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Old 05-06-2007, 12:30 AM   #1
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Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack?

AikiWeb Poll for the week of May 6, 2007:

How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Perfectly effective
  • Very effective
  • Somewhat effective
  • Not very effective
  • Not at all effective
Here are the current results.
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Old 05-06-2007, 12:58 AM   #2
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

It's funny to be the first one, who votes - new experience.

While I think, aikido is very effective against a knife attack - all the concerns about effectiveness count as well in this case.

A qualified knife attack would never look like a typical training attack. To be effective in the defense you must train hard and enhance speed and quality of the attacks in order to act automatically.

In addition knives are very dangerous and it is always better to avoid the attack in total than trying to fight it.But when there is no choice and no helpful tool, the idea of 'instant victory' seems to be the best chance you have. If you do one good technique you might get hurt seriously and even the chance to get killed is valid. But if you doubt and hesitate in action, you are likely to get cut several times and bleed to death.

Again there is no rational to enter an unarmed fight with a highly skilled knife fighter, when there is no need. That is just a kind of suicide. But when an unexpected attack occurs, intensive aikido training gives you a valid chance to survive, which I count as 'very effective'.

My 2 cts

Dirk
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Old 05-06-2007, 05:50 AM   #3
Mark Uttech
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Early in my aikido journey, I was fortunate to hear the advice of a shihan that "to question effectiveness is to kill effectiveness", that the purpose of training is to learn of our openings and work to close those openings. A big part of aikido training is the art of becoming aware. For example, how do you wake up in the morning? You just do it.

In gassho,

Mark
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Old 05-06-2007, 07:25 AM   #4
CitoMaramba
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

I am supposing that "real knife attack" means "attack with a knife with intent to harm" as opposed to "attack with a knife by a knife expert".
Tanto-dori techniques in aikido are being criticized as being of dubious effectivity against an attacker trained in a knife fighting system (eg., some style of Filipino Martial Art or SIlat, or the Fairbairn knife fighting method, etc). However, what is the reality? What are the odds that when we do meet a knife wielding attacker, said attacker will be someone trained in the aformentioned arts?
At least if we have some training in the concepts of Ma-ai, irimi, aiki and atemi, we will have a slightly better chance than if we had no training at all.
I would really like to see a retrospective study of knife attacks to find out the training history (if any) of the attackers, as well as how the vicims defended themselves and the results..
Sounds like a nice search on the Pubmed database

Cheers!

Cito

Inocencio Maramba, MD, MSc
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Old 05-06-2007, 10:10 AM   #5
kironin
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Not very effective is my vote.
at least how standard aikido training is usually done.

If the person has a minimal knowledge of how to use a knife, they don't need to be an expert by any means, most aikidoka will be hamburger. As uke, your intent should always be to harm, but with the caveat of control. My intent to harm a beginner is slo-mo and in a very specific direction. My intent to harm my teacher is as best as I can do it as long I am aware his intention is on me and not divided saying something to the class. So I assume you are talking about something more than just good ukemi.

The most traditional knife attacks in aikido are not knife attacks, they are spear or sword(shoto/tanto) attacks.

I took to heart training I received from Dennis Hooker Sensei years ago. If you want to make your training applicable to a real knife attack you need to NOT use hanmi. You need to accept that you will get cut and understand the showstoppers. The showstoppers are where you cannot afford to get cut because your ability to continue effectively will be gone: throat, palm side of wrist, and leg tendon behind the knee. Your stance needs to minimize exposure of showstoppers while allowing mobility. I prefer the nonconfrontational thinker stance that can quickly transition into a stance Hooker Sensei calls an Uechi Ryu stance.

When we play freestyle, it quickly disabuses you of many notions that come from standard kata training.

of course the surprise attack also a real knife attack is by definition a very tricky thing and the only defense there is ki/awareness.

---

Last edited by kironin : 05-06-2007 at 10:18 AM.

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Old 05-06-2007, 08:11 PM   #6
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

I voted very effective.

