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Old 06-28-2011, 02:41 PM   #1
JW
 
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Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Hi guys, I would like to ask a question specifically of the people who are NOT into the whole Internal Strength thing. Some people are feeling left out of conversations, and I'd love to hear what you have to say. It's the kind of thing that interests non-IS pursuers as well as IS practitioners. You don't even have to be into sparring or anything-- this is a theoretical budo question.

The question is:
Given that in aikido, we do not overcome an attacker with superior strength, how is it that we survive an attack and defeat aggression?

I don't mean what technique to use, or other "ask your sensei" type things. I mean, in the big picture, theoretically, how does it happen? Not because we are bigger and stronger. Are we faster? Smarter? Not interested in 'defeating?' What lets us as aikidoka come out alright, theoretically?

For instance, if you say, "we use our attacker's power against him so he defeats himself," how is it that we are able to do that? I have been playing with a guy who spars and does judo, and let me tell you, if you are messing with his "power" to use it against him, he will rapidly change where he is putting power as soon as he feels that. So how does an aikidoka affect his power without him knowing? Would you do it through tricks (playing with his mind, baiting him, etc), or do you strive to do things more quickly than he can change? (In the case of the latter, that means you survive just because you are faster.)

I know how I currently would answer, but I am interested in discussion that reveals common ground with people who don't feel like part of the whole "bring back internals" thing. Thanks!
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Old 06-28-2011, 03:03 PM   #2
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

How long have you been training?
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Old 06-28-2011, 03:08 PM   #3
Marc Abrams
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

"Musubi"

You will know it when you can achieve it. When it is still you vs. the opponent, you are not there yet.

Marc Abrams
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Old 06-28-2011, 03:23 PM   #4
JW
 
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Either 3 years or 13 years depending on how you count it, but that isn't really the point (I didn't mean to start an 'advice' thread). I was hoping people might want to share their own understanding, for the sake of discussing the nature of our art.
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Old 06-28-2011, 04:06 PM   #5
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post

if you are messing with his "power" to use it against him, he will rapidly change where he is putting power as soon as he feels that. So how does an aikidoka affect his power without him knowing?
One of my teachers talks a lot about not giving the attacker your address. If you "mess" with his power. If you give him anything top push against, if you push back, you have given him your address. I'm still trying to make this work, now and then I get a glimpse of it... but you have to not mess with the attacker at all really. It's not a matter of taking his energy and firing it back because then his energy becomes your energy. It's more a matter of directing his energy in a way that he defeats himself. If the technique is done right you don't throw him he throws himself... Its hard for me to put into words. Let me use an example from my own background.

In my horse training/collage days my riding instructor would tell us to let the horse use his energy. Methodically applied directional pressure was used to create shapes that a horse could follow. Or, "send him and let him", as my teacher would say. So once the energy was there you just provided a corridor of aids that the horse would naturally follow leading him to do what you wanted him to do. No pushing or pulling or force was to come from the rider once the energy was initiated. We didn't make the horse do it we just showed him the path so that it became the most logical thing for him to do and then we let him do it. Aikido is kinda like that.
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Old 06-28-2011, 04:07 PM   #6
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Kuzushi.

dps
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Old 06-28-2011, 05:01 PM   #7
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Hi Cherie, I like that answer. What has been your impression of IS conversations? Annoying, interesting, disagreeable?

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Kuzushi.

dps
Hi David, I used to think similarly. But it turns out IME, a person can recover his balance very quickly if he is motivated. (ie, not colluding) So, why do you as an aikidoka have an increased ability to gain or maintain kuzushi, is it just a matter of skill/practice in stand-up grappling?
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Old 06-28-2011, 05:16 PM   #8
phitruong
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
The question is:
Given that in aikido, we do not overcome an attacker with superior strength, how is it that we survive an attack and defeat aggression?
that's a loaded question. so if we drop the whole internal thing out of the equation, then we need to consider a few things.

