Real Life stories

From: Rocky Izumi <>

I will try and paraphrase something that Tohei Akira sensei once said:

On the mats, or outside, one should try and achieve harmony. In the dojo, we hope there are no crazies so we should not act crazy. Outside is another matter. There are many crazies out there and we should harmonize with them also. In the street, use street technique. If the person is a little crazy, you should also be a little crazy.

Reminds me of a time I was working on the Trans-Canada Pipeline. I was in a small town after work having my first beer of the day (or was it my third?). A motorcycle gang on its way through burst into the bar (it was a one-bar town) in which I was the only patron. As they came over to me, I invited them to sit down and have a couple beers on me (I was being paid very well just having finished about 50 hours of overtime that week). Since I am a cycle fancier, I got on very well with them discussing the pros and cons of my Triumph semi-chopped 500cc as well as their hogs. The evening passed by quickly and entertainingly.

A few days later, I was again in the bar when a couple local rednecks decided to come over an give me a tough time. Just then the cycle gang drove up and came in. After finding out the situation, I got to watch to two rednecks and their pickup get trashed and sent on their way. The bar keep and I had a good laugh and bought the gang a round of beers each for the good entertainment.

The point is, harmony with an aggressive person (the cycle gang) can be enjoyable and quite useful later on. I figure I was able to trash to two rednecks without touching them *ha-ha*!!!

On the other hand, if an assailant is shooting at me, I would probably shoot back in harmony.

From: Julian Frost <jfrost@ODAIKO.CTS.COM>
Subject: Unbelievers!

Talking about people who don't believe that Aikido "Works", I was reminded about a situation that happened in the dojo where I used to train in London.

Eric, a London cab driver (and Aikido instructor) was teaching the class. Three Karate Sandan arrived and wanted to participate. They had just joined the dojo.

Eric was teaching Kotegaeshi, and wanted someone to attack him nice and fast (for some reason or other!). So, seeing as how there were some Karate people on the mat, he chose one of the Sandans! This guy was big, I mean really big... I mean you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to... Oh, sorry, wrong book!

Anyway, Eric said that these words suddenly went through his mind "Christ! Why did I pick him?!". This man had tree trunks for wrists! Anyway, the sandan attacked at lightening speed. Eric turned Tenkan, barely touched the Karateka's wrist, and, *whoosh*... no more karateka! Unfortunately, the Karate Sandan hadn't learned much ukemi and so was a little "confused" upon landing. Eric was as pleased as punch (eek! sorry!), and the other Karateka thought it was great!!

We never saw any of them again.

Subject: Re: Unbelievers!

Remarkable how often that happens! It's even better when they stay. We got a guy, Michael, who's a prison guard. He's 5'8" and barely fits into a size 5 gi; but not an ounce of fat. He had to cut the sleeves off at the elbow, as the fabric was so tight he couldn't raise his arms. I believe he eats radiators. When they move terrorist prisoners, he gets to ride with them. When they need to remove a psychopath from a cell, in goes Michael (sideways through the cell door, I imagine.) Even so, a sweeter guy you'll never meet. Every few days, Mike comes up to me and says, "Ya know the thing you showed me Monday? Boy does that work!" I groan and ask, "What did you do now!" "Nothing! I never touched the guy, but he hit the wall and dropped the shiv." Whenever I use him for the demonstration, he lies on the mat muttering, "Bad criminal! Bad criminal!"

Nikkyo, he says, works really well when a murderer, who is lying on his bunk, starts to rise up and go for your throat. (He didn't do the formal pin, as he hadn't learned it yet, so he sat on the guy.)

Tenkan works when you're standing between two prisoners and the one tries to brain you with a broomhandle from behind and all you notice is the look in the eyes of the one in front of you. Number 2 bonks number 1 instead of Mike, who said he could barely suppress a giggle.

He says that Aikido is much harder to do in class. People in the dojo don't really attack. Even the strongest attack is still a bit fake. With a real, all out attack, with a guy who gets brownie points if he can take out a guard, Aikido really works. "And I don't even have to take them to the infirmary!"

