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Old 12-30-2012, 09:16 PM   #1
AikiTao
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Have you actually used Aikido?

Have you ever used Aikido to defend yourself and if so, how did it turn out? Even if it didn't get physical, having a heightened awareness from training is as good a defense as any, so feel free to share any stories about how you avoided violence or de-escalated it. This isn't necessarily an 'is it effective' thread. Just one to share and discuss your own experiences.

I've personally never used Aikido and hopefully won't have to. Since doing Aikido, though, my ego seems to be fading (although very slowly), which is what used to get me into all sorts of trouble. Having the ability to keep cool and avoid / de-escalate is something I should focus on more.

Honestly, after reading Meditations on violence, which I'm sure many have read, I was a little discouraged with Aikido because the author makes the statement that when under assault, you lose fine motor skills and complex motor skills are extremely dampered. He uses Aikido as an example of an art that relies heavily on fine motor skills, deeming it 'ineffective'. Considering, though, that heavy emphasis is placed on being aware, much of that can be avoided and more control can be gained from keeping your wits about you.

Anyways, if you have used Aikido in a violent / potentially violent situation, how did you feel that it handled under pressure? I've used other arts in violent situations and know certain techniques to work regardless of the conditions but I haven't trained enough in Aikido to find such techniques so I'm curious as to how Aikido does pressure.

So please share your stories and perhaps discuss that above topic if you want.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:49 PM   #2
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Logan - Miller is not totally correct. He is voicing a cliche, that all true in many circumstances, is not universally so. The breakdown of fine motor skills occurs with people are either untrained or emotionally aroused. Training does two things:
1) Trained individuals do not get emotionally aroused in many situations that untrained people do.
2) Trained individuals develop "pseudo-instincts" in which emotional arousal cues an increase in fine motor skills and effective combative abilities. For example, a well-known combatives instructor, after a long period of training a SWAT team hooked them up to heart monitors and led them in a very high stress (potentially painful) training exercise. At the door, right before entry, the average heart rate was 180 beats a minute. They hit the door and achieved 100% kill rate, without no casualties. In highly trained people, stress can activate skills.

Finally, I had the honor, last year of teaching a small aikido seminar at the Akkan dojo in central California. Several of the participants were correctional officers at Corcoran State Penitentiary. And each told me wonderful stories about using classical aikido techniques in very dangerous situations.

As has been said before, the question of how powerful one can become with aikido is governed by how committed one is to your training.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 12-30-2012, 09:52 PM   #3
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Quote:
Honestly, after reading Meditations on violence, which I'm sure many have read, I was a little discouraged with Aikido because the author makes the statement that when under assault, you lose fine motor skills and complex motor skills are extremely dampered.
Unless Miller has extensive experience in either using aikido, or fighting aikidoka, I would be encouraged. Retaining your motor skills depends on how excited you get.

Quote:
I haven't trained enough in Aikido to find such techniques so I'm curious as to how Aikido does pressure.
Quite well, evidenced by the screaming.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:08 PM   #4
AikiTao
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Logan - Miller is not totally correct. He is voicing a cliche, that all true in many circumstances, is not universally so. The breakdown of fine motor skills occurs with people are either untrained or emotionally aroused. Training does two things:
1) Trained individuals do not get emotionally aroused in many situations that untrained people do.
2) Trained individuals develop "pseudo-instincts" in which emotional arousal cues an increase in fine motor skills and effective combative abilities. For example, a well-known combatives instructor, after a long period of training a SWAT team hooked them up to heart monitors and led them in a very high stress (potentially painful) training exercise. At the door, right before entry, the average heart rate was 180 beats a minute. They hit the door and achieved 100% kill rate, without no casualties. In highly trained people, stress can activate skills.

Finally, I had the honor, last year of teaching a small aikido seminar at the Akkan dojo in central California. Several of the participants were correctional officers at Corcoran State Penitentiary. And each told me wonderful stories about using classical aikido techniques in very dangerous situations.

As has been said before, the question of how powerful one can become with aikido is governed by how committed one is to your training.

Ellis Amdur
Never heard of an increase in motor skills during a violent encounter other than maybe when receiving an optimal level of adrenaline... Not to say it isn't possible, just never thought of it I guess.

I'd imagine that would come only with a very high level of training.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:42 PM   #5
Michael Varin
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Quote:
Logan Light wrote: View Post
Never heard of an increase in motor skills during a violent encounter other than maybe when receiving an optimal level of adrenaline... Not to say it isn't possible, just never thought of it I guess.

I'd imagine that would come only with a very high level of training.
An episode of Fight Science (probably the best episode of one of the worst martial arts shows ever produced), looked at putting ex-spec ops guys into stressful situations, and then tested them on combat skills against an earlier baseline. They all performed better after being "stressed."

The idiot scientists conducting the test kept mumbling that there was no scientific explanation for the results.

