View Full Version : Catching Punches

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12-05-2002, 12:45 PM
I notice that many times during practice, the attacker (A) cooperates so that the defender (D) may execute the technique (even at high levels). For example, A punches D and holds his fist out there so an arm bar can be applied (or another lock, throw... etc).

These kinds of techniques are good for defending against an untrained attacker (like a street attacker) throwing a heavy, slow punch.

However, it seems almost impossible to catch A who quickly retracts his arm. For instance, lets say a kickboxer jabs. Although I realize Aikido does use distracting strikes while executing a technique such as a lock or throw, if A punches so fast that you can't catch the punch (just end up being able to block it), what else can the Aikido guy do (provided that he doesn't take any other martial art; pure Aikido practioner)?

The Aikido guy just simply can't keep blocking forever! Most of Aikido's techniques work well after D grabs A. And if you're thinking of throwing the well-trained kickboxer off balance (like quickly going under his legs or something), well.. he has good balance!

So how do you "catch punches"?

Btw, it would be nice if you use English instead of Japanese terms :).

12-05-2002, 01:00 PM
I thought one had to list their real name in their profile order to post on the forum. Is that no longer true?

In reverse order:

1. You could (or a teacher could) use english names for all techniques. I know a judo coach who did that for judo techniques. The problem will be obvious when you attend a seminar/shiai or speak to a global community. By using common terms, everyone understands what techniques are being discussed. Using japanese names gives a common terminology for aikido techniques.

2. For punches ... why don't you have someone jab at you and work it out?



12-05-2002, 01:04 PM
Oh.. I will change my name

12-05-2002, 01:07 PM
What you are descrbing is novice practice. You are practicing against a stylized version of a punch to get a rough idea of body motion.

The japanese terms used are technical terms, which make it easier to understand what people are talking about accross places.

Let me try in engurish to describe a kote-gaeshi (forearm return?) against a jab by a an hypothetical male opponent

move off the line and attack his center


using the blade of your hand

(which is part of a relaxed but exteneded arm)

against the snapping punch arm elbow

continue to turn , your hand should be snug agains the forearm if the puncher is retracting the punch

and during all of this you are breaking his balance by extending your hand blade into the direction of puncher's center

which should be turning to face you to follow up his jab with something else

as soon as he's turning, and before he's balanced you'll find the hand blade has slid down to the wrist and then you apply the finishing touch of the technique , i.e. cover his fist with your other hand and extend down through his elbow while you twist your hips away from him..

And do this without thinking about it.

sounds easy? sounds hard?

you need to spend time building the vocabulary and basic blocks so that you can do this

12-05-2002, 01:09 PM
Well I have seen some pretty amazing things. I once saw a nikyo be applied to a jab. That practitioner's reflex was refined to the point that he could time a technique to a quick attack.

Of course not everyone is like that, so.... Why play the boxer's game? Go directly for the source of his punches, his body.

12-05-2002, 01:26 PM
Please remember, when you are seeing people train in pairs in the dojo...you are essentially watching paired kata. This training can mimic some aspects of a streetfight, but often is used to learn techniques and principles.

In shinkengata or randori training, an Aikidoka may not wait for the attack preferring to use shodo o seisu to disrupt the attacker before his/her attack is completely executed.

Following the idea of catching a punch.

I tell my students that catching a jab or punch is the hardest thing they can do. First of all, it requires that you are in your opponents' range of effectiveness. This in an Aikido perspective would be NOT preserving your ma-ai, and tends not to be advantageous for Aikidoka. K. Tohei Sensei once said, "You don't test your ki by standing in front of a train." In other words, avoid the punch by getting off the line.

possible solutions along with getting off the line:

1)Use the energy provided by the retraction of the jab. Follow that into the attacker's center to take his/her balance (oyo henka).

2) Atemi

3) Stay away from the attacker's jab and let them tire themselves out trying to reach you.

Either they will quit or over-extend to reach you. (This goes back to preserving ma-ai)

I think one of the most important aspects of dealing with a trained striker is not to be drawn into their game. (When they want you close be far away, and vice versa) Make them play your game.

