View Full Version : Being able to take atemi for real

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10-27-2005, 03:24 PM
I expect I will get replies that answer my question well and will make me feel foolish but my Sensei said something that made me think and want to ask this question.

Hypothetically in a real situation an attacker would be unpredicatable, and as they are not Aikidoka would not fall as we would they could end up being able to get in a lucky punch or maybe if you were not 100% aware (as in why would you be looking for it if you were just standing there with friends talking), they could hit you.
Now my question is, unless you are a pretty tough person, would it not be a great shock to the system to recieve a blow? In harder styles such as Muay Thai or Karate, where there is sparring, you take punches and kicks all the time so you are accustomed to it and in a real situation you'd not be AS phased as a normal person, BUT in AIkido there is no sparring and you never get the feel of being punched in the face or kicked so I am thinking that it would disrupt your focus and thow you off if it were to happen.


Ron Tisdale
10-27-2005, 03:28 PM
Where do you train? I've been punched, kicked, thrown, stepped on, poked in the eye, all kinds of stuff. I try to set my mind not to let it stop me. Take the ukemi, finish the throw, whatever...then cry about the booboo later. You know...kind of like in life...


Aiki LV
10-27-2005, 03:48 PM
No offense, but I getting really tired of the same old WHAT IF QUESTIONS!!!!!!! No one no matter what they practice knows for certain how they will react in a "REAL LIFE" situation. I wish people would stop trying to look into the crystal ball and read the future. Deal with the fact that not everything in life is known before hand. Even if you have been in a situation in the past you don't know how you will react to a different set of circumstances. Deal with life as it comes and don't put yourself in situations that would promote something like that. Not always, but most of the time people don't try to hit you unless they have a reason. If you are a police officer or a soldier that is a different story all together.

Lan Powers
10-27-2005, 03:53 PM
Where do you train? I've been punched, kicked, thrown, stepped on, poked in the eye, all kinds of stuff. I try to set my mind not to let it stop me. Take the ukemi, finish the throw, whatever...then cry about the booboo later. You know...kind of like in life...


:D oh yeah

James Davis
10-27-2005, 03:58 PM
Where do you train? I've been punched, kicked, thrown, stepped on, poked in the eye, all kinds of stuff. I try to set my mind not to let it stop me. Take the ukemi, finish the throw, whatever...then cry about the booboo later. You know...kind of like in life...

Yeah, man. Just wait until the fight's over to go lick your wounds, right? :p

Joshua Livingston
10-27-2005, 11:21 PM
Now my question is, unless you are a pretty tough person, would it not be a great shock to the system to recieve a blow?

I'm rather sick of people who post on here and do everything but answer the question of the thread. If yah don't like the question, go somewhere else; it's a big board!

Now Ben, straight up, Yes!

The average person who is not accustomed to getting hit will fold if they suddenly get hit without expecting it, and many times even when they are expecting it. Your body basically goes into panic mode, you have a huge adrenaline dump, and if you have a so-called "glass jaw" you can even lose consciousness over a rather weak punch.

The only way to get your body to not freak out when it happens, unless you happen to be a natural bulldog type o guy who can take anything someone dishes out, is to gradually allow your body to become accustomed to the trauma. If you are training some place where it is rare to receive the stray hit, and you are concerned with this, I would recommend acquiring some boxing gloves, helmet, and a mouthpiece. Find a training buddy and let your partner start getting some hits in on you. Make them very soft at first and then gradually allow them to become harder as you feel comfortable. Also start with hits to padding areas of the helmet. You really shouldn't allow someone to lay into you until you have practiced this for a few months and are totally comfortable with it, as well as making sure your partner can hit you with a good degree of control. You shouldn’t have any lasting pain after the fact, if you do you are pushing it to hard and fast.

This should allow your body to grow accustomed to the impact. I also wouldn't ever advise allowing someone to free deck you such as in Fight Club, it's simply too dangerous and not very intelligent. Sure the real thing is going to hurt more when and if it really happens, but you should also have quite a bit of adrenaline pumping at the time, which can make all the difference.

Also don't think because you do this now that you will be able to take the same 3 years from now. The only way to keep it is to keep doing it every now and then, otherwise homeostasis kicks in and your body is no longer prepared for it once it realizes that it no longer needs to worry about it happening; so simply have a 2 hour boxing session with a buddy once every month or so as an upkeep. Don’t worry about not knowing how to box “correctly” as that’s not the point as long as you can control the punches enough to only dish out what you both can take. Make it very casual and focus on control.

The best way to take it of course is to simply not place yourself in a situation where someone is going to want to hit you, like always having your best friend Tiny around who happens to be 7’4. :D

10-28-2005, 05:16 AM
Thanks for the replies. OK, first, Ron I train at two different places, one is Aiki Jujutsu and the other is Modern Aikido, neither of which I have been hit or kicked although I'm sure if I asked my Aiki Jujutsu Sensei he'd be more than willing to assist me :-) I also train in Muay Thai, not for a few months now though but I'm considering going back and stopping the modern Aikido class because I feel that maybe I need a harder style of martial arts again to work with the Jujutsu.

