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AikiWeb System 03-10-2002 01:01 AM

AikiWeb Poll for the week of March 10, 2002:

Do you think taking the initiative to elicit a response from your attacker fits within the philosophy of aikido?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Yes
  • No
Here are the current results.

shihonage 03-10-2002 05:18 AM

When attacked, which one do you care about, philosophy, or survival ?

Getting in first strike is very important and is a must when you are positive that a physical confrontation is unavoidable.

Brian H 03-10-2002 09:54 AM

Why ever give up the initiative?
Action always beats reaction. Stepping in a smashing an unsuspecting/nonaggressive person in the face would not only not be Aikido, its also a crime. However, lets say a "Drunken Yahoo" confronts you and takes a karate stance and announces that he is going to beat the hell out of you. Why wait, pretend to attack with a shomen to the head and when he responds with a high block he sets himself up to be taken down quickly and quietly with ikkyo. The alternative is to wait and see if you can execute effective technique from whatever attack pops into his head. Initiative is survival and taking it does not mean leaving the "moral high ground."

Johan Tibell 03-10-2002 10:09 AM

As Brian stated taking the initiative isn't always the same thing as striking down your opponent before he/she strikes you. In my mind you should always have the initiative, doesn't mean you have to be the first one to strike or close the distance.

- Johan

guest1234 03-10-2002 02:01 PM

I prefer to think of the few techniques we practice that start with a move from nagerather than ukeas really being isolated out of a longer exchange of movements, in which uke had originally attacked, and then an interplay of moves and responses eventually leads to a situation in which nage is now striking and uke responds then nage does the technique. Why? For some philosophical and some very practical reasons.

First, for everyone saying 'well, nage just does shomenuchi and then uke blocks and nage does ikkyo' think about this: nage does shomenuchi, and then uke just does shomenchi ikkyo as we are all taught. The only reason uke blocks vs doing a technique is because he has to in order for the partners to do what was just shown. So I would prefer not to actually be attacking before I get attacked, as that gives the opening to my partner.

Another example is the way my current place teaches kata tori ikkyo (nikyo, etc). After uke grabs nage's forward shoulder, nage moves forward into uke's free hand. Being a smaller nage, I think it is dangerous to get my face within uke's striking distance before his is within mine, and would prefer to either move beofre he can grab my shoulder, or move to the outside to unbalance him (and keep his free hand out of reach of my face). I was told by one of our senior instructors that nage had to move straight forward in towards uke's free hand, and what protected nage was nage hits uke before uke can hit nage. This I find unacceptable for two reasons: first, practically speaking if I am going to trade punches with an uke twice my size, I don't think I will be likely to get the best of the deal. Second, if I was interested in trading punches I be in boxing.

So, I think in practice there are techniques to be learned that are started by nage, but I don't think they are meant as nage initiating the physical contact but are meant to show what would be the middle or end of several moves on both people's parts. Or at least, that is how I look at it; I don't see the point in attacking someone who has not attacked me yet. And I don't think you can ever be 100% sure 'he is going to attack'. I have talked a lot of very belligerant drunks and not too drunk folks out of attacking in my ER, when others were certain they could not be pacified.

Jim ashby 03-10-2002 02:27 PM

I'm a great believer in the principle stated in LLap Goch (Monty Python's welsh MA)........pre-emptive retaliation.

shihonage 03-10-2002 04:08 PM


Originally posted by ca
And I don't think you can ever be 100% sure 'he is going to attack'. I have talked a lot of very belligerant drunks and not too drunk folks out of attacking in my ER, when others were certain they could not be pacified.
Uhm... I recall a vivid incident in 12th grade where a guy decided to be a tough guy and started talking the usual smack that guys do before they are about to pummel you.

He took me by the elbow and dragged me out of class. Then we stood across from one another, already surrounded by a crowd of eager onlookers.

Maybe I shouldn't have rushed him like an ape on cocaine, maybe he was just dragging me out to give me a cookie - but we'll never know now, will we.

shadow 03-10-2002 05:55 PM

I see taking the initiave as just doing something first. Offer him your hand, flicker your fingers in his face, blow him/her a kiss......something to unsettle and give that moments distraction that allows you to do whatever it is you need. If someone is pumped up and ready to attack you, and your hand somehow seems to be very close to him.....would a natural instinct be to grab it? Little does whoever it is know that that's exactly what you need to do katate tori kokyunage/ikkyo/nikkyo/iriminage/.....etc.


gi_grrl 03-10-2002 08:18 PM

Taking the initiative
I can't remember which film it was in...

