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10-10-2000, 12:36 AM
I was just reading this week's poll and I noticed that alot of people said that as uke they did not have an intent to harm. My question is, if you truly are giving a commited attack than shouldn't you also be committed to harming the other person? If I throw a punch no matter how hard or fast and don't have an intention of hitting with it than I am not throwing a real punch.

I don't understand throwing something and calling it real/committed if I have no intention of making contact with it.

PS: I understand that you must go at slower speeds to learn it and I'm not saying blast someone as they are learning it.

10-10-2000, 01:14 AM
Jun is a linguist of sorts and chooses his words more carefully than most. I bet he was waiting for your post.

I will attack clean and on the line. I've hit people before and will probably do so again. However, I would feel terrible if I really hurt someone. My intent is a clean focused attack that pushes someone (myself or my nage). Making contact is sometimes a part of this process.

However, there is a huge different between making contact and attacking to harm someone. One is about helping and the other is about hurting.

Maybe an example would help. My understanding is that when George Foreman was younger (before he became the happy religious guy he is today) he was brutal on his sparring partners. He routinely hurt them. His partners attacked to help him learn (and for the paycheck and prestige), George attacked because he liked hurting people.

It's all about mindset.

10-10-2000, 08:23 AM
There is a difference between commited and out of control. It's possible to give a strong, commited attacked without knocking someones block off. You have to weigh that with the persons skill level. I would attack our shihans and sensei much harder than I would someone of lower rank because they are going to do a much better job of protecting themselves but I still have enough control to recognize that if they aren't going to get out of the way I can pull back and not harm them.

10-10-2000, 09:21 AM
I again re-emphasize I'm not talking about harming for ego or just to hurt them. But if you are honest with yourself, you cannot really throw a punch without the intent to hurt or it isn't a real punch.

If uke were just to stand there and do nothing your punch should hit them (even while going slow) but most of the time people don't throw the punch at the person, they throw it right in front of the person (even if it's a fraction of an inch from them) so if uke just stands there it wouldn't hit them. To me this is not a real attack, it has no intent or energy behind it.

I don't care how fast that punch is coming in if I know it is not meant to do harm. I will have my partner slow it down so he will still hit me if I don't do it right. And that will still cause harm even though it is very minimal.

Chuck Clark
10-10-2000, 09:47 AM
I agree with what has been said above. You must understand that the paradox is that you must learn to deliver energy and intent in a form that is useful for the level of practice you're doing.

The attack must always be "real" enough to go through the target and if the person doesn't move...it will cause a major disruption in their posture.

This should start at lower levels slowly, and with minimum force. It is a form of desensitization and then resensitization. Gradually as you gain in skill and experience, the speed and energy should reach the far end of the scale.

As to intent, I try to "cut" the person in half with my intent which leads the energy. Cleanly and efficiently. There is no malice but there is intent to give them something to train with. As the practice gets "juicy" and there is a legitimate understanding of the level we are training at between the partners, I up the level of the intensity of my intent. It's like Robert Deniro making you believe he's gonna kill you with a look, but of course it's acting. At high level training, the attacks should be so intent that if you don't get out of the way, you'll wish you had when you wake up.

We have to see this comittment of energy as a "gift" which we give our partner so that we can train. Uke gives energy and intent that the tori learns from. If there is energy and no intent, then it's just a matter of redirecting momentum. However, if the intent is there, we learn to percieve this intent way before ma-ai reaches the dangerous point. This can not be left out to really be practicing budo. Otherwise, it becomes "aiki-dance" or "pairs-yoga" which is okay...it just ain't budo.

Sorry for the length of this post. This is very important subject matter.


10-10-2000, 10:31 AM
I said in the poll that I do attack with the intent to cause harm because my interpretation of the question was more of a question of intent. That is, there has to be a degree of intent to cause harm to add legitimacy to the attack and to the application of the technique.

