NGAExperience® Nihon Goshin Aikido

Inside Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #30

September 5, 2015

In This Issue:

  1. Sho-Dan Testing ~ What You Need to Know (Part 4) A.  Adding Technical Variety to Your Test  

B.  Gun Defenses ~ Please Get Out of the Way Too

  1. Real Fight Breakdowns ~ Another in depth look at a real fight caught on camera
  2. Website Updates:  New Jacket Grab Applications, Randori Strategies, and why we fight out of “No Stance” instead of hamni  
  3. Growing Our Subscriber Base ~ Please Forward to your Friends and training buddies
  4. Announcements: Not One!  Not Two!  But THREE Fall Seminars!  Got a rank promotion, opening a new dojo,  hosting a seminar, etc., let us know, and we’ll spread the word

Greetings Nihon Goshin Aikido Aficionado!  

It’s September!  College Football season is here, and unlike fans of professional football ~ college football fans have a direct tie to the team (usually they went to school there).

College football is a pure animal.  The best players play, and the best teams win.  When you go to a game, you wear your team’s colors.  If you’re a Carolina Gamecock fan, you generally stand up the whole game.

Professional football is different.  The highest draft picks, and the highest paid players play, when your contract is up, your team might trade you to another team if they can get someone to do the job you are doing for less money.  Most concerning, fans wear anything they want (and actually sit down during the game ~ what’s up with that?).

Most importantly, there is no real “tie” to a professional team like there is to a college team.  

In college I studied a mathematical calculation that went like this:  

College Football > Professional Football


Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk Aikido!

1.  The Sho-Dan Test.  What You Need to Know

(Part  4)

This summer (and even though it is September, it is still summer) we’ve discussed some ideas to help you prepare for your upcoming sho-dan test, and I wanted to continue looking at some more ideas that might help us.  In previous newsletters, we’ve addressed the importance of continuing to train after sho-dan, remaining composed during every type of attack from every type of attacker, controlling your breathing, focusing on your initial movements, striking, handling weapons, etc.  Those ideas have received their own category on a page called, “Testing For Shodan”)  on the website, and are listed here, and we’ll add articles to this page periodically, and please feel free to share your experiences an insights also.

In this month’s edition of “Inside Nihon Goshin Aikido,” I wanted to continue expanding our list of sho-dan testing considerations and look at some other concepts that might help you during your test.

1.  How to Break Out of Ruts During the Test

Watch any open randori session, and you can generally identify nage patterns in quick order.  While there is no limit on the number of Arm Bars you might employ during the test, it is refreshing to see an occasional Arm Bar Throw, or a Spinning Arm Bar, or perhaps ~ dare I say it ~ “a Scissors Application!”  

‘Variety’ it is the spice of life in all things; including aikido.  In my training, I’ve worked with several students of all belt levels ~ myself being one of them ~ who at one point or another became frustrated at the lack of perceived variety in their free style defenses.  Simply put, they wanted to do more than Arm Bars and Elbow Chops during their self defense test.

So let’s get a few things out of way before we delve into the notion of variety of technique.  On the test you have 2 objectives.

#1.  Your first objective is to not get hit.  

#2.  Your second objective is to employ appropriate aikido technique in a manner taught by your Sensei ~ that passes the sho-dan “visual” marker.

At best, the variety of techniques used on the test is a tertiary objective.  

Still, as long as you are not getting hit, consistently unbalancing uke, and employing some descent, albeit repetitive, aikido technique ~ why not seek out some variety to spice things up?

Here are four suggestions for your consideration.  The first two suggestions were given to me when I was a purple belt by Sensei John Carter.  Sensei Lamar Sanders (Aikikai) helped me with the third suggestion, and I came up with the fourth suggestion on my own (although I’m sure many people have thought of this same idea before I came up with it).  

#1  Change your initial movement.  Particular movement patterns set up particular techniques.  If you are in a rut off of straight punches, begin to enter or blend differently.

#2  Switch your blocks up.  Particular blocking patterns set up particular techniques.  If you are in a rut off of round punches using a 1 handed block, begin using push blocks instead.

