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Old 04-27-2007, 02:25 PM   #51
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Interesting conversation guys...and I'm impressed that it is civil as well. I'll be very interested if any consensus is reached.

On the theoretical side, I like Larry's approach, but on the practical side, Chris seems a lot closer to what I see as possible. At least for me anyway...

Best,
Ron

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Old 04-27-2007, 02:36 PM   #52
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
Perhaps this is a logical distinction, but I feel that the intention of uke and nage need to be taken into account when discussing things like this. Of course well done kuzushi doesn't take much, that's how kuzushi works, but the question in my mind is whose version of the desired outcome is actualized? If uke's goal is to grab or stike nage, they have no intention to be thrown or thwarted. Nage's goal is to avoid injury and throw or otherwise disable uke's goal of harm. I don't care one bit how 'easy' or subtle nage's movements are to off balance uke. Even if they're using uke's own reflex arcs against them, their (nage's) intention is causing uke's loss of balance and nage has to face the fact that they went into the encounter with ego and intention and that there's nothing wrong with that. Yes the strategies can include moving as a unified whole (moving with uke as you say), and some of the really subtle stuff may occur almost exclusively within nage's body, but the intention of the encounter is that of nage imposing their will over uke. I simply refuse to believe otherwise, it makes no logical sense to me, and I have never felt it from anyone (including a lot of people claiming that was what they were doing). So if you're adding that little bit of help, why not admit the reality of the encounter and accept your role in the encounter? (Please read that last sentence as a rhetorical question, and not a direct attack on you personally.)
I agree that intentions are very important and add a lot to the definition of what unfolds and how it does so. But to say that my goal is to impose my will on uke is not what I feel to be my intention. This is why I do Aikido, and in particular, the kind of Aikido I do. For one thing, there is a difference between imposing my will on someone and simply not allowing them to impose their will on me. And that's only the tip of the iceberg, but an important tip.

If it were as you say, I would choose any number of other approaches, like BJJ but certainly including other styles of Aikido - they would all be acceptable to me. But for where I personally am at, I'm after something else. That something else has to do with the actual experience I have, the experience uke is left with, the physical, emotional, moral, ethical, and spiritual outcome, and the way that can be actualized in one's approach to the physical manifestation of Aikido.

A lot of people might say that those are just words, or any number of other reactions I have gotten and I'm sure will get in the future. But this is totally real to me, and it works in real life and in real time for me as well.

For me, it really is - to each their own. I am not trying to convince you that my way is right for you, my path and way of training are definitely not for everyone. But it frankly seems like you are saying that my way is not really real, and not really achievable.

That's not my life experience.

LN

Last edited by Aiki1 : 04-27-2007 at 02:39 PM.

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Old 04-27-2007, 02:57 PM   #53
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Interesting conversation guys...and I'm impressed that it is civil as well. I'll be very interested if any consensus is reached.
I am appreciating the civility as well. :-)

Quote:
On the theoretical side, I like Larry's approach, but on the practical side, Chris seems a lot closer to what I see as possible. At least for me anyway...
I really do know what you are saying. At the same time, I am aware of a growing movement in Aikido that holds to these notions - or some of them - people like Chuck Clark, Ross Robertson, and a few others from the Aikido list come to mind. We may each have our own take on it, and our own ways of doing things, but at some level, at least, we're on a similar page....

LN

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Old 04-27-2007, 03:11 PM   #54
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Quote:
Larry Novick wrote: View Post
For one thing, there is a difference between imposing my will on someone and simply not allowing them to impose their will on me. And that's only the tip of the iceberg, but an important tip.
At the risk of sounding VERY rhetorical, even if it is your will to simply not allow someone to impose their will on you, to achieve that, you will have to impose your will.

Quote:
Larry Novick wrote: View Post
For me, it really is - to each their own. I am not trying to convince you that my way is right for you, my path and way of training are definitely not for everyone. But it frankly seems like you are saying that my way is not really real, and not really achievable.

That's not my life experience.

