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Old 08-17-2009, 05:21 AM   #1
Reuben
 
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My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Just thought i'll share my thoughts on the matter.

I cross train Aikikai Aikido with CMD an MMA style that draws from western boxing, muay thai and BJJ.

I've been training in Aikido for perhaps say 16 years.

However lately, after about 6 months into my training in CMD, I have found that certain aspects of CMD have been incorporated into my Aikido techniques and approach to the art which have unlocked insights that I would have probably not obtained in a traditional Aikido atmosphere.

Perception of an Attack

In Aikido, most students aren't really good attackers. In fact, I think in most Aikido schools, we're trained to be sloppy to let the other person learn the technique. Unfortunately even at the dan levels, due to repeated 'training' of sloppy attacks, we never quite learnt how to do a proper attack, getting further away from practicality.

However, CMD removed my fear of being punched. I no longer flinch and got used to the faster punch speeds. Hence when I trained Aikido, suddenly all the attacks were moving in slow motion and it became incredibly easy to dodge these with increasing efficiency.

You can't expect to apply Aikido to every attack

When I swapped these sloppy attacks with more realistic quick punches, you realized that there are punches that you can't do a technique on (for example a crisp jab), while others which give u a window of opportunity to do something (for example hooks and crosses). When practicing with my students who had little training of any sorts of punches, even when they were trying to punch quick and jab, I managed to complete techniques against these.

For crisp jabs, it was basically learning to keep a distance and circle (much like CMD) while deflecting them with non committal slaps. CMD talks about occupying the space with jabs, while Aikido has it all out there ALREADY occupying this space putting you in an ideal position to redirect non committal attacks without sacrificing defense. Perhaps this is a manifestation of ma-ai.

Realistic Sparring changes your Mindset- you can't always be passive

CMD also introduced me to realistic sparring where you don't really know how the other guy is going to attack. Aikido randoori or jiyuwaza isn't really 'free' in that there are still predetermined attacks and...holds....

It's one mindset doing jiyuwaza and another where there is a real danger of being punched and where it's accepted to get punched as part of the learning process. In an Aikido dojo, if you don't 'pull your punches' and actually connect with someone, you're labelled as a violent person which leads to overcompensation with fake, unrealistic attacks.

When approaching jiyuwaza with this mindset, you actually develop a more pro-active style, moving in before the person has fully gotten up and pre-emptively striking right before he strikes if his posture is weak.

It no longer is an elaborate dance but resembles a realistic scenario where you're really thinking about how to protect yourself. I think this is what many higher dan Aikido masters have found when they mentioned that in a real life situation you need to take a lot more initiative rather than waiting for an attack to come to you.

In fact you unlock true 'jiyu' where you remove the rules of what's acceptable dojo sparring and are free to innovate.

Atemi is super important

Atemi is the act of striking your opponent. Now are often told that atemi is a distracting move and there are even some Senseis who see atemi as sort of a cheating move.

I don't see it that way but as a necessary extension of what Aikido is. In fact, I believe O-Sensei advocated the importance of this. In real life, your opponent is not going to be compliant or stationary and you need a surprise jolt to buy yourself enough time to get into position for a technique.

Training counter-punching in CMD is VERY relevant to the proper application of atemi. The timing and applying the necessary force to disorient your uke is an aspect not trained.

Too often in regular Aikido training, atemi is an afterthought, done poorly and more of just a movement that in the heat of a real fight, it's often forgotten or done ineffectively.

A proper atemi hurts. Imagine getting your face smacked by a fist or being punched below the ribs, and most people will be to disoriented to resist your technique.

Some techniques remain a mystery to me

Still some Aikido techniques continue to be a mystery to me and seem only applicable against a crazy guy charging at you giving you full committal. For example, certain versions of kokyu-ho seem incredibly unrealistic unless the guy continued to hold your hand throughout the movement. This is obviously ridiculous in a real life situation.

However I do see a point in learning these techniques as it does teach you the proper flow and extension needed to execute throws but this should be made clear from the beginning rather than passed off as a 'technique'.

