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Old 06-11-2009, 11:15 PM   #1
mevensen
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Question Taking Atemi as Uke

I just finished a class tonight, and one technique was taught was Gyaku Hamni Katatetori Ikkyo.

Not to get too much into the technique, but the first move involved an atemi to the face with the free hand, followed by a withdrawing with the tori's striking hand sliding down the uke's grabbing arm to extension.

My reaction, from my previous training in other arts, was a sinking of weight with a slight dodge with the head and a parry with the free hand. One of the shodan with whom I was working corrected me, stating that I did not react enough to the atemi, and that I did not follow the subsequent pull.

Now, I know that as uke, I should also work to flow with the technique to some degree. It makes sense to follow the pull to avoid injury. But the reaction he advised to the atemi did not seem to be what many trained fighters would do. I want to honor his teaching as a senior student, but I also am trying to reconcile this with what I have learned in the past.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:40 PM   #2
Mark Gibbons
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

As it has been explained to me, over and over again, we are doing kata, not practicing fighting. Which feels like an unsatisfactory answer, but did eventually cause me to mostly stop contesting the process. You can probably find someone to go over the variations where uke does something other than the expected response.

Good luck,
Mark
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Old 06-12-2009, 01:47 AM   #3
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

I think (generalization alert!) a lot of aikido people a lot of the time expect way too much from their atemi. Myself included I'm sure.

If you can find a dojo where people are at least aware of this problem it makes training less frustrating...otherwise its probably better to just go with the flow.

kvaak
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:37 AM   #4
jss
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Quote:
Marc Evensen wrote: View Post
My reaction, from my previous training in other arts, was a sinking of weight with a slight dodge with the head and a parry with the free hand. One of the shodan with whom I was working corrected me, stating that I did not react enough to the atemi, and that I did not follow the subsequent pull.
It seems you're a nice challenge to the shodan's skills! He (she?) was right in correcting you, as you need to know what the 'expected' reaction in the dojo is. Hopefully he can also accept that what he was doing was not working and see this as an opportunity to experiment and learn. (It's a shame that lots of aikidoka expect that a senior student should always succeed in applying the technique that's being trained on a junior student. It severely limits how much one can learn.)

Secondly, I think the assumption of atemi is that it connects. Had he actually hit you in the face, he probably would have been able to do the ikkyo. Since hitting people in the face is not fun training, as an uke you react as if the hit connected. So you move your head backwards and use your hand to protect your face, but it's not a real dodge 'n block as your posture is compromised. At least that's how I approach it.

Finally, about the technique itself, judging from your description (poor basis to judge from, but hey it's the internet ) the shodan was relying too much on the atemi. IMO you unbalance uke through the grip he has on your wrist *and* give atemi at the same time. The striking hand sliding down then unbalances uke further.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:39 AM   #5
philippe willaume
 
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Quote:
Marc Evensen wrote: View Post
I just finished a class tonight, and one technique was taught was Gyaku Hamni Katatetori Ikkyo.

Not to get too much into the technique, but the first move involved an atemi to the face with the free hand, followed by a withdrawing with the tori's striking hand sliding down the uke's grabbing arm to extension.

My reaction, from my previous training in other arts, was a sinking of weight with a slight dodge with the head and a parry with the free hand. One of the shodan with whom I was working corrected me, stating that I did not react enough to the atemi, and that I did not follow the subsequent pull.

Now, I know that as uke, I should also work to flow with the technique to some degree. It makes sense to follow the pull to avoid injury. But the reaction he advised to the atemi did not seem to be what many trained fighters would do. I want to honor his teaching as a senior student, but I also am trying to reconcile this with what I have learned in the past.
Hello
It is really difficult to say.

From your description I understand that you were starting from a static position there is a tenchin after the atemi.
So there is probably no irimi with the atemi and the strike is probably delivered as rocking the body forward as you extend the hand.
Which make it an half-assed long range strike or a glorified slap that do not really attack you base/structure.
Given the pull on the arm you garbed with. Not only it makes sense fighting wise but as well it a very natural way to defend

If it is that, from a martial point of view it is not sound at all.
It is not a proper atemi and if uke let go you have nothing and uke did not have to move his whole body to void , so he can attack again immediately, closing the distance we tried to create and making our back available.

