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Chris Birke
04-05-2004, 02:47 PM
I'm confused; a committed attack in training is a paradox.

For me, a committed attack would have the intent of hurting my training partner.

If my training partner is doing Aikido, there is no way I expect a single punch out of nowhere is going to hurt (or likely even hit) them.

How can such a thing then be committed? To abandon the awareness that such an attack is doomed from the start is to weaken myself before the attack, and certainly not true committment.

A true attack would consist of a systematic destruction of my opponent, not any single technique. Only techniques within such a framework can truely be committed for me.

I think that maybe real committed attacks are too dangerous for training; that the best we can hope for is simulated committed attacks. Is this what is really meant when people say "committed attack"?

Maybe it's a committed attack to a specific part of the opponent, like the stomach. Still, as long as I understand how my opponent moves, my attack is going to be adaptive, timed right, and setup (this system, again). Throwing a committed attack from out of nowhere at someone I know to be anticipating it is mentally akin to trying to throw a committed attack while standing on my head.

I'm sure this will be contraversial, and I suspect I don't understand something, so I'd love it if we could discuss this.

John Boswell
04-05-2004, 03:35 PM
Commit - definition # 3 b : to pledge or assign to some particular course or use <commit all troops to the attack>
To commit an attack is to assign your attack to some particular course or use. In the event of aikido training, its purpose is to hit the nage is he's taking too long or to miss him and be where you are supposed to be in such a manner for nage to execute a technique.

Please notice: no where in the definition does it mention "systematic destruction."

In essence, you are putting forth an attack, time after time, in order for the nage to train and understand what to do with that attack. Training is a set up!

As nage, its your job to get off line and receive the attack in such a manner as to not be harmed. It is your DUTY to NOT get hit! If you do, Uke will feel bad but it is ultimately the Nage's problem to worry about the attack, not Uke. Uke is there to do what he's told: "Shomen uchi!"... Okay, strike to the head. Look out, buddy! Here it comes! "Kiai!" chop
Maybe it's a committed attack to a specific part of the opponent, like the stomach.
Excellent point, Chris. A committed attack doesn't mean that once you strike shomen uchi... because you missed, you then have to turn and start throwing punches and kicks and keep going after the guy. He either does the technique or he doesn't... in which case, you attack again in a new unit of time just as before. And... attacks are given in a specific manner such as to the head, side of the head, chest, wrist grab, shoulder grab, etc.

Also realize that as skills improve and people move up in rank, you can also accelerate the intensity of the attack. As a total newbie to aikido, Sensei could yell "Get off line!" but a seriously committed attack would have had me frozen in my tracks! Time needs to be taken with newer people so that they can develop the habits and skills needed later on. Speed comes later and is different from committment.

There is no anger or malice in committment, only intention and follow-through. Without it, aikido really would be a dance.

cbrf4zr2
04-05-2004, 04:10 PM
I dunno John -

I kinda like Chris' systematic destruction of your opponent method. Hmmmm....and idea for tonight's class!! :D :eek:

John Boswell
04-05-2004, 04:14 PM
Mental Note:

Don't train in Caledonia, MI. ;)

Domo Arigato but no Domo Arigato! :D

MaryKaye
04-05-2004, 04:32 PM
I attended a seminar by Clarence Chinn sensei where he spent a lot of time critiquing our attacks and asking for more committed attacks. He defined a committed attack as one that would make nage want to move out of its way.

He chose to drill this with kata tori, which surprised me since there is no intent to damage--you're just grabbing uke's shoulder. He asked us to do kata tori in such a way that nage would be impelled to back up. This is certainly paradoxical, and when we started we wondered if it could even be done. Why should nage back up for kata tori? It won't hurt if it lands.

I found this fascinating to practice, though very difficult. When another fifth kyu and I were working together, we found that the attacks which could actually make nage back up were recognizable as such as the moment they were initiated. If nage didn't feel inclined to move from the start, he wouldn't move no matter what uke did later. Uke could lunge with great energy, kiai, make fierce faces, even hit nage and it still didn't work. (Later in the seminar I accidentally stomped on our Head Instructors toes and he didn't move, though I guess he wished he had.) However, there *was* a way of moving initially that would lead to nage backing up.

As nage it felt as though you'd been momentarily distracted from your goal of standing in place. We worried at first that we were moving "on purpose" but with practice it became clear that the quality of uke's initial movement determined nage's response.

