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Old 09-04-2004, 10:06 PM   #1
Thor's Hammer
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 51
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Question Forgive me if this has been asked before

Alright, my question has to do with aikido, but the way I arrived at has nothing to do with aikido so hear me out.

My friend and I were horsing around, wrestling standing up. I wasn' t trying to do any aikido techniques, I was just trying to make him fall, as he was doing the same to me. What I noticed, however, were two problems which some of you may or may not have experienced yourselves in practice.

The first problem is that he would simply not allow any contact that was not advantageous to him. If I tried to grab his wrist, elbow, shoulder, waist, or neck, it didn't matter, he could break the grip easily. He would grab me, but of course the instant I used that to my advantage he would simply let go and the whole process would begin again.

The second problem is that he simply would not be thrown, even if he did, out of boredom, allow me to maintain a hold and try to take him down. It's a feeling similar to that which I get in class when I am throwing someone very heavy or resistant. They will not topple over. I considered the problem to be that I was constantly in front of him, but even when he gave a commited attack or charged at me he could turn his body and stop any momentum that he had before I had any chance to take advantage of it.

So, what are your thoughts? What if you did try to "use aikido?" As soon as uke realizes that they are losing control they can always let go or break your hold. You cannot topple someone over just by pushing on them. Tenkan and tenshin work to avoid their attack, but not to enter. Is entering even possible? Is the point just to keep avoiding them until you are blue in the face, or have I missed something?
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Old 09-04-2004, 11:22 PM   #2
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
Location: Three Lakes WI/ Mishima Japan
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Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

Hi Bryan,

I think the first problem has been answered by George Ledyard in, I believe, his article on atemi. Basically, uke is grabbing nage so as to not get hit. So, if uke lets go, he/she gets hit. As nage, one can direct the arm to be grabbed toward the grabber`s center.

One answer to the second problem can be found in Saotome Sensei`s Oyo Henka video which teaches how to use the energy used by uke to resist nage. I highly recommend it.

However, I have to add that unless a practitioner is very advanced, practicing with resistance can really cause one to develop bad habits. This runs contrary to many of the opinions often seen here, but I feel that training with resistance too early will cause the beginner to tighten up and try to force technique.

Charles Hill
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Old 09-04-2004, 11:34 PM   #3
CNYMike
Dojo: Finger Lakes Aikido
Location: Cortland, NY
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Cool Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

Quote:
Bryan Benson wrote:
Alright, my question has to do with aikido, but the way I arrived at has nothing to do with aikido so hear me out.

My friend and I were horsing around, wrestling standing up. I wasn' t trying to do any aikido techniques, I was just trying to make him fall, as he was doing the same to me. What I noticed, however, were two problems which some of you may or may not have experienced yourselves in practice.

The first problem is that he would simply not allow any contact that was not advantageous to him. If I tried to grab his wrist, elbow, shoulder, waist, or neck, it didn't matter, he could break the grip easily. He would grab me, but of course the instant I used that to my advantage he would simply let go and the whole process would begin again.

The second problem is that he simply would not be thrown, even if he did, out of boredom, allow me to maintain a hold and try to take him down. It's a feeling similar to that which I get in class when I am throwing someone very heavy or resistant. They will not topple over. I considered the problem to be that I was constantly in front of him, but even when he gave a commited attack or charged at me he could turn his body and stop any momentum that he had before I had any chance to take advantage of it.

So, what are your thoughts? What if you did try to "use aikido?" As soon as uke realizes that they are losing control they can always let go or break your hold. You cannot topple someone over just by pushing on them. Tenkan and tenshin work to avoid their attack, but not to enter. Is entering even possible? Is the point just to keep avoiding them until you are blue in the face, or have I missed something?
Nope, you're not missing anything, and there's always a point.

First of all, don't be discouraged. There are probably Aikido masters who could pin your friend to the floor no matter what he did, but my guess you are not even remotely close to that point. O Sensei was capable of fantastic feats, but remember, this was someone who studied, practiced, and taught martial arts for a good chunk of his life, beginning in his late teens/early twenties! If you haven't been doing it very long, don't worry that you can't take on all comers right away.

Second, you and your friend were in sort of a freestyle situation from the sound of it. Now, in a freestyle situation, you lose a little precision, and when you're talking about Aikido, precision matters a LOT. I've had trouble in class where just the tension in my upper body is holding uke up! This is to be expected; don't worry about it. Also, freestyle fighting can be a whole different ball game all by itself. If you can have a 90 minute class in just the basics of freestyle sparring for a striking art like karate or Tae Kwon Do, then guess what? There's a lot to learn for freestyle grappling, too. Don't worry about things getting fudged. As it is, you and your friend were countering each other. This is a good thing, esepcially if he was doing attacks you had not seen in class. That shows you have learned things from your training; on the one hand, you are devloping good reactions, and on the other, you are getting exposed to attacks you might not see in the dojo, at least not right away if you're relatively new, and are still countering/avoiding them. These are all good things; pat yourself on the back.

