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Old 03-10-2001, 01:28 AM   #26
jimvance
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
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I think you are really talking about two different things. Musashi mentions them in the Gorin no Sho as "utsu" and "ataru" or as what could be conjugated as "uchi" and "ate". I got the feeling that uchi (striking/hitting) was used to distract the opponent and that ate (scoring/hitting) was the decisive stroke in the engagement. Musashi was describing his own strategy and not Aikido, but I think the distinction has merit.
In the Daito Ryu, atemi are used to disable the opponent in some fashion with a throw or pin applied afterwards to control or incapacitate them. Keep in mind these men were all armed. Merely punching them was not a decisive victory; seizure or control of weaponry was critical to survival. Whether it was the change in Japanese society by the abolishment of a weapon wielding class that caused the engagement between people seem less deadly, or the emergence of the modern budo as processes for individual growth, the fact remains that emphasis on atemi became watered down.
O-Sensei described aikido as being 99% atemi, then did nothing to pass along that knowledge in any coherent form. Tomiki and Yoshinkai Aikido are perhaps the only systems to codify atemi into recognizable kata. (Notice that Shioda and Tomiki were both pre-WWII students of Ueshiba.) In time and under the watchful eye of Occupational Forces, atemi lost its roots in most aikido.
Keep in mind it was understood that when engaging in hand to hand combat, if one of the combatants could be subdued via atemi (that being a decisive, staggering strike) the whole thing was over. This was not boxing, which believes in pummeling the opponent until they cannot stand up any more (utsu). Atemi is decisive. If the atemi was unsuccessful, you had better have a backup arsenal and voila! techniques of all shapes and sizes are born! They are all "what if" versions born from that one chance-one cut "ataru" Musashi talks about.
So in my opinion, expecting to go into a combative situation without understanding anything about atemi and just trying to pull off a bunch of techniques is going to get you hurt. We are not just talking about clobbering people, but having a decisive outcome from a conflict. If Ellis Amdur could apply some atemi on an opponent whenever he wants, he is either showing off or his ukes are not paying attention. Aiki is born whenever a moment for decisive victory happens. Everything else is just BS.

Jim Vance
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Old 03-10-2001, 08:43 AM   #27
Jim23
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Quote:
giriasis wrote:

Punching and blocking like it is found in karate is about stopping force not blending with it.

So the better question would be, "Should karateka blend more and punch less?" Why do you punch so much when you can blend? Because that is not what karate is about, perhaps?

Anne Marie
Hi Anne Marie,

First of all there are "hard" and "soft" blocks in karate, but that's not the issue here.

Karatekas should definitely do more blending - we all should.

Here's a sensible statement: "when appropriate, I'll punch at my opponent/partner in order to set them up for the next move (whatever that might be). However, also when appropriate, I'll strike with a decisive blow if I see an opening" (and I'm not talking about hurting a training partner).

That statement covers both the so called "soft" and "hard" atemi. But people tend to defend one or the other (I think the opinions are based on whether they're good at atemi or not, because there seems to be equally strong opinions on both sides).

Jim23

[Edited by Jim23 on March 10, 2001 at 08:47am]

Remember, all generalizations are false
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Old 03-10-2001, 09:51 AM   #28
Jim23
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Quote:
jimvance wrote:
Aiki is born whenever a moment for decisive victory happens. Everything else is just BS.
Jim,

Loved your post. You make sense to me - must be something about the name.

Jim23

Remember, all generalizations are false
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Old 03-10-2001, 06:57 PM   #29
giriasis
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Quote:
Jim23 wrote:
Here's a sensible statement: "when appropriate, I'll punch at my opponent/partner in order to set them up for the next move (whatever that might be). However, also when appropriate, I'll strike with a decisive blow if I see an opening" (and I'm not talking about hurting a training partner).
Sounds like a good idea to me and can be applied in either aikido or karate.

Quote:

That statement covers both the so called "soft" and "hard" atemi. But people tend to defend one or the other (I think the opinions are based on whether they're good at atemi or not, because there seems to be equally strong opinions on both sides).
I don't think you can judge people's degree of skill solely by their opinion on when atemi should be used. Now, if someone could careless about atemi, yeah I guess they would have poor atemi. Unless you mean that beginners (those usually with less skill) use less atemi as it may not be emphasized in their practice as of yet.