In Aiki,

12-05-2002, 05:40 PM
However, it seems almost impossible to catch A who quickly retracts his arm.


So how do you "catch punches"?
Well, here's an idea: place your hand in the way of his retracting arm. I think you'll find that it's not too hard to catch something that's falling into your hand.

Just fr'instance (thought experiment from off the top of my head): opponent jabs, you parry with rear hand. opponent retracts arm as trained reflex, lead hand is already contacting and dropping through the elbow. Follow, maintaining contact with opponent's fist with rear hand, dropping weight onto elbow with lead hand: Maybe you get a kotegaishi? At least you have trapped the jab arm and can enter.

Just an idea I've been playing with a little.


12-05-2002, 05:52 PM
Why bother trying to catch a retracting arm - there is just so much more you can do.

Josh Mason
12-05-2002, 06:03 PM
I'm with Mike's Idea. Make him play your game. Make him reach out to you. Who says you have to do something right away?

Let him keep jabbing and he'll get tired of that sooner or later. Eventually he'll throw what we like to call in our Dojo "The Big Hick Punch" way from left field, and that should be easy to deal with.

12-05-2002, 08:10 PM
There's an interview with Karl Geis sensei on the Aikidojournal website that gives some very good perspectives on dealing with a striking artist.

12-05-2002, 10:33 PM
I kinda like the idea of catching the retracting arm.

A really well-trained kickboxer or some other kind of sparring art wouldn't throw anything heavy.

Hmm.. Staying away from the punches? Well this works only in a limited environment, ie: big space to move. You can't just keep avoiding the punches cause you'll eventually get hit.

Wouldn't you agree that most fights start in a crowded area where there's little amount of room for movement?

If there's lots of room, and you see the guy comming, you would've already ran away.

I'm not saying you guys are wrong, it's just my opinion. Sorry to those who may feel offended.

Oh.. and how do you Aikido pepple deal with ground fighting? Cause fights do end up on the ground.

Mr. P
12-05-2002, 11:27 PM
Just one or two ideas :rolleyes: ...

1) If a kickboxer retracts his arm, you can imagine his retracted arm and make a kotegaeshi. Actually, you can do the technique directly to his arm, bypassing all the body moves.

2) If his arm is being retracted, his energy must go from you to him. Make an iriminage :p (omote style).

3) As someone said, you can easily catch something that's in your hand. Put your hand on the way of his punch (as if you'd like to catch it), then move all your body (taļ sabaki, ...) "on" his arm. Use your body to make his punch go another way, and make a technique. Moreover, you'll be in a better position :D .

I usually pratice with impatient :grr: persons that transform their menuchis in uppercuts :freaky: (or their yokomenuchis in lateral punches) I have to deal with.

Sorry if I'm not clear enough, I'm just french :blush: , trying to bla-bla in english.

12-06-2002, 01:35 AM
Why try to catch the arm?

His head moves so much slower ;)

If something is moving fast you shouldnt try to catch it. You get out of the way of it and take control of whatever is moving slowly.

Maybe you take his balance and then control the arm that was once punching and perform kotegaeshi?

12-06-2002, 02:53 AM
as someone else has already stated here - the exercises we do in the dojo are these sort of dynamic kata forms, not "real life" preparations.

if you find yourself in a situation where someone is striking at you with something looking a lot like yokomenuchi, sure, go for shihonage (uh, looks like this sometimes - http://www.uiowa.edu/~aikido/ShihonageOmote.html, or this: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/tanto-shiho-tsuki.htm).

if you're stuck on the ground wrestling with someone, you're not going to fish an iriminage (http://www.andylim.com/aikido/a-shomeniriminage.html)out of it :rolleyes: but the principles still apply.

the techiniques we practice in the dojo are situational examples that illustrate concepts (like blending, correct distance, extension, etc.).

they're not instructions on how to bust someone's ass. even if they can work that way too.



