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willy_lee
04-24-2003, 03:40 AM
I found this article online:

http://www.donrearic.com/SignalsKeating.html

The article is about using "subliminal gestures" -- motions that affect your opponent without touching, through redirection, perceptual leads, whatever.

Interesting stuff... I remember glancing at this article a couple years ago, but just read it again tonight and started thinking of the aiki-ness of it all.

I think it's a nice counterpoint to the recurring "atemi/no atemi" threads. This is talking about other ways that we can capture the mind, without striking or even the aikido-ish "strike with intent but not actually striking".

Some part of me wants to categorize this as atemi also, but the nitpicking part of me says no....

Do any of you practice this kind of non-atemi atemi?

Abstractedly thinking of ways to sneak this in during practice,
=wl

happysod
04-24-2003, 04:34 AM
yep, use them a lot, we call them "subtle distractions". I personally find them a lot more useful than atemis as they don't interrupt the flow of a technique, don't ever overbalance you and you never make the mistake of relying on them to work (another problem I've seen with the "hard atemi" boys and girls).

aiki_what
04-24-2003, 08:57 AM
"you never make the mistake of relying on them to work"

If you don't "rely" on them to work why use them at all? And if they don't disrupt the flow of a technique then how would they disrupt the flow of an attack.

I think it all goes back to the "intent". If it is an empty gesture than why bother with it. If I have the true "intent" to hit or disrupt flow then I don't have to hit or disrupt....a bit of a paradox, but an interesting one.

aiki_what
04-24-2003, 09:00 AM
Another thought on this.....might not a sophisticated opponent "read" your subliminal gestures and obtain an advantage?..because in deploying a subliminal gesture you lose "intent" from your original purpose?

Alec Corper
04-24-2003, 09:00 AM
Try to get a look at the Systema video "Beyond the Physical". Keep an open mind

regards, Alec

Bronson
04-24-2003, 09:48 AM
might not a sophisticated opponent "read" your subliminal gestures and obtain an advantage?

I don't know. Keep in mind I haven't read the article yet. When I was fencing a lot I used to use all sorts of small movements to adjust my opponents stance/openings. Many of these people had been fencing for awhile and really shouldn't have fallen for a lot of the stuff I did...but they more often than not did fall for it. Little things like rotating my hand from a pronated (palm down) to a suppinated (palm up) position, or vice versa would almost always have an affect on my opponent. It usually affected the experienced fencers more because the newbies didn't have the experience to (a) notice it (b) understand how the move would affect my abiltiy to attack/defend.

One of my favorites was to feign fatigue and start to let my point drift to the side or down. I also practiced diligently to be able to defend and attack from these off-guard positions. Given the people I was fencing, this should not have worked, but it did work, all the time.

Maybe I'm off track with this. I haven't read the article yet so I may be talking or thinking of something completely different. If so, my apologies for rambling on :)

Bronson

opherdonchin
04-24-2003, 09:53 AM
If you don't "rely" on them to work why use them at all?Something may help some of the time. I wouldn't rely on it, but I may still use it for the sake of the times it does help. I think of stepping through on tenshinage in this way: rarely necessary, occasionally counterproductive, but most often helpful and hence a good habit.
And if they don't disrupt the flow of a technique then how would they disrupt the flow of an attack.Atemi is often delivered in a way that stops uke's movement. I find that this just makes techniques more difficult as I then have to get uke moving again. Really skillful atemi, I think, manages to disrupt uke's balance without disrupting uke's flow. The movement continues in more or less the direction it was going, but control and initiative have shifted subtly to nage. A small movement of the hand can sometimes create this effect without really registering in uke's mind as an atemi. Like Ian said, I wouldn't rely on it, but on the other hand you can't really rely on anything.

happysod
04-24-2003, 10:16 AM
Well, as Opher intimated, I don't rely on any single thing I do to work, either my aikido, punching or screaming like a castrato. I'll just try and maintain as flexible and calm a response as possible and generally try and take any opening that presents itself.

This isn't lack on intent, just a realistic view when it comes to an opponent, you brought up one of the many ways in which distractions or atemis (or even, gasp, aikido) may not work - an opponent who knows all your tricks. Others include they're better than you, you just get unlucky etc. etc. What ifs in a combat situation are manifold so I find it best to work with suits my own style best and let the rest go hang.

However, distractions are (as so well described by Bronson) an integral part of many combat based systems for a very good reason. Unlike a strike which does take intent to be effective, distractions can be blended easily into your normal movements with a minimal use of resources. It's only if you fall into the trap of being distracted by your own use of distractions (called being a smart alec over here) that they would interfere with your own technique.

Having said all that, I'll freely admit to being the "anti-atemi" when it comes to my aikido, so I'd be very interested in hearing others experiences of actually trying to use distraction/subliminal gestures in their aikido and how it compared for them against their normal atemis.

aiki_what
04-24-2003, 10:19 AM
"screaming like a castrato"

I have to admit that would certianly unhinge me :)

aiki_what
04-24-2003, 10:28 AM
"Little things like rotating my hand from a pronated (palm down) to a suppinated (palm up) position, or vice versa would almost always have an affect on my opponent. It usually affected the experienced fencers more because the newbies didn't have the experience to (a) notice it (b) understand how the move would affect my abiltiy to attack/defend."

Interesting point, Bronson....But would you consider the pooint that while you are considering your tactic (pronated vs supinated palm) you are distracted and as you transition (no matter how short the time frame) from pronated to supinated palm you provide an opening?

aiki_what
04-24-2003, 10:32 AM
Opher, Good points. One thing I consider is that if the atemi "disrupts" their flow then I have suceeded and anything after that is icing on the cake. Even if I blend and don't disrupt the flow at that point in time....eventually I disrupt the flow by throwing them (or they disrupt their own flow by reaching a point where they have to take ukemi)

Dave Miller
04-24-2003, 11:26 AM
What's described in the article sounds an awful lot like the classic "eye threat" form of atemi. One of my Senseis tells a story to illustrate the power of these subtle atemae (sp?):

The story involves Geist shihon walking to his car after a seminar. A man approached him threateningly and, despite repeated attempts to flee the situation, the man persisted. Geist made a strong eye threat and, in response, the man literally flipped over backwards onto the pavement, thus ending the confrontation.

