More on “Go no Sen” – The Path to Defeat by Luciano Estivill


“It is almost irrelevant who performs the technique first, the only thing that
really counts is you making the aggressor do what you want him to do”

The other day “Aikido en Línea” published a Spanish translation of my article titled “Go no Sen — The Path to Defeat”. This was shared by Takemusu Aiki on Facebook which brought it to my attention. One of the commentators, Luciano Estivill, added several observations that expanded the themes I touched upon. He is very articulate and I think readers will enjoy his comments.

luciano-estivillI subscribe 100% to what you said (which is in fact the same concept O-Sensei Ueshiba talked about all the time, and some aikidoka forget easily). No matter who the aggressor is or his attack, the point is controlling the combat from the very beginning. I understand “control” as Nage “leading” the encounter. It is almost irrelevant who performs the technique first, the only thing that really counts is you making the aggressor do what you want him to do.

So maybe Nage has to “invite” Uke somehow to attack first and neutralize him or counterattack him, or maybe Nage has to go for it. I always remember Chiba Sensei explaining that he read O-Sensei’s diary or something like that, and O-Sensei’s words were: “I have to get him before he gets me”. It’s too clear to me he’s talking about controlling the aggressor BEFORE the aggressor tries to attack him, or further: even before the aggressor does something. And controlling the combat from the beginning probably means simply, pronounce the exact word at the exact moment, and maybe the aggressor throws in the towel, turns back, and retires.

The main problem, Stanley Sensei is, in my humble opinion, that some aikidoka think that making the first move (or even applying a technique on the aggressor before he does something) is an “attack”. But martially speaking, it’s nonsense. The aggressor “attacks” (that’s why he’s the aggressor), so if you realize the other guy is about to do something, or about to get you, even if he still hasn’t moved (but you know he’s about to do it), you as the “defender” will probably be forced to move before him, or do something before he can do something to you, which can be a sankyo, a kubishime, some yubidori, a kick, a punch, a word, a warning, or whatever you need to do. Just standing still waiting for the aggressor to attack and do what he wants (when you are sure he’ll do something), is absolutely ridiculous!. From a martial point of view, is not only nonsense, but dangerous (for both you and even the aggressor!).


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  1. Matti Täppinen says:

    I think some terms need to be clarified here.

    Luciano says that an aikidoka making the first move (not necessarily a technique) is not attacking. Generally, I probably agree, but hold on: he also says that the aggressor “attacks” and that’s why he is the aggressor. Now, if the aggressor has not made the first move, how do you define him/her as an aggressor? Because you don’t like the way he/she looks?

    I fully agree that the nage has to *act* before the actual *attack* of the aggressor. But if the aggressor has not made the “first move” (a threat of violence by words or action) then you shouldn’t have any reason to act, should you? And if the aikidoka’s first move is not necessarily a technique, then whatever the aggressor does that makes you consider him/her an aggressor is just as much a first move, isn’t it?

    • Luciano Estivill says:

      Dear Matti Täppinen, thanks for your interesting reply, which I must say, is not that far from what I think about the main topics described here. Maybe I was not clear enough, but what I wanted to state was that, the aggressor IS the “aggressor” since He shows any kind of aggressive attitude towars you, that can be a strike, an insult, a strange move, a menace, getting too closer to you, or whatever. And the main skills in martial arts are, in my opinion, those related to understand a situation and rate its possible dangers…. it’s a difficult task, it’s easier to learn to apply a yubidori or a kick than getting the skill of “get the aggressor before He gets you” (as O Sensei wrote in his diary). It’s not easy and somehow, a gamble. But as soon as someone behaves aggressively, any indication to you that He can cross the line, you has to go for it…..
      I remember an disrespective hooligan fanboy provokeing me once upon a time. He did not touch me at the very begginning. But He dangerously got close to me, almost nose to nose. He then challenged me to a fight (but without touching me). My response was that, as soon as I felt his hand hardly touched my chest, I applied an Atemi on his ear and the guy was K.O. and all over. Did He hit me?. No. But He gave me enough proof that He wanted a fight. So, knowing that it was inevitable (I felt it clearly, He wanted a fight) I simply “got him before He gets me”.
      In another occassion, a furious man came to me since I was going out with his ex wife… And He came for a fight (or for a kill, He had a gun). Before He do something, I introduce myself and said to him “I’m Luciano, nice to meet you”. And shook hands. The guy was so astonished (He maybe thought I would ran away or stay there and try to defend myself). But He never expected I would shake hands with him and try to start a chat…. The result was that, without knowing what to do, He simply shook hands and…. turned back. I never saw him again….
      What I mean is: He wants a fight? Try to convince him not to do it. But if He insists (once you realise it’s going to turn into a dangerous situation) give him his fight, and give him no chance….. Giving him the chance of doing what He wants is a mistake. I’d rather prefer, once a tense and dangerous situation is going on, when a fight or his attack seems inevitable, do the “O Sensei way”: give him no chance. You don’t need to kill or hurt him. You just do it the less harmful possible for both you and the other guy. But do it first!.

  2. Just thanks a lot!! From Temuco, Chile.

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