Tag Archives: aikido

“real fighting but not hurting anyone” anon, thanks for the advice! The problem here is more my phrasing than my actual idea, what I meant was that there’s very little focus on offensive moves not that the offensive moves can’t kill anyone (I’m aware that basically anything can kill people, accidents happen etc) you’d need some actual fight training outside of the class to be likely to beat someone trained, is what I meant, with the class itself being 99% about not getting hit by the other guy.

Yeah, that’s not how combat works. When you’re entering a fight you need
to have a plan to end it. This isn’t optional, or something that can happen
someday when your opponent gets bored. You need to have a concrete way to end
the fight.

Hoping your opponent will get bored and wander off does not qualify.

Dodging all attacks 99% of the time is simply hoping your opponent will get
bored with this. In practical terms, this will
get you killed.

When I say you need a way to end the fight, I don’t mean you need to kill
your opponent. That’s not the issue at all. There are plenty of ways to end a
fight while doing limited harm to your opponent.

Creating an opening to run away is a legitimate way out. This is the focus
of actual some actual self defense training. You’ll strike your opponent in
ways designed to stun or debilitate them, and allow you to escape. For some
people, simply running away is a viable option. Dancing around your opponent’s
strikes is not.

You have a limited amount of stamina. You can engage in strenuous activity
for a limited amount of time before you need to catch your breath. Getting
exhausted in the middle of a fight is a very bad situation. It will get you
killed. To be fair, it’s not like a video game where you’d empty a meter and suddenly
stagger. As you become more fatigued you’ll slow down and your movements will
become less precise.

If you’ve ever engaged in any moderately intense cardio exercise, even just
sprinting, you’ve experienced this first hand. The shortness of breath, heart
pounding, the fatigue, the desire to simply fall over and let the world end?
Yeah, constantly dodging will do that to you, fairly quickly, and that’s before your opponent can lay a hand on
you.

The problem is, it takes far more energy to jump out of the way of your
opponent’s fist, than it takes to throw a punch. All things being (roughly)
equal, you will wear yourself out faster, trying to avoid (or parry) incoming
strikes than your opponent who is simply trying to turn you into chunky salsa.
This creates an inevitable situation: sooner or later, you’re going to start
getting hit, and once that happens, it will snowball fast.

Playing defense exclusively is not an option. You will wear yourself out,
and get killed.

There is also another serious problem with an overdependence on dodging.
Feinting strikes are where you’ll direct a false attack, and then follow with
an actual strike elsewhere. If an opponent realizes you’re simply trying to
step out of the way of their attacks, it becomes very easy to fake you out,
then deliver a strike while you’re dodging, off balance, and committed to the
action by inertia. Of course, this gets progressively easier, as you wear
yourself out, and your opponent realizes this is all you’re doing.

There is a role for dodges and parries in hand to hand, these are designed
to set up counterattacks. You’ll dodge out of the way of a strike because it
allows you to move into a position where you can retaliate, usually past their
guard. Parries frequently work off similar ideas, though you’re usually punishing
the attack by creating an opening in their defense. I’m being vague here
because there are a lot of different potential uses for these, but the
important takeaway is, dodging is about finding and exploiting weaknesses your opponent,
it is not simply getting out of the way.

This is part of why we say, when it comes to self defense, you cannot fuck
around. The goal is to get with as few injuries as possible. That means keeping
the fight as short as possible, creating an opening, and getting out before you
find yourself at the mercy of someone who wants to do you serious harm. You
need a way to end the fight. If your opponent can still stand when you’re done
an ethical decision, but you need to have a way to finish it.

Self defense martial arts like Judo and Aikido have methods of ending the
fight. They’re not simply about being 99% defensive. Aikido is an excellent
example of what I said about parries and dodges. Skilled practitioners will
avoid incoming strike, then use their opponent’s momentum to throw them to the
ground. In a practical situation, this creates an opening for the martial
artist to escape while their opponent has to spend time getting back up. It may
look like the martial art is simply about staying out of your opponent’s grasp,
but the practitioner has a wide variety of ways to end the fight, without
inflicting undue harm.

Relevant to your original question: With highly defensive martial arts it’s difficult
to spar against another practitioner. Sparing involves learning to deal with
your opponent’s attacks and defenses. If your martial art has no real offensive
options, then you’ll need to have something to spar against or find yourself
ill prepared for dealing with opponents who practice more aggressive styles.
You can actually see hints of this in Aikido demonstrations, or the entirety of
Steven Seagal’s film career. It’s a martial art that just does not go on
offense gracefully.

