When Nagato sensei asked if there were any questions, I saw this guy raise his hand, “What if you’re on the ground? How can you fight from there?” he asked.
“Why are you on the ground?” Sensei asked.
“If someone is kicking you and you are on the ground, how can you fight from there?” He demonstrated, lying on his back and flailing his legs against an imaginary opponent.
Sensei looked at him as if he hadn’t heard the question right.
“You get up.”
Another question at the same session, “What do I do against a knife attack in a dark alley?”
“Don’t go down the dark alley,” said Nagato. After the student massaged the point, Nagato advised him to sew metal rods into the sleeves of his jacket, effectively creating a hybrid version of Japanese Kote armored gauntlets.
The answers I myself took away from these questions were not found mired in the technical details of some particular leg trip or sweep, or how to increase the chances of survival by how many steel rods we can sew into the fabric of a jacket.
For my training, Nagato sensei had offered his best advice in its sincerest form: keep training. The fact is, you would get up, for it’s terribly difficult – especially unarmed - to maintain a distinct tactical advantage in an unknown situation on the ground against a more mobile opponent/s. As for the alley, it’s not that we need to avoid all dark alleys, but we would avoid that dark alley – something about it hopefully wouldn’t feel right.
It’s these higher lessons, devoid of specifics, that I feel actually help keep me on the right track for it provides us a glimpse into the path the Shihan are on.