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Old 08-06-2000, 10:27 PM   #1
Dojo: Tacoma Aiki Dojo
Location: Olympia, WA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 3
I have a very important question I would appreciate your help in exploring.

Full speed randori seems to me to lead toward very effective practical self defense training. After all, a street attack will also probably be full speed too (or you could just walk slowly away, right?).

Setting aside the issue of atemis (strikes) for a moment, I am wondering if it is really possible to practice TRULY full speed randori without risking serious injury to the uke UNLESS the locking techniques (such as ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, and especially shiho nage) are dropped in favor of aiki nages (kokyu nages) only - throws dependent upon balance, movement and timing only and not requiring the locking or twisting of any limb.

For example, as I FINISH a shiho nage at FULL speed I don't think there is an uke anywhere who could move fast enough to not have his shoulder dislocated. I can move my hands through two feet much faster than an uke can fling his entire body through a 12 foor arc to the mat.

These locking techniques, after all, did come from joint dislocation techniques in the combat origins of our art and when we start to move at full speed (as in a real street situation) I can't see how to avoid this kind of serious injury problem unless the joint locking techniques are skipped entirely.

I understand that Kenji Ota Sensei in Goleta, Caliornia is successfully training his students in full speed randori with a track record of many years with no serious injuries. He gave an interview published in AIKIDO TODAY MAGAZINE #68 describing his training methods in advanced ukemi and full speed randori.

I was struck by his description of how one of his black belt students was jumped once by eight gang members while walking home one night. He threw three of them down causing the other five to flee, surprising the police later who knew these gang members to be particularly violent. He is quoted as saying, "I didn't have time to think. I never even hit anybody. I just did randori as I'd done in every class for four years."

I found this story to be inspiring. It has always seemed to me that if Aikido can allow us to follow through with what we do exactly as we would on the street then we are expressing the highest values of Aikido in our training - a form of "non-violent" self defense, if you will.

The key to Ota Sensei's evident success seems to lie in the (eventual) practice of full speed randori by his students. And, again, I just can't help but wonder how it would be possible to perform the joint locking techniques at FULL speed without seriously injuring the uke.

Now I want to be clear here that my mind is not closed on this issue. I am posting this subject hoping that some of you reading this can share with me your insights and understandings.

For example, I have at my side next to Ota Sensei's interview a copy of John Perkins' new book "Attack Proof" which advocates the need to use devastating atemi first and continuously, primarily to the eyes and throat, in his brutal but evidently efficient self defense approach drawn from WWII commando techniques created for the OSS and other elite combat groups.

His point (which I have also heard from some very high ranking Aikido instructors as well) seems to be that on the street everything happens double quick fast and it is vital to strike the attacker first and fast for you to survive.

I am not trying to stir up any old arguments over atemis, yes or no, here. What I am interested in is the simple fact that having taught both kinds of self defense arts (not unlike John Perkins' as well as Aikido), I believe that the truth of the matter is that if you ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH with your techniques you are TRULY training for what you find yourself doing for self defense in the street as well.

For example, if I practice a striking technique designed to attack the eyes, I must "pull" that strike in practice. However, if I use an Aikido kokyu nage, I can practise at full speed exactly the same way I would do it on the street. In the first case there always remains that separation between practice and reality, whereas in the second case there is no such separation. I believe that we end up doing what we practice most.

(I am also setting aside the moral question regarding using a maiming or potenially lethal technique as opposed to a throwing technique, of course).

I have privately written today to Ota Sensei asking if he could enlighten me regarding the use of joint locking techniques in his training approach but I wanted to take full advantage of this forum to ask you for YOUR knowledge, thoughts and opinions on this terribly interesting subject (at least to me).

Thank you,
George Smith

George Smith
Tacoma Aiki Dojo
Volunteer instructor Lakewood YMCA
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