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anonymous
10-30-2004, 03:09 PM
I recently started aikido classes because I wanted to learn self defence. I do love the class but I have problems when it comes to my turn to attack. I didn't come to attack people and it is not in my nature to do so. Although my partners are very patient with me, I sometimes feel that they get a little frustrated when I don't attack with any conviction. I do try but I tend to miss or not use enough force because something inside is screaming at me that this is wrong! Will this feeling ever go away or will I just get used to the idea of trying to hit people? I really want to continue with the class but I'm afraid that eventually no one will want to train with me because it is no challenge for them.

SeiserL
11-01-2004, 08:06 AM
IMHO, train with the intent and intensity appropriate. As you mentioned, attacking is not something you are comfortable with, yet. With time and patience, both yours and their, you can learn to over come you mental fear or reservations, and help them prepare and protect themselves by hitting harder. Try some heavy bag or focus-mit work.

Chuck.Gordon
11-01-2004, 08:21 AM
Lynn's was a very reasoned, wise answer. He's a good guy like that. Me, I'm an unevolved bastard.

If you can't 'attack' you cannot understand 'defense' ... ever.

If you don't know how to hit someone with intent and sincerity, you will never understand enough about the act to defend against it.

Attack is part of ukemi. Attack is a key ingredient to aikido. If you don't want to learn to attack, you do not want to learn to defend. Period.

Okay, rant off. Hang in there, keep trying, keep working on balancing both sides of the equation.

Chuck

ian
11-01-2004, 08:29 AM
You must overcome this psychological barrier if you ever want to be effective at self-defence. When someone attacks you for real it is very scary and you must be able to turn off and not be intimidated by their projected hate. Similarly, in training, you must be able to just attack with no thought to the consequence. You are doing them a diservice.

L. Camejo
11-01-2004, 09:42 AM
Good posts so far.

I have a question.

If you decided to start training for self defence (realistically I mean), it means that at some point you will learn (either by your instructor's doing or your own creativity) to do something that can possibly injure your attacker (assuming you don't automatically gain the mastery level to do it without injuring people). In this regard, you are still gonna be hurting people. Is it wrong to attack sincerely in class, but right to learn techniques that can probably injure people even more than striking would?

I think you are placing too much emotional meaning behind the word "attack" it is a tool for learning, a method of dealing with conflict or danger as well as other things, just like other aspects of training like avoidance, ma ai, kuzushi, atemi. A hammer is used to strike nails to build things. Is striking a bad thing in this case? However, that same hammer used in that same way against the human head can kill. Is the second one as wrong as the first, or are they in essence the same thing, separated only by one's intent and objective? To me it's important to clearly know the difference.

To be brutally honest I think if your main focus of training is for self defence and you do not have the heart to attack in the dojo then you will not be able to apply any defensive manouever if you are faced with a real threat.

My advice: Start desensitizing yourself towards attacking by doing some bag work as well as maybe taking a kickboxing class in a gym where you hit something. Before this though, I think you need to seriously sit down and understand why you believe that attacking someone is wrong. I think this is where the problem lies. It's psychological.

If the life of a loved one is threatened, will you hesitate to act due to this concept of attacking that you have? If it is, then I think you need to do some research a bit on what may constitute "real" self defence. Then decide whether this mindset will help or hinder your progress in being able to defend yourself and possibly others. A good place to start research is on Marc MacYoung's site here. (http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/)

Just some thoughts.
LC:ai::ki:

Chuck.Gordon
11-01-2004, 09:47 AM
I recently started aikido classes because I wanted to learn self defence.

To quote some wise country singer, sometimes ya gotta be wrong to be right.

Budo is about "call and response".
You can't answer the call, if you don't learn the response.

You have to embody it.

I felt like you, in the beginning. I used to have nightmares about my hands being too small, nightmares about being assaulted and powerless.

Then I began to have nightmares about destroying my attacker utterly. As in bloody shreds.

My anger had to escape, it had to evolve.

In the end, I had a choice.