Next, Mindy, I don't think you know what I mean. Basically "STATISTICALLY" there is a high chance that you could get hit, I mean there is more chance than not that someone would lash out with a wild punch as thats what most untrained attackers would do. Also, when you say that most of the time people do not try to hit you unless they have a reason...............wrong in my experience, maybe its just where I live (its not a bad area at all though), many times I've been out and for no apparent reason..................actually its probably just because they're drunk, people will walk up to someone and just puch them in the face, ALSO because SO many people here just go out every week, week in week out drink and start fights, they're used to it and even though they're totally wasted they are quite accurate with the punches and would not go down as easily as one might expect, they're just used to it.

I was just thinking that you could spend 20 years practicing Aikido and be at a high level and never have to had to use it, until one day something kicks off and you catch a blow to the face, what are you gonna do, you're gonna be in shock. I know that you're going to say that Aikido is not practiced JUST for protecting yourself its practiced for mind, body and spirit too and I appeciate that FULLY, I'm just talking in respect to the protection side of things.

Joshua, thanks for the lengthy reply, I am accustomed to the impact of kicks and punches as I study Muay Thai, I was just asking the question as a hypothetical one.


Steve Mullen
10-28-2005, 05:21 AM
i would feel very cheated if i paid my money and didn't receive a few punches in return. when you get into (or should i say IF you get into) that type of situation assume two things,

1) you are going to get hit
2) its probably going to hurt.......lots

if you expect to get hit then your body will do it's best to prepare you. all in all you will probably find that if the situation does arise there will be so much adrenalin pumping through you that the first punch is probably the only one you will feel.

Dirk Hanss
10-28-2005, 07:42 AM
maybe your concerns are important, but in which MA do you get used to being punched into the face with bare fists or even steel tubes, to get more realistic. Although I even feel Joshua getting sick again, I'd like to recommend George Ledyards column about "Ultimate Martial Arts" here on aikiweb.

But nevertheless I also want to reply on the topic:

Yes, many people, not being used to be punched, choked, etc. the first time could be a psychological shock, which could hinder them from defending themselves or doing whatever is prudent.

On the other side there are many examples about not really realising the pain during the incident. I personally didn't face this effect in street fights, but in normal accidents and similar situations. Once I even had a chance for a Kyokushinkai fight on a junior level. I did not feel to be punched harder than in semi-contact fights of the same level. I don't care if it is adrenaline or anything else.

Now how far does aikido prepare for this and why not more? Again schools and organisations are different. Saotome hits his uke and not only gently, but never in the face. AFAIK in Shodokan the xx ate techniques are often done as punches, as the name says. But even in softer aikido classes, depending on your skills, you have to take break-falls, sometimes hard and high break-falls. In my experience they are as hard to take as hard boxing glove punches to the body. So aikidoka are prepared, but obviously not as good as many full contact martial artists.

My opinion is that this is totally enough. As George Ledyard stated for many of us it is not a probable scenario - I've never been in a British pub late at night and after your comments probably I'll never do, as well as would probably would not walk late night through Soweto, Harlem or other places, which might no be as bad as their reputation, but I just do not need to check out.

2nd, if you are in a situation that you feel, you need to be prepared you can either cross train any full contact sport - or just do their preparation. You can run with your head into a wall - maybe Makiwara would be better for the beginning - or do anything you think, it is realistic enough. I cannot - I am earning my money with my brain, so I try hard not to kill unnecessarily my little gray cells. Yes it is somewhat ironical, but seriously everybody can find his own path for best profit and costs.

And my last - not the least argument: Aikido focuses much more on not being hit than taking lucky punches. That does not mean that some people might train for wrong situations, but most of us have limited time to train. Is it really worth neglecting to train your reflexes to avoid, evade or at least weaken the hit, from rear or where ever for being able to take them? Again there is no absolute right or wrong answer and your solution to take Mouay Thai is a good one. Offering harder lessons on being able to punch and get punched in some 7/24 aikido dojo might be another one. For the normal aikido student, training twice to 3 times a week some 2 hours, I would not propose to do that. It is wasting time you need for other lessons.

Best regards and just the 2 cents of a 4th kyu - though some years of experience in aikido and former 2nd kyu in Karate with lots of semi-contact experience.


10-28-2005, 07:45 AM
I am thinking that it would disrupt your focus and thow you off if it were to happen.
Oh yea!

It really can disrupt your focus when getting hit back, that's why IMHO, boxers (Western and Thai) are so tough, they train close to to conditions they are going to fight and they learn how to take a few for real.

Hopefully, you will never really have to take atemi for real.

10-28-2005, 08:25 AM
Just make sure you don't fall. An aikidoka on the floor is pretty much dead unless he knows judo or jiu-jitsu.

Ron Tisdale
10-28-2005, 09:00 AM
Some are, some aren't. I tend to avoid such generalizations.


Dirk Hanss
10-28-2005, 10:17 AM
Just make sure you don't fall. An aikidoka on the floor is pretty much dead unless he knows judo or jiu-jitsu.
most aikidoka know falling - called ukemi. If a good aikidoka falls, he is mostly right up again, probably a few meters away.

You probably refer to grappling and you can go to the bear hug or BJJ threads. Standing in such a position is not more comfortable than on the ground. The skills are there. First try to act before the agressor is in a strong position. Then you apply standard techniques - mudansha level. If you are too late, it is getting more difficult and many aikidoka might get mixed up, if they haven't trained this situation. But here it is still aikido syllabus, even if they do not test it lying on the ground. If you feel you need it and your aikido dojo is not providing enough practice, you better add some grappling sports. So it is quite similar to what i've said before.