LN
I hate when people drag up the founder's words, but I do come back to the quote that "90% of Aikido is atemi." If one does a style of aikido that doesn't use atemi, can you really say you are still doing aikido? Not that I see anything wrong with NOT doing aikido, the stuff I'm working on these days is sufficiently different from aikido, that while it has obvious roots in aikido, I refer to it as aikibudo to avoid confusion. I could get away with calling it aikido, but I don't think it would be right. I do think that in our experimentation with aikido, we can walk too far down a path that takes us off of what aikido is. Again, I'm not putting any kind of moral judgment on that. But I do not feel that there is an unlimited range of variation in what can still be considered aikido. In the US, I think we have taken far too many liberties with the traditional syllabus without having a deep enough understanding of the art to do so. In Kendo they have the concept of shu-ha-ri. I think most of the silverbacks in aikido in the US started teaching while in the shu phase of their training, quickly moved into the ha phase, but because of their isolation from their seniors, stayed there rather than progressing to the ri phase where experimentation and evolution can take place in a way that's in keeping with the art.

As for what you're talking about being achievable, we all have our own experiences. I have never seen or felt anyone who can do what you are describing the way you are describing it however, so until I experience otherwise, I'm stuck with my own experiences as a guide.

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Old 04-27-2007, 04:21 PM   #55
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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At the risk of sounding VERY rhetorical, even if it is your will to simply not allow someone to impose their will on you, to achieve that, you will have to impose your will.
Ha. Seriously though, not really, to me there's a difference between imposing ones will on someone and putting one's will out into the universe, so to speak.

Quote:
I hate when people drag up the founder's words, but I do come back to the quote that "90% of Aikido is atemi."
Heard this for years as well. I simply don't take it at face value. And, -when- he said it in the context of his whole life is important, I think.

Quote:
If one does a style of aikido that doesn't use atemi, can you really say you are still doing aikido? Not that I see anything wrong with NOT doing aikido, the stuff I'm working on these days is sufficiently different from aikido, that while it has obvious roots in aikido, I refer to it as aikibudo to avoid confusion. I could get away with calling it aikido, but I don't think it would be right. I do think that in our experimentation with aikido, we can walk too far down a path that takes us off of what aikido is. Again, I'm not putting any kind of moral judgment on that. But I do not feel that there is an unlimited range of variation in what can still be considered aikido.
I agree. Let's stop for a moment - by atemi, do you mean actual striking? I ask because there are styles of Aikido that don't actually strike, or much anyway, that come from very close students of O Sensei. Would you say they are not doing Aikido?

Plus, I think most if not All of what we see are interpretations of Aikido. What makes one more valid than another? Certainly, there are things that would. Is the specific use of atemi, in a specific way, one of them? If you were to ask me personally, in the strictest sense of how O Sensei defined his art at a Spiritual level, I would say any style of Aikido that actually hits is not Aikido. But that would be absurd.

Or would it?

Quote:
In the US, I think we have taken far too many liberties with the traditional syllabus without having a deep enough understanding of the art to do so. In Kendo they have the concept of shu-ha-ri. I think most of the silverbacks in aikido in the US started teaching while in the shu phase of their training, quickly moved into the ha phase, but because of their isolation from their seniors, stayed there rather than progressing to the ri phase where experimentation and evolution can take place in a way that's in keeping with the art.
I'd tend to agree actually.

Quote:
As for what you're talking about being achievable, we all have our own experiences.
Exactly.

Quote:
I have never seen or felt anyone who can do what you are describing the way you are describing it however, so until I experience otherwise, I'm stuck with my own experiences as a guide.
Me too.