12-06-2002, 02:57 AM
I don't try to catch the hand. That would be futile. Instead, I move in as he retracts but keeping an eye on the other hand. Usually an attacker with some boxing or kickboxing training leads with a jab will follow immediately with a hook or straight. So I move in, "checking" the retracted hand with your body or arm and extending my other hand to his front of opposite shoulder. I do this to at least prevent him from moving his shoulder as he cranks back for the punch. I try to get behind the attacker to apply whatever technique is most convenient. I'm prepared for the fact that I might get hit as I move in(hopefully my strategy will lessen the power of his strikes) but then again few boxers can deal effectively at very close range.

As for ground fighting, I suggest you search around here; there are a lot of threads on that already. My own two cents: learn to apply chokeholds.

Bruce Baker
12-06-2002, 08:50 AM
There is so much more to this question than th mere physical aspect of practice.

You are offered the opportunity to explain how to raise the level of your reflexes by training to deflect punches and kicks.

As stated, you do not stand in the way of a train, but since we are not talking about trains, I think we should consider this lesson I have learned.

Face a partner so that the person punching is about four inches from the person deflecting with arms fully extended. A flat stance, or if you have practiced in Wing chung, use that stance ... attention, toes out, heels out, and knees almost touching.

Have the puncher deliver punches hand over hand to your center, and you will push each punch across your body with a flat open palm.

As your reflexes improve, you can speed up the rate of punches. The rate of deflection, as well the rate of punches delivered enhance the reflexes of both participants.

What has this go to do with Aikido?

What do think some of the drills we do in practicing techniques over, and over, and over, at fast/ medium/ slow speed do? They are training your mind and body to work together so that the reflexes and time to react are shortened to an almost infinitesimal time. Plink! I touch your forehead before you can think. Plink! Plink! You touch my forehead twice as fast as I touched you!

If you stop thinking about the terms of what martial art endorses what techniques, learn to take the best training drills from each, whether you train in them or not, apply them to your own training, you will begin to see the vast puzzle you need to solve to make your own picture of martial arts clear.

Stop bad mouthing other arts! It only shows ignorance of not having explored the use of their best techniques for your present practice.

That's enough of being the old father figure.

Who wants to go a few rounds?

Come on ... I won't break your arms ... I am too old and feeble. Just don't struggle ... oops ... sorry about that.

Did I forget to mention Chin'na drills?


The mind is getting feeble.

12-06-2002, 10:22 AM

I don't bad mouth other martial arts, because to me all true martial arts are the same. I know many will not agree with me, but please notice the word "true". There are reasons why I say this, and I always go into long discussions (not arguments) explaining why.

I still have, however, the bad habit of bad mouthing and making fun of bad martial artists.

I don't see other martial arts through the eye of techniques nor the physical training. I see them through the principle that they stand for. I ask the question why not how. I see the person who does the art and not the art itself.

In the end, for me, there are no longer styles or forms, just how our body, mind, and spirit works to protect myself and others.

But, I don't mix and match styles, because all I need is already included in Aikido. It's just a matter of answering the question why instead of how.

Jeremy Pateman
12-06-2002, 04:29 PM
Hi, I am new to the art of Aikido and as such am very un-skilled. I have already found, however, that although I cannot expect to catch a fast punch I do at least now know how to avoid it. The work in the Dojo although at times very artificial has already given me more confidence in dealing with situations that arise in running a Pub in the UK. I think that my personna has improved and I think that this has been noticed by people around me. I enjoy the art and want to succeed, I want do it to the best of my ability and try not to question too much the actual use in battle but the use in normal life to improve my abilities and outlook on life.

There is always going to be someone faster, stronger and better armed and it may be this person we come up against and so Aikido teaches to defend and not attack. After all if the right way is used then there will be no need to try and catch the punch because it won't have been thrown.

arvin m.
12-06-2002, 07:04 PM
In response to MikeE's comment about staying away from the attacker's jab:

1) How do you stay out of range of the attacker's jabs? By retreating? Isnt this counter-productive according to some martial artistes who feel that retreating translates into giving up ground which is dangerous? Or do you move in circles? What if you don't have space to move? I assume that would mean to enter into jabbing range and go for a palm strike to the chin....