I am strong enough, and I hope wise enough, to choose or alter the fate of those who are strong enough, and foolish enough, to try to alter my fate by harming me.

> Will this feeling ever go away or will I just get used to the idea of trying to hit people? >

You will begin to have faith that your attacks will help them get stronger, just as you need to get stronger to remain peaceful.

My motto is, I am a gentle, healing and peaceful person, and I will fight like hell to stay that way.

Can't do much good otherwise.

I was "raised" in aikido, and use it as a basis for the jujutsu I do now.

It works.
Have faith in yourself and be patient.

MLE
(not Chuck, but I train with him)

Mark Headleand
11-01-2004, 01:46 PM
If attacking with conviction feels wrong, it may be because you are equating attacking with aggression - you mentioned you felt that attacking was not in your nature. There's nothing wrong in that at all.

I know there may be some people who will disagree with me when I say that it is not necessary to use aggression in Aiki practice. Of course it depends on what you want out of training, whether you are practising for realism in self defence or examining the movements of the body and the underlying principles involved.
If realism isn't a pressing issue you could consider taking the view that when 'attacking' your tori, you are giving them a gift instead of something negative (ie something that'll hurt if they don't move out of the way :) ) By gift I mean the energy in an attack which will help your tori in honest practice. If the amount of energy isn't enough (not committed) then you're not helping your tori to the fullest extent that you could. The intent of the attack is matters. If you look at attacking as hurting people then you are perceiving attacking as something negative. It's not, you're helping your partner learn. You've also got to have trust in your partner that they'll keep themselves safe, the only solution to making sure of that is more communication with your partner.

Eventually, after getting used to giving the 'gift' of an attack rather than something you might perceive as something that is negative and dangerous then changing the intent of an attack in practise toward self defence may be a little easier.

Hope this is of some use,

Mark :)

Hagen Seibert
11-01-2004, 02:59 PM
Remember that your training partner expects your attack, in fact he needs your attack because otherwise he will not be able to train. So you are doing a favour to him, itīs a situation of mutual agreement.
This said, if itīs ok for your partner, thereīs no need to let it remain a problem for you.

Iīd also agree to the previous statements that you need to learn attacking in order to truly understand defence.

ruthmc
11-03-2004, 11:57 AM
As a beginner, first you need to make attacking fun. :) If you never learn to enjoy it, you won't do it. The attacks you make as a beginner need not be deadly and devastating - you should not attack harder than your ability to take ukemi, or you'll get thrown harder than you'll like!

I wasn't keen on attacking anybody when I started training - now I love it! I see it as a way to develop my own body control. I taught myself this lesson the first time I really tried to hit a senior student (a 1st kyu) with mune tsuki. He side-stepped my attack and I fell flat on my face without any help from him :D

It's series of steps to take - first, you learn to trust your partner to get out of the way of your attack. Then, as your control develops, you learn to trust yourelf that you can make a proper attack without compromising your own posture. Next you learn to blend with the timing of your partner, and to stop short an attack if they are a beginning student who forgets to move out of the way ;)

Attacking in Aikido is not just about trying to hit your partner!

Ruth

Janet Rosen
11-03-2004, 12:49 PM
As a beginner, first you need to make attacking fun. :) If you never learn to enjoy it, you won't do it.
Ruth
From time to time, with a few specific partners, the one attacking will growl loudly, or stare and say "I'm going to hit you now...."
While it is humorous, it is also relaxing and does let you kind of "let go" and just attack.

Chuck.Gordon
11-03-2004, 01:49 PM
If attacking with conviction feels wrong, it may be because you are equating attacking with aggression

Attacking IS agression. What's the problem with that? So is life.

If I'm training and my partner provides the stone with which I'm supposed to grind myself, and tather than stone, it's soggy soap, then my partner is doing nothing to gie me the surface against which I sharpen my sword.

In English: If we're training together and you fail to give me a proper attack, full of intent an potential to damage -- according to my ability to respond -- then you are cheating and lying to me.