LN

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Old 04-27-2007, 04:49 PM   #56
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Quote:
Larry Novick wrote: View Post
I agree. Let's stop for a moment - by atemi, do you mean actual striking? I ask because there are styles of Aikido that don't actually strike, or much anyway, that come from very close students of O Sensei. Would you say they are not doing Aikido?
Difficult to answer in writing, I am not talking about karate or boxing like strikes peppering ones waza. I think that atemi can take on various forms, from maintaining a position where one could strike uke the moment a suki develops in the relationship (as George described) to positional strikes (like those seen from Nishio Sensei' irimi movements) to impacting movements through the uke/nage connection (like you see in videos of Akuzawa or Saito Senseis for that matter) or even movements that seem like blocks but are actually strikes (Don Angier's 'cam' for example). It can also be that the mechanics of striking are used in the movements themselves: an extension of the arms to do kotegaeshi, the cut of the arms in shihonage, a rake to the eyes when setting up for shihonage (a la Nishio Sensei again), or the impact of ones koshi into uke's kua line when performing koshinage/o-goshi. I think this is what OSensei meant when he said 90% of Aikido is atemi, and when Tomiki Sensei said that, "...the striking techniques of Aikido incorporate the idea of balance breaking; the result being that the opponent is brought down due to loss of balance rather than because he was hit on some vital point. Thus it is not necesary to kill or hurt him by using strong impact, nor is it necessary to train your hand or fist to withstand such impact." When I talk to my former Aikido dojo-mates and explain that where I train now, we actually land our atemi most of the time, they think that we're punching each other in the face all the time. This isn't true, but we are looking at how atemi within the context of an aiki art is actually used to get kuzushi and affect body structure just as Tomiki described. (Note, that I'm not part of a Tomiki lineage, I do really like his writings on budo.)

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Old 04-27-2007, 05:17 PM   #57
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Cannot any part of the body be used to apply atemi, like the arm, shoulder, torso, hip, leg etc, not necessarily with the fist or hand?

David
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Old 04-27-2007, 05:46 PM   #58
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

I don't mean to upset any one with this reality check. Ive been serously training in the martial arts for almost 20 years, been taking aikido for about a year and I love it. Ive seen a lot of styles and a lot of good martial artists over the years. The truth is , at least as I see it, if you don't know how to strike someone even person a little skilled in combat is going to give you a very difficult time using a technique effectively on them. Now saying this I know there are individuals who are very, very good at aikido and have done it for many many years who may be an exception to this. I do believe however that even these individuals know the value of a good atemi. For the rest of us I believe it is essential because the real world can be vastly different from the confines of the dojo mat. Enough said.
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Old 04-27-2007, 05:55 PM   #59
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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Christian Moses wrote: View Post
Difficult to answer in writing, I am not talking about karate or boxing like strikes peppering ones waza. I think that atemi can take on various forms, from maintaining a position where one could strike uke the moment a suki develops in the relationship (as George described) to positional strikes (like those seen from Nishio Sensei' irimi movements) to impacting movements through the uke/nage connection (like you see in videos of Akuzawa or Saito Senseis for that matter)
The above seems to me to describe fairly conventional notions of striking, am I understanding you correctly?

Quote:
or even movements that seem like blocks but are actually strikes (Don Angier's 'cam' for example). It can also be that the mechanics of striking are used in the movements themselves: an extension of the arms to do kotegaeshi, the cut of the arms in shihonage,
These seem to me to be describing movements, not strikes per se, if I'm reading it right?

Quote:
a rake to the eyes when setting up for shihonage (a la Nishio Sensei again), or the impact of ones koshi into uke's kua line when performing koshinage/o-goshi.
More conventional meaning actual contact, yes?

Quote:
I think this is what OSensei meant when he said 90% of Aikido is atemi, and when Tomiki Sensei said that, "...the striking techniques of Aikido incorporate the idea of balance breaking; the result being that the opponent is brought down due to loss of balance rather than because he was hit on some vital point. Thus it is not necesary to kill or hurt him by using strong impact, nor is it necessary to train your hand or fist to withstand such impact."
It seems to me that you are offering a much more broad concept of what atemi is in your overall explanation. If so, I understand more of what you are saying. But - I personally would not include "cutting motions" and the like, that simply execute technique, atemi. Many of the body/arm/hand motions that I use to complete the movement of a technique, are sword strike movements. To me that doesn't make them atemi, or that I'm "using" atemi....

