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L. Camejo 04-09-2004 10:57 AM

Atemi, kuzushi and effectiveness
 
After speaking/training with a variety of Aikido folks in different styles over time, I have met a recurring concept that feels a bit strange to me.

Often, whenever the question of effective application of Aikido comes up, many folks immediately state that atemi is crucially important, if not the be all and end all of effective Aikido. In fact I have found that this reliance on Atemi for effectiveness sometimes comes without a thorough examination of other elements of engagement that may be as, if not more useful to rendering effective technique.

To me, it is as if many use atemi to make up for poor tai sabaki, timing, ma ai control and kuzushi. Iow, if they had spent the time developing these other areas of applying technique, this reliance on atemi alone for effectiveness may not be so high.

In my experience, proper timing and kuzushi have been much more empowering in applying effetive technique, with the option for atemi always there in case it is needed. Even this is funny, as often these folks (mostly yudansha) think of atemi as a mere strike to a vital point without the acompanying disruption of balance that imho is so important in making atemi effective.

This just occurred to me recently when cross training with some folks.

Any thoughts?

Onegaishimasu.
LC:ai::ki:

L. Camejo 04-11-2004 05:48 PM

Ok, so I guess there are no thoughts on the subject.

Arigato Gozaimashita :)

LC:ai::ki:

shihonage 04-11-2004 07:22 PM

Quote:

To me, it is as if many use atemi to make up for poor tai sabaki, timing, ma ai control and kuzushi. Iow, if they had spent the time developing these other areas of applying technique, this reliance on atemi alone for effectiveness may not be so high.
Outside of the dojo, one's chances of having poor footwork, poor timing, poor distance control and poor connection are astronomically higher than inside the dojo.

Unless I misunderstood, during your multiple attacker encounter, one guy slipped out of your kotegaeshi (poor connection ?) and you delivered atemi to the other one's face which took him off-balance ...

Nacho_mx 04-11-2004 07:41 PM

Atemi is important because when we first start learning the techniques both uke and nage usually begin in a static position (katatetori, katatori) and with proper atemi you can "jumpstart" and set things in motion so you can induce kuzushi. Against a focused, commited attack (shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, munetsuki, etc.) atemi may not be needed because it could stop ukes momentum bringing the technique to a halt (this happens with newbies a lot). In a street confrontation true atemi may be needed to cut and stop an agressor cold, or to regain the initiative if your technique is countered. I agree one should not rely on atemi alone to compensate for flawed taisabaki or other aspects of training.

L. Camejo 04-11-2004 07:58 PM

Hi Aleksey,

Actually, the kotegaeshi broke the guy's balance to the point where he was heading to the asphalt. The reason he got to save his hand was because I had no intention of bouncing him off the asphalt to begin with. I merely used him as a shield against his pals. I left him the option to disengage and he took it. I had no idea if the guy was drunk and just playing the a$$ with me as is also the norm during the time when he attacked.

The same guy got the shomen ate before he reached for me and got the kotegaeshi. He initiated the attack by trying to shove me into his pals and get me on the ground. The shomen ate was more of a throw/push against the face than a percussive atemi (which is usually how we use it). Tai sabaki is what caused his shove to fail, not atemi, all that did was make him realise that I would not stand for it, but he failed to listen the first time.

So I guess you misunderstood my original post. Also, this thread does not necessarily have to do with outside the dojo effectiveness, I'm talking about effectiveness anywhere. It could be inside the dojo during resistance training for example.

As far as chances of having poor footwork etc. it depends on what your focus of training is in. If one trains these things to be reliable in certain situations the likelihood of it failing is severely lessened. Hell, it worked for me.:)

In reflecting on the encounter, correct footwork and ma ai control is exactly what helped me to survive, else I would have ended up on the ground and gotten kicked into oblivion like another unlucky person that day. The technique imo was very secondary.

Just my thoughts.

