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akiy
10-19-2004, 11:12 AM
A tangent from the Individual Martial Arts (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6711) thread...

See all those wrist grabs used in aikido?

Do you think this is some form of attack?

Not at all ...I've been taught that this contact is necessary in order to 'feel' aikido working.
Sure, it's an attack. I've been taken down to the ground from a katatedori attack quite forcefully, necessitating a breakfall. I've been grabbed in such a way that I couldn't close my hand for a few minutes afterwards. I've been grabbed and had my balance taken so well that I could not remain standing.

There are some people who treat katatedori or any other grabbing attacks in aikido as "just a grab," but I think this is akin to a munetsuki that stops an inch away from my chest or a shomenuchi that veers off to the side of my head. Of course, grabs can be taught as a way to allow nage to learn, exempt from any "real" sort of damage potential, some of the principles of aikido, but to relegate it to a non-attack isn't quite right in my thought.

The way I treat/teach grabs to people past the basic point in their practice is to incorporate the same things one would have in a regular aikido technique -- kuzushi, awareness of maai, shikaku, timing, and so on. As grabs are an integral part of our "nage" portion of our aikido training as they are contained in almost every technique (eg nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo, shihonage), I think treating it differently when we're uke only leads to disparate training practices as nage and uke -- not something that I, for one, wish to have...

Any thoughts from others on this subject?

-- Jun

George S. Ledyard
10-19-2004, 11:41 AM
The idea that the grab in Aikido isn't an attack is just one of those re-interpretations that came with New Age Aikido. It's like the fellow I ran into who taught and wouldn't call his bokken a sword because that was "violent"... he still did technique with the bokken but he called it a stick. It's all just an attempt to remove the Budo from the art.

The grabs in Aikido are certainly part of an attack. As Jun pointed out they can be very powerful. Since in it's origins of Aikido was not an empty hand art at all it is important to view the grabs in their proper context. The grab was mainly a way to keep ones opponent from accessing the multiple weapons that any samurai would have had on his person. As we've noted before, there was no such thing as an unarmed samurai unless he'd been knocked out on the battle field and disarmed.

The grabs seem artificial at first but as someone who teaches police defensive tactics I can tell you that as soon as you start dealing with weapons, people do get grabbed in real life.

In our dojo, after the initial period in which the Beginner is doing his kihon waza, I am apt to do all of the standard katate tori techniques with the opposite hand tsuki put in. You don't really understand how to do techniques from katatetori unless they work when the opposite hand strikes at the same time. If you can do this without getting hit, you can really do the technqiues. No one who trains this way will feel like the grab isn't an attack.

Dennis Hooker
10-19-2004, 12:08 PM
Katate-dori is not a passive or submissive attack. It is not simply an act to let your partner execute a particular form on you. Katate-dori done by a skilled person is an effective attack that takes your center and places you in a position of vulnerability. I think to often people misunderstand katate-dori and therefore make jokes about its use and even relate it only to Aikido passive training.

To begin with, the attacker approaches you from the back, side or angled off to the corner front, never straight in front of you. If the attacker comes from the front they approach you at an angle that allows them to drive your wrist and hand into your center. They garb with what has been described as an "aiki" grip or sword grip. Their little finger is over the heal of your hand and the ring finger in along the joint of the wrist with the other fingers and the thumb holding firmly but not squeezing. Your hand and wrist are locked-no easy nikkyo here. In some schools I have even seen a partner take the attacker's hand and move it further up his wrist, so that his hand was free, because they couldn't do nikkyo or some such thing otherwise.

Nage's hand and wrist are driven into his/her center forcing their weight onto the back foot. You can't reach the attacker with your free hand and if you lift your front foot you will be shoved even further off balance. All this while the attacker has a free hand that can strike you and both feet that can kick you, or if the attacker is fast and skilled, you might find yourself thrown to the ground. You are for the moment very vulnerable. Katate-dori has worked because the attacker knew how to grab you. The misunderstanding comes when a bogus attacker stands in front of you and grabs your lower forearm leaving your hand and wrist maneuverable and not effecting you center or balance. Thus we have Aikido's famous "sacrificial uke" an animal known to exist in many an Aikido dojo.

The reason katate-dori worked to displace your center and balance is because the attacker touched you first. You were practicing passive, or reactive, Aikido and now you must respond to the power of the attacker. Nage must now react. To get to the point most Aikido students understand as katate-dori, that is the lower forearm grabbed with hand and wrist mobility, nage must reach out to the attack and touch them first. To do this, place your lower forearm in the palm of the attacker's hand a split second before you are grabbed. Nage touches the attacker first. If you do this then I guarantee you will move uke's center and you will be doing interactive, or proactive, Aikido and not reactive as is so often the case. In all this you must study the dynamics of push - push and pull - push Aikido.