#3  Rather than waiting around to “read” the attack and then reacting to it, decide where you want to end up relative to uke after his attack (regardless of how he attacks), and then get there.  A video needs to be done to clarify this concept, because it really works well; especially when you’re dealing with multiple attackers (eg: attacks similar to the test card that reads, “Attacker A & B:  Bring man down by any means necessary”).  Perhaps I’ll get a video out for next month’s newsletter.

#4.  Take some free time to organize your applications by strikes.  So instead of listing all the applications you know for each technique (eg:  “the Handshake”)  list all the applications of technique that will work on a cross grab, a straight punch, etc.  In this way, you develop a diverse list of techniques that you can run through for any given attack.

Here is a sample list of techniques that can be used in Defense Against a Roundhouse Punch:

From the White Belt Set

Elbow Chop

Leg Sweep

Mugger’s Throw

Unbendable Arm (enter straight down the line)

From the Yellow Belt Set

Peel Off

High Bridge

Low Bridge

Pivot Take Down

From the Blue Belt Set

Reverse Palms Lift UP

Two Hand Wheel Throw

From the Green Belt Set

Pivot Over the Back Throw

Back Breaker

Slap to the Side of the Head

From the Purple Belt Set

Cross the Body Wrist Throw

Spinning Hip Throw

Shoulder Throw

Groin Block

Body Block (*assuming sufficient attacker commitment)

When you get done with your lists, you’ll have separate lists for straight punches, upper cuts, jacket grabs, bear hugs, full nelsons, combination punches, grips from the side, front, back, chokes, etc.

Once you’ve got your lists together, you’ll want to practice them in order to internalize them.  You might have your uke attack you with the same attack over and over again (eg:  “Give me 20 straight roundhouse punches” ~ while I run through my mental check list.”  Then tell your uke to switch to straight punches, combination punches, grips, etc.

This is ideal for open mat training opportunities.  Finally, once you’re on the test, just mentally run down the lists as the attacks come.  

* Keep in mind that in addition to the simple list that I provided for the round punches, there are all kinds of potential variations within that list (eg: adjusting the directions in which techniques are applied) which can be applied to further enhance your “wow” factor.

One Final Point:  Don’t over think it.  My experience has been that the more I think about doing a certain technique (or not doing a certain technique) the less fluidly I perform whatever it is I end up doing.  For me, it generally works best to move first, take uke’s balance, and then perform whatever technique I have available to an unbalanced uke.  I know I’m doing it wrong when I have to apply too much pressure to a technique to get it to work.  This is patently obvious on “timing” techniques like “Slap to the Side of the Head.”  When things are clicking on Slap to the Side of the Head, I am able to lead uke to the mat without measurable effort ~ and barely even making physical contact with uke’s head.

2.  Gun Defenses  

Consider the Jackie Chan/ Chris Rock clip on the left, and note how the position of Chan’s body does not move off line as he executes the takeaway.  In my mind there is a high probability that he gets shot in his upper left chest, or left arm if the gun were to discharge.  Of course, this is Hollywood, and the gun is not loaded with real bullets,and moving might have messed up the camera angle, etc., so we concede that Hollywood actors are given certain liberties ~ lol ~ but hopefully the point is clear.  To give you the highest probability of success, you’ve got to combine body movement that removes your body from the weapon’s line of site as you perform your disarming technique.

Confused?  Well, maybe if I were more specific.... Consider this scenario.  If the gun is pointed directly at your nose by an attacker standing directly in front of you, the first thing you need to do is move your nose (head, et al) out of the line of site of the weapon!  If you don’t do that, it might not matter how good the technique is that follows.

Without an evasive movement, the speed of the bullet will most likely beat the speed of the technique; especially if the attacker has his finger on the trigger.  

Stated in another way, assuming that the attacker has his finger on the trigger, and the safety off (and why would we not assume that?), as you affect the takeaway, the gun will fire.  Moving the gun off line may not enough in and of itself.  It may make sense to endeavor to move our body off line also.  

One other point:  In the real world, it would be preferred to NOT let your attacker get the drop on you.  In other words, why wait for the attacker to raise his gun up to your nose before you respond?  There is certainly some merit in attacking the hand holding the gun the moment you see the gun, and before the attacker is able to target you.  

