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"I would never punch that way"

One of the most common arguments against the viability of aikido training methods has got to be, “But I would never punch that way.” Folks want to know how aikido deals with short, efficient lead jabs and jab-cross combinations and why we don’t train against quick jab or jab-cross attacks.
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In order to make any attack, the attacker has to step to within arm’s reach. Saying, “I’d never punch that way,” assumes that the attacker is in good control of his momentum and balance and movement at the end of that step. When you are practicing kihon in karate, or shadow boxing, or some other solo striking form, that’s pretty easy to assume. There’s really no reason to expect that you shouldn’t be able to control your own body at the end of the attack step. But when your target moves during the middle of your step, when someone bumps into you during that step, when there is the possibility that the target might hurt you back, all your body dynamics change. You are not in complete control at the end of the attacking step.
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As an experiment, try stepping two feet forward and hitting a moving speed bag – hard – however you like – lunge punch, lead jab, hook, whatever. You just have to hit hard. Try this several times and unless you are really masterful, you’ll miss or hit improperly pretty often. Can you control your body just like you’d like when that happens or is your balance and momentum and timing at least a little off?
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A funny thing happens when something interrupts an attack step. The attacker seizes up for just a moment while he regains his balance and figures out a good appropriate next move. In this situation, the defender has caused the attacker to reset to the beginning of his OODA loop and now he has to observe his situation, orient to what is going on, and decide on an action, before he can act. The funny thing is, people tend to become cataleptic to some degree when they are reset to the beginning of the loop. They literally freeze in place almost catatonic for an instant.
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An instant is a long time to someone who expects it and knows when it is going to happen…

3 comments:

  1. Pat, this is the best deconstruction I've heard. I've often wondered what Aikido did in that circumstance or, at least how it was philosophically approached. Fantastic.

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  2. Sabum number 1 is currently studying Aikido. I remember he made the same criticism. However, I now wonder if it had to do with him being a beginner in aikido? I need to talk to him again. Anyhow, I've seen aikido demonstrated and always wondered the same thing about the punches. It'd be cool if you could post (or refer to) a video which shows what your getting at. I'm still ruling in and out other martial arts if the TKD journey has to stop this summer after cho dan. Aikido is one art I keep considering...

    ~BCP

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  3. Bob, my video capacity right now is defunct (camera went bad) but check out the three aiki-boxing videos at http://www.youtube.com/skinnymonkey

    for a taste of what I'm talking about.

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