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Old 06-03-2003, 10:41 PM   #1
Jeff Tibbetts
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What is your limit for violence?

After attending a seminar this past weekend and discussing it with some people in tonight's practice, I decided to ask the forum a question. This is not a thread on wether violence is right in training, or what the founder intended the art to be, so don't let it degenerate into that. I practice a decidedly less agressive and physical style of Aikido than much of what I saw at the seminar. I don't see this as a bad thing at all, it was wonderful to see the potential for power, control and effectiveness that these techniques hold. I can see why people practice the way that they do, and I think that I would like to do that once in a while. I don't think, however, that I would want to do that all the time. Here's why: I don't want to end every pin with a strike to a helpless uke, and I don't want to reinforce habits that have the potential to really damage uke. This is a personal choice that I've made, and I think that on the mat these practices are fine in an atmosphere of trust; but I don't want to replace my natural reactions with more effectively destructive reactions, which is wny I chose Aikido. I think that it's good to know that those options exist for me, and that just a tweak here and a twist further there will give me broken uke bones, but I don't want that to be the standard. That's where my line for violence is, it's not very far from everyday living. I know that sometimes it's fun to push a bit harder, to throw a little more vigorously, if you're so inclined and your partner is willing and able to take the ukemi. I also think that I made a choice to not destroy the people who I come into conflict with in life, and this is a point I will stick to. This choice is about more than what is on the mat. I carry many of the lessons that I learn on the mat into my daily conversation, and my relationships, and I don't want to make those lessons the kind that give me that kind of power. Obviously, this is all my own opinion, and I reserve no judgement for other ways, I only want see what other people think about the issue.

So the question is this: Where is your line for violence? How far do you take your practice? Are your techniques to cripple, incapacitate, or otherwise damage uke? I obviously don't mean your training partner, but really what would your ideal application of these techniques be in a more real situation. Do you practice with the thought of pretecting your family from another person's violence? I just want to hear some honest accounts of why you train at the level you do, and why you think that is. Granted, many of you may not have a choice what style you do, but any style can be cranked up or toned down. I think it's important to ask ourselves these sorts of questions once in a while, to see if we're doing what we want to be doing. Sometimes the atmosphere of obedience and the concept of not questioning our teachers bleeds over into the feeling that we're just along for the ride. We need to just reflect on the road that we're on, and see if the destination is a place we want to go...

Thanks in advance for keeping the thread openminded and informative. Nobody wants another style war.

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
wait
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Old 06-03-2003, 11:21 PM   #2
sanosuke
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Quote:
Are your techniques to cripple, incapacitate, or otherwise damage uke?
At first yes, but after some time I learned that without uke I can't practice, so that we must take care of our uke also. Same thing on the street, the people who mug us might not have the intention to do so, but because of no other way earning money he became a mugger, we just have to make him realize that what what he done is wrong. Now I'm trying to learn how to control without inflicting pain on my uke. I'm also more into projection rather than pins or locks now.
Quote:
Where is your line for violence?
This is very relative among people, some people said when the uke is already crippled then it's called violent. Some other people think that when your uke is tapping it's already called violent. To me, my line of violence is when the uke tap, because when uke tap it means that the pain is already unbearable, and it's our duty to loose it. Don't let uke tap for two times.

I strongly against people that tighten their pins/locks although the uke already tapping, this is what I called violent.

In real life situation, I think violence is when you feel arrogant or better or deserving more than others. Small example is when you don't give your lane for others during traffic jam,most people doing this because they think they already queue that people don't deserve to take their lane, causing more severe traffic jam. I think this was called in aikido "when your ego strikes you back".

That's what I'm thinking. Thanks a lot for a wonderful topic.
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Old 06-03-2003, 11:33 PM   #3
Jeff Tibbetts
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Reza, thanks for the post. That's what I was looking for. I want to clear up something before it becomes an issue though. The issue isn't about what is violent and what isn't. It's a question of degrees. In a purely physical sense what we do is violent, but how much are you willing to accept in practice, and how much do you want to use if you need to? The topic of wether or not a pin is violent is a whole different thread, and where a pin becomes a form of real aggression, also another thread. So, again, I don't want to talk about what violence is, but really how do you use it in your practice? Thanks.

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
wait
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Old 06-04-2003, 12:20 AM   #4
PhilJ
 
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I like to follow the guidelines of appropriate usage of ki. In the dojo, I consider taking a pin beyond a tap excessive... therefore, probably 'violent'.

Anything beyond what is needed in a technique, to me, skirts the 'violent' label.

