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05-31-2005, 06:47 AM
I was fortunate enough to attend a 4 day seminar over the long weekend (not the Expo sadly) and had a great deal of help with my Aikido from such branches as Shodokan, Aikikai and Yoshinkan.

On the last day we had a 3 hour class to finish off with during which I had occassion to practice with a 1st dan who presented me with a problem that I felt I did not deal with properly. (I am a 3rd kyu)

We were following one of the instructors instructions and applying a traditional form of ikkyo/oshi-taoshi/ikkajo. Uke would grab my upper sleeve (kata-dori) in gyaku hanmi, I would step offline to the outside, apply atemi to his face and use my movement to create the technique.

Your most basic technique.

The trouble is - as I applied atemi to his face, he stood looking bored into the distance, watching what other people were doing around the mat, neither did he make any attempt to block the strike. Having no kuzushi I could not apply the waza properly on him, for which he berated me saying I was not doing it properly.

I smiled and tried again, whipping a vicious hammer type punch from above this time to smash him in the face, stopping close enough to feel the warmth from his lips. No movement, no blocking and no acknowledgement at all of the strike. This time he berated me for using the wrong strike.

"Don't you think you should block it?" I asked him. He replied that he didn't think that it was important.

He grabbed me kata-dori with his right hand once more. This time I grabbed his right elbow with my left hand, pulled my right fist up to my drawn back right shoulder (boxer style) and threw 3 hard punches at his face in close succession. He looked to his left to see what was happening over there. He did not try to protect himself in any way, he did not attempt to deflect or block the atemi. He just ignored them because he knew I was not going to hit him

To me this was a waste of time for both of us.

Should I have hit him?

05-31-2005, 06:59 AM
Yes. At least one in the stomach, just as a wake upp call.

05-31-2005, 07:01 AM
No. That would have not been the correct thing to do. When one is that unwilling to help a student of a lower rank, then striking will only induce a violent reaction. One for which you would not be able to defend...most likely...

A Dan(any rank) that has that much disinterest in the learning of his/her fellow Aikidoka, should not be on the mat at all. But as we have no control over that, we must just control ourselves as best we can.

05-31-2005, 07:47 AM
In my opinion you shouldn't have hit him. I can understand people who would, it is one way of dealing with uncooperative ukes. I prefer trying to work with what they give me (which is both a technical and a mental challenge).

If I give your uke more credit than he probably deserves, I'd say that he might have wanted you to use his kata dori grip better to unbalance him and not just the atemi (from your post I it looks like your kuzushi depends largely on the atemi). However, if that were the case, he should have said so, especially since you clearly asked if he shouldn't block your strike.

05-31-2005, 08:22 AM
If the atemi to the face is a part of the technique demonstrated by the teacher, you should hit his face. After all itīs practice in prearranged forms. Both tori and Uke have to fulfill their part of the deal to have a good learning experience. Unless of course both parties have agreed on anything different.

You should anyhow be able to get kuzushi on uke without atemi, but that feels like a different question.

05-31-2005, 08:52 AM
I could of course have created kuzushi in another way, or indeed merely have changed to an ura variant, different waza or so on.

My concern was the total lack of any reaction at all to my atemi, whether traditional or increasingly threatening.

When I asked him if he should block the atemi and he replied that it was not important, my first thought was to knock him on his ass and ask him if he thought it was important then. :)

On the simplest level my atemi gives him the opportunity to practice protecting his face, shows him if he goes onto his back foot, if he turns, what openings appear and myriad circumstances that are created.

To stand and casually look around at other people while I am striking at his face absolutely begs for something to happen. I do not mean I was enraged or angry, upset or annoyed. To be frank I found it quite amusing. Although I did not hit him (god knows I have a bad enough reputation lol) I have to wonder if I let him down by being the better man at the time.

Stefan Stenudd
05-31-2005, 09:00 AM
I have to wonder if I let him down by being the better man at the time.Don't worry. He wouldn't notice ;)

There are many odd attitudes shown on the tatami. What you describe is one of them, and I bet we've all come across it.
What to do?

When people don't want to learn, there is no point in trying to teach them.

You could have asked him to show you how to do it, since he could not accept what you were doing at all.
I'm not sure that would have been very interesting to you, but at least a way to spend the time until you could change partner :)

Ron Tisdale
05-31-2005, 09:17 AM
Well, next time something like this happens, why not use shomen ate for your atemi, and plant him? Maybe then he'll pay more attention to who he's training with. Of course, he might get up and plant you back...but then, you'd be paying attention, so...

