“In order to be ABLE to securely ‘not fight’ in a dangerous situation, you must first be capable of fighting. Only then can you have the power and ability to make this choice!”
“Aikido people don’t cover up,” according to some “ex-spurts.” And they will argue intensely about this non-point. Apparently they enjoy receiving atemi with their face.
In fact they’ve never been really hit, that’s why these proponents still live in fantasyland.
Also, presumably they’ve never heard of jodan and chudan. Scary thought. Big titles cannot hide the abject incompetence I’ve noticed in my travels.
In any Budo you must protect your face and body.
In a dance, you have, hopefully, total trust for your opponent. In combat the very opposite. If you are practicing Aikido as Budo, and not dance, you have to at least make an effort to fake the mistrust and survival caution that comes with real violence.
I once had an acquaintance that practiced a quasi-eclectic minestrone of fighting arts and he reckoned, “Aikido people are hypnotized with their own stupidity.” He based this on his idea that no attacker will grab your wrist.
Some do, some don’t. This much I know. When they do, they don’t just stand there holding your hand.
I then disagreed with this fellow’s criticism. Now, following observation, I daily think he is more correct as more and more “aikido” appears to be descending into the quagmires of mediocrity and a convenient pastime of self delusion that neither resembles any budo, nor will ever be effective when the litmus test comes.
As it happens, this fellow has succeeded in hypnotizing himself, that all fights must be conducted lying down. Heaven help him when several armed opponents one day assail him. He is going to have an awakening the hard way. If he lives.
But “martial arts are nothing about fighting.” So we are told by pontificators.
No? Really? What is then? A social club?
I hope they are fast runners.
In order to be ABLE to securely “not fight” in a dangerous situation, you must first be capable of fighting. Only then can you have the power and ability to make this choice!
Mars, was the “god of war.” Hence the term MARtial.
The worst enemy of all budoka is self-deception, and following that: Mutual deception. So easy to fall into. Only problem, tall tales of holes in doughnuts will be of no avail when the real thing comes.
Reality has different plans to that of theories, opinions, hypothesis’s and fairy tales. Violence is harsh, even for the trained “expert.” You seldom survive unscathed. It has nothing to do with “winning” or “losing,” as in points or other fictions. Rather, staying alive. That’s the distinction.
When a murderous whoever attacks you, you should give a damn about scoring points, rather every effort goes in to staying alive every which way you can.
So, when training, instead of making eyes and giggling within striking range, you should be training as if for life and death survival.
Come alive. Jodan only “looks aggressive” if you start pulling faces. Otherwise it is a pacifying or “surrender” posture. This is deceptive. It was banned from sport fighting because Jodan techniques can be devastating and do serious damage. As for Chudan, everybody knows it because it’s in all the movies from kung fu, to karate and boxing and signifies nothing much unless you know what to do with it. Its not really for either “blocking” or punching although that’s how its mostly used. Practice will reveal. Hand held weapons, buki practice: bokken, jo, wakazashi length weapons and tanto, more so enables the unlocking of these significant battle postures using gravity and tsuki.
Practice and become competent, if for no other reason that you will give the art a bad name when the newspapers print, “Aikido master killed by a midget in a scuffle..” it should be the mission of each and every practitioner to EXCEL in Aikido, not merely to impress with a semblance of it.
If you’ve never been hit in the face, you will have no conception about covering up and you will tend to freeze with surprise long enough to be overwhelmed. If you want to learn a softened reality, go to a boxing gym. Try out just once. Ask them not to hold back. (perhaps humbly request they use thicker and more padded, soft gloves.) Find out what happens to your delicate face, fragile opinions and your theories about “doing aikido.”
I can tell you now, THE MAJORITY OF YOU WILL GET POUNDED. “Doing aikido” will not work.
Then go back to your dojo with an improved insight into the nature of fighting.
O’Sensei – Morihei Ueshiba, is on record as having easily defeated boxers!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? Ask yourself this question with absolute sincerity, then set about finding the answers with determination.
I know, I know, you don’t train to fight. What often happens in a situation, the attacker will overwhelm you with a barrage of punches to the head. Then if you fail to cover up it will be followed by another, and another until you are overwhelmed and sometimes injured.
Attackers do not care why you train, if you train, or what you practice. They just want to cause harm.
When set upon with a flurry of persistent head strikes, most people will fail to cover up; and often end up crouching in a corner, rolled up in a ball with hands over their head weeping and begging, a deeply ingrained instinctive submission posture. Even “martial artists.” Not all, mainly those addicted to the idea of “styles.” It has happened frequently but is usually kept quiet.
This is what happens very fast, even to people who like to imagine this “style” or that to be useful. In such a position, if the attacker does not then stop, you are at immense risk and could get knifed. To avoid injury, the solution is simple, but requires serious practice. Immediately drop your chin, cover up and enter strongly whilst looking for openings. Then use them. Follow up immediately. Most Aikido basics will work well. At close quarters and with strong intention, you won’t have to fake anything. What works best are ikkyo, kaiten-nage, irimi-nage, gyagku-irimi nage, tenchi-nage, variables of sumi-otoshi. Koshinage if you are skilled and enter immediately and fearlessly, and of course obi-otoshi. In some instances kote-gaeshi will fall into your hands: but don’t go looking for it, especially if you are under the belief you can simply catch a wrist. You can’t, and yet, if your attacking tai no henko is correct, you may end up doing so. Indirection. Anyhow it is all about practice. Simply practice against headhunting flurries until you get it. And be prepared to use combination, flow-ons, transitions, henka waza.