Unless I misunderstood what the article was saying, is this not what is being discussed? If so, how is this different from a more traditional view of atemi?

willy_lee
04-24-2003, 12:24 PM
What's described in the article sounds an awful lot like the classic "eye threat" form of atemi.
*Some* of what the article describes are eye threats. Most of them are not.

Here, I'll quote a bit of the article, describing a basic list of some simple subliminal gestures:

1. The action of tossing something toward the eyes or face. ("Eye threat", I believe this is what you're referring to)

2. Serpentine motion of any kind.

3. A backhand blow.

4. A lowering of the head and looking out the tops of the eyes.

5. Straightening or crouching the body.

6. Specific breathing patterns or breath related noises.

7. Making a "capturing" action with hands or arms.

Only the first one could I think be considered an eye threat.

=wl

willy_lee
04-24-2003, 12:33 PM
Interesting point, Bronson....But would you consider the pooint that while you are considering your tactic (pronated vs supinated palm) you are distracted and as you transition (no matter how short the time frame) from pronated to supinated palm you provide an opening?
But the point of the subliminal gesture is that the action causes *more* distraction in the opponent -- hence the opening for Bronson.

See, how much distraction does it cause to yourself to flip your hand? You know you're going to do it. You're doing it as an integrated part of your movement (advises the article). Your opponent has to process it. What the heck was that? He wouldn't do it for no reason -- would he? *There's* the opening you're talking about.

=wl

willy_lee
04-24-2003, 12:42 PM
Another thought on this.....might not a sophisticated opponent "read" your subliminal gestures and obtain an advantage?..because in deploying a subliminal gesture you lose "intent" from your original purpose?
...and...
I think it all goes back to the "intent". If it is an empty gesture than why bother with it.
Why do you assume that a subliminal gesture is an empty gesture? Why do you assume that a subliminal gesture causes you to lose intent?

Just because your body is doing something that doesn't involve a direct strike doesn't mean it is empty or lacking intent, does it?

If I move one arm in such a way as to subliminally (i.e., processed by peripheral vision, not consciously processed) affect my opponent's posture in order to set up a hard strike with my other arm, how is my movement either empty or lacking intent?

=wl

aiki_what
04-24-2003, 12:45 PM
"See, how much distraction does it cause to yourself to flip your hand? You know you're going to do it. You're doing it as an integrated part of your movement (advises the article). Your opponent has to process it. What the heck was that? He wouldn't do it for no reason -- would he? *There's* the opening you're talking about."

Ahh, the circular argument. But then if I notice what he is doing with just his hand then I lose my "Intent".

I realize I am discussing "ideals" and not "practicalities" here. But I think we need to distinguish between practice/sproting events and actual application....and I, like most of us on the board have only the practice/sporting side to work from.

kensparrow
04-24-2003, 01:12 PM
Another thought on this.....might not a sophisticated opponent "read" your subliminal gestures and obtain an advantage?..because in deploying a subliminal gesture you lose "intent" from your original purpose?
The article seems to be saying that the whole idea of subliminal gestures is based on exploiting how the brain is "hardwired". Imagine trying to train yourself not to blink when something approaches your eyes. You could do it but it wouldn't be easy and then you would have train for every other potential subliminal gesture as well (not to mention opening yourself up to potential eye injury in everyday life).

No technique is fool proof but I think the odds are pretty good if it's one that's based on 100 million years of evolution.

Paul Clark
04-24-2003, 02:05 PM
Interesting point, Bronson....But would you consider the pooint that while you are considering your tactic (pronated vs supinated palm) you are distracted and as you transition (no matter how short the time frame) from pronated to supinated palm you provide an opening?

Well, if you're not a fencer, you might consider all that for a long time and still not know whether it works or doesn't. Fact is, it does. Are you "open" for a moment? Sure, but that was the point. If I get the expected response, he will be more open and I will score. In aikido I hear people call it "leading", Sun Tzu called it strategy.

I found that it worked against just about everyone. Really inexperienced people will see you make a subtle change and think they just have to do someting in response, even if they have no idea what it should be. As Bronson says, experienced folks will make a change that is either unconscious or conscious; if the latter, they make a change that they think is more advantageous for them as they also plan an attack. It may or may not be what I wanted to see, but there you have it: next move! Once you get the hang of this, you also figure out that a series of moves may be required to get things where you want them to be to facilitate the actual attack.

There are many things about strategy that get overlooked by a lot of people, but here are three of them. One, the "battle" is continuous, and everything that happens before, during, and after the decisive engagement probably matters in the outcome. Second, many people neglect to consider the fact that their opponent is working on a strategy at the same time they are. Last, when you figure out that you have to know about 1 and 2, never forget that if you came to play, you're betting that you're better than the other guy and you're going to win. If you're wrong, you lose, which may mean you're dead.

Works in fencing, business, air to air combat, and it will work in aikido. Show 'em something, then take it away . . .

Paul

Dave Miller
04-24-2003, 02:38 PM
Willy,

It seems that many of these ideas are fairly ubiquitous among the martial arts. For example:

The "capturing action" seems similar in nature to a feigned attack to ellicit a specific response (much like an eye threat).

The "breathing pattern and breath related sound" seems an awful lot like a simple kiai, which is definitely ubuquitous among the striking arts and I have heard talked about among high ranking akidoists. (Imagine doing Gyaku Gamae Ate or Hiki Taoshi with kiai.)

These are devices that have been part of budo for longer than aikido. Their purpose has always been to startle or otherwise disrupt an attacker. My old Shorin Ryu sensei used to say, "Karate is simply chess at 90 miles an hour." Half of self-defense is keeping the attacker off balance.

This aspect of budo seems to be at the heart of aikido in that the aikidoka is more concerned about simply keeping the attacker off balance (so much so that ukemi or a joint lock results) and less about gaining tactical advantage to "counter attack".

Bronson
04-25-2003, 01:49 AM
But would you consider the pooint that while you are considering your tactic (pronated vs supinated palm) you are distracted and as you transition (no matter how short the time frame) from pronated to supinated palm you provide an opening?

Absolutely. That's all part of the plan. To provide an opening. One I am fully aware exists and am ready to defend. I was also the type of fencer that would take my favored stances in front of a mirror and ask myself "if I were fighting this guy, where would I attack him?". I didn't change my stances to cover these open spots, I worked to accentuate them and bring my opponents attention to them. I would practice and practice to be able to defend those openings from any position of my blade. I figured that it's impossible to be completely covered so better to have the openings be of my choosing.