Dennis Hooker

Hanna B
10-19-2004, 01:24 PM
My ex-teacher used to sometimes let us do the katatedori grab to unbalance each other. I have done this exercise with beginners and found that when they have a "meaning" with the grab, they give a much better grab - they connect with the whole palm and give this connection that is needed when we use katatedori "just to feel aikido working"...

DCP
10-19-2004, 03:17 PM
Let an average high school wrestler grab your wrist in his typical fashion and what happens?

Short answer: you learn what wrestling mats taste like.

Pauliina Lievonen
10-20-2004, 03:09 PM
The reason katate-dori worked to displace your center and balance is because the attacker touched you first. You were practicing passive, or reactive, Aikido and now you must respond to the power of the attacker. Nage must now react. To get to the point most Aikido students understand as katate-dori, that is the lower forearm grabbed with hand and wrist mobility, nage must reach out to the attack and touch them first.

*Click* (sound of a piece falling into place)

I just got something we were practising last week in class...

Now I can't wait to get on the mat again!

Thank you, sensei!

kvaak
Pauliina

Jeffrey A. Fong
10-20-2004, 06:53 PM
Hhhmm. Many of the patients in the psychiatric hospital where I work are quite fond of ol' katate dori...

xuzen
10-20-2004, 10:12 PM
Hmmm,

Me thinks katate dori is a wonderful way of stopping a katana wielding samurai from performing kesagiri from saya (Diagonal bottom to top slash from scabbard). But in this modern world, I wonder if it is redundant. But then, I am a sticker for traditions, so I continue to practice it.

Boon.

L. Camejo
10-20-2004, 10:48 PM
Me thinks katate dori is a wonderful way of stopping a katana wielding samurai from performing kesagiri from saya (Diagonal bottom to top slash from scabbard).

Actually this is the exact attack I use to show a traditional way of applying aigamae katate dori kote mawashi (nikkyo) with Tori using the Tsuka of the Bokken to apply the lock.

LC:ai::ki:

Dario Rosati
10-21-2004, 06:06 AM
Hmmm,
Me thinks katate dori is a wonderful way of stopping a katana wielding samurai from performing kesagiri from saya (Diagonal bottom to top slash from scabbard). But in this modern world, I wonder if it is redundant. But then, I am a sticker for traditions, so I continue to practice it.

Boon.

Bingo, give a katana to a tori skilled in kenjutsu and many aikido grabbings become crystal clear from uke standpoint... he's is simply trying to not let you unsheath and use your weapon, or better, to steal it ;)
Your wrist is the imaginary tsuka of the katana you're carrying (gyaku) or the wrist of the arm which grabs the weapon (ai hanmi).

Moreover, many things tori does in taijutsu barehanded (for example, an ikkyo omote/ura) can easily be done using the sheathed weapon with the left hand.

I wonder why this is not shown early from the first classes to beginners... it explains a lot about aikido distant roots and principles to beginners, and usually makes people stop complaining "why uke attacks in that stupid way?!", probably one of the most frequent question done by us beginners on the first classes in aikido.

Seeing and trying is believing ;)

Bye!

George S. Ledyard
10-21-2004, 08:24 AM
I wonder why this is not shown early from the first classes to beginners... it explains a lot about aikido distant roots and principles to beginners, and usually makes people stop complaining "why uke attacks in that stupid way?!", probably one of the most frequent question done by us beginners on the first classes in aikido.

Seeing and trying is believing ;)

Bye!

Saotome Sensei has a block of instruction in which he does a number of basic techniques using the bokken in the obi with uke doing various grabs and even grabs with strikes. I always felt it was helpful to me to have done those from early on in our training.

Dazzler
10-21-2004, 08:29 AM
The idea that the grab in Aikido isn't an attack is just one of those re-interpretations that came with New Age Aikido. It's like the fellow I ran into who taught and wouldn't call his bokken a sword because that was "violent"... he still did technique with the bokken but he called it a stick. It's all just an attempt to remove the Budo from the art..

George...I find this labelling a little insulting. (only a little since this is only a BB after all but to make a point I'll claim to be insulted). If you don't agree with me then we can discuss. Maybe one or both of us may learn something. That is what this forum is about is it not?

