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Brisbane Self defence

Written sometime ago for the university community, the following ideas are still pretty much on the money. It shows how Aikido training and understudying can be used to help guide basic behaviours and decision-making for self defence. 

Please read our more recent Self Defence Primer which is a 10 point article and self assessment on things you need to know before undertaking any self defence training.


Some thoughts on self-defence…

(reproduced - with amendments - from Gravity magazine, Griffith University 2003)

A lot of people who come to our Aikido dojo to find out about it are interested in its effectiveness as a form of self-defence.  Two common questions asked are: 'How effective is Aikido against XXX martial art?'; and 'Have you ever had to use it?'.  These are probably good questions to ask as a way of determining martial effectiveness - but not necessarily a good measure of self-defence skills.  Is it good self defence to get into a lot of fights?  And so the answer to these questions can often disappoint because most people studying Aikido don't ever get into physical confrontation.  Self-defence is not about being the meanest SOB on the block - it’s about defending yourself and avoiding physical confrontation where possible.

Aikido is often called 'the art of peace' and central to Aikido is the idea of harmony with your opponent in a particular way, both mentally and physically.  In Aikido you are unlikely to force meet with force.  Instead an Aikido student blends with an attack to negate or redirect its power.  Today though, far removed from the battlefields of feudal Japan where this art has its origins, this force comes in many forms including verbal assault, intimidation and finally physical confrontation.  Many believe that the principles that underlie Aikido can be used not only in physical confrontation but in the stages leading up to it, to avoid it altogether.

The five basic principles often taught in Aikido are:-

  • Extend ki
  • Know your opponents ki
  • Respect your opponents ki
  • Harmonise with your opponents ki
  • Lead with confidence

These principles are used in every technique in Aikido to throw or pin an attacker.  However many believe that the best way to win a fight is not to fight at all.  Here are some suggestions for applying Aikido principles to actively avoid trouble before it really gets going.

Awareness - Extend ki

Many people are simply unaware of trouble until they are in the middle of it.  Awareness plays a big part here, as does some simple forward planning.  Have you parked your car in a back alley to avoid paying for parking, only to risk a late-night walk in a scary area?  Get the security bus to the car park at night -  it only takes a bit longer.  Is it time to leave the pub after watching a football game because the crowd is getting a bit rowdy?  Someone’s talking to you aggressively and you are so engrossed that you miss the accomplice standing behind you?

Trust your gut feeling - Know your opponent's mind

Does that guy walking towards you look suspicious?  Getting dirty looks from a group nearby on the dance floor?  Trust your 'gut' feeling.  Trouble's brewing - maybe it's time to cross the street, leave the club or just turn turn and run.

Respect - Respect your opponent’s ki

Had some beer spilt on you - maybe it really was an accident?  Someone's calling you names and insulting your friends - maybe they are right / maybe not...  Whatever.  It's not worth having a stoush over is it?  After all, its only your ego at risk.  Is someone sizing you up at a party, giving you the eye and looking for trouble?  A disarming wave and a smile can work wonders here.

Be confident - Lead with confidence

Some research was done where a number of people were videotaped whilst walking, the tape was shown to convicted muggers.  The muggers were asked to rate these people on 'mug-ability'.  Almost all muggers identified the same people as being mug-able. What was the key feature here?  Was it age or sex?  No - it was the way someone walked.  So hold you head up and walk confidently (regardless of whether you have a destination).

It takes a long time to master Aikido but you can use some of the above principles immediately to stay our of trouble.  If you're interested in learning Aikido you'll be doing physical training of martial techniques such as throws and joint locks based on the above principles, but in a physical way.  Aikido techniques use the opponent’s power to subdue them without injury.  Through constant practice these principles become more intuitive and are adopted into the subconscious.  This develops a calmer mind and a non-aggressive mindset in practitioners.

The Griffith University Aikido club practices Aikido at Nathan, Southbank and Logan. If you would like to find out more about us, drop by to watch a class, check out our website, email us or drop me a line.

Daniel James

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