A "real" knife attack as seen where I am is most often executed as surpise, close range stabs in a very rapid succession (like a "shanking"). Our Aikido trains to deal with this pretty well, however this does not mean that one should preferably face a knife totally unarmed or empty handed either. If one gets ambushed from the back well... good luck, regardless of how well armed or trained you are.

For other knife attacks, where one is shown the knife as an intimidation tool before an attack, should be easier to deal with since the "ambush" element is gone. However imho these are not so common.

Alluding to Craig's post above, none of our pre-attack postures (whether dealing with a knife or not) start from hanmi, the preferable stance is mugamae or shizen hontai. In tanto randori this sort of "square" stance provides a lot of fast movement options in multiple directions and allows for quick adaptability while moving, assisting one to avoid being stabbed or struck with a blade.

LC

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Old 05-06-2007, 08:44 PM   #7
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

The only answer to this sort of question is...
It depends on who the attacker is and who the defender is.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 05-06-2007, 10:01 PM   #8
Edward
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Apart from what we see in the movies, I have my doubts that a MA expert of any art would be able to defend effectively against a knife attack.
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Old 05-06-2007, 11:16 PM   #9
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

The question, or at least the hinted-at answer(s), seems to make the mistake of misunderstanding Aikido training to be technique-based. Aikido is, rather, a process of transformation. Therefore, one isn't supposed to ask if kote-gaeshi can work against a knife attack, for example, and then go on through the endless twist of turns of what constitutes a knife-attack, a REAL knife attack, an attack, etc. This really misses the point of Aikido training in my opinion. It even misses the point of dealing with situations that might have you being attacked by a person wielding a knife. After all, if you want to improve your odds of coming out of a knife attack, you got to have at least the following:

- control space/distance/time prior to the encounter
- be better armed/equipped through the encounter
- or don't be in the encounter at all (be gone)

None of this has to do with technique. It has to do with a warrior-body/mindset. Aikido training is as open to these things as the practitioner will allow it to be - as no art has a monopoly on this stuff; as no art can guarantee it.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 05-07-2007, 08:05 AM   #10
Steven
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
The only answer to this sort of question is...
It depends on who the attacker is and who the defender is.
Amen -- well said
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:41 AM   #11
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

It's possible I'm a bit biased by the fact that I know one guy who's used Aikido to defend against a knife attack and it was flawlessly effective, know of one other person who defended against a knife attack using Aikido and it worked (unfortunately, I can't call that one flawless) and I've met others over the years who at least claim to have defended against knife attacks using Aikido. That latter group are of mixed credibility, but there's enough of them that I believe that it's hard for me to conclude that Aikido is ineffective against knife attacks.

That being said, Chuck Clark's comments are salient. The two cases where I know what happened the Aikidoist was fairly well trained and the guy with the knife (probably) wasn't. The other cases where I believe them, the Aikidoists were either cops or highly-ranked Aikidoists and the knife wielders were punks with a blade, often under the influence of some mind-altering substance.

I believe Aikido works, but it doesn't make you Superman.

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Old 05-07-2007, 10:16 AM   #12
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

It's obvious I was incorrect when I said that there was a consensus that aikido was not very effective against a knife attack. To take it from opinion to empirical evidence, maybe we should get some of those argumentative judo guys together for a knife-taking competition.

Last edited by Paul Sanderson-Cimino : 05-07-2007 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:56 AM   #13
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

I'm not interested in any knife-taking competition (organized or spontaneous) on purpose... however, I have three scars on my hands from knife wounds occuring during assaults where I happened to be more skillful than the assailants. Granted these were 40 + years ago but I am still in possession of two of those knives, so I guess I qualify as being successful although I am not a "trophy hunter" and am not anxious to do it again. We do very spirited tanto randori at times in our system though with appropriate training tools.

Chuck Clark
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:59 AM   #14
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

I tend to agree with Dave Valadez' comments. It is about training the mind and the body to develop the warrior mentality and toughness. Focusing on the actual attack is irrelevant, because on any given day, and depending on the circumstances you may lose or win.