From: Minhhuy Ho <homh@CHEM.QUEENSU.CA>
Subject: Isn't that stuff Karate (Was Aikido and Parents)

Back in the early seventies, there was an Aikidoka of oriental original married to a southern girl. She was the first in her family who married to a person of different race. The family is by no mean racist, but they have never 'dealt' with oriental before and never really accepted the son in law into their family.

During a christmas party, a local youth who was the wife's ex boy friend started to flirt with her. She was very uncomfortable and sensei asked him to stop. Words exchanged and the youth pushed the 'our' Aikidoka. According to him, he simply performed a sankyo, seeing the youth's two friends were also coming, he changed into sankyo tenkan thus tripped the two. Within seconds, the three youths were on the floor, and the families stopped the fight.

The next moring, at the breakfast table, the father in law (only heard of the story, he wasn't at the party) asked sensei

There were laughters at the table, and he felt comfortable with the family for the first time.

Now, that's aiki.

From: Scott Hawkins <hawkins@MICKEY.JSC.NASA.GOV>
Subject: Nanakyo

Toyoda sensei was attacked while driving. A man came up and stuck a knife into his partially opened window to threaten him. He relaxed completely, kept one-point, kept weight underside, extended ki, rolled up the electric window on uke's arm, and drove down the street.

I would have liked to have seen the pin.

Subject: Knife Incident

A friend of mine was knife-shopping, and we were at the only place around here that carries bokken, so Aikido came up. And the lethal little old knife shop lady passed this along (between snippets about the vicious hardware she hawks)...

An Aikido-trained EMT in a local emergency room is the guy they pretty much rely on for the occassional subdual of obnoxious and/pr crazed folks. So this guy pulls a knife on him in the E.R. and holds it up in what the guy considers a threatening position...

The Aikidoka regards him dispassionately and continues conversing with him. Meanwhile, his co-workers begin to gather around - but not in the usual "Code One" manner, not preparing to rush the knife guy or anything: they're just spectating, interestedly.

A few of them start to snigger. There's an occassional chortle. And the guy with the knife begins to look very worried...

The Aikidoka's hands stay at his side, and he raises his eyebrows at the eager crowd...

The other gentleman decides to surrender the knife rather than find out what everybody's so gleeful about.

From: "Gary J. Margolis" <gmargoli@MOOSE.UVM.EDU>

I have dealt with many situations that you seek "real life" scenario's with. Fortunately many of the defensive tactics techniques that police are taught come from Aikido/Aiki-jitsu. Aside from the fact that I have other tools at my disposal for making an arrest, our policy in the escalation of force specifically states that I will use hands early on in the confrontation. It may only be for a moment and just long enough for light passive control (mind you the Use of Force Continuum is much more complex than I am getting into here). I have successfully used kotegaish and ikkyo. I have even had the opportunity to use a sankyo pin on a man that had alluded us in the woods. As I came into the clearing with another officer I stepped on him; he was hiding on the ground (not a very smart individual). He was laying on his arms and refused to obey our commands to take each one out slowly - we though he was armed (gun, that is). It was late at night and as he made a sudden move upward, I instinctively scooped his left arm and dropped to seiza (activated) to apply a very effective sankyo pin. I have been an Aikido student for quite some time but the guys I work with still call it "Tae-Kwan-Leap" - they haven't the faintest of what its about; you can only imagine (1) the surprise on their faces that the pin worked, and (2)the harrassment I got (and still get) to this day.

I work with several other individuals who have black belts in other martial arts. The styles they have chosen are very street effective and devastatingly brutal. They don't understand Aikido, or allow their minds to open to what it offers. They measure everything by street effectiveness. Aikido IS STREET EFFECTIVE. Everytime I successfully manage conflict out there I am using Aikido. Terry Dobson taught me that. And, Aikido can be street practical. You may not always throw an atemi at your uke, but that doesn't mean you aren't thinking about it. On the street, the same techniques open the same atemi's - the choice may be a little clearer as to whether or not we throw it.

I hope that helps,

Subject: Aikido & Self Defense

I am not sure you can equate Aikido and self-defense nor can you say it is not equatable. A self-defense maxim which works for me is: "Do what is quickest, easiest, and most effective." This is not as easy as saying it since we must consider long-term as well as short-term effects of selfdefense behavior. Buying a pistol for self-defense may appear to be the quickest solution, but being able to use it easily and having the mental attitude to use it effectively may be a problem for some. Beating the crap out of someone may have a very detrimental effect on your self-defense if that person has a lot of big and nasty friends that are very loyal to the crapee.

