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A new game!

by on January 27, 2014

I’ve been slowly getting my stuff together for the annual trip to Denver. We’ve been getting emailed photographic updates of the new dojo that is being put up at Bryan’s place. A whole lot of hard work has gone into it in the bitter cold, and I can’t wait to see it in person.

In the meantime, I had my last practice tonight before heading out on Wednesday. We worked on kotegaeshi and the kuzushiwaza, and I think I clarified a few things in my mind, then we did a little kakari-geiko from grabs. That evolved into grabs from the “hey I don’t want any trouble” hands up position. From there, I noticed that Chad was starting to leave one leg back – he was getting closer and closer to his “working” position.

The next step was obvious to both of us. There are a whole bunch of rubber guns over in the corner of Ed’s dojo, so we went and got one, and started playing a brand new game: get the gun!

I am a big fan of competitive randori games. I’ve never said they should be the only tool in your kit, but they are the closest you may ever get to an antagonistic situation. The problem is that people start to game the rules more and more, and, as the rules become ossified, the optimal strategy diverges further and further from sound martial principles.

In my mind, the solution to this problem is not to have less competitive situations, it is to have more and more games. At a certain point, it will become too difficult to learn specialized strategies for each game, and therefore the best training strategy will be to return to sound fundamentals.

To this end, I have had an idea which I think to this point I have only discussed with three people, and it is this: I’d like to hold an event where people could come from out of town to play new opponents in a whole new range of games. Sure, people could play a little tanto randori, but there could be a whole new range of games as well: Sato’s new toshu randori, larping weapon randori, randomized card-game randori, and perhaps this new get-the-gun game as well.

The game as we played it is pretty simple: the gun goes in your belt towards the back of your hip on your dominant side where a law-enforcement officer would wear it. Don’t let your opponent get it.

We were both going at it pretty hard, as evidenced by the sweat we worked up, but we were playing friendly, meaning we didn’t need a whole lot of ground rules to keep it safe. I think I remember Endo sensei calling this isagiyoi when we played nan demo ari (there’s another game – anything goes). We definitely ended up doing some groundwork that was well above my pay-grade. Chad wrestled in high school, which I think actually hampered him a bit on the ground because he had some instincts which were not relevant. I managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat twice on the ground – an arm bar and a gun snatch. I had a similar problem standing up. He managed to strip me of the gun embarrassingly quickly a few times. My training has never been about keeping a hip back, while, as a professional, Chad has that instinct very well ingrained.

We’ll definitely be playing this game again. For Chad it is very relevant skill to train, and for me it’s just a whole lot of fun.

One of these days, probably when I am on sounder financial ground, I’m going to organize that event. I’m thinking of calling it the 207 Aikido Mixer. It won’t be a tournament exactly, because I know from experience how much of a bummer it can be to travel to a tournament and get knocked out in the first round. Instead, the idea I’m mulling over would be more like a social dance. You could get a card with spaces for names of people and different games. Different areas could be designated for different games, and you could go around filling out your card and playing new people. Obviously you’d have to do a pig roast or a lobster bake afterwards.

I’m thinking summer 2015. Sound like fun? Let me know and maybe I’ll actually get motivated enough to make it happen.

From → Quick hit, Update

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