Losing and winning depend on your perspective of life, how you live it, and the actions that you choose.

After all that, it helps to have technical skills sometimes for sure, but this is secondary to the other stuff and may not matter at all depending upon the situation.

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Old 05-07-2007, 11:19 AM   #15
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
The only answer to this sort of question is...
It depends on who the attacker is and who the defender is.
Yes, but you can use that to end just about any conversation. I think that is stating the obvious and pretty much should be the place to begin a conversation.

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Old 05-07-2007, 11:40 AM   #16
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
After all, if you want to improve your odds of coming out of a knife attack, you got to have at least the following:

- control space/distance/time prior to the encounter
- be better armed/equipped through the encounter
- or don't be in the encounter at all (be gone)

None of this has to do with technique.
This goes for any encounter with someone armed with a weapon in general. Your number two however I would say includes technique. Part of being better equipped through an encounter would be having technical proficiency.

of course the real kicker is even the best trained freeze in real situations and you don't know whether you will till you are in it, so the ideal world is your number 3, not to be in it. Not always possible. I am skeptical when people start talking about warrior mindset, to me it smacks of sophistry.

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Old 05-07-2007, 12:40 PM   #17
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Depends how much you actually train against a wooden tanto from attacks coming in at all angles and that on a regular basis with the most awkward uke! ... even then it would phase most people if you were to face a real knife attack.... it will still be scary!!
I for one would put as much distance between an attacker and myself as is possible given circumstance as know one really knows where it would be likely to take place!
I would probably defend myself with anything that came to hand ie clothing, furniture, you name it! and then run like hell! not stand around looking to see how effective I might have been!
I know my limits!... and have no delusions as to what I may be able to do.... All hypothetical until it really happens!!
Tony
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:58 PM   #18
senshincenter
 
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote: View Post
This goes for any encounter with someone armed with a weapon in general. Your number two however I would say includes technique. Part of being better equipped through an encounter would be having technical proficiency.

of course the real kicker is even the best trained freeze in real situations and you don't know whether you will till you are in it, so the ideal world is your number 3, not to be in it. Not always possible. I am skeptical when people start talking about warrior mindset, to me it smacks of sophistry.
I would agree - this applies to all weapon-involved scenarios, but in real life, where the presence of a weapon is not only possible but can make all the difference, I would not want to lump this in with "technique." It's more than technique - enough to warrant it's own discussion and even it's own type of training. For example, in our arrest and control training, we look to the three elements I gave, and if we get them all right, we do not even have to apply a technique - certainly nothing out of grappling art. In other words, if we control the space/time properly, we do not need element two; if we didn't control the space/time properly, and we had to employ the second element, if we do that correctly, we look for more lethal instruments at our disposal - not our hands and/or our wrestling skills; etc. Technique, grappling technique, is so far down the scale of what all one should do or can do that one should acknowledge that he/she has been screwing up tactically for a long time before that point, and thus that the odds are slowly (or quickly) falling away from one's favor (no matter what one does or does not do) - where luck and the particulars of relative skill are the sole deciding factors.

I don't get the "sophistry" comment - so I cannot reply to it. Sorry.

dmv

p.s. Yes, of course, I'm assuming one does not freak out - but while that is a most relative skill, and a most difficult thing to learn, I would consider that elementary for anyone that is looking to come out of a fight, or that is likely to encounter weapon-wielding attackers. That's right up there with, you got to learn how to stand, how to breath, how to relax, balance, etc. - all very hard to learn, but all very elementary to such encounters.

Last edited by senshincenter : 05-07-2007 at 01:05 PM. Reason: forgot to comment upon

David M. Valadez
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:17 PM   #19
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

A final note: we do not do tanto dori at our dojo. This speaks to how far down I think technique is to dealing with weapon-wielding attackers.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:24 PM   #20
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote: View Post
Yes, but you can use that to end just about any conversation. I think that is stating the obvious and pretty much should be the place to begin a conversation.
I guess I'm out of sync with this... there was a question asked and none of the possibilities in the poll were appropriate. I answered the question with the best answer that I know to be true. I think the discussion that has ensued has taken place several times in the past and is pretty obvious to anyone that has any real experience in the subject.