In seidokan we would call this shodo o siesu, to control the first move. If uke is going to attack, lead his mind to attack you where you want it.
It may or may not be what I wanted to see, but there you have it: next move!

And all that happens in about 1 1/2 seconds :D

Believe it or not I scored a lot of hits by quickly tapping the ground with my tip, and bouncing it back up. I could actually see the opponents head look down to where the noise had come from...as my tip hit their face :D

I've been kinda thinking about this off and on all day. I think of my dog and the differences in how she reacts to me looking at her normally or with a more stern look. I think of my childhood and how all my mother had to do was look at me a certain way and I'd stop whatever it was I was doing. Watching sensei tonight and noticing that just before uke reaches him he lowers his center just a bit, and uke's center follows right along. When teaching new people escapes from a wrist grab we'll have them hold real tight and we'll use muscle to try to pull ourselves out then we show them what happens if we give a little resistance and then take it away...our hand pops right out because when we relax so do they. Or when you learn how a soft gaze will bring uke in

and a hard one will keep them back...just a bit but it's still there.

Oops, there I go rambling again...I should really be sleeping :p

Bronson

Abasan
04-25-2003, 03:40 AM
Bronson,

i always thought that in fencing, you're only allowed to attack from certain stances/positions. most of it with your hands straight.

Although, some defensive positions allow an immediate counter attack that can be counted as well.

bouncing the tip to the floor and then hitting them in the face... is that allowed?

opherdonchin
04-25-2003, 10:24 AM
You know, Bronson, these wisdoms I learned in Seidokan about inviting uke in and also about the shodo o seisu of accentuating your openings are really missing for me when I go to dojos from other styles. Of course, there is a lot to learn in the other dojos that I may not have gotten in my Seidokan dojo, but still ...

willy_lee
04-25-2003, 05:26 PM
Willy,

It seems that many of these ideas are fairly ubiquitous among the martial arts. For example:
Um, I never said that they were unique to aikido. In fact the article doesn't discuss aikido at all, and is not written by an aikidoist. Did you actually read the article?

I just thought it was interesting to look at these ideas in relation to aikido practice. In my dojo we practice leading and "eye threats". But what this article, and to some extent Bronson and Opher seem to be talking about, is how much more there is to the general concept than leading and eye threats. Thought people might find it interesting to think about what else they can do to subliminally take initiative or dominate the opponent.

After all, isn't that what aiki is about? [ducks and puts on Nomex suit]

=wl

willy_lee
04-25-2003, 05:34 PM
Believe it or not I scored a lot of hits by quickly tapping the ground with my tip, and bouncing it back up. I could actually see the opponents head look down to where the noise had come from...as my tip hit their face :D
Heh heh, too bad the mask makes it hard to see expression. Would have loved to see that :)
I think of my childhood and how all my mother had to do was look at me a certain way and I'd stop whatever it was I was doing. Watching sensei tonight and noticing that just before uke reaches him he lowers his center just a bit, and uke's center follows right along....Or when you learn how a soft gaze will bring uke in

and a hard one will keep them back...just a bit but it's still there.
Yeah, that's kind of what I was getting at. That's some cool stuff. I think I'm going to start playing with that more.

=wl

Paul Clark
04-25-2003, 07:12 PM
Bronson,

i always thought that in fencing, you're only allowed to attack from certain stances/positions. most of it with your hands straight.

Although, some defensive positions allow an immediate counter attack that can be counted as well.

bouncing the tip to the floor and then hitting them in the face... is that allowed?
Ahmad,

I don't know of any rules in fencing that prohibit your doing anything at all with stance, arms, hands, legs, or point of the weapon. There are different "allowed" target areas for the three weapons: in Epee, any part of the body,including the head/mask is legal and fair to score on, and I'm nearly positive that's what Bronson fenced. In Saber, it's everything above the waist, including the head, arms, hands, etc. In foil, it's just the torso between the edges of the shoulders and down to the groin. I fenced foil and some saber, never tried epee.

Paul

Dave Miller
04-26-2003, 04:05 PM
Willy,

I guess I read the article thinking it was written by an aikidoka speaking of aikido. Having the proper context, I see what you're talking about. That's actually the direction I was headed.

:cool:

Bronson
04-27-2003, 12:17 AM
always thought that in fencing, you're only allowed to attack from certain stances/positions. most of it with your hands straight.

It's been a while since I've done any fencing and even longer since I've done any foil. I believe there is a rule that you can't turn your back on your opponent...not sure though.
bouncing the tip to the floor and then hitting them in the face... is that allowed?

In rennaisance period fencing it is. We fenced with schlagers, "in the round". We took an area and were allowed to move all over in it, instead of in just a straight line. The off-hand was also used to sweep blades away or to control the bell of the opponents weapon. You could also opt to use a second weapon (sword or dagger) or some type of parrying device either rigid (small buckler shield, baton, scabbard, etc.) or flexible (cloak, cape, etc). The entire body is legal target area. I personally found it a lot easier to apply aikido principles in this setting than I did in strip fencing.
You know, Bronson, these wisdoms I learned in Seidokan about inviting uke in and also about the shodo o seisu of accentuating your openings are really missing for me when I go to dojos from other styles. Of course, there is a lot to learn in the other dojos that I may not have gotten in my Seidokan dojo, but still ...

I hear ya. I really like what I'm learning in seidokan, but I also like trying other styles and teachers because I like the other perspectives and interpretations.

Bronson

SeiserL
04-27-2003, 12:35 PM
IMHO, subtle more than sublimianl gestures can distract or redirect the mind. Atemi as a feint is a good example. Anything that interrupts the pattern. But, trickery is never a substitute for skill.

opherdonchin
04-27-2003, 02:11 PM
I was wondering about the use of the word subliminal but chose not to challenge it, actually.

Still, as skill increases uke becomes less and less consciously aware of the gesture and how it has affected their movements, no?

Abasan
04-28-2003, 03:28 AM
I think rhythm is something similar to whats being discussed here.

Arts such as Silat, Tomoi (Thai Kickboxing), Capoiera and etc all uses rhythm and sometimes music in their sparring.