Quote:
When I talk to my former Aikido dojo-mates and explain that where I train now, we actually land our atemi most of the time, they think that we're punching each other in the face all the time. This isn't true, but we are looking at how atemi within the context of an aiki art is actually used to get kuzushi and affect body structure just as Tomiki described. (Note, that I'm not part of a Tomiki lineage, I do really like his writings on budo.)
I think that process is extremely valuable, a very important understanding to have. For me, that doesn't mean that I use atemi in my art though. It also doesn't mean that atemi will absolutely never happen either. It's a whole different approach to the intent of and/or approach to Aikido, perhaps.

Larry Novick
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Old 04-27-2007, 06:05 PM   #60
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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Gregg Block wrote: View Post
I don't mean to upset any one with this reality check. Ive been serously training in the martial arts for almost 20 years, been taking aikido for about a year and I love it. Ive seen a lot of styles and a lot of good martial artists over the years. The truth is , at least as I see it, if you don't know how to strike someone even person a little skilled in combat is going to give you a very difficult time using a technique effectively on them. Now saying this I know there are individuals who are very, very good at aikido and have done it for many many years who may be an exception to this. I do believe however that even these individuals know the value of a good atemi. For the rest of us I believe it is essential because the real world can be vastly different from the confines of the dojo mat. Enough said.
I can appreciate your perspective. I've been in the martial arts for 40 years, and doing Aikido for 25, I have a different experience. I also teach the difference between:

- Learning Aikido
- Practicing "dojo Aikido"
- Teaching Aikido
- Performing/Demonstrating Aikido
- Doing Aikido

as well as the difference between doing Aikido in the dojo, applying it to street self-defense, and using it in the context with another trained fighter or martial artist. These overlap. but there are differences that are important, that ignorance of can get you killed.

I'm not upset by reality checks. That's why I've hung with many different kinds of arts/practitioners over the years. But here's a reality check of a different kind. Work with a good BJJ practitioner, or a good Wing Chun person, or several arts - or a boxer who has been hit a thousand times - and see how far your atemi gets you, or what the ultimate results are.

Larry Novick
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Old 04-27-2007, 06:29 PM   #61
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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Larry Novick wrote: View Post
It seems to me that you are offering a much more broad concept of what atemi is in your overall explanation. If so, I understand more of what you are saying. But - I personally would not include "cutting motions" and the like, that simply execute technique, atemi. Many of the body/arm/hand motions that I use to complete the movement of a technique, are sword strike movements. To me that doesn't make them atemi, or that I'm "using" atemi....
If the body and intent behind the movements isn't done as if it was atemi, it simply will not work. All of these movements impact uke's structure, but only if nage performs them as atemi. Most of our transition movements hit to uke's core, even if it's just positioning *because* they are done as if they are strikes.

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Old 04-27-2007, 06:43 PM   #62
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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Christian Moses wrote: View Post
If the body and intent behind the movements isn't done as if it was atemi, it simply will not work. All of these movements impact uke's structure, but only if nage performs them as atemi. Most of our transition movements hit to uke's core, even if it's just positioning *because* they are done as if they are strikes.
I suppose there are ways to describe atemi that take in so much that there isn't any way to say it but that doing it right is doing atemi. If one were to describe atemi as any hand movement done from center with full intent, then yes, a lot of what I do is atemi. But that is certainly not the conventional description.

It seems we do a different art, my friend. Maybe they are both Aikido, who knows. I don't know if you would ever be happy doing Aikido the way I do it. I know I wouldn't be happy doing it the way you describe.

Works for me.

If you or anyone want to say that I am not doing Aikido because I do not really use atemi per se, or not the way they define it, that's fine with me. I know a lot of interesting people who might disagree though. :-)

LN

Last edited by Aiki1 : 04-27-2007 at 06:49 PM.

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Old 04-27-2007, 11:34 PM   #63
Russell Pearse
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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...Irimi is atemi! ...
Hi:

In the way we train atemi is extremely important. But more than that it is the potential for atemi that is critical. In irimi we enter into a position where we are in a position of strength and the attacker is in a position of weakness. Our hanmi is directed at the attacker's centre with a low and stable hip posture and we are close enough to be able to deliver a strike with our whole body weight behind it if required. It is this potential for atemi that is critical in our aikido because the attacker will realize his vulnerability and have to cover the weakness, and this will leave an opening for a technique.