Jun...fair enough. I am sure there are those with a bearlike grip that could attack me in this way. I also accept that outside of the dojo such attacks exist often in combination with strikes. However, here I simply dispute that this is the primary purpose of the grasp within Aikido practice - to think so for me implies technique based thinking rather than aikido base development thinking.

For those that claim this is to stop me drawing my sword and suchlike - fine, that may be part of the origins of some of the techniques associated with this but is it relevant to aikido today? How many of us walk around with swords tucked into our waistbands.....

Within the context of my original post I believe the point was to show the importance of a partner and this grasp as a training aid.

So...In the spirit of information exchange here is how I have been lead to believe this grasp can be of use.

Firstly, I do not recognise much of aikido practice as techniques - A fixed form that must be done a certain way. Instead I see them as tools to practice bringing together ying and yang to release ki. Underlying this I see that this practice must be further validated by using 9 aikido bases;

I enclose Tamura Sensei listing of these bases;

**************************

THE FOUNDATIONS OF AIKIDO
ELEMENTS - BASE TECHNIQUES
1. Shisei ---------------------Ikkyo
2. Kokyu----------------------Nikyo
3. Kamae---------------------Sankyo
4. Ma Ai ----------------------Yonkyo
5. Irimi Tenkan -------------Irimi Nage
6. Ura Wasa and Omote Wasa --------Shiho Nage
7. Tai Sabaki ----------------Kote Gaeshi
8 Atemi -----------------------Kaiten Nage
9 Kokyu Ryoku ------------Tenchi Nage

The Base Techniques are there to teach the foundation elements of AIKIDO.
Once the foundation is established all techniques and their variations can be mastered or are mastered, however in the final analysis there is only IRIMI and ATEMI.

*****************
ok - back to me;

Now my understanding of katate dori is that it allows a simulation of an attack rather than being a specific attack.

Through the forms, practiced against this grasp the bases above can be refined.

To my mind the significant of katate dori is that it allows the refinement of maai - distance and kamae - relationship in particular, to be practiced by all levels (but is essential for beginners) without the challenge of a moving attack. Dennis has also touched upon this within his post with his thoughts on angle of ukes attack - further more his passive/reactive thoughts tie in with the yin/yang theory I work upon.

If you look at gyaku hamni katate dori it gives the correct body shape for yokomen uchi, If you look at ai hamni it gives the correct shape for receiving jodan tsuki.

So for me - the primary purpose of this grasp is to provide a preparatory step for these more real attacks. (Jun - I think you even say this in your post?).

Further to this....
In the process of practice the contact provides a dialogue between ukes hand and brain...he can feel what is being done and learn.

Kotai, jutai, ki-tai practice all start with this solid contact before progressing. Again I see this as more important than saying "heres a defence against a wrist grab".

Anyway - these are my thoughts based upon the lessons I've learned from my guides.

Pierre Chassang in particular has practiced since 1952 George.He is responsible for educating me to think this way..If your experience pre-dates this you can tell me whether this is a New Age approach or not.

For me it is a much more palatable explanation than suggesting we are learning techniques against grabs... I might even add that if you allow the grab to surprise you in the first place your aikido has already failed.

Respectfully

D

Michael Cardwell
10-21-2004, 09:01 AM
I have to agree that grabs are a great training tool for beginners and experienced aikidoka alike. I always feel more completable with grabs because uke is actively keeping the connection to you, so its easier to lead them. That being said, I do think grabs are a very real form of attack. I remember when I first started aikido my sensei told us that a grab was the most common attack anyone would ever give you. Wither its to hold you in place, keep you from using a weapon, or getting rid of your guard to they can strike you, the uses of grabs as an attack are many. I learned the hard way not to let a ju doka grab you. Anyway some dojos practice grabs as attacks and some practice as mere training method, but I suppose its all good.

Dan Rubin
10-21-2004, 12:19 PM
From “The Principles of Aikido,” by Saotome Sensei, p. 153:

“Katatedori is a grab to the wrist. Katatedori are perhaps the most commonly used attacks in beginning training in Aikido. One reason for this, as I have said [in an earlier chapter on katadori], is to give beginners the opportunity to physically feel the principles behind Aikido technique and to allow them to alter the aggressive and fearful manner in which they are accustomed to respond to threat. Katatedori techniques present a fruitful opportunity for the beginner to study timing, distance, position, and the details of the mechanics of the body.