Anyways,if we're talkin jabs there's a very low likelihood of catching the punch. IF i recollect, even sidestepping off centre can be difficult against the jabs of a trained boxer. I would opt for keeping ma'ai and wait for him to overextend,or find something longer than his punch ie weapon?? Keep closing in as an option if you see an opening...wat the hell im talkin like im good at this but hell i just started training after 6 mths... cheers!

norman telford
12-07-2002, 04:43 AM
i agree with kev price on this one just because the attack is a punch doesnt mean u have to defend directly against it even more so if its thrown by a martial artist who knows how to punch isnt aikido the art of not being there there are many techniqes u could apply to a withdrawn punch ude garami or direct irimi nage or if your fast enough you could go for ude kimi osae its immposible to say what you would do in a real situation as for ground fighting you have to make it up as its going along or take up judo:)

12-07-2002, 08:58 AM

In answer to number one. Yes.

Do whatever you have to do to produce a suki in your attackers kamae.

I have been "tested" kickboxers and boxers from a school a couple miles from mine. I kept what I consider proper distance. In other words, they had to take one large committed step to reach me. If they do the boxer shuffle. It's fairly easy to move six inches back, or to the side to avoid their jabs.

Another thing that crossed my mind is that I assumed a gyaku-hanmi stance to theirs. It makes them have to reach again. (It would be like a right handed boxer having to fight a south paw.)

So, I do what I have to do to make them play my game.

In Aiki,

12-07-2002, 10:27 PM
dont get punched...

12-08-2002, 12:37 AM
This is a popular question. I've heard lots of responses, and many good answers. Let me add a few:

1. Basically, I like the "tire 'em out" game. When moving isn't an option, hold your flat palm out (like they do in boxing gyms) so uke gets to smack something other than your head.

2. Shodo-o-seisu -- moving irimi makes people nervous and can't unleash a full attack. Crying works as well, and so does "Man, I don't wanna fight you. You and I both know you'll kick my ass. You look way to strong and experienced for me." That's aikido too.

3. Be wary of using an irimi to actually administer your own attack. If your life is in danger, you have a right to defend it... but I'd exhaust all the other options first somehow. As some in the forum here can personally testify, I like using uke's head. Jabs? The legs are a prime target. But I absolutely won't use them until uke attacks or I'm 100% completely out of options.

12-08-2002, 02:11 AM
I like to parry and close the distance, inside to point of impact, as i used to box and kickbox this worked well to slip inside when you need a breather, you might get hit once or even twice but a good kokyu nage will settle the that. especially look for shikaku and stay inside the Unified Power Point of Attack. try to pick up a few years of this before making you mind up.

12-08-2002, 07:18 AM
HI NINJA ..nice to meet u .

guys i would like to share a personal experience with u guys .

My name is ivan .I was learning muay thai for one and a half yrs .

After which i thought i should learn a softer art like aikido .

There were some rumors between some other striking martial artists saying it was a USELESS art.

So i went to do some studying and seen some classes .

Being a muay thai fighter i had to ask if aikido could stand up to our direct powerful attacks .

As we practice juz for speed and power mainly .

What i found out is aikido has some loopholes in its practice due to traditional beliefs.Example ..lots of chops instead of punches ..and graps.

Soon i was disappointed..

and i was further disappointed when i asked people here ...most were real good replying mi , but i still found the techniques not effective , i was also treated the same when i asked the aikidokas in my class during my first few times ...they thought i was trying to show off..i was all the way asking a veri simple question ...HOW DOES A AIKIDOKA DEAL WITH A JAB IN A LIMITED AREA.

Does that sound familar??? hahaha

All they gave mi is techniques which takes too much time and is unrealiable!!

I was realli sad as i thought it was a great art ..BUT i found people treated it more like a excerise than a martial art juz becoz its a soft art!

