Instances where Aikido didn't work

Date: Sat, 22 Jun 1996 03:43:19 -0400
From: Spiritu <thart@SUFFOLK.LIB.NY.US>
Subject: Re: Non-working Aikido

While stationed in Korea a training partner and I went out one evening to one of the local clubs. Neither of us drinks alcoholic beverages, and consequently we weren't intoxicated at the time of this incident, which occurred during the summer of 1985, I believe. We had been sitting and conversing for a short while when another off-duty soldier approached our table and began accusing the both of us of calling him names of some sort. (We had neither spoken to him, or about him, nor had either of us ever laid eyes upon him until this time). He was very angry, enraged actually, and began spilling our drinks on us. Neither one of us wanted to become involved in any type of confrontation with this man, but we both found it impossible to talk to him at all. When my friend stood up to talk to this person, the man shoved him backwards and promptly turned and began punching me until I managed to scissor one of his legs with mine and cause him to lose his balance momentarily (although I did not cause him to fall), he then proceeded to kick my friend in the groin, and ran out of the club, leaving us both more or less dumbfounded. I had to receive Five stiches to close a laceration over my right eye, plus an additional twenty stiches to close a through-and-through laceration in my lower lip. My friend was in considerable pain for awhile as well.
Both of us were Yu-Dan-Ja (Korean)/Yudansha in more than one Martial Art, and we had been both soundly beaten by One angry man who simply used surprise, speed, and violence of action as well as a very high level of intensity to his advantage. At first we were both terribly embarrassed, but over time, and after a lot of discussion and soul-searching, we both more or less became determined to modify our training methods to contend with this type of opponent.
What I have done is to attempt to first and foremost improve my general conditioning level.
The next order of business was to identify various psycophysical attributes - such as coordination, speed, strength, body mechanics, line familiarization, balance, agility, attitude, endurance, touch sensitivity, flexibility, comprehensive speed, etc (there are many, many others) and train with an emphasis on improving these attributes. I feel that it is attributes, more so than technique that ultimately determines who will survive a physical, and potentially injurious or lethal physical confrontation. Although technical skill is considered an attribute, it has proven true time and again that the person with the superior attributes rather than the superior technique generally emerges victorious. (If two equally matched boxers fight, utilizing the same techniques, the fight should always be a tie. But there is always a winner and a loser, and this is due to the attribute development level of one of the combatants).
Lastly, I focus my training on concepts and principles, as opposed to technique due to the fact that personal combat rarely coincides with preconceived notions, molds, or patterns. Since we are rarely attacked by someone who is smaller or weaker than us or who is alone or unarmed, we can generally state that if and when we should be attacked, we are already at a disadvantage. Since this is so, it is safe to say that we will be under an enormous amount of stress. Under great amounts of stress, many people display an inability to perform fine-motor coordination skills, so under these circumstances, the ability to *APPLY* knowledge derived through the study and understanding of sound principles that have been tested under stress inducing situations becomes of the utmost importance, from a survival standpoint.
This situation forced me to look at my training from a realistic viewpoint, and I was forced to admit that, while much of my training had validity in other ways, and although I DID derive various benefits from my martial arts training, it did not come close to preparing me to contend with a blitz type of attack from a goal oriented individual who obviously had no compunction about injuring whoever he so desired. I now teach my students to fight at various ranges, i.e. kicking, boxing (punching), trapping (infighting), and grappling ranges as well as weapons range although I teach weapons primarily to develop attributes such as spacial awareness, visual acuity, line-familiarization, and coordination. Once they have a good basic knowledge (Approximately 300 to 500 hours) within all of the five ranges, they can then begin specializing in the range or ranges that they prefer, or show particular aptitude in. I can't say that my system of teaching is "correct", but it has worked for me in improving my own personal training, and it seems to work well for my students as well. I have been a Law Enforcement Officer since 1989 and I have been forced to defend myself on a few occasions from subjects armed with edged weapons, subjects under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and subjects who were either unarmed or armed with various other types of weapons and/or dangerous instruments. So far I have managed to stay relatively intact, and have been equally successful in preventing serious or lasting injuries to those individuals who sought to hurt me. Additionally, one of my students who is also a police officer recently was attacked by a 6'5" 285 lb weightlifter who was mixing alcohol and steroids.
My student is about 135-140 lbs, and although the defendant managed to punch, kick, strangle, and knee the arresting officer (my student) numerous times, in addition to almost gouging out an eye and attempting to gain control of the officer's weapon ( which would have almost certainly been fatal to the police officer ), my student managed to apply the knowledge and skills he had developed and subdue this subject and his friend and place them both under arrest. So, I feel that I am at least on the right track with respect to the training methods that I employ. In retrospect, I suppose that what had originally been an unpleasant and sobering incident for me ultimately resulted in some degree of improvement in my training methods, and in my attitude. I learned to always have quite a bit of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for any and all opponents that I should ever face, both on and off the mat, and to never take anything at face value until I have thouroughly tested it and determined it's validity for myself, because I may be called upon to stake my life upon my ability to apply my knowledge and skills effectively. What works for another person may not necessarily work for me, and vice versa. And the time to identify potential training weaknesses is BEFORE you are called upon to defend yourself or someone else, NOT when you are having your head served up to you on a platter! I apologize for the long-winded answer, but I gave it my best shot.