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indomaresa 10-05-2003 10:02 AM

Aikido - the aiki part.. is it martial art?
I've been thinking... does anyone have any experience in ki aikido? my sensei recently transforms from steven-seagalish aikido into.... well.. magic, and i'm having some trouble keeping up with the new twists and variations shown on every practice. I mean.. how can freezing or throwing a person from 2 metres away be called martial art? If this is really what Aikido is all about, should it be called martial art?

My sensei repeatedly explained the concepts patiently to us, but so far none of us has managed to emulate his feats. I've already managed to grasp several concepts like tanden movement (solar plexus, chakra) or ki extension and applied them on techniques, but they're mostly simple concepts where you learn to recognize how a body should move. As for the "magic" techniques that can freeze and repel ukes - they're still a great mistery

I've always been a steadfast believer of aikido as a true martial art, where any technique applied with the proper principles and sequence will always be successful. Shorter people can compensate with better kuzushi and sabaki. Taller people can learn to make smaller movements for better effect.

But the first time my sensei called me forward to demonstrate a ki-technique.... phew. It feels like a stone appears in my belly, obstructing breath, movement and even thinking. And he wasn't even doing anything other than letting me touch his hand. After successfully causing great torment (that's how it appears to me at the time) and oxygen deprivation, he tossed me away.

After 9 - 10 such treatments, I couldn't get up even if my life depends on it. and then he told me that he learned them from teachers in japan who can do that to people from another room.

My sensei's aiki technique isn't perfect, sometimes I feel that I can break free, at other times I saw sensei struggling to apply the technique to a stubborn newbie. But WHEN it works, it really works.

So far all I can gather from various explanations, is that all techniques starts the moment the uke THINKS about the attack, and that the attack should be received wholeheartedly, by blending along with the uke's power, AND THEN toss 'em.

Well.. that explanation certainly didn't explain about my first experience with ki.


BKimpel 10-05-2003 10:41 AM

It is interesting that while nage's mindeset should be one of mushin (not concentrating on anything, yet ready to deal with anything) uke's mindset must be much more cerebral and full of intent for Aikido to work.

The attacker mind (basic techniques):

On another forum we were discussing why beginner Aikidoka have troubles performing Aikido on non-Aikido practitioners and we all agreed that the primary mistake is to try and perform a technique on them. When you do that you change uke's mindset from a single-minded attack mode to one of "I'm going to resist whatever you are doing to me" mode, and thus it doesn't work. As soon as you relax your mind and use the principles (rather than thinking about a technique), uke is able to stay focused on his/her attack and the more intent uke is one attacking you the better your Aikido works.

The attacker mind (intermediate techniques):

Instead of letting uke actually get a hold of your wrist or shoulder, etc. -- you stay just a moment ahead and lead uke's movement. Uke begins to try harder to "get" nage, overextending themselves a little more each time. Now you are able to throw uke without letting them touch you.

The attacker mind (advanced techniques):

When Watenabe and other sensei throw uke with "no-touch" it is a lot less magic and lot more real than people are lead to believe. It is an extension of leading. When uke is so absorbed in "getting" nage, nage can disturb ukes' mindset rather than his physical balance - striking his hand out in the direction of uke's face and uke will fall down. It isn't that nage has used magic, it is that uke is so committed and entranced in his/her attack-mind that any interruption is now unexpected and his/her mind and body react instinctively by repelling from the unexpected motion.

I personally have fallen pray to "no touch" falls, and I can tell you that I try hard to make my attacks connect (sensei know that if they don't block they are getting hit) -- buts it my intent to attack (my full commitment) that provides the very fuel for the "no-touch" throw. Quite a few times I have wound up on the ground wondering what just happened, with everyone else smiling (including sensei). When I ask others what he did they say, "Nothing, he didn't even touch you"

The reason it doesn't always work on newbies is simply that they don't always have a committed attack mindset -- in which case (as I have always said) the defense against a non-committed attack is do nothing (since you are in no danger) -- so it did actually work!

So you are right that the attacker's mind must be "thinking" (or full of intent) in order for it to work. I forgot to mention that timing is essential - true blending with uke' movement (and mind) in order to make it work.