A technique that can only be applied on a compliant uke, is not a real technique to me. It's a practice drill.

Aikido against a trained fighter

Now I have to admit, Aikido against a trained fighter will probably have very limited usage. An experienced fighter who just does a little research on Aikido can easily see what an Aikidoka is trying to do and easily prevent it.

Aikido does rely heavily on the element of surprise. In fact I'll be quite confident if I had to spar with someone who only knew Aikido.

Aikido has no place in the octagon/professional fighting as much as BJJ has no place outside 1 on 1 fighting.

However, the majority of the guys you are going to face are untrained fighters or people who aren't actually expecting you to resist in such a manner. This is really in most cases a true self defense scenario where you're going to be caught by surprise and the attacker isn't expecting you to fight back.

Just imagine getting yourself into a boxing stance when faced with attackers, it immediately puts them on notice that you know how to fight and they react accordingly.

The great thing about Aikido is that you can still assume a non threatening stance and yet be ready to explode into action. It builds muscle reflexes where if someone grabs me, I immediately instinctively move into a throw (yes I once threw my ex-gf and almost threw my Japanese tour operator). It is also very final and yet non lethal. Sure a punch in CMD should end most fights but a proper pin or throw has a certain finality to it perhaps only less as compared to a BJJ choke.

Aikido is still relevant

So in my opinion, Aikido is still very relevant. Sure it may not be as mano to mano effective as MMA, but its applications in a self defense situation are still very real as long as a more realistic emphasis is placed on training.

We often forget that legends such as O-Sensei and Gozo Shioda perfected their art through realistic matches/fights gaining the necessary instincts to be able to pull off Aikido. In a way, realistic sparring may be that missing element to complete Aikido.

Slow and unrealistic attacks do have a role in learning Aikido. It's just that we must learn that once we have reached a certain level of Aikido, it's time to move away from the rules that were created to protect us but at the same time restrain us from the true application of Aikido.

Last edited by Reuben : 08-17-2009 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 08-17-2009, 05:51 AM   #2
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Very interesting post, thanks!
Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
For example, certain versions of kokyu-ho seem incredibly unrealistic unless the guy continued to hold your hand throughout the movement. This is obviously ridiculous in a real life situation.
Why is this obviously ridiculous? Did you try it out?
They grab your wrist, you take their balance and keep them unbalanced throughout the technique. I think most people will hold on to your wrist. And if they do let go, they're in a disadvantageous position, giving you a chance to adapt and do something else.
Of course, in self-defense situations short techniques are preferable. The only reason I see to do something elaborate is if you need to keep adapting to what the other guy is doing, but I'd rather call that a chain of simple techniques than one elaborate technique.
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Old 08-17-2009, 06:54 AM   #3
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Yes, though I find it difficult to get a real litmus test on any hand grabbing techniques since

1) in most cases it's not the most natural way to attack someone.

2) when you tell someone to grab your hand you kinda already implant the thought for him to continue hanging on.

However with beginners for example halfway through a kokyu ho while the person is tenkanning, they let go. In fact in many demos, u find even some experienced ukes letting go early instead of feeling the entire follow through of the technique. When you feel that you're falling down it's only natural to let go of the thing that is bringing you down. When I was teaching students, I constantly had to tell them to consciously NOT let go to feel the full technique. Of course this had something to do with a not so committed attack but I can't imagine a situation where someone rushes at you with full dedication to....hold your hand. :P Maybe if you were in some repressive society that forbade hugs or perhaps in O-Sensei's time where you wanted to prevent someone from drawing his sword but certainly not in this day and age in my opinion anyway.

But point taken you might be right there though I hope this doesn't detract from the main thrust of my post is that there is a place for more realistic attacks and the training of proper attacks and not just the traditional ones in higher level Aikido which is lacking in most traditional schools. Cross training in sparring based discipline might be that missing link short of changing the way Aikido is taught.
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Old 08-17-2009, 07:16 AM   #4
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
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When you feel that you're falling down it's only natural to let go of the thing that is bringing you down.
But then you're falling already, so the throw (a throw) has been executed. In my opinion people will let go or resist if they realize you're going to do something with the grab before you actually do something with it. They're cued to your intention and they react to it.