-Starke

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The Main Character for my Comic Practices Aikido, is it all about redirecting momentum on the opponent or are there Offensives Moves they can use

Not really. Keeping in mind that neither of us have much experience with Aikido. Aikido does not go on offense well. It’s all about taking people that are trying to attack you and putting them somewhere else. The entire philosophy, as you said, is about redirecting all opponents to somewhere else. The best way to describe it, would be “orbital.” You bring enemies into your orbit, and then redirect them elsewhere, usually the ground.

As martial arts go, it’s not a particularly good choice for an aggressive or semi-aggressive, character. If you want a character who will step back, and consistently try to talk the situation down, only resorting to violence when every other option is spent. Then Aikido is a good fit.

An Aikido practitioner who is on offense will need to bait their opponent into attacking. Once they’ve done that, they can keep them tied up. But it is an awkward approach, and not really what the martial art is designed for. It’s good for redirecting and subduing attackers. With the right practitioner it is actually really impressive at neutralizing an opponent. But it doesn’t go on offense well.

If you want an illustration of this, you can look at (almost) any of Steven Seagal’s fight scenes, and then compare that to his actual Aikido demonstration videos. Seagal is an Aikido master, and it shows in his demonstration videos. His action movies? Not so much.

If you want a character who is primarily defensive, but can roll over
and wreck someone; then Jujitsu or Judo are probably Aikido’s closest living
relatives that can deliver what you’re asking for.

-Starke

I’m stuck in this fight scene. Character A is a kick-boxer, and Character B is trained in aikido, but has a severe fear of blood. My Beta insists A will eventually overwhelm B, and/or draw blood, meaning A wins. Argument: B must fight flawlessly, because if B makes a mistake, then A wins. This doesn’t make sense, because this one mistake idea goes both ways. I know one style isn’t inherently better, but I feel like A with aikido has an edge. I watched some fights online, but I’m still not sure.

Does Character B have a severe fear of his own blood or any blood? It’s probably worth remembering, the other guy bleeds too. In terms of weaknesses, fear of blood is probably one of the worst to give a character who participates in any sort of combat. Fighting is incredibly bloody, it doesn’t really matter how flawlessly one fights. Blood is an inevitability, not a possibility. You can cut yourself from getting hit, from falling, from getting scraped on the ground, or from your teeth cutting up the inside of your mouth if that jaw doesn’t stay clenched. Or bite your tongue. (This is why mouthguards are a thing when sparring.)

A fear like that is one which can be fairly easily identified and, once it is, then the other combatant will begin to use it against them. This is especially true if it’s bordering on a phobia, which is what you’re suggesting here. There’s nothing quite like someone realizing “oh hey, you’re afraid of blood” and then either smears some from an open cut across their face or spits some right in the other person’s face.

The real answer to the who would win question is honestly: who is the better fighter of the two. Who is the most adaptable? Who is the most capable of changing their tactics and using their environment? There’s a host of questions that come in on top of “who would win”. It’s not the style that matters, it’s the person who practices it. Style comes with a variety of different skill levels. The traits that most commonly lead to victory are usually observation and adaptability, with the capacity to successfully adapt their available tools (their skills, knowledge, and techniques) rapidly to the new situation.

However, it’s best not to about it from the perspective of “who do I want to win”. This often leads to an unfortunate situation where the writer games the fight. Instead, leave it up in the air and let your characters prove it to you. It’s a sort of doublethink that takes some practice, but it’s worth learning.

One of the most difficult aspects of learning to write fight scenes and combat is realizing that you have to be two separate characters (or more) at the same time. It’s a lot like playing chess against yourself, it becomes very easy to just start thinking about it from the side you want to win. The other important aspect is: you can have all the statistics, but you’ll never really know what will happen until you get into the scene itself. Even as the writer, there may be a lot of factors that you didn’t consider until you really started thinking about it from the character’s perspective or aspects the character notices that you didn’t.

The one with the edge isn’t always the one who wins. (And I’m not particularly inclined to say that Aikido actually has an automatic edge over Kickboxing anyway. I mean, have you seen kickboxers in action? Jesus Christ. Those guys and girls are fast, they have a fantastic sense of balance and timing. Plus, they hit hard. Kicking disciplines can be hard to follow without any experience with them.)