Chinn sensei could turn this on and off at will and it was fascinating to watch the senior students practicing with him as they got out of his way despite their intentions, or didn't get out of his way (when he was deliberately not making a correct attack) despite speed and apparent energy.

I think the kata tori drill was great for showing what he meant without the complications of a possibly harmful atemi, and I'd recommend it. All of us below dan rank seemed to find it quite challenging--I'd sure hate to have to do it for a test. It was humbling to realize how weak my ordinary attacks must therefore be. (I got an extra lesson in humility by being asked to be sensei's uke for a demonstration of "How do you handle a beginner who cannot give you an adequate attack?")

Mary Kaye

Chris Birke
04-05-2004, 04:35 PM
What is the relationship between "a committed attack" and "an honest attack"?

mantis
04-05-2004, 04:45 PM
I was always taught that:

1) Uke shouldn't track Tori.

2) Uke has to take a recovery step.

Generally, as long as uke does this, it is satisfactory for a commited attack.

Doka
04-05-2004, 05:05 PM
Aikido and a committed attack?

With power/energy, but also with control!

:ai:

willy_lee
04-05-2004, 06:42 PM
I was always taught that:

1) Uke shouldn't track Tori.

2) Uke has to take a recovery step.

Generally, as long as uke does this, it is satisfactory for a commited attack.
Sure, when you're first learning techniques, you give tori advantages to start with. But surely eventually you get to the point where it's tori's job to prevail even if uke is tracking tori, and tori's job to make uke take a recovery step?

=wl

shihonage
04-05-2004, 06:58 PM
Sure, when you're first learning techniques, you give tori advantages to start with. But surely eventually you get to the point where it's tori's job to prevail even if uke is tracking tori, and tori's job to make uke take a recovery step?

=wl
Same thing crossed my mind upon reading that.

Erik
04-05-2004, 08:02 PM
1) Uke shouldn't track Tori.
But "tracking" happens. If we are going to just say "no to tracking" then when do we cease to track and lock in for good?
2) Uke has to take a recovery step.
What is a recovery step?

On the topic, perhaps this sort of discussion would be better served if we changed the word "committed" to "competent"?

Hanna B
04-06-2004, 03:40 AM
Playing with tracking can be interesting - trying to make uke change his blow, so he more or less unbalances himself. Needs timing, though, so when training slowly "no tracking" is a must I think.

Like most aikido concepts, a "correct/committed/competent attack" means very different things in different schools. If one does like one is used to in an unknown place, one might find more or less beginners patiently explaining why the way of attacking one was taught be very senior people destroys training completely...

I prefer uke doing tsuki so that he is in balance after finishing the blow. Have seen other variants, though - and in those cases, I think tsuki training is training on a body launching towards you rather than a strike.

shihonage
04-06-2004, 04:42 AM
Slightly off-topic, I think the only proper way to do Aikido demos (such as Aiki Expo) is by having ukes from OTHER SCHOOLS.

This will really make people prepare for this and the difference in skill will be a lot more visible.

Someone else came up with this idea first, I know it. Too bad no one is implementing it.

Also, no pre-programmed sequences of attacks in jiyu-waza demos.

mantis
04-06-2004, 10:21 AM
The 2 things I described don't give advantages to either uke or tori, but are necessary to depict what a real attack is like.

First off tracking is impossible in reality if there is the intent to hurt someone.

Look at boxing as a good example.

Boxers don't track their punches. They jab and set you up for the power punch. If their power punch is off by a few inches it will not be effective, but you will never see a boxer track his power punch. He will throw it, then change his footing, then throw again.

Another example that most people can relate to is hitting a baseball. You CAN NOT track a baseball. You will swing the bat and that's it. You make a committed attempt to hit the ball and nothing else. If another ball comes at you, you have to realign and swing again. This realignment is the recovery step.

When you strike, you focus on a spot. once your body is in a forward motion and uke commits to a certain attack, he can not physically change the direction of his punch without changing his posture and alignment first. If you did, you would fall over.

Hence a recovery step.

a recovery step means uke gets himself back on balance and is ready for another attack. Without it, uke would be like a statue waiting to get knocked over.

I haven't seen how you train, but for me, these things have to be done to simulate a real attack, even if you are training in slow motion. When you train slow, certain laws of physics don't apply, but you MUST adhere to them anyway.