Now as for doing that 2 metres away or from a different room…I have never heard of that ;)


L. Camejo 10-05-2003 12:21 PM

There was a thread on this site once upon a time regarding definitions of aiki I think. It should have some information regarding how some Aikidoka may define the concept. Maybe Jun can help here.

Aiki is a concept, harmony of energy, it may have many manifestations or applications, even within the different schools of Aikido alone. Ki on the other hand is energy in whatever form you like, again viewed differently depending who one talks to.

Aiki may fall into the realm of timing, coordination and a host of other things that deal with harmony. In the event that an Uke is conditioned to respond in certain ways to certain movements without ever being touched, some may call this Aikido (being so in harmony and connected with the energy of the other that the touch is unnecessary), others may not, since it may not work without a willing and cooperative partner who does not exercise their own free will to resist strongly and purposefully.

Going with Bruce's response, Uke's aility to throw himself as a result of self-unbalancing intent and posture happens pretty often in Aikido training, especially with a sensitive instructor who is capable of maintaining such a degree of timing and control. However, in this same light, will these "no touch" techniques work with an Uke who maintains mushin while attacking, or who is so trained to attack that no openings/unblancing are made of Uke's own accord? In my experience, with ki and other styles of aikido - no. Tori has to utilise the principles of Aiki at some level to create or see his own openings for timing, blending, kuzushi and technique. To create one's openings for kuzushi, touch may be necessary with an uncompliant aggressor in my humble opinion.

I guess what I'm saying is Aiki is a concept that can be applied in a martial or non martial sense. I have trained with folks who don't believe Aikido is/was meant to be a "martial art." I don't agree with them, but what they say makes a lot of sense to me as well. It depends on what you want it to mean to you in your training that counts I think.

As far as freezing people in other rooms or at distance.... The Truth is out There! I want to believe.:) I think this is more a result of Uke's mind than anything that Nage is doing, just like the no touch throws.

Just my thoughts on the subject.


indomaresa 10-05-2003 12:32 PM

yes! that's his name! Watanabe sensei.

I've first seen him on a embukai video, doing ridiculously illogical movements, while the ukes are simply brushed away, falling this way and that. I simply laughed and disbelieve it along with friends who watched.

Until I saw and feel it for real.

Well, your explanation on the attacker's mind just about sums everything me and my friends have been figuring out for the last six months. Except maybe for the break-down of basic, intermediate and advanced ukes mind. Nice to see it in writing and printable. ^_^

As for the 2-meter throw, this is how it happened; To demonstrate, sensei made me stand several meters away, and THINK about a certain type of attack. He also instructed me to execute the attack without giving any sign in advance.

When I did attack, I found out that I veered off and fell sideways and during my dash. It's as if the ground tilted sideways, and me along with it. Very strange...

I was curious, did your experience on no-touch throws include freezing too? can you do it?

BKimpel 10-05-2003 01:49 PM

I have never been frozen nor been able to freeze anyone else (except when it's --31 degrees F here in Canada, heh heh).

I have heard that some sensei can give a look to uke and make them fall, but having a Karate background I don't look into nage's eyes (I look sort of through nage so I can keep my peripheral vision) when I attack so it would have no effect on me.

What I find interesting about "no touch" throws is that it does work with martial artists such as my self who don't actually look into the eyes of our opponents. The fact that I can still be affected by "no touch" throws means that even the specific actions performed by nage don't matter -- it's all in the combination of me having an attacker-mind (bent on doing something to nage) and nage finding the right time to "disturb" my intent.

Like Mr.Camejo said, to unbalance attackers that do not have a fully committed mindset (such as a boxer playing with you a bit) you will need to rely on contact methods.

Furthermore there are static versions of many of the techniques that work on an uncooperative uke, but they are almost always more damaging and painful to uke (because you provide the momentum instead of them, and if they remain rigid their limbs absorb your momentum).

"No touch" techniques are just an exercise to improve your timing and unbalancing skills. Just like my sensei used to always use one-finger throws to show how you can execute the same techniques without muscling your opponent (I believe he was taught that by Kanshu Sunadomari).

