific occurred to me last night. It seems that in some Aikido techniques, the attacker HAS TO keep holding on/maintaining the attack for the technique to actually work. In a real life situation, an attacker may get surprised and let go quickly, and begin a different attack.

I have a very limited (6 weeks) understanding of Aikido philosophy, but I think the resonse of an Aikidoka in this situation would be that if you can't do the technique, then the attack has stopped and the technique is unnecessary. But don't you have to be pretty skilled and quick to being one technique and immediately switch to a new one when the attacker breaks off the first?

This actually brings up a much bigger question for me. How skilled do you have to be at Aikido in order for it to work effectively in self-defense situations? I read one essay about Aikido in which the writer argued that the martial artist CAN'T decide to be a pacifist until she/he is highly competent in the art of self-defense.

For example, if I adequately defend myself against one attack and resolve the conflict peacefully, the attacker can come back again and try to get me, and since my Aikido skills are limited, there's a significant chance that sooner or later the attacker will get me...

I'd be interested in seeing how you all think about this issue. I apologize if I missed a thread that already discussed this.


07-27-2004, 12:49 PM
I used aikido after training for 1 year, in a self-defence situation, and it was effective. I think it really depends on the situation - you could train for 50 years and still be taken by suprise. The things aikido teaches you that are useful is body movement and a positive response - aikido in reality is rarely like that in the dojo. Training is there to condition our reactions.

People let go if you tug them or force them. Good aikido blends with the opponent so there is no 'letting go' because you follow their movment. i.e. if they withdraw you move in. A long time from now you may realise that there are not different techniques - your movement follows the attacker's and the technique should naturally drop out of blending with them. Thus you don't have to 'swap' techniques.

One common response is raising and dropping the arms. This is usually the initial response no matter what the 'attack'. After contact blending is necessary.

The point about being a pacifist only if you have trained in self-defence I think was making a point about having a choice. e.g. you can choose not to hurt somene only if you are capable of hurting someone (otherwise it isn't really a choice). However I don't know anyone who would not be capable of killing someone else (physically), excluding perhaps those in a coma. The weakest person can stab someone in their sleep, shoot someone or poison someone. Therefore pacifism can be a choice for almost everyone.

Personally I think ethics need to be flexible, though derived through compassion.

I know a policeman who did shiho-nage, and the attacker just stood up again and hit him. You need to use the correct tool for the job. If your life is being threatened, esp. in multiple attack, I would suggest incapacitating people (which is possible with aikido) or a quick get away. If your kid sister is slapping you, I suggest less aggressive action.

It is a big error to over-generalise about real self-defence situations. My policy is train not to harm people but be aware how to. Your brain can work very fast in real self-defence situations, and hopefully with training your body can as well.


Jeff Stallard
07-27-2004, 12:56 PM
I've noticed the same thing. A lot of techniques require uke to maintain their grip, and I keep wondering why some poor slob would keep holding on while you're clearly setting up for something. The only answer I've gotten is that if you break their balance at the very beginning (and you should), they won't want to let go because they'll fall over if they do.

The way to test this is do some light randori with a NON aikidoka, someone who doesn't know they SHOULD be hanging on.

There are also some techniques (can't think of any names right now) where it's almost impossible to let go. My sensei was leading me all over the mat telling me to let go of his arm but I physically couldn't.

So I guess my answer is: break their balance so they WANT to hold on.

07-27-2004, 01:28 PM
The way to test this is do some light randori with a NON aikidoka, someone who doesn't know they SHOULD be hanging on.

Perhaps, this where it should be pointed out, that testing this after 6 weeks of training is not going to be of much use. And if you have had more training, thinking of this as a test would probably lead one to make
the wrong conclusions. Treating it as another training exercise under the right circumstances could help point out ways you need to improve. As a test, there are too many traps.

As Ian said, there is no "letting go" because you follow their movement.
Adding to that, having just off-balance is good too. And finally, learning how to lead their mind so that they both continue what they started and go unconsciously where you want them to go helps also. It all comes down to giving them multiple reasons to hang on and beyond that a lot of
techniques allow variations that trap the grip also.

keep training

07-27-2004, 01:41 PM
The dynamic defenses against grip attacks share a common curse when considering them against real life encouters - the attacker must hold on in order for them to work. Taking it as a given that the attacker will not hold on, whatever the methodology of the defense; what good are they then?