Steven Seagal is being face off by a big dude - he proceeds to taunt his opponent verbally until said opponent attacks, at which stage the aikido technique is executed.

That too, is a means of taking the initiative.

Edward 03-10-2002 10:33 PM

Hello Guys,

I have practiced often at Iwama-Ryu dojos and they teach Ikkyo started with a Shomen-Uchi by Nage not Uke. Of course Iwama claim that they teach the original style of Osensei. Whether it is true or not is not for me to decide, but if it is true, then Osensei taught attacking the opponent first. If I remember well, I've read somewhere a quote from Osensei saying that you will feel with your Ki the imminent attack of your adversary and then you should provoke and lead the attack by striking/entering first. Thus you control the situation not the opposite.

On the practical side, I've noticed that for a not so proficient Aikidoka such as myself, waiting for the attack to come might be too late for me to react. In my pre-class bullying of my Aikido pals, I noticed that fainting an uncommitted Shomen-Uchi to my partner will automatically cause an instinctive protective response which is an excellent opportunity for an Ikkyo. It has never failed me sofar, even when my partner knows what I'm doing.


PeterR 03-11-2002 02:25 AM

The first technique of Tomiki's Koryu Goshin no Kata requires tori to initiate. The technique is right out of Budo Renshu by Ueshiba M.

deepsoup 03-11-2002 04:45 AM


Originally posted by PeterR
The first technique of Tomiki's Koryu Goshin no Kata requires tori to initiate. The technique is right out of Budo Renshu by Ueshiba M.
To elaborate on that slightly, its a little like what Edward was describing, but in suwari-waza. Tori attacks with a back-fist strike to uke's face (essentially shomen-uchi), uke blocks the strike and tori takes ukes blocking arm through into an ikkyo pin. (Which we Shodokan types call 'oshi-taoshi', rather than 'ikkyo' btw.)


Ghost Fox 03-11-2002 08:11 AM

Taunts faints and interception.

I was having this debate with one of my friends just last month. I just couldn't agree with his point of view that it's okay for a nage to perform a preemptive strike against an aggressor. Although, there are ways to get an aggressor to attack you therefore providing you the moral, and legal, justification for counterattacking.

If I'm in a situation where I cannot reach a resolution through peaceful means, and I feel an attack is immanent, I usually try to provoke the aggressor to commit himself on my time. I don't want to continue arguing until an opportunity presents itself so that the other person can sucker punch me. We've all seen it happen, two people are arguing in a club, one of the guys diverts his attention for a moment to talk with a friend and the other person uses that as a opportunity to sucker punch the guy.

I want to aggressor to attack me on when I'm ready. I'll subtle switch into a stance, this limits the aggressors attack options, and I keep my hands up by pretending to gesture with my hands as I'm talking (A good thing to do in any confrontation). I then begin to taunt the guy, by talking about his lack of manhood or his mother. This usually works because most people are very sensitive and hyper-emotional about these topics. This usually also causes the guy to over extend himself.

During the fight, I usually use faints to draw out a response from the uke or better yet I motor-step the guy. I get him locked into a rhythm of easy to defend strikes and then break the pattern in the middle by doing a technique.

Bruce Lee in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do (The art of intercepting the fist) talks about a level of mastery in which you can sense the enemy's attack before he launches a strike. He proceeds to talk about intercepting the aggressor's attack and launching preemptive strikes. The difference between this and just attacking the guy because you feel threaten is subtle but important. In the first you sense the strike a fraction of a second before it is launched. It is almost synchronistic, acasual. The latter your fears get the better of you and you attack the guy because you feel threaten.

In all these instances you have not attacked but you have taken the initiative to elicit a response. I don't knwo whether it's aikido, but it's better than just attacking someone.

On a similar note, when has the fight begun? When the guy has stated his intention to strike you, when he proceeds to violate your space or when he actually strikes you?

:triangle: :circle: :square:

bcole23 03-11-2002 10:48 AM

Read the poll again. Take the initiative to illicit a response.

I believe that almost 100% of the people that answered no this this poll thought it meant striking the attacker.

If you're in a confrontation, and you just let the bad guy/girl/dog, (he is a bad guy/girl/dog), control the situation, then I'm sorry, but you have some serious doubt about your own place in this universe. Assert yourself as a human being and as a part of the greater scheme of things.

[I will not expouse how to illicit a response from your attacker, this you need to learn on your own, and others in this post have already done some explaining.]

Lyle Bogin 03-11-2002 11:05 AM

I am trying to answer this question...but cannot resolve another question that it sems to beg....What exactly is an "attacker"?

Also, what kind of response to you want to illicit?