The ex-SEAL even told them he was just doing what he was trained to do when he raised his core body temperature after being submerged in ice cold water for an hour.

I couldn't do anything but laugh and shake my head.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:44 AM   #6
Young-In Park
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

I trained for about ten years with dreams of actually using aikido.

The first time I actually used it was to break up a fight. Two people were fighting on a bed when I ran into the room. I grabbed one person by the back of the collar and yanked him onto the floor. But I was also able to pay attention to the other person on the bed.

The second time I used it was to defend myself. After a disagreement, he charged me from about ten feet away. In aikido fashion, I raised both arms up and entered into the attack. I caught a couple of glancing blows to the side of the head, but they were inconsequential. As I was pushing the attacker backwards, I had the surreal thought of "wow, I'm actually using aikido." I pushed the attacker into a window and we fell down. As we were falling down, I was able to wrap my arm around him and restrain him. Although the technique wasn't classical aikido, the entry was a close approximation.

Another time I had to spar against another person in a no-rules MMA-style competition. Initially he jumped on top of me and pinned me on the ground. I tried to gouge his eyes out and apply a pressure point on his ribs. But I had the presence of mind to realize that my feeble attempts were useless before I resorted to reaching below the belt to grab a handful. I thought he was just pretending to scream (due to prior experience) before the contest was stopped.

Regardless of martial art, theoretically it should teach one to keep their wits about them in order to respond appropriately and effectively. I'd like to think that my aikido training has helped me in one or two situations.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:09 AM   #7
Krystal Locke
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Yes. It works.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:13 AM   #8
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

yes, twice about 20 years ago, when I was 18 or so. One was at a party when someone came out of nowhere to push/shove me down. Never saw him coming, but when he hit me I turned, Ryokata-tori randori style and sent him to the ground. He did not come back. Getting hit/shoved/knocked around like that is normal in how we practice Ryokata-tori randori so I'd like to think that is why I was prepared and responded the way I did. My body was used to that reaction.

The second was around the same time, getting into it with someone. While they were posturing I noticed his body language and my brain said he was going to throw a right at me. So I waited, kept a good distance and when he did I cut it down and held him bent back in a shihonage. I didn't throw him, but let him go after a few seconds. I practically crapped my pants that it had not only worked, but worked how I saw it in my head. Had things unfolded differently who knows though. There was a lot of setup that helped it work.

In both cases I credit good, hard, physical training with people who always made you work for what you got for whatever level of preparation that allowed me to respond as I did. I have also engaged with wrestling friends over the years in less hostile but no less intense situations and was never able to actually do a technique. The techniques tend to need that less experienced over-commitment to work as expected.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:24 AM   #9
Walter Martindale
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

I don't think I've used Aikido "out there".

I did default to old training once during an Aikido practice - someone was practicing irimini-nage with me as uke when he didn't step properly and put himself in a perfect position for what was my favourite judo technique - Ippon-Seoi-Nage. Big man, hit the floor very hard.

That which is well trained will show itself under stress.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:54 AM   #10
Janet Rosen
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

I agree completely with those who have noted that under stress we revert to what we have practiced in the body - heck, most of us who have trained any length of time have saved our asses by automatically rolling or falling correctly when we have slipped or gone off of bikes, horses, stairs, etc.
What I have to take issue with the OP is the assertion that aikido uses "fine motor skills."
Fine motor skills means the manipulation of small objects with the hands - it is embroidery, cardiac surgery, tying your shoes, watchmaking: all the things that require manual dexterity and can be done while standing still or sitting.
Aikido should never rely fine manipulation with the hand, but on whole body movement originating in in the center.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:06 PM   #11
AikiTao
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I agree completely with those who have noted that under stress we revert to what we have practiced in the body - heck, most of us who have trained any length of time have saved our asses by automatically rolling or falling correctly when we have slipped or gone off of bikes, horses, stairs, etc.
What I have to take issue with the OP is the assertion that aikido uses "fine motor skills."
Fine motor skills means the manipulation of small objects with the hands - it is embroidery, cardiac surgery, tying your shoes, watchmaking: all the things that require manual dexterity and can be done while standing still or sitting.
Aikido should never rely fine manipulation with the hand, but on whole body movement originating in in the center.
Many students rely on catching punches (which isn't necessarily fine motor skills, but still difficult), hand positioning, etc. Aikido does require to a degree, some dexterity which from what I've read and experienced, can be destroyed in no time. I'm not saying it relies fully on fine motor skills but many of the techniques rely on skills that are harder to utilize as opposed to a simple throw or punch. That's not to say it's ineffective, just merely an observation. But you do bring up a point I haven't really given much consideration.

I'm not saying any of what's been said above to be untrue. I'm actually fascinated with some of the stories and I know that it does become instinctual in time, but it's still impressive to hear stories.