And of course, Ron is right. Some aikidoka can deal with it some cannot.

And Ron don't you think, that most aikidoka who can handle well being submitted (grounded?), had some practice in judo (B)ju-jutsu or wrestling? Then it would be an acceptable generalisation ("...unless he knows ...")

Another 2 cts


10-28-2005, 11:27 AM
Just wanted to say thanks for all the replies, you've given me lots to think about.


Ron Tisdale
10-28-2005, 12:00 PM
Yes Dirk, I think that statement helps a lot. But you have to remember as well that some people are naturally inclined toward fighting in general. I've known people that train in shotokan, that I thought I could simply grapple with, and not get pounded. Well, I was wrong! It wasn't that they had trained in ground fighting, or that they had any magic....their shotokan was much more reality based than what I was familiar with. Every time I tried something wrestling based, I was locked on the ground about to get kicked while he was still standing. :crazy:

Admittedly, Norman is an exceptional guy...and he's huge. But still...


Kevin Leavitt
10-28-2005, 01:37 PM
Great replies Dirk, Ron, and James!

Ben Joiner
10-31-2005, 06:17 AM
For you fellow Britishers out there. Did anyone see Eastenders this week? Ian Beal's pathetic attempts to apply his Aikido knowledge upon the return of the infamous Phill and Grant are particularly relavent here I think.

Dirk Hanss
10-31-2005, 06:30 AM
For you fellow Britishers out there. Did anyone see Eastenders this week? Ian Beal's pathetic attempts to apply his Aikido knowledge upon the return of the infamous Phill and Grant are particularly relavent here I think.

what to hell is the link to this thread?

there is another thread about Ian Beale's aikido, where you can place this - sorry , I wanted to say rubbish ;) .


Rupert Atkinson
10-31-2005, 07:11 AM
I rememer one guy who came to train - he said he often got picked on and even attacked and wanted self-defence. Fair enough, so I thought, and he started Aikido. Once I got to know the guy, I realised that his problem was his clumsyness and attitude. In a pub he would bump into people, spill their drink, and not even notice. If someone said something he would immediately jump on the defensive and refuse to acknowledge it. If he bumped into someone and spilled his own drink he would immediately blame them. It only takes so long before you meet the wrong kind of person - no wonder he got into so much trouble. No amount of training will help if you have such an attitude. I think the fact that he did Aikido made it even worse - he felt tougher, though he wasn't. He didn't last long in Aikido...

11-01-2005, 08:47 PM
I hate to take Atemi for real... it will hamper future practice (unnecessary injury and pain). I will not advocate it as standard practice during mat time. Boxing and other competitive striking arts allows their players to take punches but under very strict rules and regulation, which again is arguably is very "unrealistic" compared to a street situation.

Playing two much tennis or golf and you get tennis/gold elbow. Sport medicine termed this as repetitive stress injury (RSI). I wonder by allowing another person to repetitively hit your head as in boxing will lead to what sort of RSI?

Given a choice between training to harden one's body to take hits vis-a-vis learning to move the body swiftly and quickly in a stable manner away from the trajectory of an incoming punch/kick, I'd choose the latter, i.e., moving away. But if one wishes to take real atemi to see how it feels like, by all means go ahead, but i do not advocate it as standard aikido practice.

How, then does one practice to deal with real intention atemi if we do not hit real? Substitute punches with bokken or jo. Nothing better forces your body to move than a oncoming bokken or jo. Wrt to taking real atemi.. how is getting a bokken knocked on your head without a headgear, or a getting a jo hit your thumb while parrying it with your bokken. Are these atemi real enough?

My view is such that aikido as an art do not advocate you getting punched or kicked as form of training to be a good martial artist. We have other method of training to cover that aspect.


11-01-2005, 09:50 PM
It [i]is[/is] a shock to get hit when you aren't used to it. That's why we used each other for target practice in karate. We'd start out gently, and as we progressed we'd hit each other harder and harder. Eventually you get desensitized. An adrenaline dump can be handled. You just need to learn your reactions and how to control them.

11-02-2005, 08:09 AM
BUT in AIkido there is no sparring and you never get the feel of being punched in the face or kicked so I am thinking that it would disrupt your focus and thow you off if it were to happen.
You don't have to be sparring to get punched in the face (or elsewhere!) or kicked. There's plenty of opportunity for these things to happen to you during regular Aikido training if you mess up your timing and/or direction of movement :D

After the first few times you get used to it. Physical blows don't hurt as much as joint injuries (shoulder separation etc). Sure it throws your focus off a bit, especially if it's your nose that got whacked and you can't see through the tears streaming from your eyes evileyes but it needn't stop you in your tracks. Unless it's blood streaming from your nose and Sensei hauls you off the mat to deal with it :rolleyes:

Aikido training taught me to take a punch to the face, and I'm happy to admit that.


11-02-2005, 11:12 AM
I don't' care if you're Mike Tyson, if someone hits you out of the blue (like when talking to friends and not paying attention) it's going to be shocking. Most knockouts are due to punches that weren't seen. Even in a sport fight, if you hit someone when then don't see it coming it will have a very powerful effect. So you really cant "get use to" these kinds of blows, as their very nature is "unexpected". However Aikido does train awareness and that's part of its' job, to keep you from being unexpectedly hit, or stabbed or shot or what have you. Aikido is one of the few martial arts to work on awareness as a tool. Some might say that Aikido 50% awareness training....