I also believe that if you enter to the inside of an attack instead of to the outside you have to atemi or else you will leave yourself open to getting hit yourself. By this I mean that if someone attacks and you enter to his front or inside his attacking arm you are open to an immediate strike from his other arm. We train that you must atemi as part of the irimi to distract the attacker and force him to defend against it, which will force an opening which will allow a technique. We train that irimi is atemi, or the potential for atemi.

I am sure that it is possible to train aikido without actual atemi, but I believe that aikido must include the potential for atemi as a means of upsetting an attack, leading to kuzushi and creating openings for technique. As our Sensei often says, we must always be in a position to deliver atemi if required.

Cheers

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Old 04-27-2007, 11:40 PM   #64
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

To me it seems folks here have different view of what an atemi is depending on their school lineage and style.

I am expose to three school throughout my aikido career; Yoshikan, Shodokan and Aikikai Hombu

Of these, I have to discount the Aikikai style simply because when I practice it, I do not recall atemi being a huge part of its syllabus. We are more into the Harmony thingy.

Of these, let's start with Yoshinkan. In kihon practice, we strike, but we always hold our punches as we hope to REUSE/RECYCLE our uke as much as possible. Good uke's are hard to come by... To me, this is unsatisfactory as without full contact we cannot learn the REAL THING (TM).

But there is a way... the SHODOKAN way. If you look at their RANDORI approved technique, you see the first 5 out of 17 techniques are ATEMI-WAZA, namely SHOMEN-ATE, AIGAMAE-ATE, GYAKUGAMAE-ATE, USHIRO-ATE and GEDAN-ATE. And the beauty of it is... you can go full force playing/ experimenting with it, with minimum risk of severe injury provided you are with qualified instruction.

I believe in the SHODOKAN WAY ... for good atemi practice. Go on... do it. I know you want it. You need it.

Boon.

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Old 04-28-2007, 03:20 AM   #65
Charles Hill
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Larry,

If I am reading you right, I think you might find it interesting to check out the approach to striking in Systema, Russian Martial Art. Striking plays a major role in the system and their healing applications and their affect on the nervous system is considered very important. At a seminar last year in Tokyo, Martin Wheeler showed how deep strikes placed correctly can take the fight out of a person by calming them down at the level of the psyche.

just a thought,
Charles
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Old 04-28-2007, 03:25 AM   #66
Charles Hill
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Boon,

When I was at the Aikikai Honbu, there was a young man who worked there, probably a shihan or at least shidoin, who often had a black eye or two from acting as one particular major Shihan's uke in demonstration. I think he would diagree with your characterization of Aikikai being atemi-less.

Charles
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Old 04-28-2007, 05:45 AM   #67
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

[-Work with a good BJJ practitioner, or a good Wing Chun person, or several arts - or a boxer who has been hit a thousand times - and see how far your atemi gets you, or what the ultimate results are.[/quote]

Larry,
This is exactly my point. A good boxer is a prime example. They often faint and don't commit their arms deeply. How are you going to get to them without some type of distracting strike. Now I'm certainly not suggesting you try to box a boxer unless your boxing skills are superior as that would be certain disaster. You could however strike with your legs to keep out of range of his/her arms. The examples you gave above are what makes me such a believer in MMA. One needs to study techniques/styles which can be used long range, medium range, close range and on the ground. One needs to be able to be soft or hard: circular or straight all dictated by the situation and the opponent. Bruce Lee really had it right.
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Old 04-28-2007, 06:25 AM   #68
Mark Uttech
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote: View Post
Larry,

If I am reading you right, I think you might find it interesting to check out the approach to striking in Systema, Russian Martial Art. Striking plays a major role in the system and their healing applications and their affect on the nervous system is considered very important. At a seminar last year in Tokyo, Martin Wheeler showed how deep strikes placed correctly can take the fight out of a person by calming them down at the level of the psyche.

just a thought,
Charles
Hallo Charles,
I have been checking out Systema with one side effect that it seems to distract me into a place of 'no technique'. It seems to have a very strong allure. Interestingly enough, it reminds me much of my time in college and outside of college; the human tendency to 'get by doing as little as possible'. One downside seems to be that we want to be praised a lot for it. I would be interested in your reflections about this.

