Thread: hold downs?
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Old 01-01-2002, 09:21 AM   #12
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Vermont
Location: New Hampshire
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 20
Originally posted by daedalus
Are there any police officers on the list who have used an aikido pin on an arrestee? Has it worked without breaking a joint?
Yes, I have, and yes, it did. It's never the pin in its purest form, but it's often recognizable. I have used Aikido movements in other control situations, and found them effective. In all of those cases, the people were trying to get away and had to go through or past me to achieve it. I have yet to have someone try to kill me barehanded. The difference between someone trying to get away and someone trying to kill you is significant.

After all, we are not always practicing for the worst case. We are practicing for the best possible response to any case, including less-than-lethal situations.

One thing which we do not address much on the mat is the psychological interaction, which is critical. (I believe that the main reason we don't practice this is that there's no way to practice it dynamically; the best we can do is rote conversations, which could described as a sort of verbal kata.) When I take someone down, it's not just wham! down you go and that's it. I do my best to control effectively but compassionately, and that includes a verbal appeal to reason. "Sir, please cooperate! I don't want either one of us to get hurt!" or "Ma'am, if you continue to resist, you will be charged with another crime. Why penalize yourself because of what someone else did?" or "How will this help you?" This engages the mind, and it also sends a number of simultaneous messages:

I'm acknowledging the risk to both of us, not trying to pretend that it's my way or the highway. This avoids the trap of provoking an ego response, where he feels the urge to prove me wrong.

I'm engaging his attention, so that he is not concentrating completely on defeating me physically. This divided attention is critical to maintaining a position of advantage.

By making this effort, and trying to communicate, I'm acknowledging his dignity, which is very important in a situation with such potential for humiliation. That, alone, has saved me many physical confrontations.

This brings me to courtesy. I cannot recall who said, "The purpose of etiquette is self-defense." In my experience this is true. I have avoided many confrontations, fights, complaints, internal investigations and lawsuits by going out of my way to explain something in detail; or letting a person talk for awhile and express a grievance or opinion, whether or not I agree; or simply by addressing him or her courteously.

Courtesy is my first line of defense after awareness, but it's more than that. I have found that when I am at my best in any stage of a confrontation, I am invariably at my most courteous. Courtesy, practiced thoroughly and consistently, can inform not just our conscious choice of tactics, but also our unconscious physical actions. It is very powerful in this way, but so subtle that it's easy to miss, and difficult to appreciate fully. Perhaps this is because I don't think that you can be on your best behavior without genuinely caring about the other person, and being invested in the outcome. Courtesy helps us achieve that state of mind.

I think that studying this thoroughly is one way to realize that the end and the means are in fact the same thing. How we do a thing is just as important as what we do, but it's more than that: it's the same thing.

I know that this has strayed somewhat from the original question. I've been exploring these notions consciously for quite awhile now, and I suddenly saw the connection between pinning someone down physically and engaging his or her spirit. So I thought that I'd explore it.

Best wishes,

Speireag Alden
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