What are some hurdles a person who has practiced taekwondo, fencing and aikido might have to jump when thrown into a real life or death fight? What will happen when they get much better at escalating quickly (almost too quickly) and they’re thrown into a situation where that’s the opposite of what they need to do?

By, “the opposite of what they need to do,” you mean, not
escalate the situation, or specifically work to try to limit the harm being
inflicted. You know, like an Aikido practitioner?

I know we’ve said this before, but; martial arts are not interchangeable.
They’re not just alternate move sets, or aesthetic considerations. Every
martial art, every one, brings its
own philosophies and outlooks into play. When those philosophies overlap, you
might have options to start mixing them together, or lifting elements from one
for the other. Aikido and Taekwondo don’t really have much of anything to talk
about.

Aikido is a martial art of pacifism. It works well for self defense
because the entire idea is, you stand at the center, plant your feet, and send
anyone who attacks you to the floor, so they can think about all of the mistakes
they just made.

As I said at the beginning, Aikido doesn’t escalate, at
least not on its own. This is a martial art that focuses on ending conflicts
with as little harm done as humanly possible. People will get hurt, that’s an inevitability,
but, this is a martial art that is heavily focused on avoiding escalation.

If you want to start mixing it with something else, there
are other martial arts that have common ground. Jujitsu and Judo both have some
of the same philosophical underpinnings, they’re just pretty sure that plopping
someone on the ground isn’t enough to get the message across, that sometimes
you’re going to want to get down there and make your point in person.

There are even aggressive martial arts that you can
(probably) mix Aikido with fairly effectively, including Muay Thai or Krav
Maga. Martial arts that say, “I want to get really close to someone and turn
them into goulash.” They do have common ground on the ranges that they think
combat should be taking place at.

Taekwondo doesn’t. It’s a very active martial art. It wants
to go places and kick people in the head. As a practical martial style it
shares almost nothing with Aikido. Where Aikido wants its foes close enough to
reach out and touch, Taekwondo is all about forcing your foes away, and keeping
them off balance while you drive your foot through any internal organs they
were using.

Taekwondo exists as a practical martial art, but you’re
going to be hard pressed to find that variant outside of Korea. If your
character served in the South Korean military, worked for the police or as a
bodyguard there, then it’s possible they learned this.

Taekwondo traditionally pairs with Hapkido. I don’t know
much about the martial art itself, beyond that it has a focus on joint locks.
But, these are designed to work together, and against one another, so a
practitioner in one would probably also learn the other.

Ironically, Taekwondo can also find common ground with
martial arts like Muay Thai or Krav Maga. These are all martial arts that enjoy
moving around a lot and messing people up. Where Taekwondo excels at doing this
at range, Muay Thai or Krav Maga offer options to do this up close.

Now, if you’re sitting there and wondering why I just listed
the same two martial arts as compatible to both of the ones you picked, that’s
because they have common ground with one another, the two you picked, really
kind of don’t. It’s not that martial artists never learn conflicting styles.
That does happen. But the benefit you gain from that isn’t being able to blend
them together into a single style, it’s being able to switch up your approach
to fit the situation you’re in. And, yes, escalation control is an element of your martial art.

A character who’s been trained in Aikido and (practical)
Taekwondo, would be in a very good position to work as a bodyguard. Taekwondo
allows for rapid vicious responses when called for, and Aikido allows for them
to deal with attackers in public situations where you really wouldn’t want a
bodyguard tearing apart an overly eager fan.

I’m just going to toss this one out, but fencing really
doesn’t add much to this situation. It will help with physical conditioning,
but then again they’d already be getting that from Taekwondo and Aikido.

So, if your character’s been training in Aikido, either
recreationally or practically, they shouldn’t be having issues with escalation.
Remember, escalation is where you increase the amount of force you use to a
point where combat ceases to be an appealing option for your opponent. The
entire concept is anathema to Aikido, which seeks to end combat with as little
violence as possible.

Also, there’s a side nitpick, it’s not really possible to
escalate too quickly. The issue is escalating too far. Again, the idea is that
you demonstrate a degree of violence your opponent isn’t psychologically ready
to handle, forcing them to back down.

Escalating too slowly can give them time to come to terms
with what you’re doing, but the only problem with escalating too quickly is
that you’ll use excessive force. For example, grabbing someone by the skull and
gouging out their eyes would (almost certainly) convince their friends or
allies to back down, but if the situation doesn’t warrant that kind of force,
it’s excessive, you’ve escalated too far, and there will be consequences. These
can be the obvious legal issues associated with extreme violence, or it can
provoke responses in opponents where, instead of backing down, they’ll be more
willing to retaliate in kind. For example, pulling a gun on someone’s friend
might get them to back down, where killing their friend will drive them to come
after you, where they wouldn’t have with less escalation.

The problems faced by a character who escalates too far is, that
they’ll make far more enemies, which will eventually catch up with them. This
is part of why escalation is such a tricky concept. It’s requires a substantial
amount of finesse to pull off effectively.

Escalation is also something that is seriously frowned on by
most of the recreational martial arts community. Unnecessary, and excessive
violence is a serious liability issue for the school, particularly if their
students are children (and, honestly, that’s pretty common.) A large part of
this is because of the exact problem you’re describing. The actual difficulty
is about going too far. It’s not hard to go way too far in an instant, that
happens all the time. But, unless your character is operating with some kind of
“above-the-law” protections, going too far once is a good way to end up
spending the next 25 years in a small cell.

-Starke

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