Most wushu or boxing practicioners will also move at a certain rhythm corresponding to their breathing and attacks. Maintaining the correct rhythm and pace allows the fighter to make effective attacks and defends whilst keeping stamina. They also use their own rhythm to upset the opponents, thereby making it easier to attack and put him off balance.

happysod
04-28-2003, 03:43 AM
Ahmed, I'll have to disagree with you here. What you're describing is a much harder form of misdirection than just a subtle distraction, which normally has a single focus and/or purpose. Using patterns of movement to affect your opponent is not only very difficult, but also relies on a more protracted combat than you'll have in a typical unarmed bout (with no rules).

I've certainly seen this used with weapons or "sport" boxing, but I'm not sure how it would be applied to a real (unarmed) situation. I'd be very interested to hear of any examples of this people have (but please, no "staring contest" tales)

Jappzz
04-28-2003, 03:55 AM
Just my two cents...

With every new batch of eager, aspiring aikidoka that enter our dojo i have made pretty intressting dicovery,

Many of the expected defensive reactions to techniques and atemi (hard or soft) will fail to show.

I'd like like to put this in comparison to whats been said earlier about the reaction of expriencenced practicioners.

With begginners i don't think this happens by accident but instead i often hear people asking what kind of threat the technique/atemi is suppused to pose. This has lead me to belive that there might be cultural diffrences in what we recognize as a threat.

And also how skilled does one have to be to be able to foresee potential followups from a grip for instance.

With som experience we learn the gruesome possibilitys of such a situation but what if we face an opponent, possibly wielding a blade who doesn't recognize our feingted (or real)threats as just threats.

Are the techniques and principles of "SG" really that universal in this case?

Is Aikido atemi and SG only effective in it's full extent on relatively seasoned fighters?

opherdonchin
04-28-2003, 08:26 AM
Ah, the 'effectiveness' issue looms once more.

Bronson
04-28-2003, 02:10 PM
Is Aikido atemi and SG only effective in it's full extent on relatively seasoned fighters?

Possibly, but I don't really think so.

If you look at most dojo situations the beginner is pretty darn safe. Everybody's been really nice to them, is taking it rather slow and not trying to injure them or let them injure themselves. We ask the beginner to "pretend" we are going full speed and that they really attacked us and this is a real situation and to act accordingly. But it's not real, it's pretend. I think if you were to take that same person and stick them in a truly threatening situation you would see a marked improvement in their awarness of physical danger and their reaction times.

The short of it is that most beginners aren't expecting to get smacked/hurt/atemied :) or whatever, so they're not even considering that they should be looking to defend against something like that. Once they know that if I can touch there face I can hit there face their awareness starts to come up.

But that's just my take.

Bronson

Bronson
04-28-2003, 02:21 PM
Boy now I'm really confused :confused:

I'm going to disagree with my last post.

Maybe self-protection reflexes are learned and not ingrained. I just thought about a child learning to catch a ball. If self-protection reflexes were automatic the child would never get bonked in the head with the ball. He'd move or deflect it. Now that I really think about it those people we've had in class who were completely foreign in their own bodies and couldn't for the life of them anticipate any type of attack or how to avoid it, led a completelty unphysical life up to that point. I wonder if what I'm thinking of as reflexes are really reactions learned over a lifetime of getting hit with balls, falling off bikes, falling out of trees, wrestling with other kids, playing tag, playing dodgeball, etc. Over time we learn that something coming at us quickly will probably hurt if it connects. If someone led the type of life where they didn't have those experinences then when they started in a dojo they would essentially be at the stage of a small child learning to catch a ball, having no deep internal body awareness telling them to move or block it.

Like I said, I've gone and confused myself all up :confused:

Bronson

opherdonchin
04-28-2003, 04:11 PM
I think you're right in both posts, Bronson. You're right that most beginners don't know how to 'slow down' their movements and yet also stay true to what would happen if it was all happening at speed. I think that learning how to do this is a big part of learning Aikido. By learning to go comfortably back and forth between fast and slow, you can carry lessons from one over to the other. We can't expect beginners to know this, but we still basically want to train for the physical realities of the fast speed and not the slow.

I also think you're right about the second thing. Think about it this way: even if it wasn't a question of learning vs. instinct, still different people will have very different reaction times and very different coordination skills. You can't assume uke is going to see your atemi and you can't assume he or she is going to know what to do about it and you probably shouldn't even assume that you are strong enough to hurt them with it. One of the teachers at my dojo told a story of trying to restrain a drug user in an emergency room. Someone got a good solid nikyo on the guy and then the guy just used the nikyo to throw said somebody across the room. The guy's wrist was totally shattered by this, but he was so high he didn't notice and just kept fighting.

Nothing is more effective than being able to ready your opponent and to see what will and won't work on them.

DavidEllard
04-29-2003, 04:55 AM
I have been taught some of these almost "subliminal gestures" by my teachers. And we spend a lot of time looking at similar ideas. The best example I can think of that I was shown and can be easily tried (either in the dojo or as a thought experiment) is as uke coming in for a yokomen strike Tori points at uke's back knee - bringing his hips to bear on the opponent. This more often than results in uke truncating the attack/freezing/leaping back even.

ian
04-29-2003, 05:18 AM
Excellent thread.

I have been told that the only truly instinctive responses are to the groin and eyes (flinching).

Also, when you watch Ueshiba in demo's he very often points with his hand or flicks his hand around before the attack. I'm not sure if he is actually saying what kind of attack he wants in mnay cases, but in some situations it seems more like a leading or distracting action.

Notice the difference in any blending exercises or techniques between grabbing nage softly or hard - with a hard grab nage often directs their focus to the hand and therefore has difficulty blending effectively.

I think mis-direction is a major part of aikido. Since it is (mostly) non-competitive, most people who attack will not have a clue what you are doing (just as most people can't detect pick-pockets).

This is to me a major part of aikido which is not fully explored.

(P.S. the techique where Ueshiba bends down in front of the attacker into a very prone position - notice he always raises himself up first, to raise uke onto their toes).

Ian

kensparrow
04-29-2003, 11:45 AM
The best example I can think of that I was shown and can be easily tried (either in the dojo or as a thought experiment) is as uke coming in for a yokomen strike Tori points at uke's back knee - bringing his hips to bear on the opponent.
David,

That sounds really interesting. Can you explain it in more detail? I'm having a hard time visualizing the move.