LC:ai::ki

L. Camejo 04-11-2004 08:20 PM

Quote:

Ignacio Jaramillo (Nacho_mx) wrote:
Atemi is important because when we first start learning the techniques both uke and nage usually begin in a static position (katatetori, katatori) and with proper atemi you can "jumpstart" and set things in motion so you can induce kuzushi.

I generally agree with Ignacio, except for the above point.

There are ways to generate movement from a static position - we develop it while practicing a balance breaking exercise called nanahon no kuzushi. It works basically from katatetori (aigamae and gyakugamae) and kouhou ryote dori, but the principle can be applied to any sort of grasping attack. If I find some web links on it I'll place it here.

LC:ai::ki:

Nacho_mx 04-11-2004 10:25 PM

Of course, atemi is not the only way. If you are grabbed in a katatetori you can extend thru the arm and in the direction of uke and this will cause kuzushi, or you can extend sideways in combination with an irimi step, or you can do sototenkan, the possibilities are many. But in the case of new students Ive observed that the concept of atemi for balance breaking purposes (not as an attack) works better in the beginning, before trying to grasp more complex body movements. Larry,I look forward to see examples of the the techniques you mentioned above.

Yann Golanski 04-12-2004 03:21 AM

Atemi is useful but will end up as damaging uke if done in all earnest. What I like about Aikido from a self defense aspect is that I _can_ chose if when doing shihonage (say) I break uke's wrist, elbow and shoulder or if I can just lower uke to the ground harmlessly.

Remember folks, in the UK the judge decides what is "reasonable force" and if you are a martial artist you _will_ be the accused in the trial. Yes, even if you are attacked first.

L. Camejo 04-12-2004 06:34 AM

Well said Yann, our justice system is based on the U.K. model so things are about the same here too.

Part of why I like Aikido for self defence as well is that I have the choice to also control conflict without striking the opponent unless I absolutely have to, by exploiting other things like kuzushi etc.

In my situation the guy and his pals were positively shocked when I did not try to hit them, but went for taking the guy towards the ground with a wrist lock. I was happy I did not have to hit him as well, it's harder to deny bruises in court, even if they attacked first.:)

Ignacio, I'm working on getting some info you can see, else I'll have to scan something from "Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge." Though I'm sure it's nothing anyone hasn't seen before.

Great posts all.

LC:ai::ki:

Nick Simpson 04-12-2004 06:51 AM

I love Atemi, but I see what you mean about it being overemphasised sometimes. I've seen peoples atemi kill all the flow of the technique they were trying to perform. Some people forget that atemi can be done with any part of the body and get wrapped up in striking the face. I love to sneak a kick in as uke charges forward, its great for disrupting them and breaking their balance.

Chad Sloman 04-12-2004 07:27 AM

I've only been taught to use atemi as a means to disrupt my ukes balance. Whether the atemi is implicit or explicit, it just about always goes with the kuzushi.

mantis 04-12-2004 09:36 AM

I see your point Larry. I don't practice Atemi in class and don't think it's crucially important for any technique to work at all.

That being said, it is good to know when and how to use it if needs be.

It's like knowing how to break a joint. I might never use it, but I like knowing that I can. Same thing with atemi.

L. Camejo 04-12-2004 12:48 PM

Right on the money James, this is what I was thinking.

Atemi is VERY important, just not the ONLY thing of importance as far as effective technique goes. Without the support of other elements its results can be very limited.

Following your point, knowing how to break a joint may actually be good knowledge when you need to really crank it on in a self defence situation as well. Iow, make 'em THINK you wanna break it to make 'em submit.;)

A guy I trained with in Aikikai had this approach to his techs, would always use pain of joint manipulation to get a good kuzushi going. I guess it came from his jujutsu background as well.

Nick: I like your idea with the kick. Recently I was playing with the concept of applying a front kick in a similar way to shomen ate as far as body alignment and timing went - interesting results on that one.:)

LC:ai::ki:

mantis 04-12-2004 04:29 PM

Quote:

Larry Camejo (L. Camejo) wrote:
A guy I trained with in Aikikai had this approach to his techs, would always use pain of joint manipulation to get a good kuzushi going. I guess it came from his jujutsu background as well.

