Randori: Offering a Clear Target to Make Attacks Predictable
by Charlie Badenhop
You move too much to be effective." Tamura Sensei softly shouted at me. "You need to give your opponent a clearer target to strike at."
We were in the middle of studying how to defend ourselves from multiple attackers in an Aikido class for senior students in Japan.
Five young college students rushed at me once again, and once again I struggled to cope with them.
"OK, take a break." Tamura Sensei said. "In order for the five attackers to actually hit you they have to first reach you. Your job is NOT to run away from them. You need to create a spacing that leads them to all try and grab or hit you at the same time. Line them up.”
He could tell I didn’t know what he was talking about so he continued, “Think of the attackers as needing to pass through a gate. If they all try and rush through the gate at the same time they will block each others efforts. Move less, do less, and be calm. Give them a clear target that they all reach at the same time."
I had heard similar remarks in the past, but accomplishing this in the heat of the moment requires a moving calmness that takes a while to get the hang of. You know in your head what you are supposed to do, but once your heart starts beating faster and your opponents are bearing down on you, you find it really hard to believe in what you are being told.
"Think of it this way." Sensei said. He pulled out a cloth that he used to wipe away his sweat and said, "Here, take this away from me." As I grabbed for the cloth, he more or less handed it to me. Just as I was beginning to get a good hold on it he let go of the cloth and grabbed onto my wrist and placed me in a painful hold. I immediately let go of the cloth, and he picked it back up with one hand as he continued to keep me subdued with his other hand. "You see." he said, "I am not defending the cloth, I am defending myself. Better to give you the cloth, and then I have both hands free to do as I need."
"When you move less you offer your opponents a clear target. When you offer them a clear target you will be able to understand how they are wanting to attack. They will attack you in the same manner you reached for my cloth. Confident they will accomplish their mission, because you have made it easy for them. At the last moment, just as they begin to strike or grab, take the target away from them. They will be surprised, and you will have the opportunity to do whatever is necessary."
He got up and invited the five students to attack him. He moved very little, and it was as if he was making each one of them thread themselves through the eye of a needle. Just ever so much of a movement made by him, made them just miss their target.
"This is what happens often in our every day life." he said. "You feel like you are faced with a daunting task, and you make your task harder by moving about needlessly and losing your composure. Breathe deeply, be calm, and know the right moment will present itself to you if you have the faith to wait. Don't force the issue, and don't force the timing. Trust in the moment, and trust in yourself. Take the initiative by doing nothing."
You ARE capable. Give yourself the opportunity to excel by trusting in the moment and trusting in yourself. Wait calmly, and you will find that the necessary answers appear before you. Little by little... with lots of practice... and endless patience. Only move when the moment is right. Breathe deeply and begin at the beginning.
*** Note: I know it is somewhat alien to our system to blade the body before the attack, but along the lines of the article above, I think it may be highly appropriate to “take a stance before the attack when possible.” ~~~~ Right or Left Hamni... It doesn’t matter, because as soon as you take a stance, you “present a target” and in this way, your attacker’s choices of attack are limited to those that you have decided in advance.
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"When you move less you offer your opponents a clear target. When you offer them a clear target you will be able to understand how they are wanting to attack.... “Confident they will accomplish their mission, because you have made it easy for them. At the last moment, just as they begin to strike or grab, take the target away from them. They will be surprised, and you will have the opportunity to do whatever is necessary."
(Think of the Body Block Classical Technique ~ it’s a perfect example of this concept in motion).
Remember: Move First! Technique Second! Note the effective blend of the bald nage in the white hakama.
Formerly positioned in the center of the circle, he has just blended, avoiding the attempts of all 6 attackers, and is beginning the process of disarming and projecting the uke to his immediate right into several of his would be attackers.
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