1. power
2. speed
3. skills or usages

so we got the combination and permutation of those three things to consider of the attacker as well as ourselves. that's a lot to consider.

if an attacker with only superior strength but is slow and/or not know how to apply such power, then we would use speed and superior techniques. and so on. the main thing is to displace or prevent the attacker to use his/her/its advantage(s), then exploit the disadvantage(s). if you fight a muay thai guy, then fight in the muddy field around hips deep. if you fight a BJJ guy, you fight in the mud too where it's very slippery. thus, you have the Art of War, the Five Ring, and so on. incidentally, there is a mud wrestling event this weekend, i wonder what sort of excuse i can come up with, so that my lady won't suspect; thus, i won't be killed by shot, hang, and quarter.
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Old 06-28-2011, 05:26 PM   #9
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

For me the short answer is balance and mechanics. Kuzushi is a continuing state of unbalance, not just a point; once you break your partner's balance you must also maintain that state of unbalance. Secondly, good technique employs mechanical advantage that increases your "working" strength. These concepts transcend aikido and are found in most fighting arts.

As a personal comment, I think we have trouble maintaining a state of kuzushi because of timing. That is, we run into trouble because our movement stops and gives our partner time to recover.

I was just reading an Aiki News where Chiba Sensei recalled that O'Sensei would deliberately leave suki, only to close his opening before his uke could attack but after his uke committed to attacking. I think we often leave our openings exposed too long for a good uke who then is able to foil our movement.

Secondly, I think some of our techniques have lost their mechanical advantages in an effort to be "softer." We get a less "martial" technique (i.e. "softer") but at the expense of functionality. We miss the whole mis-definition of "soft" in aikido, too.

Internal strength in my opinion is an enhanced mechanical training that uses ki. The stuff has merit but I think is trying to find its logical place in aikido. I think learning correct movement is essential in internal strength conditioning. Conversations about internal strength can be difficult because it falls into my "gooey" category - stuff that you need personal experience to understand. You can talk all you want, but until you grab someone that can move you without sweating...
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Old 06-28-2011, 05:57 PM   #10
dps
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Hi David, I used to think similarly. But it turns out IME, a person can recover his balance very quickly if he is motivated. (ie, not colluding) So, why do you as an aikidoka have an increased ability to gain or maintain kuzushi, is it just a matter of skill/practice in stand-up grappling?
Ditto what Jon said.

Practice, practice, practice and more practice gives you the ability to now when to unbalance your opponent, how to unbalance your opponent, and how to control your opponent after he/she is unbalanced.

dps
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Old 06-28-2011, 06:17 PM   #11
graham christian
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Hi Jonathan.

A different kind of answer .....

http://youtu.be/1iMv3ISazSg

Regards.G.
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Old 06-28-2011, 06:47 PM   #12
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
The question is:
Given that in Aikido, we do not overcome an attacker with superior strength, how is it that we survive an attack and defeat aggression?
Every fight, attack or situation is different and there are many things that can affect the outcome. Also define superior strength? Can he bench press more than you?? Is he faster, younger, experienced etc. Too many factors to apply to a fictitious person.

There is no one solution and it comes down to experience. You have to take what works for you and learn to apply it. I've gotten in fights since I was a kid and learned a lot of what to do and not to do. I've been lucky so far and have never been seriously hurt nor seriously hurt anyone else.

Here's a few things I do know:
Don't knee someone in the forehead or you might hurt your knee!
Kicking someone in the balls doesn't always work.
A good right hook to the jaw works more than it doesn't.
Trying to avoid a fight can actually get you hurt.
Learn how to punch, choke and do elbow locks.
A beer mug to the side of your head will make you see stars.

In a fight you go into auto pilot and don't always recall all the things you did while other times you wait for the right time and knock someone out or make them back off with just one hit.

Avoiding situations and controlling your temper is the best thing you can do though but it doesn't always work.

Aikido doesn't look like it does in class. My instructor told me your initial response is what shows you the art you favor. Do you stand your ground and slug it out? Do you get off the line and punch? Do you grab your attacker and throw them???

Fight or Flight!! All the training and belts in the world won't answer that question until it happens for real. Also, the old adage that "it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog" holds true.