Quote:
Cross training in sparring based discipline might be that missing link short of changing the way Aikido is taught.
Agreed. Every time I try to pull off something Aikido-like during Taikiken class, I'm reminded of the fact my Aikido training did not prepare me very well for this kind of situation.
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Old 08-17-2009, 07:27 AM   #5
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

I think Kokyu princples apply in grappling very much so. I am working on getting better at it, but I honestly believe that kokyu is very important in the clinch and when grappling in general. Doing it welll is another thing!

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Old 08-17-2009, 07:28 AM   #6
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
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Yes, though I find it difficult to get a real litmus test on any hand grabbing techniques since

1) in most cases it's not the most natural way to attack someone.

2) when you tell someone to grab your hand you kinda already implant the thought for him to continue hanging on.
What I've been taught is that it's a worst-case scenario for you and a best-case scenario for your attacker. You don't really want to let your attacker get close and establish a grip, but once they've done so and you begin to execute a technique, it's to their advantage to hang on rather than let go. That's the argument on paper, at least, and it's definitely the case when you're taking ukemi from someone who thinks beyond the dance-step-I-do-this-then-you-do-that type of exchange: if you lose your grip on such a person, if you don't move so you're not exposed, etc., you can tell you'd be in trouble if we weren't all good friends.

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Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
But point taken you might be right there though I hope this doesn't detract from the main thrust of my post is that there is a place for more realistic attacks and the training of proper attacks and not just the traditional ones in higher level Aikido which is lacking in most traditional schools. Cross training in sparring based discipline might be that missing link short of changing the way Aikido is taught.
I'm grateful for the years I spent freesparring in TKD. While I don't do it any more (the dojang went in one direction, I went in another), and while I'm conscious of its shortcomings, it did give me something that most aikidoka seem to lack, i.e., a lot of experience dealing with people in various shapes and sizes who are trying to hit you -- no scripted attacks, no one attack at a time, just whatever they could do (within the limits of sparring rules), when they wanted to, as many as they wanted to -- and if you got hit, it hurt. Having to deal with an attack that is coming at your head as fast as the attacker can manage it, over and over again, teaches you to react and not freeze.
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Old 08-17-2009, 08:25 AM   #7
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

My experience training with strikes in aikido is that more advanced practitioners demand serious attacks. There is an understanding that if you get punched, it's your own fault.

"The martial arts progress from the complex to the simple."
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:07 AM   #8
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

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My experience training with strikes in aikido is that more advanced practitioners demand serious attacks. There is an understanding that if you get punched, it's your own fault.
In my own experience (which may be different than yours), these serious attacks merely mean faster and stronger attacks which usually ends up like a traditional Japanese style attack, one hit, one kill sort of attack. That covers one sort of attacker in real life.

But many guys when they come at you, may throw a flurry of smaller punches which many Aikidoka are not necessarily ready to defend against. We might defend the first and even the 2nd but especially when real life punches aren't through a predetermined pattern, we usually end up getting punched.

Also I find that traditional Aikido uke attacks tend to have a big telegraphed movements that informs the nage what is coming. Again this may or may not be true in your experience but it's the general feeling I got from the dojos I've been to during my years of training. UK, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and I think almost all of them gave me this feeling. Also, I find that these attacks aren't really spontaneous....

I would very much like to hear any Aikidoka who has experienced a dojo with true jiyu (or at least in my opinion what jiyu should be like) where the guy can come with ANY attack and even throw combinations not just the traditional Aikido ones. If anyone could share their experience with this and how it has helped their Aikido training (or otherwise), I would be very interested to know your insights on the matter.
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:40 AM   #9
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

I would suggest reading the threads in the Non-Aikido Martial Traditions Forum. Specifically the ones relating to Aikido, Daito ryu aiki, and internal structure.
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:04 PM   #10
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
For example, certain versions of kokyu-ho seem incredibly unrealistic unless the guy continued to hold your hand throughout the movement. This is obviously ridiculous in a real life situation.
Answering this question was a big one for me. If you had some kind of weapon you were trying to use on "Uke", would it be ridiculous for him to continue holding.

