Thread: Value of atemi
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Old 06-12-2005, 06:40 PM   #1
Dojo: Tan Aiki Dojo
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 202
Value of atemi

Here is a question/point that was brought up in my dojo the other day by one of the senior students who had attended the Aiki Expo. We were asking what it was like, etc. when he mentioned the atemi that the Daito people were using (they did not follow the Aikido variant people). He was talking about some of the atemi he had seen and felt and the issue came up of are atemi practical. This guy holds a black belt in TKD and works as a prison guard at a max security prison.

The issue was that he was unsure of if atemi were practical/applicable during the average confrontation. (In our dojo atemi are only taught after you are intermediate kyu, and they are mostly taught for damage) His basis for saying that they were not is his experience with the inmates, many of whom frequently do some form or another of body hardening constantly (repeated body punches, punching walls, kicking rails, etc). His point was that in many instances if atemi were used (such as a rib shot) the majority of the prisoners would laugh and likely try to kill him, where as blending in the direction of their energy would bring about the desired response (neutralization) much quicker and easier regardless of the power incorporated.

To illustrate his point he used me as a dummy and put me into gatame with me bent over and showed all his possible options from his officer training and striking background (kicks, punches, elbows, knees, etc) when I gave resistance. Then he put me in the same position, and when I gave resistance (trying to stand back up) he tenkan and tenchi nage while lowering himself into the high-kneeling position (cant remember the Japanese at the moment). The shock was total and I had only a vague idea what had happened.

So the question is this: why should/is atemi (be) used when not only does it allow for your own center to be taken it also creates a liability to the practitioner? and what is the value of atemi in our modern society? I realize that there are no absolutes, but I am curious about other viewpoints from differing levels of experience.

Before someone brings it up, I did read John Riggs' atemi article and a number of threads concerning atemi.
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