What do you think of Aikido?

Q. I've been  a little disillusioned with the karate
program my 7-year old son was  involved with for the past year.  I guess I'm not
thrilled with the  jump through the hoops, perfect the katas method, with a heavy
emphsis on token prizes for trying, showing up, etc.  Anyway, my wife and I  recently
learned of a local Aikido dojo and are considering having our  son practice Aikido once
or twice a week.  I'm considering joining for  the training as well (like I'd done for
Karate).  We feel that the Aikido really emphasizes the philosophy of "avoid dangerous 
situations, get out of them and away from them whenever possible",  while at the same
time it teaches one to protect oneself. What are  your thoughts on this school, and do
you think the practice there  could translate well - one day -  to Guided Chaos?  I would appreciate any frank thoughts you might have on this subject. 

A. The philosophy behind Aikido is one that I have taken to heart. I have, however, never
found a practitioner of Aikido who can actually make the sport/art of Aikido work under
serious violent conditions. I have seen some come along holds and throws work on
cooperative or very unskilled attackers many of whom were drunk. This was during my
uniform police days.

What I have taken from Aikido is the idea of moving in such a way as
to be unavailable to the attacker and returning with a throw. My interpretation of this
caused me to develop a method where I could stand right next to or in front of an
attacker and move just enough to make them miss by fractions of an inch and simply
unbalance them for a fraction of a second which allows me to strike with tremendous force
from very close (grappling) range. I do not move in any way that can be easily followed
before grabbing an extened limb and throwing the opponent which is the crux of Aikido. I
designed the box step around the eight step Aikido training drill but sort of weaponized

Aikido is the gentle art and much can be learned from it. Do not be fooled by what
seems to be miraculous throws and feats of Ki. Anything that takes some set up is
suspect. It does not take away the value of learning the grace and beauty of the art. Be
advised, many Aikido and other throwing arts can cause spinal injuries and in some cases
seems to hasten the growth of arthritis in the spinal area in some of the very advanced
practioners that I know personally. Prudence is important in this regard. Aikido is one
of the arts that best can be enhanced by practicing  KCD/guided chaos principles. I have
seen some folks who have developed some great striking technique in concert with Aikido.
Aiki Ju Jitsu is an art where this is constantly practiced. In fact, I believe, that
Aikido derives many of it's principles from Aiki Jiu Jitsu.

 I hope this is of some help. Take care, John Perkins
Attacked with a weapon...

It appears that over 90% of attacks on men  involve a weapon;
knife, gun, bat etc. As a result, does it make sense for a male to practice defense
against weapons (low probabiltiy of  prevailing even with a lot of practice) during 95%
of training? Thanks.

A. First of all the fact is that the vast majority of attacks against men begin with a
process that Mark Mac Young calls the interview. You are generally sized up for an attack
to see if you will be easy to take. Most of the attacks are done barehanded. These may
escalate into the use of weapons or the addition of extra attackers if the victim is
starting to get the upper hand in the altercation. This is not to say that some
assailants do not plan to use weapons ahead of time. In the vast majority of cases there
is a macho factor at work. You may be approached by a single attacker but in most cases
it will be more than one. The bad guys usually need moral support. This is where the
ability to slam a person and his friends with all you have in 1/2 to 2 seconds counts.
Here you must hit hard enough to change the attacker's mind or render them harmless. This
is easier said than done. Basically you must hit so fast that a weapon which is in a
pocket or secreted elsewhere on the attacker's body cannot be brought into play.

In other scenarios such as a robbery a weapon may be displayed in order to control the
victim. This is where a person must really know what they are doing. In most robberies
the bad guy just wants the money and then wants to leave. Here it is advisable to give up
the material and not your life for no good reason. If, however, the bad guy or bad guys
want to take you somewhere else it is advisable not to go to a second scene where they
can easily have their way with you to the point of torture and death. This is a theme
constantly harped upon by Sanford Strong in his book Strong on Defense. In the case where
a weapon is brandished and within reach to be pushed aside while a powerful simultaneous
attack is made there is a better chance of survival than being put into a trunk of a car
or dragged into an alley way. These static armed scenarios can be worked out to a point
where a person  can make an actual defense feasible.

In a situation where a weapon is being brought against you and not just held in a static
position you must have a tremendous amount of training to have some chance of survival.
NEVER think all is lost and just fold up. Even a well placed kick may tip the scales in
your favor. Even if a gun is pulled out on you your best defense is to just run as fast
as you can. A moving target is harder to hit. There is no guarantee that even with years
of practice you will win. There are so many variables to deal with. BLIND FEAR is a
killer. If you can harness your adrenaline to run or fight it can help you tremendously.
If you become paralyzed you may not survive. Learning to attack and move with maximum
balance and power is essential to survival especially when escape is impossible. I have
seen people with no martial arts experience survive being stabbed many times because they
fought off the attacker.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that serious training is a waste of time. There are
far too many gurus out there that would make one believe that the bad guys are invincible
and that training is futile. Proper training is not futile. It is incorrect training that
will get you killed. What is proper training? Basically training based on realistic
attack methodology and psychology is primary. Training by the numbers is an accident
waiting to happen. In other words, if you train to react in a memorized way to a
particular attack you will be too many steps behind. You can't wait to see what is being
thrown at you and expect to simply perform a sequence of pre-planned moves to counter the
attack which, in most cases, will be sudden and awkward but often deadly. You must
develop a tactical awareness which, in most cases, will keep you out of the line of fire
in the first place.

I can't give you all the answers in just this letter. You can begin by reading Attack
Proof and watching the DVDs which will give you a leg up in the right direction. Even if
you carried a weapon for defense you must know a tremendous amount before you can use one
effectively in a life and death altercation. HINT:  Most police officers who lose their
weapons loose them after they have been hit by one or more assailants. To think there is
a simple gun retention technique that works to thwart a gun grab is ignorant. I tell
police officers that everything I teach them is a potential gun retention technique. When
I teach them how to chop a man in the throat from various positions it may be the one
move that the police officer may need to stop the gun grabber.  True dynamic study for
self defense is not what is taught in most cases. Most are taught the fight by numbers
way which, as I said, is based on the false notion that a person will be able to tap into
a library of defenses while under a sudden viscous attack.

I hope that this helps you in your future training.  JP