In gassho,

Mark
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Old 04-28-2007, 07:36 AM   #69
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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Charles Hill wrote: View Post
Larry,

If I am reading you right, I think you might find it interesting to check out the approach to striking in Systema, Russian Martial Art. Striking plays a major role in the system and their healing applications and their affect on the nervous system is considered very important. At a seminar last year in Tokyo, Martin Wheeler showed how deep strikes placed correctly can take the fight out of a person by calming them down at the level of the psyche.

just a thought,
Charles
Hi Charles,
I would say that the use of striking in Systema is very much along the lines of what it should be in Aikido... The difference is that they spend a lot of time actually doing the strikes and they are VERY sophisticated at doing it.

In practice the striking is actually a form of massage in that they sense where you are carrying your tension and strike that spot. They can use their strikes to create tension so that they can then move your structure and they can strike you to remove tension. Their use of strikes is completely compatible with Aikido but it takes a lot of practice... you won't get it from just a couple seminars. To really be able to do the striking you need to do the conditioning work they do i.e. the push ups, sit ups and squats along with the breath control work.

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Old 04-28-2007, 08:13 AM   #70
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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Larry Novick wrote: View Post
But here's a reality check of a different kind. Work with a good BJJ practitioner, or a good Wing Chun person, or several arts - or a boxer who has been hit a thousand times - and see how far your atemi gets you, or what the ultimate results are.
Well, this is somewhat my point... all of these guys know how to strike. When they fight they are careful about being hit because the consequence of taking a hit from someone who can strike can be a fight ender. They have to put attention on making sure they aren't open, not just charge in and attack your openings. That "attention" can be used to effect their minds and this effects their bodies.

This whole thing of "taking punches" is about sport. In any kind of competition, none of these people are striking to kill or disable. It would be quite a bit different if strikes were to the eyes or throat... a good wing chun practitioner could kill you with a punch to the heart. The fact that most Aikdo people can't strike very well isn't the fault of the art, it's the fault of the training.

Look at Shioda Sensei's encounter in Shanghai during the war. He and a buddy were cornered in a bar by some Chinese gang members. I have no doubt that they intended to kill Shioda and his friend; this wasn't just a bar brawl. The first guy through the door got a broken bottle to his face, the second guy through the door threw a kick and Shioda broke his leg. The potential to do that is at the heart of what we do; we make a conscious choice not to, to create something creative rather than destructive, but it is there.

The fact is that O-Sensei created Aikido to be something more than that. I don't believe that Aikido is really about fighting at all. It's about perfecting yourself. It is about losing the fear that creates aggression in all of us. I almost never hit anyone when I am training... but they better remember that the strikes are always there or they get a reminder in the form of a gentle tap. I have never seen any effective Aikido where this wasn't the case. We just had Endo Sensei here in Seattle and even he periodically had to adjust people's structure by showing them that they were open with atemi. His is some of the most beautiful and soft waza you'd ever feel and he has virtually no interest in fighting at all. But if you broke your posture and stuck a nose in where it should be, he'd readjust your mistaken form by showing where the opening was for the strike. It is simply inherent in what we do.

If you take the atemi out of Aikido there is no Budo. It's just a dance. With no atemi, no one understands openings, no one has to worry about proper structure, no one understands about proper spacing, one can totally resist technique in the dumbest ways because there is no consequence.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 04-28-2007 at 08:16 AM.

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Old 04-28-2007, 08:26 AM   #71
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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Hallo Charles,
I have been checking out Systema with one side effect that it seems to distract me into a place of 'no technique'. It seems to have a very strong allure. Interestingly enough, it reminds me much of my time in college and outside of college; the human tendency to 'get by doing as little as possible'. One downside seems to be that we want to be praised a lot for it. I would be interested in your reflections about this.