And I will tell you to get the hell off my mat and don't come back until you can attack with sincerity so I can learn some damn thing from it.

But, then, I'm an unevolved bastard aren't I?

Chuck

Chuck.Gordon
11-03-2004, 01:55 PM
Ruthie, darling girl, I love ya, ya know that.

As a beginner, first you need to make attacking fun. :)

EXACTLY. It's a good great freaking JOY to attack well and true and honestly.

If you can't, you need to get back to basics.

If you can't attack, you can't play the game.

Don't collect $200, don't pass GO, don't call youself a budoka.

If you step onto my mat and DON'T attack me honestly, I'll laugh at you. If you can't walk the talk, then you need to learn your ABCs ...

And THAT'S part of the exercise.

Chuck

Kristian Miller-Karlsen
11-03-2004, 02:45 PM
I've noticed in training that those in my dojo who attack with the greatest speed and more devastating power are never aggressive. I was made aware of this point by a close friend who beat the hell out of me one day. There was no malice or aggression. Just the fact that I was moving incorrectly.

If you are only centred and calm only while performing the role of nage then you are only practicing Aikido half of the time.

Regards.

suren
11-03-2004, 05:01 PM
I read a very interesting and pretty recent article on Aikidojournal by George Ledyard, who addresses attacking in one of the Aikido progression stages. Here it is: http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=366

P.S. It does not exactly target this particular question, but I think it's along these lines and answers to those who still think there are not attacks in Aikido.

xuzen
11-08-2004, 02:11 AM
I recently started aikido classes because I wanted to learn self defence. I do love the class but I have problems when it comes to my turn to attack. I didn't come to attack people and it is not in my nature to do so. Although my partners are very patient with me, I sometimes feel that they get a little frustrated when I don't attack with any conviction. <snip...> Will this feeling ever go away or will I just get used to the idea of trying to hit people? I really want to continue with the class but I'm afraid that eventually no one will want to train with me because it is no challenge for them.

Chill out, you think too much. try not to think of your attack as an attack, think of it as part of the whole technique. Do not think of it as trying to hurt your partner... to put it in perspective, take shomenuchi shihonage for example:

Without executing a Shomenuchi (Frontal downward strike) how can your partner proceed to do Shihonage? That is why the whole technique is called Shomenuchi Shihonage and for practical reason not called Shihonage shomenuchi. It takes two to tango, and a pair of hands to clap. Likewise, it takes you and your partner to execute the whole technique. So don't have to think that you are attacking him, think more along the line of a dancing partner leading the dance.

Do I sound comprehensible?

Boon.

Bridge
11-09-2004, 05:55 AM
I recently started aikido classes because I wanted to learn self defence. I do love the class but I have problems when it comes to my turn to attack. I didn't come to attack people and it is not in my nature to do so. Although my partners are very patient with me, I sometimes feel that they get a little frustrated when I don't attack with any conviction. I do try but I tend to miss or not use enough force because something inside is screaming at me that this is wrong! Will this feeling ever go away or will I just get used to the idea of trying to hit people? I really want to continue with the class but I'm afraid that eventually no one will want to train with me because it is no challenge for them.

Question for you:

Have you ever been hit (as in a technique actually landing) in a martial arts class?
It's not so bad getting clumped occasionally. Perhaps if you do experience this, "attacking" won't be so daunting as you'll know what it's like to be on the receiving end. Sometimes, someone will land a punch on me, they'll stop and apologise, then I have to point out that I'm absolutely fine, no problems. Then congratulate them on an excellent punch and aim to improve the technique, so as not to get hit again (cos it's embarassing rather than painful). :)

drDalek
11-09-2004, 06:20 AM
I just polish my axe before class and loudly growl "BLOOD FOR THE BLOODGOD" before launching my attack. Try it, works for me.

anonymous
11-09-2004, 04:53 PM
Thanks everyone, the advice was a lot of help, well most of it, and I'm starting to see things differently. I suppose that really, if I'm not trying to hurt them and they know that it's coming and how to get out of the way AND land me on my backside at the same time I really don't have anything to worry about do I?