Before that though: Why do I say the attacker won't hold on? 2 reasons; one psychological, one tactical. Psyche reason: Keep in mind if a person's attacking; he'll be in attack mode - his mind and body committed to the act of doing violence. By committing the attack; he's already taken the initiative in the engagement and will strive to keep it. This is where a RL attack differs from uke performance: uke doesn't want to hurt either nage or himself. An RL attacker does want to hurt the defender, that is in fact his goal - and the increased responses and ability adrenaline provides limits or completely negates the possibility of himself getting hurt by letting go. Short form: The moment he feels something is less than ideal; he'll drop his attack and switch to something else.
Tactical reason: A dynamic defense from a wrist attack depends on the attacker not letting go; as stated above; so ignoring all else; there's a 50-50 chance of that happening - either he'll let go or he won't. Betting on an even chance is a losing proposition; in an RL encounter it's best to assume he will let go - plan for the worse contingency.

OK - that out of the way; back to the dynamic defense and whether or not it'll work.

It won't. It's not designed for that.

Most people seem to think that techniques are practiced as they are because that's how we'll do them in RL. The techniques are not useful for the 'street'; their value is far, far greater than that.

A friend (by correspondence) of mine compares using the MA for self defense to wallpapering your study with artwork from the Louvre - it'll work; but the power and grandeur of such fine art is rendered meaningless.

See; techniques such as kokyunage (variants of which are the dynamic wrist defense we're discussing) aren't really for real life - their true purpose is to teach the practicioner. As Ian so excellently discribed; the techniques teach the body movements, blending and above all mental conditioning to use aikido - they're not in themselves aikido; they're the aids to learning it. They teach body geometry, kinesiology, the physics of two bodies in particular motion. If you understand what the techniques are teaching; you can recognize a given situation when it occurs and act accordingly.
I'll use katate-tori ikkyo as an example. Ikkyo is probably the most effective technique in aikido; but an attacker will never grab your wrist and stand just so while you go through the technique. However; if you study it long and well enough; in a defense situation when in whatver way the attacker's wrist and elbow come into position; you'll be able to put on ikkyo without thinking. The goal is to use aikido; not technique, IMO. :)
So my advice would be not to concentrate on 'whether it'll work'; concentrate on learning the technique as well as you possibly can; and study what the technique is teaching you. :)


Zoli Elo
07-27-2004, 03:47 PM
The real attack vs. uke simulation topic has been discussed generally in many threads, but something specific occurred to me last night. It seems that in some Aikido techniques, the attacker HAS TO keep holding on/maintaining the attack for the technique to actually work. In a real life situation, an attacker may get surprised and let go quickly, and begin a different attack.

In several aikido techniques nage grabs after the initial grab from uke. For an example think of shihonage (aikikai). Try experimenting with initially grabbing hold of uke...

In most "real" situations I never want to be grabbed by an opponent so I grab first. If they are the first to grip, grab a hold of their grip with one of your own - as to impede their escape (if that is what you care to do).

07-27-2004, 04:59 PM
In an ideal situation in which you use aikido, the attacker will only realise what is happening when it is too late.
In a less than ideal situation, the attacker will be able to escape. But during the escape he will leave at least one opening, so use that opening. Intraining beginners have escaped from a poorly performed technique of mine by giving their back to me [Is that anywhere near correct English?]. I really have the idea that if an aikido technique goes slightly wrong (not awfully wrong) a few kicks and punches can correct that. It's not very aikdio, but it's good to learn to see those opportunities.
In a bad situation you leave an opening in your technique and you're done for. Or you're done for, even before you begin doing anything.

Of course, this is all coming from someone who has never used aikido in an actual self defense situation.

07-27-2004, 05:02 PM
Most people seem to think that techniques are practiced as they are because that's how we'll do them in RL. The techniques are not useful for the 'street'; their value is far, far greater than that.


I understand where you are coming from. I respect your previous experience. I even agree with much of what you said....

it's just ... hmmm.. it's just I wish we could have this discussion five-ten years down the road. I fear that if I point them out now, you will just disagree based on your convictions of the moment with limited experience of what can be done with mind and body coordination.

If the attacker realizes early enough that something less than ideal is happening to make a difference in the outcome, then look to improving
your aikido cause it ain't there yet.

