View Single Post
Old 10-02-2005, 05:29 PM   #25
sanskara's Avatar
Location: Austin, TX
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 52
Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

George S. Ledyard wrote:
Anyway, some of this stuff is so self-evident in Aikido waza that your refusal to acknowledge it seems to me to be based on trying to make some point rather than what you really believe. .
Yes, I am trying to make a point, and here it is: the statement that atemi is 90% of Aikido is too specific to be taken any other way than literally. To an outside martial artist, it is yet another example of the confused conglomerate of philosophically-driven individuals, looking to hitch their personal ideologies to the star of Ueshiba, that largely make up the vocal culture of Aikido.

It's a martial platitude that allows an insecure Aikidoka to exclaim that no matter what you see on the mat, and no matter how unrealistic and ineffective it may appear, always remember that Aikido is in fact mostly atemi.

The notion that Aikido is mostly atemi, is ridiculous, unless it's some sort of invisible stealth percussion. Even so, basic logic dictates that you don't learn things through osmosis. To simply imply that atemi is possible is not the same thing as actually training to strike an opponent's body. If one extends the definition of atemi to encompass kuzushi, suki, or whatever Japanese term we thow into the mix, that still doesn't effectively justify the explicitness of the claim.

The whole logic of the paired interaction of Aikido requires atemi. Your narrow definition that there is no atemi until the atemi actually manifests is just wrong.
If by narrow definition you mean literal interpretation, then yes. And it is not wrong, you are mixing disruption with atemi--related, but not exactly the same.

Let's say that the statement under scrutiny were this: Aikido relies heavily on the disruption of a person's attacking intent. This application of martial principle not only creates openings, it awakens a practitioner's awareness to the general concept of suki. At advanced levels, this forced loss of an opponent's equilibrium can manifest at range, before physical contact is even made. Such a fundamental is the cornerstone of effective Aiki.

IF that were the claim, you'd get no argument from me. But to say that 90% of Aikido is atemi is sloppy intellectualism in comparison. As Chris Hein pointed out, few if any arts can claim such a high ratio of percussive application. And I might also add, if they were lining up for categorization, Aikido would be at the bottom of the list.

Your point about adjusting the range to make atemi unnecessary is a good one but it assumes an unlimited amount of room to move.
That was not my point. I don't look for reasons to avoid atemi, I prefer it to grappling actually. My point was that if I'm close enough to throw, I'm close enough to hit, so your claim that I could not throw you if I could not hit you is technically accurate, even if it was meant as a quasi-postural challenge.

I am open to being shown that this isn't true...
It is true that if you are not hitting, you are not training to hit. You must hit something to claim competency in strikes (person, makiwara, even the air with full extension and intensity, breeds some competency.) Anything else is just pretend; Aikido has enough of that already.

James Bostwick
  Reply With Quote