View Full Version : Really stupid beginner question.

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Nathan Richmond
03-06-2001, 08:15 PM
Is there enough striking involved in Aikido that it would be beneficial to practing on a heavy bag? I realize that there is not much in the way of strikes, but would that type of training help when it comes time to throw a strike in a real situation?

Sorry for ignorance

03-07-2001, 03:23 AM
Interesting question.

I used to practice Karate so I know a little about punching. I also know a little about Aikido - so I will try to give you my opinion. In Karate you would use a sand bag to practice the 'right' way to punch hoping that when the day comes and you need to punch somebody, then your body will be able to utilise this knowledge into punching with maximum effect concidering the situation.

In Aikido you could say, that we learn to utilize our body in everything we do, thereby we hope that if the situation arises we will be able to strike with maximum effect since our body will perform the right movement concidering the given sircumstances.

I believe the goal is basically the same yet the way to get there is different and it can be very difficult to follow two paths at the same time.

In conclusion: The best would be if you could get your heavy bag to dance around you in random patterns - now and then grabbing your wrist, so you could practice being aware of it being present and punching it when an opening occurs. The second best would be to practice striking the bag with your bodys full potential in an Aiki-way. What you should avoid is to practice a rigid style of striking where the strike is in focus, cause that could damage your feel for moving in 'Aikido-way'. It is quite okay to practice punching as a part of your Aikido-practice, but always keep Aikido in focus. This is of course only my opinion. I know some people posting in this forum are very keen on cross-training, so ask them as well. They might have a different view on the subject.

What ever you do - have fun :)

Matt Banks
03-07-2001, 04:33 AM
Hi there Nathan. I dont think using bags is appropriate, this is because 90%
of effective atemi is based on angle, and hitting the correct point of the body, with the correct power.

i.e. if I was about to apply shihonage I wouldnt give him a (thousand cracking fist of the north star) punch between the eyes, as it would knock him over probably and it would ruin the movement of the throw. Instead a stern strike between the eyes would be more appropriate. Maybe there in not bag use as we dont really need striking endurance, which bag work develops. Also I feel most of the offencive atemi my style uses in aikido couldnt really me done on a bag. For instance, one tecnique is before uke launches the attack, tory slices his arm across and up uke's clavicle using hip power etc sending uke to the floor (god its difficult to explain tecniques in words)
that is really difficult to do on a bag.
Although bags are good fun to play with.

Matt Banks

Chris P.
03-07-2001, 02:51 PM
Matt Banks wrote:
Hi there Nathan. I dont think using bags is appropriate, this is because 90%
of effective atemi is based on angle, and hitting the correct point of the body, with the correct power.

You can't choose a point on a bag, and hit it with the correct angle and power? It seems to be the next best thing to hitting your training partners, which they might find distasteful. I have heard from some reputable sources that striking is 90% of Aikido, how do you train this 90%?

Nathan Richmond
03-07-2001, 03:11 PM
If striking is 90% of Aikido am I missing something? So far in my Aikido practices and research there is very little striking involved.


03-07-2001, 03:44 PM
I believe it's better to know how to punch, and choose not to.

Prior to studying aikido, I trained in TKD, reaching a rank of brown belt, and we spent a lot of time punching.

Done improperly, punching or atemi can easily injure your hand and wrist. Understandably, this would be severe impediment to an aikidoka.

Also, while aikido teaches atemi as a set up for another technique, i think that if the initial atemi works well, you stand a much better chance with the technique that follows.

So I say, get some bag gloves, learn how to punch, and keep going to aikido class.

In the right spirit, it's all good.

03-07-2001, 03:48 PM
Nate, check out the past polls. There is one where people rate the percentage of atemi in aikido. And there is a thread that discusses that poll too. From my memory, it seemed as though the more advanced a person was in their training the more likely that would see more atemi in aikido.

Here is the thread discussing the poll:

And here is the poll:

I found them interesting to see the various perspectives and approaches to aikido especially from the more advanced yudansha.

Anne Marie.

[edited to insert links]

[Edited by giriasis on March 7, 2001 at 03:04pm]

03-07-2001, 03:54 PM
Nathan Richmond wrote:
If striking is 90% of Aikido am I missing something? So far in my Aikido practices and research there is very little striking involved.


No. It's rarely practiced as striking per se. You learn to move your body as a whole, and to be co-ordinated. The blows in question are applied to pressure points. Rather than actually strike, the blow is merely "illustrated." The idea is that a strike to a pressure point with the weight of your body behind it will be devastating and provide an opening to apply any technique you'd like easily.


Nick P.
03-07-2001, 06:44 PM

Maybe, based on HOW MUCH atemi/striking YOUR dojo/club uses, you should try training with a punching bag; then, after a while, your teacher and fellow students will tell you if your punchs/strikes are improving or not. Who knows, you may just get bored of training with a bag, but you wont know 'till you try it for a while.