“However, katatedori, like shomenuchi, while not very dangerous in their present form, have their origin in very severe training. Katatedori are based on situations in which samurai grabbed the hand of an armed opponent to prevent him from drawing his sword. Again, let me say that it is important to respond to your partner in Aikido practice as if he were armed and capable of doing you fatal harm. When you study katatedori techniques, do not think of the attacks as ‘unrealistic.’ Instead, concentrate on learning to perceive both your own and your partners’ weak points and then use this knowledge to enhance your practice and your understanding.”

Dan

Dazzler
10-22-2004, 03:41 AM
From "The Principles of Aikido," by Saotome Sensei, p. 153:

"Katatedori is a grab to the wrist. Katatedori are perhaps the most commonly used attacks in beginning training in Aikido. One reason for this, as I have said [in an earlier chapter on katadori], is to give beginners the opportunity to physically feel the principles behind Aikido technique and to allow them to alter the aggressive and fearful manner in which they are accustomed to respond to threat. Katatedori techniques present a fruitful opportunity for the beginner to study timing, distance, position, and the details of the mechanics of the body.

"However, katatedori, like shomenuchi, while not very dangerous in their present form, have their origin in very severe training. Katatedori are based on situations in which samurai grabbed the hand of an armed opponent to prevent him from drawing his sword. Again, let me say that it is important to respond to your partner in Aikido practice as if he were armed and capable of doing you fatal harm. When you study katatedori techniques, do not think of the attacks as ‘unrealistic.' Instead, concentrate on learning to perceive both your own and your partners' weak points and then use this knowledge to enhance your practice and your understanding."

Dan

Is this a new age re-interpretation too? ;)

William Westdyke
10-22-2004, 10:10 AM
Daniel Pierson writes:
"Let an average high school wrestler grab your wrist in his typical fashion and what happens?
Short answer: you learn what wrestling mats taste like."

I really don't want to get into the effectiveness of Aikido against other MA's (or sports as the case may be) but I love to train against college level wrestlers. Wrestlers tend to have lots of momentum and commitment in their grabs and I (who regularly train with 3) find it a refreshing change. Its the Jujitsu guys who move in completely covered, loose, and slow, that I have a hard time with. Its like fighting a 200 pound piece of sticky fly paper.

Now, as to the grabs, I won't argue weather Katate dori is ever going to be a "real-life" attack but, we all know kata dori (shoulder grab) is used in almost every fight or confrontation (and strangely enough its one of the favorites of wrestlers). Can you imagine trying to learn the principles of Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, or Yonkyo well enough to use against kata dori without first having learned katate dori versions. The small details and principles that make it work would be completely lost.

Even the most experienced aikidoka need to go back to basics so they don't forget the details. IMO Katate dori Ikkyo is the stepping block for all other techniques. When you have the fundamentals taught in it down you won't have any problem dealing with such "real-life" attacks as Kata Dori (facial) elbow.

Just my opinion on the issue.

L. Camejo
10-22-2004, 10:47 AM
Interesting thread.

Fortunately I don't need my Instructor or the web to tell me that a wrist grab is a pretty common attack used in reality for a variety of different reasons. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt (lost one of the sleeves in the heat of the action too:)). That situation was so funny as when the person attacked I thought I was back in the dojo doing my 8th kyu syllabus. It was almost textbook aigamae katate dori.

The simpler ones have already been mentioned and include immobilisation of your ability to attack while the attacker brings his own weapons to bear. In Aikido I also see its great value as a method of training certain sensitivity, distancing, kuzushi and touch reaction timing elements as well. So in my book there is no reason to go one way or the other. Wrist grabs in Aikido make sense for a variety of reasons, which includes as a standalone attack, a prelude to a follow up attack and as a teaching tool. But if one decides to eliminate any attack experienced in training as not being a possible "real attack" then it's probably the attack the person will have the least effective practical defence for, because his mindset does not allow him to train to react with the necessary urgency to deal with what may come next.

A major part of our kyu grade syllabus (5th to 2nd kyu) has to do with someone grasping your wrist in both aigamae and gyamugamae katate dori in an effort to immobilise you for a very quick, deep stab from a variety of directions. The idea with this is to learn to use the non striking (grabbing) hand to both disrupt the balance of Uke and get off an effective technique while the knife is kept at bay by correct body movement and positioning.

In certain Chinese MA (I think Wing Chun has this) it's often pretty effective to grab a limb and punch with the other hand before the target can mount an effective defence with his one remaining hand. Again, the wrist grab reduces the target's possibilities for counter attack, especially with the hand that is being held and immobilised.

