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Old 06-02-2006, 02:12 PM   #1
Stanley Archacki
Dojo: Shinjitsu Dojo
Location: Chicago
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 21
"Tricky" energy and the committed attack

The interesting discussion going on in the "Punnishing Uke" thread got me thinking about a similar but related topic.

I am very new to Aikido, have only trained for a year. I believe I am beginning to undertand what is meant by uke's responsibility to give a realistic attack with realistic energy behind it, regardless of speed. This means that the attack should be on target, launched with correct mechanics, and enough follow-through as would be needed for the attack to be damaging if landed. I can see how it is cheating and unfair for uke to try to frustrate nage's waza by, for example, throwing a punch that is so fast but so week or with such poor mechanics that if done for real that way, it wouldn't threaten nage. In order to give an effective attack ( and I'm talking about this from an agressor's perspective), the person launching it must "give" a certain amount of himself or herself to it. Just the simple physics of the situation.

However, I'm more confused about the term "committed attack" as it is used in Aikido, and the strategies of feinting or attacking using "tricky" energy taught in arts such as fencing, boxing and Jeet Kune Do. In these arts, the attacker doesn't always start out from a safe ma-ai, close the distance and deliver the "killing blow". Often, distance is slowly covered, with many feints, jabs, etc, setting up the final blow. Nage has fractions of a second to judge whether each strike in a combination is worth responding to, or just setting up something bigger. Now, I would not say that someone who attacks like this is not giving a realistic attack. In many cases, such deceptive attacks can be devistating.

This is frustrating for me personally in trying to overcome previous training and learn the new paradigm of Aikido. Especially in randori, my Sensei often tells me that I am too hesitant in my attacks. At my early stage of development, I know that much of this hesitancy comes from my own fear of taking the ukemi that results from giving an attack with a lot of force behind it. This is something that only continued ukemi practice will overcome.

I also feel hampered though by the training I've had in the past in other arts that tells me it is grossly foolish to rush in and commit all my energy to one "killing blow" attack, without first tryinig to soften up, tie up or confuse nage. I have been trained in a "counter for counter" style that develops its offence off as a counter to an initial attack. In my other style, we often throw out "bait" attacks that purposely draw a response from nage, so that we can gain an advantage in another way, such as through trapping.

What are some thoughts on this. What is the role of the uke who gives realistic but "tricky" attacks?

"Doch das Messer sieht man nicht"
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Old 06-02-2006, 02:35 PM   #2
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,652
Re: "Tricky" energy and the committed attack

I view committed attacks as ones landed with the intent to hit the nage where they are standing or in the case of a grab the intent to immobilize the person being attacked. In a serious attack with adrenaline flowing I doubt the attacker is going to feint, etc. They are going to try and knock the crap out of you.
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Old 06-02-2006, 09:01 PM   #3
Logan Heinrichs
Dojo: Wagokan
Location: Utah
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 9
Re: "Tricky" energy and the committed attack

imo, that is the difference between fighting and self defense. When a confrontation occurs and the, lets say nage, takes up a fighting stancem this tells the attacker that they have to be tricky in order to launch a successful attack. This is what leads to the feints, jabs, and fakes that you see in fighting. If nage takes up a relaxed stance, he may be very ready for the attack, but look very open. This is when bullies try to take the "death blow" that we aikidoka prefer. I dont think aikido was developed for fighting, but when it is used for self defense the evasions and techniques all make a lot of sense.

One doesn't see things as they are, he sees them as he is.
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Old 06-03-2006, 08:22 AM   #4
Kevin Leavitt
Kevin Leavitt's Avatar
Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Re: "Tricky" energy and the committed attack

Lots of terminology. Committed attacks, real attacks, training attacks.

Committed attacks. Should not be over committed or non-tactical in nature. SImply slow, methodical, good technique and posture. It is realistic in the since that it follows proper body dynamics etc. It is one attack. It allows uke to respond appropriately in the training scenario and practice proper alignment, response, timing, etc. It is not a "real attack", but also not the opposite...a "fake attack".

Real attacks. All attacks should be realistic, but slower and all that. Feints, jabs and all that do not allow for proper transmission of aikido principles. we have to have a methodology that is controlled to teach proper response. Once we learn a while we can up the ante slowly.

more to follow...my daughter is crying!
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Old 06-03-2006, 08:35 AM   #5
Lyle Bogin
Dojo: Shin Budo Kai
Location: Manhattan
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 588
Re: "Tricky" energy and the committed attack

There's a kid of trickiness that works well for aikido..the lead up to the committed attack is a great place to play.

