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Old 07-05-2009, 08:10 PM   #1
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Cannot Lo

Students have heard me use this expression as a starting point to explore some crucial aspects of Aikido.  These aspects have to do with Proper Distance, Connection, and Communication.
Proper distance, Maai (in Japanese) is an important inter-relationship between two, or more people.  We conduct an experiment in our dojo on a regular basis to help students understand how this concept is both relational (as opposed to static) and preconscious in nature.  To new students, or other people reading this site, here is the experiment:  place two people about five to ten yards apart from one another.  One person’s job is to focus on the person approaching and tell that person to stop when a sense of discomfort is felt.  The person who is approaching the stationary person is to approach three times with three distinct mindsets.  One, as though you want to kill that person.  Two, from aninterpersonally cordial-to-neutral perspective.  Three, from the perspective of greeting a best friend or lover.  Typically, when a person approaches a man with the intent to kill that person, you will see the man make an involuntary movement when the sense of discomfort is reached and then let the approaching person take one to three more steps closer before telling that person to stop.  When that happens, point this movement out and ask the person to tell the approaching person to stop the moment discomfort is felt as opposed to when this level of discomfort is intolerable.  Women tend to have much better common sense about this than men.  When the person tells the approaching person to stop when discomfort is felt and they each reach out their arms from their now stationary positions, the distance between the hands is usually one body length to approximately the length of the elbow to the tip of the hand.  This Proper Distance stops the person at a range where real, hand-to-hand fighting is simply not possible without the further closing of distance.  In the second condition, the person is usually told to stop at a distance that allows both parties to either take one step forward to shake hands, or to simply reach out and shake hands.  The third condition usually results in a distance that ranges from  hand-to-shoulder contact, to a distance in which people can begin to hug one another.
This creation of distance between two or more people happens at a pre-conscious level.  We do not think to feel a sense of discomfort, we simply feel it.  What we choose to do with that feeling is another story altogether.  The saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” comes alive when we explore the concept of proper distance.  We can have a far greater impact upon a potential aggressor when the aggressor is within arms reach.  The positive and centered energy that we strive to put forth in confrontational settings allows us to control the distance in a manner that is allow us to act at a distance that is too close for the other person to respond effectively, while allowing us to apply effective applications of techniques.
Connection is an easy way to describe the process of two or more people imparting an influence upon the other person(s).  This interaction can be neutral, negative, or positive in nature.  Being aware of the presence of a connection with someone else is a helpful tool in any interpersonal encounter.  This connection happens at both a conscious andpreconscious level.  Many people do not give much thought or assigned importance to the preconscious level, despite it being perhaps the most important level of information received.  We all are capable of connecting and becoming aware of connections at this level.  Simply acknowledging that when we enter into personal encounters we get a “feeling” as to who we might like or dislike, or even whether or not we feel comfortable being in that setting.  We become conscious of this information to the extend to which we “listen” to that “feeling” part of our being.
Putting out “positive vibes” is an important way of creating a sense of connection that allows others to approach us at a distance that is “friendly” close.  Inother-words , we can actively manipulate the sense of proper distance that others use when interacting with us.  From a martial arts perspective, it is relatively obvious that controlling this distance is an important component towards being able to effectively stay safe.  Consciously effecting the preconscious experience of a potential attacker is an important martial arts tool.
Both of the factors talked about above, point to the importance of communication in any situation in which humans interact.  From a martial arts perspective, controlling the level and nature of communication has profound implications.  This acknowledgment and use communication is another uniquely effective andpositive aspect of Aikido .  When people are in a conflict with another person, the ability to listen to that other person is typically compromised.  Yet this is the most important time to be listening!  People tend to be amazed when a highly skilledAikidoka seems to “know” when and how you are going to attack before you think that you have communicated this information to them.  There is no mystery or magic there.  It is simply being calm, centered and positively connected with the other person in a manner that allows us to “listen” to important information that is given before a person is usually aware that he/she is sending this information out.
At another level, an attacker is expecting to “hear” communication that conveys a sense of fear and/or aggression.  If we do not communicate this to the attacker, the attacker typically falls behind us in a time-continuum sense.  that person is expecting movement associated with fear and/oraggression .  Our movements are connected in a positive manner so that when the attacker is becoming aware of what we are doing to him/er in a physical sphere of interaction, it is usually too late for that person to effectively respond and/or counter our actions.
The expression “Just because the attacker wants to kill you does not mean that you cannot love that person” encapsulates some of the unique aspects ofAikido.  This week, We will look to explore this unique interpersonal paradigm that highlights the realization that Aikido is not about fighting, but about relating to a person in way that can keep us safe.
Marc Abrams … [visit site to read more]