Complex systems of self-defense like Aikido may not be the quickest nor the easiest defense mechanism to use but that is where the training comes in. Like driving a car which is very complex and not that easy (remember your first days in the car?) training can make the reactions and decisions become second nature. After sufficient training in even very complex martial or social arts may make the actions come very easily and quickly so that the techniques from that martial or social art become the quickest, easiest and most effective solution FOR THAT INDIVIDUAL. I know a guy that can slip out of doing extra work without thinking about how to do it. The guy is an artist at some of the ways he gets out of extra work. For many others, the elaborate lengths this person goes into (like wearing a cast on his arm to work when there was nothing wrong with his arm--he keeps plaster and bandages at home) to get out of extra work--or work period--would probably make our heads whirl. However, for this guy, doing these little things is second nature.

Another little story I remember hearing was about high ranking calligraphy teacher that lived in Japan during some of the more turbulent times. As he was working on a scroll, a person attacked him with a sword with the intent to kill. The teacher deftly dispatched the attacker with the brush he was holding by painting some character on the guy's face with the brush ending up in the guy's eye--instant frontal lobotomy. According to legends, the character was like the character for death or something. The point of the story, though, is that the teacher responded with something totally within character. He did what was simplest, quickest, and most effective--for him.

The point of this whole letter is that Aikido can be the simplest, quickest, and most effective, just as anything can be with enough training. For different people with different characteristics, what that good response is will depend on that individual's training and background, as well as the very specific situation that the conflict takes place under.

Subject: Re: Aikido & Self Defense

I didn't mean to say that it would take years to get proficient in selfdefense using Aikido techniques. I don't think so. I separate the idea of doing Aikido-style techniques and doing Aikido -- aikijutsu and Aikido I guess. I just mean that usually doing whatever comes natural is often the quickest, simplest and most effective--yet we have allowed many of our "trained" behaviors to take over our reactions so that we don't do the simplest, quickest, nor most effective. It is very much like how, as we grow through childhood, we lose that ability to work at physical activities without utilizing too much muscle power (my daughter's Aikido is getting crappier as she grows older since she is learning to use her muscles more).

When my daughter was around 4 she did her techniques completely with technique since she didn't have any muscle to use against me. Now that she is older, and more muscular, she tries to use that muscle and it works against her. When she was doing her techniques naturally, she was much more effective.

Aikido works on the basis of a lot of natural movements (at least natural for Japanese). If these same movements are natural for someone and that person was to use a natualistic Aikido movement in a defensive situation, I am sure the technique would remain quite effective. In that sense, it would probably have fit my requirement of it being the simplest, quickest, and most effective.

There was a story about a buddy of mine who is now Chief of Police at a Texas university. His officers were trying to deal with a big drunken ugly that had already trashed a couple officers when he drove up. The Chief confronted the guy and the ugly rushed him. The Chief isn't known for being an extremely athletic guy since he had his neck broken during FBI training. Everyone expected the Chief to be knocked on his keaster since it happened so fast. However, the Chief moved offline and did a tenkai-based ikkyo that he learned in the FBI school many years before--slammed the ugly into the side of his car and had the cuffs on before the ugly was able to bounce off. The legend goes that he even had one side of the cuffs on the ugly before it hit the side of the Chief's car--an assertion that I would not doubt enough to lay money against it.

When I asked the Chief about the incident, he told me that it came out of nowhere and he doesn't know how it happened--it was all natural reaction from years of being a cop.

Subject: Re: SCENARIO,

I have found that I just don't react anymore in a lot of cases. You learn to click on/off in a split second so that you tend to be rather blase about fake attacks most of the time. So now when people punch at me with no intention of hitting me, I just let them. Even if they are going to hit me without much force, it isn't worth clicking on for since it takes a lot of effort to click off. A while back a very homophobic guy I know decided to "attack" me in an elevator by bearhugging me with my arms to my sides. I just leaned in and kissed him full on the mouth which has him paralyzed with fear of me now. He can't figure out whether I'm homosexual or not and is afraid I have the hots for him. I get a real kick out of his reactions to me now. One suggestion if you decide on such scare tactics--make sure the guy or girl has brushed their teeth first--yuck--the guy had read jungle mouth and I think I washed my face and rinsed my mouth out ten times afterwards--a real ugly.