Its a tough question. I know I've been paying more attention to the instructor at times when working with a partner and trying to learn the form. I can think of one time when it must have seemed rude and somewhat pointless to a partner. Still learning...

05-31-2005, 09:17 AM
I would have praticed hitting him and pulling it at the last minute just like you did. That is great practice. I haven't cared if the person falls down in a long time. I don't judge success based on what they do. I just manage myself as best as I can to have the best practice I can have in that situation until the teacher hopefully comes by to help or they change partners. I explain to my juniors - because that is my roll. If it is a senior, then I leave it up to their seniors to help them. My physical feedback is enough for them.

Hitting someone "skin hard" would work only if that is the agreed upon standard in the situation. If that is not the agreed upon standard I'd say you did the best you could.


05-31-2005, 09:27 AM
You could have asked him to show you how to do it, since he could not accept what you were doing at all.
I'm not sure that would have been very interesting to you, but at least a way to spend the time until you could change partner :)

There is definitely some Ego here. Remember we PRACTICE aikido, just like Doctors PRACTICE medicine, only difference is that we rarely kill anyone. :D So the technique didn't work because the UKE was not ATTACKING YOU! What are you going to do with no energy to work with? Create some by punching him in the noggin? That might be more energy than you wanted!!!! (Definitely seems like it could be a lot!)

I was thinking about starting a thread on Atemi, and maybe will now. I have huge issues with them. I watch the people in our Dojo that are really good at atemi. The best is probably sensei, (you know that he is not going to hit you in the face, at least no one tells stories of getting hit in the face :eek: But the intention that he puts behind Atemi-es is such that there is no way that you can stand there. Heck I am bigger than sensei, I know that he is not going to intentionally hit me in the kisser, and yet there is no way that my body is not getting out of the way. He has tried to explain this to me about a dozen times, I still don't get it. Last time we worked on it, he came by me on the mat, and as I was throwing an atemi asked who was getting hit, apparently the look on my face looked like I was the one receiving the Atemi not my uke.....Sigh..... and that was after working on them for over an hour.....

You learned a lot through this episode, which is what that mat is for. I would have probably done something completely stupid, like asked to switch roles again, and then stood there and not moved for his atemi. Just to see what he thought the physical lesson was about. Then again I am in a stage where I am pushing my Ukemi as far as I can ;)

raul rodrigo
05-31-2005, 09:30 AM
I would have hit him. It would have been my job to give him an honest strike, and a disservice to a yudansha to pull it back. Maybe you would then get into a real scuffle at that point, but at least it would have come about because you were trying to do the right technique. And to me that's all right.

05-31-2005, 09:35 AM
I would step offline to the outside, apply atemi to his face Mark, as a point of interest, did your initial movement off the line actually take his balance or was the atemi on its own meant to destabilize uke? Perhaps the other person was waiting for your initial irimi to have an effect before acknowledging your atemi? [sorry, devils advocate mode today]

05-31-2005, 09:52 AM
Mark, as a point of interest, did your initial movement off the line actually take his balance or was the atemi on its own meant to destabilize uke? Perhaps the other person was waiting for your initial irimi to have an effect before acknowledging your atemi? [sorry, devils advocate mode today]
Hi Ian.

My initial movement had no effect on him either as his grip of my arm/sleeve was empty - he cared as little for gripping me as he did for me striking him. In my opinion the atemi is meant to stop uke following up as I step offline...but I have also found that in real life an atemi like this can actually increase the strength and 'pull' in ukes grip which is just as good.

There is no need to apologise, and I can see where everyone is coming from with their views.

The instructor was not part of the equation, Ron - but I don't think uke was being rude either. I got the feeling he had never been punched in the mouth before so he did not appreciate this part of the practice.

My quandary is specifically that I failed him by letting him get away with it. In the same was as if I had been jumping every time he threw me instead of allowing myself to be thrown by his technique.

Ron Tisdale
05-31-2005, 09:58 AM
Your quandry is why I suggested shomen ate...:) that usually wakes someone up, yet in a (relatively) safe manner. Did this person train in the yoshinkan?


05-31-2005, 10:04 AM
Ron why ask if they train in the Yoshinkan?

