二教 nikyō in MMA

二教 nikyō in MMA

I did MMA many years back with a very good school Fight G. I think it was for 3 months, once or twice a week.

It was in one of those training sessions that I realised Aikido has a value in MMA, although more often than not, using Aikido specifically to win an MMA bout would be next to impossible, well that is my opinion.

I was on the ground with this guy, or rather, he was on the ground and I was up. In terms of MMA, we were both kind of a novice. In terms of martial arts, I can tell, he has little or no prior martial arts experience.

He was a fit guy, but while we sparred, I got the better part of it, and started my ‘ground and pound’, and out of instinct, he grabbed my wrist. It was more like a ‘Gyaku Hanmi’, opposite hand grab.

That sets it up nicely for a nikyō, The MMA gloves was thick, but I knew I got the lock, and began to apply pressure. The poor guy, probably pumped up with adrenaline, has no idea what is his predicament, with his free hand, he tried to make something out of it, but it was in vain.

I applied pressure, the lock was there, but I decided to let it go. I would have severely injure him, had I continue.

That incident never left my mind.

The martial arts world is wide, there are many many moves out there that we have never heard of, or even think was possible.

Catching that guy in a nikyō, in an MMA training taught me that anything can happen in a fight. Aikido locks are almost never taught in MMA, and when someone in MMA encounters such a lock, or pin, they usually have no response or reaction to it. Which is a dangerous indication that the training has gone past the learning stage, right into dogmatism.

Letting it go

I let the lock go partly also because we are all kind of a recreational MMA students, we are not fighting for keeps. The guy was like me, just going there for ‘fun’, imagine, going home with a broken wrist, or worse, a wrist that is permanently  broken. That would have been on my conscience for the rest of my life. It was just practice, so let’s not injure each other with malice.

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Aikido vs MMA…again???

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Well, we all have our fair share of arguments, pros and cons, yadah, yadah, blah,blah, blah.

So why am I adding more noise to the already noisy?

It is just to share my experience, period.

To begin with, MMA is a much superior fighting system, period. If you want to fight, learn MMA. Let me quote a lady who was trying to ‘sell’ MMA to me, a few months back, when I just did a casual walk-in to a locally famous MMA school, she asked me if I want to learn MMA, ‘To beat someone up?’ Yes, that was how she said it.

Fight G

Anyway, I took 3 months worth of MMA years back in this very good MMA school known as Fight G. Well, it is probably very biased for me to say that, as I hadn’t been to any other MMA schools. Well, Fight G have nice guys, they gave me a good experience, so they are good, in my opinion.

So why did I took up MMA since I am already so deep into Aikido? Back in those years, I was kind of in and out of Aikido, and since I’m not so full on, why not try to switch? Perhaps MMA?

So I went to Fight G, one day with Steven, see how they train and I decided to give it a try. And after 3 months, why did I decided to stick with Aikido?

The more important answer I got out from that 3 months was I know I can most likely handle myself well enough on the ground, in a tight physically testing fight.

Oxygenate!

You can’t fight if you cannot breath. I was out of breath during one of their 3 minutes 5 rounds, round robin training. there were 10 of us, we faced each other, goes for a 3-minute round, the switch partners, so we will have 5 different partners for each 3-minute round. I called for a timeout on the third round to catch my breath, the joined back the 4th and the last round.

So before we can pin a person, throw a person, or lock a person, we need to be able to breath, and not get too excited, and fill our minds with drama, and our bodies with adrenaline. Excitement is good, too much, robs us of a grounded perspective. Getting knocked around in MMA helps teach me to take a few punches, before I justify putting my assailants to the ground.

Confidence

Unless you are in a real fight, you will never know how you perform in a real fight; and no, I do not want to find a real fight, just to find out how well I’d fair in a real fight.

MMA helps me train hard for the real thing, while it is still not the real thing, it gives me enough confidence to know I can handle it when the real shit hits the fan.

On top of that, MMA also helps me become better rounded, since Aikido does little tutelage in kicking, or punching, nor ground work, it is not a limitation of Aikido, but a design in Aikido.

