Dojo: Wasabi Dojo
Location: Houston, TX
Join Date: Mar 2013
Re: My Experiences in Cross Training MMA with Aikido
Reuben wrote, "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)."
Man, that's hilarious, sorry. No wonder she's the ex.... You've probably heard that one before, probably in this thread.
I totally agree with the O/P in all it's statements, especially about the speed and effectiveness of a trained fighter's hand techniques being very difficult to deal with unless you train with them coming at you full-tilt boogie with bad intent on a regular basis.
You can, if you are actually interested in having a street-effective martial art in less than 30 years or so of aikido practice, do what Reuben does, and cross-train in MMA or any other type of realistic interaction involving physical conflict. Or, you can do such training in your own school, but it requires a commitment to not backslide into the easier, softer, slower... less painful methods of attack. Real bad guys !ATTACK! folks, don't forget that.
Let me say this. It is not fun, while in training at your school, to get punched in the nose, mouth or short ribs, belly, or groin (guys or girls). However it IS much less fun to have it happen on the street and have it go very, very bad for you and yours if you never actually dealt with a true, hard intent, bad-ass punch coming in with intent to push your face in, or worse.
If it happens in your school, dojo or training hall, and the damage is dealt to you by one of your (I hope) friends (at least training partners who should have everyone's learning and mutual benefit & welfare in mind) it is a lot easier to deal with. Having your ego bruised is in itself a good learning experience. If you screw up (it will happen, happened to me last week) just grin, accept the error as being yours, think about why it happened RIGHT THEN while you are rubbing at the ding (memories fade unless you immediately make use of them - Pimmsler method of learning, look it up), and get up, maybe literally, get back on the horse (mat, duh) and try the same situation again. Keep doing it until the situation becomes familiar. You'll know that it is when it suddenly seems to be slower.... Note: It's not a slow-motion sequence fight scene sort of thing, but you'll feel less wound-up, there'll be more than enough time to do what you need to do, etc.
In our school, the bridge I use to get folks over this hurdle -- at least to start them over it - is to start them using/doing the Merritt-Stevens system (you could use any short series of techniques, I just like that one for various reasons, which is really simple (it's only 10 techniques in length). The way we do it is start out with a very basic attack, done slowly and with all the usual "controls" in place so people can at least "learn the dance steps" without being scared that the person is going to take their head off. I have found that not to be conducive to learning at early stages!
Once they sort of get the idea on where they are supposed to go and what they do, then uke is allowed (uke is always a much-higher rank person who knows what to do) to ddial up the, initially, force of the attack (not the speed, I have everyone use a super-huge long wind-up haymaker punch that starts in Alabama and ends up in Texas at the tori's face). Just dealing with the increase in actual force (which cannot be hidden, it has to be dealt with) is a huge confidence builder.
Then, progress to a stepping cross (lunge punch), which speeds up the inbound strike, but keep it full power. That stepping cross will be exchanged in turn for shorter, sharper strikes, until the student is dealing with the crisp jab... which in my personal opinion is one of the hardest things to deal with (by this I mean to actually interact with in order to gain a grip/hold/lock on it as the initiation of a typical aikido technique). No need to go into how a judoka could be trained to attempt a slip entry into a clinch, then throw, that's not what they, the students who have no other training, are doing.
By the time folks are working on that ful-power thing, with things comeing at the full speed and with scary power regularly for about 90 days, it's amazing to see the confidence they've gained -- with quite a bit of that confidence coming from when they failed and got smacked. Their oppoinent immediately stops to make sure they aren't really badly hurt, assists with bleeding noses (it will happen, unfortunately), then the quick talk about what "went wron," and then right back at it with little to no interference from me. That keeps it a quite personal experience for the pair, which builds camaraderie in the school, keeps embarrassment down, and the whole while builds the character of the person up. They have taken a punch, and yes it hurt. But no, it really wasn't THAT bad, was it... no, it wasn't. The unknown experience is feared. The poison of fear is knowledge.