Thread: Atemi
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Old 06-19-2002, 07:04 AM   #30
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Atemi in Aikido

Originally posted by chadsieger
Mr. Ledyard,

It seems to me that your article was designed to make Aikidoka aware of the atemi, as a physical strike, as it applies to budo.
No, in fact there was discussion of atemi as not physical. Most of the use of atemi in Aikido is not physical in the sense that there is not necessarily any impact (although the partner doesn't know this).

Atemi is primarily designed to capture the opponent's (partner's) Mind in the instant of the attack which then allows you to capture their center.

Saotome Sensei has said that if you know that your partner will not strike you, all techniques are stop-able. The only reason that you can do soft technique at all is the atemi that is hidden inside of it. If I know you won't or can't strike me, I can direct my energy to counter any technique you choose. I can place my body in positions that would normally get me struck, thereby nuetralizing your technique and giving me an angle that allows me to strike you. I can pull back my energy every time you attempt to lead it out as required by most technique. I can cut my energy off every time you attempt to throw, giving you nothing to work with.

If you have been having success working with no atemi you have been working with a compliant partner or an opponent who is incompetent. A partner who is familiar with technique, knows the kaeshiwaza, has good striking skills will not be locked or thrown without the need to keep his attention and thereby his energy evenly disbursed in order to cover his openings against potential (notice I said POTENTIAL) atemi.

We hosted Clint George Sensei this past weekend. He trained under Hikitsuchi Sensei in Japan for fifteen years and now teaches in Helena, Montana. We discussed at length the fact that so mnay Aikido people do not understand the role of atemi in their technique. His training was virtually the same as mine in that atemi or the possibility of atemi was the way in which the Mind was directed before the phsyical technique happened. Additionally, he made it clear that every technique in Aikido has a manifestation as atemi, which you are normally choosing not to do but would represent the more combative application of the technique itself.

Finally I will add that I have occasion to do technique on non-Aikido folks all the time. Since I am a police defensive tactics instructor I work with students who have NO ukemi skills. They do not know how to fall, they do not flow with you, if they don't like what is happening they will break the connection between you. Many of these fellows are extremely strong. I have two students who bench press in the four hundred pound range. There are simply no techniques that will work on these guys when they are resistant without the ability to redirect their attention with atemi. You can't even snag a limb to attempt a technique without atemi.

In my training I ask my partners to react in a sensible and knowledgeble manner. If they can stop me they should do so. If they can hit me they should do so. If my partner has a high level of skill it is impossible to do techique without atemi. That doesn't mean that you necessarily see a strike every time I throw but it is there just the same.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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