* Check with your Sensei before you employee this idea on a test.  He might very well want to see you respond when the attacker has the drop on you.

2.  Real Fight Breakdowns:  

Last week I received a good bit of positive feedback with the real fight breakdown scenario, and I thought I’d continue it in this issue.  For someone who has not been around that much violence, (like me), I think it helps to see how people respond when threatened.

In this month’s case study, let’s look at a close quarters attack.  It is a great subway/ phone booth scenario.  The operating quarters are very tight.  It is an excellent Front Wrist Throw/ Elbow Chop application.

I do not believe it is a complete Front Wrist Throw.  I think it would have taken longer to get the full wrist torque on, so there is probably minimal wrist lock.

This is what I think happens.  Nage locks up uke’s left hand, applies the beginnings of torque you’d see on the Front Wrist Throw, connects everything to his center, steps back, and opens the door (unbalancing uke), as he plants uke with the elbow chop (which is more of a force push than a strike, and goes down at a 45 degree angle ~ instead of "out" like we might do).  The fall uke takes is brutally hard.  It is difficult to tell if his head hit the seat or just cleared it.

Of particular interest to me is nage’s "over-lording" posture relative to uke (once the throw is made) to discourage him from trying to get back up.  This “over-lording” posture is a great example of a psychological pin ~ proving that sometimes you don't need a physical 'pin' to subdue your would be attacker.  

I wish the video showed more of the follow up.

Also notice the consistent theme running through most public brawls.... No one wants to get involved, witness the guy wearing blue jeans head for the next car immediately after the throw.

Thoughts, What say ye?

3.  Website Updates:  

In the last couple of months, we have been working hard to update content on the website:

We have made significant improvements to the  Randori Section as well as adding material in the  White Belt Applications Section (Whip Throw, Jacket Grab, & Unbendable Arm).

In the Black Belt Applications Section of the website, we have added a several videos on Balance Breaking & Light Touch Applications.  

There is also an article on Why We Fight Out of a Shizentai or Natural Stance and Not a Hamni Stance that might be worth reading.  Please be sure to check these areas out.

4.  Newsletter Subscribers:

More subscribers is the goal ~ so can you help us grow our Newsletter Subscription Base by passing the website along to your training buddies and asking them to subscribe?  

Our hope is to be an inter-dojo clearing house for all things NGA, but we need more subscribers to do that.  Best of all, it’s free, and who doesn’t like the word “free!”  Click Here to Subscribe! (And make sure your forward to all your training buddies, and would be training buddies).

5.  Announcements:  

There are three fall seminars we’d like to share with you.

#1  September 4-5: Shihan Donovan Waite (7th degree, Aikikai) will be in Weddington, NC (not our style, but Waite Shihan is an aikido rock star if there ever was one).  I will be attending this seminar.  Details Here.

#2  September 12: Nihon Goshin Aikido Instructors Joe Beckham, John Carter, & John Wyndham, and Karate Instructor, Kyoshi Gary Shull, will be in Lexington, SC.  I will be attending this seminar.  Details Here.

#3  October 9-10:  Sensei Jim Giorgi 4th degree NGA, & author of Integral Aikido) will be in Winder, GA at Sensei Theron Bennett’s dojo.  I hope to attend this seminar. Details Here.

We would like to share your information on Seminars, Dojo Expansions, Relocations, Grand Openings, Promotions, and/or Other Information with our subscribers.  Please forward all of your announcements to us so we can get the word out.  Send us the information on your announcement, and we’ll post it here for you.  

Stay tuned, and let's meet on the mat together soon!


Jonathan Wilson

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Unless otherwise stated, the author’s views, musings, and opinions do not necessarily reflect the attitude of leadership within any of the various Nihon Goshin Aikido associations, or unaffiliated Nihon Goshin Aikido dojos.

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~ Elbow Chop Application ~ Subway Beat Down Style

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If possible, do NOT let the attacker raise his weapon!

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The speed is fantastic, but is it faster than a bullet?

~ I’m not so sure.  Adding off line movement with technique should provide a more consistent result, and with a gun takeaway attempt, you will probably only get one chance.  Put all the odds in your favor and move your body too.

Now This is One Fabulous Way to Get Off the Line!

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