You're right that some of the throws don't work if uke lets go, but at the same time, sometimes it is difficult for uke to hang on! I have a lousy grip to begin with, and some of the techinues make it hard to hang on, and sweat can make nage's wrist slippery. This is not a bad thing, though. In a self defense situation, your priorities are survival and escape. If you can break a grip and make a run for it, that's not bad.

As to your friend being hard to throw, well, some of that is you're not having the technique right. The devil is in the details; if you have to get A, B, C, and D right to do a technique, and you get A, B, and D, it won't work, or will work poorly. This is just the nature of locking and throwing; I've had the same problem when my Kali classes have discussed Filipno locking, throwing, and grappling. And on top of that, some people are just plain hard to throw. They know how to plant themselves, so if you can move them, it feels like they way a ton. Again, this is something you run into when working in grappling range, and it is to be expected.

As I said before, you shouldn't let anything that happens with your friend discourage you. I've heard more than one instructor say that the best training is what you do OUTSIDE the formal class, as imortant as the regular class is. Keep going to the dojo and learning the art, but keep horsing around with your friend; let that experience shape the things that go in your own bag of tricks.

Happy training.

With Respect ....

Mas Mike
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Old 09-04-2004, 11:45 PM   #4
jgros
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Lightbulb Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

Hello,

My experience is limited, but I'm procrastinating writing a paper; so I'll try to help out. I'm sorry if i repeat a little bit of what was said before, but this took so long to write that before I knew it there were already a few responses.

Quote:
Bryan Benson wrote:
The first problem is that he would simply not allow any contact that was not advantageous to him. If I tried to grab his wrist, elbow, shoulder, waist, or neck, it didn't matter, he could break the grip easily.
I think his Aikido is pretty good. He is being a good uke. After the attack if you start to do something disadvantageous to him, he escapes. Good nage too, since whatever you tried to do to him, that was again disadvantageous, he wouldn't stand for.

Quote:
Bryan Benson wrote:
He would grab me, but of course the instant I used that to my advantage he would simply let go and the whole process would begin again.
Now he is being a bad uke. If he attacked someone very experienced in Aikido, no/little physical contact would occur (i.e. he either doesn't grab you, or he did grab you, but your wrist is the only body part still in the original spot, like tenkan). At this point, the nage's defense would happen during the opening that the uke created by attacking, therefore being too quick to escape or counter.

Even if you cannot respond lightning fast, it still is not a safe option for uke to let go. If he keeps the connection to your center by going with your technique, he can take a good fall and if you are nice he can still walk. If he lets go or does an incorrect attack, this is what we call "no practice". Meaning that either he has at worst just opened himself up for a quick atemi/deathblow , or at best created a stalemate situation in which you seperate. At this point he may try to attack again or not, but if he does, you'll be ready.

Another possibility is you are not taking his center correctly. This depends on the technique you are doing however.

I'll not even touch the "cannot throw him" thing. It could be that either you need help executing the technique, or it could be that he is not taking the correct ukemi for your level. I'm getting the feeling that this whole situation happened outside the dojo, so in that case, its natural he wouldn't cooperate. Remember that you and your partner must practice Aikido to your level. If he is not an Aikidoka, most techniques will have difficultly working unless you are very experienced. Mainly because they don't know what they are supposed to do to protect themselves, and they are your friends, so you cannot hurt them.

Entering is very possible. In my experience, I have never seen an attack that could be done tenkan but not irimi, or vice versa. Take the grab at the wrist for example. Since you don't want to let him grab you, it will be more like a punch, but with less force. You can either deflect it and do iriminage (entering example) or you can blend with the grab doing a tenkan (turning example). Then you can follow with kotegaeshi if you like.

I think your problem is twofold: practicing with non Aikidoka and trying to grapple/wrestle. As I mentioned earlier practicing with non Aikidoka is difficult unless you are very experienced. And as for grappling, it is not the aim of Aikido. You want to not let people get a hold of you. If they do, you can use Aikido techniques to get out, but as a general rule, its bad. Imagine being jumped by a gang. As soon as someone gets a hold of you, you loose all mobility. And then the swarm of punches and kicks arrives. Loosing mobility is instant death in randori. You can fight in limited mobility, but if you cannot move, you cannot get your attackers to arrive one at a time, and therefore you are dead. I'm not trying to pick fights with wrestlers or Gracie students. But you cannot expect to be on the ground struggling with one guy, while four others are kicking you in the head. To tell you the truth, I ENDORSE GROUND FIGHTING. It is very important for those times when we are not as experienced as we would like to be, and we are put in a bad position. You just better hope its a one on one fight.