So far no one has actually hit me but that is probably because I'm still so new to it all that they don't want to scare me off, well that and they are good enough to know exactly what they are doing. I do have to admit that I'm starting to find it something of a challenge just trying to land a punch on one of them. I know I will probably never succeed but it is fun all the same.

I am curious though, has anyone ever actually been hurt because they didn't move out of the way in time and got hit?

xuzen
11-09-2004, 07:31 PM
I am curious though, has anyone ever actually been hurt because they didn't move out of the way in time and got hit?

Yes, got a bloddy lips from tsuki to the face and didn't move enought to avoid it. Ouch! Ouch! The pain! The pain! :uch: :uch:

Boon.

Rocky Izumi
11-09-2004, 09:17 PM
Chuck my be an unevolved bastard but then, I must be a devolved one.

For Yudansha who practice with me, I expect them to initiate the attack before doing any technique. For instance, in Shomenuchi Ikkyo, it is nage that is doing the Shomenuchi, not uke. Yokomenuchi Shihonage, it is nage that is doing the Yokomenuchi, not uke. When doing Katatetori Koshinage, again, it is nage doing the Katatetori, or forcing uke to grab so the hand so that they don't get hit with it. Morotetori is force on uke so that they don't get hit with a Shomenuchi.

That means, whether you attack seriously or not, it will be your defensive counter that allows them to do a technique. Thus, your lack of a strong attack is not an issue. You will learn to defend a little more strongly if nage proceeds to pop you in the nose a couple times.

Of course, for Mudansha and beginners, I don't expect them to initiate the technique and I don't expect them to pop anyone in the nose. Nor do I expect a Yudansha to pop any Shoshinsha in the nose either. If they do, I will pop them in the nose. That is only for Yudansha on Yudansha practice.

That said, however, the lightness of your attack should not bother a good Yudansha since they should be able to use your lack of a strong attack in doing their technique. It is just another type of situation for them to train for. All people attack at different intensities and Yudansha need to train for all those different types of attacks, even weak ones. They should be thanking you for a chance to practice under different conditions. That is one of the key principles of Aikido. There is no form because there is no right way to do it with everyone. Everyone is different and each attack is different. You just happen to be at one end of the spectrum and forces people to work harder on joining with you better.

At the same time, you are right. A lot of people will be pissed off because they have yet to develop the ability to join with someone who attacks lightly. Really, I don't think it is the lightness of your attack that is really the problem anyway. It is the intensity with which an attack is launched that determines how the attack is taken. Remember the principle of Aikido that a technique that is done gently is more devastating than one that is done trying to use your muscle power. A gentle attack is not a problem. The problem is to attack with an intent to hit the spot which you are aiming at or to grab the arm that is being offered. How lightly you do strike or grab is not the issue. If you are to grab something, grab it, even if it is lightly and try to keep grabbing it even if it is lightly. If you are to do a strike at someone, aim at that space where you are supposed to hit and do not deviate. The worst thing to do in an Aikido attack is to try and miss someone with a strike and end up hitting them because you tried to miss them. They move into where you would not have struck if you were actually trying to hit them. If you try to miss and hit them, it is your fault. If you try to hit them and hit them, it is their fault for not moving out of the way. They already knew where you were going to hit so they can easily move out of the way. You don't have to hit fast either if you hit with intensity. You can do it very slow and still give nage a good attack. You can attack so slowly that nage finds it easy to move out of the way. Just make sure you are attacking the spot you are supposed to be attacking and not tracking nage's movement.

I am not sure that helps at all but I wanted to give you a totally different perspective from a devolved bastard.

raul rodrigo
11-10-2004, 02:05 AM
I am curious though, has anyone ever actually been hurt because they didn't move out of the way in time and got hit?


