Martial arts and Y2K preparedness : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I've noticed that there seems to be increased discussion regarding firearms and use of force in a post-Y2K world. The thing that strikes me as curious is that the discussion seems to revolve around the guns and not the people who use them. Let me illustrate my point by way of analogy.

I practice aikido, a self-defensive martial art. For those of you who have ever seen a Steven Seagal movie (especially the early ones), you know how devastating aikido can be. By the second or third day of class the student (aikidoka) is learning techniques which permit her to dislocate shoulders, break wrists, and snap necks. Despite the apparent lethality of aikido, it is a purely defensive martial art. Aikido has very few strikes, and the ones it does have are mainly used as practice for defending yourself against a striking attacker, not as an aggressive initiating action.

Now, with aikido, the point isn't to take an attacker and break their wrist or dislocate their shoulder. The point is to give you breathing room so that you can decide what action to take when you are attacked. The techniques are secondary -- they're tools to help you reach that state of awareness where you are not overwhelmed by the biological fear response which constrains your actions. In such a situation you have the opportunity to make a rational decision which will be better than if you just let your fear control you.

This isn't an obvious point. I know plenty of aikidoka who have been studying for years and they still think that it's about defeating your enemy rather than controlling your enemy's spirit (which isn't about Jedi mind tricks, by the way). I don't have much experience with other martial arts, but I'd bet that there's a similar idea in most of them.

To get back to my original point -- buying a gun is a lot like your first day in aikido. That day you'll learn how to dislocate someone's shoulder and break their wrist if they grab your arm, provided, of course, that they do it slowly and give you the time to execute the technique and don't do anything to upset your balance (after all, it is the first day). And it's great to try out on non-aikido friends ("Hey, Jim! Grab my wrist!" "Ow! That hurt!" "Yeah, pretty cool, hey?"), but if you were mugged and you tried that on someone intent on causing you bodily harm, you would be in big trouble. They wouldn't give you time to make sure your feet were positioned correctly and that you're stable and they'd probably hold on a lot harder than your partner in class. It's the same with a gun. Buying a gun isn't going to make you a force to be reckoned with. Buying a gun and going down to the shooting range and practicing until you can put ten out of ten bullets in the silhouette's head isn't going to make you a force to be reckoned with, because learning to use the tool effectively does not equate with being a warrior.

One more aikido example and I'll drop the analogy. The core of aikido evolved from japanese swordsmanship, and a lot of our techniques are derived from sword techniques. In the dojo we often practice something called tachidori, or sword-taking. Your opponent stands in front of you with a wooden sword (called a 'bokken') and tries hitting you with it. It can be a strike to the top of the head, the side of the head, a stab to the belly, etc. You evade the cut and take the sword from them, either pinning them or throwing them in the process. Now, these aren't real swords, but they're pretty heavy and if you get whacked with one it's going to hurt, which is going to happen if you're not paying attention. Now, I'll probably never be mugged by a sword wielding brute, but if anyone tries taking a pool cue or a baseball bat to me, rather than freezing and throwing my arms in front of my face, I'm going to be in his space giving him a good atemi (strike) to the side, taking his weapon, and probably giving him a whack on the melon for good measure. I say this because it really takes quite a while to hit someone with a baseball bat. More than enough time for someone who's in control of the situation to step in and neutralise the attack before it occurs. But, once again, this kind of skill is the product of intense training and there's no silver bullet -- not even buying a gun.

So, here's my ObY2KQuestion:
Are there any practitioners of martial arts out there preparing for Y2K (martially), and if so, how? Are you trying to pick up firearms skills? Training more intensively? Acquiring new skills? And how do you think that martial training fits into Y2K? For example, do you think that the martial skills picked up in the dojo will translate effectively into the "real world" or are some of the students going to be in for a rude awakening? I'm interested in hearing from as broad a spectrum of disciplines as possible -- and not just martial artists -- people with formal (military, law enforcement) martial training.


-- Alexander Garrett (, October 20, 1998


My major problem with martial arts as defined by the "empty hand" school of styles and arts is the proximity with-in which you work. I really don't care which art's version of a 6-attack you are comfortable with, the demo is cool, but in the real, mob ruling arena, the other 5 are NOT standing still waiting for you to get around to their chunk of wood. They are doing something that law enforcement does in times of difficult arrests, called swarming. This puts great weight on the target, and yes the inside or lead folks get a thump or two but the target is down under a ton or so of officer, or swarm.

i fully understand the mental/psych aspect of some of the arts can be highly helpful in working with a group as if it were a single individual, and usoing teh principles of force application and re- direction, but I still would much rather that my "social interactions" happen at the outside of the average social distance which would put them at about 25 feet (5-7 meters if possible).


ps I am NOT qualified as per the parms you indicated, but couldn't help meself!

-- Chuck a Night Driver (, October 20, 1998.