Chris Birke
04-06-2004, 10:39 AM
As I understood it, I had confused the meaning of committed with honest. A committed attack is just one you give to the tori exactly as they want you to give it. -If you fail or exceed this, it was not the proper attack; and training is inhibited.

It's a very useful style, to have this agreement.

//

What is an honest attack then, and does IT have a place in Aikido?

//

Leading is a more crucial issue than tracking.

Erik
04-06-2004, 12:13 PM
Slightly off-topic, I think the only proper way to do Aikido demos (such as Aiki Expo) is by having ukes from OTHER SCHOOLS.
I like it!

akiy
04-06-2004, 12:26 PM
As far as demonstrations at the Aiki Expo goes, my teacher used at least one uke who was/were not his student(s) both times he demonstrated. None of the techniques that he did were rehearsed nor pre-arranged...

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
04-06-2004, 12:38 PM
. Why should nage back up for kata tori? It won't hurt if it lands.
As far as grabs are concerned, I really like the way Kondo Sensei teaches them. They are an attack, because they lead to a throw. So the first time he teaches this in a seminar, he has the uke grab and throw him. He corrects the uke if needed, so that they are doing a proper attack and throw. THEN he goes on to teach the technique, against that attack and throw.

I think aikido often waters down that idea in favor of training "principles" and movement. Sometimes that concerns me, sometimes not.

On balanced attacks:

I've seen way too many people who can strike with bone crushing power and once the lead foot plants, they are balanced. To throw them, you have to adjust your timing, and move as the attack is forming. To call such an attack "uncommitted" is kind of a cop out, in my opinion (no offense). If they can seriously hurt you with it, you'd better learn to deal with it.

Ron

Erik
04-06-2004, 01:33 PM
James, there is a very fine line here which I'm thinking about. In the midst of moving around a boxer has a very spontaneous attack / response system. They won't just attack, rather, they attack when the attacking is good, hopefully for them. In a sense once the blow is thrown I agree with the no-tracking idea, however, the problem occurs just prior to that when the attack is being engaged. If your timing is even slightly off and you move too early your attacker will modify their attack and be engaged in something which many will deem "tracking" and therefore "bad". It's a very fine line but my opinion is that when you deem tracking bad, with the exception of slow practice or weapons where it can be dangerous, you also restrict out the ability to dynamically adjust based on what nage is doing.

I must be missing your point with baseball because athletes constantly adjust their swing based on the pitch. They don't just swing blindly at the pitch as you imply. Yes, for the few thousands of a second that the swing is engaged they are committed but they are adjusting right up to the point of the swing. For instance, how often do you see a batter "check swing" because what he saw caused him to pull back his swing?

Mostly my resistance to the idea of "not tracking" is that I think it limits the adjustment point to such a degree that we get a false sense of our ability when in reality our attacker would have simply adjusted his strike and tagged us because we took too long too move or he sensed our movement. In other words, I think the concept can dumb down the practice even though it's accurate.

I don't think I did this justice. It needs more writing than I'm prepared to give it.

mantis
04-06-2004, 02:18 PM
In a sense once the blow is thrown I agree with the no-tracking idea, however, the problem occurs just prior to that when the attack is being engaged.

I agree. I think because we have different semantics at each school, the words bring up different connotations.

I am referring to once the blow has been thrown and your body's center is on a drop and your feet are apart (as in a step). I do agree prior to that that one can track and adjust, but there is a point of an attack where uke is committed to his action and must follow through with it.

athletes constantly adjust their swing based on the pitch. They don't just swing blindly at the pitch as you imply.

Do they? A 90 mile an hour pitch doesn't give you much adjustment time. I never said they swing blindly, it's hand eye coordination and practice that will put the bat where they think it should be.


As far as attacks, I study a version of tomiki aikido,

and all of our basic attacks are a hand straight to the chin area, and the balance is broken on the first step uke makes. It's a very fast timing, and there is no leading as in other styles I've seen, so i can't see how uke can track and still have his balance or have power in his attack.

all this being said, unless we actually see each other and demonstrate our ideas, we'll never get the entire picture through writing about it.

thanks for your comments. :)

shihonage
04-06-2004, 02:34 PM
James, what Erik is talking about is not just "his idea".