One thing about not reacting, it may make the person more aggressive since it might get them feeling that they don't really count or mean much to you. But then you can feel that nice warm feeling of getting a chance to do a real technique on someone without holding back. Make sure you thank them afterwards as you would any practice partner.

Another story: A friend of mine and a female practice partner--both in karate were walking through Coit Park one night after a seminar. A guy jumps out with a knife demanding their money. The two friends fall over laughing their guts out since they had just spent the entire day practicing anti-knife defenses. The idiot attacker wasn't intelligent enough at that point to get out of there but just stood there continuing to demand their money. My friends collected themselves and discussed who got to practice. My friend decided to be gentlemanly and let the female have the mugger.

Afterwards they were so happy that as they left the fallen mugger, they paid him for the knife which John decided to put into his collection, and left a $20 tip in his pocket for all the fun.

Subject: Re: real life stories

About two years ago, I visited some friends in New York City, and also worked out there. One evening after class, I was taking the subway back to the place I was staying. Sometime during my ride a homeless person got on, very agitated. He sat down, muttering, swearing, and jerking around. Moments later another homeless person entered the car and began to ask for money. As this person walked by the first homeless person, the agitated one jumped up, yelling, "You stepped on my foot!" and chased the other homeless person out of the car. The atmosphere was very tense.

The agitated person then sat down near the exit, two seats from me. The seats between us were empty. My stop soon came. As the train slowed down, I got up and went towards the exit, giving the agitated person as wide a berth as possible.

I passed that person and stood in front of the door. Then I heard a gasp from the people around me and out of the corner of my eye saw movement coming towards my head from the left. I ducked and threw up a block at the same time, turning towards the direction of the movement. A punch glanced off my left arm, and I came up out of the turn with my right fist cocked. I was looking straight into his eyes, which suddenly got wide and he started to move away from me.

Thoughts flashed though my mind: "He's scared of you." "You're under attack!" "His jaw is wide open." "You're going to miss your stop, and you'll get lost." "He's no threat."

At that moment the train stop and the doors opened. I took one step backward onto the platform. The doors closed in front of me, and the train pulled away. From when he swung to when I stepped off the train took about three seconds.

Subject: Re: Aikido in real life

These are not MY stories - one is my student's story, one is my partner's story, and one is my sensei's story:

  1. A student of ours was going for pizza. In the shop, a guy was bugging her. she asked him to go away. He followed her to her car. Just after she she put the pizza on the roof of the car and was unlocking it, he attempted to grab her. She spun, pushed one of his elbows up, pushed the other one down; he fell HARD on his rear. She got in the car, asked herself if she really wanted to run him over, decided against it, drove away. (When told this story, my Sensei asked, "What about the pizza?" When told that she remembered to get it off the roof, he replied,"OK, THEN it's a good story. If she forgot the pizza, not so good." Her time in training, by the way, was about one year)
  2. My partner was in a food store when someone grabbed him from behind. He thought, but was not sure, that it might be a friend, joking around. His wrist was grabbed, so he turned into sankyo. It WAS a friend, so the sankyo did not go beyond a surpised "Ouch!"
  3. My Sensei was leaving the downtown dojo (BAAD neighborhood) with one of the seniors. At that time his English was still rather slow. A wino came' up to the two of them asking for money. The senior told the wino to go away. The wino tried to cold-cock the senior. Sensei intercepted the punch aimed at the senior, applied kotegaeshi, and before the man's head hit the pavement, put his foot out to cushion it, ltting the man and his head gently to the sidewalk. After ascertaining that he was OK Sensei senior walked away.