Now i shall get to the point. I didnt quit the class , i juz continued juz to find the if there is realli a effective art behind all this !!

I took trouble to see more tapes on aikido ..

FINALLY i found the answer to the question while watches moviees and demos by steven seagal ...HE IS REALLY A FIGHTER

If u seen any u realise that rarely a person will get close enough to jab him , mayb juz a kick . coz he keeps moving around the person keeping distance.

AS written by MIKE!

so what happens is that a waiting game happanes ..until the striking is sick of it and tries to dash over for a punch or kick ...that a foolish thing to do , but they dont realise it ...for they have extented themself, and i found out this way of fighting is already in aikido ...but little people have understand it ..

As o'sensi said "lead ur oppnent"

it is also done by royce gracie in that jujitsu!


THAN I ASK MYself how abt limited areas ..

well this is also shown in steven seagal films and also explained by him ,

its a monifyied technique by him which is veri effective !

what happens is before u are being jab , protect urself by puting ur hands in a high stance similer in karate stances..

so that if he aims for ur face u ar fast enough to block .

THE jab comes , but ur hand is there ...u parry his punch with a slap to his fist ..

now here comes the intresting part


at the same time u parry either inside or outside u begin to stike his face with lighting fast short chops to the side of his neck or the face , as chops are must faster than punches and dont need much strength to stun ur oppnent ..if u parry the jab with ur right , stike with ur left than following ur left and continuous stunning him ...BUt u must know this technique is veri desvesting as he will land up mayb with a broken nose and a bloody face

Dont waste time striking him , mayb three or four hits will do .. thats when he can see u

than u either do a headlock or shoulder throw or any aikido throw ...as it will be real easy as he will not knw what is happening

I have written this to let all people who are learning aikido or people who wants to but are in doubt of its effective on the road!!!

I have to say to u ...do not be fool that aikido is a soft art ...

after learning for 2 yrs i realise at the advanced level is a veri HARD painful art that must never be applied to a sparring match ..

its soft becoz when we do the techniques it is like a dance .....but its veri hard because the person who is being lock and thrown will suffer alot ...

before i thought judo and jujitsu was harder forms .....but u must knw that in judo i am mostly throwing u while holding ur arm ...

in aikido we throw u using weak parts of ur bosy like ur wrist ....imagine apply all ur weight on ur small wrist ...if u can flip and slam fast enough u will surely end up with a broken wrist...

Dont be fooled most locks are apply to weak areas of the body which will surely be banned in judo .

Finally i found out , aikido techniques are made to be fexible , if u are smart enough and want it to be street effective ...

Think about the technique and discover urself how to put it to diff suitations

To further improve a power technique take up chinese qigong to incease powerful internal strength ..like what i have done ..

in a case like a jab ...u juz have u do a push to his body as he comes to get him veri seriously interally injured ...

But i dont advise that kind of treatment


Bruce Baker
12-08-2002, 08:14 AM
Are you Guys and Girls paying attention?

You will need to learn how to advance your awareness, your ability to intercept movements to correctly use Aikido!

Blending with movement is not always at the end of movements, but many times, in the midst of movements.

This little forray of interluding to catching punches is but an introduction to learning some of the basic principles to Aikido.

It is not always a case of boxing, but a case of being able to see the movements in a slower state of movement so you can react!

You ain't gonna get this by discussing what would happen if a kickboxer did this, or a boxer did that.

Get serious.

Learn the training methods to slow these movements down and speed up your own reflexes.

Just what do you think all those drills of boxxing and kickboxers are for?

Now ... apply that mind and body training to your Aikido.

Sorry to be grumpy, the slush, snow, and first real cold of winter do that to me. Nothing like stepping into six inches of slush and having it run into your shoes.

12-08-2002, 10:18 AM
A soft art does not mean gentle, its means with internal energy and possibly superior biomechanics.


12-08-2002, 11:14 AM
I used to try to grab or catch when doing techniques. But, that was then, now I don't actually "grab" or "catch" attacks. I just keep contact with the uke, a light hold or touch will do.