But this is not all there is to that story,
You see I think it is very likely that exercise was designed as a teaching step to get you to a more moving scenario, that very same move have a much better chance of compromising your structure, and in that context is martially sounder.
If that the case , I hope you can see where the shodan was going.

I hope that helps
Phil

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In the Land of Windsor where phlip phlop live.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:57 AM   #6
philippe willaume
 
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

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Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
I think (generalization alert!) a lot of aikido people a lot of the time expect way too much from their atemi. Myself included I'm sure.

If you can find a dojo where people are at least aware of this problem it makes training less frustrating...otherwise its probably better to just go with the flow.

kvaak
Pauliina
off to go teach a Dutch choir to sing in Finnish...
May be it is because you do not hit them hard enough.

Seriously,an atemi to head really isolate the arm.
Moving the head back or tucking the chin in prevent you shoulder muscle that are attached to spine to engage.

It the same effect as when you do kaiten, if you put your hand on the nape they can stand up and resist with their arm.
But it you tuck his head in he can not get up, and his arm is very weak.

All that being said, you need to strike from a position where you are going to do some damage (i.e. a reason why he want to move) or at least gain a tactical advantage (i.e. he is helping you set up your next move).

phil

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In the Land of Windsor where phlip phlop live.
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:17 AM   #7
Abasan
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Parrying the atemi may seem real to you, but is the initial wrist grab 'real' in the first place?

I think some may advocate more 'alive' training here... you grab a wrist because of some reason that will be advantageous for you. And later follow with whatever that will conclude the encounter in your favour.

Nage responds by blending, taking your balance and controlling you. If he's atemi works in doing all that and you find yourself in no position to parry, then I guess that's good training. On the flip side, some teachers say that if Nage can atemi, so should Uke.

I suppose you have to do the forms first though before you try this level of training.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 06-12-2009, 09:48 AM   #8
philippe willaume
 
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

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Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Parrying the atemi may seem real to you, but is the initial wrist grab 'real' in the first place?

I think some may advocate more 'alive' training here... you grab a wrist because of some reason that will be advantageous for you. And later follow with whatever that will conclude the encounter in your favour.

Nage responds by blending, taking your balance and controlling you. If he's atemi works in doing all that and you find yourself in no position to parry, then I guess that's good training. On the flip side, some teachers say that if Nage can atemi, so should Uke.

I suppose you have to do the forms first though before you try this level of training.
Yes I think as well that you do need a basic way to train, at least at the begging but as we mention in another thread even your basic should be geared up toward your objective.

If your objective is to train in a more flowing aikido, It is perfectly fine to train as described earlier.

If you are more martially oriented, you do not have any business punching at extreme range in that type of situation. Even if it is pure basic, you should be able to demonstrate that any defence will open up a technique for you and that a net result of him disengaging will be at the very least a gain of separation.
It may be a naff start but you can still deal with it with the same methodology you would deal with a less naff attack.

After basic as you said , we can add push on to a punch, pull onto a wall, arm bar attempt, glassing, knife or bottle.

phil

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In the Land of Windsor where phlip phlop live.
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:53 AM   #9
C. David Henderson
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Its not particularly hard to suggest legitimate reasons for nage's request, albeit there are a number of unknowns in the situation.

A parry with the opposite hand such as described seems likely to have created other openings -- for example, katagatame to the parrying arm.

However, it is unclear whether in the context of the practice taking place nage felt it appropriate to change the technique being demonstrated.

If nage, as the more expereinced member of the dojo, felt constrained to practice ikkyo in response to uke's "attack," and uke reacts in a way that presents a different set of openings, it may in fact compel nage to perform a senseless technique.

On the other hand, uke probably knew what technique was being practiced, and so was prepared for a particular atemi; in which case the "parry" is no more realistic than a "flinch" would have been.

I suppose nage could have upped the stakes by entering more assertively and striking hard and fast in an attempt to get uke to react in a different way, but it would be a mistake to think this would make what sounds like it may have been kihon practice more "realistic" or "martially effective."

As a number of folks far more experienced than I have stated on this forum, if ikkyo happened in a "real" situation, it wouldn't look like this interaction anyway.