Dean H. 03-11-2002 10:53 PM

If you have an attacker, or attackers,
it seems strange to me to ask if you,
as an aikidoka, should try to take the initiative.

Depending on the situation, I feel
you have four choices:

1) Do nothing and get attacked;
2) attack first (Ken No Sen);
3) let the enemy / enemies attack first
and then target the opening(s) /
weaknesses (Tai No Sen); or
4) Attack at the same instant your
aggressor / aggressors attack
(Tai Tai No Sen).

#1 does not seem to fit into Aikido
philosophy at all.

#2 seems okay if you are faced with
a very intimidating attacker or
with multiple attackers. However,
Aikido is not about destroying someone,
is it? Is it about using minimal force
to neutralize aggression?

# 3 appears to be, in my humble opinion,
the most desirable outcome, if you are
comfortable in the situation. Again,
at least as I understand Aikido, destroying
the opponent is not a primary objective.

# 4 is not as strong (again - in my humble
opinion) as either # 2 or # 4.

By the way, taunting a person into a fight
does not seem acceptable to me, certainly
not if you think you are better trained.
I don't think Aikido is about suckering
someone. But, of course, conflict is
inevitable in this world...or is it?

:triangle: :circle: :square:

"A premise of Aikido is the avoidance of
rivalry or any form of opposition."
- Soke Gozo Shioda

Niadh 03-12-2002 12:18 AM

Can one not take the initiative to elicit a peaceful response? I know this is not always succesful, but....
Just something to chew on.
And yes, I have been there

Edward 03-12-2002 01:32 AM

I guess we are talking here about a matter of fractions of a second when you "know" that tension is so high that the attack is imminent.

You have to decide whether you want to wait for the attack, not knowing from where it will come, a punch, a kick, or maybe withdrawing a hidden knife or weapon that you're not aware of, or taking the initiative before something really bad happens.

In both cases you don't know the outcome, but I myself prefer to have a little more control over the situation.

As for the training part, I think it is very important to practice provoking Uke's reactions whether you decide to do it in a real situation or not.


bcole23 03-12-2002 09:32 AM

WHY OH WHY do people think that taking the initiative is DESTROYING people!!! Taking the initiative can be done at any time, before a confrontation, during a confrontation, or even with no confrontation at ALL!! (by living a good life, being a good person, and constantly training) If you just always sit back and wait for openings, and you're not at a very high level in Aikido, prepare to be pummeled in a harmonious way. But at least you practiced Aikido, your attacker didn't get hurt right?

If someone is trying to kill me or beat the holy living **** outta of me or robbing me, do I care if I make them cry?? Nope, not one bit. Have I done any permanent damage?? Nope.

You're illiciting a response so you can control the situation. This lets you resolve the confrontation in your way. Whether the response that you illicit is an apology, they walk away, they react to an atemi which gives you an opening to peacefully take them to the ground in a harmoniously painful way, or even they are throwing a flurry of punches and kicks and you DO something, it's still taking the initiative.

Initiative != destroying someone. I thought Aikidoka had more control than that..

bcole23 03-12-2002 09:47 AM

Here's a scenario to think about. It is most often the way it happens in real life.

Someone for some reason want to hurt you. Let's use the bar scene, it's a good one.

You want to keep maiai right, so you can intercept and blend and do aikido if someone is being aggresive with you. Well guess what the first thing they're going to do is? They're gonna get right in your face, and I mean up close and personnal. So what do you do?

As an Aikidoka, do you establish maiai? Well, they're gonna just get right back in your face. So do you just stand there and calmly blend your face with their fist when they decide to punch you? Then try to reestablish maiai so you can wait for an opening?

In my opinion, some Aikidoka get this vision of what it's like to be in a conflict that is nowhere near the truth.

I've pummeled people before (never by starting it) and before the confrontation/altercation you should take the initiative to gain as many advantages as you can. Your attacker will if he's any good. They'll try to back you into a wall, a corner, get you riled up, get you alone, catch you with your back turned, anything.

You should always have the initiative, even if you do nothing.

AikiAlf 03-12-2002 12:18 PM

I'm surprised Sensei has hammered this one for years @ our dojo. "Aikido is proactive" is a favorite saying for him. As a matter of fact this is also quite often demostrated at Ikeda Sensei's seminars.

Keeping the dicussion at the level of principles, so without getting into the what if fighting scenarios, If you wait to apply technique you'll be setting yourself up for a struggle against the attacker when he/she's at his most powerful, that is centered. By meeting the attack , by taking the initiative you have a better chance of taking Nage's mind off the attack; to deliver atemi; to disrupt the attack's energy and then to take over Nage's energy and lead it where its safe for both.