As for whether or not aikido is "90% atemi" or not, THAT depends on where you are being taught. Under (like) 5% of the aikido I have been taught at my home dojo uses atemi. However, at other places I have gone to there is quite a bit of atemi. Aikido, I am starting to learn, is in the "Intent", not the mechanics or details.

Nick P.
03-07-2001, 06:48 PM
A quick note;

Take a look at Aikido Today Magazine's 1995(?) Video shot in Toronto.

Everyone is "doing aikido". But some of it I don't like for my own reasons, and some I love. You will be attracted to what you like, and not so impressed with what you dont. But it is still aikido.

Chris P.
03-07-2001, 07:56 PM
Nick P. wrote:
Aikido, I am starting to learn, is in the "Intent", not the mechanics or details.

True indeed, but if your mechanics and details are all wrong, your intent will never shine through. "Whip your laggard sheep forward," as they say. (Lieh Tzu?)

Nick P.
03-22-2002, 05:35 PM
I would disagree, Chris.

We recently welcomed a "new" member to our club. In reality he outranks a good number of us, but more importantly his style is very, very different. He comes on average once a month. Where do you draw the line on technical proficiency in relation to good aikido? I was under the impression that good aikido is a combination of technique (which takes some of us longer to improve on than others), good manners and maybe most important the genuine desire to improve ourselves AND others. Idealistic? Maybe. But give me partner who sucks but who tries hard over a technicaly gifted partner who is a wank any day.

03-22-2002, 09:23 PM
Hello Nathan

Welcome to the form and thanks for your question.

I've done other martial arts besides aikido including karate and kungfu before I started aikido.

Aikidoka dont use strikes in the same way as those who practice karate, TKD or forms of kungfu. In my experience, its used as an adjunct to taking balance and posture and in maintianing a state of unbalnce for the uke.

In the dojo I train at, we learn to punch and kick in order to do proper attacks and to understand the dynamics of a kick or punch in order to use aikido to blend with the attack.

That being said we are not students of karate, kungfu and/or TKD.

Also having trained at different dojos with different senseis, the emphasis on learning punches and kicks varies between dojos and senseis.

Hope this helps and I hope that you enjoy training in aikido.

03-24-2002, 06:47 PM
Heavy bags are a pretty good investment, if you have the room to set them up, of course.

Speed, power (not just muscle power), and accuracy are vital in ANY martial art. Aikido demands a great deal of accuracy, and ability to deal with high speed atemi. Check out all of those threads on aikdoka vs. boxers, kickboxers, karateka, tae bo, and that girl from crouching tiger.

Also, bag training will definitely help you get a feel for your own ma-ai (another topic that always comes up on aikido vs. the wold threads). So, understanding your own distancing, as well as moving in with full force (which you can`t {or shouldn't} do often to y our training partners).

Lastly, sometimes its just fun to hit stuff evileyes


Lyle Bogin
03-27-2002, 04:11 PM
It seems to me that there is a difference in aikido atemi and other types of striking that I have encountered. With a typical punch, you seek to strike by generating force in you body that focuses into a single point. With an aikido punch, you maintain your focus (one point) through your knuckles as if you are stabbing with a sword. It requires less action in the elbow and hip. To train this kind of punch with a heavy bag, you may want to swing the bag out, and extend your ki through your knuckles into the bag as it comes back to hit you.

03-27-2002, 04:51 PM
Originally posted by Largo
Lastly, sometimes its just fun to hit stuff evileyes

There's nothing quite like a heavy object to teach you to keep the wrist straight and since we're pretty much contactless it does help, at least a little, to convey the feeling of what might happen if you actually hit someone.

I have a wavemaster, no place to hang a bag, and it's a great workout too.

03-28-2002, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by Chris P.
You can't choose a point on a bag, and hit it with the correct angle and power? It seems to be the next best thing to hitting your training partners, which they might find distasteful. I have heard from some reputable sources that striking is 90% of Aikido, how do you train this 90%? The quote was "Aikido is (insert percentage) atemi". Atemi is not just striking. I have a really good dictionary that calls atemi a "knockdown blow". I like this definition better than any other I have heard (there is a lot more to it than that in the kanji as well). Striking is important, but most boxers take a few rounds to get that "knockdown blow". By examining Aikido from that perspective, maybe we will realize how it could be more effective.
I think training on a heavy bag would help you develop that focus if you don't have a system set up within your dojo. (I get to hit my training partners, slowly and with full effect, to get that knockdown blow.) Try hitting the bag at different speeds. Lifting weights will help you generate more power and running will help your endurance. Use what you need, it's your practice.

Jim Vance

Bruce Baker
03-28-2002, 02:46 PM
I am gonna get in trouble for this, but here goes.