When one have had the (mis)fortune of doing light sparring with someone proficient in boxing (hits), or wrestling (grabs), what Erik speaks of becomes quite clear.

You don't need to meet Erik in particular in order to see what he's talking about. Just try sparring with someone who is skilled in another art.

willy_lee
04-06-2004, 03:38 PM
I think that for me, a committed attack in the dojo means that you start with a specified attack that nage is forced to respond to, and then (assuming nage neutralizes that first attack) continues to attack until either nage or uke is neutralized or both decide to stop.

=wl

mantis
04-06-2004, 04:22 PM
When one have had the (mis)fortune of doing light sparring with someone proficient in boxing (hits), or wrestling (grabs), what Erik speaks of becomes quite clear.
Apparently, we don't seem to be talking about the same things.

willy_lee
04-06-2004, 05:01 PM
I am referring to once the blow has been thrown and your body's center is on a drop and your feet are apart (as in a step). I do agree prior to that that one can track and adjust, but there is a point of an attack where uke is committed to his action and must follow through with it.
and
Do they? A 90 mile an hour pitch doesn't give you much adjustment time. I never said they swing blindly, it's hand eye coordination and practice that will put the bat where they think it should be.
I think one of the issues of contention is that people in aikido often seem to have a vastly exaggerated notion of how early in a punch or swing the motion becomes non-tracking.

In the case of a baseball swing, a skilled batter is tracking the ball well past when the bat starts its swing. In fact, often batters start the bat moving before the ball is released, and depend on their reflexes to stop the swing if they need to. From a top-down view, if you just consider the bat's rotation in a plane parallel to the ground, it may travel a little more than 180 degrees before the point of contact. Probably batters can check their swing through at least 120 of those degrees, and are making adjustments through 150-160 degrees.

In the same way I'd guess that a skilled puncher is probably tracking during 90% of the time from when the brain says "start punch" and the point of impact.

So whether there is tracking or not is not the issue. The issue is that in "dojo time" often unrealistic notions of when to track and when not to track are used.

=wl

willy_lee
04-06-2004, 05:14 PM
In the same way I'd guess that a skilled puncher is probably tracking during 90% of the time from when the brain says "start punch" and the point of impact.
Pardon the self-quote, but I just thought of something to add: a great deal of this tracking happens below the conscious level (that's how it can be so fast) -- so this kind of tracking can be used to lead uke.

Since it's subconscious it can be very surprising.

=wl

Chris Birke
04-06-2004, 05:59 PM
Willy, I would disagree about the tracking, but agree that there are very unrealistic notions.

I saw paul vunak land a nice, slow, harmless kick to his sparring opponents face. Such a kick can be incredibly difficult to land against a skilled opponent, but paul pulled it off with seeming little effort, despite his (skilled) opponents best. When asked he landed such a slow kick, he said it was all about the setup: over the course of a few seconds, wherein he lead his opponent with a few steps to force a certain footwork, had intimidated him such that his opponent only wanted to jab from that distance, and then invited a jab off this bad footwork such that nothing could be done to stop the retailitory kick.

He said setting things up like that had become natural to him, and he could recognise these situations and exploit them (or not). Punching or kicking fast isn't necessiary when your opponent does not understand this flow.

This is what I think of when I say leading. It's knowing where their chin will be, not simply seeing it.

Tracking occurs in the few hundred milliseconds it takes the blow to land. A punch probably takes 300-600 ms. Human reaction time is on average 200 ms*. If you're thinking about pulling the punch during this time you can, but only if it doesnt have much behind it. If you're kicking like a thai, good luck stopping. But, those kicks rarely happen unless the striker is confident they will land. If they are unconfident, if they see no wide open defenses, they will throw light blows that can be pulled until an opening for a strong blow presents itself. Very simple.

Aikido focuses in on the heavy blow thrown at the end of this setup process, but it ignores the existence of the setup (which is in fact more important than the blow itself)

//

"Charley Metro: "The good hitters get their tip-off from the pitchers. And there are many, many ways that a pitcher tips off his pitches. He grips it like that [fingers straight over top of ball]; there's your fastball. When he throws a curveball, he chokes the ball [wedges it between his thumb and forefinger, gripping it on the side so it sticks out]. Now see how much white of the ball shows on a fastball? And how much more white shows on a curveball? . . . Another thing is when they bring the ball into the glove, when they come in with a flat wrist like that, that'll be a fastball. When they turn their wrist like that, it's a breaking pitch. There are many, many ways, and the good hitters pick out these things . . . facial expressions . . . human habits and characteristics will tell."