I really can see your view here, as it is something I experience myself a copule years ago. I hooked up with an instructor who had the capability to show very effective technique, but didn't generally teach that in class. I like this approach a lot -- show the capability of a technique occasionally, without risking a classmate, but just teach what is needed.

Great post, Jeff, this is a good pointed inquiry.

*Phil

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Old 06-04-2003, 12:47 AM   #5
Bronson
 
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I'm pretty much in line with what Phil said. For me it's better to train with the idea of doing the least amount neccessary. I really have no moral or ethical problem with the idea of using violence, even extreme violence if that is what is needed to end the situation. I still think of my tai chi instructor saying that you can end most physical confrontations by staying one step lower in violence than the attacker.

If he is trying to hurt you, stop him.

If he is trying to maim you, you may have to hurt him.

If he is trying to kill you, you may have to maim him.

This fits well with my personal feelings and also with what I'm learning in aikido. We train relatively softly but we are still shown how to "ramp up" the techniques when needed. Our baseline technique usually falls into the area of controlling uke as opposed to throwing or breaking uke. We're going on the idea that it's easier to train with the idea of softness and spike it when needed than to train hard (bad word choice but all I can come up with ) and try to soften it when needed.

Of course this is all theory. I've yet had any situation get past "just words". Who knows, maybe if I'm ever faced with the prospect of having to deliberately injury another person I'll freeze and find I just can't do it...on the other hand I might find I like it

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 06-04-2003, 01:37 AM   #6
Edward
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A few incoherent thoughts:

I actually find this issue one of the most confusing in aikido. Take throws for instance, even the softest throws if applied on an untrained person and on a hard surface would cause substantial damage, much more than the strongest atemi to the face.

The barrier between violent or not, damaging or not, painful or not is thus blurred.

I myself am not a natural striker, I have a dislike for atemi, and avoid using it in training despite the risk of offending my teachers.

I think training should as painless and as peaceful as possible, but without sacrificing the intensity. However, it is an illusion for anyone who thinks that he can control the amount of violence in a self-defense encounter.
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Old 06-04-2003, 02:46 AM   #7
erikmenzel
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
However, it is an illusion for anyone who thinks that he can control the amount of violence in a self-defense encounter.
Hear Hear.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 06-04-2003, 03:09 AM   #8
ChristianBoddum
 
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Hi !

Regarding the use of atemi in finishing a technique -

I've been taught that if any use of strike is

nessesary - then it's the first thing coming,

finishing off with a strike is more a thing from the world of karate,

by the time tou have your opponent down,

you should be in control - ideally !

I train by the idea that your must NEVER

hurt uke, and I have never hurt anybody in a serious manner yet,I've been close and it's always been a matter of lacking attention.

Good hard training gets us close to what violence is like and I think it should be that way , I'd rather have a hard time on the mat and a good time in the bar than the other way around..

Have a nice unviolent day !!

yours - Chr.B.
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Old 06-04-2003, 03:19 AM   #9
jss
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I throw people (the ones with good ukemi) in a manner that some people would call 'violent'. But it's just way to much fun to send your uke flying through the air, rolling and standing up with a big smile on their face. And doing the flying part yourself is even better.

In real life the effects would indeed be devastating, but on the other hand, a half throw might just not work.

And in the case of a joint lock: tapping means releasing uke.

I don't like people trainig violently with me, but those people who are too nice are as annoying as the violent ones, although they are less dangerous.

Coming to think of it, I don't train with the real world in mind. So my level of violence is to have fun while searching for effective technique.

As mentioned by other in other threads: for me self-defence is the last real world benefit I expect to get out of aikido. (By which I don't mean aikido is not effictive as self-defence.)
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Old 06-04-2003, 05:22 AM   #10
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
Christian Boddum (ChristianBoddum) wrote:
finishing off with a strike is more a thing from the world of karate,
Actually, that's not correct. To the best of my knowledge, the finishing strike is from Daito Ryu and is symbolic of drawing one's auxiliary weapon and dispatching the enemy.

Regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 06-04-2003, 05:32 AM   #11
Col.Clink
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Re: What is your limit for violence?

Quote:
Jeff Tibbetts wrote:
So the question is this: Where is your line for violence? How far do you take your practice? Are your techniques to cripple, incapacitate, or otherwise damage uke? I obviously don't mean your training partner, but really what would your ideal application of these techniques be in a more real situation. Do you practice with the thought of pretecting your family from another person's violence?
Hi Jeff,

you posed some interesting thoughts and caused me to reflect on the "why am I doing this, what am I practising etc" questions.