The reason I like these stories is that every one ends appropriately. None of the responses was exaggerated, and none of the attackers was damaged. I wish I had stories of my own, but ever since I began training (>sixteen years ago) people just don't seem to want to attack me ;-)


From: tross@DPW.COM (Terry Ross)
Subject: Re: Aikido in real life

A nutcase came up behind me with a big hunting knife in a bar. I was sitting down, my companion said, "Terry, that guy has a knife!" I turned around, "Do you know what this is?" he said. "Yeah," I said, and I turned back to my companions. I realized I had to do something very soon. I stood, turned, my left hand closed on his knife wrist. It was the kind of grip I had only in combat. My body did a Tenshinnage type movement, however, the hand went directly to his throat -- not hard -- just enough to make him realize he was backing up. Because there was another, empty table, behind him, he touched it and realized he could fall backwards over it. He then dropped the knife. He went over the table and landed on his back. He was dazed.

It wasn't exactly like the movement I had practiced in class, but it WAS the movement. Also, I feel the attacks from behind practice was very helpful in helping me navigate the space behind me, find the knife wrist, etc. To tell you the truth, it as a lot like practice.

From: (David Green)
Subject: Re: Aikido in real life

I once helped out at a seminar at a karate dojo run by friend of mine. This seminar was intended to expose his students to other martial arts, and so he had invited people from several different styles to give 2 hour introductory classes. One of the people he invited was an advanced Aikido practitioner from my club, who then asked me if I would come along to help out, since at that time I was his favourite throwing dummy.

So, there I was, pretty much a newbie in Aikido, helping teach it to a class of karateka. Of course, at some point the question of "Would this work for real" came up. We had been doing basic body shifts, practicing them against simple straight punches, as a set up to a throw. Of course, one of the karateka observed, "This is all nice and good against a single punch, but we always practice combinations. What then?"

Well, My friend was at that time occupied with a bunch of other students at the other end of the dojo, and so I was stuck having to deal with it myself. "When in doubt, put it on the mat." The first rule of any martial art (at least, around where I live). I ask him to come at me with one of these combinations, so that we can all see what happens. He attacks, and I relax, forget that he's coming in with another technique, and respond only to his first punch. Shift, turn, grasp, push, guy goes flying. "So", I ask, "where was that second punch?"

"I, uh, forgot to throw it after you grabbed me."

"Well, then, I guess that answers our question, doesn't it?". Exit stage left, at a slow stroll. No matter what happens, that's what you meant to happen. Rule number two, around here.

So, it can work. It comes down to who knows more, and how confident they are, and how much they can make the other guy fight their fight. Just like most other types of conflicts, actually.

Dave Green

From: (David Green)
Subject: Re: Aikido in real life

Well, I have one story about kote-gaeshi that comes from a self defence class that I teach. We were doing a simple version of kote-gaeshi, with myself as the "goon", who would attack the women in the class, so that they get a feel for doing things for real. Well, one of the students had learned it a lot faster than I had thought, and applied it a lot harder and faster than you usually see in regular Aikido classes (where I study, we usually "ease up" at the end, to allow our partner a chance to fall cleanly). She, of course, didn't ease up, because I had never thought to tell her she should. I managed to get about half way into a break fall when I hit the ground, which just so happened to position the shoulder of the arm being twisted directly under the rest of my body. My entire weight came down on it, very hard. It ended up that I couldn't use that arm effectively for 2 to 3 weeks afterwards.

I can only assume something similar would occur in real life, if you were to execute the technique at full speed, with the clear intention of ending the fight right there. Had it been for real, I'm pretty sure I would've chosen that moment for a strategic retreat. If she let me go, that is :-).

Dave Green

Subject: Re: Killer Sensei (was: Another new idea)

For many years I taught self defense (not a martial art) in a university and also to police and police trainees. One day one of those trainees came to me in a very agitated state. he had taken both an introductory and advanced course from me and had been quite proficient.

The evening before he had met a good friend's wife while Christmas shopping at a big suburban mall. The lady was quite close to the end of a pregnancy so accompany her back to her car and carry her packages to mitigate against any slipping in snow. As they neared her car a pretty large man stepped out from behind a van and grabbed the lady, flashed a knife and demanded their wallets, watches, etc.

My student realized that the man was neither releasing the woman nor making any attempt to pick up the loot. His "radar" went off just as the mugger initiated a stab to his chest.