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Old 07-05-2009, 09:04 PM   #2
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: 043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Canno

The most dangerous of all is the person that can approach with intent to harm while presenting a benevolent demeanor. Many serial killers and child molesters have the uncanny ability to mask their true intentions.
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:30 PM   #3
L. Camejo
 
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Re: 043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Canno

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote: View Post
The most dangerous of all is the person that can approach with intent to harm while presenting a benevolent demeanor. Many serial killers and child molesters have the uncanny ability to mask their true intentions.
Was about to say something similar. Well said.

Also, there is another side to this situation:
Quote:
This creation of distance between two or more people happens at a pre-conscious level. We do not think to feel a sense of discomfort, we simply feel it. What we choose to do with that feeling is another story altogether. The saying "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" comes alive when we explore the concept of proper distance. We can have a far greater impact upon a potential aggressor when the aggressor is within arms reach.
Alternatively, within arms reach the potential aggressor can also have a far greater impact on us. You are in essence describing (from a Tomiki Aikido perspective) the ideal ma ai of Aikido (arm's length - issoku itto) as compared to the ideal ma ai of grappling such as Judo or Jujutsu (inside of arm's length and closer). The ma ai determines ones strategic and tactical options. More distance often allows more space and time to redirect and create change before reaching a critical point where decisive action must be taken whether the situation is friendly or otherwise.

Quote:
The positive and centered energy that we strive to put forth in confrontational settings allows us to control the distance in a manner that is allow us to act at a distance that is too close for the other person to respond effectively, while allowing us to apply effective applications of techniques.
I think this may need to be clarified a bit for me to understand better.

A counter-exercise to what was described in the beginning is to ask the person with aggressive intent to approach the subject and stop at the point where they feel most comfortable to launch a successful attack. You will find that the aggressor will take up the best ma ai where the success factor for the attack is high but the creation of openings for counter-attack is minimized. So imho a person with aggressive intent also selects his ma ai to his liking, the thing is that this ma ai is also very close to that used by Aikidoists so when met with an inexperienced attacker it can be easily manipulated.

Think of this as the difference between a fight between skilled opponents who know the other person can exploit any opening, and a drunk, angry bully who plans to dominate without really thinking about his own safety. One is very careful, deliberate, centered and controlled in aggression, the other is often not and easy to off-balance.

Just my 5 cents. Interesting topic. We do a similar sort of practice.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 07-06-2009, 06:44 AM   #4
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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Re: 043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Canno

Ricky:

Your observation is absolutely correct. That is why a true sociopath intent on a violent act is so hard to read and to properly react to.

Larry:

I agree with your assessment about an attacker choosing maai. However, as long as you keep a calm, positive and connected center, the attacker almost always comes too close to you from the perspective of you being able to accurately read and subtly influence what happens next. That is my experience at least. I frequently practice this, where I ask students to approach and attack me in any manner of their choosing. Most of my students have substantial training in other forms of martial arts and are not afraid to tag me. I work hard at getting my students to honesty attack one another in a safe and measured manner so as to help them refine this skill.

Marc Abrams
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:13 AM   #5
L. Camejo
 
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Re: 043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Canno

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Larry:

I agree with your assessment about an attacker choosing maai. However, as long as you keep a calm, positive and connected center, the attacker almost always comes too close to you from the perspective of you being able to accurately read and subtly influence what happens next.
Sounds good Mark, this has been my experience also. I have found that this works best when one does not project any sort of "defensive stance" or "readiness to fight" per se. This often encourages the attacker to think that you are unprepared for the attack and "draws him in" or leads him a bit. Good tai sabaki and timing skills will help the Aikidoist close distance in an instant when the attack is launched, even though the attacker thinks he is relatively safe when he launches the attack.

Like you said, staying calm and centred is critical. Do you guys do any specific drills to develop this skill?

