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Aikido: A "Gentle" Art Adapts to Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 19 Issue: 1 Dated: (January 1992) Pages: 18-19,42
K W Strandberg
Date Published
3 pages

An adapted form of the Japanese marital art of Aikido, which means "art of harmony," provides police a method of restraining suspects that is less violent than other methods; Aikido can thus help reduce the potential for police brutality.


Aikido uses joint locks and circular movements to control the attacker instead of the hard kicks and punches of the well-known martial arts such as karate and tae kwon do. Aikido was designed to be a humane method of self-defense. It redirects the force of the attacker and then controls the attacker with joint manipulation or a throw, and it is very painful if resisted by the attacker. Strict Aikido has no offensive techniques. Aikido selectively adapted for law enforcement purposes emphasizes close-range, control techniques that include wrist and arm locks. Pain is used to gain compliance, but the risk of injury to the suspect is minimal, thus reducing any basis for claims of police brutality. Simple Aikido techniques are relatively easy to master and use. The complex moves included in the full range of Aikido techniques require much time and practice to learn and are therefore not suited to police training regimes. Only instructors who have adapted Aikido techniques to the specific needs and training limitations of law enforcement should be used.


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