During the entire middle portion of the pitch, the batter must time the ball and decide where to swing. If the batter decides to swing, he must start when the ball is approximately 25 to 30 feet in front of the plate. The ball will arrive at the plate about 250 thousandths of a second later -- about the limit of human reaction time. The bat must make contact with the ball within an even smaller time range: A few thousandths of a second error in timing will result in a foul ball. Position is important, too. Hitting the ball only a few millimeters too high or too low results in a fly ball or a grounder.

Exactly how humans are able to estimate the expected position of a quickly moving ball is unknown. Obviously, this remarkable skill is learned through long practice. Eye-brain-body coordination is acquired only by going through the motions over and over; even so, the batter misses most of the time. Getting a hit three times out of ten at bat is considered an excellent average. It's interesting that George Schaller and other ethologists have observed that lions and cheetahs are also successful only about a third of the time in capturing their prey."

http://www.exploratorium.edu/baseball/biobaseball.html

//

In reality, it is much easier to punch someone than it is to catch a punch. You see far more throws in aikido class than bloody lips and black eyes, though. It has to be this way, for the most part, attacks must be softened.

To use the batting metaphor for aikido, it is actually more accurate that the pitcher be the attacker, and the batter be the thrower. What's a great batting average? .400? Imagine if for every two throws you had to let someone punch you three times. Hard. Not fun practice.

Thus we pitch scripted punches, and only slightly step things up. To do otherwise (something I strongly advise) requires gloves.

*

200 ms is about how long it takes you to click a button with your finger when you see something flash on the screen - actual reaction times vary, we are actually incredibly more sensitive in some contexts; reflexes, different senses, different paths of sensation, and differnt brain conditions.

In addition, though we only react with our finegers in about 200ms, we are aware of things that happen in much shorter time periods. A interruption of one's reaction time by 150 ms is a noticably different sensation than a 100 ms delay, or a 50 ms delay, though all are discernable. (thank the psych students for forcing to be their guinea pigs for this knowledge)

willy_lee
04-06-2004, 07:20 PM
Chris said some things I mostly agree with, just wanted to be a bit of a nag about a couple points (Can you tell I'm not too busy today?)
Tracking occurs in the few hundred milliseconds it takes the blow to land. A punch probably takes 300-600 ms. Human reaction time is on average 200 ms*. If you're thinking about pulling the punch during this time you can, but only if it doesnt have much behind it.From the instant you say to yourself, Self, I want to throw a punch, there's quite a bit of time in which you're not moving very fast yet and can still pull it. Up until the very end when you're really going full speed and almost at full extension, you can still adjust your targeting -- this is what I meant by tracking.
Aikido focuses in on the heavy blow thrown at the end of this setup process, but it ignores the existence of the setup (which is in fact more important than the blow itself)I couldn't agree more!
Getting a hit three times out of ten at bat is considered an excellent average.
This is a pet peeve of mine, when people say this. It's obvious that they don't actually watch or follow baseball. Not talking about you here, obviously it's the scientists who wrote this thing you quoted (great place, by the way, the Exploratorium). Batters actually hit pitches (as in make decent contact with the ball) much, much more often than that. Given how hard a task this is, an absolutely amazing percentage of pitches get hit. Even more amazing, a significant (not sure exactly) percentage of those balls after getting hit do something close to what the batter intended; i.e., foul, hit away, pull, on ground vs. fly. That is, the batter is not only able to make contact with the ball, but adjust timing and aim to send it in a specific direction! The 3 out of 10 figure is for successful hits, which is a factor much less under the batter's control. For example, if a batter gets on base due to a fielder's error, it does not count as an official hit.

=wl

Chris Birke
04-06-2004, 07:23 PM
Willy, agreed on all counts.

Thanks for the info about baseball, I hate perpetuating myths like that.

Shomaru
04-13-2004, 07:58 PM
As far as demonstrations at the Aiki Expo goes, my teacher used at least one uke who was/were not his student(s) both times he demonstrated. None of the techniques that he did were rehearsed nor pre-arranged...

-- Jun
Yay, Sergio!!!!!!

:D