Thanks

Dave Miller
04-30-2003, 11:09 AM
Just my two cents...

With every new batch of eager, aspiring aikidoka that enter our dojo i have made pretty intressting dicovery,

Many of the expected defensive reactions to techniques and atemi (hard or soft) will fail to show...

Is Aikido atemi and SG only effective in it's full extent on relatively seasoned fighters?
I'll take a stab at this.

I think that there are two things that effect the reaction of a newcomer:The newcomer doesn't know how to make a "committed" attack. They tend to pull and hedge so that their balance is never "offered". That makes it much easier for them to react in a "non-catastrophic" fashion, thus not reacting how they're "supposed to". I have seen new students not respond to eye threats and such in kata but when I simply walk up to them and offer a hard, controled backhand to their face, they jump out of their skin! The difference is both the suprise and also the felt intent. As more experienced aikidoka, we know both how to make that committed attack and how we're "supposed to" respond.

I think that experienced folks are often hessitent to make good "hard" atemi to newcomers. Whether or not we actually hit them is somewhat beside the point. If we have enough control, we ought to be able to toss up a hard atemi within a millimeter or so of their nose. If that, combined with a strong feeling of intent (projection of the ki, if you like) doesn't provoke a response, then they need to see a neuro-scientist.

Regarding whether these "self protection reflexes" are innate or learned, they are definitely innate. Just think about wandering around grandma's back yard and being "knocked down" by the clothes line without it ever touching you. It all goes back to their learning how to make solid, committed attacks (a difficult skill indeed, IMHO) and feeling the intent of the atemi.

Does this make sense or am I out to lunch?

Bronson
04-30-2003, 03:16 PM
they are definitely innate. Just think about wandering around grandma's back yard and being "knocked down" by the clothes line without it ever touching you.

As evidenced by my posts above I can be on either side of this depending on the day. Today I'm going to say they are learned and not innate ;) In your example the child/person (no, they're not the same :D ) is wandering around. This tells me they can walk and probably have been doing it for a while since their head can reach the clothesline. In the process of learning to walk kids run into things, a lot of things. They learn that running into stuff hurts. They also learn to try to avoid running into stuff. If these reactions were truly innate then small children just learning to walk wouldn't run face first into stuff. Or they'd protect their eyes and face, or in my example in a previous post they'd do something to keep the ball from hitting them in the head.
If we have enough control, we ought to be able to toss up a hard atemi within a millimeter or so of their nose. ...they jump out of their skin!

I don't know if I'd recommend the action in the first quote because of the response in the second quote. The beginner may react but there's a good chance it won't be what is appropriate for their (or your) safety. If you throw the atemi to within a mm of their nose I think you'll find more than a couple will hurt their nose on your fist when they "jump out of their skin". I once witnessed an incident while at a friends house. He was putting the dishes away and had a small paring knife in his hand. His sister walked by across the room. He jokingly (yes it was dumb but kids are dumb) held it in front of him and said he was "gonna get her". She lunged across the distance (better than 10 feet) screaming NOOOOOOO!!! and jammed the palm of her hand onto the paring knife. He never moved toward her, never "attacked" her. It was not a response that I would say was in her best interest of safety but she just reacted.

Bronson

Dave Miller
04-30-2003, 04:24 PM
Bronson,

Speaking as a biologist, I can assure you that the protective reflexive reactions (especially protecting the face/eyes) are indeed innate and not learned. They can be tuned and honed but they are, at their most basic, innate. The reason while toddlers run into stuff is because their nervous system is still developing and all their reflexes are not yet functioning at full capacity. Most of the reflexes of a newborn are built around eating. The other ones come later.

As for your point about the "wisdom" of hard, controlled atemi at newbies, I understand what you're saying. I was offering that more as an illustration of how to provoke a response. I think that if newbies are allowed to see that atemi can be quite real that it can help them to respond more realistically themselves.

The notion of a learned response to atemi is precisely because of the clothes line example I offered. We flinch at the clothes line because we don't expect it. We don't "flinch" at atemi in kata because we do expect it and therefore have to learn to emmulate the "flinch". However, making the atemi more "real" in the beginning may help to illustrate the need for the reaction.

Did that make any more sense? (I'm not sure it did to me... ;))

Bronson
04-30-2003, 10:37 PM
Did that make any more sense?
Yes...um, no...wait, um ok...maybe? :confused:

Bronson :D

Jeff R.
05-01-2003, 06:50 AM
Speaking as a biologist as well . . . it's interesting discussion as to whether protective response and fight vs. flight are innate or learned, but there are truths that go a little deeper than cultural perspective. Everyone blinks when something is blown into the eyes. Everyone responds when another entity makes contact or displays an intent to make contact. Our task is to identify the subtleties of Atemi and utilize the elicited responses to supplement the techniques. My brother and I--about 270 lbs. and 200 lbs. respectively--have been studying a range of martial arts and full contact sparring for many years. We have relatively solid centers. When we began studying Aikido, we used to crank on each other's joints to make the techniques work. Then we started really getting into Atemi, strong thrusts to the face or abdomen, rapid shots to the groin or other parts of the body, and it made the techniques very effective.

Then we finally got a little older and smartened up a bit.

Now, the Atemi is little more than snapping the fingers in uke's face. A quick blow--but with the breath--to the eyes. (Onions for lunch help immensely!)

Atemi is subtle and does not need to make contact. It depends upon how involved Nage becomes with Uke's spirit and ki. Less connection, harder Atemi; more connection, more subtle Atemi.

We all go through the "does-this-really-work, daito-ryu-to-make-it-stronger" phase, and we know that Atemi is 98% of Aikido. But if your Atemi is slamming, breaking, bruising, bloodying, then you're doing 98% boxing.

Make a funny face. Fart. Flap your elbows like a chicken. Does it elicit a response from Uke that may facilitate a resolution to the situation? If so, then you have performed your Atemiwaza.

George S. Ledyard
05-05-2003, 09:21 AM
IMHO, subtle more than subliminal gestures can distract or redirect the mind. Atemi as a feint is a good example. Anything that interrupts the pattern. But, trickery is never a substitute for skill.
Lynn, I wasn't sure what you meant here... the ability to use atemi or other movement to control the perception of the attacker IS skill. Because of the connection between intention and action and the necessity for perfect timing in doing this type of technique one simply can't do this type of thing without being skilled. Was I missing something about what you call "trickery"?