My little training in MMA helps me kick, punch relatively well, and I know enough ground work to get me off and on my feet, where I have a better chance in a fight. So I use my lesson in MMA ground work, not to pin nor arm-bar a person on the ground, but to help be disengage in a ground fight and get back up.

A more confident Aikidoka

The reality is, a typical Aikidoka seldom gets hit, punched nor kicked. To receive one for the first time, can be quite a showstopper, and a showstopper in a real fight can means injury, maiming or death. MMA helps me bring that mental confidence to receive punches in form of a tsuki (突き). from my fellow Aikidoka. I’ve often told my junior belts to punch me, harder, like they mean it, since projection of that tsuki is very important for the understanding of leading and redirecting. The common fault is to punch too lightly, literally holding back the punches, and the Aikido technique will fail, if the punch is not projected properly.

Aikido in MMA

In a close struggle, there will be wrist grabs in MMA. and I was partnering this guy and he was relatively new to MMA like me; we were in a full guard, he was on the ground and he grabbed my wrist. It was a perfect position for me to apply Nikkyo on him, I did. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t recognize it as a lock, and while I continue to apply pressure, he resisted it, not sure if his adrenaline filled brain is registering pain or not. He didn’t tap, most likely didn’t recognize the kind of damage he will be getting.

I let him go, anymore more turning and the results will be predictable, a badly damaged wrist, heck, I might have broken it, but I don’t want to be the person in his memory as the one who broke his wrist. What is the point? It was training, not life and death.

There is no conclusion

This debate will go on, but as an Aikidoka, I have a deep appreciation of what a well trained MMA chap can do. But there are some tricks in Aikido that can be effective especially when your opponents don’t know about, never trained for it, and never see it coming.

So it is always good to keep an open mind, in reality, Aikido taught me that there is never really a “this Vs that” thing. If we do that, we did not escape the duality we are trapped in. Aikido trains me to free myself from that, and look at things, issues as it is. Aikido is neither better nor is MMA superior, let the singer decides how well the song ought to be sang and the proof is, in the singing, not the song.

 

The Versus Quandary

While I am predominantly trained in Aikido, I have had some fundamentals in other martial arts, and this helps me ‘forget’ Aikido, and recognizes other arts in terms of their merits and limitations.

Personally to me, Aikido is a kind of a brand name for me. It helps me identify with a movement I am part of and proud of. By no means, I look upon Aikido as a be all and end all. In fact, Aikido is like a marriage to me, you marry the person best suited for you, you do not marry the best person. Of course the other sweeping statement is: “One man’s meat, is the other man’s you-know-what.”

Meat or poison, each has its own merits, and when I come across videos in YouTube  with a TKD vs MMA, or other genres vs genres kind of scenario, I always take a huge pinch of salt.

There are also people out there who tries to demonstrate how ineffective Aikido is, in MMA, I too take that with a pinch of salt. I have tried and effectively applied Aikido locks in MMA practice, and my opponent has no idea what he is in for, other than a broken wrist had I continue applying ruthless pressure. There is no need for that.

So while I abhorred those videos, I still do watch them for entertainment purposes, more than education. A lot of times, these people want to prove a point, and the point like all points, narrow and focused on a specific issues. Martial arts is a subject far and wide, deep and often dark, and cannot be fully, completely represented in any video.

It takes years to know an art, much more than a 10 minute clip. Martial arts is experiential and  highly existential, as no two moments are the same. There is little hypothesis in martial arts, much less, ‘what ifs‘, there is a lot of ‘it depends‘ in any martial arts, and any good martial artist will be know enough to shy away from a ‘us versus them‘ discussion, which will often leads nowhere but a clash of ego, to prove which art is better. There is no point in that kind of contest, which will only hurt relationship and turn friends into non-friends. That is not the spirit of Aikido, not the spirit of martial arts.