The good thing with all those Aikido katatedori techniques is that one is not extremely limited when a wrist grab takes place, in fact one has many effective options for dealing with both the basic attack, the grab and any of his follow up friends who may be a split second behind in damaging some part of your person.

As far as people nowadays not walking around with swords for their wrists to be grabbed in modern society, this is a very myopic view imo. Ask a beat cop whose main weapon is a baton (like in this country) and whose hands are always grabbed at by perps trying to immobilise his attack or brace against it when they want to resist getting knocked out. We need to get out of the box with these concepts sometimes.

Just my few cents.
LC:ai::ki:

disabledaccount
10-22-2004, 01:05 PM
Interesting thread.

In certain Chinese MA (I think Wing Chun has this) it's often pretty effective to grab a limb and punch with the other hand before the target can mount an effective defence with his one remaining hand. Again, the wrist grab reduces the target's possibilities for counter attack, especially with the hand that is being held and immobilised.

Yes, Mantis Kungfu does this extensively also. In my experience, the only difference between katatedori and a mantis style attack is that in mantis uke "jerks" the opponent in a some direction i.e. down, back, or in the direction nage is already moving in order to take his balance. Usually a mantis katatedori features a punch, kick, head butt, elbow, knee, or sometimes all five occurring at the same time.

Of course, if you meet his initial contact by immediately taking his center, all of those nasty things coming your way are nullified. You don't have to figure out how to deal with five different attacks coming at you simultaneously, which is the point IMO of training katatedori. It teaches you to deal with the first contact, NOT the first technique they throw that may cause you injury. If you wait for that, you're dead.

As far as people nowadays not walking around with swords for their wrists to be grabbed in modern society, this is a very myopic view imo. Ask a beat cop whose main weapon is a baton (like in this country) and whose hands are always grabbed at by perps trying to immobilise his attack or brace against it when they want to resist getting knocked out. We need to get out of the box with these concepts sometimes.

Ah-ha! This is one of the many reasons I and many other police/security professionals choose Aikido as a martial art.

And to the individual who thinks that grabbing is an ineffective and rare physical attack on a civilian, I would say, "I wouldn't guess you've been in many fights."

L. Camejo
10-22-2004, 06:16 PM
Of course, if you meet his initial contact by immediately taking his center, all of those nasty things coming your way are nullified. You don't have to figure out how to deal with five different attacks coming at you simultaneously, which is the point IMO of training katatedori. It teaches you to deal with the first contact, NOT the first technique they throw that may cause you injury. If you wait for that, you're dead.

Well said, the idea is to deal with the initial attack, the grab, not to wait around and find out what else is coming down the pipe. Sen timing, tai sabaki and kuzushi are key.

Ah-ha! This is one of the many reasons I and many other police/security professionals choose Aikido as a martial art.

Exactly. My police, security and prison officer students always come to me with concepts they were thinking of as regards applying some of these techniques while on the job. They tend to get really creative I tell you. :)

LC:ai::ki:

Dazzler
10-25-2004, 07:07 AM
And to the individual who thinks that grabbing is an ineffective and rare physical attack on a civilian, I would say, "I wouldn't guess you've been in many fights."

I wouldn't guess anything. Say what you like.

Here deal with facts or opinions.

The fact here is that Jun pulled a quote of mine out of context and started a thread with my name at the top.

As a result 'new age, 'myopic' etc are chucked in my direction.

Now I'm not gonna cry about it but I'll keep fighting my corner on this.

As a statement to say that this is never an attack is wrong. Fair enough. Anything can be an attack. As I say it has been extracted out of context.

However I stand behind my earlier post that in our practice we use all attacks to develop the bases of aikido and not as a specific technique. This is what my original post was about.

I've covered my thoughts behind this in previous posts and thanks to Dan Rubin had an endorsement of these thoughts from Saotome Sensei - who seems to be linked with one of my strongest critics!.

So rather than pick on this statement lets have a positive contribution guys. Samurai Jack talks about immediately taking ukes centre. How does this differ from Irimi? atemi? tai sabaki? Not at all to me.

As for walking around with swords..well, this was put forward as an reason for this attack. Hence my putting it down.You talk about batons and criminals making a grab for police equipment. ok thats a bit more contemporary and interesting to those involved in this arena.

For me our practice still accomodates this and can be used to help. We still use ikkyo nikkyo sankkyo, hijikimeosae and a whole host of techniques in the same way others do but our focus however, is still on the bases. If these are correct then the techniques will be correct. They are not mutually exclusive.

