Aikido and Law Enforcement

Xue Sheng

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Interesting topic…..

I was having a good discussion with an old friend about Aikido, and it's effectiveness, and he laughed. He is a senior agent with the FBI and has been with them for almost 20 years. He remarked that "I don't know how you can consider it 'ineffective' considering so many police departments teach a component of Aikido with entire courses designed such as those by Koga for specific police training. Hell, the Tokyo police have a dedicated 11 month program in Yoshinkan Aikido called Senshusei. Granted many of these programs also mix in Judo, Krav Maga, and even BJJ to a smaller degree, however, Aikido remains one of the primary arts taught. We wouldn't do that if it didn't work".

He went on to acknowledge that Aikido didn't work in every scenario, but that these courses were taught for 2 reasons. "One, they are effective, and while they don't make someone a 'master' of aikido, they do teach a variety of techniques perfect for most police encounters. Two, police administrators tend to love Aikido because of the emphasis on not harming the attacker….this leads to fewer lawsuits (eye roll)".

He finally remarked that Aikido worked well "during arresting techniques, along with other arts like Aikijujutsu, Judo, and Hapkido that can also be useful. BJJ, I don't personally feel is as helpful for most law enforcement situations, it might be helpful to have at least a little understanding of it, but I cannot think of any police officer that would EVER intentionally go down to the ground unless there were no other options, this isn't a cage (snickers).."

I've known him since undergrad 20 years ago. He's always been bright, and has been with federal law enforcement for a long time.

I thought his insight was interesting. NOW, I was in the military many years ago, but have never worked in law enforcement.

I thought this might make for an interesting, stimulating conversation. In the immortal words of Picard….."ENGAGE".

Actually a good friend of mine, who is now retired from law enforcement, trained two things, Uechi-ryu and Aikido. He liked Aikido much better for his job since it was rather effective for his needs and it was much less likely to get him sued when he used it.
 

drop bear

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Yeah, but much needed. debunking this bjj mafia myth is long overdue, and I appreciate it.

If you have operated by dogma. And someone questions that you are going to have nowhere to go but to accuse the questioner of what amounts to heresy.

Questioning the validity of a method or suggesting a better one is just a normal person being helpful. It is insulting the style,taking shots at the instructor and basically kicking the whole concept of tma in the head.

Hence the bjj Mafia is born. Now my guess is that there are posters who have never had to explain their methods past "I am an expert you don't understand therefore I am right and you should not question" And it is kind of freaking them out.
 

punisher73

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With this story, you have to remember that it's possible another boxer who was better than the first could beat the Aikido Master, or the situation could be reversed: Aikido practitioner beats boxer easily, goes to fight boxers coach and loses quickly. A member of any art has the possibility of being beaten by a member of another art if that person is a better practitioner and/or fighter.

I agree, which is why I posted the story, it is about the person and not the art, and understanding your art.

I never said that Aikido was the "be all, end all". It was used to illustrate that Aikido does have worth and can be applied in a "street situation" where everyone is not complying with each other like in many aikido dojos. This is also the reason that it is still used by some departments and agencies, they have success with what they use it for.
 

mdavidg

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Yoshinkan Aikido (hard style) is the only martial art taught to most of the police force in Japan. Also, there are a couple of Aikido styles that have grown with the times and are probably closer to what the founder originally taught. Tenshin Aikido as well as a style called Nihon Goshin Aikido. There's a great article called the 16 styles of Aikido that is a good read. It will show you all of the styles of Aikido currently taught and will also give you an idea of how far Aikido had come.


The Sixteen Styles of Aikido
 

Buka

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I enjoyed that article. Thanks.
 

mdavidg

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Sorry, I was about to make an almost duplicate post until I realized I had already posted before.
 

Buka

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Several things I've noticed..

I've worked with a lot of guys from a lot of different departments. When we talk, the discussion eventually gets to DT training.
What I've come to realize is the DT instructor usually has a background in one martial art or another. I haven't seen any one art, or a few arts, that seem more common than others.