Trying to make this interaction more "real" may in fact obscure or frustrate for both partners the intent of the point of the exercise as well as create a false impression.

YMMV

cdh
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:31 AM   #10
Keith Larman
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Just to put a different perspective on it but magnifying on what has already been said...

Remember that (as already mentioned) this is kata. It is always kata because you're not in a "real" fight. You're training to learn a particular technique which has a boatload of assumptions involved.

So while your reaction to the atemi was different, the reality was that you weren't practicing the particular kata correctly. You work on it and you train hard to do what you're "supposed" to do.

Now of course many are now howling "No! That's not "Real World" martial arts!". Well, um, actually it is. It is real world "training" in martial arts. You're learning a series of movements to help you learn to do certain things with minimal conscious effort. You're training your body, your mind, your attitude and everything else I don't want to bother listing.

Now that I've said all that, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to try other things. What if. What if the guy receiving the atemi sinks down, centers, and dodges by moving their heads. Okay, new scenario. And maybe a valuable one to train for at some point.

But... we can "what if" until hell freezes over. What frustrates me as an instructor is the student who lives in that world of "what if" when they can't do the freaking thing I'm teaching which is severely constrained and contrived! There are times I want to scream when I hear people ask those sorts of questions, especially when it comes from students who can't do the "simplified" basic version demonstrated in the kata. Get *that* down and then we have a basis upon which to explore some "what if's". Till then, what's the point?

Or as our late sensei used to say, advanced techniques are just simplified basics. Get the basics and often those advanced techniques become a lot easier to deal with. And sure, if the fella receiving the atemi reacts differently than you expect things *will* change. And obviously "what" you do will change with the changed scenario. But... That's not what we're talking about here in the training. This aspect is training in one set of movements, a kata, in order to train certain things. Obviously if things change, well, things will have to change on both ends. And hopefully you'll get chances to explore those things as well. I know I truly enjoy the occasional time I get on the mat with high ranking yudansha and just "play". We get out there doing jiuwaza and things get both "messy" but also seriously educational. That's when you start to understand there is a difference between doing techniques (waza, kata, whatever) and learning how to "do" Aikido. The waza/kata/etc. are the dancesteps. Put the little black shoe markers on the floor showing you how to foxtrot. But at some point you need to learn to "dance" without all that. The footprints help you get glimpses of what Aikido is, but is itself not aikido. It is just the medium of communication.

Last edited by Keith Larman : 06-12-2009 at 11:33 AM.

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Old 06-12-2009, 11:37 AM   #11
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Nice post Keith. I think its also the best response to the OP yet.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-12-2009, 11:39 AM   #12
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Some good suggestions...

I would add that your reaction timing may be more to blame than your reaction movement. When I see this type of interaction, in many cases nage is moving at a speed slower than uke; I jokingly refer to this as the Matrix effect because uke is moving at an accelerated rate propotional to nage. In other words, nage moves at a rate of 75% speed to practice technique (including atemi). In response to nage, uke reacts at a rate of 100% speed to evade nage. This creates an unbalanced relationship.

The correction is that uke should react in proprotion to nage. I usually ask myself, "if this was full-speed (and without foreknowledge of the strike), could I honestly avoid that attack?
Of that question, I have two personal comments:
1. More often than not, the answer is "no." On the rare occassion that answer is "yes," don't hold that against your partner trying to learn technique. It's great you have a high block worthy of Chuck Norris.
2. Good aikido atemi is essential to good technique (and that doesn't mean you need to physical strike suki; but you should know where are those points). If you respond appropriately to proper atemi, more often than not you will weaken your structure and faciliate the technique. Do not let obstinance prevent you from learning where you are weak.

Last edited by jonreading : 06-12-2009 at 11:44 AM. Reason: spellin'
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:10 PM   #13
Nick
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Lots of good responses, and if I can toss in my two cents...

I see a divergence in different styles of aikido (and indeed in different martial arts) about whether or not one should train for what uke "should" do; essentially, whether a failed technique is uke's fault or nage's fault. An example is a variation of classic kokyunage trained in a lot of Aikikai schools in which uke is dropped looooow (I've seen some ukes crawling on their knees for it) before "naturally" coming back up and being thrown down by the resolution of the kokyunage. Personally, I don't see it, as not a single person I've seen that taught to tried to come back up and had to be instructed what was "natural" for them. This seems paradoxical to me.

