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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Handling and Training with Weapons

Handling and Training with Weapons
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My collection of SOGs

We live in a very safe world, and generally we have not seen violence and conflict on a global scale.

That’s not such a bad thing, for obvious reasons, but safe has made people staid.

Violence are still aplenty but living in constant peace has lulled the most of us into thinking that we no longer need to fight, and we can refrain from violence, or leave violence to the hands of ‘specialist’ such as soldiers and law enforcement folks, to take care of and deter violence.

That is how a civil society ought to be no doubt, but as martial artists, we must constantly acquaint ourselves with violence and the tools of violence.

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An Oriental Scimitar

Tools of Violence

Anything can be used as a tool in the application of violence, a hammer, fork, newspaper, mobile phone, keys; anything can be improvised as a weapons. More specialised ones such as firearms, knives, nunchakus, batons and others, are of course dedicated to the sole purpose of maiming and killing.

Aikido is primarily an empty hand art, we do train with bokken, tanto, and jo. These are mostly wooden training aid that helps us understand how Aikido moves in relation to the weapon’s design and integration to our body, and geometry of movement.

It does bring about an awareness of extension of striking range, the cutting edge of a blade, the design of a sword; it cuts, of course, but the hilt can be used as a striking surface, in the hands of a skilled and innovative swordsman.

Remington 870 shotgun used by SAF

Familiarity breeds respect

Peace has brought about a more aloof approach to weapons. People these days are alien towards what a weapon can be, and no one sees a gun, except in a Hollywood action film, or in Singapore’s context, handle an actual one (unloaded of course!) an Army Open house, or in a typical adult-age Singaporean taking national service with the military or the police. So we are very limited in our exposure to how firearm or weapons work, we are not sure nor will we be confident about how to handle them when we actually need to use one.

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A Sniper rifle used by SAF

It doesn’t mean we need to own a firearm to know how to deal with one, we just need to be constantly aware that we will one day be at the receiving end of a firearm, no matter how remote that possibility with be. We might be dealing with a knife welding crazy person (with a higher probability!!!), someone might charge at us, at random, with an ice pick, a hammer, a chair, a beer bottle, a brolly, you are free to imagine what improvised weapons one can use to inflict harm on you. What do you do?! WHAT DO YOU DO???!

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H&K 416 used by SAF

See one, know one

I happen to have an aligned interest in knives, and collect a few of them. This also helps me understand what a blade is capable of, while I cannot say that I am very trained in using one, nor disarming a knife assailant. Owning one, (in my case a few), helps me build confidence and respect for it.

Knives obviously have blades, and are build for a purpose of cutting. A kitchen knife has its obvious place, but it can still be used as a fighting knife. A purpose build fighting knife, on the other hand, is designed not for the kitchen but to withstand the rigours of penetrating a moving living meat which is very unwilling to die or get injured. In short, it is less likely to break under duress.

  • Ice pick, sharp in front, so we need to know what to avoid.
  • Hammer, well, that is something else.

Of course we cannot specifically train against each and every known weapon out there, it is not the reason for our training, or weapons training. We have weapons training to ensure that we orientate our mind towards a weapon when we see one, and apply the appropriate measures against it. We are also training ourselves to handle one, so that we can be advantageous in our fighting.

Knowledge is insurance

Statistically, we most likely will never encounter an armed attacker, so why train with knives? As martial artist, we must always ask ourselves is the art we are in limiting our dimension in fighting? Sure, there is no perfect art out there, but we must seek to perfect our art, and always be open to the potentials of other kinds of attack. Aikido as an art, is limited in its repertoire of locks, throws, and pins. There are some limited application in weapons training, and as an Aikidoka, we must use what little we know about fighting and combat, and expand that experience and knowledge so that when the time comes for us to count on our martial arts for combat and survival, we will not be caught in an ‘Oh Shit!’ ala Deer in a Headlight moment.

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blunt ornamental blades, still deadly in trained hands

Hard Aikido

Aikido is stereo-typically about love, peace and harmony. The flowing movements and effortless throws and pins showcased a form which is resistance-less.