In gassho,

Mark
Hi Mark,
I find it fascinating that you would describe the place of no technique as a "distraction"... I would rather put it that for most people technique and the desire to apply it on someone else is the distraction.

One of the things I love best about Systema practice is that afterwards I have much less investment in my Aikido manifesting in a particular way. I am much more able to simply let the technique create itself because I am less attached to a particular form.

Also, you seem to make getting by by doing as little as possible a negative... As someone who trains with Saotome Sensei as you do I find that surprising since it would be hard to find an Aikido guy who does more with less than Sensei. The slightest touch, the smallest movement and you are gone. That seems to be the ultimate in doing as little as possible to get by. I thought that was what we were shooting for...

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Old 04-28-2007, 09:30 AM   #72
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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Larry Novick wrote: View Post
I'm not upset by reality checks. That's why I've hung with many different kinds of arts/practitioners over the years. But here's a reality check of a different kind. Work with a good BJJ practitioner, or a good Wing Chun person, or several arts - or a boxer who has been hit a thousand times - and see how far your atemi gets you, or what the ultimate results are.
Exactly the reason one should take Atemi practice seriously. With practice it can be very effective and you MUST use Atemi in your practice if you expect your Aikido to be effective against other Martal Arts. To say it can be effective without it is to ignore reality.

That being said there are many ways to Apply it in Aikido and I have found the Tomiki, Shodokan, Yoshinkan, Iwama, and our Style ( Shoji Nishio) equally effective in the hands of a good Aikidoka.

Hopefully there will be another Aiki-Expo soon and I can get a good taste from some of the other flavors of Atemi from unique teachers like John Goss and others.

William Hazen
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Old 04-28-2007, 09:34 AM   #73
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Well, this is somewhat my point... all of these guys know how to strike. When they fight they are careful about being hit because the consequence of taking a hit from someone who can strike can be a fight ender. They have to put attention on making sure they aren't open, not just charge in and attack your openings. That "attention" can be used to effect their minds and this effects their bodies.

This whole thing of "taking punches" is about sport. In any kind of competition, none of these people are striking to kill or disable. It would be quite a bit different if strikes were to the eyes or throat... a good wing chun practitioner could kill you with a punch to the heart. The fact that most Aikdo people can't strike very well isn't the fault of the art, it's the fault of the training.

Look at Shioda Sensei's encounter in Shanghai during the war. He and a buddy were cornered in a bar by some Chinese gang members. I have no doubt that they intended to kill Shioda and his friend; this wasn't just a bar brawl. The first guy through the door got a broken bottle to his face, the second guy through the door threw a kick and Shioda broke his leg. The potential to do that is at the heart of what we do; we make a conscious choice not to, to create something creative rather than destructive, but it is there.

The fact is that O-Sensei created Aikido to be something more than that. I don't believe that Aikido is really about fighting at all. It's about perfecting yourself. It is about losing the fear that creates aggression in all of us. I almost never hit anyone when I am training... but they better remember that the strikes are always there or they get a reminder in the form of a gentle tap. I have never seen any effective Aikido where this wasn't the case. We just had Endo Sensei here in Seattle and even he periodically had to adjust people's structure by showing them that they were open with atemi. His is some of the most beautiful and soft waza you'd ever feel and he has virtually no interest in fighting at all. But if you broke your posture and stuck a nose in where it should be, he'd readjust your mistaken form by showing where the opening was for the strike. It is simply inherent in what we do.

If you take the atemi out of Aikido there is no Budo. It's just a dance. With no atemi, no one understands openings, no one has to worry about proper structure, no one understands about proper spacing, one can totally resist technique in the dumbest ways because there is no consequence.
Thank you Sensei. This post sums it up perfectly.

William Hazen
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Old 04-28-2007, 09:47 AM   #74
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
If you take the atemi out of Aikido there is no Budo. It's just a dance. With no atemi, no one understands openings, no one has to worry about proper structure, no one understands about proper spacing, one can totally resist technique in the dumbest ways because there is no consequence.
Well, for me, this discussion has been very interesting, positive, and revealing. I've enjoyed it. But at this point, for me, it isn't going anywhere. The above statement exemplifies, for me, why.