You can not merely, “do aikido” in the conventionally accepted slow motion, big circle, silly maai, one technique, training drill sense. You need to reflect your opponent’s attacking method, then aiki it once you are in. NEVER step back or you will be merely sparring and he will land some blows and it will escalate instead of finalise. This has already been done to death with the very valid experiments of shoot-fighting and other forms of wrestling that use whole body weight as counter, to take the boxer to ground. And you must be prepared to wear a punch or two on the way in although it is not necessary. Do not stick your chin out like so many “aikido” people do. Tuck your chin in. The chin is the button. The one that puts you to sleep. The training should be to enter whole bodyweight, covering up, head low, then effect a finalization without going to ground (where possible). Yes, it’s challenging training and you will get very fit.
It’s not about having a contest, or sparring, but learning to notice and use OPENINGS. In other words, don’t try to “do aikido.” Instead, box deploying aiki principles. You won’t be able to do this if you bounce around. Or take a static stance. That’s neither boxing not aikido, but a nonsense. Preferably get a boxer to do the striking. One who can enter with a flat footed wide stance with determined strikes, not playful ones. And one who can take ukemi (for mutual safety in training.) To merely jab and cross is not an attack but only half a drill. An attack is the intent to overwhelm with ten, twenty or forty or more, continuous strikes in combination. You will have to enter and enter, in and through.. If you step back you will get hit!
You must be prepared to go to ground; but not as an accepted foregone conclusion as some do. If you inevitably do, then use suwari-waza where possible (although the attack was not much watch Rendezvous to Adventure Observer what Mr. Koichi Tohei does.) If suwari-waza is not effected, you will need to know your ground work. To minimize going to ground, work on your irimi-tankan. Realise that there are more implications to atemi waza and grappling than permitted in sport. In a real situation you will need to think outside the box. Good aiki is assertive kime and terminates the flurry before the first blow can land. This is where irimi–tankan comes in.
Watch the DVDs and study how Shoji Nishio and Yoshio Kuroiwa senseis move.
Instructors should be able to exemplify immunity from continuous head-hunting attacks beyond the beginner drill, wrist grabbing stage, by stopping such an attack promptly. Aikido training begins when the attacks are atemi-waza and you learn INTECEPTION AIKI.
These drills should be practiced and tested safely in the dojo until clarity and relevant skill appears. Even a barrage of weak and harmless training slaps can feel intimidating to a person acculturated to training in slow motion and not notice openings during attack. Can you imagine the result when the intent is bad and the attacker is genuinely going apeshit?
Brutal training? Not at all. Essential training. Real attacks are brutal! This is BUDO! It is expected you to survive the next real attack, if and when it happens. Knowing how to cover up correctly and use it to enter and finish, is reiterated in the writings and demonstrated in the videos of the founder of Aikido. Training is expected to reflect SURVIVAL CAPABILITIES.
Some people like to use gloves and head gear for this kind of training, but accouterments, I’ve found, tend to allow for escalations in training and the risk of injury. Also they spoil the fine-tuning of real distance. OK for strongly supervised young males perhaps. On the other hand, use both. Soft slaps can be modulated to be harmless and provide a greater sense of reality. Simply don’t escalate to cause real harm in training. It’s a mental exercise. And a test of authentic capability because it will nevertheless present a feeling of being overwhelmed to the improperly trained. Yes, it may sting a little. This is good. It provides a perspective and an opportunity to make corrections.
Knowing how to enter in a protected manner will increase your chances of success exponentially. Departing from what works, ceases to be Aikido.
Real Aikido is spiritual. Very spiritual. So spiritual that it works well in reality. The other stuff is collusional self-deception and a danger to itself and its own reputation.
Children who grew up in a era where parents slapped them, know ikkyo before they come to the dojo. They understand jodan and chudan stances immediately. They cover up because they are, quite frankly, sick and tired of the pain of abuse.(or its memory) The same abuse a real attacker will dish out.
Why do most attackers head-hunt? Because a strike to the face, whether it succeeds in breaking a bone or not, is disorienting. It shocks the delicate nerves in the neck, by jarring the seven suspended vertebra balancing and holding up a heavy head rather badly. If well placed enough, forceful and correctly timed, it can jar the brain as well as inflict other injuries.
An instant shock ensues. As representatives of Budo you are supposed to be representing it by demonstrating competence from such realistic attacks. Not making a mockery of it.
Some years ago, an individual who had been training at another school, was welcomed into our dojo. We trained. But he hated the idea of covering up. And not only voiced it, but pointedly refused to. Problem was, every time he trained with one particular student who had been a boxer, he got clipped.
He wanted his “rank recognized.” I settled for ability only. He sulked.