(one hand on keyboard, one hand on week old son )
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Old 06-03-2006, 09:36 AM   #6
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,220
United Kingdom
Re: "Tricky" energy and the committed attack


I can understand your frustration, as your learned habits will be hard to shift. But if you want to really get to grips with aikido you'll just have to go through the process of re-education. In the end you will have both ways of responding.

Aikido deals with the committed attack not all the feints that may come before it, feints are there to intimidate and confuse, if you don't respond the feint is a wasted gesture. At a higher level aikido can be used to 'provoke' the attack in a way that puts the aikidoka at an advantage.



Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 06-03-2006, 07:54 PM   #7
Location: Indiana
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,311
Re: "Tricky" energy and the committed attack

This is something that bothers me too, but it is common in a lot of japaneese arts. I've heard karate instructors telling their students one hit, one kill. I personally could see drunks in bars throwing haymakers, but usually their is a pushing/posturing area between there and the punch. That would be the time to 'difuse' the attack either mentally or phyiscally. I personally would like to see more aikido work to handle the 'bum rush' attacks I see in lots of bar fights where one man rushes the other with the intent of picking him up and slamming him into the next hardest thing before punching him.

But yes, once the fight is on, a trained fighter will balance himself and be wary of commited attacks without proper setup. In theory, aikido should not realy on the commited attack, but your sense of timing and distance to take his balance. For example an entering motion while your opponent jabs (of course if your timing isn't perfect he is going to 'track' you and your getting hit) could allow you to be right next to your opponent and in a position where he will have to move to contine hitting you. Then you could throw him, or use any hard style training you might have to knock the crap out of him. Personally, once the 'fight' starts, I'll use my striking, clinching, and judo throws which are more forgiving then aikido techniques if you make a mistake.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 06-04-2006, 12:51 PM   #8
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: "Tricky" energy and the committed attack

Stanley Archacki wrote:
What are some thoughts on this. What is the role of the uke who gives realistic but "tricky" attacks?
Stanley, you started a good thread. You've had some great replies. Since you said the "punishing uke" thread made you think about it, and I started that one, I'd like to comment.

I think the role of the uke who gives realistic but "tricky" attacks is what you need for the highest level of aikido training.

I see five levels of aikido learning.

1. A completely cooperative uke who allows you to learn the fundamental movements and concepts.

2. A cooperative uke who lets you know when you're grossly off course by being immovable in that direction.

Attacks for these two levels are as Kevin Leavitt describes them. In the next levels, they should become faster.

3. An uke who gives strong, balanced attacks of every kind--punches, kicks, grabs, sweeps, judo and jujutsu attacks, sword, bo, jo and tanbo, and resists when you're the least bit off the technique. At this level, uke counter-attacks when you miss. So he comes in with a kick. You avoid but fail to throw him. He immediately launches a backfist to your face. You grab his arm but fail to move him. He sweeps your feet...etc. In Japan, most attacks at this level ended on the floor and were followed with submission grappling. You might have to grapple two or three minutes with each of five partners or more per round as nage.

4. The tricky uke. This is the last level of training. He attacks as described in level three, but is very measured on his approaches. He won't rush in. He won't overcommit. He will feint very believably and most people will respond to his feint.

This is training for reality.

I really liked Logan Heinrichs' statement:

"When a confrontation occurs and the, lets say nage, takes up a fighting stancem this tells the attacker that they have to be tricky in order to launch a successful attack. This is what leads to the feints, jabs, and fakes that you see in fighting. If nage takes up a relaxed stance, he may be very ready for the attack, but look very open. This is when bullies try to take the "death blow" that we aikidoka prefer. I dont think aikido was developed for fighting, but when it is used for self defense the evasions and techniques all make a lot of sense."

and Lyle Bogin's comment:

"There's a kid of trickiness that works well for aikido..the lead up to the committed attack is a great place to play."