-

-It seems to be all about semantics!
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:07 PM   #13
Mario Tobias
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

You as nage has an advantage because your uke has not 1 but 2 opponents; YOU, and the laws of physics. The laws of physics apply to everybody, big or small, weak or strong. In using aikido, you are just the "medium" to apply these laws to uke.

IMHO, once you remove "YOU' in the equation and just let physics work on uke, I think this is where IS comes in. I think that was what the founder meant when he said the universe is at your side or something to that effect, probably alluding to the physical laws, and explained it in very escoteric terms as O-sensei as well as 99.9% of the populaton can't explain physics well or at all.

O-sensei was a physicist, and he didn't know it.
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:24 PM   #14
JW
 
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

OK you guys, here's my thing. Aikido is supposed to NOT be about fighting. Budo is supposed to have a quality of transcendence, right? As in, I choose not to play the "fight" game, because there is another way, which is outside of the fighting paradigm.

(Mind you this is a philosophical and theoretical question, I am not talking right now about taking it to the ring or streets or whatever.)

I was drawn to aikido because of the very clear idea that there is another way, other than playing the fight game. If you tell someone, "in aikido, strength doesn't determine who wins," then how can you honestly then turn around and say, "but speed does, and grappling skill does, and strategy does." You've just described fighting.

Fighting is becoming stronger, faster, more skilled, and more experienced. That's fine, but I am pretty sure that is not Aikido. We are supposed to purify ourselves and thus represent the will of the entire universe-- the attacker is, upon trying to defeat you, supposed to be suddenly faced with the task of defeating the entire universe. That is aikido, right?

I just feel like it is incorrect to represent aikido as "a way to not be defeated if the attacker has much less
skill, speed, or strength than you." It sounds like saying "aikido is a way to reconcile the whole human family.. as long as there is no appreciable discord in the family to begin with."

[oops, just saw Mario's reply. The attacker has the laws of physics on his side too though, right? The only difference is he wants destruction and you don't. So why do the laws favor you but not him?]
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:44 PM   #15
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Aikido is supposed to NOT be about fighting. Budo is supposed to have a quality of transcendence, right? As in, I choose not to play the "fight" game, because there is another way, which is outside of the fighting paradigm.

(Mind you this is a philosophical and theoretical question, I am not talking right now about taking it to the ring or streets or whatever.)
What you seem to be looking for is the works of Ghandi. Look up Ahimsa. If you see Martial Arts as more spiritual then you should go that route. A lot of people seem to see Aikido as Faith or something akin to Religion.

Philosophical and Theoretical only exists in your mind. It's like the student who always says "What if" all the time. To me there's only What is.

-

-It seems to be all about semantics!
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:45 PM   #16
dps
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
OK you guys, here's my thing. Aikido is supposed to NOT be about fighting. Budo is supposed to have a quality of transcendence, right? As in, I choose not to play the "fight" game, because there is another way, which is outside of the fighting paradigm.
I prefer to not play the "Beat The Crap Out Of Me" game.

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
I was drawn to aikido because of the very clear idea that there is another way, other than playing the fight game. If you tell someone, "in aikido, strength doesn't determine who wins," then how can you honestly then turn around and say, "but speed does, and grappling skill does, and strategy does." You've just described fighting.

Fighting is becoming stronger, faster, more skilled, and more experienced. That's fine, but I am pretty sure that is not Aikido. We are supposed to purify ourselves and thus represent the will of the entire universe-- the attacker is, upon trying to defeat you, supposed to be suddenly faced with the task of defeating the entire universe. That is aikido, right?
I just feel like it is incorrect to represent aikido as "a way to not be defeated if the attacker has much less
skill, speed, or strength than you." It sounds like saying "aikido is a way to reconcile the whole human family.. as long as there is no appreciable discord in the family to begin with."
That would be the kind of crap that would get beat out of you in a fight

dps
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:05 PM   #17
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Don't know about the others but Aikido is a fighting art. O-sensei even though he is the founder didn't come up with the techniques by himself from scratch.