I think Chuck articulated the concept well. I agree that this type of attack developes more with experience (in most cases). I've actually had sempai just stand there and take a punch to their stomach to see if I'm giving a committed attack. The only reason they didn't go down was because I have the benefit of prior experience in another striking martial art and was able to pull back before my strike went more than a couple inches through them. I prefer a more realistic attack because I think they actually make executing techniques easier. For me nothing is more frustrating than having a partner who's attack is weak, and then tries to totally resist all attempts to move them (I had one in class last night, and I didn't feel comfortable correcting him since he was sempai). Then you have to resort to atemi to get them to move, which brings up another issue: whether they will really move because they know you won't hurt them anyway. Alas, that's another thread...

10-10-2000, 02:26 PM
i think most are stating more or less the same view, just using different words...based on how they saw the question. for me, my intent is to give a commited attack in accordance with my partner's skill to defend and mine to take the ukemi required as a result. but i do not use the word 'harm' in my thoughts. my intent is to give that attack so we can practice. if i actually thought i'd harm my partner, subconsciously it would cause an alteration of my strength or direction. so i attack at a level i know they can handle, and have no fear in the strength and commitment of that attack...make sense? i also hace encountered those who 'test' me by not moving, and those seniors take a big risk in that i am not used to punching things, and often just barely pull my punch in time. now THAT messes with my commitment, since i now subconciously fear they will NOT be able (or willing) to move, and it takes a lot more effort on my part after a stunt like that to give them a commmited effort the next time. if i have a partner who is not giving me a committed attack and want to prove it, i leave behind my hand to prove he would have missed, but move the rest of me just in case. i think the seniors who take blows to their stomachs and heads on purpose have done it one or two too many times...

10-10-2000, 03:35 PM
To a certain extent, I think what we're really arguing here is semantics, as CA says. Granted, it's an important subject, perhaps one of the MOST important in our training, but it seems to me that we all agree on certain basic tenets.

Fo example, we agree that we never attack anyone beyond their ability, or if we do, it's just enough to push our partner. Secondly, I believe we all agree that the attack itself does not have the intention of harming anyone, rather it is the medium through which nage will execute a technique properly, so we may take ukemi, and ultimately we all benefit. Further, I believe we agree on a progressive escalation of the intensity of the attacks, according to nage's learning curve; as he learns and "owns" the technique, the attacks start slow and then come faster and more intense. Finally, we all agree on the need for a clear, committed attack, straight down the line: no hesitation, no yoko-tsukis or whatever- a tsuki is a tsuki, yokomenuchi is a yokomenuchi, mae-geri is a mae geri, etc.

Perhaps what was meant was not "harm" in the sense of the intent of the attack. None of intends (I hope!) HARM nage, we want to train and learn. None of us gives a committed attack to harm, only to train and be able to take ukemi properly. Thus, we are committed to training with nage, not beating the living daylights out of nage.

I believe the question is more along the lines of "If nage doesn't enter into a technique properly, will/should/could (insert whichever is appropriate) nage be hurt by our commited attack?"

In this sense, I don't believe in putting all your energy behind an attack, for safety reasons. However, nage will definitely be "uncomfortable" if nage doesn't enter into the technique properly. Nage won't be knocked out, but they'll certainly feel it. However, this must be tempered by nage's skill level. I won't attack a Sensei the same way I'll attack a beginner.

The problem with a question like this is that there are no hard and fast rules. It's all relative to nage's skill level, and even that fluctuates. Just keep in mind that we attack to train, never to harm. Still, keep those ice packs handy. ;)

10-10-2000, 04:12 PM
with the beginner, I believe we should attack with but a fraction of our speed and power, but with a 100% intent to hit. When I first started, I would throw half-hearted attacks, and finally one day, I threw a munetsuki and my sensei didn't move as the punch stopped 3 inches in front of him. He said "Oh sorry, I didn't feel the need to defend myself there."

Basically, we should have the intent to hit, but the control not to.

10-11-2000, 12:25 PM
Here are a few, quick, adjunctory questions for people to ponder.

Do you think there's a difference between an intense attack and an attack with the intent to harm?

Can you attack intensely without meaning to harm the person whom you're attacking?

Have you been in an intense situation on the mat but did not feel like you were going to be harmed?

