The following is a reflection of Aikido Journal’s Aikido Extension course, available through their Aikido Journal Academy.
Bruce Bookman’s and Aikido Journal’s Aikido Extensions demonstrates what an aikidoka looks like with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training – a martially rounded aikido practitioner. Demonstrating a myriad of aikido and BJJ techniques using refined aiki concepts and principles, Bookman of Tenzan Aikido understands who his audience is – aikidoka – and prefaces his demonstrations of BJJ techniques with: “Every aikidoka should learn enough jiujutsu to get back to using aikido.” Bookman consistently makes his point as he uses simple and effective BJJ techniques to return to his primary aikido techniques.
Bookman begins the course, as you would guess, aikido techniques, specifically ikkyo and iriminage from shomenuchi. In his calm, collected voice and no-nonsense instruction, Bookman gets to the heart of the techniques and principles utilized in the selected waza. He then moves to the jab, how to close the distance between nage and uke, and following up with a technique from closing that gap. Bookman focuses on the jab for the first part of the course, using the principle of closing the distance to perform any desired technique, i.e. kotegaeshi and kaiten nage.
The second part of the course begins with applying nikyo in suwariwaza and leading into a sweep. From there, Bookman dives into side control, but restrains from demonstrating a variety of controls, holds, and techniques one could do from that position one would expect from BJJ. Rather, he demonstrates one important principle of side control – survival. Here, with Bookman on his back and his partner sets in the side control, Bookman advises to take up the space in between nage and uke to negate or hinder any potential movement for strikes. Bookman further advises to stay close until the partner breaks away, allowing nage to insert feet, knees, or legs between the himself and uke, creating space for survival.
Bookman continues with more ground jiujitsu positions, covering basic mount escapes and knee on belly control. Much like side control, he does not offer many complicated options, but a simple and easy set of techniques and drills to obtain the principle of survival. It is then from this survival principle that the average aikidoka can utilize just enough jiujitsu to create distance, stability, and control to use their aikido skills once more.
Bookman finishes the seminar with a summary, recapping all the points, movements, techniques, and principles he discussed throughout. At the end of the seminar, what remains is a path to seamlessly blending aikido and BJJ, bringing the gap simply and easily for those willing to explore. The course was grounded in aikido, however, at times, aikido may not be enough to prevail in different situations. With the combination of aikido and BJJ, the viewer can gaze through a door that offers those interested a broader view of the martial arts, combining principles, techniques, and basic drills and combinations from different arts to start the journey.