Aikido Restraint & Removal Seminar

On 15 January 2012, Sunday, an Aikido Restraint & Removal Seminar was conducted by Shihan Joe Thambu. The seminar was held at the Penang Budo Academy, the very same place that I train Aikido at, from 9:30AM to 5:00PM. There was about 20 people on the mat, but we still had enough space to practice our techniques without crashing into each other.

At first, I was very nervous, because there were six black belts present! However, Sensei Ramlan told us to relax and not to tense up. After the warm up, Shihan Joe Thambu first taught us two ways to pin uke on the floor, either with shite’s knee on uke’s shoulder, or shite sitting on uke. At first I was thinking how would I be able to get uke into a position to pin him/her in the first place, but Shihan Joe Thambu taught us many other techniques and locks which usually end up pinning uke on the ground with those two ways.

One of the most amusing techniques to me was the finger lock. Uke would point provokingly at shite (profanities optional) and shite would just bring uke down and lock uke’s arms behind his/her back. I can imagine many situations in which this technique would be useful, not to mention quite humiliating to the opponent as well!

After two and a half hours of training, we took a lunch break from 12:30PM to 2:30PM. Glen gave us a ride to Penang World Park for lunch and a coffee break before returning to the dojo. I literally fell asleep in his car due to exhaustion!

The second half of the seminar was the most interesting part. During this time, Shihan Joe Thambu taught us how to defend against an attacker armed with a knife. At the beginning, I would keep fumbling and ended up getting stabbed by the “knife” (we used plastic mineral bottles instead of real knives), until I figured out how to apply the Kihon Dosa movements that I’ve previously learned to the techniques. But the fun did not end there; we were also taught how to defend against a front kick and roundhouse kick too. I was actually surprised how intuitive it was to adapt the Go Waza movement three for use against the front kick! I found this part of the seminar the most satisfying, as I’ve always wondered how to apply Aikido to an attacker using his legs as weapons, since I have never learnt that kind of defense before in Aikido class.

Shihan Joe Thambu also answered a very important question that has been nagging in my mind since I started Aikido (I didn’t ask him the question though). When I learned Karate, I was taught to always follow up my attacks to form a sort of unrelenting combination. Shihan Joe Thambu said: “Our job is to make sure the first attack does not hit us.” (My apologies if I misquoted him). True enough, if you take uke down or send uke flying with his/her first attack, or even before uke could perform an attack, uke’s planned combo would become irrelevant.

During the seminar, I had the privilege of training with Aikidokas of many different body frames. Some were taller and bulkier than me (Glen), while others were very flexible. However, the most honorable and exhilarating experience was being able to train with my senseis, Sensei Farid and Sensei Kirill. Knowing that I was able to correctly perform the techniques and take them down was the best confidence boost I had ever! Rarely did I have such a chance to practice techniques with them in this manner.

At the end of the seminar, Shihan Joe Thambu’s taught us how to perform a whole body massage for our training partners with our body weight, and it was quite a relaxing massage after five hours of training. All in all, this seminar was worth it, as I’ve learned quite a lot and also enjoyed it very much. I did leave with some minor injuries: a bleeding lip, a cut forearm, and a bruised forearm, but nothing serious. I’m sure I’ll be feeling the sores and aches when I wake up tomorrow!

(click on image for event gallery)

- Bing Yen Chang

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