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Old 02-20-2011, 10:34 PM   #56
ChrisHein's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Fresno
Location: Fresno , CA
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,646
Re: Really, grab my wrist!

David Orange wrote: View Post
Bear hugs, waist locks, headlocks and other kinds of general controling attacks were part of the aikido syllabus I learned from day one and I've seen them taught elsewhere, as well. I can't imagine serious aikido training without that range of basics.
depending on what style of Aikido you study you may learn a few common escape holds. But as this is not true across the board. When looking at what all styles of Aikido have in common we have, Katate, Gyakute, Morote, Ryote, Ushiro Kubishimi, and Ushiro ryote, Escapes. Some styles have a few common hold escapes, but these are not at the heart of our practice. My main Aikido teacher was an Uchi-deshi of Morihiro Saito, I don't believe we covered Headlock escapes two times during my training with him. Looking through Ueshiba's books I don't see any common hold escapes. I'm sure he did them at one point or another, but they are certainly not in anyway an important part of Aikido training as a whole.

But the real reason for teaching wrist grabs is that they're the easiest way to teach the kihon technique and the movements apply with little modification to straight punches, hooks, yokomen uchi, shomen uchi, etc., as well as weapon attacks. And wrist grabs are the most likely attacks to be encountered by women and children.
Wrist grab attacks are common to Koryu Jujutsu. They were not thinking of training women or children. Koryu Jujutsu, even though it's very hard to speak about such a diverse group of systems, does lots of work around wrist grabbing. The reason for this is because they train the samurai culture, a weapon culture, where someone holding your wrist (weapon hand) is a real threat. The idea that we train from wrist grabs because it's simpler comes from people not understanding the kinds of techniques we are training.

You mentioned somewhere that you've been a black belt in aikido for ten years or so. I've been a black belt for 29 years and in that time, I've seen the thing you describe (nage holding a weapon) maybe five times. Minoru Mochizuki referred to it once (and only tangentially) out of thousands of times I practiced wrist grabs in his dojo. He pointed out that if someone grabs you in jun katate dori (single-hand same-side grab), the escape is as simple as raising your arm as if you were raising a sword: the attacker's grip in easily broken in that way. He never addressed the idea of the aikidoka's being armed with a knife. There may have been some mention, once or twice, of some ancient roots in preventing a swordsman from drawing a sword, but that was mostly theoretical and in day-to-day training, the scenario was always of an unarmed civilian, walking along when he (or she) is suddenly grabbed and pulled into some bad situation. Of course, the grab could be a wrist grab, a choke, a headlock, escort hold, shoulder hold, two hands from the rear, bear hug, etc., etc., etc. The only person armed was the uke--never nage.
The modern idea of Aikido training is no doubt from the perspective of unarmed martial arts. However the techniques were never adapted to this idea. The Aikido syllabus is very similar to those found in Koryu small arms techniques. The techniques that best suit unarmed conflict that come from koryu Jujutsu can be found in Judo. The Judo syllabus and the Aikido syllabus are very different, yet both represent much of what can be found in Koryu Jujutsu. The techniques that are found in Aikido are those based around weapons conflict, even though we may want to use them in unarmed situations that is not what they are best designed to do. Wrist holding is VERY important in weapons conflict, but only trivial in unarmed conflict.

If someone is holding your wrist for dear life (which is the case if you are armed and fighting them) it IS NOT easy to make them let go. It's VERY difficult.

Besides this, even if someone grabs my wrist when I'm holding a knife, I can cut their arm with no problem. And if I have a drawn sword in my hand, a wrist grab will not deter me in the least from cutting the attacker in half. That whole idea is completely mistaken.
If you grab the wrist correctly, a knife cannot cut you. If you don't know how to grab a wrist, than it can be easy. Here's a video from my website showing the right way to grab a wrist:

If you grab the swords man's wrist before he can draw his sword, and you continue to hold it (non transitory wrist grab), you can keep him from drawing his sword, thus keeping him from cutting you in half. If he manages to draw his sword anyways, and you keep hold of the wrist, you can move your body with the cuts (having the wrist slows him, and quickly tells you where he is going with the cut) and try to keep him from cutting you in half. Dealing with someone with a weapon is ridiculously difficult, but having control of his weapon hand is your best chance. As the guy with the weapon (Aikido syllabus) the wrist grab cost you, time, effort, and control. The ability to quickly defeat the wrist grab is of the utmost importance.

Although Sokaku Takeda was known to carry a dagger and sometimes a sword cane, the prime weapon of Daito Ryu was the iron fan: good for smacking and smashing, but not sharp and not a cutting instrument. Ueshiba was never known to carry a knife or sword in daily life, though he did often carry a fan. Also, many other Daito Ryu men carried fans--some of them iron. None is noted for having carried knives or other blades as a matter of course. So this line of speculation seems to have no grounding in fact and only leads to some bad thinking, bad imagination and bad spiritual influence in general.
No imagination necessary. Iron fan is a common Koryu Jujutsu weapon. Koryu Jujutsu deals mainly with the use of small weapons (like iron fans, tanto, or other kakushi buki. Systmes like this use lots of techniques from wrist grabs. Aikido isn't a Koryu, but it is heavily influenced by them. And the similarity of techniques is obvious. Takeda and Ueshiba were no strangers to these ideas, they were in fact masters of them, and this can quickly be seen in their bodies of work.

Again, after all these years walking alone in one of the most dangerous cities in the US, with over 36 years of aikido training (and karate before that), I wonder why I have never felt the need to carry a weapon? I've faced multiple attackers more than once, some of them armed, and I've never had to actually fight any of them. I only actually touched another person once and it didn't go any further than that.
If the need to carry weapons was this trivial you would not find their use so common amongst the military. Contemplating self defense with out the use of weapons handicaps you at best, and is a venture into fantasy at worst. Why defend your life from a weak point?

I do remember a student, once, who was fascinated by guns and double-edged knives. He wanted me to teach him the techniques from Mike Echanis' book on knife fighting since it looked exactly like what I do except with a knife in each hand. He wanted to go to the military and go kill people in South America. I declined to teach him any further. Years later, after a stint in the Army, he was approached at an ATM by a guy with a gun. He drew his 9mm and shot the fellow in the leg. The robber dropped to the ground and shot upward, shooting my old student through the heart. The guy who had built his life around weapons ran several yards before falling dead.
This is a tragic story, but I don't understand it's point. If the point is "he who lives by the sword dies by the sword", I understand where you are coming from, but I don't see how it applies to Aikido training. Ueshiba was VERY interested in swords and guns. He fought in wars, and likely killed people. While he learned the horrors of this lifestyle, he still understood the truth of weapons. This if very likely why he wanted to end violence and fighting in the world, an point I agree with. But none of this changes the fact that grabbing someone's wrist is important if they are using a weapon on you. And if you ever find yourself in the horrible situation of having to defend your life, and someone attempts to control your weapon hand, you must quickly clear it; or better yet use the weapon hand to lead them to a position where they can't grab it.

That line of thinking is mistaken and misguided and it's best abandoned before it leads you into worse mistakes.
I'm not sure where you are going with this either.

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