I'm not going to punch someone in the mouth if they will just punch me back...will I? :D

btw this seminar was attended by Gadi Shorr and his young friend Alon, who are currently training in Yoshinkan combined with Brazilian JJ. They are entering the World Championships in Brazil quite soon I think.

Chuck Clark
05-31-2005, 10:06 AM
... (you know that he is not going to hit you in the face, at least no one tells stories of getting hit in the face :eek: But the intention that he puts behind Atemi-es is such that there is no way that you can stand there. Heck I am bigger than sensei, I know that he is not going to intentionally hit me in the kisser, and yet there is no way that my body is not getting out of the way.

I agree with what Guy says above. You got a very good lesson about "intent". You don't have to hit people; they have to feel deep in their subconscious decision making centers that you're going to hit them and that they need to move away from the atemi. It can be done in slow motion and it still works. Even when they know consciously that you aren't going to hit them and hurt them and you go slow (full of real intent) and strike through the target...they'll move.

The person you were training with may not have intended to give you this lesson, but it's there for you to learn anyway.

Understanding atemi at this level is very difficult for some people. Find someone that can do it and learn. This will change your practice.

Ron Tisdale
05-31-2005, 10:16 AM
Mainly because I'd be surprised is someone training under the teachers I've heard of in GB would get yudansha status and not respond to atemi. Nothing nefarious, just currious...


05-31-2005, 10:24 AM
Ron I should merely have said no. He was not from the Yoshinkan.

05-31-2005, 10:34 AM
A few responded with...I would have hit him.

well....again I think that is not the proper action.
Let's look at it from a totally different point of view. This uncooperative Uke has a wife and 3 kids. He is the person who provides for his family. He gets struck in the face and is out of work for any length of time. His family suffers. I think that making Uke fall to the floor does not outweigh damage that could be done to him/her......and the possible harm to the family.

This is just my opinion.......

Next time, rather than strike Uke....just take an index finger to his/her face and give a gentle nudge.
I think Uke will move somewhat and perhaps that movement can be used to encourage him/her to move and practice the technique.

BUT....(again...just my opinion...) actually stiking Uke hard in the face to get compliance my have consequences to others outside the dojo.....is that really worth the risk????

05-31-2005, 10:52 AM
He's doing a martial art, Larry.

05-31-2005, 10:57 AM
In such case you don't need to hit him, simply push your hand against his face strongly. if there is reaction you work on it. If not, continue to push, if he goes down, you are done, if only bends back, you can choke him nicely.
usually next time he block your strike, if not, you may repeat it every time increase intensivity of your technique.

very nice practice, by the way.

05-31-2005, 11:14 AM
I agree, studying a martial art increases the potential for injury. But if an injury can be prevented by simply deciding NOT TO PROVE A POINT....is that not the best solution? If this disagreeable Uke has a family, and is out of work for a time just because he was a dope....was proving the point worth the possible harm to the family?

As I have stated....this is just my own opinion and not right or wrong...just opinion...

05-31-2005, 11:48 AM
Larry...I would agree with you if it was a real life situation. The higher ideals of aikido would, hopefully, take precedence in such cases. We do not disagree.

On the mat however this man wearing a black belt is meant to be my attacker. We practice together for *mutual* benefit. Standing pretending that you are not being hit is perhaps what someone in shock would do when being attacked, an attacker would not.

There is no point to be proved, do you think he would have stood dreamily staring at other things if the 5th dan instructor had called him up to be uke and had thrown a punch to his face?

When it was his turn, you know, every time he made atemi towards me you can be sure I protected myself.

Larry whilst I understand what you are saying about the repercussions possible...the fact that there was no resolution is what concerns me. The fact that it may have taken a punch in the mouth to resolve the situation strikes me as deeply ironic.

If I may recount another situation during the seminar I was practicing with Alon, an Israeli Yoshinkan/BJJ fighter and there were a few minor distancing problems (that were not really problems because I knew he was thinking about takedowns) and because we had had some good practice together the next time he got too close I just headbutted him. We both had a good laugh about it. Problem, resolution, good training.

Please don't confuse my disappointment for misplaced aggression. I am enjoying the feedback.

05-31-2005, 12:00 PM

I did not think for a minute that there was unprovoked aggression on your part. I was merely stating my thoughts on the situation.....as it would pertain to anybody, not you in particular. I agree with you that this Aikidoka, whose rank is above yours, was obviously more interested in being someplace else on the mat.
I have encountered this situation in the past. Though it was quite a long time ago. Since I have been a student of William Gleason Sensei, I can say that none of his students from the most experienced to the newest newbie has that type of problem. Gleason Sensei's dojo is a great place to train because we all want to work with and help each other.

