Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Eight Directions of an Assault

In aikido we train long and hard on the eight directs from which an attack can emanate.  We drill before each lesson moving quickly through all eight directions (think N S E W NE SW NW SW) and with the jo and bo, and of course ran dori is an exercise in defending from the eight directions an attack might come.

In aikido you go straight at the attacker.  There is no blocking, just tenkan, irimi, tenchi nage, tsudori  or tomoe nage if you cannot turn.  But we usually train as if the attacker is coming straight at us, when in fact in real life that should be only 1 in 8 fight situations.  7 of 8 conflicts we should find ourselves oblique to the attacker.  This is where ran dori training is an exercise in dealing pacifying an attacker who is not coming at your.  Like a gun man in a theatre.

In ran dori, ("ran" being "chaos"), if you are practicing right, some seven of eight people you drop should be ones who did not quite see you coming.  You should be setting yourself up with each direct attack to be positioned to nail someone next who is not ready for you. This generally involved throwing people into other people, and going at the thick of the body of attackers but performing irimi or tenkan on the body of attackers collectively.

Here is a good randori, with a couple of tsudori incorporated.  He obviously is stepping back rather than in as he should, because never stepping back means people get smacked hard. This fellow has no compunction in smacking hard, but he seems to be disinclined to work the edges. After four attackers, 5, 6, 7 or 8 really is not different.  Anyway, something between the two.

Such take downs normally involved elements of kokyunage, yonkyo, and the neglected "Tohei hop" at seconds 31 to 34, for example.)

Aikido has its critics, which tend to miss an essential point of aikido: it is about pacifying, not defeating.  If your number is up, it is up.  But at no time are we called to passively submit to evil.  We are called to pacify aggression.  Going straight at an attacker may end in defeat, the the process provides some opportunity to reduce the threat, allowing others to build on your work at pacification.  If your number is up, it is up.  It is not the aikidoists who are delusional about fighting styles, it is those who think one system is superior to another. Martial artists are trained to address threats directly.  Whether it is head on or from one of the other seven direction to intercede, in aikido you go straight at the threat.

Practice on!

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