Instead of correcting his m.o. and learning something, he would rudely interrupt class to whine about it. I kept repeating “cover up” again and again and I would even restructure the class to reiterate and again explain the vital importance of jodan and gedan gamae and their purpose. But he had this opinion that, “You don’t cover up in aikido.”
Obdurate would be an understatement. After some time my reply changed to say to the boxer, “Hit him harder,” hoping he would get the point, the reality, not his failed hypothesis. Needless to say he kept getting clipped, but for some strange psychiatric quirk, probably an unhealthy attachment to a delusional peer group opinion, his ideas about not covering up only got worse, and stronger. And he got clipped more often, instead of accepting reality and making corrections. (He was actually walking into very kind and considerately soft punches.)
One day, he failed to turn up to class but arrived late and enraged, interrupted a rather heavy duty kendo class in a basketball court, to loudly proclaim to everyone that he was, “Quitting this school, because there is no covering up in aikido.”
Being today’s world, I took a good ukemi as the same ex-boxer with whom I happened to be training at that particular moment, used the opportunity the distraction of the interruption provided, to effect an immaculate uppercut ikkyo action with his shinai. Why waste a good opening?
I stood up, stopped the class and thanked the intruder. In the old world his bad manners would have earnt him being sent scuttling with multiple shinai strikes the whole dojo after him up the road. Such a lesson would have been wasted on this extremely thick fellow who refused to simply learn from factuality.
Having said that, techniques from gedan gamae ARE indeed valid. Gedan must be practiced also. Not only. And this with care to gain understanding. If you are surprise attacked, or if you know how to control the opponent using maai to draw the attacker in; then gedan can be sublime instead of ridiculous.
But you must be CONSCIOUS of your body. What stance are you in, which foot is forward, what is the ground, what is behind you, what is terrain, what is the opponents real intent.. and include everything else as well. Each moment is unique.
Well, I’ve given the clues here. If you know them good, you are practicing well. If you glimpsed them, time to start putting into practice. If you missed the point, there is hope, keep training.
If you vehemently disagree, there is hope for you too, but only after you have experienced a real and sustained attack. And only if you live. Take a very thick pad and lots of new pens to hospital. You will be wanting to take notes.
If you don’t know what jodan and chudan stances are; as well as the limp and unconscious gedan some seem stuck in; or how these interact and can be deployed with hanmi gamae, in both ai and gyaku stances, I suggest you look them up as a matter of urgency. And practice them till you know them in your sleep.
It will both help you in producing factual functionality in your Aikido; and it will help the noble art of Aikido from going down the drain in an orgy of fakery and self-deception and acquiring a bad name as a result of dancing roters doing only mere slow forms, without any measure of understanding of their real and live application. Don’t get me wrong. Slow motion is an essential attribute of training, but it is not the all of it. In a real situation, as in good training outside of slo-mo; matching the opponent’s ki and deai is essential.
It is difficult to deal with this subject with mere words. It requires lots of training and working things out for oneself. All good practice.
Remember, the practical application of Aikido is not in brawling, but in using skill too arrange it so that destructive encounters are made impossible, as much as possible. After that, improvise.
Aikido does ‘cover up’ by controlling the maai in conjunction with Jodan and Chudan stances as well as Gedan. If you don’t know what these are FIND OUT as a matter of urgency and include them in practice.
Uncover the truth about Ikkyo and its use as a defence-attack against headhunters. Learn to USE Jodan, Chudan and Gedan for more than merely posturing. And discover how the basic techniques work against real and continuous strikes.
Meanwhile, learn to protect your face. It’s the only one you’ve got. Cover up. And enter. Or don’t be there.
1/ In Boxing terminology as a simplified rendition, to “cover up” means to protect the body and head with the arms.
2/ Here’s another clue to covering up. As I recall hearing it. It is a tradition that a student represent his teacher in a duel and indeed O’Sensei was required to do this on occasion for Sokaku Takeda sensei. On this occasion O’Sensei found himself in such a quandary as to have no alternative than to make the request. It is said that in the old days, the Founder’s dojo was being watched by spies as a result of the Oomoto incident. One day a famous Karate-do expert applied to join O’Sensei’s dojo and he had come with references. Morihei had an intuitive feeling that this guy was a spy, but it was difficult to diplomatically refuse him without generating offense. Off the cuff, he invented an immediate screening procedure. “Sir, we would just love to have you here, but the rules of joining this dojo require that you must first beat the most junior student.” The candidate agreed. O’Sensei rushed to the back of the dojo where the deshi were and asked for the most junior apprentice. A young kid appeared. He asked: “Son, what have you been practicing and how long?” “Only Ikkajo for about three months sir.” “You have been selected for the honour of representing our dojo in a very important contest. Don’t worry. I will invoke the kami to be with you. Just do Ikkajo and enter as if your life depends on it. Or it will!” The moment arrived. This kid confronted the Karate master, shaking. At the right moment he performed Ikkajo as if his life depended upon it and all but knocked the Karate master out. On coming to, the Karate master conceded and O’Sensei was able to dismiss him whilst saving face.