Thread: Atemi
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Old 09-18-2000, 10:27 AM   #21
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670

I think that this discussion points out some essential areas that need attention in Aikido. When a discussion starts to come down to a discussion of semantics and people are not able to clearly explain the principles that they are utilizing in their technique you have a situation in which sincere students should be taking notice.

There is a lot of lip service to various principles within Aikido. Atemi is one of those areas. I often hear people state in class that the uke shouldn't resist at a given point because they are open for an atemi. However the instructor in question couldn't do an atemi that would be anything other than annoying. They have no idea what strikes are available, have no speed and power in their application of atemi, nor do they know hwere to strike to accomplish their desired end.

In O-Sensei's time semantics didn't matter because you had to be able to walk your talk on the mat. O-Sensei had been in combat and had used his techniques in various challenge matches with practitioners from a variety of arts. Most of O-sensei's students from the early days also had direct experience using their techniques martially.

Is it possible that so many Aikido practitioners do not care if their technique works? This is not an issue of "what one means by works", it means that you have the capability to execute technique outside of a controilled dojo situation. Then there is a range of ability here. Could you execute your Aikido technique when up against someone of equivalent experience from another art?

I frequently get students who have substantial backgrounds in other arts who come to my dojo after travelling around to many schools of different types. I often hear the complaint that they liked Aikido but they didn't feel that the instructor they trained with could actually do the technique on them if they really attacked like they were used to in their previous art. A student with a shodan or nidan in karate or tae kwan do knows that their fourth dan Aikido instructor couldn't handle them if they stepped out of the controlled Aikido form of practice.

In O-Sensei's day you couldn't keep a dojo open if you couldn't handle yourself. Someone would come in and challenge you and if you couldn't handle it your students wouldn't stay. How many dojos would there be today if teachers had to have that level of skill?

I think that a lot of people in Aikido use the fact that "it's not about fighting" as an excuse. It justifies weak technique, lack of knowledge of the fundamental techniques of other arts, and a focus on the fine technical aspects of technique without practical understanding of application. It becomes a sort of hypothetical model for principles of conflict resolution and ethical behavior but it has no martial foundation any more.

I think this fact accounts for the ever rising interest in aikijujutsu which has at least the appearance of a solid focus on technical application. There are a number of people who really want to feel that they can do something on a practical level with their technique not just spout beautiful theory.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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