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Old 10-02-2005, 10:23 AM   #22
Charlie's Avatar
Location: Elgin, IL
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 165
Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

This subject comes up so often that I decided to reread some of the training text that I have in my library. The book I started with was Budo - Teachings of the Founder of Aikido by Morihei Ueshiba [Translated by John Stevens/Introduction by Kisshomaru Ueshiba]

My understanding from reading the Translator's Forward, is that this is "as literal as possible" translation of the original text Budo, which was published in 1938 and is the only INSTRUCTION MANUAL that Morihei Ueshiba posed for himself.

That being said...
James Bostwick wrote:
...Atemi means to hit the body. If you are not hitting the body in 90% of your training in the dojo, you are not practicing what you preach--period. If you are not teaching people to strike with proper alignment and targeting, conditioning their bodies for impact, etc, you are not doing proper atemi, much less at a 90% ratio...

...You are not practicing Aikido with 90% atemi and neither is anyone else on this board--neither did Ueshiba, nor does Saotome...
As your statement is a cut and dry assessment of atemi, I offer:

Page 33

under the heading "The Essence of Technique"

"3. Shomen Training
Striking with the right or left hand
Use of the te-gatana [hand-sword] (or fist): in order to deliver a
devastating blow to an enemy, one must be enlightened to the
principles of heaven and earth;... ...Without offering your
opponent the slightest opening or allowing a break in the flow of
kokyu and ki, you must be enlightened to the
essence of 'striking'"

and further on page 34

"...Regardless of what may arise, one should be prepared to
receive ninety-nine percent of an enemy's attack and stare
death in the face in order to illuminate the path. Strike like
thunder and fly more quickly than lightening-that is the way you
should act. Keep these things in mind as you train and discern
how to avoid entirely the pressure of an enemy's attack."

Most of the techniques found depicted in this publication are full of Osensei applying a whole variety of atemi. Open and closed handed with strikes to the head, body and wrists/arms.

Page 46

Tori: Fill yourself with ki and invite your opponent to
deliver a yokomen strike.

Uke: Step forward on your right foot and deliver a
yokomen strike with your right te-gatana to the left side of
your opponent's head.

Tori: Advance slightly on your left foot and with your left
te-gatana neutralize your opponent's attack, while
simultaneously striking his face with your right hand (29). Then
enter deeply to his side, and cut down his attacking te-gatana
with your own right te-gatana, while striking his ribs with
your left fist (30). Next use your right arm to down him (31)."

When I read Osensei words it seems to me that there was quite a bit of importance lended to proper striking whether you are Uke or Tori. And at least in these early pictures, you see him applying atemi in almost every technique. Now whether that equates to Aikido is 90% atemi, I don't know.

And for the record, the majority of photos are pre-war. However, "for the sake of comparison", photos where added from Wakayama (1951) when Osensei was 68 yrs. old...and he was applying atemi...

Last edited by Charlie : 10-02-2005 at 10:31 AM.

Charles Burmeister
Aikido Yoshinkan Yoseikai

"Calmness is trust in action"
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