Mel Barker wrote:
Excellent post Ledyard Sensei! Your explanation is dead on.
My experience is that the people who are able to throw me with either magical ease or no touch at all are the ones that would best be able to have destroyed me with an atemi.
After following your suggestion to train without possibility of atemi I would suggest trying to opposite. Let uke know that you intend to strike them with as much power as you can muster before throwing them. You will be amazed at how easy these throws will become without need to actually strike.
This of course will only work if uke behaves like he believes you, and has the requisite ukemi skills to prevent you from hurting him.
I was at a Systema workshop with Vladimir Vasiliev two weekends ago in Longmont, CO. He did a whole class on working with resistant opponents. He talked about how atemi is used to effect the opponent and position him for the takedown. He pointed out that sometimes you have a partner who initially wants to be a tough guy and he ignores the threat of the atemi (he demonstrated on one of his students with an atemi that didn't make contact; the student didn't flinch). He pointed out that "belief" was a crucial component in the use of atemi (he gave the student a real whack and you could see that it was painful and that he had to do the breathing exercises they are taught to disipate the energy of the strike). After the student had taken a real hit or two, when Vlad went to deliver an atemi the students whole body responded even though Vlad hadn't made contact. The Systema guys can deliver several of these strikes, often not even making contact and in doing so they can get the attacker to position his body in such a way as to make it unnecessary to use any more than finger tip pressure to dump him. It was amazing to watch.