I've stated my opinion, hopefully some will benefit from my thoughts - and I am happy to listen to the opinions of others so i can consider them too.

I don't consider this overly new age or myopic...and I won't make assumptions about anyones ability should they care to disagree with me.

Respectfully (still.....)

D

disabledaccount
10-25-2004, 09:01 AM
Sorry Dan, my comment was rhetorical and not aimed at you. I didn't see the other thread, and don't see that we disagree at all.

L. Camejo
10-25-2004, 10:05 AM
So rather than pick on this statement lets have a positive contribution guys. Samurai Jack talks about immediately taking ukes centre. How does this differ from Irimi? atemi? tai sabaki? Not at all to me.

Agreed. There is no difference in what was said above, but the science of "taking the centre" of one's attacker is in no means limited to the concepts of irimi, atemi and tai sabaki alone. Kuzushi, ma ai control, metsuke, leading, timing and other things are also very important to make this successful, so when we try to define it too much we can end up limiting it sometimes.

As for walking around with swords..well, this was put forward as an reason for this attack. Hence my putting it down.You talk about batons and criminals making a grab for police equipment. ok thats a bit more contemporary and interesting to those involved in this arena.

This is part of why I used the word myopic in the previous context. Oftentimes in Aikido we are engaged in training practices and look only at the surface, see only what is right there in front of us. Imho there are many levels to any simple practice, exercise or movement in Aikido training, it's up to the individual to seek, explore and gain deeper understanding from engaging these principles at multiple levels of perception.

The sword technique was given as a historical manifestation of the katatedori attack, but the movement of someone drawing the Japanese sword has certain elements that are still present in human movement today. So in fact the example of the historical sword technique was simultaneously an example of the modern baton technique, both in the strike used by the attacker (in the case of baton - a low sideways strike to the ribs, with a sword - a horizontal slash), and the grab (katatedori). This is because the attacks and grabs only represent principles of movement, the context and time frames may be different, but the principles stay the same. So in "putting down" the sword technique due to its historical basis you were in fact "putting down" the principle of movement, which by its nature is timeless and still exists today.

For me our practice still accomodates this and can be used to help. We still use ikkyo nikkyo sankkyo, hijikimeosae and a whole host of techniques in the same way others do but our focus however, is still on the bases. If these are correct then the techniques will be correct. They are not mutually exclusive.

Totally agreed.

I don't consider this overly new age or myopic...and I won't make assumptions about anyones ability should they care to disagree with me.

Well the "New Age, hippy, fruitie" Aikido has affected the martial aspects of the art in some interesting ways, hence why some will bring this up as an issue. I explained why I used the word myopic in my post. I can only make judgements on what is written on the forum. One should not make judgements on someone's skill or training level however, based on what is written on a web forum. Though what is written may be an indication of that person's level of experience etc. it is by no means definitive.

Happy training.:)
LC:ai::ki:

akiy
10-27-2004, 11:21 AM
Hi Daren, everyone,

However I stand behind my earlier post that in our practice we use all attacks to develop the bases of aikido and not as a specific technique. This is what my original post was about.
Sounds good. I can't disagree what you wrote in the above paragraph. I was merely pointing out that, in my experience, I treat katatedori and other grabs in and of themselves as attacks.
I've covered my thoughts behind this in previous posts and thanks to Dan Rubin had an endorsement of these thoughts from Saotome Sensei - who seems to be linked with one of my strongest critics!.
I'll say that I've been taken down to the ground with a katatedori and other grabs done to me by Saotome sensei and many of his students (as well as other shihan, too). Heck, I've even squawked out loud when Kondo sensei grabbed my wrist since it was so painful! So, in that context, I'll have to disagree with what was quoted of him.
So rather than pick on this statement lets have a positive contribution guys. Samurai Jack talks about immediately taking ukes centre. How does this differ from Irimi? atemi? tai sabaki? Not at all to me.
I agree. However, and unfortunately, many people in aikido do treat katatedori and other grabs as being just training aids; they grab without any intent behind it to take nage's center. I daresay that if you walk into many aikido dojo and ask someone to do a katatedori to you, your center will not be disturbed one bit...
As for walking around with swords..well, this was put forward as an reason for this attack. Hence my putting it down.You talk about batons and criminals making a grab for police equipment. ok thats a bit more contemporary and interesting to those involved in this arena.
I agree, too. Yes, I've learned a lot and continue to do so when we do katatedori against someone with a bokuto in their obi. However, I take this kind of training to be more of a "training aid" of how to use kuzushi, tai sabaki, koshi mawari, and so on.