I gave a class recently and decided to practice ‘hard’ Aikido. ‘Hard’ as in I wanted the students to grip hard. Really hard and resist the nage’s movement. The nage has to try his best to move despite of the resistance.

It is not an evening of nice Aikido techniques, with well-practiced pins and throws. It was meant to be ugly. It was meant to be physical. The uke is expected to be difficult and put the nage on a spot.

Smart Resistance

It is not about the uke giving ‘dumb’ resistance, and just put a huge amount of difficulty in front of the nage. The resistance has to flow with the nage’s movement. I told the guys it is not a muscular, lock down type of resistance. It is not a death grip. Instead, move with the nage and at every movement point, resist and counter. It is not going to be an easy class, I told the guys.

In short, I wanted the guys to give 80% asshole resistance, and not 100%. We are still in martial arts to foster learning and goodwill. We can give 100% or even 110% percent resistance, and it will just piss people off, and create animosity which will not help anyone in learning. It is about resistance, not countering the nage’s movement, which is a very fine line we will not be aware when we cross it.

The whole point of the exercise is to ground both parties. More often than not, the uke is too nice to give a hard grip and when it is the nage’s turn to be the uke, the niceties is reciprocated. To what end will we learn the dangerous downward loop of an ineffective, patronising aikido? Put all that aside, and give a good hard reality check to the nage.

Wrap, not grip

The essence of Aikido hold is not a grip. I’ve learned long enough to know a wrap works better as it doesn’t kill the connection. As an uke, I wrap my hands around my nage’s wrists;instead of gripping, this allows me to feel and flow with the nage. And of course, resist from my centre, and it doesn’t lock me down. I don’t become a dead weight attached to the nage’s hand. The nage move, I move, but I also create resistance while the nage move.

In a very experiential and intrinsic sense, wrapping instead of holding or gripping, allow my hands fully feeling the nage’s move. And I can manoeuvre and control my hands via my wrists. My body is not locked into the grip, from my wrist onwards, I can flow. This kind of holding doesn’t tire me out and I can hold a person for a long period of time.

Immobilization

When your uke holds you, are you immobilized or is your uke immobilizing himself upon you? We commonly think that the nage is the more being held, and arrested by the uke’s grip. When you are free enough, you can see that the uke has essentially given up his mobility and immobile himself onto you. You as the nage continue to be mobile, no matter how hard the uke grip. In fact, the hard the uke grips, the more he pins himself to you and allows you to move him.

There is always slack

Which brings us to the next point; there will always be slack. There is always a minimum level of movement on our skin, muscle and sinew. You cannot be gripped to a level where you are totally immobilized. You uke can only immobilized you at your cerebral level, physically, the human body has some many parts moving, there is almost always something you can move, in response to your uke. There is always some small movement you can execute. Your wrist still turns even if your hands are held in a morotedori (two hands on one wrist) grip. Learn to use a small wrist movement to move the entire uke’s mass.

Full contact

Personally I am not a big fan of ‘no-touch’ Aikido. We are humans and from the day we are born till our death, we will be in constant touch with another human being. That is what makes the connection which defines us. We are not fire-and-forget missiles that we can destroy a target without touching them.

Touch and contact helps us adjust our movement and psyche which is the best feedback for helping us improve ourselves on just our Aikido. And during that class, that is what I emphasised to maximum, full on, hard gripping Aikido.

When we are on the streets, no one is going to hold you with a courtesy grip. Everyone who wants to harm you will hold you down and beat you up. The holding down part will be gnarly and nasty. If we are not trained to deal with a hard, nasty grip, we will only dupe ourselves into thinking that we can do what we keep doing in the dojo, when it matters.

Easy is easy

It is a no brainer. It is easy to have our uke fall all over us; at a touch we pin our uke. We think of Aikido as flowing, and when our uke offers resistance, we go ‘tsk’ and thinks of our uke as stiff, lousy or don’t understand Aikido. More often than not, our uke doesn’t understand our movement, and they have only one job, to offer resistance. So they resist, they best they know how, and it is our job to work around that resistance, the best we know how.