Now just on the issue of training with blows. I've been in several fights inside and outside of “the ring", in few of these fights did I feel many of the heavy blows during the fight (I would feel them the next morning), there is so much adrenaline in a fight that it's hard to feel pain, now getting knocked out is another story, and it’s hard to train against that. I wouldn't worry about being accustomed to feeling the blows, I would worry about stopping or avoiding them, that's the use of training in a boxing system.

-Chris Hein

Kevin Leavitt
11-02-2005, 11:57 AM

Appreciate where you are coming from.

I think however, that we must first understand WHY you are studying aikido.

You also use say the following:

"My view is such that aikido as an art do not advocate you getting punched or kicked as form of training to be a good martial artist. We have other method of training to cover that aspect."

To me the question is "what is your goal?" How do you define "good martial artist"?

I agree 100% with your argument if you goal is to be a good aikidoka or to follow the path of budo. There is NEVER a need to trade blows, or to take them to "toughen up".

However, people have different objectives, endstates,and goals. Frankly I think many come to aikido looking for something that is not there. Same with most martial arts. "Self defense" or "fighting effectiveness". Aikido is a poor way to achieve these goals, IMHO. (won't get into it like I always do!).

However, aikido can be used as a base to develop yourself as a martial artist. As well as boxing, MMA, and the Dog Brothers method as well. Is it necessary. NO is it a way YES.

However, if you are like me, a soldier, and your definition of Martial arts requries you to fight for real, then I would not want the first time I dealt with the stress of real combat to be at that point in time.

Again, it depends on your goals.

All that said, I do agree with you in regards to aikido. It is pointless to the goals and objectives of the methodology or art (budo) to do this.

I find it interesting that you cannot learn really to hit well or to defend well by going full speed. By going slow, controlled, and cooperative we can teach our bodies the proper propreception and muscle memory, and emotional state to do this. If you train full speed it tends to amplify your shortcomings.

It is good though, and right if you are a "combat focused" kinda guy to at some level train hard and real and learn how to compensate for your weaknesses at full speed. Frankly I found my years of aikido taught me correct principles, but when I go full speed I crumbled under the pressure.

Again, it is not required to learn budo, but may be if you are concerned about "being martially effective".

11-02-2005, 04:05 PM
For me, I would say the following:

- the average person that is not struck as part of their regular practice (i.e. struck regularly) does tend to "freak out" (which I will define later) when they are struck and/or struck for the first time and/or struck repeatedly.

- the average aikidoka, though struck here or there, though taking high and rough falls, though hit with weapons here or there, etc., is not outside of the above category simply for having done these things. i.e. average aikidoka freak out when struck.

- I would not distinguish "martially effective" from "budo" from "not freaking out when struck."

For me, these things all fit together because the "freak out" of being struck is often really nothing more than a habitual response to act egocentrically (i.e. self-concern, awareness monopolized by the self), which means that we are dealing here with an unawareness that comes about from an attachment to the self (in this case experiencing pain, fear, anger, violence, aggression, etc.). For me, Budo is very much related to a sense of selflessness, the cultivation of non-attachment, and awareness (i.e. the unfettering of the body/mind). This is why these things are all related and why this is not just a topic for someone that whats to be martial effective (vs. "someone that just wants to do budo").

What one should look for in trying not to freak-out from being struck is not really a desensitization (since one can never desensitize oneself to everything) but rather the capacity to observe one's habitual tendency to act egocentrically in terms of body and mind in response to things like aggression, violence, pain, injury, etc. (i.e. foul weather things). While one can and should seek this kind of self-reflection in forms training (i.e. standard Aikido training), one has to realize that forms training, because of its choreographed nature (and because of all else that that assumes), often cannot take us to as deep a primal level in terms of violence, aggression, pain, fear, etc., and so it often does not have us reconcile these types of attachments fully (which is why the average aikidoka still finds him/herself acting egocentrically when they start getting hit and/or hit repeatedly).

If you are going to do seek martial effectiveness, if you are going to practice Budo, if you are going to want to get used to being struck, you are going to want to depart from forms at some level (and regularly) so that your practice can penetrate to a level primal enough where you can practice more complete forms of reconciliation, so that you can cultivate more consistent forms of non-attachment, so that you can maintain more universal types of awareness. One great way of doing this is, in my opinion, and as others have said, is to go a few rounds on a regular basis with someone and stop expecting forms to have an answer for everything. For if the forms of Aikido do not capture the whole of the art (which many are able to agree with), then the forms of Aikido cannot answer everything, cannot provide for everything. We must therefore have some sense of what is needed and of where and how to get that which is external to the forms. I do not see this as an attempt to build the ultimate martial art. I see it as an attempt to ultimately know/understand/practice Aikido.


11-02-2005, 05:49 PM
Only way to learn to hit, is to hit someone.
Only way to learn to take a hit is to take one
Think its about as simple as you can get.
Tho, if you want an idea on exercises that deal with this in an "intelligent" manner you might want
to check out the systema drills.
Most of those guys can take pretty hardcore body shots that would floor most people.