Seminars, such as that you were in, will draw students from all walks of the Aikido world. And unfortunately, the only thing required to be left at the door is your $check$. Too bad there is not a shelf at the door for EGOs!!!!

05-31-2005, 12:45 PM
What I sometimes do when people don't pay attention to an atemi or act like it is not real is to give them a little tap initially, then I immediately follow it with a little more aggressive tap-if they don't respond at that time I let them know that the next one is for real and they might want to block or pay attention or they are going to get hit. If that doesn't work, I bow out and say I'm going to find a new partner that wants to train.

Paul Kerr
05-31-2005, 01:23 PM
To me this was a waste of time for both of us.

Should I have hit him?

It sounds as if you just had the misfortune to practice with an asshole. Something you'll come across from time to time at seminars.

Where I train we're taught to land atemi - if uke is senior and fails to get out of the way or deflect it's their problem. If he can't deal with an atemi what business does he have being a yudansha?

The other option is simple - just bow out, walk away and choose someone else to train with.

05-31-2005, 01:33 PM
I like the soft tap approach to get the wandering mind of Uke back to the current place and time. As I said earlier.....the index finger to the cheek...and softly press may get Uke's attention. But, also be prepared for a spirited attempt to reverse and cause some pain to the less senior Nage. A person such as Mark described here would, most likely, take serious objection to a student of lower rank correcting their(mindless Shodan Uke) performance on the mat.
And if that does not work, as a few others have said...bow with respect and find another partner with whom you can practice.

Or......plant a big wet kiss on his/her cheek.....I promise that will get movement out of Uke!!!!!!!

05-31-2005, 04:13 PM
You are all very considered with your responses.

I don't feel the guy was an asshole however. Over 4 days we did 20 hours of training and this happened in the 20th hour. If I am annoyed with anyone it is myself, because nothing productive happened.

Stefan Stenudd
05-31-2005, 04:19 PM
as a few others have said...bow with respect and find another partner with whom you can practice.I'm not sure about that. It's an aggression in itself to bow and leave, before the teacher of the class says you can do so. And it gives no room for finding a mutually beneficial solution.

I still think that the best to do would be to ask the guy for advice on how to do it right.
Either he would give an answer, and probably feel fine, or he would not - and then it would be clear that he just did not want to train. Still: wait it out with that partner.

In Aikikai Hombu dojo, you're supposed to work with the same partner the whole class. Such differences will have to be worked out, somehow, or both get a really boring class.

05-31-2005, 08:47 PM
It seems that in addition to ignoring the atemi he wasn't gripping very strong. My first instinct - okay, 2nd instinct - would have been to ask him to grip hard and push/pull as the technique required. If he didn't do that then I would have moved and created his grip myself.

WRT the atemi...I would've wanted to smack him and end the technique (1st instinct), but I do believe that would have been the wrong thing to do. I think that Szczepan's idea of slowing pushing would work best (I've done this before and had it done to me when I have forgotten to block and with the proper grin it really does wake you up without any confrontation).

But the best approach, IMHO, is to have focused on the grip and the movement from that and not the atemi if the guy was being an idiot.

Another good ploy would be to ask the instructor to help you out since obviously you were doing something wrong. That'll show the guy :)

My few yen,


05-31-2005, 10:00 PM
It seems to me that this black belt was not particularly interested in training with you OR he did not *know* what the technique was and was looking at how others did it. In any case, there are people like this with a rather distasteful attitude undeserving of their bestowed rank. Simply ignore them.

Larry has a point. If you hit him, he would have most likely responded in kind. If you're not prepared to handle the reprisal, it could be bad news for you.

Others have suggested a light tap, push, slap, bop etc. yes, whatever works.

Rob has a nice solution - not worry what they're doing, just move as if they were. Soon they will look really silly standing there while you're practising on your own.

John also has a nice solution - bow out and go train with someone else. He's paying for seminar time, and so are you. By not practising in a cooperative manner commensurate with each other's skill level, nobody is learning. You'd be better off getting your monies' worth, training with someone else who does want to learn.

Sometimes, aikido is about finding alternative solutions to peaceful conflict resolution, sometimes not....

Yes, my first instinct would be to smack him one in the kisser, but most people won't move unless you really hit them, and I really, really :mad: hate doing that.