This is me saying, your Beta may be on the right track here.

From a writing standpoint, the inherent difference between kickboxing and aikido is going to be philosophical. In the real world, a lot more is going to come into play, but this is the most important difference of the two worth understanding. Yes, one is technically a “hard” martial art and the other is “soft” but that’s not really the major difference.

1) Kickboxing represents a philosophy of attrition. The fighter comes into the ring with the knowledge and understanding that they are going to get hit, but also that they will use that pain to return the damage tenfold. They’re going to fight and it’s going to hurt, they don’t want to get hurt but they know it’ll happen. They’re going to be more mentally prepared to accept and shrug off the pain. A significant portion of a kickboxer’s training is spent in the sparring arena. It’s possible that Character A will have far more experience facing (and deciphering) the fighting styles of other opponents in a controlled environment. (This is not the same as an uncontrolled environment, but it is worth thinking about.)

2) Aikido. As a Japanese martial art, Aikido comes with a philosophy of “Feast or Famine”. Which is you either perform perfectly or you eat shit and die. Aikido is not Aikijutsu. As a revived martial art, it’s focus is almost entirely defensive and it’s philosophy is pacifistic.(It is a fantastic and fascinating martial art, but is in no way the unbeatable dominator some enthusiasts would have you believe it to be.) It has a great deal of trouble when it comes to moving offensively. Character B ability to fight is dictated by Character A making moves against them or by them being close enough to initiate. If they try to go off their center, then they’ll be at a serious disadvantage. The goal of Aikido though, as a self-defense martial art is to avoid injury, lock up the opponent, prove they are not worth the effort, and allow the practitioner to extricate themselves. It excels on the defensive front. In terms of active aggression? No, not at all. The one thing it isn’t is magic.

Basically, Character B needs to have excellent timing and the ability to quickly get out the way. A good practitioner of Aikido (like many in the videos you were watching) make it look very easy because they are very skilled. Controlling someone else’s body in that fashion is extremely difficult, especially when they know what they’re doing and they don’t want to go.

If Character B can’t get a beat on Character A’s timing, then Character A will start to control the fight. (They will start to do this anyway if they can.) The more you see something, the more one begins to adapt to it. This means Character B needs to remove Character A from the fight fairly quickly. They may start being confused by B with “why can’t I hit them?” but they’ll transition into “okay, so how do I hit them?”. When that happens, A may hang back and start testing B’s defenses with feints in order to get a better read on them.

In terms of training, it’s actually pretty rare for a trained combatant to get more irrational when under pressure or when they’re confused. This is because being irrational and angry leads to more mistakes. It’s best to not mistake “aggressive” for “angry” or “rage driven”. Using anger to fuel you and letting it control you are completely separate, they also lead to different results.

When you frustrate someone, two things happen: they give in to the frustration, get angrier, start making mistakes, and sometimes give up entirely, or, on the other hand, they become more dangerous. Martial training involves the latter. You face a lot of frustration during training, you’ve got to learn to overcome and make it work for you. This will be true of both A and B, though due to different martial philosophies it’ll express itself differently.

Finally, it’s worth remembering when it comes to Aikido and Kickboxing that there are a variety of different styles. This is especially true of kickboxing, which may incorporate variants of kicking techniques depending on what they are training for. A character who trains in kickboxing for self-defense or physical fitness will be a different kind of fighter than one who trains to compete in the ring. Or they could come from a different style like Taekowndo and adapted their kicks to the kickboxing style for the ring. They might even have received some kind of mixed martial arts training. Muay Thai, Savate, Sambo and many others are fairly popular when it comes to bleed over.

-Michi

In the story I’m writing, there is a witch character whose main talent is moving earth. Her fighting style is based on defending and countering (somewhat similar to aikido, I suppose). Currently, she also uses a staff as a weapon, as that seemed like a logical weapon for such a technique at the time. Would you suggest a different weapon for this style, keeping the current one, or having no weapons at all?

As far as I know, Aikido does have its own staff form. I don’t really know anything about it beyond, “yes, there’s this thing that exists.” But you can look up Aikido staff katas, and see them for yourself.

Generally speaking, staff forms are very common in traditional Asian martial arts forms. They’re frequently a stepping stone between unarmed training, and advancing into a martial art’s weapon forms. This is because training people on the staff is very easy.