Pauliina Lievonen
11-03-2005, 09:56 AM
I just wanted to add that getting hit can be oddly refreshing. :)


Shannon Frye
11-04-2005, 09:44 PM
I agree that being hit will definitely make you take a sec to regroup (mentally and physically). Training in styles that strike (like Muay Thai) may lessen your recovery time. If unexpected, any atemi (regardless of your training art) can rock your world. Having trained in Muay thai, I can appreciate how hard hitting the training was. In Shaolin Snake style, we often trained the body to take a hit...even to "bait with the body", in order to open the opponent for a more favorable attack.

I think that each art has something to offer ...like pieces in a puzzle. First, know what your puzzle should look like, then train for each piece. Some people complete their puzzle with one art. My puzzle has many pieces, the most recent being aikido.


Michael Varin
11-05-2005, 11:21 PM
David and Chris make good points. I strongly suggest all martial artists spend some time kickboxing and grappling, not to become boxers or wrestlers, but to better understand various techniques and why they may be employed. While a good, solid punch can be devastating and a rear naked choke is as good a finishing technique as there is, one will soon learn that most bare hand techniques are far from fight enders and that the body can absorb much more than we think it can. On the other hand, a stick, a knife, a bullet, certainly a sword can dole out more punishment in one blow than the body can take. Absorbing the blow in these situations is simply not an option. I'm not trying to present an excuse for those that don't train with contact. I just think it's important to understand that the realm of martial arts extends well beyond a one on one bare hand fight. Either way, developing a calm, composed mind is the most essential aspect of effectiveness.


Kevin Leavitt
11-06-2005, 02:07 AM
For me these things are important to, but it depends on your goals. It is not necessary to study these things if your goal is budo. I sound like a broken record, but we talk about effectiveness and I am not sure we all have the same definition or perspective on it. Empty hand martial arts, in general have very narrow and limited value on martial effectiveness, IMHO. There are many, many other more valuable reasons for studying martial arts, BJJ, or what not than the few paltry "effective" skills you will garner from them.

I just point that out because many times aikidoka, especially inexperienced ones will grow confused listening to all the information that is being put out about MA etc.

I think it is important to me to study atemi, grappling, and what not. It may be important to many of us. However, it is important to me for my own reasons of personal growth. I

I would tend to agree with you. Just want to point out, that this thread in anyway does not mean that aikido is a "lacking or incomplete art".

L. Camejo
11-06-2005, 08:48 AM
Great post David,

We dealt with this sort of situation just a couple weeks ago in training. The ability to acknowledge the effect of negative forces on the mind/body (aggression, intimidation, strikes, becoming tired etc.) but be unfettered by it and not allow these things to take one's mind away to a place of "head in the sand", internal self absorption at the expense of denying what is happening externally (i.e. the attack). It's also interesting to see that the most ego-centred individuals in the dojo tend to be the ones who react most dramatically to being struck etc.

This sort of mind/body training however is fundamental to training in Budo imho. One must learn to transcend the small self and deal with the "real" in a constructive, centred manner without collapsing in mind or body and this is an intrinsic part of Aikido as Budo imo.

With regards to taking hits, I think the tactical paradigm of Aikido requires a level of awareness that should minimiize the possibility of getting hit, but it is still a possibility. As such I don't agree too much with static desensitisation of the body by being hit continuously, but it is good for one to understand what it is like to be hit and more importantly, observe how one reacts to being hit and then seek to develop that base reaction into something constructive and usable, keeping in mind one's goals for training in Aikido as Budo. To me, Budo requires one to get deep inside martial reality and the vagaries of human conflict to come out with a greater and more skillful understanding of how to "stop the spear" (one translation of Budo) by fully understanding the nature of the spear itself. This is part of the forging and evolution process imho.

I just wanted to add that getting hit can be oddly refreshing.
So true - like being doused in the cold water of misogi under a waterfall, it can bring great clarity.:)


11-06-2005, 08:51 AM
This may sound like this should be in a different thread but for me it is the "for real" of the subject line that makes the following related.

It may be true that Budo does not see martial effectiveness as the end of training, however it is not true that Budo can do away with martial effectiveness as a means of training. It is true that the self or that self-cultivation is the object of Budo training, but we should note that that self-cultivation happens as the technology of martial science is being used as a tool for reflection and reconciliation. In other words, how real your martial science is going to be, that is how real your reflection and reconciliation is going to be in Budo. How effective your martial attributes are, that is how effective your efforts at self-cultivation are going to be. How deeply you penetrate the issues of how to use your own physicality in combat is how deeply you penetrate the Self in Budo. How real your fighting technolgies are, that is how real your Budo is as a technology of the Self. This is why Budo is not tea or calligraphy.

Hence, if we get stuck on our small self when we are hit, if we go egocentric when we are struck, our capacity for selflessness is equally perturbed by other types of energy that tempt us or lure us or similiarly force us to act egocentrically (i.e. an attachment to self, a lack of selflessness, an incapacity for love, wisdom, compassion, etc.) Thus, these things (Budo and "learning" how to take strikes, etc.) go together, or at least should. Hence, I wouldn't say that our individual goals in our training should come to determine whether such things are relative or not. Budo is Budo and in that it is a matter of using a martial edge to hone the Self. What is varied, however, is at what level we may want to do this at. That I would say is entirely a personal matter. We will all seek to penetrate the mysteries of the Self at our own levels.