-- Jun

Chuck Clark
10-11-2000, 04:16 PM
When training with a partner who can handle strong, fast attacks, I have the intent, as I said above, "to cut the person in half" with my energy. However, I have no intent to do harm.

If the other person doesn't get out of the way and they are hit...harm may occur. The question is...did I do harm or did they due to their choice to not get out of the way?

My gut tells me my answer, but it might not make sense in a linear discussion of the sematics involved.

My goal is to cut you in half (with great compassion). Period.

10-11-2000, 04:35 PM
I was once told that if you hurt another in practice you are wrong. Whether you hurt them because they failed to do a technique correctly, or didnīt move out of the way, or blocked with their face, or any number of situations... you are wrong. Iīve somewhat begun adhering to this policy in the last ten years (about when I started MA) because I believe that although your intent should never be absent from technique, your control over the application and the outcome of technique is what ultimately defines you as a Martial Artist. Most people feel comfortable saying that they donīt want to hurt someone. Could you pull a punch two millimeters from someoneīs face if you had to? If not, shouldnīt you practice more? If you hit them... did they deserve to get hit? I believe we should threaten to do serious bodily harm until the partner decides heīll test your guts. 100 mph until he doesnīt move. Thatīs perhaps the moment to reflect on the intent behind his not moving and show that itīs not necessary to follow through to prove that you couldīve hurt him. Does this make sense? If he needs proof that badly, heīll either overcome the need, go to NHB, or get into a possibly life threatening streetfight. Proof has no place in the Dojo.
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George S. Ledyard
10-11-2000, 05:00 PM
Kevin73 wrote:
I was just reading this week's poll and I noticed that alot of people said that as uke they did not have an intent to harm. My question is, if you truly are giving a commited attack than shouldn't you also be committed to harming the other person? If I throw a punch no matter how hard or fast and don't have an intention of hitting with it than I am not throwing a real punch.

I don't understand throwing something and calling it real/committed if I have no intention of making contact with it.

PS: I understand that you must go at slower speeds to learn it and I'm not saying blast someone as they are learning it.
Clearly we are not attacking each other with intention to do harm. If they came in with that type of intention one or the other of us would go off the mat injured.

That said I will attack full speed / full power when training with my peers. Focus is everything in striking. If I place the focus of my strike at the surface of the target rather than 6 - 8 inches through the target I can deliver a strike that will go right through any poorly executed defnse but will not seriously harm the defender. If I blow through their attempts to redirect, we both know that they were struck when my hand stops touching the side of the head. But no injury takes place.

If I had intention to injure, I would fake a strike and deliver a blow that changed vectors in mid flow to make defense as difficult as possible. That clearly is not how we train. People mistake power for intention. Aikido training is somewhat limited martially precisely because we attack with full commitment and are clear in our attacking movements. no one in real fighting does this.

If you want to practice for real martial application worry less about the power of the strikes you are doing and more about combination attacks, attacks that don't require full commitment by the attacker, even fakes.

I agree that many of you are reacting to the fact that in many Aikido dojos there is no intention whatever behind attackes. People run at each other holding their hands out and actively facilitate the techniques that are being applied. Attacks should be powerful and have strong intention to get to the defender's center but they don't need to be smashing the partner. In fact an attack that is that strong is over commited and isn't good martial arts either

10-11-2000, 05:23 PM
I like to attack with the intention to hit. I do not like to attack with the intention to hurt.

Mike Collins
10-11-2000, 07:14 PM
Chrisinbrasil said it all for me. If I gotta hit someone with my size and weight at full strength then I don't wanna play. I'd like to believe that I'm in control of myself, cause that is the only thing in this entire universe I got a shot at being in control over.

To say that if I don't hit, I'm not sincere is, I think, not well enough thought out.

10-11-2000, 09:20 PM

Nage throws succesfully. Noone injured (after all that is part of the idea behind the way of harmony)

intent to harm:
Nage- ( a pslit second before finishing throw on a begining student) "I am going to break your arm now."
Uke- AAARRRGGGHHH!!! (lying on floor holding arm broken at the elbow.)
True story, not to me. Granted this was Aiki-ju-jitsu, but does it not show a clear difference between intent, and intent to harm?