Chuck Clark
05-05-2003, 10:31 AM
Skillful trickery is what budo strategy is about.

Lead the mind. Let them believe what they think is going to happen is actually going to happen and then change it just enough that they have a really hard time feeling it but gravity grabs them and they can't stand up or be dangerous any more.

Hey George, how's it going?

George S. Ledyard
05-05-2003, 10:50 AM
Skillful trickery is what budo strategy is about.

Lead the mind. Let them believe what they think is going to happen is actually going to happen and then change it just enough that they have a really hard time feeling it but gravity grabs them and they can't stand up or be dangerous any more.

Hey George, how's it going?
Hi Chuck!

Life is good. Lots to tell next time we meet.

- George

Dave Miller
05-06-2003, 02:03 PM
Good post, Jeff!

Mark Jakabcsin
05-06-2003, 09:34 PM
Using patterns of movement to affect your opponent is not only very difficult, but also relies on a more protracted combat than you'll have in a typical unarmed bout (with no rules).

I've certainly seen this used with weapons or "sport" boxing, but I'm not sure how it would be applied to a real (unarmed) situation. I'd be very interested to hear of any examples of this people have (but please, no "staring contest" tales)
Ian,

I gotta disagree with just about everything in this post. IF, stress IF, you understand the mental aspect of a person when they really attack another, the 'patterns of movement' used to affect them is not difficult nor does it require protracted combat as you claim. Actually the opposite, the movements are simple and time required is a smidgen over nothing. The key is in understanding what is happening and why, then not being afraid to fail and look foolish as you experiment. (Note the second is part is more important than the first.)

Personally I found that such movements to be far more affective and reliable in real life than in dojo or sport settings where the attacker is concerned with aspects 'other' than attacking. In the dojo or sport, folks tend to be far more fake and far from real. To understand those statements you will need to understand what is really going on in the attackers mind and how one attacks another. The study of being human.

As for real life situations, which I assume you will ask for next, a public forum is not the place I wish to discuss such matters. Actually, I will not put anything in writing for obvious reasons. You are welcome to read into that however you like.

mark

Mark Jakabcsin
05-06-2003, 10:18 PM
Maybe self-protection reflexes are learned and not ingrained. I just thought about a child learning to catch a ball. If self-protection reflexes were automatic the child would never get bonked in the head with the ball. He'd move or deflect it

Bronson
Bronson,

You make a very interesting theoretical point but it has limited practical application. Remember that balance is a learned response, it is NOT a reflex and yet you can manipulate it like a reflex. Eventually over time balance becomes as close to a reflex as possible but it is still not a reflex, similar to the self-protection defenses you mention above. Note people with severe head trauma or protracted comas need to re-learn how to walk. Their bodies have forgotten how to balance, however they still have their reflexes, i.e. balance or self-protection (ball catching) defenses are learned but reflex like once learned.

IMO, one of the major reasons why people are having trouble with manipulating these 'self-protection reflexes' (nice descriptive phrase) is that THEY aren't REAL with their manipulation. If you want someone to react to your atemi, your atemi must be real and 'YOU' must believe your atemi is real. If you don't believe in it how in the hell can you expect your attacker to believe in it. BE REAL!

The second major problem I normally see when folks try to accomplish such manipulation is that they move too fast and frequently outside the range of vision of the attacker. If my motion is so fast my attacker barely sees it or if my motion is outside the range of their vision there is no way they are going to react. 'In general' (big quotes there) any manipulation must be accomplished at the same speed or slower than the attacker and within their range of vision. If they still don't react as you want so what, your atemi is for real. Right?

Short story. A few months ago at a seminar I was working with a retired state police officer, who had more than his fair share of real life situations. During his attack I moved off line and initiated a left hook to his jaw. It was a fairly big, somewhat lazy hook, but it landed square on his jaw and dropped him to one knee and I never got to accomplish the intended technique. He got up a little pissed and I asked if he was being real with his attack. He said he was so I asked if he saw the hook.

He said, 'Sure it was big and slow, how could I miss it.'

I asked why he didn't move out of the way.

He said, 'Because I didn't think you were really going to hit me, this is training and I am the attacker, not you.'

I asked him what he did when he was confronting someone as a police officer and he saw a hook coming. He said he would move and then beat the crap out of them. I asked, 'Then, if you were being real then why did my slow hook land? Why didn't you move?'

After the dumb look on his face expired he realized it was his fault he got hit and not mine. Plus, I never apologize when someone else doesn't do the minumum to protect themselves. Not surprisingly he started moving after that and his mental state went from dojo to real.

Some might say this is not doable with all beginners (although Mike was far from a beginner). I would counter that in not doing so you are cheating your partner in the most valuable training of the day, that of uke. When we are uke we should be learning how to do the minumum to protect ourselves (moving out of the way of a slow hook would qualify here).

When we are uke we 'should' be learning what it means to attack another person so we understand what is going on mentally in the attacker and how to manipulate it (this takes time). IMO, many of the best leasons are learned when playing the role of uke not tori. However, as I travel around I frequently see uke's that are more worried about what tori is doing and ignoring 'their' learning opportunities. Sad.

mark

P.S. Survival is moment to moment, techniques are a myth.

Dave Miller
05-07-2003, 10:03 AM
Remember that balance is a learned response, it is NOT a reflex... Eventually over time balance becomes as close to a reflex as possible but it is still not a reflex, similar to the self-protection defenses you mention above.Actually, balance is based on reflex action. Reflex action is muscle movements that are processed in the spinal cord rather than traveling to the brain to be acted on consciously. Balance is sensed by the semi-circular canals in the inner ear but the specific muscle movements that make balance possible are spinal reactions, not brain reactions.

The typical example of a reflex is tapping the patelar ligament and getting the familiar "knee jerk" reaction. This happens because of tension receptors in the ligament that cause spontaneous contractions of the thigh muscles in order to keep a person upright. This same principle applies to other reflexes (protective actions) such as flinching when something moves rapidly towards the face.

Imagine for a second if protective actions were conscious rather than reflexive. Our brain would have to evaluate that object flying in from the corner of our visual field and determine whether it was a threat or not. By the time we decided it was threat, we would probably already have sustained an injury. More than that, we might not know to recognize a particular object as a threat and still be injured. It is the fact that this is a reflex that makes us flinch at tiny bugs the same as baseballs.