Aikido is a mutation or probably "improvement/deviation" of the martial arts that went before it. Probably its more a matter of who's fighting what? As I've said if you can remove you from the equation, your opponent is not fighting you per se but a much more formidable opponent which is on your side ie if you have mastered it, you are just the medium. But it is still fighting, coming from a different perspective.
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:28 PM   #18
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Tim Jester wrote: View Post
A lot of people seem to see Aikido as Faith or something akin to Religion.

Philosophical and Theoretical only exists in your mind. It's like the student who always says "What if" all the time. To me there's only What is.

-
Can I get an Amen?!
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Old 06-28-2011, 10:37 PM   #19
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Hi Cherie, I like that answer. What has been your impression of IS conversations? Annoying, interesting, disagreeable?
Fascinating, useful, interesting, and I think greatly misunderstood by those who have not physically worked with someone who is working on that sort of thing. I had the pleasure of taking a class with Mark Murray several months ago and found it to be very interesting. Since then I have played with what we learned and have found that it is very complimentary to the aikido training I have had thus far. Especially helpful to me in understanding the things I have seen Ikeda sensi doing in seminars. Can one do aikido without it? Yes. But I am all for having one more tool in my tool box.

The conversations themselves here often start out interesting but sadly tend to fall into ridiculous arguments and name calling which is a shame and a huge turn off so I tend to just avoid them. My suggestion is don't base your own conclusions on what you read on the web. Go meet one of these guys in person when you get a chance, and feel what it is they are trying to tell us.

As for whether aikido is about fighting not fighting etc...

Mary Heiny sensei said something along the lines of; we should never forget that what we are practicing is deadly. It is serious. The techniques when applied full force on someone who is not trained to move with them can kill. We should never forget this. Just because we choose not to do harm to to cause a death does not mean that we are not capable.

Last edited by Shadowfax : 06-28-2011 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 06-28-2011, 10:58 PM   #20
hughrbeyer
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

I've just had three beers and a glass of port, so I probably shouldn't be posting at all, much less on a subject like this. But then, I probably wouldn't post on this subject stone cold sober.

Aikido's not about confrontation. Whether or not it's about fighting has a lot to do with the intent of your attacker. Confrontation gives sente to your attacker--by confronting his attack you've accepted his terms for the confrontation. You're playing by his rules.

Aikido is about dealing with the attack in a way that doesn't so much neutralize confrontation as make it irrelevant. Your instinct is correct--if I deal with a strong attack by being faster, what happens when I have a faster opponent? If I deal with it by stealing balance, what happens if my attacker is better at keeping balance than I am at stealing it? If I deal with it by using their force against them, what happens if they are quicker at altering the force than I am at using it? All these alternatives are dealing with the force by countering it, ultimately, on uke's terms.

So if I'm receiving a punch, You can't deal with it by dodging. A competent boxer will eat your lunch. You can't deal with it by blocking. The aforesaid competent boxer will be elsewhere before you can recover. The principle of irimi teaches to enter, connect, and own the situation in one movement. If you can learn that, it's not about being better--it's about continually being in a place where you can't be touched and you own the situation. If you can do that consistently, your students call you by some over-the-top term like "O-Sensei".

(I think I did pretty well with that, considering that the question as you asked it translates to: Without considering Aikido, please explain how you would deal with this situation using Aikido. But never mind.)

Also, Aikido as currently practiced in most dojos is a study of principle. Actually fighting is a different skill, or maybe an additional skill involving things like multiple chained attacks and getting clocked without losing your cool.
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:35 PM   #21
JW
 
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Cherie and Hugh, no fair, you guys both are working on IS, correct? Hugh through Gleason sensei, and Cherie after working with Mark Murray. I understand the approach to the topic from the point of view of the practitioner of IS.

Tim and David. Tough guys, eh? There might be more practical interpretations of what I said about "one w/ the universe" then you are allowing for. I am pretty strongly interested in practical usage, though you seem to think by my words I am airy-fairy.