So while I still see Aikido as an effective art, it's not as practical as the things I've practiced previously so I wanted to know how Aikidoka responded under pressure. Great stories so far.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:35 PM   #12
Janet Rosen
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Quote:
Logan Light wrote: View Post
Many students rely on catching punches (which isn't necessarily fine motor skills, but still difficult), hand positioning, etc. Aikido does require to a degree, some dexterity which from what I've read and experienced, can be destroyed in no time. .
And no disrespect intended to you, Logan - you have started a worthwhile thread.

Re catching punches: I've been a student in several dojos from different lineages but one commonality has been that each one emphasized NOT catching punches and a lot of effort went into getting newbies to not develop that habit.

Re fine motor control: just trying to be accurate in definitions.
I have arthritis of my thumbs + two ruptured extensor tendons in one hand, so at times my grip is very weak. This does NOT affect my fine motor control, which is the dexterity more than grip strength (the classic therapy for people needing to improve fine motor control is sorting colored beans). I can always do some detailed hand sewing. However in the dojo I can often not do a classic nikkyo on an attacker - that's not fine motor control, that is the ability to close one's hand.
But the principles of aikido should not depend on a specific hand grip, just as self defence should not rely on pre-deciding what technique one is going to do in two minutes.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:14 PM   #13
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Quote:
Many students rely on catching punches (which isn't necessarily fine motor skills, but still difficult), hand positioning, etc.
Never seen this done, or trained. Any students coming in the door are thoroughly disabused of such notions.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:24 PM   #14
James Sawers
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

From what I understand (and someone answered this much better on another thread, just can't remember who it was), the degradation of fine motor skills under stress has much to do with the increase in heart rate and adrenaline spilled into the system. This can affect fine motor control. However, if you can train such that you can perform under stress, then this degradation would not be much of an issue. Some people are also natural gunsels and do not have this problem to begin with.

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:04 PM   #15
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

I've been in lot's of physical altercations. Aikido techniques have come up several times. However I once disarmed a drunk of her keys is half a second with kotegaeshi, it happened so smoothly that she didn't even know what was going on. That is probably my favorite Aikido used in real life story.

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:24 PM   #16
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

I just lost my footing on black ice today. Didn't even have to take a breakfall or roll (which I've done in the past) - I kept perfect posture, very slowly sliding forward while sinking, keeping my center in the middle, then drawing my back foot up as I rose to full standing. The friend I"d been waving to was quite impressed. I smiled and said "years of aikido..."

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-31-2012, 05:10 PM   #17
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
And no disrespect intended to you, Logan - you have started a worthwhile thread.

Re catching punches: I've been a student in several dojos from different lineages but one commonality has been that each one emphasized NOT catching punches and a lot of effort went into getting newbies to not develop that habit.

Re fine motor control: just trying to be accurate in definitions.
I have arthritis of my thumbs + two ruptured extensor tendons in one hand, so at times my grip is very weak. This does NOT affect my fine motor control, which is the dexterity more than grip strength (the classic therapy for people needing to improve fine motor control is sorting colored beans). I can always do some detailed hand sewing. However in the dojo I can often not do a classic nikkyo on an attacker - that's not fine motor control, that is the ability to close one's hand.
But the principles of aikido should not depend on a specific hand grip, just as self defence should not rely on pre-deciding what technique one is going to do in two minutes.
Well I'm glad you cleared that up. I tend to get caught up in details rather than the application at times.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:14 AM   #18
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Re: Have you actually used Aikido?

There are alot of factors that determine outcomes and skill is relative. Your practice should inform your body in many ways, it depends on how you train and what you train for.

As far as relative goes.... it is relative to your starting position. that is, are you better off than you were in the past? Are your skills better than the other guy in the situation? what is your orientation to the situation and what elements of it can you exploit? which ones are dumb luck?

these things are hard to measure and the only ones you can really quantify are the ones your can control. that is, what base line did you start with....and where are you now.

When you get into discussions on degradation of fine motor skills...again, a relative question. that is, "as compared to what?".

Many "sensei" or "combat instructors" will tell you to not train these things cause you will not be able to use them understress...so the conclusion is "why bother?".

There may be some truth in that to a degree in that we need to develop some foundational skills and understand our "defaults" and learn how to manage those "macro" defaults. However, we must incorporate the technical aspects that are important as well, as Ellis pointed out above.

Technical skills I think depend on the specificity of your particular conditions. If you are a soldier or a swat team member dexterity and muscle memory to load, clear, and reduce stoppage and place well aimed shots are very important and require well trained fine motor skills or you are useless.

As Ellis pointed out, these things don't disappear if you have trained them under the proper conditions and they are ingrained habits.

Problem, IMO, is that most dojos and schools simply do not understand correct methodologies to train this stuff, or they have not developed measures or context (specificity) that their students can gain feedback from.

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