One of the reasons that closed fist techniques were introduced was to keep the power of the chi/ki from fully integrating with the strike, thus causeing serious injury or death ... or so I have been told by two or more masters who have practiced Chinese arts with pressure points and chi application strikes.

As for the health, mind and body training, reflexes, or just plain having the technical ability to properly punch, strike, kick, or poke the soft easy points of the human body ... the punching bag and the heavy bag are excellent tools for this purpose.

Part of learning to kick or punch is learning to strike through the opponent making them feel like some giant has applied the pain of contact!

Each of the strikes ... knuckle punch, leapard strike, closed fist punch, knife hand, and a variety of kicks are designated for angle and direction to particular situations at various pressure points on the human body. Examine the striking charts most Karate schools/ or martial arts stores have, and they show many of the easy points. They do not explain how to activate them with rub, strike, or push, nor do they give angle and direction? You won't find them in average books, but will find them in pressure point books or those kind of books for people who study them?

Of course, when your sensei gives you an opening in an Aikido technique, do you know what to do, or do you see the various openings available? Probably not, because that is another form of study best left out ... we don't need accidental injury in our Aikido training. Still, it is in your studys.

Observe the angle and direction we use normally in most Aikido techniques, and you have a piece of the puzzle. Take the time to learn Basic closed fist, and knife hand (Te gatana) and that is the basic striking and hitting needed for over ninety percent of Aikido strikes ... should you ever need to strike.

The secret of striking through, or being able to use your entire body to move an object, without ripping your knuckles into a bloody mess will be the center of your practicing on the moving punching bag, or stationary heavy bag. When you hit the heavy bag so it bends in half or kick it so it changes its hang to a horizontal position, I would say your full power is in effect and you have a handle on letting loose the power you keep restrained at practice? Let it out, smack the stuffing out of them bags! If the heavy bag ain't duck-taped you ain't practicing hard enough!

There are many types of fighting, some involve boxing, constant lightfooted movement ... which is great for cardio-vascular system. Once you learn to use the angle, direction of all types of punches and kicks on the heavy bag ... doing them to a person almost becomes childs play? You might find that it is nearly impossible for someone to escape your Aikido techniques once your reflexes have been honed with speed bag ( striking bag suspended between rope and shock cord that allows for quick movement).

Don't expect your Aikido teachers to teach you all the different ways to kick and punch, most Japanese have had some type of martial training in another open hand art that covers kicking and punching when they come to Aikido. They have basically ... learned the basics, it makes Aikido so much more fun!

Besides, it couldn't hurt to know what kind of weapons you could be facing from an attacker and have them in YOUR back pocket for a rainy day?

03-28-2002, 05:34 PM
"90% of Aikido is Atemi" is the correct aphorism.

Now some people equate Atemi to strike which I think is a mistake. This is what confuses people.

I've been taught that Atemi is 'capturing the mind', which can be achieved by a strike or other methods. The point is to disconnect the attacker from their original intent.

Sensitive ukes don't usually need to be physically struck to react to Atemi. Very focused ukes sometimes need a solid whack to get moving. the Atemi "strike" can be the same for both, just with a different ending.

Again, what I've been taught on Atemi is not the same as what I see used in the forum. The point is to take the mind, therefore Atemi does not have the same goal as a Karate strike.

For example if your Atemi is too fast it might as well have stayed in your pocket. It won't do the trick, Uke has to sense it to react to it.

When I look upon Atemi in this manner "taking the mind" I see it in all styles of Aikido I know of, with variations of hardness or softness that are particular to each style. And it's present in all techniques I see.

So 90% doens't sound hairbrained at all.

In my opinion practicing Atemi on a bag is not possible. The Bag has got no mind.

03-28-2002, 09:17 PM
There's nothing wrong with working the heavy bag. You'll learn a thing or two, even if it "ain't aikido." For example, are you pushing, slapping, or are you really hitting it? When you hit it, does it spin, or did you hit it down the centerline? Is it possible to completely miss the bag, even when it's stationary (yes)? Little details like that...

Granted, it may or may not help your atemi (however you wish to define that), but it sure doesn't hurt to know how to punch a little. Just work the bag, and then decide for yourself whether it's worth spending your time on.


04-01-2002, 12:07 PM
On further thought I wasn't thinking about Ukemi (now that Atemi's out of the way). In that context, I think bag thumping may be worth looking into.

One of our typical Aikido weaknesses is that due to the cooperative nature of the venture people get sloppy in their attacks.

Different purpose now, we're setting up a situation for study.

From a strike attack to the face, a turning blend into a forearm control...

as Uke we need to attack as effectively as possible. Learning how to deliver effective solid strikes will help your fellow Aikido-mates get useful feedback on their techniques.

This is a worthwile gift I think. So punch away...