Regardless of the effectiveness of "no touch", when you reach the ability to do "no touch" techniques on your uke, your timing ability has reached an excellent level -- and that timing will make your "touch" Aikido that much more effective.


Joe Jutsu 10-05-2003 04:47 PM

After a long day at work in the summer heat, I was at practice one evening and the nage I was practicing with switched up techniques on me. We were doing katatetori zenpo's repeatedly, and switched into a no touch atemi throw. He had done it to me about a week before, and it worked perfectly. It's really weird when it works right. But this time, I was tired and didn't see it coming in time. My face collided with his hand, and staring up at the ceiling while seeing stars, I realized that no touch throws work when they are touch throws as well. ;)


indomaresa 10-06-2003 02:25 AM

That's curious, I thought all aiki technique applications are similar. I've always assumed that my sensei got everything he showed to us from watanabe sensei.

Yet Mr. Bruce have never seen the freezing technique I mentioned earlier. Is this a rare manifestation? (what a language) I mean.. is what my sensei doing original? Or is he just being sadistic? because it really hurts when he does it.

His explanation on it is simple; attack the uke's tanden.

==Mr. Camejo's; I think this is more a result of Uke's mind than anything that Nage is doing, just like the no touch throws.==

I still think no-touch techniques still depends on an active nage. The uke simply gave a committed mind or attack for the nage to get a hold on, and redirect. Not just an active uke, even the act of passively standing straight can be used.

Just like Mr. Bruce's thesis ^_^ on attackers's mind.

By the way, what's a zenpo? i'm not familiar with the term. Jiyuwaza? My dojo rarely use atemi, we try to concentrate on creating extreme kuzushi instead.

BKimpel 10-06-2003 11:44 AM

I don't know where your teacher was taught, but if he trained at Hombu dojo (Aikikai Japan) he would have been instructed by many different sensei, as each sensei teaches on different days and different times -- you get a good exposure to many sensei. If he trained in a different dojo in Japan or one in Indonesia, then he may have had only one or two main sensei, but was exposed to certain techniques when other shihan visited (or via video tapes, books, etc.).

My sensei were all trained in Hombu dojo (Aikikai Japan), so they all received training from many top Japanese sensei -- and always let us know when a particular technique or variation is from a specific sensei (that is usually the way in Budo, one makes reference to the teacher who taught you the technique so as to pay a small homage to your teacher).

Who knows, maybe your teacher spent more time with Watenabe (or one of his pupils) and gleaned more "secrets" from him (such as this "freezing"). The longer one spends with a teacher, the more secrets they reveal (although sometimes you have to "steal" certain secrets from them as they will never teach them to you directly -- you must notice them).

While Ki is an important element of all Aikido, Koichi Tohei (shin-shin toitsu Aikido, or Ki Society) has been the main proponent of "magical and mysterious" Ki development in Aikido. Perhaps your teacher has trained with shihan from that style?

Incidentally zenpo (or forward) is a term almost exclusively used in shin-shin toitsu Aikido (Tohei's Ki Society), and most other styles (Aikikai, Yoshinkan, Tomiki, etc.) do not have that term so I don't know which technique it corresponds too (perhaps irimi-nage or sumi-otoshi…Mr.Profitt?).

Jiyu-waza, however is a common term in most Aikido styles used to denote "free practice", or unrehearsed techniques as opposed to the normal partner training you do where you take turns being nage and uke (kata).


(Just Bruce, not Mr.Bruce please, -- you'll make me feel old if you call me Mr. ;))

indomaresa 10-06-2003 12:45 PM

well, Mr.. I mean Bruce

may I call you bruce?


Now that you've mention it, A resident Shin-shin toitsu sensei in Indonesia did interact often with my sensei. He came to our dojo once with one of his student, to teach us how to use aikido in daily life. Amazing content. Didn't teach any technique, but showed us what a really good tenkan could do, or the fact that you didn't have to execute a technique for a self defense situation, just.. well.. tenkan.

I guess that man is probably the culprit behind the ominous "freezing" techniques.

Incidentally, I've been hearing that practice of any form of aiki techniques are frowned upon in Japan, since you seem to be more aware perhaps you could tell me if this is true?