When a person goes through the academy process they experience how DT is taught and they're supposed to use it if necessary on the job. This is regardless if they have any martial background themselves.

Hardly enough time is given to DT training - to most department suits it's considered a necessary liability.

When an officer starts on the street they usually find that the DT training ain't what it's cracked up to be. They have that AHA moment.

If a department's DT instructor has a background in Ameri-do-te, it's not because Ameri-do-te is the most suited for police work, it's because the DT guy happened to be in the right place at the right time (job wise) and got the gig and just happened to be a student of that art. It doesn't matter, though, because he won't be teaching that art, he'll be teaching DT.

DT instructors are usually sent someplace, some LE training center, to be certified in DT. If you take any fifty of these places the person(s) doing the teaching/certifying will have different backgrounds in MA (or not). But it won't matter because they're only doing DT, not a Martial Art.

The two places I've lived the most are Boston and Hawaii. Worked in Law Enforcement in both. In Hawaii, back in the eighties and nineties, I found that the majority of DT was taught by a long time cop, long time Aikido practitioner. (forgive me, I forget his name) Everyone I spoke to had nothing but raves to say about him or his training. Back in 2007 I learned that my buddy, Russell, was now the DT instructor. His background is in BJJ, we were dojo mates. It's not because BJJ is the new in thing, or any better or worse than Aikido, not because there are any more schools of that type. It's because Russell happened to get the gig. He gets the same rave reviews. He doesn't teach BJJ, he teaches DT.

In Boston it's the same way. There's just more people. The best DT guy I know, who worked inside the prison system for thirty years, has a background in classical Okinawan Karate. And still actively trains in it. But he does DT at work when necessary....which was just about every damn week. Second best DT guy I know has a thirty year background in boxing and Kung-fu. (I know, odd mix)

So to me....it's all good.
 

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My armchair .02

Styles like Aikido seem to work fine when you are dealing with what I call the "maybe" people.

Those are the types between the totally compliant "yes" people and the actively resisting "no" people.

The NO types can also be divided into "soft no" types...the ones who tighten up, refuse to follow commands, want to wrestle away and the "hard no" types who are punching, kicking, using weapons etc.

Aikido/small circle JJ/joint manipulations seem to work ok on the maybe...soft no types.

Unless you are highly skilled though they seem to be much harder to pull off on the hard no types.

If you have to go toe to toe unarmed with a hard no type its my opinion that more MMA style techniques work better for the wider set of people who may have to use it.

Edit: I think that Aikido may also be good for preemptively dealing with a NO type if you are able to go hands on and control before he/she "flips out" on you. Or if you are guiding someone you believe to be a YES person who is just waiting to suddenly go NO on you. BTDT lol!

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Spinedoc

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Tgace, thanks for that. That's a great reply.

As far as Aikido's effectiveness, I was talking about this with a friend on the East Coast, and I think people struggle to make Aikido work in real life situations for a few reasons. One is definitely soft practice. The other reasons are more nuanced and complicated though.

I agree with you about the need for high skill with actively fighting opponents. I've been experimenting with this for a little while. I've noticed in sparring that maai and timing are EVERYTHING. Not just important, but ABSOLUTELY imperative to making a technique work. I've sparred with a few of the judo guys asking if I could use Aikido, and while I've succeeded a few times, I've also failed many times. What I noticed though, was the failure was mine, not Aikido's. What I mean by that was...if you allow the distance to close, if you allow it to close down to a clinch level distance, Aikido breaks down. Sure, if you have a 5th and a Dan after your name maybe you can make something work at that distance, but for the rest of us....not so much. You have to react BEFORE that distance closes down. Also, if your timing is off, even a little....it falls apart. Many of the techniques actually do work in sparring, however, the distance, reaction, timing, and speed have to be absolutely perfect for it to work. If one of those fails, the technique fails. You have to react exactly at the right time and with the right distance, blend perfectly at speed, and execute without any hesitation. If you allow the opponent even a half second to regain his footing/balance, or to establish some resistance, then you have to do something else. Sometimes at least when sparring so far, you merely transition into another technique once you feel the resistance. IE; if the person is actively resisting the application of sankyo, then merely quickly transitioning into kotegaeshi.