Ah, so the bliss

Pardon me, I reminisce

Aikido masters foot comes near

But grains of lead dismiss, I fear

-- Uncle Deedah (, October 21, 1998.

Your post covers a wide range of territory, in comparing/contrasting firearms and martial arts. Some thoughts: 1) MARTIAL ARTS REALITY. I highly recommend "A Bouncer's Guide to Barroom Brawling", by Peyton Quinn, in terms of what works and what does not in real unarmed encounters. Complex stuff like bone-breaking, joint dislocating, is very tough to actually make work in a real balls-to-the-wall encounter (and note that these techniques cannot be practiced to completion on your partner), not to say that someone who diligently trains for years and years couldn't do it. Boxing combined with judo tends to work best in confined space unarmed encounters. 2) GUN REALITY. Which brings us to non-confined space encounters, which is where guns clearly are more efficient. Ever hear of "the fool who brought a knife to a gunfight"? Enough said. 3) GUNS VERSUS MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING. Obviously, training is good. Training for martial arts is critical and, especially for a very complex art like Aikido, takes a long time. (I've even heard of the so-called "twenty year throw", because it takes most people 20 years to be able to do it right?) The amount of training necessary to, under stress, be able to take a double-action revolver, point it, and pull the trigger, and hit the target in confined space encounter, is nil (though still desirable). 4) WHAT TO DO NOW. Continuing to practice martial arts if one already does certainly makes sense, though if the arts don't do much to actually keep you in good physical condition, this is the time more than ever to supplement -- running, jump roping, weight training. If one doesn't do martial arts, probably doing the supplementary exercises plus stretching would be reasonable. Being in good physical condition is realistically going to go a long way towards being able to handle what Y2K may deal us, not Steven Segal or Rambo type ideals. == My 2 cents...

-- Jack (, October 21, 1998.

I see I wasn't very clear in what I was trying to say. I was not trying to say that martial arts are a substitute for guns. In fact, one of the sensei at my dojo teaches techniques for getting about twenty feet away from your assailant so you can shoot him/her.

My point was that whether your weapon is a gun, a sword, or an empty hand, 99% of using the weapon effectively is having the skill and correct mental attitude. If you don't have those, then you're a danger to yourself and to those around you.


-- Alexander Garrett (, October 21, 1998.

Proper mental attitude is indeed important. And part of that attitude is to avoid the situation that makes it likely you will be attacked. If you simply avoid drunks, drugs and messing around with other peoples girlfriends/wives - you have avoided approximately 90% of the situations that lead to assualt or murder in the US. Sure you can get into a problem with a carjacker or some such - but thats really unlikely compared to the above.

-- Paul Davis (, October 22, 1998.

Unfortunately, the aftermath of Y2K may, among other things, cause us to have to associate with people that we normally would not, especially if we have had the good sense to prepare and they take a notion to Liberate In The Name Of The People.

-- Jack (, October 22, 1998.

How long does it take to get reasonably proficient at Aikido, many years? Do you have to be superfit? I've been trying to find a group in the UK.

-- Richard Dale (, October 22, 1998.

I did Aikido and reached Shodan (1st black belt) before I ceased training, a few years ago. Aiki is an INTERNAL martial art, and the process of learning is slower than most other martial arts, which are external. (The Chinese, for example have a couple of internal styles; Pak Kua and at least one fighting type of Tai Chi. They take decades, but they are very, very effective.) You would need to attend Aikido classes three times a week for *at least* six months to become minimally effective in a real situation. However, I once instructed a guy who did just that. He was about to be sentenced to jail for knocking someone down - and killing them - in an auto accident and he had panicked and driven away. I visited him in jail later, and he had twice used his Aikido to fend off other prisoners; who then respected him and left him alone. He was a small fellow, and non-violent, an engineer by trade. I must add that he was placed in a low-security prison, not with the "heavies" of Sydney's Long Bay Jail. As for finding Aikido in the UK, there is LOTS. Get off your a*** and check your Yellow Pages, or buy a couple of martial arts magazines to read the classifieds. Or check out all the YMCAs. Go watch several clases and "feel" what the vibes are between students and teachers. Listen between the words you hear.

-- David Harvey (, October 23, 1998.

Uhhhh, I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade here, but time, shall we say, is somewhat short? Between now and when TSHTF is 14 months, possibly a lot less. (Really, as soon as people figure out that the banking system is lost, that will pretty much be the beginning of the end.) I would strongly encourage some common sense priorities: getting in good physical condition, which for some may mean drastic lifestyle alterations, for numero uno. This will then give one a lot of confidence that can then help cultivate that "warrior spirit". Then, if there is time left over, you can always win those Ultimate Fighting Championships that you always meant to sign up for.... Seriously, time is short, get in shape!!!!

-- Jack (, October 24, 1998.

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