The story below comes from one of our students who has been training at Greenwood Aikido for 6 months. A common question we get when people begin training in Aikido is “will this work on the street?” The student, a law enforcement officer, is somewhat small in stature. The suspect was clearly a street tough gang member with all the expected insignia and plenty of street fighting experience. The officer handled the situation by contolling the suspect without harming him, completely with the principles and technique he had learned and practiced in Aikido.

Every interaction with a suspect presents significant risk to both the officer and the suspect. Officers don’t go looking for this kind of trouble, but when it presents itself it’s nice when they can handle it with grace. Here’s how it went down.

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Dear Greenwood Sensei,

I recently had an opportunity to make a lawful arrest of a criminal who presented a threat to me while I was on duty. A citizen reported seeing a vehicle, driven by a possible drunk driver. The citizen called 911 and updated law enforcement of his location while following closely behind the drunk driver. I reached the reckless driver and stopped him using my red lights.

When the reckless driver stopped his car, he immediately opened the car door and got out of the car. This is a threat to law enforcement as it provides the violator to flee or attack. After several commands to remain in the vehicle, it was obvious the violator wasn’t going to comply with my orders.

I approached the violator and recognized the man as being a gang member. He gave me several indications that he was either going to fight or run. I glided over to a position of advantage, off center of the violator. I grabbed his wrist, and felt an immediate resistance from him. I used a Kotegaeshi technique to control and direct the criminal to the ground. The violator was controlled and handcuffed without injury.

Tony – Aikidoka, detective

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It’s common when watching Aikido practice to mistake the graceful and fluid movement for dance. But all the while we are studying and refining the details of our interaction so that we can handle situations like this with minimum force and maximum effectiveness.

~Philip Greenwood, Sensei

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