The world we live in isn’t always working in harmony, there is not always peace and love, and we need to train with the reality that Aikido sometimes needs to be tough, ugly and haphazard. In the real world, all your practice and training will fail in the face of your enemy. The world doesn’t understand Aikido, and the world will offer resistance. The world will fight. We have to learn that fight, and yet not fight that fight. So we need to train with a hard grip, move and understand our body movement, choose non-aggression over a hard-ass uke. If we are unable to move when our uke grips us hard, it is high time we ask ourselves how good is our Aikido in the face of resistance.

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Asian Civilisation Museum- no more!

Asian Civilisation Museum- no more!

Dear boys,

I’m no longer a big fan of visiting museum. Especially the Asian Civilisation Museum.

This happened during my days working at Raffles Place and I would like to have some time to stroll during lunch and since Museum gives free entry for Singaporeans, why not? Free air-con, cultural experience and hey, get to know history a bit better. Why not? Yes, I’m a cheapskate.

So I went, and armed with my Canon camera, I decided to take some pictures during my multiple visits.

Well like most museums, the place has lighting and climate control, as those really old old stuffs are quite fragile, worn down by the continuum of time. Too much UV, and the ink will fade. Too much heat, the fabric will tear. So everything in the place was a little dark, cool and quiet.

I didn’t think about it much.

Faces

I remembered back then, I wanted to take pictures, mostly focused on’Faces’. There are plenty of ‘faces’ in the museum, and at that point of time, there was a lot of statues and artifacts about the Buddha, some hailing directly from India, and these are really old stuffs.

Other ‘faces’ I took picture of are some other Balinese, Indonesians statues and figurines. As with all testament of our violent past, there are weapons of war, such as Kris, the traditional wavy swords, very popular with Javanese and Indonesians, there are also bows, arrows and some old, old flintlock muskets and other stuffs.

Bad vibes

I visited the place a few more times, I think in total 3 times? There nothing obvious about it, but the feeling grew. The place has somehow affected me, or infected me with a kind of dark,. somber mood. I couldn’t put my finger to it, thinking that it’s probably my own dark nature, which I sometimes have. I’m a Piscean, sometimes happy and cheery, sometimes, dark and sinister.

This time it was different.

I think it was after the 3 or fourth visit, I had a dream, one night. It is not so vivid now, but the feeling remains, heavy, dark and deathly. I dreamt of death, not in a good way, but in a bad manner, which I woke up feeling very disturbed. I couldn’t yet understand why I was feeling this way, I trusted my instinct and questioned my feelings.

Eventually, as I look by in retrospection, I came to a conclusion, my visits to ASM!

I don’t really know how I came to that answer, but it did dawn to me, that there is a dark energy in that place that has overpowered me. I’m usually not affect by such things, I have my policy in dealing with the spiritual, esoteric and stuffs that ghosts, spirits and other stuffs. I’m quite sensitive to such things, and they usually don’t affect me much. This time it did, and it did in a way I never expected. The dark energy crept up on me and changed my psyche.

Bad vibes, good side.

I’ve never been intimidated by such an experience and this left me puzzled. The fear is very deep seated, and it does still send shivers up my spine, when I think of the whole thing. The good thing is that my instincts prevailed and got me the answer I was looking for.

There is away a good sense in me that I’ll usually find the answers, as long as I settle my feelings and let intuition take over. The voice in me, most of the time, the wiser one, will prevail and lead me to the right conclusion. I don’t know how this is done, but when I have the answer, I heed it, unquestionable.

So I came some and deleted all the photos I took from the museum. No more faces.

No explanations

I think at the end of the day, I’d probably will not step into ASM for a very very long time to come. How did I get such a feeling from that place? What is so creepy about it? I really don’t know, as what I felt was highly subjective and personal. Perhaps that is a gold mine for a historian or academic studying culture and civilization. For me, it is a place that collects a lot of old, old stuffs, and when things are that old, it could have collect an energy source that gives out vibes. And when you put enough of these things together in one place, these energies will concentrate and perhaps that is what overwhelmed me.

So is there some truth to the movie series, Night at the Museum? Well, I’m not waiting to find out!