I look at pain the same way as I do atemi.

Unnecessary, but nice to know.

L. Camejo 04-13-2004 02:57 PM

Quote:

james bennington (mantis) wrote:
I look at pain the same way as I do atemi.

Unnecessary, but nice to know.

Agreed.

However, I also have a student who is sort of sado-masochistic evileyes and pain does not work on him so well.

This is another reason why I don't belive that one should rely on a single thing like atemi or other pain compliance alone to make things effective. There are those folks who are "hardened" against such things.

Even kuzushi is not an escape by itself, one of my shorter, female students has an uncanny sense of balance. When we do tanto randorigeiko and she resists, nothing but perfect timing works.

This is why I think it's good to train all the aspects of effective technique.

LC:ai::ki:

Nick Simpson 04-16-2004 10:14 AM

Being hardened against atemi is a good side effect if you train with it, If I get hit in the face my first thought is " should have had my gaurd up " and then I put it up straight away. Hopefully I'll have that kind of reaction in the real world rather than being flustered.

Charles Hill 04-16-2004 07:12 PM

Re: Atemi, kuzushi and effectiveness
 
Quote:

Larry Camejo (L. Camejo) wrote:
To me, it is as if many use atemi to make up for poor tai sabaki, timing, ma ai control and kuzushi.

LC:ai::ki:

In my opinion, it is through atemi that one can have good tai sabaki, timing, ma ai control and kuzushi. My technique really changed after realizing that Yasuno Shihan at the Aikikai Honbu always does this.

For example, with Shomenuchi Ikkyo, he does not grab his partner`s wrist. He keeps the outside hand extended toward his partner`s face throughout most of the technique. Uke must keep her hand in place to avoid getting hit. Shihan uses this to create the form of Ikkyo.

The people I find really good at techniques are very active as tori/shite. Katatetori is not a grab to hold tori in place, it is a defense move by uke to keep from getting struck. They both can look the same, but the intention is different.

If, as tori, I consider myself as being attacked with a wrist grab, both my and my partner`s attention will be on my wrist and by extension, my center. This way, doing a technique becomes difficult.

If, however, I move in a dynamic way, with the intention of hitting uke, uke responds by attempting to prevent getting hit by grabbing. This way both of our attentions are on the target I`m trying to hit and by extension, uke`s center, and the technique becomes much easier to do.

This all is something that I`m still trying to figure out and be able to do. I think that this is what is meant when O`Sensei supposedly said that Aikido is 99% atemi.

Charles Hill

L. Camejo 04-18-2004 10:35 AM

Charles:

I agree that correct study of atemi and atemi waza can be a great way to improve tai sabaki, timing, ma ai, kuzushi etc. In fact imo objectively effective atemi should incorporate all of the above.

Your idea on how techniques are performed by utilising Uke's grab is interesting, in that if one chooses to exercise free will, one may not decide to keep his hand in his face to avoid getting hit, one may instead counter your technique before the kuzushi takes effect for example. In this case, you are depending upon Uke's pre-programmed response to get your technique to work - great for kata practice, but not necessarily so in trying to achieve objectively effective technique.

People react differently when using their free will, some may counter, others tense up, others will strike with something else, others will collapse - there are many options. I have seen beginners react to the same technique you mentioned by tensing up and trying to turn out of the technique. Unless one's kuzushi is effective, chances are they may be successful in shutting things down, as they have not learnt to "receive" the technique in a particular way, they are still reacting from basic instinct.

Personally, if one's tsukuri is poor, then no amount of atemi will help. Integration and competence in all aspects of initially engaging the attack/attacker is more important to the success of one's technique -and these things are what makes atemi effective as well.

Just my thoughts.

LC:ai::ki:


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