I have to say my level of violence begins and ends with what is thrown at me. I can honestly say I am not afraid to take it to the extreme (afraid of the consequences yes), but only hope I don't have to. The ability to incapacitate is better than the extreme.

I am afraid I may loose control where I take it to the extreme without that intention, also because that (no control) is where I am just as vulnerable as the attacker and may cause unnecessary harm to them or myself. I belive that is the key word, what is neccessary. I do tell students to give the attacker some room to dis-engage their attack before you cause any serious harm. I would hate to seriously hurt someone who has inadvertantly mixed some prescribed drugs, or some other form of "temporary rage". There are many variables, and they are hard to pin point in the heat of conflict.

I would protect family just as much as anyone else (most likely more-so, but that would take more self control than I think I could imagine).

Some good thoughts I've read so far.

Cheers

Rob

"Excess leads to the path of Wisdom"
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Old 06-04-2003, 05:43 AM   #12
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In regards to violence on the mat, completely unacceptable. Causing deliberate harm to your uke is irresponsible. It is your responsiblity as Nage to protect you uke through out the technique. There is no grey area, plain black and white. There is a high level of trust in Aikido practice, of which responsibilty to your uke is paramount. Anyone who trains in such a manner is a liability to the dojo and shouldnt be taught in Budo of any manner.

Though I feel training to be effective is what you should aim for. I wouldnt label making someone tap out as being violent, it is the result of an effective,efficent technique. Uke's tap is a register/gauge of the effectiveness of technique. Tapping out quick or slow helps Nage develope a feel for the proper amount effectiveness that need be applied. In my own personal practice, I always use a slow deliberate stretch during application of pin/ joint lock. This way uke can foster some resiliency and broaden their abilty to control their pain threshold through stetching.

Training is about trust, betray that trust and you are nothing more than a shallow person

Last edited by SmilingNage : 06-04-2003 at 05:50 AM.

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Old 06-04-2003, 07:36 AM   #13
MikeE
 
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My thoughts:

In Aikido, we wish to draw an attacker into a partnership, or system. As the attacker adds his/her energy to the system it will inherently effect the system. The speed and verocity of the attack will effect how we have to deal with it. In many cases I like to think of it in a "minus one" way.

The attacker attacks and what he/she gets out of my defense is minus one of the level he/she came in with. This is very much up Bronson's line of ki appropriate for the situation. To think I should effect the system more than this bit is egotisitic and would impose my will on the system, therefore taking it out of balance and it's no longer aikido to me.

In Aiki,

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Old 06-04-2003, 08:04 AM   #14
SeiserL
 
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I try ot try within th spectrum of violence. Sometime I train slow and easy to work on the principles. Other times, with the right training partner, I train much more aggressiveley and effectively. IMHO, the limit of violence depends on the context and the consequences. Training is not sparring, sparring is not fighting, fighting is not combat. The rules of engagaement and intent is very different. Also, what are the consequences if I act and what are the consequences if I don't? Which can I live with the most? These are questions only an individual can answer for themself.

Nicely asked question. Compliments and appreciation.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-04-2003, 09:04 AM   #15
justinm
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Quote:
William Oakes (SmilingNage) wrote:
In regards to violence on the mat, completely unacceptable. Causing deliberate harm to your uke is irresponsible. It is your responsiblity as Nage to protect you uke through out the technique. There is no grey area, plain black and white. There is a high level of trust in Aikido practice, of which responsibilty to your uke is paramount. Anyone who trains in such a manner is a liability to the dojo and shouldnt be taught in Budo of any manner.
I believe O Sensei often caused pain, and sometimes broke bones.

From what I have heard, seen and experienced, it still occurs at the highest level of aikido.

Justin
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Old 06-04-2003, 09:04 AM   #16
Ron Tisdale
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This is a hard (and good) question. I probably practise in a manner similar to the folk Jeff trained with (at least from the description). Even in my home dojo though, there is a wide range of technique depending on the partner...male or female, newbie or old hand, a person who likes to be thrown hard, or someone who is nursing an injury or just doesn't prefer the harder throws (sometimes just for that moment, sometimes not at all).

The male female dichotomy isn't meant to be sexist...its just that unless I know a woman likes to train recieving really hard throws, I have a great hesitancy about appearing to bully them. I guess that really applies to anyone, not just women. And I definately know women that don't have a problem with hard throws, and who can and do indeed throw hard themselves. Some of them harder than I can throw.

