View Full Version : types of atemi

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Lorien Lowe
10-23-2009, 12:04 AM
Hi all-
I come from an atemi dojo, and recently I was thinking about two different types of atemi. For example, with the technique tsuki sumi otosh ushiro, one can strike across one's body (with the outside hand) towards the side of uke's head as uke is coming around, or one can strike directly to uke's face or center once uke is around.

The first is nearly impossible for uke (or me, anyway) to avoid or even see; often I don't even react to it until I'm already on the way down. I imagine, however, that someone with great upper body strength could knock uke out at that point.

The second means that uke gets further before being corrected, but personally I react quite strongly to a strike (or even the suggestion of a strike) towards my face.

I'd like people's opinions on which atemis are more effective in the martial sense and/or in dojo training, as well as how their philosophy of aiki fits in with that.

I'm sure that non-atemi people will also reply and tell me that striking in aikido is verboten, but I'm just going to ignore that. :D

Kevin Karr
10-23-2009, 12:45 PM
I know the atemi of which you speak from sumo otoshi. I usually do the one directly to the face. I know that when it is done to me, it is there before I know it and it really throws off my balance. It is very effective.

Aikido without atemi? What is that? Aikido without atemi would definitely be missing a lot of that "Aiki" stuff for which we are always searching. Imo: atemi = integral part of Aikido.

Watch videos of Tamura Sensei doing sword awase with a partner. That is all atemi, totally aiki, and he can unbalance and hold a person to the ground without even touching them with the sword. Saying this is "atemi" I mean, he can do this because of his obvious thorough understanding of atemi and exploiting openings to effect kuzushi; and this is done by the guy who people say has technique that feels the most like O'Sensei....(things that make you go, "Hmmmmmm?").

Ron Tisdale
10-23-2009, 02:48 PM
If you have real power behind your strikes, then I think the atemi an attacker does not even see works best.

In training, maybe not so much... :eek: Maybe there the atemi they see but does not have to land works best.

Other things to consider, atemi with body parts other than hand to body parts other than face...faces have teeth, which can cut your hands.


Lyle Laizure
10-24-2009, 02:39 PM
There are all kinds of atemi. Personally, I like to use a kissing atemi. It distracts completely and doesn't cause physical damage.

10-24-2009, 07:41 PM
There are all kinds of atemi. Personally, I like to use a kissing atemi. It distracts completely and doesn't cause physical damage.

However, if you don't know them that well it might just get you punched!

Janet Rosen
10-24-2009, 07:54 PM
There are all kinds of atemi. Personally, I like to use a kissing atemi. It distracts completely and doesn't cause physical damage.
I used to do a "I'm your old Aunt Janet" atemi (pinching the cheek - always gently but nobody ever had faith it would be gentle!)

10-24-2009, 08:28 PM
Tamura sensei? He's the old guy that can roll on one spot? Amazing style. I like the fact that he really tries to show what you have to do and gives you the chance to fail there and then. Most senseis can't be bothered after decades of students being blind.

10-25-2009, 02:47 AM
There are really only two types of atemi in Aikido... the one you see most often is going to result in nage splitting their knuckles, breaking their fingers or knuckles, or giving uke a slight pause - the second and more elusive beast is a properly timed atemi.

There is a tendency to use atemi to the face to prompt a reaction from uke, and if that is your intention (to more or less take them off line or take their balance) then this is all good. If you want to make the strike work then you need to aim and time your strike with much greater accuracy.

Ron is right that the atemi that uke does not see is the clear winner. This is true whether you actually land the atemi or not.

A lot of other factors such as the distance between yourself and uke have a huge bearing as does the direction you are coming in from.

I come from a Kyokushin background and can punch, elbow, knee, kick, strike tetsui or uraken very effectively from just about any range. What I've learnt since beginning Aikido is that those same strikes can have just as much of an effect on nage as uke. Strikes that are rounded in origin, highly vertical, require a lot of hip movement, etc. can really throw off the rest of your technique.

Strikes to soft tissue points whilst passing are not likely to knock your uke out, but can give you vital seconds to perform a technique. I watched a BJJ-style class before our class during the last week and watched the instructor try to atemi before moving in on his opponent. He struck his fingers against his opponents knuckles on the way through, pulled back and spent five or six seconds shaking his very sore fingers. Interesting to watch.

Remember as well that everyone reacts differently to an atemi too. Before beginning Aikido, and probably one of the major factors I started Aikido, involved a very serious fight with a family member (ex-military). His first punch to my face snapped my head backwards and off the brick wall he had me pinned to. All it did was make me madder - it didn't slow me down and I'm not as hard as some of the people I used to train with.

You're right that atemi is a fundamental part of Aikido in my opinion (sorry to the people who don't practice it) but its an interesting path to follow and to try to stay true to Aiki principles.

Best of luck with figuring it out :)