Self Defense


Using Aikido for Street Self Defense

The principle of aikido is to blend in with the force or attack, join it and continue using the other persons power along with your own power against them. Aikido uses a system of leverage, finger, wrist and arm locks to subdue their potential attacker. The question is, can it really be effective on the street?

Students spend a great deal of time learning to fall and roll, usually on padded mats. This is necessary as the practice of aikido requires practitioners to be able to withstand various types of throws, sweeps and takedowns. Typically, after a couple of years of training, students of aikido are able to defend themselves from various type of open handed and weapon attacks.

Watching a skilled Aikido student can be beautiful. It seems so effortless in their maneuvers that they are able to send their would be attacker flying in different directions.While this is all true in the Aikido dojo, the questions remains, will they be able to really execute this on the street?

To answer this we must look at the typical effects of adrenal stress on most people, trained or un-trained. One of the most devastating effects of the "adrenaline dump" is the loss of fine motor coordination. The other is a limited access to our cognitive thinking. Both of these factors weigh heavily against the aikido practitioner. Fine motor coordination is necessary to execute many of the techniques.

While under a heavy surge of fear induced adrenaline, it is hard to think very clearly or certainly, very quickly. In an art like Aikido that requires a multitude of highly technical techniques, it is doubtful whether most would have mental access to this arrary of precision hand meneuvers.

Additionally the manual dexterity required for most of the wrist manipulations would unlikely be useful because of the loss of fine motor coordination during the adrenaline stress of a real attack.

Our experience with our F.A.S.T. Defense (Fear Adrenal Stress Response Training) training confirms this. We have seen experienced Aikido practitioners as well as trained black belts from many other traditional arts, fail to apply these techniques while adrenalized.

Written by Shihan Michael Pace Shihan Pace is the author of Street Self Defense 101.


A-1 Self Defense Home Page