Aikido for the Classroom

Discussion in 'Aikido' started by OwlMAtt, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    (The following was originally posted on The Newbie Deshi, my blog about being a beginner in the martial arts.)

    I spent two days in February at nonviolent crisis intervention training. This is something required for all staff at the school where I work, due to our abundance of students with emotional and behavioral disorders.

    The training covered how to deal verbally with a student in crisis, how to escape a violent attack from a student, and how to physically restrain a student as a last resort. It was, as I said, nonviolent crisis intervention, which means all of the above needed to be accomplished without harming the student.

    A couple of the other teachers had trouble with this. It bothered them that, in a situation in which they would feel totally justified in striking back, the wellfare of the student remained their legal responsibility. For my part, aikido's precept of minimizing harm to the attacker had already prepared me for this conundrum.

    In fact, I found that my meager year of aikido gave me a head start on much of the material covered in the training. The stages of dealing with students in crisis verbally were very reminiscent of the way Thomas Crum applies aikido principles to interpersonal conflict in his book The Magic of Conflict. Some of the physical techniques covered in the training could have come straight from an aikido class.

    One restraining hold, for instance, had me next to my restrainee, him bent over, my hip against his, my inside hand on his upper arm and my outside hand holding his hand tight to me, palm-up and elevated above his shoulder. Anyone familiar with aikido will recognize this position:

    (Thanks to the Ueshiba Aikido Association for the picture)

    We know it from the technique ikkyo.

    Indeed, I got so far into an aikido state of mind during our arm grab escapes that when a fellow trainee accidentally grabbed me in a way that hadn't been covered by the training, I had her halfway into katate dori ikkyo before I knew what I was doing.

    I suspect I looked rather foolish, grinning like a child as I escaped simulated punches, kicks, arm grabs, and hair pulls, but I was, quite frankly, overjoyed. This was the first time I had been given any indication from the outside world that what I had been learning in the dojo could be applied to something real.

    I have complained before that the practical applications of aikido are not always readily apparent at my dojo. It's something I constantly struggle with: trying to keep a martial state of mind while sometimes being presented with things that look and feel more like two-person yoga exercises than martial arts techniques.

    But in February, I got to see the physical and ethical principles of aikido at work, in the hands of trainers who knew nothing about aikido but everything about dealing with real crises. It was an encouraging moment for me, one I will try to remember the next time a sensei wants to work on mystifying connection exercises.
  2. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country


    My aikido started whilst I was a prison officer and the concepts of the discipline fitted ideally within the constraints of what we were allowed to do in terms of defending ourselves, others and of course bringing prisoners under control. Many of the principles taught to me from the prison service almost mirrored those I was learning in aikido.

    It's fair to say that my outlook on aikido today was shaped through a no nonsense approach to how it was firstly taught but, also, through the application of those principles in a professional capacity on a fairly regular basis.

    In terms of the "mysticism" you mentioned, I look at this way.. Learning how to fight doesn't mean you actually have too, but it's a handy skill to carry.

  3. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    Interesting read, I also work in a school and we use the team teach method for physical intervention on disruptive pupils. As far as using aikido in a school situation I would be on dodgy ground because we are not allowed to use any techniques that use joint manipulation. My opinion on team teach is its a load of old crap that may work on primary kids but will get you in a whole world of poo if used on older kids. The non resisting method we train in is also crap.
  4. robertmap

    robertmap Valued Member

    "the wellfare of the student remained their legal responsibility" - this is true, but YOUR safety is more important (and the law recognises this). You are justified BY LAW in using whatever force is justified and reasonably necessary to keep yourself safe - irrespective of whether or not you have a duty of care towards the person attacking you.
  5. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    I wouldn't use aikido joint manipulation on a student. Too much risk of injury to the student and then legal action against me. With violent older kids, nearly all of the techniques I learned require two people unless you have the strength to make a small kid move work on a big kid. Back off and call for help unless there are absolutely no alternatives.

    My point in the article was that there is significant crossover between my crisis intervention training and my aikido training, both in terms of physics and ethics. And I found this comforting, since the realism of either is not always apparent in aikido.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  6. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    Oh, I absolutely agree. But my job and my aikido training both go looking for a less permissive definition of justifiable force than that of the world at large. The laws of the world at large tell me that I am justified in replying to a strike proportionally; the rules of my job and the ethics of aikido tell me that the only acceptable strike is the one that is made when there are no alternatives. I think that's an important distinction to make, and one that many people find difficult.
  7. osu,

    Isn't it the schools' responsibility to provide a safe learning environment to all students & teachers alike?

  8. osu,

    Isn't it the schools' responsibility to provide a safe learning environment to all students & teachers alike?

  9. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    Certainly. But I think there are times when the safety of one student must be comprimised for the sake of the safety of many students and/or staff members.
  10. roadtoad

    roadtoad Valued Member

    We also should know that you are seeing an Saito style ikkyo, and that Saito style anything is no longer aikido, he's banned.
  11. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    First of all, I'm not sure I buy that. Secondly, for the purposes of this article, it really doesn't matter what style of ikkyo is in the picture.
  12. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    Hey, what happened to the photo? Was there a copyright problem?
  13. roadtoad

    roadtoad Valued Member

    o.k., The Iwama people have sort of learned how to live with each other, or, at least they probably will, once, or if, the dojo is rebuilt. Ibaraki prev. is right next to Fukushima, and, we'll be lucky if half of the whole nation of Japan doesn't die in the next 10 years.
    But, the tension has always been there between the Saito group, and the Ueshiba group.
    But, since Iwama-ryu, is basically Saito's aikido style, almost all of aikido is under it now, Aiki-kai may be a little different, has less weapons.
    Right after Morihito Saito's death, his son formed 'Iwama shin shin aiki shurenkai', which was a break away. But, they all seem to have 'kissed and made up', and all seem to tolerate each other now. So, no one is banned anymore.
    Isoyama Sensei, who is Ibaraki-chu sensei, also seems to tolerate all the different factions.
    So, I guess the only real obstacle to combining all the different factions of aikido, seems to be the super radiation coming in from fukushima
  14. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Everyone would benefit in getting clued in a bit and reading some of Roadtoad's past posts.

    Forewarned is forearmed and all that ;)
  15. embra

    embra Valued Member

    "Ripping Yarns" springs to mind.
  16. roadtoad

    roadtoad Valued Member

    To Embra: What part of my post do you, a. not believe? b. not understand?
    And where do you practice?
  17. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Especially check out the firm establishment of his credibility :rolleyes: in the T'ai Chi forum thread "Cheng Man Ching". Commonly known as the "Painting Oneself into a Corner" method.

    That's a nice little article you wrote,Owl.
  18. aiem

    aiem Valued Member

    I'm glad you were able to recognize and apply to the outside world what you've learned in Aikido. I personally love Aikido because of its non-violent nature and the fact that it gives you a way to protect yourself and not hurt the attacker (if that's what you want, as in the teacher-student case). That is one of its many strengths as an art and one that you can apply in many situations. I wish I'd been in that seminar myself, OwlMAtt.
  19. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    Just a note that the blog that was the source of this article has moved. You can now find it here under the name The Young Grasshopper. Thanks for the feedback, guys.
  20. roadtoad

    roadtoad Valued Member

    Very good, owl, I'm glad it makes you happy, that's all that really matters.

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