I joined a second dojo a few weeks ago. The teacher there has extensive experience with boxing, Brazilian Jujitsu (what you do once you’re on the ground for newbies like me), and training students for the sport of MMA. He knows I’m not there for the sport, but the real life applications, and throws me an additional insight from time to time (“here’s what you’d do if you are on concrete…”).
The other aspect I like about this second dojo is the emphasis on full speed, full contact. With fairly complete body armor and *lots* of verbal communication with your partner, we can safely ramp up the sparring while staying in a learning mindset, avoiding that triggered reaction of closing off your mind and going into fight-flight mode.
I’m beginning to think of this less as “self defense” training and more of “self offense” training. Given the scenarios I’m training for (someone trying to abduct my child, etc), my objective is to hit first, even though I am the second to move. A professional trainer named Jerry Lee Peterson came up with this concept first, I think. The idea is the the Bad Guy(s) have made the first move, but through superior conditioning and training, I am the one to land the first significant hit.
Similarly, Paul Evans explains that self-defense is very different than a counter-attack. A defense merely delays the oncoming attack from overwhelming you, whereas a counter-attack stops the attacker by attacking him…which is quite different than defending against him.
Am I ditching my first aikido-based training? No way; it is still the foundation of everything I’m doing, given it’s pure focus of diffusing the negative situation with a positive outcome. How could potentially disabling someone by smashing them in throat and then nuts for a quick “stun and run” be considered positive? Because it is better (legally, ethically) than the alternative. There is a reason the police train in aikido tactics for control and restraint.
Now that I am spending more time on BJJ, I’ve found some interesting thoughts that BJJ instructors are saying about aikido and how one flows into the other. You can see it in Roy Dean, who holds a black belt in both aikido and BJJ. And Ari Bolden, who holds a black belt in aikido, Japanese Jujutsu, and a purple belt under Eddie Bravo. These are genuine Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioners demonstrating an appreciation for aikido. That’s got to say something about the art.
And finally, a bit of aikido geek humor
Hard to imagine an aikido competition without the image of two competitors within an arms length telling each other, “Go ahead, grab me. No, you grab me. NO, you grab me.”