I hope this helps. Happy training!

jgros
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Old 09-05-2004, 12:58 AM   #5
shihonage
Join Date: Sep 2001
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Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

I don't mean to sound patronizing, but you should first get to the stage where you're comfortable with doing jiyu-waza (random attack drill).
By then hopefully you will have changed the way you look at this "problem".

There are some KEY factors you are not aware of and do not consider at the moment.
Here's an example of what happened to me recently.

I am 6"1, ~180lbs.
Just last Friday, an about 5"7, 270lbs man with forearms thicker than my biceps decided to prove that he is young and strong, by grabbing my hand in the air and trying to arm wrestle me "while standing".

Accepting that game would've been a lost cause for me, given my muscular power and weight.
Instead, without thinking, I just transitioned into what was the most suitable movement of the moment.

I continued his movement, counterclockwise around himself and up, with my right hand which he grabbed, stepping in front of him, and taking the slack out of his right arm which was the "forward guidance".
My left hand was near the left side of his neck, and as I was rotating, the power was distributed equally from my hips to both the right and left arms, one pulling him forward right, another pulling him backward left, creating a spinning motion which took place outside of his centering radius, like a lever.

Like second part of yokomen uchi kokyunage.

Before he realized what was going on it was too late.
His initial movement did not meet any resistance he EXPECTED, and in that instant that it took him to realize what was going on, the slack was already out of his arm, and his balance was broken through the connection to the center of my weight, so he could not withdraw his arm to break the grip.

He just kept backing up and backing up, stumbling backwards in a circle as I kept leading him, until I felt him trip and quickly restored his balance because I didnt want him to fall on his butt. A man of such weight falling is a hazard to his own health.

Last edited by shihonage : 09-05-2004 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 09-07-2004, 08:06 AM   #6
bob_stra
Location: Australia
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Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

AFAIK it seems to be a common problem. I think it might be because aikido starts at the opposite end of the "common sense" spectrum - ie: do less to achive more, without giving a detailed gameplan of how to physically "do" this.

In any case for a long time there is a tendancy to do more anyways (eg: tech not working. Solution = more force, more power, more speed). IMHO this is in part because not much focus is given during class time as to how to address resistance / "fighting". Nor much time to "attacking" (or the threat of ie: atemi) which to be fair, seems to be necessary out here in the real world.

Doing more isn't the only (best?) way though. I can give you the example of Royce Gracie. My instructors in BJJ - who can virtually sleepwalk through training against me - get toyed with like a childern against Royce whenever they attend one of his seminars. According to them, he uses very little force.

In both cases, I think it comes down to training time / know how, either at aikido or via cross training.

Specifically then: -

> The first problem is that he would simply not allow > any contact that was not advantageous to him.

What type of contact would he allow - could you elaborate? Advantageous can go to disadvantageous simply by repositioning your body.

Yeah - that headlock may look bitchin', but I can use it to dump you on your ass then break your arm.

IOW Grips are pretty superficial anyways - the can always be altered to something better.

> If I tried to grab his wrist, elbow, shoulder, waist,
> or neck, it didn't matter, he could break the grip
> easily.

Try taking a roundabout route. Lets say you want to grab his elbow. Grab his wrist with one hand and place the other hovering near his forearm / elbow. When he "escapes" he will escape directly into your waiting hand.

Or the "baseball catch". Place both of your hands around one of his - not grasping, just hovering. Slap his hand with you right hand *into* your left hand. Then while he's screwing about with that, sneak your right hand up to his elbow. Tada - two on one. Enter for a shoulder throw, ude garami, etc etc.

> The second problem is that he simply would not be thrown

Don't throw him - make him fall over himself. Sure if the guy is light and clueless, then you can heave him about like a school kid. Otherwise, "help him" do what he want to do. Two head are better that one :-)

Eg: If I go to grab you but you keep going backwards, what would happen if I snuck a leg behind you the next time you did that?

Grab = you back off
Grab = you back off
Grab + sneak foot behind you - you back off = You've thrown yourself off balance.

It's all about being lazy...uh..."economical" ;-)

> It's a feeling similar to that which I get in class when I am throwing someone very
> heavy or resistant.

FWIW One (unspoken) BJJ axiom is "cause him to panic". Either introduce the fear of pain or the fear of falling, allow the other chap a "way out" (which you've set up as a dead end). I realize this may not be very aiki like.