I'm not sure I'm understanding you correctly, but in our arrest and control training, it comes out pretty clear that one's efficiency in using weapons (from less than lethal to lethal) is greatly supported - even DEPENDENT - upon one's skill at hand to hand combat. There is a strategic support between hand to hand and weapons tactics - kind of like how a ground game can support a standing game (or vice versa) or how atemi can support a throw (or vice versa), etc. Thus, I would tend not to agree with statements that suggest that hand to hand combat training is not so related to martial effectiveness even if one wants to talk about the "grand scheme of things."

11-06-2005, 08:57 AM
Sorry. Forgot to add:

I would say that every art is incomplete. That every art to some degree comes to us as a specialization - which means that every art comes to us as a fabrication that can only be manifested through exclusion. The issue here is that it is impossible to understand - to truly understand - a specialty of anything until one can penetrate to the greater whole of which it belongs. This means that no matter what the art, one is going to have to do a hell of a lot of "reverse engineering" and/or "piecing together" in order to see what is behind and/or underneath or being covered by what is on top, and this they must do in order to truly understand what is in front, on top, and most obviously visible. In the end then, I would tend to say that every art is incomplete but for the human being that seeks to complete it via his/her own efforts at self-completion.

Kevin Leavitt
11-06-2005, 12:11 PM

I think i am following your post and I believe I am agree with it.

The hard part with martial effectiveness is measuring it against something.

For a police officer it is pretty clear I believe. You can study a very distilled and focused defensive tactics designed to be "martially effective" for your job. It is scenario and situationally based.

I think for budo it is much different. In the refinement of self and character, martially effective takes on a whole other meaning. You concentrate on exercises, kata, and methods that seek to help you understand the all the principles that surround budo. A much broader canvas.

So, IMHO, if you come to a traditional martial arts dojo, like most aikido dojo are and are comparing the methodologies and focus against a "for real scenario", I think you definitely come up short since this is not the intent of budo...even though, as I believe you are stating the basis of budo needs to be very real. There is a big difference between real (principle based) and effective.

I am very keen on this now as the U.S. Army has gone head first into combatives. We don't really study them so much to become "martially effective" but to instill a sense of warriorship, really the same goals as budo.

I do agree that their is a huge connection between all use of force applications from weapons to hand to hand. Even employing 50 cal sniper rifles from a distance. The army thinks so! Alot of it has to do with the whole BUDO thing!

It is a very tricky subject to discuss. I like this topic, it is very rationally and intelligently being discussed!


11-06-2005, 02:14 PM
May I suggest the "Three Stooges": bob, weave, and duck.
(Or is that really the "Three Wise Men"?)

11-06-2005, 02:40 PM
Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the reply – good one. Much appreciation.

I too imagine we would agree on these things – even all of them. However, it’s nice to be able to think these things through with the help of another who can act as a point of reflection. Thus, please allow me to continue a bit with some of the things I’ve been thinking about lately…

On the issue of “martially effective” being difficult to measure, etc.: Perhaps I could note here that though something is difficult, it does not mean that it is irrelevant or that it could be thought of as irrelevant. Difficulty would only imply that more careful consideration is required, not that we can or should learn to do without something.

I would agree that for a law enforcement agent things are scenario and situation-based, however, I would like to note that those scenarios and/or situations could actually consist of anything. In other words, the Infinite is possible. This would be no different for the civilian. The “job” of law enforcement does not reduce the immense and unpredictable nature of what all would go into being “martially effective.” To be martially effective on the job, a law enforcement agent has to be capable of addressing the Infinity that underlies all scenarios and situations. This is what the civilian, the martial artist, must also do – even if that is only going to take place in a dojo.

This is important, if you will allow me to say up front, because it is only through the Infinite that we find our own inner Self – which is itself a part of the Infinite. So, how can we, and how should we measure “martial effectiveness”? By measuring our capacity to reconcile the Infinite martially. What does that mean at a technical level (using this level because I think it is the easiest to write about)? It would mean that our architectures must be able to reconcile their own constructed realities by addressing internally things like resistance and/or “what ifs,” etc., (e.g. What if uke tries to strike me with the cross-lateral hand in Hanmi-handachi Shiho Nage Omote?”) (see: http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/Shiho%20Nage%20Experiment/shihoexperiment.html), and by addressing externally the rest of reality's infinite nature through the "emptiness" and/or matrix that exists between every tactical architecture in the art (which is itself always greater than the collection of tactical architectures).

In other words, what one should see, and thus measure for, at a technical level in a martially effective practice are the following three aspects in regards to tactical architectures: 1) Tactical architectures must remain viable within their own idealized assumptions; 2) Tactical architectures must be capable of expanding beyond their own idealized assumptions; and 3) Tactical architectures must be constructed in such a way that they can be interrelated to other tactical architectures ad infinitum.

To (hopefully) make this point clearer, allow me to give some counter examples below:

- When an Aikido tactical architecture “suggests” and/or “prescribes” that uke go topsy-turvy but provides no real physics and/or geometry for how or why the head and feet should inverse their position AND then goes on to construct itself further according to the topsy-turvy response, you have a violation of the first premise. Here you have a technique claiming to do one thing, but in fact is not actually doing that one thing. That one thing, as most often witnessed, is in fact being provided for by the choreography of tradition and/or culture. In short, you have a fake technique – a technique that is not even viable within its own idealized space/time.