The thing is, with a tough fighter who is used to being smacked around but finally beating his opponent into submission, we may be able to get him to attack very powerfully and we may be able to make him fall hard, but if and when he gets up, he is likely to remain intent on delivering his share of the pain. I knew a fellow once who was that way. He understood it as a mental illness. If you hurt him, he would instantly see red, even if it were an accident, and he would give you back at least twice what you gave him. He had no control over it. Once he got into a confrontation in a pool hall and threw every billiard ball on the table at this guy, like baseballs, and hit him numerous times. I don't remember what the other guy had done, but this fellow just rained destruction on him. He once told me, "You couldn't me any of that aikido stuff you do. If you was to sling me down on the ground, I'd say, 'Hey, that was pretty good. Let's go inside and have some coffee.' and we'd go inside and I'd get that coffee water boiling and come in there where you was sitting and I'd sling that boiling water on you." He said he didn't know why he was that way, but he was and he had served some time in prison. He got it into his mind twice to test me and my aikido training enabled me to convince him without touching him.

And there is Level 5: USING AIKIDO.

When I taught English in Japan, Dr. Robert Lado, professor emeritus on Linguistics at Georgetown, gave us a number of lectures on the subject. He was the head of my school and I underwent his week-long training seminars multiple times. He said that there are five stages to learning any subject. These are:

1. Experience. That means your first exposure to the thing you're trying to learn. In language, this is a language you've never encountered. You hear its sounds, unrelated to your own language, see its physical gestures, unrelated to your own culture's gestures, see its written symbols, unlike anything you're familiar with. It makes no sense. It is pure raw experience. This relates to the level 1 uke who just gives you a clean general experience of aikido.

2. Remembering. This is when you start to recognize patterns in the raw cacophony of the new experience. In language, it is when you recognize words or phrases and recognize what they mean without searching for the knowledge. In aikido, that's when the uke moves to level 2, making you refine the pattern you remembered.

3. Assimilation is when you place several words and phrases in relation to one another. You know the pattern and have associated it with a reply. You know that the pattern is a greeting or an expression of surprise or whatever and you know the appropriate response to it. This is when the aikido uke begins to give powerul attacks and strong resistance. You're beginning to deal with the art itself at this level.

4. Facility. In a language, that means fluency. You know pretty much all the standard words and phrases of the language and can converse freely and spontaneously on any topic without more hesitation than a native speaker. This is where the aikido uke can become "tricky". I say that's the highest level of training because the next step is not "training" anymore.

5. Usage. This means "using the knowledge for some purpose other than acquiring the knowledge." As long as you're learning a language in a classroom, you're not really "using" the language for any purpose other than learning the language. When you go out and use that language to get a job, communicate with co-workers, find a girlfriend, talk someone out of robbing you, etc., you are "using" the language for some purpose other than learning it.

With aikido, you are "using" aikido when you apply it to some problem in your real life.

In the case of the fellow mentioned above, the first time I met him, someone told him I was an aikido brown belt. I suddenly found myself face-to-face with him, maybe a foot apart, and he said, "What would you do if somebody was to attack you from right here?"

Well, you know, they say O Sensei was able to read minds. I must have caught some of that from my training because I suddenly understood that if I were to "say" something to this guy, he was going to put a right hook on my left temple. I just felt it. I would say, "Well, I would--" WHAM! he was going to hit me. I understood this instantly. I said, "I'd do THIS!" and I dropped my weight, put my right foot back and thrust both te gatana at him, stopping an inch from his chest. And I stood there, knowing if he swung or kicked, I could drive him back and probably knock him to the ground. I did not know what a bloody horrible move that would have been, but I didn't have to find out. He was surprised by my instant reaction and he just nodded and said, "That's pretty good," and he left me alone.

So what is "using" aikido?

It's the highest level. And it can take whatever form you want it to.

But working with a tricky uke is one of the most important developmental experiences you can have.

Best wishes.


"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-08-2006, 08:20 AM   #9
Steve Mullen
Dojo: White Rose (Sunderland)
Location: Washington
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 270
Re: "Tricky" energy and the committed attack

I had the great pleasure of training with shihan cottier sometime last year, on this course he was explaining the idea of a feeling hand. Using the front hand to guide and feel the attacks. If you stand in a good stance and have your hands out correctly you can use your front hand as a feeling hand, judge any strike that comes too close to htis hand as being a committed attack and act accordingly.

If it turns out that this wasn't the ''killer blow'' but just a prelude to it then so what, as long as your technique is effective then uki shouldn't be able to throw the final punch. To me aikido is all about acting on what uki gives you, not waiting until they get through all the punches/kicks/headbutts they wanted to throw at you before you act.

My two pennies worth

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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