Mark Jakabcsin
05-07-2003, 11:15 AM
Dave,

Ian's concern was that self-protection reactions might not be reflexes but actually learned responses, hence making them different for each person based on what they have learned. He gave the example of children get hit by the ball when first learning to catch. My point was that it doesn't matter if these self-protection defenses are true reflexes or simply so ingrained in us that they act like reflexes. Either way one can manipulate them the same.

We don't jump out of the womb with the ability to balance ourselves. Even after a baby has the muscle strength to do so it still takes them some time to learn how to balance themselves. As you point out this learning takes place in more than just the brain, which speeds up reaction time. For our purposes this only helps us manipulate these self-protection reflexes to our advantage.

mark

Dave Miller
05-07-2003, 11:20 AM
We don't jump out of the womb with the ability to balance ourselves. Even after a baby has the muscle strength to do so it still takes them some time to learn how to balance themselves. As you point out this learning takes place in more than just the brain, which speeds up reaction time. For our purposes this only helps us manipulate these self-protection reflexes to our advantage.

markI see what you're saying now, Mark and I defenitely agree that reflexes can be trained and tuned. Part of training new aikidoka should be training those reflexes so that they can be effective ukes. IMHO, being a good uke is at least as hard, if not harder, than learning the technique itself.

Bronson
05-07-2003, 03:32 PM
Ian's concern was that self-protection reactions might not be reflexes but actually learned responses...

Actually that was me. I don't want Ian getting blamed for anything I say :D

Bronson

Mark Jakabcsin
05-07-2003, 03:36 PM
Oops. Ahhhh, yeah Bronson not Ian. I was just testing to see if anyone was paying attention. Yeah testing, that's it.

mark

SeiserL
05-08-2003, 09:04 AM
Lynn, I wasn't sure what you meant here... the ability to use atemi or other movement to control the perception of the attacker IS skill. Because of the connection between intention and action and the necessity for perfect timing in doing this type of technique one simply can't do this type of thing without being skilled. Was I missing something about what you call "trickery"?
I doubt you missed anything. Perhaps I was too brief. I have seen people who try to do fancy tricks rather than train in the basics. These tricks seldom work becuase they have not been patterned into the level of skills. I am a real basic simple guy, and so is my fighting skill.

Dave Miller
05-08-2003, 09:57 AM
As I read through this thread, it seems that several of us are saying essentially the same thing in different ways. Let me give an example.

When I teach Shomen Ate, after the basics are "understood", the next thing I talk about is "leading". I encourage the young aikidoka to think about drawing uke with their off hand. This serves to subtly continue their forward motion, thus making the "finish move" more effective. It's like you're subliminally telling uke, "Go ahead, keep coming" and then you put them down. It's very subtle and also very effective.

I think that much of what we're talking about falls into this category, it serves as a form of misdirection, getting uke to focus their attention on some place other then where you're gonna come from next.

What think ye?

happysod
05-22-2003, 12:12 PM
Dave, yes I'd agree with you on this one, misdirection I'd put under the heading of subtle distractions.

Mark, sorry for the delay in responding, I lost this post... Couple of things. Firstly a complaint, you've ruined a new thread I was considering as you've already brought up the point of accidently training our ukes to expect failure in their attacks, rather than success. If you do have any tips on how to get rid of some of the unconcious "defensive" attacks, especially between Kyu attacking dan grades I'd be very interested.

Secondly, could you expand on the rythm bit as my understanding of what was being stated was the use of your own body rythm to influence (mesmorise?) your opponent. For this to work I can still only envisage some protracted set-up. You seemed to have a different take - ok so no combat tales out of school, but any chance of an expansion on your view?

Mark Jakabcsin
05-23-2003, 11:03 AM
Ian wrote “Firstly a complaint, you've ruined a new thread I was considering as you've already brought up the point of accidently training our ukes to expect failure in their attacks, rather than success. If you do have any tips on how to get rid of some of the unconcious "defensive" attacks, especially between Kyu attacking dan grades I'd be very interested.”

Sounds like a good idea for a thread, I recommend you start it, I barely touched on the subject earlier. This is a tough issue because each situation is different and each person is different. I feel one of the major reasons that uke expects failure is that he/she isn’t even thinking about attacking but watching tori complete the technique. So many folks don’t understand that at least half of the learning opportunity takes place when playing the role of uke, hence they don’t attack and attempt to become a spectator. Part of learning how to do a technique is learning why it works and what the affect is when done properly & improperly. This information is gathered much faster while being uke. Ever notice how the new student that attacks with commitment generally learns faster than the student that does not attack with commitment? Answer; educate new students on the importance of being uke and the educational opportunities available while being uke. I will email you an essay that is a good starting point.

The other general aid to helping students attack correctly is a good environment. This one is a little touchy-feely but imo is at the core of some dojo's problems. Each training partner needs to feel comfortable with the training pace and intensity, not just the senior student. When a junior student is afraid of being hurt, they will not attack worth a crap. Respect between the ranks is sometimes missing, if you doubt this go to a large seminar and wear a white belt. I always do and the looks, responses, and attitudes of the majority of ‘senior’ folks is eye opening and depressing. Creating a positive environment based on respect is the responsibility of the senior instructor, that is why they make the big bucks. :)

Ian also wrote: “Secondly, could you expand on the rythm bit as my understanding of what was being stated was the use of your own body rythm to influence (mesmorise?) your opponent. For this to work I can still only envisage some protracted set-up.”

Ian, this really is a part of what I touched on in my first paragraph, playing the role of uke. You point out that one must mesmerize your opponent. In order to do such a thing one must first understand the fundamentals of attacking and what is going through the attackers mind just prior to attacking and during the attack. This is a very deep and lengthy topic to cover with any degree of completeness, which I am attempting to avoid due to time and medium constraints.