All in all, if you look at many of the techniques in aikido that we do as nage, putting your hand around some part of uke's body to affect them (affect their center, control their balance, etc) is very much an integral part of what we do as nage. I just find it at odds when we do differently as uke since, in my mind, there's no difference between nage and uke. After all, what we'll do as one, we'll most likely do as the other...

-- Jun

George S. Ledyard
10-27-2004, 06:54 PM
George...I find this labelling a little insulting. (only a little since this is only a BB after all but to make a point I'll claim to be insulted). If you don't agree with me then we can discuss. Maybe one or both of us may learn something. That is what this forum is about is it not?


Hi Daren,
I have nothing personal... you just stepped into something that I consider vastly important and not at all well understood.

Of course the grab isn't an "attack" by itself. When I teach seminars I often, as a joke, will play the part of a car-jacker who attacks someone with katatetori and then demands their car keys. When they don't comply, I switch to kosa dori and ask if they've had enough yet. It's good for a laugh.

But the larger view point is crucial to proper training. The attacker grabs the hand because it presents a threat that he needs to neutralize if he is to enter nage's space. Failure to do so means he gets struck with that hand. In this sense it plays the same role as the sword tip. If the opponent is in seigan no kamae, one can't just go in and cut him without first dealing with the sword tip (which in this case we would normally deflect).

So in the martial sense the grab a) neutralizes a weapon of the opponent and b) can also unbalance him in order to facilitate the rest of the attack which would be a strike with the hands or even a kick.

The fact that the grab is a means of connection for beginners to practice is true as you see mentioned in the quote by Saotome Sensei which you take as vindication. But Sensei ALWAYS insisted that we be aware of the rest of the attack that was implicit even when it wasn't explicit in a technique. If you day dreamed and didn’t show the proper awareness when grabbed he would strike you with his other hand just to remind that this was an attack and not just a connection exercise.

Budo is all about awareness. If you tell yourself that this isn't an attack but rather a "connection exercise" then you lose the whole martial context and this leads to very sloppy technique and awareness. There are all sorts of places where one can go to train and the nage would be shocked and caught completely unawares by a tsuki along with the grab. This is not right. One should always train for the grabs as if the strike were coming, even if at the beginning level it isn't.

A better question to ask here is "who is attacking" not whether the grab is an attack. If I move to meet the uke and extend my hand, I am actually initiating the attack, not the uke. If he fails to respond he is open and I don't need my intended technique (he just gets struck) but if he does grab, then I can execute the technique of my choice. He grabs because the offering of my hand can be a threat by me (I am pointing out his suki). His grab becomes defensive on his part. This is the second level of training once one goes beyond the basic level of simply receiving whatever energy or movement the uke initiates with.

So in pint of fact, not only does nage perceive the grab by uke as an attack but, uke perceives the extension of the arm by nage and his movement forward to meet the grab as an attack. Depending on who moves first we have a different level of technique.

All of the different levels of sophistication that are built upon the basic "tori" attacks reuire that both parties treat the movements of the other partner as either actual attacks or potential attacks that must be dealt with. Otherwise it is impossible to get to the next level of sophistication in which we start to see "leading" of the energy and less physical manifestation of the technique.

Anyway, I live in a part of the country (UAS West Coast) which is famous for less-than-martially-valid technique and very "process" oriented Aikido; hence the New Age crack. It's one of my personal bugaboos. Sorry. Since I don't even know you personally, it was a cheap shot since all you did was say something which would be somewhat representative of the point of view often taken by many of these folks. I am sure you didn't know what you were stepping into and I apologize.

Dazzler
10-28-2004, 06:40 AM
Thanks George, June and Larry.

Some interesting views and thoughts there for every reader.

George - Thanks for tips on awareness of attack when teaching beginners. If I'm teaching beginners then the class will be all beginners so we have to take the aikido right down to basics which may not be the case in a mixed class.

We've got a pretty organised syllabus and some very experienced instructors so its not long before we move the goalposts to practice that is a lot nearer real life and a lot nearer your heart by the sound of it.

Car jacking is a relatively new sport this side of the pond but I do a pretty mean "give me your xxxxxxx wallet" on occasions to inject an edge of reality...and fun of course!

anyway thanks for all of your thoughts...I can see we all have a lot more in common than this thread initially suggested.

