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Old 01-05-2008, 04:28 AM   #87
Peter Ralls
Dojo: Suganami Aikikai SF
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 32
Re: I'm Leaving Aikido


I've been a law enforcement officer for twenty four years, and started aikido before I began my law enforcement career. i've used aikido and aikido techniques successfully many times. I have also been unsuccessful in applying aikido techniques at times as well.

I have also trained in another of other martial arts as well, and have used some of those art's techniques as well. Through hands on experience trying to control people in real life, I've learned what works for me, and when, and what hasn't worked for me. I thing each martial art that I have studied has it's strong points and weak points. There are some scenarios where I think aikido is very effective, and some where it's going to be very difficult to apply. For example, I have used sankyo dozens of times on drunks that are not responding to verbal commands. Now, I have trained a long time, but a lot of the cops I work with have received much less training than even a relative beginner in aikido like yourself, and I have seen them use sankyo successfully as well.

Now, when I put sankyo on a drunk, I have to grab his arm and get the wrist control on him before his addled mind can figure out what's going on. So I've learned to do it pretty fast. Still, a lot of times, the other person is going to feel the wrist control coming. Peoples natural reaction when you are trying to apply a control hold to their arm or wrist, is to pull the arm away and lock it against their body. When that happens, it is going to be pretty difficult to apply an aikido technique, but applying a judo technique is very simple. Judo is very well designed to deal with people pulling their arms into their bodies and tightening up. So if I miss the sankyo and the person pulls his arms in, I sweep their leg with an osoto gari and take them to the ground. I have done this many times as well, and I learned how to do this by trial and error in real struggles.

It's also very easy to justify this combination in terms of an escalation of force. So my report would read something like, "X failed to obey my verbal commands, so at that point I took control of his right arm to attempt to apply a control hold. X violently pulled his arm away from me, preventing my application of the control hold. I then swept his right leg with my right leg and brought him to the ground, where I was able to gain control of him." This gives his lawyer very little ammunition to use against me in a excessive force complaint.

If someone is coming at me trying to hit me, it's not the time to try and find a wrist technique, though I did pull off a kote gaeshi once. Generally when people have been trying to hit me I have had to respond with strikes with my hands or knees, or an impact weapon. But what a lot of people don't realize about strikes is that it people don't just fall down when you hit them once or twice, like in the video you posted. When I hit someone now I am always trying to hit them at an angle where I will knock them down. Sometimes I find it, and sometimes I don't. But some of the striking arts that promise that a strike or two will win the fight, like your video with multiple attackers where the defender hits one guy, who is then incapacitated and falls down, and the other attackers run away, doesn't exactly correspond with my real life experience. My experience is when you have to overcome someone by hitting them, it is usually a very prolonged and bloody experience.

And whenever I have been involved in this kind of thing the attacker frequently makes a complaint of excessive force. They always remember you hitting them, but seem to magically forget they started off hitting you.

So, anyway, in my experience, control holds such as sankyo and rear wrist locks (nikkyo variation) work well if you can get them on before the fight starts. Judo techniques work well when you are struggling with someone and you are holding on to each other, which actually seems to happen a lot. (We tend to grab onto people a lot in police work.) When someone is coming at you with strikes, striking in return is going to be the simplist way to go. I have gotten behind people with an irimi nage type entry, but have ended up bear hugging them from behind, I've never gotten off a classic irimi nage, probably because in real life the ma-ai is too short.

Last of all though, if you want your aikido to be more effective, you have to try and train realistically. If your dojo does everything slow motion, it's going to be hard to get much realism there. I am a big believer that if one martial art doesn't meet your needs or make you happy, go find another one. So I fully support your desire to go try different martial arts, I think that is a very good idea. But if you decide you want to come back to aikido, I would suggest finding a dojo where they train faster and more realistically. There are dojos out there that do. And last of all, my opinion is that the only way to make your martial art practise truly realistic is to actually use it in real life and learn for yourself what works and doesn't. It seems to me that you are already well along the way there. Good luck in your training.

Peter Ralls
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