Once I got nailed by a white belt with a punch right between the eyes. I had gotten complacent and he was much taller and had a different rhythm when he punched. Ouch. That hasn't happened again, but I expect I'll get nailed again sooner or later when I let my zanshin down. I thanked him for giving me that lesson.

Ghost Fox
11-10-2004, 07:36 AM
Wow, I get hit all the time. I'm always trying to shorten the distance between my inital tai-sabaki and ukes strike waiting sometime to long and getting nailed in the process. Nothing to serious though, since I'm in movement most strikes are glancing blows, and leave only superficial bruising.

Although, I do make it a point not to get out of the way of new students, as most people have been condtioned not to hit other people. Here I'm trying to teach a commited, aimed attack with intent.

Ghost Fox
11-10-2004, 07:57 AM
Oh, during my Shodan exam (celebration of knowledge :-)) I get hit on the head during randori. Didn't feel a thing, and there's no evidence on the video tape to show who hit me as I didn't pause. There was blood all the way down my face, kinda like a bad wrestling show, and the testing committee didn't stop me for some time as I was not facing the committee.

Kevin Leavitt
11-10-2004, 12:34 PM
I suppose everyone studies aikido for different reasons and hopes to get something different out of it. I do wonder from time to time if it can be all things to all people. Not sure if I know the answer.

From a budo perspective though, I think that in order to truely "do" aikido, you must have sound, tactical and sincere attacks. They must be realistic in principle and dynamic. That said, all attacks theorectically must be capable of emparting damage. In aikido we slow down the attacks and for the most part work with them in a cooperative nature. Shomenuchi is not a realistic attack, but a training affect to help you understand the principles. However, replace it with a sword then you have a different situation all together. Doesn't mean the attack isn't real though.

Having trained at both ends of the spectrum from tai chi to full "no holds barred" fighting, there is merit in both ends of spectrum. The criticism I have of aikido is that it does not fully teach you to deal with the reality of a fight, with emotions and adrenalin running high. The Criticisms of full contact, full speed is that it really doesn't help you learn the principles and develop good habits. I think at some point it is good to work both extremes, but it depends on your goals.

My own personal opinion as a budoka (not necessarily an aikidoka) is that you need to be willing to deal with the "darkside" that is to be willing and able to kill or execute extreme violence in a controlled unemotional manner. At the same time you must be able to walk on the soft side and be a master of peace. It is the Tao. Musashi's "Book of Five Rings" is good reading on this subject.

I have known many good aikidoka that are proficient at aikido and are perfectly happy with what they do. Nothing wrong with that. I do not however really place them in the category of a warrior or budoka. Nor do they really consider themselves in that vein (the ones I know). It just depends on what you want out of your training.

I really do hate the word "desensitize" . It may be semantics, but I think very, very BAD things happen when you get into this. I have practiced violent arts for many years, and I try to be very careful about getting desensitized by the violence I see. I detest violence and all that it represents, but I also think it is possible to practice things you consider violent such as martial arts and keep things in perspective..that is have a healthy respect for what you are really learning to do.

Kevin Leavitt
11-10-2004, 12:41 PM
One other thought. I know that you mean no harm when you say "just think of it as dancing". Philosophically I have a issue with that. When you take a violent act such as an attack at reframe it as dancing...you are not changing the result, simply deluding yourself into thinking it is something that it is not.

If you are dancing...dance. If you are attacking...attack. If you are doing aikido you are doing aikido which requires attacks and defenses. If you have issues with this, then you should resolve them honestly or find something else to do with your time.

Sorry to be so honest. It seems like a small thing, but I think part of the problem with the world is that we go through it constantly reframing things we really don't want to face and deal with, this only leads to problems somewhere else in your life.

Rocky Izumi
11-15-2004, 02:41 PM
Shomenuchi is not a realistic attack, but a training affect to help you understand the principles.
Out of curiousity, why would you say that? My experience on the street has indicated it is one of the best. The only problem is to make sure not to hit too hard or you might crack the skull if you hit the fontanel or temple. I found it works wonderfully as a counter to jabs and crosses or all sorts of kicks and tackles. When used in conjunction with ikkyo, it is one of the most difficult attacks to counter and tends to stop a fight very quickly.

