Defense against... well, an "object"


A few months ago, I read a story about the mayor of Milwaukee getting beat by a thug with a pipe, and it got me thinking about self defense training against a weapon.

Now, one of the nice things about aikido is that the principles and techniques still work much the same way whether your attacker is empty handed or not. But, I've also noticed that for some reason, it seems to be human nature that when a person sees an attacker with something in their hand, they freeze, as if their conscious mind says, "Wait a minute. I've never practiced with this before—what on earth do I do?"

This may be only a momentary hesitation, granted. Once the guy attacks, I'm sure our subconscious mind will take over. Still, that hesitation could make a lot of difference. That, and someone asked me about weapon defense not long ago, and it occurred to me that as far as kata goes, we don't typically deal with weapons until san kata, around 2nd or 3d dan.

Sooooo, just for the heck of it, I started thinking about techniques we could go over as a class that dealt with just a general, non-descript weapon. Not a knife, not a jo staff, not a bokken; nothing uniquely Japanese, really, just a thug with a pipe (or baseball bat, or pool cue, or whatever).

I referenced mostly san kata, plus one or two other ideas I've picked up here and there. However, I wanted to stick with fairly simple, basic techniques that even a white or green belt with a working knowledge of the first 5 techniques of the 17, the walk, and basic principles (unbendable arm, same hand same foot, getting off the line, etc.) could do.

Fortunately, we happen to have a bunch of plastic sticks covered in foam rubber, which I highly recommend, especially with beginners. It can be dangerous practicing with an object, even a wood, rubber or foam one, especially when falling with one (so I also tried to keep the ukemi simple).

From there, I started with a basic attack: uke holds the stick in one hand, his right, rears back and swings sort of down, sort of diagonally at uke's head, just like you were, I donno, clubbing a seal or something.


1) Tenchi nage
Step to the inside on the Right side (R). The Left hand (L) comes down in the inside crook of uke’s R elbow. The L hand yokes under uke’s left elbow. Continue turning. (The R hand can also go to the neck or uke's R arm as in the guruma throws at the beginning of O-waza ju pon).

2) Ushiro ate
Step to the inside (R). This time the R hand comes down in the inside crook of uke’s R elbow. This will turn uke. As he does, your L hand reaches over to his far shoulder for ushiro ate.

3) Gyakugamae ate
Step to the outside (L). Both hands comes down, with the palms facing down, touching gently, on uke’s R elbow/forearm. This will extend uke down slightly (don't push, just drape dead weight). As he rises, the L palm turns up. Step into uke as he rises, arm under his chin (keeping the R palm againt uke’s forearm). As opposed to the pushing form of gyakugamae ate we usually see, I like to use more of a lifting (palm up, under the chin) version to capitalize on the extreme rise and fall action here (but really, either would work fine).

4) Irimi Nage
Step to the outside (L). L hand comes down, now with the palm facing down, touching gently uke’s R arm; the L hand falls deeper, past his head onto his far shoulder. Keep turning and as he rises, turn into him with irimi nage/aiki nage (R hand) as in O-waza ju pon.

5) Tenkai kote hineri
As uke pulls back to strike, his free hand will naturally float out in space as a counter-balance. Step forward and grasp his emtpy, extended L hand. Step underneath his arm into tenkai kote hineri (as in #7 of the san kata knife techniques).

This one deals with a slightly different attack. This time, uke uses both hands and lifts the stick overhead, as if he wear going to chop down like an ax. Here, we take a bit of initiative and enter early, as he raises the weapon.

6) Gedan ate
As uke raises his arms over head, step forward, leading with the L foot (can be done on either side) as in gedan ate, with the L leg behind uke’s R leg. The L arm, however, is not low across the chest, but high, just under uke’s raised elbows, keeping them from lowering (the arms are surprisingly weak when lifted above the shoulder, especially when blocked under the elbow).

[Note: This high placement of tori's arm may not make this technically "gedan" ate (as gedan means low), but since we're still under uke's arms and we're placing our leg behind uke the way we do gedan ate in the 17, I thought the name might make this more recognizable.]

There's a few more after this, but I've save those for another time. Maybe, I just might get a video of all this sooner or later, now that I have a digital camera again.

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