Let me just touch on one small aspect to give you some ideas for exploration. When a person decides consciously to attack (say punch or grab) another there are a number of sub-conscious variables that are calculated in a fraction of a second. Things such as target selection (nose, eye, stomach, chest etc.), range to selected target, expected possible reactions to attack (pull head back, duck down, step back, etc.), angle of attack, selection of attack method, estimation of success rate (not always done by everyone), consideration of defensive/protective action based on expected success rate, etc., etc. Let’s just look at the first three; target selection, range and expected possible reactions. The attacker decides to throw a straight punch to the victims nose, in an instant he has selected the target (nose), method (straight punch), and range (he knows if he needs to step or not). In that same instant he has also reviewed possible reactions to the attack and calculated appropriate responses to increase the chance of success. All of this is done sub-consciously, based off of our prior experiences, and in a fraction of a second. When understood, all of this creates opportunities for manipulation of the attacker.

What happens when the victim moves in an unexpected manner AND changes the range or disrupts the intended target? If done to early in the attacker's evaluation process, the attacker simply makes the needed evaluation changes and attacks. However if these manipulations occur at just the right time the victim can make the attacker freeze, over extend, follow a fake target, or a number of other possibilities. Keep in mind there is more than one ‘right time’ possible, it all depends on what the victim is intending to accomplish.

Example #1: attacker assumes a boxing style stance and squares off with victim. Just as the attacker settles to throw the punch, but before the punch is thrown, the victim steps slightly to one side. The range and angle of attack have changed to the target so the attacker will stop the intended attack, adjust and re-compute the attack variables. Then the attacker begins to settle for the punch again and the victim moves slightly again. The same thing happens, over and over again. The victim is actually manipulating the attacker and moving them around the room to find the area best suited for his defense/escape. This may seem small but really is at the heart of subtle manipulation and it makes for a nice practice drill.

Example #2: Same set-up as above but the victim waits longer before manipulating the attacker. As the attacker settles for the attack his eyes will focus on the target. Keep in mind the attacker is aware that the victim may move during the attack so focusing on the target increases the chance of success (not everyone does this but most do). The victim understands the target (say the nose) and waits patiently for the physical part of the attack to begin. The instant that the attacker begins to move forward for the assault, the victim raises a hand towards the target of the attacker (the hand should be raise with the blade of the hand facing the attacker so he has the least amount of surface are to see). Once the hand reaches the target (area of focus of the attacker) the victim twists the hand so the palm is facing out towards the attacker and moves said hand slightly to one side of his face. This is creating a secondary target. Remember the attacker realizes the possibility of movement by the victim and has calculated the possibility that he might need to adjust slightly during the punch. The hand becomes a secondary target that the attacker will follow as long as: a) the timing is right, b) the speed of the hand is slow enough to be tracked thereby replacing/displacing the original target, and c) the range of motion isn’t out of the range of possibility (i.e. the hand should be moved no more than a few inches from the original target). Move the hand to far or to fast and it falls out side the range of possibilities the attacker has pre-set, and it is discarded as a possible target.

Misdirection such as this is fairly easy and can be accomplished on just about any attack to some degree. It can be as simple as moving the arm (target) slightly as the attacker attempts to grab to extend the attacker farther than the attacker originally intended, thereby creating an opening. Misdirection and manipulation of the attacker requires one to really understand how one attacks and the inherent weaknesses in each attack. Frankly the simpler the set-up the better the results, long complex manipulations are prone to fail simply due to their complex nature. KISS.

I am not sure if my ramble even answered your question or not but that is all I have for now. Take care.

mark

George S. Ledyard
05-25-2003, 10:04 AM
Excellent thread.

I have been told that the only truly instinctive responses are to the groin and eyes (flinching).

Also, when you watch Ueshiba in demo's he very often points with his hand or flicks his hand around before the attack. I'm not sure if he is actually saying what kind of attack he wants in mnay cases, but in some situations it seems more like a leading or distracting action.

Notice the difference in any blending exercises or techniques between grabbing nage softly or hard - with a hard grab nage often directs their focus to the hand and therefore has difficulty blending effectively.

I think mis-direction is a major part of aikido. Since it is (mostly) non-competitive, most people who attack will not have a clue what you are doing (just as most people can't detect pick-pockets).

This is to me a major part of aikido which is not fully explored.

(P.S. the technique where Ueshiba bends down in front of the attacker into a very prone position - notice he always raises himself up first, to raise uke onto their toes).

Ian
There are a number of ways in which misdirection takes place in Aikido. For instance we often throw an atemi in Aikido which is designed, not to actually strike the attacker, but to simply create the necessity for him to deal with it. While he deals with the atemi he isn't striking us. You have caused his attention and his physical body to be moentarily occupied in order to create time for your own movement.

Another area in which we use misdirection is in leading the attacker's perception. For instance when trying to do shomen uchi irimi nage. If the attacker has strong intention to hit you it is often difficult to get off the line. The attacker perceives your movement and tracks you. But it is possible to do an atemi with the front hand, just as uke raises his hand to strike, which catches his attention for an instant. As you turn your hips to get off the line of attack you rapidly pull the hand down past you drawing the attention of the attacker past you towards your original position. You will find that the attacker can barely track you at all because he sees your off the line movement too late.

This works because our perception tends to pick up what is in the foreground and what carries the most energy. The atemi temporarily catches that attention of the uke and for an instant you can lead that attention away from what you don't wish them to see.

Another way in which we create misdirection is to cause drift in the direction of the attack. The eyes are essentially the main detector in the attacker's "target acquisition system". Soft focus is used so that perceptions are largely from the movement receptors at the periphery of the eyes. If something moves across the field of vision it triggers the maximum number of these receptors and creates the awareness of movement. If uke does a tsuki to the face and nage moves his hand in such a way that, for an instant, the hand passes in front of the intended target, it tends to catch the attention of the attacker and can cause his attack to drift off of the target. This is no different than the same concept used by submarines and fighter planes when they use a decoy to confuse the targeting of an incoming torpedo or missile.

Finally, one other method of causing an attacker to change his movement without touching him is by setting up the appearance of impact and then suddenly removing it. For instance, in yokomen uchi. If nage quickly brings his arm up, as if to forcefully block the incoming strike and then at the very last instant pulls the arm away, the uke is very likely to have made a subtle adjustment to his strike in anticipation of the impact and when it doesn't happen he has shortened the arc of his attack and misses the intended target. He will be very sure that, up until the actual instant that he misses, that he was going to hit the nage.

If you watch the Systema stuff you will see that there are many more uses of this type of subliminal effects on the partner which we don't really get into in Aikido. I am looking forward to the Expo in September to see if I can pick up some more technique along these lines.