- When an Aikido tactical architecture can only survive within its own idealized space/time, such as when a technique becomes overly dependent upon an uke doing no more than is idealized in order to remain viable, you have a violation of the second premise. An example of this would be a version of Hanmi-handachi Katate-dori Shiho Nage Omote that only functions IF uke is restricted to NOT strike at nage with the cross-lateral hand. Another example of this is any architecture that requires that uke be “distracted” (i.e. uke not be of a mind that is capable of fighting without being fettered) by an atemi in order to proceed.

Any tactical architecture that can only add to an art via accumulation, that cannot merge with the whole of a combative system through the emptiness that relates all tactics with all strategies (and vice versa), is a violation of the third premise. An example of this is when Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo, etc., present themselves (or are presented) as techniques you just choose between, as your fancy desires.

Now, in all honesty, I’m not sure how to read your statements on “effectiveness” when you speak of Budo. As you must well know, there is a trend in Budo where some would like to say that if the self is being cultivated (such as when Humility is being cultivated because Pride is being reconciled) via a practice (e.g. establishing a proper sensei/deshi relationship for oneself), that practice is being effective. On this statement, I can agree. However, I would not then go on to suggest that this effectiveness is a martial one or that this cultivation of humility could or would lead to some sort of martial viability in and of itself. Moreover, I would not say that the cultivation of such humility through such a means would or could negate the type of cultivation that comes to use via the exposing of ourselves to the honing edge of seeking martial effectiveness.

It is true that such humility is a cultivation of the self. It is also true that the sensei/deshi relationship can work to cultivate such a virtue. Moreover, it is true that the sensei/deshi relationship is central to Budo praxis. However, it is not true that depth of Budo training can or should be sought only through such things. There is a great deal more to Budo’s cultivation of the self and that “more” comes to us, in my opinion, by exposing ourselves to the Infinite that underlies martial effectiveness (if you will allow me to say it that way).

The same is true for forms training. Sure, we can do these things very intensely, with a lot of commitment and with a lot of investment, etc., and they will thus require a great deal from us and they will in turn work to cultivate many virtues as well, etc. However, in my opinion, the Self cannot truly (i.e. DEEPLY) be cultivated if it remains only at the level of shu training. And we cannot depart from shu if we do not seek to address the (underlying) Infinite of combat (since we are MARTIAL artists). The beauty of Budo, why it truly does remain a viable spiritual tradition today, is that through the underlying Infinite of combat, which acts as a microcosm to the whole of the universe, we can cultivate all human virtues at a level not possible through mere tradition. Take this thread topic for example: Sure, we have all been hit in regular Aikido practice. Happens all the time – no big deal. We may think we are then not so prone to being fettered, to being attached to the self, to being plagued by egocentric reactions, etc. – that we can take a hit, etc. Then we put ourselves in a situation where the unknown is hitting us in the face at the same time that we are being hit in the face, and we come to realize real fast that while tradition (sensei/deshi relationships, forms, etc.) can cultivate us, it can only cultivate us up to certain point in our body/mind development. We realize there is a whole lot more to being unfettered and that whole lot more isn’t really going to come to us by being hit or there in our forms training. Etc.

Because Budo connects the cultivation of the self to a martial practice, and because that martial practice finds its effectiveness in its capacity to relate to the Infinite, Budo cannot truly cultivate the self if it limits itself to tradition (for such things) and distances itself from practical application. Practical application, by definition, means that we are dealing with things that must remain viable outside of the dojo greenhouse. Thus, it is not enough, in my opinion, to work only with greenhouse Aikido – to rely only upon the greenhouse for our cultivations. For if our honing edge is restricted to the greenhouse, then so too are our cultivations. This is why, for example, you get that aikidoka that is so nice and caring and “blending,” etc., in the dojo or during their Aikido practice but remains in some
sort of passive-aggressive contest with their spouse and/or quite alienated from their children (let alone their fellow Man), etc.

Again: How real your Aikido is, that is how real your self-cultivations are.

Just thinking out loud now.

Thanks Kevin for this chance to do so.

humbly yours,

11-06-2005, 03:48 PM
BUT in AIkido there is no sparring and you never get the feel of being punched in the face

Actually i have a story that contradicts this...

Once , not too long after i had started aikido, my sensei taught us this sort of drill taht helped our striking and blocking. He called it trapping hands. I really dont know if its even part of aikido but my sensei is accomplished in several martial arts so it may be part of one of those. Anyway, its this drill thing where one person punches and the otehr does a series of blocks and then they punch and the first person does that same series and it keeps going and going so on and so on, like a cycle. (Its pretty cool actually)

Well one time my cousin and i were practicing this during class because we had done it so much that we had gotten pretty good at it (or so we thought) and we kinda wanted to show off a little, ya know just like any other 10 year olds would. haha.

Well we got going really fast and punching really hard, and the next thing you know, my cousins nose is bleeding.... lol. I didnt realize it till i saw the blood but i actually punched him in the nose. It was horrible at the time but now that i look back on it its pretty funny. lol ...

Just thought i'd share taht.