Here in Indonesia, the people's character are the kind that will embrace such techniques wholeheartedly without any reservation.

I thought what Mr. Profitt means by zenpo is jiyuwaza. I guess not

Erik 10-06-2003 01:47 PM


the ability to bullshit ourselves is incredibly high particularly when it comes from a position of authority. We like to think we are above that and think rationally about certain things but the truth is most of react in patterns.

We had a guy who did this kind of stuff for years who used to come around every so often. As I was a beginner at this time and one of my teachers bought into it I spent time flopping too. It was a painful experience when I realized what was really going on.

I don't know any other way to call it but to say that your teacher is bullshitting everyone and most likely that includes him/herself.

'No touch' throws are something different and not that remarkable given the nature of our 'prearranged' practice. So many of our 'practice' attacks bring with them a lot of commitment or momentum. A skilled person should be able to work with them in a way that seems like magic to a relative beginner or in some cases even those with some time under them. But, as Larry pointed out, try and do them with someone not locked into a pattern or prearranged attack and see if it happens the same way.

Ron Tisdale 10-06-2003 02:00 PM

from the yoshinkan,

zenpo ukemi ichi -- forward roll number one

ni, san, etc.

So, the yoshinkan does use it at least for that.


BKimpel 10-06-2003 02:07 PM

But as Joe Profitt pointed out, make a good "no touch" technique and it will work just fine when it "touches" as well :)


If when you say "Aiki techniques" you mean the "mystical, magical Ki development" then I suspect that those kind of techniques are never taught in the open (regardless of whether they are real or charlatans). If they are real, they would be regarded as secrets and not openly taught to the public -- and if they are fake they would not be taught to the public lest they risk exposure as a fraud.

So, either you are privy to something very special, or something very fake. Who am I to say which, you will be able to determine that for yourself (if not now, maybe in some time given more exposure to it)?

And while I have seen many wonders in Aikido (and experienced them myself), I have never seen or felt anything "mystical" thus far…but I am always willing to learn.


Ron Tisdale 10-06-2003 02:26 PM

Sorry, that should be zenpo kaiten ukemi ichi...zenpo forward, kaiten as in roll...


Joe Jutsu 10-06-2003 04:35 PM

Hello all-

In ki society, a zenpo nage is a forward throw. In the instance that I previously referred to, I was attacking with a same side wrist grab and was thrown along the line of my attack. We also have a similar throw called kirikaeishi (I probably fudged the spelling), or cut-back throw where uke is sent back in the direction he/she came. I hope this helps clarify things a bit. I personally find the varied aikido terminology a constant source of frustration when reading internet aikido forums, because it seems that I'm usually the one who doesn't know what is being discussed.

FWIW, I believe that no touch throws work because uke is receptive enough to get out of the way, which isn't always the case. That isn't to say that after practice over a pint of beer I haven't heard some amazing/unbelievable stories about ki extension, especially involving Tohei sensei. I haven't heard alot though. When I began aikido, people told me that there are no secrets in aikido. That said, I was talking to one of my sensei's a while back and he was alluding to having been told stories that he couldn't tell me, he swore to tell no one. What a crock!! I've read that Tohei sensei has on many times professed that ki isn't something magical or supernatural, which seems to contradict some of the stories I've heard.

But at the end of the day, you have to take it all with a grain of salt, I guess, and figure out things for yourself. I believe that ki is very real and more tangible than I first thought. Who knows how much the human potential is capable of, especially when in harmony with the universe?


L. Camejo 10-06-2003 04:45 PM


Ron Tisdale wrote:
Sorry, that should be zenpo kaiten ukemi ichi...zenpo forward, kaiten as in roll...


That same term, without the ichi at the end is used to mean exactly the same thing in Shodokan (Tomiki) as well. Zenpou kaiten ukemi - forward rolling breakfall.

Also, from my Ki society experience I have found that techniques tend to totally fall apart under strong, purposeful, skilled resistance. Without Uke's total cooperation they simply did not work (regardless of being touch or no touch throws). This of course is the experience in one dojo and does not necessarily represent that of the style in general.