I had a problem with not only Aikido attacks (like wrist grabbing) but also the commitment to the attack. I remember people saying to me "well wrestlers grab the wrist all the time. So wrist grabbing must make since." However in Aikido technique, there is a need for the attacker to continue holding the wrist. In unarmed martial arts, this is not a sound strategy. As soon as you apply something like a nikyo, your attacker will simply pull his hand away.

This changes dramatically when you add weapons to the situation. Now the attacker MUST hold on to your weapon hand, if he doesn't then you simply use your weapon on him.

You should try sparring with some wooden knives, or padded clubs, and see what turns up for you. It changed my whole practice, for the better!

Good luck!

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Old 08-17-2009, 12:15 PM   #11
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Reuben thanks for sharing. My only thoughts would be that atemi is not just limited to the strikes common to aikido or even strikes in the conventional sense. Atemi is perpetual and allows you to make a connection to the partner.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 08-17-2009, 04:47 PM   #12
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Reuben wrote:

Quote:
I would very much like to hear any Aikidoka who has experienced a dojo with true jiyu (or at least in my opinion what jiyu should be like) where the guy can come with ANY attack and even throw combinations not just the traditional Aikido ones. If anyone could share their experience with this and how it has helped their Aikido training (or otherwise), I would be very interested to know your insights on the matter.
Lots of experience with this.

I learned to clinch. Then I learned the clinch was the same as Irimi/Ikkyo and if you go to the outside to the back..that is same as iriminage. In the inside...well lots of things you can do as well.

The principles are all there, just have to learn to work with the tension and stress and the whole startle finch things. Also timing/distance and "push/pull" are variables that must all be dealt with.

If you are working "mid distance" i.e. boxing or sparring...well I don't go there and play...dangerous. Either you are in the fight or out of the fight...make up your mind and get there...fighting is not sparring.

Knifes. Well hard to talk about here without being able to demo. but again, you are either in the fight or out of the fight....don't screw around doing westside story.

But yeah, I tend to like to train with mass and size being thrown into the situation with lots of attacks one after the other since this is what kinda happens...not the size up and bounce of sparring...unless you are in a ego fight in a bar or something...which I don't do.

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Old 08-17-2009, 05:00 PM   #13
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
Just thought i'll share my thoughts on the matter.

I cross train Aikikai Aikido with CMD an MMA style that draws from western boxing, muay thai and BJJ.
CMD = Crazy Monkey Defense?

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Old 08-17-2009, 07:46 PM   #14
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

It's the acknowledgment of reality from threads like this, that keep me coming back to Aikiweb. There is so much fluff from many of the threads. Some are oblivious to the real world of self defense and effectiveness of techniques in a sparring situation. I love your perspective. It's always refreshing to read reality threads.

Thanks!
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:17 PM   #15
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Salim Shaw wrote: View Post
It's the acknowledgment of reality from threads like this, that keep me coming back to Aikiweb. There is so much fluff from many of the threads. Some are oblivious to the real world of self defense and effectiveness of techniques in a sparring situation. I love your perspective. It's always refreshing to read reality threads.

Thanks!
Salim,
Would you be so kind to point me towards those threads with the "fluff." I am surrounded by Marines at work all day so I like a little "fluff" in my life.
Thank You,
Ricky

Last edited by gdandscompserv : 08-17-2009 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:37 PM   #16
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
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Salim,
Would you be so kind to point me towards those threads with the "fluff." I am surrounded by Marines at work all day so I like a little "fluff" in my life.
Thank You,
Ricky
Wow, there are too many. Just do a search on "what color gi should I wear, when is ok to wear a Hakama, how do I transport a jo or bokken on a motorcycle." The list goes on. None of these things will help your Aikido. Wearing a Hakama and you just started Aikido yesterday does nothing for your technique, maybe hinder or cause you to be tied up. Probably used against you in a sparring situation. Too much focus on superficial things. I think you get the point.