07-27-2004, 05:36 PM
Interesting thoughts on this topic. One of the very first instructors that I worked with (he was my father's first Sensei) was a green beret in Viet Nam. Due to this, his Aikido was a bit more direct. One of his "rules" was to make everything a hook. When the attacker grabbed, grab back. This is effective, especially if you are worried about them letting go. It's like the predator becoming the prey. Another thing to think of, liken the attacker to a vicious dog. The dog will bite the first thing it comes in contact with. One tactic, although a last ditch effort, is to offer the dog something to bite ( if possible a rolled up paper, stick, etc. if nothing else, an arm) to protect the face, or other vital areas. The same is true with a violent attacker, they will grab or attack the first thing they come to. If you have time, and the wits to do so, offer them a hand or arm. In most cases they are so fixated on grabbing and holding that they won't know what to do or how to react until it's too late.

07-28-2004, 01:24 AM
While I am only a beginner myself, when I performed poorly as uke a sempai told me to keep this in mind: nage has a sword in his hand. Pretend you haven't been taught how to disarm an opponent (I haven't yet) - what is the most logical way to engage the opponent and keep yourself safe from his sword? It makes a lot of sense to hold on to his wrist or arm. It also seems logical that you would want to stay in front of your opponent, to face him, to better control him. Sure, having his hands and sword behind his back might be nice as well, but remember that he can't swing his sword well back there and he damn well isn't going to let you put them there if he can stop you. So you follow nage's movements to confront him and, in doing so, control his weapon. Sounds like good dojo ukemi to me.

Now this is most likely not practical - you're often not going to be armed with a sword or any other melee weapon when you're attacked (anybody willing to attack a person with a sword is either beyond just criminally insane or has a better weapon) - but it sheds some light on the historical use of some of these techniques.

For practical purposes, as other have said, there are plenty of attacks that either have you grabbing their wrist partway through the attack, or can be modified so that you make the initial grab. I have experienced sempai who often don't need me to ever grab their wrist - I may try, but they move their wrist. Whether I actually over extend or not, if I continue to try to grab their now moved/moving wrist, they use my extra motion to simulate the initial movement of the technique had I been holding on. From there, they grab my wrist and leave me with no choice but to either follow into proper ukemi or risk tearing something in my wrist. This relationship of movement is best understood through actual contact and that is why is taught this way. This must take years of practice to perform to any level of correctness, but it is possible. Its all about uke showing and nage recognizing intent - the follow through seen in the dojo is dramatization for those of us who are unenlightened - but intent is all it takes. One would think that if you could not act upon uke's intent, and could only react to direct action, you wouldn't actually live long on the battle field.


07-28-2004, 01:29 AM
Ok... but if we are talking about self-defence and real, why not learn the stuff which is practiced in the same (or very close) manner as one would execute it in street... that could be a far more effective learning method... wait... it is...

When I had trained for 1,5 years I had a SD situation involving a knife. I came out clear but I'd say that the luck was on my side.

In the AlivenessGym Estonia we have a 3 months basic course. Half of the people who have completed it are actually able to fight... they are actually able to execute the techniques they have learned against a single opponent.

People who took Aikido for 9 months are still working on the basics and unless they got lucky, they'd be eaten if they had a "real life" encounter no matter it be a single opponent, multiple opponents or edged weapon situation.

07-28-2004, 03:33 AM
Jorgen, that's quite a different "problem" in aikido that's been expressed before. Check for some threads on training aikido for self-defense, you'll find that most of the posters agree they would teach aikido in a different manner if self-defense was their only goal from aikido.

(Looks forward to long thread arguing "whither aikido" and "that wouldn't work..")

Pdella, the other thing I'd add to the general mix of "if you 're good, they shouldn't get away" is that someone who's got decent training in aikido isn't some statue who depends on a single technique to work and is stumped if someone dares to do a counter. Aikido people can move and even become the "aggressor" (I apologise to everyone for the "a" word, but you know what I mean). If someone lets go or (even better) steps back, I'll accept what they're doing, follow their movements and do my damnedest to take the little darling down... hem, assuming that that wasn't a perfect time to disengage without harm to either party so being more in accord with aikido philosophy (did I get it right this time?)

07-28-2004, 04:35 AM
The conversion of ol Happy proceeds apace. <---- evil plan of the Shodothugs

Aikido is dynamic - techniques change and change again all depending on circumstance. Letting go of the wrist (why was it grabbed in the first place?) only leads to another waza.

I'm also one of the persons who says if you want to fight, give me six months and my choice of a limited number of techniques and you will do just fine. If you want to explore the richness of Aikido at the same time it will take you longer.

07-28-2004, 05:49 AM
Being one with my Ki, I blend with the evil shodthug plan and just wonder "hmm, is that a knife in your hand or are you just glad to mune-tsuki"