Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Aikido and Self Defense

Aikido catches a lot of criticism from other martial arts for its lack of Real World effectiveness and competition. This is all well-deserved. I had a thought this morning about martial arts practice, and specifically aikido:
Practicing aikido for self defense is like exercising to lose weight: for all its benefits, the last is the reason you started in the first place.
It's not just aikido. Without stress-testing in real-world scenarios, many, if not most martial arts fall into the trap of narrowing their focus to a specific set of techniques for a specific set of attacks. The Real World is random, chaotic, and dangerous. The dojo is safe and controlled with a set of rules to follow. As a result, those of us who practice martial arts in the dojo might find ourselves ill-equipped to handle situations outside.

This raises the inevitable question: why even bother with martial arts? Short answer, in regards to self-defense: it won't hurt, and it'll probably help, but not how you think.

Martial arts train us to be aware of our bodies and surroundings. We don't see people and environments the same as non-practitioners. There is a raised sense of space, and intuition you don't get from any other hobby or training. Martial artists hold themselves differently: a little more relaxed, grounded, and when something does go sideways, we're more equipped to deal with it. Over time, practicing a martial art also provides a level of confidence. We learn to walk a little taller and with intent, avoiding looking like a victim or easy prey to a would-be attacker.

All martial arts work well within their contexts. Aikido is good for escaping standing grabs or holds by one or more attackers, and some weapon strikes. It fails in groundwork and defending against quick jabs and close quarters striking.

So why not take BJJ (Brazillian Jiu Jitsu)? If I had time I would love to! But even BJJ has its strengths and weaknesses: it's virtually unstoppable on the ground against one attacker, but won't help much if the attacker has a buddy (or several), or refuses to go to the ground (see the last two Ronda Rousey fights where her opponents successfully avoided going to the mat where Ronda was strongest).

Boxing is excellent for striking (and dodging, very important!) but weak in other areas. The list goes on, but I'll bring up one more example: MMA (mixed martial arts) might be the most well rounded as it addresses the three main areas of unarmed combat: striking, standing grappling, and mat work. Criticisms of MMA might include, "focusing on one area is better than trying to cover everything," or that there is too much emphasis on competition. Either way, being well rounded is not a bad thing when it comes to self defense and preparing yourself for a variety of encounters.

I recommend anyone (myself included) who has only practiced one specialized martial art to get out there and try something else. Break out of your comfort zone and be a beginner again. If what you try isn't for you then move on and try something else.

But find something you enjoy and stick with it above all. My aikido teacher, Pat Hendricks recently said in an interview, and I'm paraphrasing:
Find what works for you and devote yourself to achieve mastery, but don't be afraid to look outside your style and see what else is there.

Side note, but related: If you want to learn more on the topic of violence and self-defense, Sam Harris recently had Gavin de Becker on his Waking up Podcast. They discussed a wide range of topics on violence and how to best prepare and protect yourself. Gavin recommended IMPACT training for straight up self-defense.
#90 — Living With Violence

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 Pat Hendricks Colorado Seminar

Kinjo Dojo will be hosting Pat Hendricks Shihan in CO, June 10-11, 2017.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2nd Anniversary Embu-kai

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We will be having our 2nd Anniversary Embu-kai on Saturday, November 7th. Come on out and see demos from all levels of Aikido.

Most members of the dojo will be doing short (~5 minute) demos based on the material they are working on. This will include open-hand, weapons and everything in between.

Public Event links are on Facebook and Google+.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

san-dan test video

The video has been posted for Charles-sensei's san-dan test from Aikido of San Leandro on youtube so go check it out!

Also testing: Victor (3rd dan), Lana (3rd dan), and John (4th dan demo).



Monday, August 31, 2015

September at Kinjo Dojo

Weapons training with Hendricks Shihan Saturday 8/29

We're back from Aikido of San Leandro and starting up a new month at Kinjo Dojo!

Thank you for your patience while I went out to train for my san-dan test for 2 weeks. Big thanks to everyone that came out to train with Tyffany sempai while I was gone.

Congratulations to Brian on a great sho-dan test Friday night! Brian came out Monday and stayed for the week as uchideshi. When he signed up for the trip he didn't know he would be doing a test at the end, but Hendricks sensei agreed to do it in order to get his official sho-dan processing underway.

Huge thanks to Tyffany who came out Wednesday and did most of the ukemi for my san-dan test! She did some awesome falls which we'll see as soon as the video is posted online.

What does all this mean for the dojo? Most important: with the rank of san-dan I can now test/transfer people up to sho-dan (1st black belt) here in Colorado without you having to go to San Leandro. It also means that we are officially a dojo according to the CAA requirements (Sensei was ok with me calling us a dojo before, plus I would have had to change all our marketing stuff!).

In other words: when I level up, we all level up [insert playstation trophy sound]!

One more thing:
We will be having a 2nd kyu workshop on Sunday, September 13th. Everyone is welcome to attend. We will cover everything we can fit in from the 2nd kyu requirements.

See you on the mat!

Charles

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Upcoming Seminars 2015

2015 April 4: Aikido Summit, Denver, CO
Denver Aikikai hosts the Aikido Summit every year at the Buddhist temple downtown. It is a good opportunity to practice a variety of styles and see aikido from different perspectives.

More information (PDF)


2015 April 11-12: Spring Seminar, Collegeville (St. Cloud) MN
Every year Mark Larson Sensei and Minnesota Aiki Shuren Dojo host a seminar on the St. John's campus in Collegeville, MN.

Minnesota Aiki Shuren Dojo, with dojo-cho, Mark Larson Sensei (6th Dan), and the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University Aikido Club invite you to join us for our annual Spring Seminar, April 11 & 12, 2015, at Saint John’s University.

Information - Seminar Flyer (PDF)


2015 July 25-26: Stephanie Yap, Bismarck ND
from the FB event description:
Seminar is instructed by founder of Aikido of South Florida, Stephanie Yap Sensei, who has earned a 6th degree black belt and the Menkyo Kaiden in Aiki-Ken and Aiki-Jo, awarded to her by the late Morihiro Saito Sensei, 9th dan.

Stephanie Yap Sensei represents Iwama Shinshin Aiki Shurenkai, USA, and is the highest ranking woman in the organization.

Facebook event - Web - PDF

Monday, March 30, 2015

ASL 2015 March

Evan and I are back from a week at Aikido of San Leandro and training with Pat Hendricks Shihan.

Evan did a successful 4th kyu test during the teens class on Friday so congratulations!

Being the only uchideshi has its advantages. Sensei spent all week focusing on the 4th kyu requirements for Evan, and san-dan requirements for me. I am feeling more confident about my upcoming test in August.

I brought back a lot of updates so come on out and get the latest! Since we're still transitioning from another style, the updates will be a constant fact of life for a few years. Not that what we're doing is wrong, but sometimes it is not the current variation of a technique or pin. These are important to keep up to date for when people who train at Kinjo go out to practice and/or test in San Leandro.

Also last week we worked on the 10 kumi-jo and variations. Coincidentally, that is what we're doing at Kinjo this week! Open hand attack will be moro-te-dori.

See you on the mat!

Charles