The world slowed down my friend claimed and he remembered many of the alternatives we had practiced. He opted to attempt a disarming technique he had learned most similar to what Aikidoka would consider a shionage. As he turned into the thrust and reversed his body placement he realized that there was a second mugger standing a few yards behind him. My student "modified" his technique to bring the back of his attacker's elbow over his shoulder where it was totally disjointed. The second attacker was discouraged and left.

I relate all of this to point out the purpose of my students agitation - he was remorseful that he had so badly damaged his attacker and wanted my opinion as to the appropriateness of his response.

What I told him I honestly believed at the time - and still do. I would have killed the knife wielder in his situation - PROBABLY. And the 'probably' is my point in this posting.

I know techniques that in that situation would have likely brought the knife into the attackers throat or body - I think I would have used them.

I would NOT have, however, broken the guys arm - which caused him to lose consciousness, I might add - and THEN gone back and stabbed him with his own knife.

I would have understood the teacher in the hypothetical example using a technique that was likely to be lethal (though sometimes they aren't) and killing the one attacker - or even ALL the attackers - DURING combat.

To return to a disabled opponent and fatally dispatch them is - to me - unethical - I am certain it is illegal - but perhaps more importantly - to me - is that it totally lacks honor. It is a cowardly deed - not an act of justice. I honestly don't think I could justify taking a life under those specific terms.

Thanks for bearing with me on this one. I have pondered this example for many years since it was so dramatic for me and for my friend.


(Glen Kimoto Sensei, North Bay Aikido)

One of the odd jobs I worked at while becoming a teacher was a nighttime gas station attendant. One night a large man with gang memorabilia all about him drove his Harley into the service area as if to take it over, parked in front of the pumps, strode inside, grabbed a can of wax, returned to his machine, which now blocked anyone from getting gas, and began to polish the already gleaming metal. I heard the manager and assistant manager begin to fume to each other, each remark inciting a more fiery response. I began to worry about the almost certain conflict between thses three big men. I went out to the biker. "Irimi, (entering)", I said to myself. To him I said with sincere appreciation, "That's a beautiful bike... What year is it? ... Did you rebuild it yourself?" The biker's features melted into a soft, pleased expression. "Now tenkan (turning)", I thought, watching his hands. I told him the manager was upset and could he please pay for the wax and polish his bike over there. "That's cool", he said, and did.
The manager came over and looked at me accusingly. "Hey, how come the littlest guy here can make that guy do what he's supposed to? You must know something."

From: Bill Upton-Knittle <EIW8BUK@MVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: clapping, bowing, rowing - kiai

When I was in high school a fellow attacked me in a theater one night with a knife. A powerful kiai and quickly raised hand on my part caused him to stop the arm swing halfway through. He was so embarrassed he simply walked away (much to my surprise and happiness).

From: Roni Burrows <>
Subject: Re: Newbie questions

I like each of the following "real life" stories for different reasons.

Told to me by the student who witnesss it:
Maruyama Sensei and a senior student were leaving the downtown Philly dojo (in a "rough" neighborhood) an hour after class was over. A man, apparently drunk, approached them from a doorway and demanded money. The senior student told the man to go away (Maruyama Sensei's English was not that great then). The man threw a punch at the senior student. The senior student reports that Maruyama Sensei flashed in between them, took the man's arm into kote gaeshi, then put his foot out to cushion the man's head from hitting the sidewalk. After checking that the man was unharmed, the two of them went on their way.

(Yes, there are EFFECTIVE, and non-damaging WAYS TO EXECUTE techniques which can also be, in other variations, effective and damaging, or (sad, but true) damaging and not particularly effective. Yes,I have a story about the last.)

A former student of mine, after six months of twice a week training, was getting a pizza. In the shop a young man made a pass ar her. She rejected his offer to go with him in his car. She returned to her car, put the pizza on the roof, and began to put her keys in the lock. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the young man coming up behind her, and turned in time to see him try to grab her neck? bear hug? - she wasn't sure. She got her hands under his elbows and pushed him backwards hard enough for him to fall on his rear end. She recovered the pizza, got in the car and, after considering whether she wanted to run him over, decided no, and drove home. Maruyama Sensei later said that the only reason the story is a good one is bevcause she remembered to get the pizza off the roof of the car.

