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Old 12-12-2002, 09:03 AM   #1
Location: Australia
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 641
Guard up or down?

When practicing aikido, do you prefer to keep a regular boxing style hand guard or to keep you hands low?

(Personally I like a boxing style hand position but with open palms. Looks less threatening)

Any reasons for or against?
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Old 12-12-2002, 09:41 AM   #2
Thalib's Avatar
Dojo: 合気研究会
Location: Jakarta Selatan
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 504
No guards. No stance.

Hands relaxed. Standing relaxed.

I don't want to look threatening. I want to welcome the attacker.

The kamae that is needed is the kamae of the spirit and the kamae of the mind.

Fudoushin, the immovable spirit/mind.

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 12-12-2002, 09:48 AM   #3
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Baltimore
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 586
I often ask beginners to put their arms down because I think that having a guard easily translated into tension and a 'fighting' mind that make it difficult to learn a welcoming attitude.

On the other hand, in myself I work on being able to move smoothly between the two extremes and to be comfortable with either of them. I'm not sure why exactly, but I feel like this stretches me and helps me find the wisdom of each.

Yours in Aiki
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Old 12-12-2002, 09:52 AM   #4
MikeE's Avatar
Dojo: Midwest Center For Movement & Aikido Bukou Dojos
Location: Hudson, WI
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 407
I agree with Opher.

I tend to be in shizen position (natural posture) and move from there.

My thought is that kamae (stance) is actually found in a snapshot of an altercation. It's something you should flow through, not stay in.

In Aiki,

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
For Movement &
Aikido Bukou
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Old 12-12-2002, 09:54 AM   #5
Ta Kung
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 237
I use a realative low guard with open hands. It's almost like a boxers guard, only a bit lower. Not too low though, as it is important do be able to protect the face quickly.

I also sometimes practise using no guard. I also sometimes fail.
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Old 12-12-2002, 10:27 AM   #6
Location: Australia
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 641
Re: Guard up or down?

Many folks at our club seem to practice with hands down. I wondered if this was a common aikido thing. I feel there is a real danger to get popped in the head like that (having been popped a few times my self in boxing et al)

<I suspect you all picked up on the brain injury ;->

Amusing story -

Despite the advice of the good folk here, I went to a new vale tudo school that opened its doors in my suburb. Very nice guys, no macho crap anywhere. (which in itself was a shock!)

Anyhow, for nostalgias sake, I put in the gloves for a bit o' boxing.

"No, no, no - your guard is too tense. If I hit you like that, you'll hurt yourself. Keep your hands up, but pretend like your asleep".

Last edited by bob_stra : 12-12-2002 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 12-12-2002, 11:14 AM   #7
Dojo: Aikido Philippines
Location: Manila
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 70
in class - hands held at chudan

on the street - hands kept down or at least gesture with them in a non-threatening manner as you talk. so if the discussions gets out of hand and the other guy throws a punch or does something, the hands are already at mid-level and can quickly come into play.

did some boxing a few years ago and our trainer kept nagging us to keep the hands up to protect the face.
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Old 12-12-2002, 11:44 AM   #8
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Baltimore
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 586
I've certainly learned the hard way that keeping my hands down leaves my head vulnerable.

On the other hand, one of the things I tell students is that if you guard vulnerable areas, you encourage the other person to think seriously about how they want to go about attacking you and generally make them more careful and cautious. If your hands are down and your posture is open, then there is no reason for them to be tricky or sneaky.

Another way of thinking it, is that by putting up my arms, I voluntarily enter into my partner's idea that there is a 'fight' going on and that one of us will 'win.' That can make things a lot harder on me.

When I think about it, I'm not saying anything different than what Buddy said about "on the street."

Yours in Aiki
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Old 12-12-2002, 02:18 PM   #9
Dojo: Waiuku Ki Society
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 68
Hands down resting at my thighs for the following reasons:

Non-threatening posture

very relaxed posture, not tensed

and basically it is very comfortable for me and I find I move quicker.



"Excess leads to the path of Wisdom"
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Old 12-12-2002, 02:33 PM   #10
Location: Australia
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 641
How does your guard affect your movement?

How does your guard affect your atemi / striking?

Do you still use "boxing" type punching, or more akin to what can be seen here?

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Old 12-12-2002, 02:54 PM   #11
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 788
The reason boxers always have their guard high is that they stand and fight at close range. They also have no worries about low attacks - basically, the entire goal in the sport is to hit the other guy in the head, and everything below the abdomen is illegal. Yet, if someone is close enough, and you're hands are too low, a fast puncher will have free access to your head.

On the other hand, there is no reason to go into a boxer's guard if your potential assailant is standing 10 feet away from you. Or, if you are in a situation where there is a good chance that a physical exchange can still be avoided, adopting a boxer's stance seems unwise, as you are basically issuing a challenge to fight with body language.

There is also the issue of where you put your guard effecting the opponent's choice of target - unless the person is Tyson-esque, they will probably not try to strike the guarded target.

So, what position to be in is specific to the purpose and situation. I don't see how you could make a blanket statement.

As far as movement goes, it seems like a full boxer's crouch is difficult to integrate into Aikido, because all the turns and twists work better if the spine is extended and erect, and the weight of the torso is stacked up perpendicular to the gravitational pull.
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Old 12-12-2002, 07:28 PM   #12
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
There are a variety of situations where you must appear to be non-hostile, but still be able to protect yourself. Judgeing the distance of an opponent, their intentions, and what you need to do to be able to protect yourself is a combination of experience, lessons, training, and practice.

I was taught to take no stance, but to always be prepared to put your hands up with palms open to show you want no trouble. Open palms are not only more effective than fists, but they do not hold tension of the mind or body as fists would.

Praying hands are an excellent weapon while still being non-threatening.

Even open hands with palms up, or simply clasped as most people do in rubbing their hands together will be non-threatening while being prepared to execute techniques.

The main point being .... non-threatening .... prepared to initiate action without showing signs of being prepared to take action.

Which is why the standard "T" stance of Aikido may be fine for practice but a bit more difficult in useing to show you are not ready to jump into a fight by useing your body language.

Oh, well.

Use whatever makes you seem non-violent, that should be just fine.

I think we really should practice hands up when there is not another choice in someone bent upon violence, but fists are definitely a "No-No". The invite a fight rather than stop it.
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