For me, the line for "violence" in the dojo is whether or not I abrogate uke's trust. This leaves a large range of physicallity in my practise.

If uke's level of trust as a beginner means "please don't cause me any pain", then it is my job to help them participate as much as they can in aikido without pain...they are a beginner, and special care must be taken. Hopefully, they will understand that as time goes on (at least in the practise where I train) a certain amount of pain is often a part of training. With said beginner, if they tap, I do not increase or maintain the control or pin, rather, I release it a bit.

With someone else who is experienced, say a shodan, the level of trust is much greater. This particular shodan might train very hard, but perhaps they are of slight build, and much lighter than I am. I can really take their balance, and really throw or pin them, but I won't throw them in such a manner that pushes them too much in the level of their ukemi unless they want me to. I will concentrate my technique on proper movement, taking their balance, good form...but not power, and only moderate speed. Again, the critical issue is maintaining that person's trust **whatever that takes**.

Another person might have been training the same amount of time I have, going to Daito ryu seminars with me, training after hours in shotokan, and regularly engaging with me in "rough" practise. Baring any injuries, we might train in a manner which would cause some people to go pale just watching. But there should be a minimum of physical injury...and no injuries that would keep *them* out of practise. Here I might use quite a lot of speed and power as well as technique, and they would do the same to me. If they are applying a control, they might do it hard enough to disrupt my breathing...my tapping would not mean to stop or lessen the technique, it would simply be a way for them to gauge the strength of the control. They might very well increase the control, and my tapping harder would give them a way to gauge the increase. If it was too much, I might say matte...or stop. Again, trust is the barometer. No trust broken...then the application is appropriate. Trust once broken is extremely hard to regain...sometimes it never is. Like technique, you often get only one chance.

As far as an "real" attacker...who knows. I will strive for complete and absolute control...that way, I might safely determine whether or not I can show mercy. In my opinion, without such control there can be no true mercy in a real situation.

As far as striking on pins, Ueshiba did it. Look at both Budo Renshu and Budo. Daito ryu does it. Yoshinkan does it. It is standard practise and accepted in many variations of aikido. If some prefer not to do that, no problem. They should follow the traditions of their specific teachers.

Ron Tisdale

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-04-2003, 09:32 AM   #17
Jeff Tibbetts
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Wow. Thanks for all the replies. I got the whole range of responses that I was "expecting." Let me say right off the bat again, I don't have a problem with hard training, and I really enjoyed doing it for a while. I learned a lot from it, but I also don't want that to be the dafault for my own personal reasons. Also, let me reiterate that this isn't a question of what is violent, but really HOW violent would you like things? I never implied that anyone that I trained with would ever cause a training partner injury on the mat, they were all exceptional about keeping it at the level that they felt their partner was comfortable with. What I'm getting at here is that, some people train with an emphasis on controlling uke from doing this or that, every step of the way is control or a pin or throw, but at the expense of uke's comfort. There's simply more potential for injury to occurr, or I should say less time spent worrying about the other guy Again, I don't mean that they'll hurt their training partner, but certainly the real application of this technique shows prettymuch no concern for the person receiving the technique. That's what I don't personally want to adopt. I have my own reasons for it, but really I think it's important to protect the attacker from himself after you see to it that you are protected. I can get into it more later, but I have to get to work. So, let's shift the conversation just a bit to the esoteric side, and see where how far you want to take things, if say, a person were breaking into your house.

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
wait
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Old 06-04-2003, 10:38 AM   #18
jxa127
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Quote:
Jeff Tibbetts wrote:
What I'm getting at here is that, some people train with an emphasis on controlling uke from doing this or that, every step of the way is control or a pin or throw, but at the expense of uke's comfort. There's simply more potential for injury to occurr, or I should say less time spent worrying about the other guy Again, I don't mean that they'll hurt their training partner, but certainly the real application of this technique shows prettymuch no concern for the person receiving the technique. That's what I don't personally want to adopt. I have my own reasons for it, but really I think it's important to protect the attacker from himself after you see to it that you are protected.
Jeff,

My question in response to your question is how vulnerable do you want to be as nage? If nage is not controlling uke every step of the way, then nage is vulnerable to uke's continued attack. This is true whether you end with a pin or a throw.

My approach is to learn the full range of aikido responses from killing or maiming blows to the softest fall possible. That way I can choose how vicious I want to make my response.