Nick Simpson
11-06-2005, 04:31 PM
Sounds like a wing chun drill. If we practise at an intensive level, we have no problem hitting tori/uke if they dont move, this happens regularly and for myself has resulted in slackened teeth, bust lips, bust noses and minor concussion. I broke my gf's nose with shomen-uchi by accident. However, this isnt taking atemi for real, but it is still better than nothing.

11-06-2005, 04:46 PM
Sounds like a wing chun drill. .

It actually may be something kung fu related because my sensei has studied in shaolin kung fu as well so it probably is something similar to wing chun.

Nick Simpson
11-06-2005, 05:15 PM
Sounds about right. Hands trapping is definately in Wing Chun (sticky hands) so it's likely in other forms of kung fu too. It's good fun.

11-06-2005, 05:24 PM
It's good fun.

Yup, Yup!

11-06-2005, 06:30 PM
Hands trapping is definately in Wing Chun (sticky hands) so it's likely in other forms of kung fu too. It's good fun.
Phon-sau (trapping hands) and Chi-sau (sticking hands) are excellent WC drills to initate Aikido waza.

Nick Simpson
11-07-2005, 07:38 AM
It's something I've been thinking about for a while actually, might have to implement it next time I teach methinks...

11-08-2005, 02:27 AM
You want to learn to strike, you have to hit something. Take a hit? You have to get hit.

Atemi is, to me, one of the foundational elements of aikido, because without good atemi, uke cannot make a sincere attack. However, it's been my observation that many aikido dojo seldom actually train folks to do or take atemi. A huge part of ukemi (IMHO) is being able to deal and deal with dedicated strikes. If the dojos curriculum doesn't include the basics of punching and striking, how can folks learn to give proper, committed attacks? If it doesn't teach folks what happens when they get hit, how can they learn to deal with getting hit and continuing to deal with uke?


11-08-2005, 06:26 AM
Now my question is, unless you are a pretty tough person, would it not be a great shock to the system to recieve a blow? In harder styles such as Muay Thai or Karate, where there is sparring, you take punches and kicks all the time so you are accustomed to it and in a real situation you'd not be AS phased as a normal person, BUT in AIkido there is no sparring and you never get the feel of being punched in the face or kicked so I am thinking that it would disrupt your focus and thow you off if it were to happen.
To answer your question: yes it would be a shock. A well-placed punch is always a shock, to some degree or another, to the one receiving it.
As for the rest, I think it depends on how you define "sparring." As one gets more and more intense in their training, the fists fly a little faster and a little harder and sometimes you miss and get bopped a good one. Also I've had the feel of getting hit by a wooden object. I've been hit square between the eyes with a bokken, and the ground flying up to greet my falling head has certainly been a rude awakening. Granted it's less often than Muay Thai or pugilism! I dunno...you can always train by letting your buds take shots at you! I had a friend who loved to "slap box" and some of those open-palmed hooks could knock ya silly! ...and sting too!

11-08-2005, 07:06 AM
Atemi is, to me, one of the foundational elements of aikido...A huge part of ukemi (IMHO) is being able to deal and deal with dedicated strikes.
I agree. Whatever ukemi ability I have has come from trying to attack sincerely and being greeted with a similarly sincere atemi. It's kept me from getting hit when off the mat.
Take care,

Kevin Leavitt
11-08-2005, 01:59 PM
Dave missed you post the other day (#32). Good stuff.

I think you captured the complexity of martial effectiveness.

The problem I always run into is everyone tries to boil it down into something very, very simple and situationally oriented to serve as a litmus test of "it either works or it doesn't".

I wish it were the case. However, as you know, Martial arts/Budo is much, much more complicated and we have to deal with a multitude of factors.

Now back to the subject of the thread and how it relates to all this, IMHO.

It is important to train hard and realistic, tyet, we must learn to use atemi properly. That does require, IMHO, that we train in all aspects of it. BUT, that does not necessarily mean we have to "take it for real" necessarily in order to get there. ( I guess it depends on your definition of REAL).

I certainly don't have someone hit me full force on a regular basis in order to learn these lessons. But, there is a time and place.

I am still out on the issue of how important real, NHB style punching is in budo. I tend to think it is not necessary.

Necessary to train with atemi correctly as Chuck Gordon has stated, but not as a NHB thing.

That has it's pluses and minuses as well.

I would imagine that we don't do it in aikido for a number of reasons. It isn't really in our culture. I imagine that the shihan figured out that it is not that important to understanding and walking on the path of budo. Also, it opens up for alot of liability. I also think it instills or brings out some very emotional issues and leads to some bad habits. My thoughts have been that you need to slow things down and slowly relearn things both physically and emotionally. Atemi done hard and fast sounds sexy, but I think it is not as good a training tool as the way we do it in aikido.

Working with my NHB/BJJ guys, we try and get them to slow things WAAAAYYY down. They are very agressive and want to learn quick. No problem there, they are good fighters. However, some want to be better than a good fighter, so we have to break things down and take baby steps to instill good posture, habits, and emotions.

You can learn to be "effective" fairly easily and quickly for the 90% solution. BUT budo is not about 90%...it is about 100%. That extra 10% takes a little more effort and time than many are willing to put forth.

11-08-2005, 06:08 PM
Chuck Gordon wrote:
A huge part of ukemi (IMHO) is being able to deal and deal with dedicated strikes.

Or to prevent getting thrown down and locked up, or to prevent a joint dislocation or break....