Respectfully

D

Aiki1
10-28-2004, 11:03 AM
Budo is all about awareness. If you tell yourself that this isn't an attack but rather a "connection exercise" then you lose the whole martial context and this leads to very sloppy technique and awareness. There are all sorts of places where one can go to train and the nage would be shocked and caught completely unawares by a tsuki along with the grab. This is not right. One should always train for the grabs as if the strike were coming, even if at the beginning level it isn't.

Hey George et al - how's it going?

This is an interesting discussion to me - partially because I believe in and incorporate both points of view. Without the martial aspects, Aikido becomes, well, let's say, something other than an effective martial art. Fine for some, not for me. BUT - without using - I'd say virtually Everything - as a "connection exercise" as well, then I'd say one runs the risk of not doing Aikido either, just following a set of technical training tools, and I think this leads to really sloppy Aikido as well.

I have had Many experienced yudansha come through my dojo over the years who could not do the most basic katate tori movements properly because they had Only looked at that attack as "an attack" and "bypassed" the deep learning that comes from using it as an exercise about connection and Ki. The problem for me when one limits oneself like this is that uke is always giving such obvious intention that nage may never learn how to actually Do Aikido - only how to Practice it in one certain way. As a result, I have seen many Aikidoists who can't really actually do very much outside of their own dojo and style, or off the actual mat.

So I try to incorporate and emphasize both levels of training into everything I do and teach, even if I have to break it up into the different aspects sometimes, or often. That's my take on it.

George S. Ledyard
10-28-2004, 11:27 AM
I have had Many experienced yudansha come through my dojo over the years who could not do the most basic katate tori movements properly because they had Only looked at that attack as "an attack" and "bypassed" the deep learning that comes from using it as an exercise about connection and Ki. The problem for me when one limits oneself like this is that uke is always giving such obvious intention that nage may never learn how to actually Do Aikido - only how to Practice it in one certain way. As a result, I have seen many Aikidoists who can't really actually do very much outside of their own dojo and style, or off the actual mat.


Hi Larry,
Ah yes, the flip side of the coin (which is always there). What you are talking about is not mutually exclusive with maintaining the martial paradigm.In fact if one is really serious about his martial training it leads to what you are talking about.

I became aware in the last couple of years just how many of us who were trained to attack strongly, in this case grab as hard as we could, came to use this as a crutch when executing techniques from grabbing attacks. If one is grabbed strongly enough and one knows how to do good solid movement, then you can force the partner to move by attacking his grab.This method doesn't work on people who attack weakly however, it just breaks the connection.

If you look at virtually every technique done from a grab, it should be possible to do almost every one with the partner opening his hand and merely placing his palm on what he he has "grabbed". If he does this and you break connection when you do the technique, then you have been relying on the power of the attacker's grab to make your technique work. You place your energy in your wrist and direct it into his palm heal so that the flow of energy goes through his entire structure regardless of whether he holds on or not.

So I don't disagree that many folks who "thought" they were being martial because they were simply strong have missed the boat. But this isn't because they were thinking martially, it was that they didn't understand what training martially was.

My opponent cannot be expected to grab and then hold on for dear life as he is lead off balance and thrown. As he feels what is starting to happen he will almost certainly try to let go and withdraw in order to regroup and retake the initiative. One should always do ones technique with the idea that the partner will let go and possibly change the attack. If one is training properly, maintaining the sensitive and responsive connection to which I believe you are referring, it shouldn't make any difference. Either he will not be able to counter the given technique or a new techhnique will develop of its own because of the unbroken connection.

So I think you and I are on the same page. When I say martial I don't just mean attacks that are strong and very physical. Some of the most effective technique is so light that you can barely feel it (a la Systema for instance). So to paraphrase an old political slogan "It's the connection, stupid." It isn't about the power, per se. I feel that proper martial thinking brings this about. It shouldn't interfere with it.

Aiki1
10-28-2004, 03:23 PM
So I think you and I are on the same page. When I say martial I don't just mean attacks that are strong and very physical. Some of the most effective technique is so light that you can barely feel it (a la Systema for instance).

Absolutely - that's one of the most fundamental principles of ACE Aikido - we have termed it "Kinesthetic Invisibility" and when done correctly, the "attacker" virtually feels Nothing. That to me is Really going with the flow and being in harmony. To me Aikido isn't the "art of least resistance" - it's the art of "no" resistance.

So to paraphrase an old political slogan "It's the connection, stupid." It isn't about the power, per se. I feel that proper martial thinking brings this about. It shouldn't interfere with it.

Ya, I see what you mean, and I too agree - it's the notion of Proper martial thinking that I think is part of the "problem" in many dojo....