Grabbing or catching especially fiercefully or hard holds diminishes the possibility of feeling your uke's intentions. This actually gives uke the upper hand, the uke could easily take back the attacking appendage or just hold the posistion - blocking any techniques.

I don't believe in catching or grabbing, I believe in "musubi".

Bruce Baker
12-08-2002, 09:00 PM
Maybe we should go back to trying to do Aikido with boxing gloves on so no one can grab?

There will be no punching, but you must still do the entire class without being able to grab, does that help?

How about the class with all open palm or just handblades to manipulate?

Whether you intercept a movement with a handblade, or a forearm, or the open palm of your hand, it is still the goal of the Aikido practitioner to intercept and use movement to their advantage.

I guess many of you need a class where there is no grabbing, holding, or closing the fingers ... only handblade and open palm.

Does that clear the parameters of learning to use Aikido in a more efficient manner than the old schoolyard grab and shove someone?

Maybe a couple of weeks of 'sticky hands' instead of grabbing hands will cure some of this mis-nomer?

12-09-2002, 01:52 AM
You will need to learn how to advance your awareness, your ability to intercept movements to correctly use Aikido!


Learn the training methods to slow these movements down and speed up your own reflexes.


Just what do you think all those drills of boxxing and kickboxers are for?
I'd like to hear more of your thought on this topic. I've found that "soft work" (slow, flowing practice) has helped me move faster. Is this what you were alluding to?

Also how do you feel abt the use of boxing's evasive methods (slip / bob and weave etc) as entries into aikido techs? I can imagine slipping a jab into a wrist twist (sorry, still not up to speed with aikido Japanese terms)

Kinda of ties into the whole "movement is movement Period" theme cropping up in several different threads ;-)

12-09-2002, 02:09 AM
Years ago when I was young and foolish I used to to Nippon Kempo (see link for picture). It was full contact but you were armoured up for protection and got to wear boxing gloves. I was sidelined with a dislocated toe and reallized I didn't miss the three day headaches after tournaments but those joint locks were really interesting. That is what got me into Aikido.

In Shodokan randori one of the rules is that you can not grab clothing.

What you are talking about Bruce is my bread and butter.

Maybe we should go back to trying to do Aikido with boxing gloves on so no one can grab?

There will be no punching, but you must still do the entire class without being able to grab, does that help?

How about the class with all open palm or just handblades to manipulate?

12-09-2002, 07:16 AM
Hi Peter,

Interesting stuff.

Here are my favourite quotes from the site:

The game lasts for three minutes and is proceeded according to the start sign of chief refree and a point will be given when :

d) A correct UCHI or KERI is made in the opponent's crotch.


2) To give a strong ATEMI-WAZA to your opponent when he is on the floor.

You must be made of stern stuff!

12-09-2002, 08:22 AM
As I said - young and foolish.

I was never any good at it. Always felt a need to appologize after I hit someone.

By the way I heard the club is still there, I assume in the School of Oriental and African Studies basement in London where I trained almost 20 years ago. Haven't been back since I left.
Hi Peter,

Interesting stuff.

Here are my favourite quotes from the site:

The game lasts for three minutes and is proceeded according to the start sign of chief refree and a point will be given when :

d) A correct UCHI or KERI is made in the opponent's crotch.


2) To give a strong ATEMI-WAZA to your opponent when he is on the floor.

You must be made of stern stuff!

L. Camejo
12-09-2002, 03:56 PM
As far as catching punches go, this seemed to be an exercise in futility. Especially with beginners to tanto randori (tanto tsuki similar to straight punch). They would often find that their fingers would be cut by the tanto if they were practicing against a live blade.

Basically, my approach is to utilise tegatana as a point of contact on uke's forearm, after avoidance. I can pretty much feel wherever the limb goes from there as long as I stay relaxed (returning to tegatana awase basic practice). This allows the ability to control the arm/attack as well as guide it to where you want to apply kuzushi, atemi waza or whatever technique seems suitable.

Just my 2 cents.