Rock

Kevin Leavitt
11-15-2004, 03:22 PM
Why?

I can think of many things I'd find more effective than classic shomenuchi. Sure, all the elements of a proper attack are there if you do it correctly. However, the way it is traditionally practiced as a telegraphic attack with your hand raised over your head, is what I was referring to. The way I think of it...Shomenuchi is a training affect.

I would imagine what you are reffering to would be maybe a hammer fist? I would have to work with you to see what you are talking about. If it works for you...go for it!

Rocky Izumi
11-15-2004, 07:40 PM
Why?

I can think of many things I'd find more effective than classic shomenuchi. Sure, all the elements of a proper attack are there if you do it correctly. However, the way it is traditionally practiced as a telegraphic attack with your hand raised over your head, is what I was referring to. The way I think of it...Shomenuchi is a training affect.

I would imagine what you are reffering to would be maybe a hammer fist? I would have to work with you to see what you are talking about. If it works for you...go for it!
Actually, I did mean with Shomenuchi as traditionally practiced. However, I don't find it telegraphic since if done correctly, it should be done as aiuchi. If the person does block it, as I hope they do, it flows directly into ikkyo. Generally, I tend to ask all Yudansha above Nidan to do shomenuchi ikkyo with nage initiating the ikkyo through shomenuchi. Just like I ask them to initiate yokomenuchi techniques with nage doing the yokomenuchi.

As a strike that comes off the back foot rather than the front, it requires the person defending against shomenuchi to move angularly rather than linearly or laterally. As such it is not as easy to defend against than an attack that comes off the front foot and hand due to its extremely long reach and ability to execute a second technique that also covers a long distance.

As for telegraphing, if it is done as aiuchi, it really doesn't matter. I found that while it is a very difficult technique to master, shomenuchi is the strongest attack very much like in Kendo. It is much easier in Kendo to get a point with a Koteuchi but once Menuchi is mastered, it is a much stronger attack. The commitment to the attack must be there and the person being attacked must be read carefully for the point of vulnerability but if Menuchi is done correctly, it cannot be stopped unless the person taking the Menuchi is able to join with the attack. I think that is why O'Sensei stressed Shomenuchi so much. The only way to stop a well-timed and committed Shomenuchi attack is to join with the attack, and that is very difficult to do. Likewise in Kendo at the higher levels, the best defense for a well-timed Menuchi attack is Aiuchi Men.

Shomenuchi is so important, as well, since it is the basis for almost all the other attacks including Yokomenuchi, Morotetori, Katatetori, all the Ushiro attacks, the Shimewaza attacks, Katatori and Munedori attacks, Tsuki, Maigeri, etc. They all have their basis in Shomenuchi.

Just finished class, in fact, where we did a Shomenuchi defense to a Jodan Tsuki before converting it to Iriminage.

Rock

Kevin Leavitt
11-16-2004, 10:01 AM
Agree with everything you say. In fact, this is how I have been trained and believe it to be the right way.

I guess it is probably semantics more than anything else.

From my perspective, so many other things happen in a real fight such as timing, feinting, jabs, hooks, kicks etc...that you never really get to a "classic" position such as shomenuchi as typically seen in the dojo. That doesn't mean that it is wrong or incorrect in the mechanics...just things typically move in smaller circles if you will. You still need to align correct posture, use your hips, and "cock" just happens "tighter and faster".

I for the most part really use hand techniques these days as a set up to off balance so I never really commit, but then again, I work with alot of inexperienced fighters and certainly things change when you get someone of greater skill.

Certainly as you describe it the mechanics are there and what you say is 100% correct, but obviously at your level you don't need me to validate that!

Great post.

Rocky Izumi
11-16-2004, 10:27 PM
I am still often proven wrong and still have much to learn. That is why I am here and still asking questions. Every year I look back on myself and see how little I knew the last year. What will next year bring?

Rock