This is not attacking someone , this is being 'there' so that the conflict is not a 50/50 chance.

In Randori we're taught never to stand still waiting for the attacker; we're taught to go out and offer a target to close in and force the attacker to go after you instead of you reacting to the attack; you can be overwhelemed very quickly if you let yourself get into reactive mode. Instead by being proactive you are always on the move and the attackers are pursuing you if at all. So you draw them into your technique and not the other way around.

Being proactive means not letting yourself be cornered into a wall, it means being ready always , it's having the initiative. It doesn't mean attacking first, it means having the intiative on the point of collision.

You are attacked perhaps first, but you are off the line of attack where it lands, BEFORE the attack hits you.

To me that's what Aikido is all about

AikiAlf 03-12-2002 12:24 PM

another comment; Seagal movies are not a source of Aikido. Certainly Mr. Seagal uses Aikido for his martial scenes in many movies; but the movies are not about Seagal Sensei, they're about "above the law" Nico or some other cheesy Hollywood character. Taunting people into attacking you is just another way of picking a fight. Go around picking fights and inevitably someone somehwere is going to beat the sh*t out of you.

Erik 03-12-2002 03:51 PM


Originally posted by Jim ashby
I'm a great believer in the principle stated in LLap Goch (Monty Python's welsh MA)........pre-emptive retaliation.
Love it!

Offering a target is a form of initiative.

Bruce Baker 03-12-2002 05:00 PM

Innitiative or sucker punch?
First .... the question is ambiguous.

It is open to interpretation of the reader, whether it be action that can not be avoided, or one who is simply taunting a precarious situation to get worse.

Feint, and cause a response? Or use the power of your very presence, bearing, and voice to avoid a confrontation.

If I take the question at the exact meaning of the words, we are causing the action to happen simply because we are wanting it to be a confrontation. But, if we look into the heart of Aikido, then we capable of determining the difference between confrontation, diffusing confrontation, or walking away?

I think the clarification of "having to decide the least harmful action for the situation that cannot be avoided" should precede the question to clarify this point.

For those of you still trying to evoke a response, or proving how effective your skills are by easily accepting combat, you need to leave Aikido for a while an re-examine what you are trying to learn.

I had to review the basic thesis for O'Sensei changing the focus of Aikido after WWII. There is an interview with him and his son where he mentions how he taught soldiers how to kill in WWI, and by WWII he wanted to give us an art that did not kill. It can be found in Aikido Online if you want to read it.

Anyway, how many sensei's have instructed a lesson and told you how to kill or injure with Aikido? None ... as least not in my experience. WHY?

Many of them have studied, Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, and some have studied other arts, but they all find the least harmful way to deal with a situation, don't they?

Those of us who have had to deal with violence and been on either the recieving end or dealing end, find it distasteful perpetuate violence. Hence, we reach into the heart of Aikido, turning violence into least harmful solution.

Isn't that what we were looking for anyway?

bcole23 03-12-2002 05:50 PM


Do you think taking the initiative to elicit a response from your attacker fits within the philosophy of aikido?
attacker, eg someone who is attacking.

(I'm very short today for some reason and I apologize)


I think a clarification of "having to decide the least harmful action for the situation that cannot be avoided" should precede the question to clarify this point.
Least harmful to your attacker? Lay down and die. Your statement has nothing to do with initiative. How is initiative a debate on the philosophy of aikido?

And how the H*LL is initiative outside the realm of the philosophy of Aikido?

Just because you take the initiative w/your attacker doesn't mean you're killing them or kicking the sh*t out of them. You're taking the initiative to control the situation so YOU can apply the tenets of Aikido to peacefully resolve the situation, rather than let the attacker apply the tenets of CobraKai Karate.


For those of you still trying to evoke a response, or proving how effective your skills are by easily accepting combat, you need to leave Aikido for a while an re-examine what you are trying to learn.
Hmm, someone is attacking me.. I take the initiative so that there is no "combat". I've never combated anyone because I didn't accept combat, I've initiated harmony.

INIATIVE is not the same as picking a fight or beating someone up or killing someone.

The post by AikiAlf was very good. (mine is not, again I apologize)

Aikido needs to be applied to the REAL world, and practiced in the REAL world, not just the dojo. If you think that you've got it all figured out (I sure don't) get out there and try applying the tenets of aikido and love. Open your eyes to the problems of the world and see how easy it is to fix them. I'm sure you're great in your own little world of harmony, but we need love in the world. If we are not proactive and take the initiative in all aspects of our lives, we just ask evil in.

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