Training outside your weight class
After years of reading this site, I finally got around to joining. My name is Ari Bolden and I'd like to share my insights about training outside ones weight class.
As aikidoka, we don't usually have this problem, but I have encountered it from time to time in the dojo's I have visited.
There are some practitioners that will refuse to train with someone who is "X" amount heavier (taller/shorter) than them (for fear of getting hurt or not being able to do the technique?)
I am a big fan of cross training (just so you know where I am coming from) and have focused my training towards Aikido, Daito Ryu jujitsu, and bjj. I was always fascinated by the origins of Aikido (and where O Sensei learned many of his techniques) hence the reason I started to study Daito Ryu.
But I have digressed. Onto my topic.
What I am going to expound upon here is nothing new to the martial arts world. I thought I might write it down so others not familiar with "no weight class" might better understand what I am talking about.
I train and teach under the "reality based" ideal. That means, in the real world, you are going to encounter people much larger and smaller than yourself. Training with this fact in mind is extremely important.
When the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) first started, they had no weight classes (I realize this isn't the real world, I just thought it was a good example). They also had tournament style matches (where the winner would advance to the next round that very same night). Often, competitors would be out weighed by 50 or even 100 pounds. Those martial artists who TRAINED against different sizes ultimately went on to win those early UFCs.
My original training partner was 6'6'' 285 pounds. I stand 6'1, 180 pounds. For months and months we wrestled and sparred with one another. I had to focus on technique because I could not match his size or strength. Conversely, my partner had to work on his endurance, since I would rely on timing and "going the distance" in order to burn him out.
On the other hand, I sparred with one of my students (age 61, weight 145 pounds with 30 years of wrestling behind his belt) and it was completely different. His experience, balance, and range of mobility required me to re adjust all my techniques. Was it easier sparring with him? No-not by a long shot.
When real life encounters come your way, there are no rules regarding size (that goes for age, sex, skill level et al). Professionals are predictable. It's the amateurs you have to watch out for.
When I teach, I constantly switch students so they get a good selection of partners. Everyone moves differently, so this cross section increases skill level.
I look forward to hearing your replies and learning from your experiences.
Bujitsu Academy of Victoria
You and I are the exact height/weight.
A person was under some influence of alcohol once after a party, and I made the mistake of trying to jokingly "shihonage" him.
He's about 250lbs, maybe 6"0 .
I'm 180lbs, 6"1 .
What resulted is him trying to grab me and slam me into things, and I kept instinctively avoiding and "blending", because going AGAINST his power was impossible.
Technique ? Maybe... if we weren't trapped in a small thin corridor.
I used his power ONLY, and we kept slamming each other into walls, not unlike that part in Terminator 2 where they, well, slam each other into walls.
I've also been able to show sankyo and shihonage to a security guard at work who severely outweighed me... and he was resisting like a person naturally would, which caused me to bounce between the opposing rotating movements involved, before settling in which direction I'm going.
I have no real life experiences to fall upon but at my dojo our instructor makes a point of having us change partners with every new technique. It is invaluable in my eyes and I quite agree with all the original poster has to say here. I feel more confident in my techniques after a class where I've had to take on an uke with strength and bulk, or slight of build and very short or someone short and strong. The techniques must change slightly with each body type and had I not the chance to practice with different people I would not know this small, but important fact.
"Professionals are predictable. It's the amateurs you have to watch out for."
That is an interesting comment. I'll take that on board.
"Professionals are predictable. It's the amateurs you have to watch out for."
I find this above statement to be true. I work in a field where physical conflict is a weekly occurance. I've been doing so for the past 8 years. I know (for me) what works and what doesn't when a uke isn't trained or wants to follow.
I use a lot of chokes (kubishime) in my technique. Why? Because it negates any size advantage. Also, aikido, used in a real world setting, has to be broken down into basics. You must also be able to read the body of the uke.
Like I teach my students:
1)Keep your system simple.
2)You must have 100 % intent when doing a technique
3) Be prepared to improvise and change your technique at a moments noctice
Thanks for the replies!
I hate training outside my weight class, those smaller guys have such an advantage in Aikido. ;-)
I too run into people who don't want to train against "the big guy" at 6'4" and 225 lbs. Others appreciate the challenge becasue they must do the waza correctly to make it work. Most of the time we just train with each other irregardless of weight class.
Here are my thoughts, take 'em or leave 'em:
1. The idea of not training with someone due to thier size and weight is absurd. You train to improve yourself, why limit your training by limiting your training partners. The more variety you get in body types the more rounded you will be as a martial artist and better prepared to defend yourself if need be.
2. As far as 'real world' street application is concerned, Aikido is probably not ones' best choice for a martial art. (Wait don't freak out let me explain). I see Aikido as a spiritual "Art" moreso than a practical self defense vehicle. True, those who can do it at a VERY high level can effectively defend themselves on the street, however, I think hour per hour on the mat a person who learns to kick, punch and block a right cross will fare better than the Aikidoka.
I've trained Goshin Budo Jiu Juitsu and currently study Aikido and though I love my Aikido training you can bet I'm throwing low kicks in fight (at least until I'm at that higher level in Aikido).
Additionally, Aikido really doesn't provide for the fight that goes to the ground where most end up. Miss that block/tenkan/lead just a tad and you'r down on the sidewalk trying to figure out how to do Kote Gaeshi from your back with a drunk on top of you.
So in that respect I think Aikido lags behind some other martial arts in terms of practical application on the street.
I must agree with you. That is why I started my study in daito ryu, bjj, and reality base defense.
Aikido: great stand up!
Bjj: Great ground defense!
= well rounded defense.
I too train in aikido for the pure love of the art and I find it mixes well with the grappling arts.
I initially trained in FMA/JKD and we didn't use weight classes either. The sticks and blades made for great equalizers. Blends well with Aikido.
If you've decided you're studying a martial art, then you should be training with all types of people in all weight classes. Just like training on both left and right sides.
Only in combat sports do you have the luxury of training for one weight class, can turn your back on an opponent or limit your training to one or two techniques.
I love your posts, but you missed the mark on this one.
First, combat sports do train outside their weight class --- just like aikidoist do.
Second, restriction to a specific weight class happends during full resistance, one on one randori. This type of randori often is as intense as shiai --- and something aikidoist rarely, if ever do. If you've ever done so, you would know why. The potential for injury is high enough to begin with, adding a bigger, stronger opponent (who's just as skilled) is flurting with a very serious injury.
Third, there's a bit of a "holier than thou" undercurrent in this statement. You can make your point with reasoned responses, and keep the barbs out of it. In short, don't confuse the context. A combat sport fellow isn't going to restrict themselves to sport strategy any more than an aikidoist is going to, once again, drop into seza if attacked.
When judo started after WWII, there were many black belts who didn't know judo. They got excellent tournament results, but that was because they restricted themselves to two or three techniques. They practiced those techniques exclusively because they knew they could win tournaments with them.
Years ago a judo guy here was in a fight. He used a shoulder throw which is a common effective technique. But it turns your back on your opponent, even if momentary. He died after the guy knifed him in the back during the throw.
I know aikido practices ushiro (back) attacks, but that's to get you use to having people around you. In a real fight you can't have someone behind you. You can see that in ju-jitsu, where you keep your opponent in front of you.
A combat sports person must keep themselves within the rules of the game in order to win. Look what happened to Tyson after he bit off his opponent's ear.
Generally I try to keep my posts short. However, by doing this I lose out on giving the thoughts behind my statements. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to explain myself. After re-reading my own statements, I can see why they would be interpeted as "barbs".
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