Dojo: Aikido of Fresno
Location: Fresno , CA
Join Date: Apr 2005
Re: Really, grab my wrist!
A wrist grab, when used as a means to control someone is a transitory position. If I want to pull you into my car, then I may grab your wrist, if it's the most expedient part of you for me to grab, but I do not have any specific need to hold the wrist. Hair, your arm, your purse, your leg, your neck are all good things for me to grab, if I simply want to control you. But I grab them so I can pull you into a better holding position, like a bear hug. The wrist grab is simply a quick start position from which I will soon transition into a better hold.
This lack of commitment, is not what we see in Aikido techniques. In Aikido techniques we see Uke having a need to hold the wrist quite specifically. If I have a weapon in my hand, you cannot let go of my hand unless you want to be struck by my weapon. This gives the attacker (uke) a real need to hold your wrist specifically. In Aikido wrist grabs are not a transitory position, they are the attack, because if you can hold my weapon hand, you can stop me from inflicting life ending damage to you.
Further, the common Aikido syllabus doesn't have escape techniques for the most common unarmed holds (e.g. bear hugs, waist locks, headlocks, other common core control techniques), but has a multitude of escape techniques from wrist controls. Why would this be? In an unarmed system, one that is going to have application in a grappling range, one would expect at least a few common unarmed hold escapes. So why don't we find these in Aikido, yet we find lots of wrist grab escapes?
If we understand Aikido as a weapon based system the answer is clear. If you don't control my weapon hand, I will simply cut you down. If you try a side headlock on an armed person, there is no need for them to have a means of escape, they can simply cut themselves out. If we can keep our weapon free, common holds offer us little problem. This is why there is a premium put on freeing the wrist, and not on escaping common holds.
As far as the "I don't carry weapons" argument goes, it's a moot point. First and foremost the samurai did carry weapons, lots of them, always. So from the stand point of a system inspired by the Samurai perspective, they were people who always carried weapons. A Samurai wasn't going to "ground and pound", he was going to cut you down, the only way you might possibly stop him (if you were not armed yourself) would be to gain wrist control. These techniques (Aikido techniques) come from a weapon culture, that's what they work for.
Second, if you are serious about self defense you do carry weapons. Anyone who seriously considers the need to protect themselves will carry weapons. Aikido is a perfect system of study for these people.
Third, if you are an aware person, you are almost never unarmed. Bottles, sticks, rocks, fire extinguishers, kitchen knives, car keys, brooms, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc all make expedient weapons. If you are aware of the need for a weapon, you can almost always find one rather quickly. Once you are armed, the only real chance someone stands in a fight with you is to eliminate your use of the weapon, wrist grabs are a good way to do this.
Sorry for the long post.