Best
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:25 AM   #6
Aikibu
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Re: 043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Canno

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
Sounds good Mark, this has been my experience also. I have found that this works best when one does not project any sort of "defensive stance" or "readiness to fight" per se. This often encourages the attacker to think that you are unprepared for the attack and "draws him in" or leads him a bit. Good tai sabaki and timing skills will help the Aikidoist close distance in an instant when the attack is launched, even though the attacker thinks he is relatively safe when he launches the attack.

Like you said, staying calm and centred is critical. Do you guys do any specific drills to develop this skill?

Best
LC
"There is no stance in Aikido" Shoji Nishio...Excellent Thread...

William Hazen
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:43 AM   #7
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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Re: 043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Canno

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
Sounds good Mark, this has been my experience also. I have found that this works best when one does not project any sort of "defensive stance" or "readiness to fight" per se. This often encourages the attacker to think that you are unprepared for the attack and "draws him in" or leads him a bit. Good tai sabaki and timing skills will help the Aikidoist close distance in an instant when the attack is launched, even though the attacker thinks he is relatively safe when he launches the attack.

Like you said, staying calm and centred is critical. Do you guys do any specific drills to develop this skill?

Best
LC
Larry:

I have a number of drills to help students with this. The funny part is that the drills are incorporated in the children's class and show up in their first test. It is easier to help reshape a child's response set because of less history on the response set. For the children, they learn tenkan and irimi movements into shomen strikes and mune tsuki with a bokken (requirements on their first and second tests).

With adults, I like the Systema training philosophy of training movement to be relaxed and centered while slowly ramping up the intensity and speed of an attack. As soon as the initial response set fails, it is important to back down the intensity. This is a function of "rewiring" how the body reacts to situations. These drills focus on connecting to the center of the attacker so that the initial movement and/or contact point results in either kazushi, or the locking-up of the attacker's body, while retaining a relaxed, positive and calm center in yourself. Many people just go through techniques with little thought to the very first point of connection (before contact) through the initial contact point. Frequently, people start their training after contact has been made. I would be very remiss to not point out that this emphasis in how to train was directly learned from my good friend and a teacher to me, George Ledyard Sensei.

Last week, I was working with the adults on entering into attacks from a Jo, rather than flinching or withdrawing (both of which have bad outcomes).

I frequently emphasize to my students that if their initial positions and responses are not good, then all of the techniques in the world that they may know will not be of use to them.

Funny enough, I was going to give this blog another title, which I also use in class. That is "killing them with kindness." That sounds much too violent for us peace-loving Aikidoka .

Marc Abrams

ps.: William, I really look forward to meeting you on the mats sometime in the near future. I am a big fan of your posts!
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Old 07-06-2009, 10:55 AM   #8
L. Camejo
 
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Re: 043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Canno

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
"There is no stance in Aikido" Shoji Nishio...
Exactly... Yet people still stand in hanmi before a strike instead of shizen hontai.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 07-06-2009, 11:01 AM   #9
L. Camejo
 
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Re: 043) Just Because The Person Is Coming To Kill You, Does Not Mean That You Canno

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Larry:

I have a number of drills to help students with this. The funny part is that the drills are incorporated in the children's class and show up in their first test. It is easier to help reshape a child's response set because of less history on the response set. For the children, they learn tenkan and irimi movements into shomen strikes and mune tsuki with a bokken (requirements on their first and second tests).

With adults, I like the Systema training philosophy of training movement to be relaxed and centered while slowly ramping up the intensity and speed of an attack. As soon as the initial response set fails, it is important to back down the intensity. This is a function of "rewiring" how the body reacts to situations. These drills focus on connecting to the center of the attacker so that the initial movement and/or contact point results in either kazushi, or the locking-up of the attacker's body, while retaining a relaxed, positive and calm center in yourself. Many people just go through techniques with little thought to the very first point of connection (before contact) through the initial contact point. Frequently, people start their training after contact has been made. I would be very remiss to not point out that this emphasis in how to train was directly learned from my good friend and a teacher to me, George Ledyard Sensei.

Last week, I was working with the adults on entering into attacks from a Jo, rather than flinching or withdrawing (both of which have bad outcomes).

I frequently emphasize to my students that if their initial positions and responses are not good, then all of the techniques in the world that they may know will not be of use to them.

Funny enough, I was going to give this blog another title, which I also use in class. That is "killing them with kindness." That sounds much too violent for us peace-loving Aikidoka .

Marc Abrams
Very nice Marc... I really like your approach. Please share more if you can. It's always good to find new ways to approach these areas of training.

Best
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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