(Even beginners can execute good judgement, especially if they are shown a RANGE of variations on a technique from joint-mangling & head-smashing, to minimum balance-tipping and mild joint leveraging. All of our students learn how to prevent someone from taking too hard a fall, even to the extent of saving uke from uke's own falling mistakes.)

From: Rocky Izumi <>
Subject: Comments on a Whole Lot at Once

I kind of like the idea of joining in Aikido as applied to level of stress on uke. Even in the dojo, the intensity of keiko differs depending upon the uke's commitment in attack. The more committed the attack, the faster and harder the technique application. This results not from the intent of the nage but from the joining between uke and nage. The resulting forces themselves create the strength of technique. If nage does not join with uke well, then the waza could end up being to weak for the attack and a good flowing technique cannot be achieved. Uke will probably be left standing there wondering what nage will try to do next, or uke will have run right past (or through) nage. On the other side, if nage pushes the technique, forcing it to work, then uke either gets hurt or does a kaeshi waza or ends up going limp.

In the street, the same joining concept applies. If the person starts pushing and shoving, not much is required other than a yonkyo or sankyo. A person attacks strongly with a bottle, a koshinage would work quite well since it joins and flows with the attack. Any resulting injuries to the attacker are simply the result of the force of their attack. A person pulls a gun, shoot them first. I doubt if any of us are at the level that we can dodge the bullets like O Sensei (join not only the attacking person but the attacking bullets as well)! We can only respond at the level that we are capable of.

Anyways, I find Aikido much more useful for daily living rather than in its martial aspects. Tenkan and Irimi movements are very useful for dodging cars on Hong Kong streets and sidewalks (cars have right-of-way here). Furikaburi is great for opening large swinging doors and you need to know how to extend your whole body to push you way through the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) crowds. Hanmi is very useful for standing in the MTR when you can't hold on to anything. Iriminage is excellent for carrying home cases of beer from the store. And koshinage for carrying a tired child works too. The concepts of joining and leading work well in the classroom as well as in departmental and faculty politics. The etiquette of budo is just proper for business in and around Hong Kong. Aikido doesn't stop when you leave the dojo. It is probably more important outside. I must admit, most of the business deals I am now involved in arose out of my Aikido contacts.

Furthermore, life-and-death in a martial sense (fighting) is nothing compared to the political battles fought in the political parties, businesses, and educational institutions. In a fight, all you can lose is your life. In real life, you can lose your reputation, your self-respect, the respect of others, your business, your family--everything--including your life! If you keep yourself always "aware" of your martial surroundings and forget the political, business, and personal surroundings, you are likely to be blindsided. That is partly what etiquette is all about. Etiquette considers not only politeness but the ideas of power, power exchange, responsibilities, understandings of relationships, care for others, and care for yourself.

Now, if you try to be aware of all of these things all the time, you end up becoming psychotic. That is what training and etiquette allow you to do. Training provides good habits and patterns of behavior which allow you to forget about thinking about certain things--you will react correctly naturally. Etiquette is a set of heuristics which allows us to behave correctly (as agreed upon by the rest of your social group) without thinking about how to behave. If you can have training in the martial arts and etiquette, you have a lot less cluttering your mind and you can think about more important things--you can begin to think strategically.

From: Tom Valesky <tvalesky@MASON1.GMU.EDU>
Subject: Re: defense...

I just read a story (I think it was on the martial-arts mailing list)
about a Sensei throwing a man in such a way as to not harm his attacker.
But, if the attacker was really intent on attacking for some reason of
his own, why didn't he just get up and attack again?

A friend of mine has a story along those lines. He was attacked by a guy, and threw the guy with a hip throw (ogoshi), settling him gently onto the ground. The guy got up and attacked him again. Same throw. Same response. In total, he threw the guy 5 times nicely. The 6th time, he planted him, and the guy didn't get up too quickly. Moral of the story: some people just don't learn. Moral of the story II: if the guy had pulled out a gun after the first throw, the encounter could have had a much less pleasant ending. Being gentle on in the face of a street assault is a very high-risk proposition.