I’m sure there are martial arts that eschew the staff completely in favor of other weapons (and a few that simply don’t use weapons at all), and I don’t know if Aikido uses the staff as your first introduction to weapon training. But it is a real weapon option.

Off hand, I wouldn’t suggest a different weapon. That said, based on what sounds like earth based superpowers, if wood is specifically a different element in your setting, it might be inappropriate. But, that’s more of a world building question that I just don’t have the information to address.

-Starke

“Martial arts each come with their own personal philosophies and ideologies, there’s an inherent outlook that changes how a student perceives the world around them as they train.” Can you tell me more about what they are for specific martial arts, at least those you know well? I think of starting to give my characters martial arts that fits their worldviews and personalities.

It might not sound like it, but this is really a very complicated question. The short answer is “no.” And, I’ve been wrestling with this question for awhile, honestly.

The problem is, a martial arts’ philosophy is baked in by the people that created it. Their philosophies were, in turn, influenced by their culture, and the world they lived in.

There are a few forms, like Tai Chi, MAP and Krav Maga that are fairly open about their philosophical cores. The vast majority however, don’t really articulate their philosophy directly. The reason for this is that the philosophy overall will be learned by practicing the martial art and become ingrained in the student over time. As the student advances in rank, they will begin to think about the martial art and how it applies to their own life. This is the point where the martial art’s internal philosophy is actively considered, but usually only as it applies to the individual student as part of their growth. In isolation, a martial art’s philosophy is nice but not relevant. The philosophies tend to make more sense once you know the context of where they’re from, why they were developed, and what the martial art was used for.

For example: Karate was originally developed in Okinawa and has a long martial tradition that predates the invasion and occupation by the Japanese. During the occupation, the martial art evolved to directly subvert the martial techniques of the Samurai. That’s traditional Aikido, Jujitsu, and the other Samurai martial arts. The recognizable Okinawan weapons, such as the nunchaku, and sai are not only designed to utterly subvert the traditional martial weapons of the Japanese like the katana and kill the occupying Samurai, but to do so with weapons that are not distinctly recognizable as weapons. Weapons which can be carried in plain sight carried by people who were risking death merely for owning them. In modern day Japan, the multiple variants of Karate are incredibly popular and have been adopted as part of the Japanese cultural tradition. While each vein of of Karate remembers it’s past differently, all come from a past struggle against an occupying force.

If you don’t know the history of Japan and Okinawa, or believe that the islands of Japan have always been one nation, then understanding the philosophy is going to be much harder.

I’ve said before, one of the central tenants of Aikido is the Dynamic Sphere. It is about making yourself the eye of the storm and encouraging the world to revolve around you. Now, from a purely American perspective, this draws up images of being selfish and self-centered (particularly for women). It’s worth remembering in translation that this is not a question of importance, it’s a function of the martial art’s physical philosophy. In practice, Aikido is not a mobile martial art. It works by creating a base connection to the earth, by stabilizing the body’s energy, and using this tranquility to turn the attacker’s force against them. This is where the eye of the storm metaphor comes from, the raging storm is defined by active, violent winds. At it’s center, the eye is peaceful and balanced. The struggle of the Aikido student is in becoming that center, in achieving their own balance with the world around them.

I’m being poetic, but the basic idea is sound.

Karate is about creating an irresistible force that cannot be diverted and driving forward through all obstacles. On the surface, they seem completely unrelated, but the ancestor of one informed the other.

If at this point, you’re starting to feel pretty good, I have to remind you that we are only discussing these philosophies on a basic, surface level. The Orientalism of Star Wars is that the philosophy of the Force is based on the Tao. Many of the pop cultural, quasi-mystical training soundbites we get from a thousand different authors aping the 1980s Karate Kid, Star Wars, and similar films are bastardizations of real training mentalities. Honest to god, the concept of being a stone in the river has a real place in some martial arts.

What you’re really asking is, “who are these people of Earth?”

Here’s the truth: every human civilization in history has fought. Every civilization has, at one time, been forced to answer “what does all this death and destruction mean to me?” The splintered philosophies of those peoples to violence are scattered across thousands of different answers throughout human history.

What are the philosophies of the various marital arts? We all are. And, I’m sorry if that sounds pretentious or pseudo-mystical, but all of the various civilizations have answered that question differently.

-Starke

I have a character that can fight their opponents without seriously injuring them. They do so by using pressure points that could render a limb useless or knock them out. But I have no clue where to start looking for this kind of information. Or what I should keep in mind when doing so.