My brief exposure to other arts helps me discern the technicalities when I look at some of the video clips. Some will professed proficiency in Aikido, but in movement, apply more Systema-style of techniques, while both Aikido and Systema looked the same, they are not. My exposure also helped me spot the similarities. Other arts may apply ‘kote gaishi‘ style of throw, I wouldn’t be so quick to point out Aikido!

There are only so many ways to mechanically and geometrically twist a hand, while a kote-gaishi is quite signature for Aikido, Karatekas also uses that, certainly Jiujitsu practitioners. To me, in an applied Martial Arts sense, it doesn’t matter what it is called, as long as it is effective in employment.

 

 

Please add Suffering

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Its not about the Cotton Candy Generation, which I had already written about. Rather is is our value of suffering. With reference to the Cotton Candy Generation, these softies are actually toughening themselves up. In Singapore, we have all year round full of activities of all sorts, you name it, we have it, well except the snow part, and the big waves sports. We have triathlons, Dragon Boat Regattas, vertical marathons, Sundown marathons, cycling, golfing, all sorts of means and ways for you to get fit, for a lifestyle. Well, i almost forgot, martial arts too, Sports Karate, MMA, Jiujitsu, Aikido, Muay Thai, BJJ…all sorts of s**t people can do to get fitness.

Please add suffering! All physical activities entails a level of suffering. It is the meaning we give to our suffering, that defines our salvation! You see, I already mention, we Singaporeans are a whole population of comfortable, pleasing bunch. We are so affluent in our lives we can choose to suffer, we pay to experience suffering. This choice is the worrisome thing, as it feeds on our ego, the masochistic part, to think that we suffer in our gym training to prepare for an upcoming swim, cycle, run event, which incidentally, we are not in it to win it, its just an interest we have. So suffer for the sake of an interest? Well, of course, we learn something from our experiences of suffering, but we become very narrow. We think that just because we can swim, cycle, run well, makes us good people. We are tough because we can gym it out! Who are we kidding? Since when has suffering, becomes a lifestyle experience?

Get a perspective! Get a good look at a kid living in a slum in India, a drug addict living in the shadows of mega cities like Los Angeles. People who farm for a living, day in day our manual labour, Fishermen, rubbish collectors! These people ‘suffer’ as their lives requires them to and they all did it with a smile! A wry grin, facing the grim facts of life everyday. And they does it not to justify their glorious efforts to get a piece of medal, a ‘Finisher’ medal. So think about them farmers, fishermen, and slum kids when you think you are ‘suffering’ in an air con gym.

First Published: Aug 20, 2012 @ 17:01

The Dangers of Safe Aikido

I posted sometime back that there are no knockouts in Aikido (http://wp.me/pZbTQ-nT)

That would have implied that Aikido is a very safe activity. It truly is very safe, and we seldom leave dojo bruised and battered. But has it taken the awareness and sense of danger out of the dojo.

It is a difficult thing to inculcate into an Aikidoka, when all the Aikidoka has done is Aikido. There are a thousand and one ways to punch an person, and there are many funny odd ways for a person to attack you. The danger is real and unless you have a real respect of other arts, you will be blinded by the range of attacks you can be subjected to. Until you have been really punched at, you can never know what is punch feels like.

It is a strange thing, once you’ve sparred before, kick and being kicked at, punch and being punched at, your body will have an automatic response mechanism, you will be less apprehensive and more sure when you to get messy in a fight, you will also get automatically accustomed with distancing and awareness. This is something I feel lacking in the dojo I am training with. Despite of Harry sensei’s incessant reminders to watch our distance and other minor oversight that will cause a major mistake, nothing beats being really punched at to make the learning a little quicker.

It is easy to wax lyrical about doing a twirl to avoid a punch, avoid a kick. And of course certain people joined Aikido to avoid facing a punch and kick, but what happens when you meet real danger? When the danger is determined and highly skilled. Can you realistically think that a person will escape unscathed without a scratch? We can agree that definition of dangers will generally include kicks and punches too. I’m not saying that we have to simulate an all out brawl in an Aikido dojo, we just need to make sure that we get enough sense of danger for us to bring our skills to a more genuine level.

Published on: Apr 26, 2013