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Nafis Zahir 12-05-2003 04:13 AM

Missing Links!
Where are the 3 missing leaks in the Aikido dojo's of today? That's Honest Attacks, Atemi, and Response. 1st of all, I'm tired of seeing such sorry attacks. They never start with the proper intention, don't reach the target, and then deflate once the attack is thwarted. When I attack the nage, especially one of high rank, I go in with full force, a good kia, and bent on hitting him. Of course I would never actually hit someone, but you get the idea. I also see that the same people who give poor attacks, usually have poor, if any response to atemi or anything else that would solicit a proper response. On the other side of that, I often see aikidoka either not giving atemi, or just throwing their hand up in the general direction of the person in such a manner that a response is not necessary nor is it commanded. This is a sad state of affairs, as I see people become complacent, and when forced to deal with more realistic attacks, are dumbfounded and startled. How did all this come about. It was said that O'Sensei would get very angry if the uke did not give a good strong attack with a resounding kia! What happend over the years? Or is this just something that goes on here in America? Do you think that these 3 missing links will ever find their way back to aikido?

ian 12-05-2003 07:17 AM

I think it varies from club to club. And clubs will have their own way of justifying why they attack in a certain way. Similarly I find it amusing sometimes when people run across the room doing an attack.

In my mind, as long as the trainees know WHY they are doing an attack in a certain way it doesn't matter. i.e. slow, weak attacks can be useful to enable people to go through the technique step by step, or maybe even to simulate a dummy attack. However training like this consistently is ineffective. There needs to be variation in attack. That's why I think training with different clubs is a must, and also analysing the purpose of the aikido training method.

I think the real reason for weak attacks is in many cases just lack of enthusiam, which then becomes a habit.


happysod 12-05-2003 07:49 AM

Nafis, "Do you think that these 3 missing links will ever find their way back to aikido?

" - the answer is obvious, just become a sensei (if you're not already) and stop the rot!

Although I can agree with the sentiments, I find them a bit pointless as you have really only two options.

1) Accept your current dojo may be less martial than you'd like and just maintain your own standards (a must anyway, be your own best critic)

2) Change dojos

I don't think any blanket "statement of intent" will ever keep an art true to it's stated intentions, that's the job of everyone who is practicing it. If you read some other forums, even bjj are starting to bemoan dropping standards and the increase of politics, and that's in an art based on nhb sparring.

Kensho Furuya 12-05-2003 11:53 AM

Thanks for your private message. This is a very hard question to answer and I think you might have been inspired but what I said in another thread regarding practice. I do have to agree with the above people when they say that it depends on the dojo and who you are studying under. Some dojos practice a "softer" Aikido and some prefer a much so-called "harder" style.

I can only give you my personal ideas and opinions in this as I teach in my own dojo. Although I prefer a softer more flowing, strongly connected style, I believe that what I teach my students must, first of all, be correct technique and must work both on and off the mats. There is no black and white method to teaching or practice. I think a beginning student must go slowly and learn the basics very thoroughly, I think advanced students and black belts must never lose the awareness of correctness of practice and technique. If the practice is too soft and slow, one does not adequately train the body to move well and does not develop strong tai-sabaki. If one practices too hard, it is easy to become too stiff and hard. Being limp is no good, but being too crude and rough is not good Aikido either.

Fast or slow, the attack must have integrity - at least make contact so the student knows and learns how to move off the line of attack and neutralize the opponent's force and establish his own postion.

The most boring but the best way to practice, I believe, is simply to practice the technique over and over and over countless numbers of times. As the student begins to become more accustomed to the movement and the technique and gains confidence in his strength and ability to take ukemi, it is possible to begin to gradually increase the intensity of the practice. I need my students in the dojo daily, or at least, often enough so I can gauge the degree and level of their training constantly. . . . If you push too hard, the student gets gun-shy and too stiff, if you don't push enough, they get lazy and arrogant. All practice is balance, balance, balance!

There are too many aspects to this to discuss here. Generally, over all, there is much too much chit-chat in the dojo. Discipline should be a little stricter - we have moved away from this and I see much too much free time, playing around and chatter. This all disturbs the focus and attention one needs to practice. Also, overall, students are too spoiled - the practice is a little too hard, and off they go to the next dojo. Less talk, more practice, and more stick to it, thick or thin. . . . . all in the context of the correctness of practice and technique. These are my three links. . . . . Hope this helps. Gads! I hope I don't get into trouble here, these comments are generally for my own students only. . . . .

Jesse Lee 12-05-2003 01:49 PM

I love when waza are peppered with a few atemi -- I can think of one Sensei in particular that would whack you at least three different ways during each technique. But my Sensei does not emphasize it except among the most senior students. I suspect, without knowing for sure, that for most of us doing an atemi takes nage's focus away from flowing, connected technique.

Yes we all know that aikido atemi is supposed to startle uke and corrupt his/her center, but in my case at least, often when I actually try it as nage, the rest of my technique degrades.

So I am on my Sensei's page and will get into atemi whenever he starts emphasizing it for me.

aikidoc 12-05-2003 04:54 PM

Stan Pranin discussed this topic in Aikido Journal awhile back-atemi was a big topic. My article is slated to come out in the August issue of Black Belt magazine on the topic of atemi and pressure points. Hopefully, it will stimulate more interest in this aspect.

Jesse Lee 12-05-2003 05:04 PM

very cool!