Even in our full resistance randori I've happened to get off no touch throws on occasion, but even in the midst of doing it I knew that this had to do with my Uke knowing my movments and falling just before I touched him, rather than me actually throwing him per se. Like Joe said, being smart enough to get out of the way - which is Uke throwing himself, not Tori/Nage throwing Uke.

Just my 2 cents.


Col.Clink 10-06-2003 06:18 PM

I have to agree with Eric here. In my experience, no-touch throws are simply done by Uke taking ukemi before Nage makes contact. I have done it myself where I knew the power coming at me, and just went before contact was made ( who would want to wait for a full hearted throw or atemi to make contact?? especially when my Ukemi ain't that great)It appeared I was dropped without touch, but it's just not the case. The Sensei that did it then said "see, I can make him fall without touching", I made it clear to my students afterwards what had took place. Having students exposed to this early will clearly help them "believe" it is possible, and continued practice will re-inforce that belief, unfortuately.

Joe got it right I think: "I believe that no touch throws work because uke is receptive enough to get out of the way, which isn't always the case."

Anyone teaching these as genuine techniques ( including 'freezing' someone) is making a mockery of not just Ki Society, but Aikido in general.

PeterR 10-06-2003 06:27 PM

I've never met or seen Watanabe sensei but generally I'm with Larry with respect to no touch throws. Why just last week one of my students did one to me because I - wait for it - overanticipated what I knew he was going to do. Bad Peter Bad (I constantly harp on not doing that).

A thread awhile back either here or on e-budo described several high ranking Shihan from Aikikai Honbu tut tutting and rolling their eyes during a demonstration of no touch throws. Maybe they know something or maybe they don't. However, I don't think my skeptism is misplaced.

indomaresa 10-07-2003 12:42 AM

Wow, I never intended to offend anyone. After all, i've only recently been exposed to this sort of thing. I would've probably agreed with Erik whole-heartedly, six months ago.

Since I KNOW it's very difficult for people who never experienced it to acknowledge it, I am not even going to try convince anyone, since I'm still psychologically resisting it myself.

The no-touch throws are just a passing fancy, I'm not as interested in them as I am with the "freezing"

The only reasons I'm agreeing to learn it is because;

1. My muscles don't lie, those techniques hurt like hell

2. I'm small, so I need the leverage

Aikido practice varies from one dojo to another, just as Larry mentioned. I didn't train in Ki Society, the concept is introduced to my steven-seagal type dojo.

At the beginning of this thread I did ask if this part of aikido should even be considered as a martial art. I now consider that it is now, an interesting non - martial art application of Aikido.

I guess people who are studying it are really risking a lot.

- don't mind me, i'm just a philosopher -

BKimpel 10-07-2003 01:51 AM

You didn't offend anyone Maresa, and while "mysteries" are only mysterious until someone "solves" them, knowing the answer doesn't make them any more or less effective. I have been privy to a few "secrets" of Aikido, and while I now know how they are done they aren't any less potent because I know.

Don't be dismayed by skeptics -- 90% of the worlds "believers" were once skeptics, questioning is how we learn.

Not everything in this world can be explained scientifically, since science is nothing more than observation (and therefore skewed by perception). Every day old observations are proven wrong, and new observations take their place. But always remember that observational science is limited to what *has been* observed. Boundaries have always been pushed by the theoretical and a healthy dose of faith.

If you have experienced it, and it works then it doesn't matter what other people think.

Don't ever apologize for what you believe, and don't be discouraged by disbelievers in any aspect of life. Unfortunately it is all too easy for us to shoot things down (especially if we don't understand it), and very hard for people to lift others up (sadly).

So Gambatte! Fight on! Continue to question, continue to learn!


ian 10-07-2003 11:06 AM

Yeh - I'd go along with the fact that 'no touch' throws can work. Also try this 'magical' throw on someone - it can work from upto 100 yards away. When you see your friend in the distance, and they haven't noticed you, watch where they are walking and wait until they are about to walk up a kerb or avoid a lamp-post - shout a wave furiously at them, and then watch them fall over! I've tried this from a distance of about 12 m and it works on occassion.