Being Ready is not Being Prepared

being-ready-is-not-being-preparedThe difference is subtle.

Everyone who is decently trained in Martial Arts of any discipline will have a certain degree of readiness in handling some form of combat, street violence and other unforeseen unpleasant circumstances

But being ready doesn’t mean that you will be prepared to do what is needed when the times comes to doing it. Most people as marital artists, would like the ‘artists’ part more than the ‘martial’ part. There is a lot of winning through techniques, skills, strategy, and there is often little or no blood, gore, raw grit and sheer application of terror and violence.

What we practiced on the mat, prepares us little about the kind of violence perpetrators are PREPARED to dish out to get what they want. More often than not, even when we are sufficiently trained that made us combat ready, but we are not prepared to up our level of finesses in violence to end the attack that is coming our way.

So even when we are trained, and attend classes consistently, we risk being stuck in a mindset that an attack might only happen in a specific way which we are trained in. It doesn’t. Because we are Aikidoka, doesn’t necessarily mean that our attackers will attack us the way we are attacked by our Uke. It almost never happen that way.

A person who has nothing to lose will always be prepared to do whatever necessary to attain his/her goals. People in a fight for survival will always be prepared to go the ‘extra mile’ and fight to the very last breath. This is a very different mind-set from someone who is ‘ready’ for fighting. Someone who is trained, might not be prepared to dish out violence to stop violence.

This is a chronic fallacy for an art like Aikido, which predisposed ‘harmony’ and peace’, so we end up with hippy-like mentality that all is well and we should harmonises with our opponent. That means doing things nicely, don’t hurt people, behave ethically, respect your attacker. So even senior Aikidokas takes it easy, thinking that they will be ready, when the time comes. The amount of violence people are willing to dish out in attacking you can be beyond any comprehension of a martial artist. Even in Aikido, there are moves that are violence and highly damaging, even life-ending, but not a lot of Aikidoka are prepared to up the level of violence, apply violence to stop violence. In fact, the very mention of violence, is abhorred. Aikido is a smooth, flowing, harmonious way of combat, and all fighting should be like this. It is not, and sometimes, reality can be the furthest  from the dojo!

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The Boy-Scout Rule

The Scouts says it best in their motto, ‘Be Prepared’ and not ‘Be Ready’. As there is a lot more to do in preparation, in fact, if you have a be prepared mindset, it will mean that you will never be ready. There is no ends in preparation, but the moment you begin to say that you are ‘ready’, then you closed your mind to learning how to constantly hone your skill to meet all possible form of violence and combat.

Being prepared in a martial arts, is to make sure that we are able to use our skills, to kill, maim, and apply violence in a manner that does not look methodical, absolutely without aesthetic, and the end result will look nothing like the martial arts we all train so hard for years. Being prepared for combat means things might be ugly, violent, and there will be hurt, blood, gore. When violence is applied, nothing ever ends nicely, there is no nice break-falls, not many people get away unscathed.

It a MAD, MAD world

In military doctrine, there is a term called ‘Mutually Assured Destruction‘, at a high level, we are talking about a kind of stalemate, which either side are so well armed, that nobody wants to push the first button. For a martial artist, we must be willing to think first-strike to end any subsequent follow-up capabilities of our opponent. We must be able to forsake our being and bring the fight to the opponent, before the opponent bring the fight to us. If we think M-A-D, not a lot of people will be willing to match that level of craziness, and be prepared to be sacrificed with ourselves, since we are going down, might as well take a few more with them when we go down; be that crazy; that is sometimes enough to stop people, and trigger their self preservation instinct. When we fight with no care of worry about coming out of that fight alive, we put a level of determination, not many human beings will like to test. And be prepared to apply a level of violence that overwhelms violence. Even in our nice, civil society, no matter how well dressed we are, we must be able to fight at a moment’s notice, defend ourselves, attack with vigor and think combat. This is more than ready, this is to be prepared in a way that when it happens, our mind gets into action, and deal with the matter at hand. Otherwise all that we learned as a martial artists, makes us only artists, ready but unprepared.