Noel 12-05-2003 07:01 PM

Y'know, we've got a former Marine in our group... I'm not gonna complain about uncommitted attacks. If you're unhappy with the people you train with, find some ones you like and introduce them to your dojo.

I'm becoming a better uke because of it, though. Even if my elbows still ache from Wednesday's emphasis on sankyo...

Nafis Zahir 12-05-2003 11:14 PM


Ian Hurst (happysod) wrote:
" - the answer is obvious, just become a sensei (if you're not already) and stop the rot!

1) Accept your current dojo may be less martial than you'd like and just maintain your own standards (a must anyway, be your own best critic)

Hey Ian,

I wasn't talking about my own dojo. I'm speaking abotu the aikido world in general. I've traveled to many dojos and seminars, and I see this everywhere I go. Sensei Furuya makes some very good points about beginners. But these are things I see amongst Shodans and above. I may take your advice and become a Sensei one day, but that still doesn't stop me from wanting to see aikido maintain some of its integrity through proper training.

L. Camejo 12-06-2003 12:11 AM

Interesting topic.

These 3 leaks you refer to don't exist in our dojo or the ones of other styles that I've been to (not saying that we may not be lacking/leaking in other areas). So I'd tend to agree with the folks that believe this is more of a dojo's internal approach to training rather than something that is an epidemic in all Aikido.

On my first day of training in Aikido I was taught that Aikido teaches you to attack properly (i.e. correct form to be most effective in attack), thereby allowing one to deeply understand both sides of the equation of Uke and Nage. E.g. when dealing with hook punches, haymakers are totally outlawed, it just makes things too easy and unrealistic in the event one happens to be at the wrong end of a serious hook punch.

For things like competition and self defence training anything but a correct and committed attack ends up in a delusional Tori (as to his true abilities) or an Uke who takes a lackluster approach to training, which can be just plain dangerous.

As far as Atemi goes, Atemi Waza (application of Atemi as a throw/kuzushi) tends to aid the practitioner in understanding both control in targeting and entry, as well as how to apply the full percussive strike if necessary. Practicing against heated resistance, one has little choice, or such techs like Irimi Nage (Aigamae Ate) just don't work in those conditions.

Alternatively Uke needs to understand how to respond to quick, powerfully delivered atemi waza, else getting knocked out can be a reality in intense training. Again, awareness and sharpness adding to one's own safety.

Maybe a way to address these leaks can be to gradually increase the degree of intensity in the dojo as far as honesty is concerned with attacks. Things like not allowing weak attacks to escape the scrutiny of sensei and seniors, addressing these things immediately and showing the benefits of both ways of practice (i.e. weak and strong attacks), then slowly developing the practice to a point where strong attacks prevail and the resultant training environment is more martially sound. I've found that weak attacking consistently over time can severely degrade the integrity of training and even the martial spirit of a dojo as practitioners enter an automated type of training that is martially meaningless.

Of course though, it depends on the training objective, I've been to dojos where sensei say pointedly that they do not belive Aikido is a martial art. All are privy to their opinions.


Nick Simpson 12-06-2003 04:33 AM

Weird. If they didnt believe it was a martial art did they still call their training area a dojo? Did they still expect to be referred to as sensei? They might as well get rid of all the bowing too and practice in tracksuits. Do you know why they had this view Larry?

In my mind an attack should be committed, quick, strong and executed correctly. A yokomen should be aimed at the temple area of tori, after being raised straight to your forehead and then cutting down diagonally so as not to telegraph your intent to tori and stepping forward with the front foot as if performing a cut in kendo (or thats the way we do it at our dojo). I would expect this from a good uke and to be directed at a capable student, but I wouldnt attack a begginner or an inexperianced student this way. I would slow the attack down more and give them more time to work on performing the technique correctly, once they've done that then we can start charging at them like a freight train :p

L. Camejo 12-06-2003 05:46 AM

I agree perfectly with your Yokomen concept Nick.

As far as I understand there were many Yudansha at that dojo I visited, who switched roles as Instructor on different days. This particular guy focussed and talked a lot about ki extension and mind body coordination moreso than actual application per se. Not to say that these things are not important.

Had a funny incident with him actually, he wanted to see our (Shodokan) version of Aigamae Katate Dori Ikkyo and I started to show him. Because of the paipsy attack he gave I decided to show the mere form without any real extension/kuzushi behind it (maybe a mistake on my part). He then proceeded to resist the technique and tell me that it was not effective. I was like - Yeah because you haven't attacked me, I was merely showing you how it looked, not actually applying it.

This was a good wake up call for me though, after that I started applying all my techs to go to completion regardless to who the person was or what they wanted to see. I merely adjust the degree of control depending on their level/ukemi skill - but in the end the mat was where they end up.

Says a lot again for keeping it real on both sides of the coin.:)


tedehara 12-06-2003 08:37 AM


Jesse Lee wrote:
...Yes we all know that aikido atemi is supposed to startle uke and corrupt his/her center, [color="red"]but in my case at least, often when I actually try it as nage, the rest of my technique degrades.[/color]

So I am on my Sensei's page and will get into atemi whenever he starts emphasizing it for me.

I was told this was the reason why Ki No Kenkyukai H.Q. eliminated atemi from Ki Society Style Aikido. People spend so much time trying to bop each other that it left no time to teach Aikido.


mj 12-06-2003 12:45 PM

imo if your atemi is fake your aikido is fake.

What I mean is... it may be your intention not to hurt uke...but if that is reflected in (the application of) your atemi then he will rightfully tear you apart.

Hope I expressed that correctly.

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