In this series, I’m going to recount some of the times that I have used martial arts techniques outside of the dojo.  I suppose a few disclaimers are required here.  The main idea that I want to get across is that although I am not a particularly gifted martial artist, with regular and rather conventional practice, I have successfully used martial arts to protect myself and others.  Also, these stories are all a few years old, back when I used to work as a bouncer, and when I was a young jerk in my mid-twenties.  Some of these stories may be morally objectionable to the reader.  The main thing is that I am going to tell you what happened, and how what I have learned came into play.  Having said that:

Ryokatadori Kokyunage, henkawaza

This happened when I was working as a bouncer.  Basically, we threw out these three guys.  It happened earlier in the evening, around 8:30.  The off duty officers that worked there were not there yet.  When they are there, and we throw someone out, they usually just call it even, since they don’t want to go to jail over something stupid.  When the officers are not there, it’s usually more dramatic.  In this case, we had to basically babysit them at the entrance, so that they did not try to come back in.  One of the guys was still really mad about being forced to leave.  Keep in mind that we just walked them out.  They did not have to be forced out.  But they were still pissed.  So one of them approaches me directly, wanting to fight with me.  He was verbally threatening me, and invading my personal space, that is, he was coming to close to me to feel safe.  He stopped when he was in arm’s reach of me, and kept threatening me.  Now common sense says that I should have already done something preemptive to prevent this.  Unfortunately for me, my job was such that I was not sanctioned to hit someone just for walking up and threatening me, especially outside of the venue.  So here we are, face to face, and this guy is telling me over and over that he wants to hurt me.  I knew that waiting for him to do something, and then trying to defend, was the wrong play.  That would leave the encounter in the hands of the better fighter, and I had no intention of trying to see how good a fighter he was.  Still, I decided to wait a bit longer.  He was repeating himself, over and over, an obvious sign that he was ready to fight – lack of verbal creativity.  My plan was simple: He’s repeating himself, trying to work up his nerve.  Once he says his phrase two more times, I’m going to just grab him and deal with him.  That’s it. So when the moment comes, I entered slightly to his left side.  I grabbed him by his elbows, which were down by his side, and turned my hips to face behind me.  He was thrown completely through the air in the direction he was facing.  I performed this the same way as most people throw in randori when attacked with ryokatadori, except that I grabbed him.  He landed really, really hard, on a concrete surface.  He was not injured, but he did not get back up at all to fight me.

Lessons learned

I’m a little tired of seeing the ryokatadori kokyunage in randori, just because you always see it in randori.  I think that, at advanced levels, Aikidoka should be showcasing more variety in their waza.  The practice of it, from static, or kihon, is valuable though.  Learning to move the hips like this, by shifting from a forward to a rear posture, and generating power, is the exercise.  This is the same in suburi, when you practice your shiho giri and happo giri.  It’s important to be able to throw someone like this, even if they are not reaching for you.  This means that you can throw a static, or even resisting opponent.  When I threw him, I had no idea what would happen.  It was effortless and it was over in a second.  They say in budo that you should be able to control an attacker in an instant, at will.  This was my first taste of that, outside of a class.  It prompted the following ideas in my head that I still use in my everyday practice:

  1. The importance of using 180 degree hip turns in a powerful manner
  2. Being able to throw someone at will even from a static position
  3. Being able to throw someone instantly

That’s all for now.  More to come.



  1. Branden says:

    This is good stuff. Looking forward to the next installment.

  2. bruce baker says:

    There is that moment of contact when you aren’t sure where the opponent is going to land, or how they should land … and that can be very dangerous when out on the street or in a life and death situation. I hope you learned a lesson from this incident. Knowledge is power, but injuring someone needlessly is both stupid and costly in both moral terms and financial terms. When a bouncer, or even a private citizen injures someone, eventually the blame is not evenly distributed throughout but eventually the blame lands on the person who supposedly was in the right defending themself. Most times, someone who is not hurt who is in the wrong will walk away, but it was a lying rat bastard weasel who wanted to sue you, sue your employer, there is a better than fifty-fifty chance he would and somehow, someway you would have been the one responsible for his injuries. My point? Practice makes it easier to have the best chance possible to not injure someone needlessly. I try not to injury someone, but … to let them injure themselves. Lucky you, the offender didn’t land wrong and wind up with serious injuries, but I guess you forgot to add that in your musings, eh?

  3. autrelle says:

    Nah, I didn’t forget any of that. It just wasn’t any part of any point I wanted to make. All of that legal stuff had been talked out many other places already, and my moral “disclaimer” is already there. Plus, these are 10+ year old stories. Like I said, when I was a jerk. Cheers!

  4. autrelle says:

    Bruce – I was re-reading your comment again. I have to say that I wasn’t trying to injure him. The idea of injuring him, or not injuring him never occurred to me. I don’t know why. It’s something that I am more conscious of these days, in class and outside of class. But everything you said is correct. I think that any martial artist has the responsibility to not injure people. Aikido is supposed to be an method of taking care of an opponent. I’ve got a recent story that I’ll share with you about that. Thanks again.

  5. Jason says:


    I don’t see anything wrong with what you did. And while I am a martial artist, I don’t have a problem with injuring someone who has ended up in a conflict with me. Obviously the offense must justify the punishment… I wouldn’t want to break someone’s limbs for getting in my face… but if I had been you and the guy had been injured, I wouldn’t have felt too bad about it. Then again, you’re a better man than me.


  6. autrelle says:

    Big Brother Jason,

    Ha ha ha – at the time, I didn’t feel bad at all, trust me. I felt like I gave him every opportunity to walk it off. These days, maybe a teeny bit. I’m feeling rather repentant these days, and I think that subconsciously I started these stories as way to share some things about martial arts as well as to rid myself of some of these mini demons inside me. It’s funny because nowadays, when I talk to people about martial arts, I don’t talk about these things at all, but having lived in my community for so long, people “know” all of these about me personally, so they think that I’m just a reformed psychopath, or that martial arts, especially Aikido, is about really whipping someone’s ass into next week. All I can tell them is that martial arts are just that, martial, but the artistry is something that comes over time.

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