Point is, I think it can work, but sparring really, really illustrates the need for flawless maai and timing. I'm even more convinced that it takes at least 8-10 years of practice continually to really make it work on a consistent basis.
 

Tgace

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Tgace, thanks for that. That's a great reply.

As far as Aikido's effectiveness, I was talking about this with a friend on the East Coast, and I think people struggle to make Aikido work in real life situations for a few reasons. One is definitely soft practice. The other reasons are more nuanced and complicated though.

I agree with you about the need for high skill with actively fighting opponents. I've been experimenting with this for a little while. I've noticed in sparring that maai and timing are EVERYTHING. Not just important, but ABSOLUTELY imperative to making a technique work. I've sparred with a few of the judo guys asking if I could use Aikido, and while I've succeeded a few times, I've also failed many times. What I noticed though, was the failure was mine, not Aikido's. What I mean by that was...if you allow the distance to close, if you allow it to close down to a clinch level distance, Aikido breaks down. Sure, if you have a 5th and a Dan after your name maybe you can make something work at that distance, but for the rest of us....not so much. You have to react BEFORE that distance closes down. Also, if your timing is off, even a little....it falls apart. Many of the techniques actually do work in sparring, however, the distance, reaction, timing, and speed have to be absolutely perfect for it to work. If one of those fails, the technique fails. You have to react exactly at the right time and with the right distance, blend perfectly at speed, and execute without any hesitation. If you allow the opponent even a half second to regain his footing/balance, or to establish some resistance, then you have to do something else. Sometimes at least when sparring so far, you merely transition into another technique once you feel the resistance. IE; if the person is actively resisting the application of sankyo, then merely quickly transitioning into kotegaeshi.

Point is, I think it can work, but sparring really, really illustrates the need for flawless maai and timing. I'm even more convinced that it takes at least 8-10 years of practice continually to really make it work on a consistent basis.

Absolutely.

A very skilled Aikido practitioner can probably make his art work against any LE scenario like some guy who decided to come off the car swinging/drawing a weapon/tackling him. But as a general rule most of us are not as good as we may think/wish we are. LOL!

I've made a wrist lock work here or a takedown work there, but I've also had abysmal failures because I just wasn't that skilled. Having a solid skill set in simple grappling and striking can cover over some rather wide training gaps for the "average" cop/martial artist who may just be learning the basics of an art like Aikido but will still have to do SOMETHING effective if they are attacked.

That's just my .02 of course....
 
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Spinedoc

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Absolutely.

A very skilled Aikido practitioner can probably make his art work against any LE scenario like some guy who decided to come off the car swinging/drawing a weapon/tackling him. But as a general rule most of us are not as good as we may think/wish we are. LOL!

I've made a wrist lock work here or a takedown work there, but I've also had abysmal failures because I just wasn't that skilled. Having a solid skill set in simple grappling and striking can cover over some rather wide training gaps for the "average" cop/martial artist who may just be learning the basics of an art like Aikido but will still have to do SOMETHING effective if they are attacked.

That's just my .02 of course....