I think people based their use on atemi on a variety of factors. It could be that they want to focus on flow of the technique and want to take advantage of the momentum from the attack. It could be they are just learning a new technique and they are still confused about what the heck kotegaeshi is than when they should hit someone. But this does not mean that they don't think atemi is not important, they may be great strikers (you know 2nd dan karate but 5th kyu aikido) but leave it out intentionally to focus on another aspect of aikido.

Also sometimes we just use atemi to show uke where they are vulnerable and that they better guard their openings (my school is real big on this) while receiving their technique. In this case, atemi seems to be a training tool like a quick feint to show an opening in uke's defenses. And if you saw us doing this, it could be easily be misunderstood as poor atemi, when the purpose really wasn't to strike but to teach uke to protect themselves. (so here it's neither to disable nor to give a discisive strike; it's a training tool) Now if someone should know better, then that's another story

Now, in my opinion, where skill does come in is when you are learning a new technique. Or when the more advanced nage will give a lighter atemi, to a less advanced uke. While they are giving a "weaker" atemi and while it may appear less skilled, but in actual practice they have more skill because they are actually controlling themselves. A newer student may not be ready for a fast atemi so the older student will give a slow atemi to demonstrate where to apply it as nage.

In some cases, I have found atemi essential to technique, especially when dealing with people who are strong or like to tank. My fist suddenly coming at someone significantly stronger than me can throw them off balance just enough for me to apply a technique. Or if someone tanks, an atemi might be applied just to make them loosen up a bit. My focus in atemi is not really to disable the person. In these cases, yes, you better know how to strike. And i would think these are more kindred to decisive strikes than the distracting atemi to set up a technique.

But as a disclaimer, I am relatively new to aikido myself (1 1/2 years), and usuage of atemi is really to begin to seep in more of my practice (beginning to be more natural) as I become more skilled. So who knows what I would say a few years from now.

Anne Marie



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Old 03-11-2001, 07:49 AM   #30
Jim23
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I don't know about people's skill or intentions regarding atemi, just what they have said regarding it.

Quote:
giriasis wrote:

Also sometimes we just use atemi to show uke where they are vulnerable and that they better guard their openings (my school is real big on this) while receiving their technique. In this case, atemi seems to be a training tool like a quick feint to show an opening in uke's defenses. And if you saw us doing this, it could be easily be misunderstood as poor atemi, when the purpose really wasn't to strike but to teach uke to protect themselves. (so here it's neither to disable nor to give a discisive strike; it's a training tool)
This makes sense - never thought of that.

Jim23

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Old 03-12-2001, 08:06 AM   #31
George S. Ledyard
 
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I Concurr

Quote:
Jim23 wrote:
Hi Kenn,

I was just giving my opinion on what I considered poor technique that I observed at a few aikido classes.

No strength, speed or power (I know, they are not necessary). I don't want anyone to fool themselves that something might be effective when, in effect, it might not be in the real world.

Jim23
To jump in here and lend support to this fellow... In general I agree. Most Aikido people of my acquaintance can't strike worth a damn. they talk about the subject being open for an atemi at certain points but don't have an atemi that would do anything other than make one mad.

This observation my be due to the fact that I teach out on the West Coast where there is much more of a New Age flavor the the practice than what I was used to back East. Saotome Sensei has commented to me about the difference as well.

Anyway, if you went to 90% of the dojos in my Seattle area you would find this gentlemen's opinion about atemi to be true.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 03-12-2001, 08:12 AM   #32
George S. Ledyard
 
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Quote:
gadsmf@aol.com wrote:
Can someone straighten this out for me -
is an atemi actually a strike or is it
merely a representation of a strike
intended to distract an opponent - or can it be both?
I wrote an article for ATM on this subject a couple years ago. I periodically post it to the forum because with the number of new folks who come on board all the time, the same questions arise. If you are interested take a look at:
http://www.aikieast.com/atemi.htm

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 03-13-2001, 06:59 PM   #33
Jim23
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George,

For a minute I was actually doubting what I knew was right - effectiveness (actually, I wasn't, but I was really considering what was being said).

Regardless of the topic being discussed, most people don't want to "jump to the other side", so to speak, to consider another view on any aspect of aikido different than their own - I just don't understand why. Luckly, I'm too new at this and too stupid to take a rigid approach.

By the way, I enjoyed your article on atemi.

Jim23

Remember, all generalizations are false
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