10-12-2000, 09:19 AM
Uke should really deliever realistic attacks,regardless of the speed at which they are working at. other wise the practise is compromised. if uke doesnt come in with" intent., then something will be missing from the whole interaction between nage and uke. remember that that uke should be supplying all the "energy" needed for nage to complete his technique. a good honest attack shows several things. one is that uke is focused on being an attacker and lending the proper "attitude" and focus to his attack. it is good for uke to give nage the feeling of being a "target." also the attack should give enough energy for nage to manipulate and control uke's center.
a good committed attack leads to better ukemi. it is easier to follow the flow of the "re-direction" when a good uke gives a part of himself up during the attack. and giving oneself is really a part of the attack that uke has to deliever. "give something " so nage "has something" to work with. once the attacker has become off balanced; it sets the stage for uke wanting to become "on-balanced" again. so now nage can lead his uke about as uke seeks to re-find his center.
thats my just my 2 cents

10-12-2000, 10:09 AM
This thread just reminded me of a story that one of my sempai shared with me recently. He probably has the best ukemi in our dojo and most likely the best I've ever seen. Anyway, he was attending a seminar in Europe this summer, and was hanging around with the guest instructor (a very senior Aikikai Shihan) and some attendees after class one day when the Shihan says to him, "you're ukemi reminds me of my wife!" My sempai didn't quite know what to make of this until the Shihan went on to explain that he meant this in a good way. He said that his (the sempai's) ukemi conveyed a total committment and trust to nage - just like his wife. To me this is a great expression of what good ukemi should be. IMHO


10-12-2000, 04:04 PM
I understand what alot of people are saying, about having full commitment to their technique, but I thought I would share this study to illustrate the point I was trying to make about an intent to harm.

They did a study with law enforcement officers who stood at the end of a hallway. At the end of that hallway was a door that was blind on either side (meaning you couldn't tell what was on either side on directly in front of the door). Inside the door was a "bad guy" who would randomly stand on either side and think about killing the officer when he walked thru the door. The officer at the end of the hall had to pick which side the bad guy was on before he walked through the door. In 90% of the times he could correctly say which side the guy was one. When they person just picked a side and had no hostile intent the score went down to what would be accomplished by random guessing.

There are similiar stories of samurai kneeling facing away from their master, who would walk up and try to cut them with the sword. The "secret" they said was you really have to have the intent to kill or uke can not feel and intuite the attack.

To me without this, it doesn't make the attack real. You will get a totally different energy and feel in a technique thrown physically with an intent behind it than the same technique thrown without it.

10-12-2000, 04:13 PM
Kevin73 wrote:
They did a study with law enforcement officers who stood at the end of a hallway.
Do you have a more specific pointer to this study?

-- Jun

10-12-2000, 04:44 PM
Hey all having fun?? well I just had to but in my to bits in this thread.

When I attack beggingers I attack with my hand out running toward my tori and most of the time they throw me. This is how we "learn" teh throw slow simple and straight forward attacks. no that most of us in the dojo is a 7th or 5th kyu our sensi has had all 7th to 1 kyu to be attacked like you would on tthe street... random punches commited attack grab the tori for crying out loud! Now that we arfe doing more street attacks we have seen a lot of intensity in our attacks. Would I say that we intent to hurt our tori? well me no but I do intent to nock them down and mess there attack up like on the streets but to harm never. if they do a throw or tegnige right then I follow and do my uke part. SO can you have and intense realistic attack and not intent to hurt yes. but I rember people getting hurt by just running up to the tori so...

10-12-2000, 06:32 PM
without the commitment, your nage would just take your punch for granted and wont do the technique properly. commitment IS different from intent

10-13-2000, 03:27 PM
I am looking for the issue that had it in it. The article is by Jim Wagner in BlackBelt magazine, the column is called "high risk" It was one from this year but I can't find the issue. when I do so I will post more details about this.