Chuck Clark
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Old 05-07-2007, 02:03 PM   #21
Michael Douglas
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

...and yet at this moment the poll indicates 41% of voters think aikido is very effective against a knife attack, way out infront as the popular choice.

For some reason my browser won't let me vote, no matter.
I vote NOT very effective.
My reasoning is based on never seeing an aikido demonstration against a knife attack where the knife wasn't the first attempted contact by the attacker.
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Old 05-07-2007, 02:33 PM   #22
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

I really feel like everyone who voted "very effective" should spend some time during jiyu-keiko demonstrating as much to themselves. Hand a training partner a tanto, and tell them to earnestly try to "kill" you as though it were a real knife. No need for classical aikido strikes; just swing or thrust the knife however feels most natural.

I feel like that might get some people to change their votes. I dunno. Just my two cents!
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Old 05-07-2007, 02:40 PM   #23
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

I think Clark Sensei is correct regarding "who" is involved being more important than "what technique or MA" is involved. There are those who would be capable of suriving a real knife attack regardless of how well or badly they are armed and this has to do with some of the things David V. alluded to regarding mindset, will to survive etc. Then there are those who are so good at taking life with a knife you would come out on the bad end even if you had a machine gun. In relation to something Sensei Ledyard said on another thread - a good knife attacker does not fight, they ambush.

"Who" we are dealing with is quite important imho. My vote was based on knowing at least 2 people who trained with me in Aikido for less than a year who were able to get away without injury when attacked with a knife. The reality is that any Aikido skill they had may have a lot less to do with the result than either person's will to survive or the knife attacker's resolve to take them out. No two situations are the same in this regard and it is diffiicult to state categorically what the outcomes can be.

Imho.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 05-07-2007 at 02:54 PM.

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Old 05-07-2007, 02:53 PM   #24
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Quote:
Paul Sanderson-Cimino wrote: View Post
I really feel like everyone who voted "very effective" should spend some time during jiyu-keiko demonstrating as much to themselves. Hand a training partner a tanto, and tell them to earnestly try to "kill" you as though it were a real knife. No need for classical aikido strikes; just swing or thrust the knife however feels most natural.

I feel like that might get some people to change their votes. I dunno. Just my two cents!
I disagree. Not everything done when reality hits can be copied in practice. Without the right psychological training (or being a natural sociopath) your partner will probably not have the mindset to really ambush and "kill" you. Because you are training you will hold back from doing everything necessary to survive the encounter, including taking the other's life if this is what it takes.

This is critical since it defines one major line between Aikido in the dojo and self defence. Aikido training has its stated objectives based on the dojo you attend, self defence training however is to survive by whatever means necessary, it is quite different and cannot be copied in its entirety in a training environment, knife or not. Those folks like RMCAT etc. who do scenario training come close to recreating some of the threat levels that one may experience, but these are also limited in scope. A lot of what differentiates Budo from self defence has to do with mindset and what your ultimate objective is. The same goes for Budo and combat. There is no guarantee that what you do in the dojo can be transferred to a real life situation, good or bad. Each situation is different and when your life is on the line strange things can happen to either help or hinder you.

Just my 5 cents.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 05-07-2007, 08:29 PM   #25
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Re: Poll: How physically effective do you think aikido is against a real knife attack

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
For other knife attacks, where one is shown the knife as an intimidation tool before an attack, should be easier to deal with since the "ambush" element is gone. However imho these are not so common.
LC
I disagree. Coming from a female perspective, I would think that knives are used more often as a means of intimidation than to kill, maim, etc. When the knife is used to intimidate, not being intimidated and having some technique/response to get away is very effective, but at that point it's more about psychology than technique.
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