Just my $0.02 based on experience in judo, BJJ and aikido.

Last edited by bob_stra : 09-07-2004 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 09-07-2004, 10:55 PM   #7
willy_lee
Dojo: City Aikido
Location: San Francisco, CA USA
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Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

Quote:
Bob Strahinjevich wrote:
FWIW One (unspoken) BJJ axiom is "cause him to panic". Either introduce the fear of pain or the fear of falling, allow the other chap a "way out" (which you've set up as a dead end). I realize this may not be very aiki like.
On the contrary, I think this is very aiki like!

Quote:
Just my $0.02 based on experience in judo, BJJ and aikido.
Great post, Bob.

=wl

Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
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Old 09-10-2004, 09:40 AM   #8
Robert Cowham
Dojo: East Sheen Aikido and Kashima No Tachi
Location: London, UK
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Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

This whole thing sounds very like push hands (a la taiji or qigong) - it's a very useful exercise. Do it quite slowly to feel what is really going on in your body and your partners. Focus on fluidity and softness. It's fun stuff.

I have done a little with some people with quite a bit of taiji experience, and I didn't feel unduly outclassed.

Robert
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Old 09-10-2004, 10:13 AM   #9
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

Although I didn't always agree with this, I do now. I've found many bad habits from the time when I trained in aikido with more experienced MAists from other styles. These habits can be difficult to break. I've found this type of resistance has also played havoc with my ukemi. There is a time and a place for strong resistence, but in my opinion now, it takes a really good instructor to let you know when that is. I wish I'd listened more during some of those early stages. At the same time though, there are benefits to the training that causes the problems I've refered to...so maybe its all a wash...we get where we get when we get there. Its a lifetime of training either way.

Ron

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
Hi Bryan,
However, I have to add that unless a practitioner is very advanced, practicing with resistance can really cause one to develop bad habits. This runs contrary to many of the opinions often seen here, but I feel that training with resistance too early will cause the beginner to tighten up and try to force technique.

Charles Hill

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 09-10-2004, 05:08 PM   #10
disabledaccount
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

Quote:
Bryan Benson wrote:
If I tried to grab his wrist, elbow, shoulder, waist, or neck, it didn't matter, he could break the grip easily. He would grab me, but of course the instant I used that to my advantage he would simply let go and the whole process would begin again.
This may sound simplistic (as does most of what I have to say ), but I'm struck with the fact that you couldn't control him with a hold to his face, head, or neck. Generally when you've got control of these areas, and you direct uke's head in the direction you want him to fall, he fall down and go boom.

You see this principal again and again in techniques such as irimi nage, tenchi nage, and kaiten nage. Heck, even alot of arm/shoulder locks are indirectly influencing uke's head in order to affect a throw. For example the cutting hand which lies along uke's trapezius/neck during kata-gatame directs uke's head down.

So, lets say you've got a hand on the back of uke's neck and you are directing it down in the direction he's facing and moving ala kaiten nage. When uke realizes pretty quick that his balance is on the verge of going, he may suddenly jerk in the opposite directing pulling away from the move.

Ever heard that old aikido maxim "When pushed; turn. When pulled; enter"? When uke pulls away from the kaiten movement for example, you have a great opening for irimi nage. Just put your hand over his face and direct him back and down.

One of the secrets judo taught me that applies just as well to aikido is that anyone can resist a movement going in one direction. But get your uke going in two or more directions and he's going to fall.

I'd keep playing with your friend and going to 'lot's of classes. It's healthy to experiment with your aikido as long as you do it safely. With that in mind, once you start playing with the suggestions on this thread, you might want to start bringing ice-packs to you impromptu randori sessions!
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Old 09-10-2004, 07:09 PM   #11
guest89893
Dojo: Jihonjuku/ St.Pete. FL
Location: Palm Harbor, Florida
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Re: Forgive me if this has been asked before

Quote:
Bryan Benson wrote:
My friend and I were horsing around, wrestling standing up. I wasn' t trying to do any aikido techniques, I was just trying to make him fall, as he was doing the same to me. What I noticed, however, were two problems which some of you may or may not have experienced yourselves in practice.
Bryan,
The first part of the problem starts with "My Friend." If it is your friend wether you are aware of it or not, you brain is thinking don't hurt him (too much) he's my friend. The second part of the problem was just wrestling around not trying to do any Aikido techniques. Well why not? If, and it is a big if, you have enough training time and experience your technique and understanding of balance offer you an edge. Otherwise your just wrestling around. Which is okay, because the third part - your friend is not attacking with any real intent of harm , either. which is why you and him were just wrestling around.
Gene Martinelli
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