Okay, I’m seeing a pretty serious disconnect here. Pressure point fighting is not about “not hurting” your opponent. It’s about inflicting so much pain the victim’s brain says, “screw this, I’m taking a vacation.”

The jury’s out on if it actually causes lifelong injuries; the masters who practice it warn against crippling or killing your opponents, while modern medical researchers can’t find any confirmed cases of someone suffering lifelong injuries from pressure point fighting. That said, they were looking at students of the form, not random bystanders who picked a fight with a stranger and suffered a sudden unexpected coronary. Either way, this is not a technique set to be taken lightly.

Beyond that, and with respect to the practitioners, pressure point fighting requires a little bit of sadism. I don’t mean you have to enjoy hurting people to learn pressure points techniques. What I mean is, in order to have the stomach to learn a style where you need to inflict massive amounts of pain on another human being just to learn, you need to either enjoy some part of it or become completely desensitized.

Because of the precision that pressure point fighting requires, and the availability of less vicious combat forms, those who don’t enjoy inflicting pain can find more humane ways to subdue their foes; for instance, setting them on fire.

This doesn’t paint a picture, to me, of someone who intentionally avoids injuring their foes. A pressure point fighting character will be the kind that flat out kills their foes before they realize there’s even a threat.

You can use youtube and google to get a good idea of just how fast and severe this kind of fighting can be. Just keep in mind, the youtube videos are of actual masters in a safe and controlled environment. Take that away, put your character on the street, and ask them to do it in live situation, and the risk of killing their foe is very real. Also, as always, please don’t try to mimic them, this is stuff that actually can result in serious lifelong injuries if done incorrectly.

The people who practice pressure point fighting tend to start in the upper mastery ranks (depending on their school’s belt system). This means, for your character to have internalized pressure point fighting to the degree that they can actually use it, you’re looking at someone in their late thirties, at the youngest.

Everyone’s pressure points are in slightly different places. You can find your own very easily, but finding someone else takes some time and effort. Exactly what you don’t want to be doing in a fight. Fighters can learn compensate for the minor discrepancies, but it takes years of practice.

There’s a few problems with pressure point fighting. First, it doesn’t work on everyone: some people have fused or dead nervous systems. Meaning they don’t feel pain, and have no nerve endings. This is actually a pretty serious medical condition. It also means that pressure point fighting will do, literally, nothing to them.

Second, there are less severe anomalies, where some people’s nervous systems just doesn’t quite match what you’d expect. This doesn’t completely invalidate pressure point fighting as a whole, but it does seriously impair a combatant’s ability to fight using pressure points. (Watch Serenity if you want to get an idea of how badly this can go, then realize, in the real world that it’s not even something associated with surgery, some people have just misplaced parts of their nervous system. Then forget everything else you just watched because that’s not how pressure point fighting works. But, you get the idea.)

Finally, anyone who’s overweight, has an extra layer of padding over a lot of the common nerve targets. This means hitting them hard enough in combat to actually get the result your character wants, without accidentally striking too hard is approaching impossible. Incidentally, almost all women have a thin subcutaneous layer of fat, which makes pressure point fighting against female combatants significantly harder.

If you want a character with a respect for human life, who doesn’t want to harm others, look at Aikido. We’re not huge fans of it as a combat style, but it is one of the best examples of a no-harm self defense system. Additionally, because of its popularity, there are a lot of Aikido schools, including self defense schools.

It may not be as unique sounding as you were hoping, but it’s a lot more plausible.

-Starke

JUNKYARD AIKIDO: A Practical Guide To Joint Locks, Breaks, And Manipulations (by StaySafeMedia)

This is the last video I’m posting, but hopefully you’ll take a look. There’s a lot of overlap between self-defense training and writing about combat in learning simple basic techniques that you understand and can use effectively in multiple situations in both real life and on the page. Some of the best advice I have on writing fight scenes is very similar to the advice Janich puts out for self-defense. There’s also the added bonus of seeing a few techniques in action that will hopefully help you build better fight scenes.

I’ll be doing my own discussion of how joint locks work and how to write them in stories in the near future, but for now take a look at this video and the other videos I posted today to see if anything here may be helpful for you.

Remember, these are just bite size chunks from his full self-defense courses that are helpful to get you started. If you’re interested in more, you can check out his website and his other videos on Youtube.