I remember when I started aikido, a new person was pressing one of the instructors about the very same thing whilst holding onto his wrist during an ikkyo class. "Well, what if I block it or it doesn't move my head back or (it went on for a while)?" Rather than talk about the intricacies of atemi and how it's used in aikido as a yaddayaddayadda, he quickly thrust his remaining free hand inches from the person's face and gave a loud kiai before administering the ikkyo. The person got up with wide eyes and understood: they had blocked the "atemi", but still gotten tossed.

Maintain proper technique and protect your uke, but do what works, not what you "should".

Nick

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Old 06-12-2009, 12:22 PM   #14
mevensen
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Thank you for all of the responses. They have helped me expand my view of the situation and the training methods.
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:29 PM   #15
Ketsan
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Quote:
Marc Evensen wrote: View Post
I just finished a class tonight, and one technique was taught was Gyaku Hamni Katatetori Ikkyo.

Not to get too much into the technique, but the first move involved an atemi to the face with the free hand, followed by a withdrawing with the tori's striking hand sliding down the uke's grabbing arm to extension.

My reaction, from my previous training in other arts, was a sinking of weight with a slight dodge with the head and a parry with the free hand. One of the shodan with whom I was working corrected me, stating that I did not react enough to the atemi, and that I did not follow the subsequent pull.

Now, I know that as uke, I should also work to flow with the technique to some degree. It makes sense to follow the pull to avoid injury. But the reaction he advised to the atemi did not seem to be what many trained fighters would do. I want to honor his teaching as a senior student, but I also am trying to reconcile this with what I have learned in the past.
If uke doesn't react enough then tori isn't delivering enough. Tori's intention should be enough to make uke move, if that intention isn't there in training then it wont be there when it comes to the real thing,
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:24 PM   #16
C. David Henderson
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Sometimes, but not necessarily -- some of us lead with our faces.

I had an abscessed tooth once; after the dentist drained the abscess, he told me to get some circulation to the area. Okay, I thought, and went to practice.

Sensei called me up for ukemi. I didn't react to his atemi, and got hit in just the right spot. As my world seemed to both explode and coalesce in a flash of pain, I had 2 thoughts -- I should have said something before class, and -- Well that will get the circulation going.

He delivered, and I had a specific reason to be reactive, but wasn't. By the way, the ensuing technique was quite effective.
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:49 PM   #17
Kevin Karr
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Hmmm, a couple things about this OP confuse me. First, there should be no "pulling." Why were you being "pulled" in Katatetori Ikkyo? Regardless of this, if I remember correctly, if the movement is done right you should not be able to block with the freehand as it would be engaged in stopping your body from hitting the floor. If Nage moves in to take your balance and you can still execute movements with the opposite hand...something ain't going down right, both figuratively and literally.

Secondly, forget what you have learned before. It means nothing. It shouldn't effect your current training. Your past martial arts training is just that, the past. Let it go, or as the saying goes, "Empty your Cup."

p.s. You will want to get in the habit of effectively moving your face out of the way of any atemi. Some Aikido practitioners out there are not as "nice" as others and you will get a fist right in the nose; and if you try to block, they will simply grab your blocking hand and henka waza you into a new technique for which you may not be prepared. In that case, make sure your ukemi is spot on, brutha!

Last edited by Kevin Karr : 06-12-2009 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:21 PM   #18
mevensen
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Quote:
Kevin Karr wrote: View Post
Hmmm, a couple things about this OP confuse me. First, there should be no "pulling." Why were you being "pulled" in Katatetori Ikkyo? Regardless of this, if I remember correctly, if the movement is done right you should not be able to block with the freehand as it would be engaged in stopping your body from hitting the floor. If Nage moves in to take your balance and you can still execute movements with the opposite hand...something ain't going down right, both figuratively and literally.
Perhaps I did not explain everything correctly, but I am new to Aikido, so perhaps do not have all of the correct terminology. The pulling was not part of the Ikkyo movement, but directly preceded it (after the atemi).