Agreed, and your comment on striking made me think of one area where I have a big gripe with the Aikido community as a whole. O'Sensei, as a general rule, trained experienced martial artists who already had significant experience in another martial art. He wasn't concerned with training them how to strike as they already knew how to do that. I know from this sparring experience, that many, if not most Aikido techniques also require an atemi to set up the technique. Every seminar I've been to, talks about this as well....Most teachers talk about it....here's the problem...very few of them actually practice it. When I am practicing Aikido with one of our other senior students, we have both given each other permission to actually smack and strike, not hard enough to knock each other out, and not full force, but not some light tap either. It's amazing how much more effective your shihonage becomes when you actually hit the other guy with a knife hand to the jaw before you execute it. I think it's sorely missing in a lot of Aikido practice.
 

drop bear

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Agreed, and your comment on striking made me think of one area where I have a big gripe with the Aikido community as a whole. O'Sensei, as a general rule, trained experienced martial artists who already had significant experience in another martial art. He wasn't concerned with training them how to strike as they already knew how to do that. I know from this sparring experience, that many, if not most Aikido techniques also require an atemi to set up the technique. Every seminar I've been to, talks about this as well....Most teachers talk about it....here's the problem...very few of them actually practice it. When I am practicing Aikido with one of our other senior students, we have both given each other permission to actually smack and strike, not hard enough to knock each other out, and not full force, but not some light tap either. It's amazing how much more effective your shihonage becomes when you actually hit the other guy with a knife hand to the jaw before you execute it. I think it's sorely missing in a lot of Aikido practice.

Layers. (Like an onion) the next issue is you strike they counter and you use that to open an attack. And so on.
 

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Tgace, thanks for that. That's a great reply.

As far as Aikido's effectiveness, I was talking about this with a friend on the East Coast, and I think people struggle to make Aikido work in real life situations for a few reasons. One is definitely soft practice. The other reasons are more nuanced and complicated though.

I agree with you about the need for high skill with actively fighting opponents. I've been experimenting with this for a little while. I've noticed in sparring that maai and timing are EVERYTHING. Not just important, but ABSOLUTELY imperative to making a technique work. I've sparred with a few of the judo guys asking if I could use Aikido, and while I've succeeded a few times, I've also failed many times. What I noticed though, was the failure was mine, not Aikido's. What I mean by that was...if you allow the distance to close, if you allow it to close down to a clinch level distance, Aikido breaks down. Sure, if you have a 5th and a Dan after your name maybe you can make something work at that distance, but for the rest of us....not so much. You have to react BEFORE that distance closes down. Also, if your timing is off, even a little....it falls apart. Many of the techniques actually do work in sparring, however, the distance, reaction, timing, and speed have to be absolutely perfect for it to work. If one of those fails, the technique fails. You have to react exactly at the right time and with the right distance, blend perfectly at speed, and execute without any hesitation. If you allow the opponent even a half second to regain his footing/balance, or to establish some resistance, then you have to do something else. Sometimes at least when sparring so far, you merely transition into another technique once you feel the resistance. IE; if the person is actively resisting the application of sankyo, then merely quickly transitioning into kotegaeshi.

Point is, I think it can work, but sparring really, really illustrates the need for flawless maai and timing. I'm even more convinced that it takes at least 8-10 years of practice continually to really make it work on a consistent basis.
If the margin for error in the technique is so small, is it really you or is it the Aikido? Your post is really intriguing because you say you concluded it's absolutely not the aikido... but your entire post leads me to the exact opposite conclusion. If it "takes at least 8 to 10 years of practice continually to really make it work on a consistent basis," how can it be you? Something isn't right.
 

drop bear

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If the margin for error in the technique is so small, is it really you or is it the Aikido? Your post is really intriguing because you say you concluded it's absolutely not the aikido... but your entire post leads me to the exact opposite conclusion. If it "takes at least 8 to 10 years of practice continually to really make it work on a consistent basis," how can it be you? Something isn't right.

The idea is that it is a longer road but a higher gain at the end.

I am not sold on it.

Edit.

What he is suggesting is consistant with a lot of styles anyway.
 

Steve

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The idea is that it is a longer road but a higher gain at the end.

I am not sold on it.

Edit.

