I was wondering.. if you attempt a Kotegaishi on an uke that has locked his wrist, is there a way to loosen his wrist and still use this technique?
The purpose of atemi is to shift the focus of the attacker's energy away from the place at which you are applying your technique. Saotome Sensei has always said that if your partner knew that you wouldn't strike him, all techniques are stoppable. If you were really fighting the atemi would have been delivered before you attempted the lock. In fact in combat the technique would have been created by the atemi! In normal kihon waza (basic technique) the atemi would come in the instant that the uke began to tighten up to be resistant.
What is important to remember is that it doesn't matter if the uke stops your lock. In the martial arena the arms have two functions. First is to deliver offensive technique to the opponent. Just as important is the second function which is to defend against the offensive moves of that opponent. In order for there to be effective defense there absolutely must be freedom of movement and speed in the defense. The instant that someone tightens up to stop a technique they are no longer capable of using that limb to defend against the strike. By shifting into the available atemi the opponent is forced to go back to a flexible state in order to protect himself. At that point the possibility of a locking technique exists once again.
This is why it is a mistake to ever stop a technique. Inside every technique is a strike that you are choosing not to do. The only safe response to a technique is a reversal. Anything short of a reversal is simply a setup for the strike that is implicit in the technique.
In my mind this is why Aikido people should make a study of atemi. Without atemi you will be forced to rely on the strength of your technique. Power will be the main issue in successful application of technique. But those who have experience in arts that rely on striking know that speed and power come from relaxation. Blows are thrown in combination with no single blow requiring too much commitment. If one approaches his hand technique in the same manner then locks and throws are simply part of larger combination that includes the atemi.
The Philippine art of Kali has pretty much the same locking techniques that we do. Dan Inosanto, who is certified in about 25 different styles of Kali, once told one of my friend that he didn't like to teach the weapons strips and disarms too early in someone's training because as soon as you did they started trying to do them. His point was that the disarms and stripping techniques are an integral part of the striking pattern. This will be true of locking techniques as well. If you are trying for a lock you will be countered. If you strike the attacker's center HIS TECHNIQUE WILL PRESENT THE LOCK as he defends against the strike. These are two different things and the distinction is what separates practice technique from real martial application.
It is my opinion that there is entirely too much emphasis on grabbing the uke in most Aikido. If you have ever trained with someone who has studied Kali, Silat, Jeet Kun Do, or Wing Chun, all of which have locking and trapping techniques as an integral part of their arts, you will know that these people are experts at stripping a trap. They look at the typical manner that Aikido people execute their techniques with disbelief. They know that the instant they were grabbed in that manner they would have stripped the grab and delivered a counter strike. I think that any Aikidoka really interested in the martial application of Aikido technique should make a study of one of these arts so he can understand what a skilled attacker can really do.
This is why weapons work is so important in Aikido. We don't have much in the way of striking technique, especially combination technique. But we do have a large body of weapons work that points out the real nature of technique as consisting of striking the uke's openings. This doesn't require great physical power. It requires looseness and speed, freedom to move in any direction as the situation demands. This precisely what successful locking and throwing technique requires.
[Edited by George S. Ledyard on July 17, 2000 at 08:37am]