Re: Article: The Use of Atemi (Striking) in Aikido by George S. Ledyard
Great article covering many perspectives. I would also like to add, that Yoshinkan aikido concurs in OSensei's teaching and use of atemi. Gozo Shioda and Yasuhisa Shioda quote OSensei in their book, "Total Aikido: The Master Course", that "In a real battle, atemi is 70%, technique is 30%."
In the dojo, we focus more on the technique in order to learn the proper ways to control our bodies, develop effective ways of using our power and center.
But for many aikidoka, they may say, I never will experience 'real battle'. Fact and point taken. However, for many others, those that do live in violent neighborhoods or serve in military or law enforcement, atemi may play greater importance or require greater usage, when attacked by someone of trained skills or exceeding aggression (when gentle technique is not enough).
As a military officer and aikidoka, use of atemi is part of our training, however, there is a strong difference in the use and strength of the atemi. In real combat, focused power of atemi will be exceedingly powerful, just as technique. But reality is, less than 5% of military members ever see true combat in the hand-to-hand form, but we are prepared. What 90% of military members in their careers WILL experience, is some sort of guard duty, sentry duty, security patrol, shore patrol, Naval or Military Police, riot control, deployed in support of Peace Keeping/Peace Enforcement/Humanitarian Operations. In these cases, likelihood of an event to require the use of physical force to subdue an aggressor/attacker/thief/other assailant is possible. Principles of Aikido are essential, not only in technique, but also philosophically, in order to 'preserve life'. Physical force may become required, but the application of that power, the use of atemi, may very well be required with technique, but perhaps more subtly (lesser power) much like the "no strike-strike", in order to preserve life and protect the attacker.
In short, atemi should not be disregarded as "none aikido", it "is aikido". It help counter, help find balance, may dissolve the assailants hostility and show another choice needs to be made. It also opens up weakness or vulnerabilities when taking Ukemi.
The strength and focus of the atemi, is purely up to you, and your partner(s), hopefully the principles of aikido compliment the usage.
But these are just my humble thoughts, of what little I know.