When definitive statements like this are made (forgive me for singling you out, but it's an example for me) there's no where to go - because my experience, in real life, on the mat, in actual encounters etc., is different, and in my life, in my world, I have learned differently. To say that without atemi there is no budo simply means to me that we have different experiences, but for you, it seems at least, that you know the truth, and that truth must be mine as well.

It isn't. Not in theory, and not in actuality.

I think this happens a lot in Aikido, well, in life in general. Everything is relative. I could refute the above easily, simply with a different argument. To say that without atemi no one has to worry about proper structure or spacing, that there is no understandinag of opening, in my world, in my training, is incorrect. In fact, in my training, it's a ridiculous statement.

In fact, in my style, atemi (nage striking or strikng at uke) has no real bearing on how nage carries himself or where he is. And structure, positioning, timing etc. are all important aspects of our training. Understanding those things along with openings and other fundamentals, comes from a different motivation, but they are all there, and integral to the basic understanding of a certain level of Aikido.

I am not saying that nage doesn't look out for a strike coming from uke. We are -always- looking for that. The positioning of nage in terms of always being safe, is paramount. The "martial" aspect of my Aikido is very important. I also train something I call (cleverly) Chaos Aikido. This is where nage is taken by surprise, they're freaked out, uncentered, proper ma-ai and position has gone up in smoke, and things look bleak. We then practice how to still do Aikido from that situation. It's great training.

To say that without atemi one can totally resist technique in the dumbest ways because there is no consequence - is amazingly not the case in my experience. I know what that means, and I know why one would make the statement, but it is Not my experience. My experience is that perhaps they can go about the process of resisting etc. But that is just what one "blends with" and goes with. To me, it is a great opportunity to understand many aspects of connection, movement, positioning, timing, unfolding dynamics, kuzushi.... I can go on.

I have seen a lot of Aikido where the success of a technique is based on the fact that if uke doesn't get out of the way, they will (potentially) get hurt. This, to me, has nothing to do with the success of -my- technique or the encounter. I'm not interested in training in that kind of Aikido, never have been. I've done it, to be familiar with it, but it's not my path. For me, Aikido is based on other things. In fact, the success of my Aikido is never based on any pain or threat on any level.

And yes, I have been there and done that in the sense that I have been attacked at various times, in various ways, and everything is fine. I've worked with many Aikidoka at several seminars where people put this to the test. Everything is fine.

I know from experience that there is a Vast difference in how people approach the very core nature of Aikido, and this is reflected in how they teach and train. I have learned from all that I have encountered. The way I do it is different than some, perhaps most. It is definitely not for everyone. But when I taught at the Aikido-L seminars in Indie and at Stanford, when I go to Boulder or elsewhere and show it, it's tested, and it goes over pretty well. :-)

It's interesting to me that some people believe that their way is the only way, that their perceptions of and experience in Aikido that defines it for them, believe that it then defines it for eveyone, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong, or just doesn't understand, etc. But that happens in the world all the time.

I am reminded of the saying:

""An interesting thing about life is, for every truth that is real for one person, somewhere in the Universe the exact opposite is also true for someone else. And that somewhere may be very close at hand."

As a last note, I have seen Systema on video. I think its great. There is a very strong similarity between their notion of kuzushi (when it is not based on striking) and ours. By the way, I've never said that -knowing- atemi is not part of our training. But.....

Well, there you have it. I think I've written enough. Maybe I really do have too much time on my hands.... :-)

LN

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Old 04-28-2007, 09:58 AM   #75
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Re: Atemi waza: good or bad for Aikido?

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With practice it can be very effective and you MUST use Atemi in your practice if you expect your Aikido to be effective against other Martal Arts. To say it can be effective without it is to ignore reality.
Ha - can't resist.

It amazes me that you think your reality is the only valid one.

Live long and prosper. Don't train with me. You'd hate it. You can't hit anyone. :-)

I'm not talking about the UFC, by the way....

LN

Last edited by Aiki1 : 04-28-2007 at 10:11 AM.

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