I much prefer the use of cavity press and nerve points. It's not overt as a strike, but the resulting pain compliance is a wonderful way of getting them to cooperate quite nicely. Yes, yes, it's not "aikido".... but it works for me. :evileyes:

Coz I don't have to hit you to hurt you or make you move, if I can "touch" you, I can hurt you or make you move.... ;) Yes, yes, sooooo, "un-aiki", but if shiatsu is used to move and disperse blocked energy, why would it not be "aiki"???

It's also interesting how people like that don't want to play with me afterwards... and just when I'm starting to really have fun... especially when they can get a free "massage"... :rolleyes:

05-31-2005, 11:19 PM
If it is not considered too rude... KIAI!. That should send him a warning call and proceed with the atemi. If the ATEMI connects... then it his fault. You have done everything that is to do. It is his fault. Oh one more thing I believe that will help is intent. You know the intense look on your face that you mean business, or the "I am serious about hitting your nose" look. Maybe that was the factor lacking.

Another thing... Mark, you are a SHODO-THUG aren't you? Act like one ;).


06-01-2005, 12:50 AM
Another thing... Mark, you are a SHODO-THUG aren't you? Act like one ;).

:D ok I will answer this as a Shodothug

This phasing out during training I've seen a number of times before even occaisionally, although not often, at Shodokan Honbu. There is some reasoning behind it.

This soft focus is actually taught with regard to keeping everything in view but in my experience its pretty easy to understand when someone is really doing this or just pretending.

Would I as a Shodothug hit the person - no. We are afterall gentle souls.

Step back and simply ask "Are we boring you?"
No matter what they say respond with "I can't practice safely if you are not paying attention."

Safety trancends grade and if he is of a different organization grade is meaningless anyway. Safety never is.

If the conversation degrades then in true Shodothug fashion you threaten to reach down his throat and remove his entrails (just kidding).

Amir Krause
06-01-2005, 03:52 AM
To me it sounds like he was simply a bad Uke. no point in trying to figure out why, since there are too many possible reasons (from tiredness to distaste of the concept taught).

However you can learn one thing from this exercise - you don't transmit intent. Personally, when practicing, I too stand sometimes and absorb an atemi or even an attack. one of my reasons for standing and receiving is to feel the intent of the action. More often then not, I find the atemi/ attack does not land on me, even though I specifically requested my partner to hit me, hence I keep standing until they will strike me at least once (I ask them to really hit next time), only then do they realize it is OK for their atemi/attack to lend and continue with some intent.
As mentioned before, one can feel the intention of an atemi/attack long before it hits. And when Sensei performs it, you will find me reacting as if the strike has landed while it is still more then 10 cm away (sometimes just from the approach gives that sense).
In this part, of transmitting your intention to hit, you have failed. Note that it is not always necessary to transmit this, sometimes it's better to let the strike land. But if you wish to create a strong kuzushy without hitting, you must.


James Davis
06-03-2005, 11:17 AM
To play devil's advocate for just a moment...

I've never done this at a seminar, but once or twice at the dojo I've kept an eye on my beginner classmates to make sure they weren't hurting each other by performing technique improperly. An odd number of students had shown up for class, so I paired off with somebody. Admittedly, I was teaching a class at the time, so I was responsible for their safety. It was always prudent to say, "Matte. Please excuse me." so they didn't take my head off, though! Since then, on the nights that I teach, I've stopped pairing with students while others are training. If an odd number shows, some people will just have to form a trio.

Maybe he was looking into the distance out of concern for a classmate?

Also, I believe I read that you had been training with him for a number of hours at this seminar. Had you given him any reason to believe that you would really hit him? It would be really silly for him to let his guard down, but maybe he had gotten used to you NOT hitting him?

(On a side note, I LOVE talking to other aikidoka on this website! :D )

06-03-2005, 01:42 PM
This seems like a simple subject to me.

At a seminar there would be many partners to work with. I'd try to learn what I can from the interaction, even if it's to learn that there are people to avoid training with.

If the situation presents itself that little or nothing can be learned with the partner I am training with, I would excuse myself and find a new partner.

Training time is too valuable to waste on partner that is not learning or teaching. There is always something to learn because learning even comes from teaching.

You should not take responsibility your partners lack of participation, nor take it personally. That interaction gave you a reason to begin a this discussion which has provided an additional learning experience for all of us that have participated.