Reuben Yap has the right perspective.

Last edited by salim : 08-17-2009 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:41 PM   #17
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
yes I once threw my ex-gf
Perhaps that is why she is your ex gf.

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
and almost threw my Japanese tour operator
How does one "almost" throw someone?

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
Aikido is still relevant
WHAaat?

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
In a way, realistic sparring may be that missing element to complete Aikido.
Please describe "realistic" sparring.

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
Slow and unrealistic attacks do have a role in learning Aikido. It's just that we must learn that once we have reached a certain level of Aikido, it's time to move away from the rules that were created to protect us but at the same time restrain us from the true application of Aikido.
How does one know when "we have reached a certain level of Aikido?"
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:47 PM   #18
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Salim Shaw wrote: View Post
Wow, there are too many. Just do a search on "what color gi should I wear, when is ok to wear a Hakama, how do I transport a jo or bokken on a motorcycle." The list goes on. None of these things will help your Aikido. Wearing a Hakama and you just started Aikido yesterday does nothing for your technique, maybe hinder or cause you to be tied up. Probably used against you in a sparring situation. Too much focus on superficial things. I think you get the point.

Reuben Yap has the right perspective.
Thank you Salim. I didn't know you were an advocate of naked sparring. Do you have females at your dojo? I must visit sometime.
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Old 08-17-2009, 10:08 PM   #19
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote: View Post
Salim,
Would you be so kind to point me towards those threads with the "fluff." I am surrounded by Marines at work all day so I like a little "fluff" in my life.
Thank You,
Ricky
Dude I feel soooo sorry for you. I am in class with a bunch of Marines right now.

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Old 08-17-2009, 11:33 PM   #20
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

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Dude I feel soooo sorry for you. I am in class with a bunch of Marines right now.
lol
Thanks Kevin. They can be trying at times but I love 'em and appreciate them. We ask alot of you folks serving our country and I appreciate all that you do!
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:45 PM   #21
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Salim Shaw wrote: View Post
Wow, there are too many. Just do a search on "what color gi should I wear, when is ok to wear a Hakama, how do I transport a jo or bokken on a motorcycle." The list goes on. None of these things will help your Aikido. Wearing a Hakama and you just started Aikido yesterday does nothing for your technique, maybe hinder or cause you to be tied up. Probably used against you in a sparring situation. Too much focus on superficial things. I think you get the point.
Salim, please understand that not everyone shares your thoughts regarding what constitutes an interesting discussion here on AikiWeb. These discussions that you may believe to be "fluff" belong and and are just as welcome here on AikiWeb as much the threads that you yourself may be interested in.

Let's now steer the discussion back to the topic at-hand rather than to its meta-discussion...

-- Jun

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Old 08-18-2009, 12:04 AM   #22
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

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Dude I feel soooo sorry for you. I am in class with a bunch of Marines right now.
Hey!!! I spent a significant amount of years in my life surrounded by a bunch of Marines and I turned out okay... Well, almost 'all right' because sometimes I still kinda miss the Crotch.

(sorry this is so 'superficial')

Semper Fi,

Last edited by Chuck Clark : 08-18-2009 at 12:06 AM.

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Old 08-18-2009, 03:03 AM   #23
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
CMD = Crazy Monkey Defense?
Yep, an unfortunate name to be honest but of the many martial arts I've tried over the years before finding Aikido, it really fit into what I was looking for.

not to be confused with Crazy Monkey Kungfu please :P
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Old 08-18-2009, 03:29 AM   #24
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

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Perhaps that is why she is your ex gf.

How does one "almost" throw someone?

WHAaat?

Please describe "realistic" sparring.