Quote:
Secondly, forget what you have learned before. It means nothing. It shouldn't effect your current training. Your past martial arts training is just that, the past. Let it go, or as the saying goes, "Empty your Cup."
Trust me, I am trying to "empty my cup". I know how necessary it is to do this to absorb a new style. Part of that process, however, is a cognitive one, where I can understand the reason for doing something differently.

Last edited by mevensen : 06-12-2009 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:35 PM   #19
Nick
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Quote:
Kevin Karr wrote: View Post

Secondly, forget what you have learned before. It means nothing. It shouldn't effect your current training. Your past martial arts training is just that, the past. Let it go, or as the saying goes, "Empty your Cup."
Ensuring that one is not hit in the face does not suggest a "full cup". It suggests, if not decent training, at least a fairly universal reflex to avoid injury. I understand what you're trying to say, but turning off one's brain (or letting said brain get smacked around) is not the mark of a good student in any discipline, and a good instructor should be able to work around that.

Nick

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Old 06-12-2009, 05:37 PM   #20
Janet Rosen
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

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Marc Evensen wrote: View Post
Perhaps I did not explain everything correctly, but I am new to Aikido, so perhaps do not have all of the correct terminology. The pulling was not part of the Ikkyo movement, but directly preceded it (after the atemi).
I understood exactly what you meant. It is in some aikido styles a standard opening for that attack: nage's free hand first does an atemi while the grabbed side is taken back/off the line and then the free hand comes to uke's grabbing side forearm or inner elbow and does a drawing back movement that optimally draws uke forward. IMHO, it shouldn't really be a pull; unfortunately it often is....

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Old 06-13-2009, 02:46 AM   #21
philippe willaume
 
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Quote:
David Henderson wrote: View Post
Sometimes, but not necessarily -- some of us lead with our faces.

I had an abscessed tooth once; after the dentist drained the abscess, he told me to get some circulation to the area. Okay, I thought, and went to practice.

Sensei called me up for ukemi. I didn't react to his atemi, and got hit in just the right spot. As my world seemed to both explode and coalesce in a flash of pain, I had 2 thoughts -- I should have said something before class, and -- Well that will get the circulation going.

He delivered, and I had a specific reason to be reactive, but wasn't. By the way, the ensuing technique was quite effective.
well as Mike Tyson sais every one has a plan until they got punched in the mouth.
is it not amazing that each time you do have an injury people manage to hit or step on it with an uncanny accuracy?

phil

One Ringeck to bring them all and in darkness bind them,
In the Land of Windsor where phlip phlop live.
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Old 06-13-2009, 09:29 AM   #22
C. David Henderson
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Uncanny -- that sums it up nicely.

David
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Old 06-13-2009, 09:58 AM   #23
seank
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

I remember a particular class where a student questioned the efficacy of atemi and a technique... Right up to where his nage accidentally overextended his atemi, clocking him right between the eyes.

He dropped like a marionette with the strings cut. As I told him afterwards, nage could have dragged you anywhere after that atemi. Now does it work?
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:43 PM   #24
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

I love new students in practice. They don't react the way we "expect" them to react. While some of what is done during practice would not be good for self-defense it does have its purposes.

Regarding atemi...well this is subject is one of my pet peeves. I love them and they should be included in almost every application. Whether or not they are affective depends on the intent. If you don't know how to deliver a strike chances are you won't have the right intent. IMO

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Old 06-15-2009, 10:28 AM   #25
ruthmc
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Re: Taking Atemi as Uke

Hi Marc,

I'm surprised the shodan didn't respond to your reaction to his atemi by adapting his ikkyo slightly!

Gyaku-hanmi katatedori is either a push by uke (to stop tori raising his hand / weapon) or a pull by uke (to bring tori within range of a punch to the face). Many times uke does neither and tori has to initiate some kind of movement by uke, often with an atemi.

The ikkyo applied to a push is a little different to the ikkyo applied to a pull, but at shodan level I would expect tori to be able to make either response...

If as uke you were supposed to be either pushing or pulling tori's wrist, then that should be made clear, preferably by Sensei, but failing that by the senior student you were partnered with.

This is all my best guess as I wasn't there but I hope it may have shed a little light on the situation?

Ruth
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