My point is, many of these tricks are just psychological. Also, within a dojo we are trained to respond to something flying towards us. There is an instinctive reaction to protect the groin and eyes, which sometimes can be expolited. However, in a pub you'll be suprised at the number of people who just stand there and get poked in the eye. No touch throws can work - but don't depend on them! Using ki to explain this is just b*ll*cks.

(if you watch ueshiba on video, you can often see him waving one hand around whilst he throws using the other - blatent distraction).


ian 10-07-2003 11:26 AM

P.S. there was an interesting thing on TV a while ago. A psychologist goes into a kungfu dojo where they are practising 1" punches. The psychologist then explains he will punch the person without even touching them. Sure enough, from about 5 meters away he makes a punching motion and the person doubles over. Basically it is just mind control & suggestion.

BKimpel 10-07-2003 11:31 AM

Ha ha, Ian I like your 12m distraction example -- and it is actually the same principle as "no touch" throws. You ARE disturbing his intent and he is reacting instinctively due to your distraction. Disturbing ones' center or balance is not ONLY about physical balance. Atemi in Aikido is almost always used to disturb your opponents' intent and to cause him to "react" in a way that is beneficial to you (rather than you "reacting" to what he wants to do to you).

And the truth is, that very few of our instinctive reactions are very self-preserving.

Falling is the greatest example of this. People hurt themselves all the time falling, because without learning the proper way to fall (i.e. ukemi) our instinctive methods are terrible. We twist, turn and contort our bodies in all sorts of unnatural positions in order to "not fall", which in the end make us fall funny (and thus injury occurs).

And yes, "no touch" falls work in the dojo because we are trained to react in a way to protect our self (replacing inferior instinctive movement is what martial arts training is all about). But like I said "no touch" techniques are just a training device -- just like one-finger throws, and using those training devices and being aware of the principles of what makes them work will improve all of your Aikido.

Don't caught up in the "trick" aspect; see past the trick to the principle.

Unbendable arm, not being able to be pushed over in suwari-waza, etc. all get used to amaze your friends, but those tricks rely on sound principles.


kensparrow 10-07-2003 11:53 AM

I had a no touch throw experience a number of years ago before I even began studying Aikido. I was teaching in a high school at the time and was writing on the board at the beginning of class. A student came in and made a particularly obnoxious comment as he was taking his seat. At that point I spun around and locked eyes with him (10 feet away and over a desk), causing him to fall out of his chair onto the floor! I had to bite my lip HARD to stop from bursting out with laughter!

Was it extension of some unseen force? Probably not. It was more likely just a case of disrupting someones mind at exactly the right instant (although I did hear somewhere that the Force exerts a strong influence over the weak minded). Do I wish I could learn to do that on demand? Absolutely.

Maresa, I am curious about this freezing technique you are talking about though. You mentioned that it is physically painful.

Could you describe it in more detail?

BKimpel 10-07-2003 12:47 PM

Ha ha, that's fantastic timing indeed Ken.

When I was in junior high school one of the rotten students threw a crumpled up paper ball at the back of our English teacher while he was writing on the chalkboard. Just as it was about to hit him, our teacher whipped his hand behind his back, caught the paper ball in his hand, and then spun around and gave a glare that could kill to the student that did it…and he too fell out of his desk (and I think he choked and swallowed his gum).

There after he was a GOD among teachers and no one messed with him.

I asked him about it 4 years later when I met him at a school function, and he laughed and said his back was itchy and was trying to scratch it at the time. And he knew who did it because only one person in the room had a look of fear -- the rest were all smiling.

So in that case the timing was accidental and quite irreproducible -- but that one single incident witnessed by 30 people made him a legend.


indomaresa 10-08-2003 04:41 AM

see, this is what I mean by starting this thread. Finding the principle behind a technique is more fun than just using it.

I tried some no touch thingies in the middle of jiyuwaza practice and it works if the uke didn't expect it coming. Just like the kid who threw things at the teacher, he probably didn't expect the catch or the death glare.

I wonder it works on my dog?

ken; which detail? just the pain? (ouch!) or the whole process?

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