Mario and Jon, I like what you have said, it is kind of what I was thinking of when I started the thread: if you have an interest in being able to fluently maintain kuzushi (Jon), if you want to take "you" out of the equation (Mario), then how does aikido enable that? What about our art makes that possible? In other words, how does it work? Aikidoka should be able to say how "what we do" operates.
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Old 06-29-2011, 12:03 AM   #22
danj
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

On the physics /biomechanics of Aikido, I recently came across the toppling moment equation - it seemed to explain for rigid bodies quite nicely the optimum angle to unbalance an object (such as a person). When used in conjunction with the exploitation of the base of support i.e. the ground shadow between toes and heels from one foot to the other it was clear that aikido techniques exploited this.

Moving from a rigid body to one with give and take it was possible to see how the exploitation of small changes in angle and height could allow access to passing on huge forces or not being affected by huge forces. The key force in this is the ground reaction force i.e. what the ground pushes with when something is placed on it, the magnitude and direction always equals that applied to it (this is what keeps building up.)

Ground path, or balancing force vectors to line up with the ground are the key.
Ensuring that an applied force (e.g. an attack) is matched by the ground after passing through some structure (us) into the ground makes one really strong.

Further manipulating the base of support (by toppling and good positioning) in someone applying force can prevent them from being able to effectively apply the force.

For me in my practice these have helped me see how the soft touch of the master might work, given insight beyond the busy work of practices like aiki-age, aiki-sage also after years of doing Ki Society Aikido when i first started I think I see a bit more about what the toitsu taiso and ki-testing pedagogy are about.

As an anecdote recently I put my wrists on the line and discovered that the application of above ideas prevented nikkyo from a much respected and ferocious budo buddy being applied - without the feeling that I was resisting. Its not much to write home about but I felt it was a reasonable measure of progress

I think for me the biomechanics give clues to what aspects of internal strength might be all about, from a laymans point of view. (till i can meet a aikiweb peer reviewed internal strength practitioner and feel what they have)

Apologies,the above is not so good in words but hope its helpful. I've been sketching up some diagrams and hope to submit for aiki-web peer review soon.

Dan

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Old 06-29-2011, 12:59 AM   #23
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

There are lots of things you can "use" as an Aikidoka or any martial artist to defeat someone who is stronger, faster, more coordinated, or more knowledgeable/experienced than you are.

Surprise
Numbers
Weapons
Environment

Those four major factors outweigh anything found in most sport martial arts that are know to be "effective".

That's my "big picture" answer, I think it's important to keep that in mind, so I said it first. But I think you are asking, more specifically, what do I believe is the "aiki" way of defeating someone who is physically superior to me.

I believe Aiki is the ability to work within someone else's rhythm. That is to use what they believe is happening against them. To use their desired attack as your offense.

How does one do this? As Marc suggested, musubi. The ability to reach out and touch the intention of your attacker. To know his mind, to read his actions, linking them with your own. Then we follow that up with awase, a way to move within the attack that gives our attacker no information about what it is we are doing. Moving in a way so that he believes his attack is still successful; but when it's all over he is not.

We use our attackers belief that he is "wining" against him.

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Old 06-29-2011, 02:04 AM   #24
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Nice thread! There is a lot of great stuff to consider...particularly when you consider the idea that no one starts out being very strong or fast or able. If we look at the continuum of learning, I think it's this kind of topic which is most important to begin with when we talk about self-defense issues, whether it's through the lense of Aikido or what have you. Even the "IS" issue is subject to the axiom that there is always someone stronger and faster (i.e. better). So how do you overcome such a person? I like the idea of using the concepts of musubi, tsukuri, and kuzushi to guide one's actions. We connect (generate musubi) to the things within ("IS") and without (other people are things too), to understand how to create an opening to enter through which allows the attacker to be unbalanced...or some reasonable facsimile thereof; "enough" that we can do whatever we have to in order to protect what needs protecting.
In short:
Quote:
Are we faster? Smarter?
Smarter.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 06-29-2011 at 02:06 AM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 06-29-2011, 03:39 AM   #25
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post

[oops, just saw Mario's reply. The attacker has the laws of physics on his side too though, right? The only difference is he wants destruction and you don't. So why do the laws favor you but not him?]
Perhaps in here lies the answer: you want uke to fight the laws whereas uke wants to fight you. In effect, you do not fight and he fights the universe. or something to that extent...

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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