What he is suggesting is consistant with a lot of styles anyway.
Sure. I get it. But I can't think of anything in the realm of human activity that takes 8 to 10 years just to do it at a level of fundamental application. Shoot, it only takes 9 years or so to become a surgeon. And that includes about 5 years of OJT where you're actually doing the job.
 

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Sure. I get it. But I can't think of anything in the realm of human activity that takes 8 to 10 years just to do it at a level of fundamental application. Shoot, it only takes 9 years or so to become a surgeon. And that includes about 5 years of OJT where you're actually doing the job.
It always seemed to me that Aikido was more of a "doctorate level martial art" than it was intended to be a "white belt on up" art.

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Gerry Seymour

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Yoshinkan Aikido (hard style) is the only martial art taught to most of the police force in Japan. Also, there are a couple of Aikido styles that have grown with the times and are probably closer to what the founder originally taught. Tenshin Aikido as well as a style called Nihon Goshin Aikido. There's a great article called the 16 styles of Aikido that is a good read. It will show you all of the styles of Aikido currently taught and will also give you an idea of how far Aikido had come.


The Sixteen Styles of Aikido
Just a clarification - the article doesn't show lineage properly. Nihon Goshin Aikido, so far as we know, is not descended from Ueshiba's Aikido. Both are descended primarily from Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, and both carry the Aikido grouping designation created by the Butokkukai in the early 1940's. The lineage is a small issue, but important since most people reading that article might assume it is an offshoot of Ueshiba's art.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Agreed, and your comment on striking made me think of one area where I have a big gripe with the Aikido community as a whole. O'Sensei, as a general rule, trained experienced martial artists who already had significant experience in another martial art. He wasn't concerned with training them how to strike as they already knew how to do that. I know from this sparring experience, that many, if not most Aikido techniques also require an atemi to set up the technique. Every seminar I've been to, talks about this as well....Most teachers talk about it....here's the problem...very few of them actually practice it. When I am practicing Aikido with one of our other senior students, we have both given each other permission to actually smack and strike, not hard enough to knock each other out, and not full force, but not some light tap either. It's amazing how much more effective your shihonage becomes when you actually hit the other guy with a knife hand to the jaw before you execute it. I think it's sorely missing in a lot of Aikido practice.
I had a similar discussion with someone in Ueshiba's Aikido (Aikikai, as I recall). He and I both had the same reaction - that training strikes was missing in many dojos. Our art is similar enough, and I can see the biggest difference in our application is often atemi.
 

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My armchair .02

Styles like Aikido seem to work fine when you are dealing with what I call the "maybe" people.

Those are the types between the totally compliant "yes" people and the actively resisting "no" people.

The NO types can also be divided into "soft no" types...the ones who tighten up, refuse to follow commands, want to wrestle away and the "hard no" types who are punching, kicking, using weapons etc.

Aikido/small circle JJ/joint manipulations seem to work ok on the maybe...soft no types.

Unless you are highly skilled though they seem to be much harder to pull off on the hard no types.

If you have to go toe to toe unarmed with a hard no type its my opinion that more MMA style techniques work better for the wider set of people who may have to use it.

Edit: I think that Aikido may also be good for preemptively dealing with a NO type if you are able to go hands on and control before he/she "flips out" on you. Or if you are guiding someone you believe to be a YES person who is just waiting to suddenly go NO on you. BTDT lol!

Sent from my XT1080 using Tapatalk
I'm curious what you mean when you refer to "MMA style techniques". What I see in MMA is punch/block/kick techniques and some large joint manipulations. I don't see any of those as being out of scope for Ueshiba's art - I think they aren't taught enough in most of the dojos, but they are there.

I also see a lot of ground work, and I can't speak to whether specific ground work was ever part of Ueshiba's art, though the principles certainly aren't foreign to the basics of his art.
 

drop bear

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Another aspect that is worth considering. last night I was wrestling a new guy. And surprisingly I could make basically anything work.

When that guy has defences of his own it severely limits what I can pull off.
 
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