How does one know when "we have reached a certain level of Aikido?"
Lol yes about the 'ex' gf thing though yeah it wasn't cause of that. She had grabbed me from behind and i did a kokyu sort of thing which plunked her on the floor. Redirection of energy...:P

Regarding the tour operator, I was looking at some seafood and engrossed at the crabs in the Sapporo market when he suddenly decided to grab me from behind and make a large noise to which I atemiied and grabbed. So didn't complete the technique.

When I say realistic sparring, I mean the following:

a) Greater variety of attacks allowed from the uke. Combinations are allowed.
b) You're allowed to pace as in you don't have to keep on coming at the nage, you can wait and alter your rhythm of attack
c) No large pull back or telegraphing of moves
d) Feints allowed

Basically a more realistic THINKING uke. An unpredictable one.

Now for as to when is the 'certain level', I would imagine it would be interspersing it with traditional randoori to build familiarity and now and then mixing it up with these realistic randooris. As you become more comfortable with the traditional randoori, then realistic randoori can be introduced stage by stage.

However even in the learning stages, it is important to imprint on the students of the nature of a real attack and how in real life things aren't going to be so preplanned and choreographed. Have a few exercises that even mix it up a LITTLE bit to get them aware of this.

For e.g. sometimes when practicing defences against tsuki attacks, after the class has gained some familiarity of the attack, and can move both inside or outside the attack, I'll tell the uke to punch with either hand without telling the nage. The uke can alter the speed but he should reduce the speed if he finds nage not coping. This way both sides can find an appropriate level and yet keep it random. This I think would be a good starting point. The nage can use different techniques depending whether he goes outside or inside but it's that uncertainty of where the attack is going to go which should be felt.

After all what is randoori for? As I understand it, it's to build spontaneity and a 'no thinking' mind. To be able to apply techniques without thinking about them.

It's already quite a big jump from static techniques to randoori. I remember struggling with it greatly as do I believe most people. Randoori is basically a ramp up in randomness.

If so, isn't the next level of building spontaneity to have a more varied and unpredictable opponent which actually more closely resembles a person in real life?

Yes I understand that many drunk people or street fight situations involve people who charge in and try to deliver that one blow which is what Aikido is trained to deal with. But there are others which come at you throwing a wide variety of punches and unless you have trained for this, you are unlikely to remain calm and be able to execute your technique.

Remember when adrenaline is pumping through your brain, the first thing that goes is fine motor skills. We need to have Aikido students acclimated to the physiological and psychological responses to stress. It's easy to think 'keep calm' but without proper practice and conditioning, I doubt this will be achieved especially when encountered with a situation he was never prepared for. Even if it's a little stress (and this may be a good thing actually especially in a safe environment), the student gets used to the feeling.
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Old 08-18-2009, 03:50 AM   #25
Reuben
 
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Dojo: Aikido Seishinkan
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Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Reuben thanks for sharing. My only thoughts would be that atemi is not just limited to the strikes common to aikido or even strikes in the conventional sense. Atemi is perpetual and allows you to make a connection to the partner.
I agree with this. The point I was making was that the importance of atemi isn't emphasized enough or even when it is, its execution often just becomes a part of a rote pattern without much thought as to its effect. In fact many demos don't show this and is removed from much of practice for safety reasons that when it comes to really applying it, you find that you don't quite know how to transition from an atemi into a technique which are things that should be explored.

In practice, I found that when you apply atemi, the guy just pretends to recoil back and stays stationary. Anyone who has applied a true atemi will find the real recoil a lot more violent and unpredictable till sometimes you are not in a position to complete the technique you were intending. I mean a punch to the face or below the ribs (common atemi locations) generate quite a lot of reflex reaction from most people.

Now going to go a bit off-topic:

Too often I get students who ask me, 'why doesn't this technique work if he resists me?' to which I show how by resisting the particular technique, he becomes open to another one be it a throw from a different angle or a simple atemi.

Another point that is important is that Aikido is not a set of 'techniques' to be 'completed', it changes and adapts according to the situation and as such, a more unpredictable and in some cases resisting uke helps breed this awareness at higher levels.
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