I wouldn't worry that training with damaging technique will keep you from being able to "ramp down" your response to an appropriate level. My one time using aikido, I threw somebody I care about. I actually cushioned his fall, and my pin caused no pain. I did not have any trouble quickly applying the appropriate level of violence.

As for somebody entering the house, I'd prefer to be in the position of having greater power available than the housebreaker. That means that I know the terrirory, have a good defenseive position, a gun, the cops on the phone, and the intention to shoot if he doesn't do exactly what I say.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 06-04-2003, 11:25 AM   #19
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Greg Jennings wrote:
To the best of my knowledge, the finishing strike is from Daito Ryu and is symbolic of drawing one's auxiliary weapon and dispatching the enemy.
That's what Kondo writes in his book on the IKKAJO. Interestingly, some aikido people still do fininshing strikes on occassion. You especially see it on tests where the take away a TANTO and stab UKE with it (i.e., TWO felonies would have occured...)

On the Expo take from Aikido Journal, Utada finishes many of his techniques with strikes. Maybe Mustard did, too. They're both Yoshinkan players. That might be coincidence. How about it guys, do you train that in Yoshinkan?

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 06-04-2003, 11:41 AM   #20
Ron Tisdale
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Quote:
There's simply more potential for injury to occurr, or I should say less time spent worrying about the other guy Again, I don't mean that they'll hurt their training partner, but certainly the real application of this technique shows prettymuch no concern for the person receiving the technique.
Well, while I think I understand where you are coming from, I believe that by being as controling as possible, I show true concern for my opponant. If I separate his shoulder, but do so because I won't then have to throw him on his head, isn't that still a high level of concern? Just as high as anybody else's? I place myself in a position of control (if possible) so that I don't have to maim or kill...and I'm still safe, and able to do so if needed. And in practise, we have ukemi, so uke *could* just take the fall, and not resist along the way, reducing any discomfort they might feel. Isn't that one reason we have a "cooperative" practise?

Quote:
How about it guys, do you train that in Yoshinkan?
Yep, that's what we do. Not a coincidence. Its standard for shihonage pin, and some others.

Ron Tisdale

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 06-04-2003 at 11:43 AM.

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Old 06-04-2003, 12:28 PM   #21
Charles Hill
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I like Drew's answer, training to give oneself choices. I believe that this is what Saotome Shihan has been teaching for years, that one cannot truly choose to be nonviolent unless one has the capability to be violent.

I would add to this the point which I was taught by Endo Seishiro Shihan. One must train to develop the ability to keep what Endo Shihan calls "everyday mind" at all times. If we panic under stress, the choices we might normally have, largely disappear.
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Old 06-04-2003, 02:06 PM   #22
Keith R Lee
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Yes, there are some waza in Yoshinkan Aikido where a strike is the final part of the movement. There are also many waza where atemi is taught as part of the technique. There are set patterns and rules governing when/where/how to use atemi in Yoshinkan Aikido, in terms of the basic shite waza, it is not an optional thing.

For instance in shihonage the movement is finished with a strike. The reason being, as Greg Jennings brought up earlier, is that the movement is based upon finishing uke. One would take uke to the ground then have a broad deliberate strike to the uke with the free hand, drawing a block from uke. Then next movement would then be to trap both hands together with shite's striking hand, letting go of the shihonage grip, drawing a tanto, and stabbing uke in the kidneys moving on to the next opponent, etc.

Last edited by Keith R Lee : 06-04-2003 at 02:11 PM.

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Old 06-04-2003, 06:06 PM   #23
Jeff Tibbetts
Dojo: Cedar River Aikikai
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Drew, Ron, I think I see what you're trying to say. That makes a lot of sense to me, really. I guess that I'm really just concerned that under stress I wouldn't be able to control the level of violence I use, but would default to what I am trained to do. I guess I am thinking of this along the lines of having less confidence in my ability to control myself in that sort of situation. If I am trained properly, I would keep a "normal" state of mind, not panicing, and either increase or decrease my level of violence. I don't know that that would happen, however, especially so early in my training. I have talked to people who took a martial art and used it, and one of them said that a friend of his threw a punch at him as a joke and he broke the guys nose. I don't think that's something that I want to do. A knee-jerk reaction would be a bit easier to live with if it just put me in control, and didn't break someone's nose... That's the way I'm thinking about this, maybe I'm being too narrowminded. Hmm. Let's say that I'm able to get someone in an effective pin, could I not then choose to do something nasty to him once I calm down a bit? I don't know... this is turning into a very good conversation.

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Old 06-04-2003, 06:57 PM   #24
aikicougar
 
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I am sorry I have not read most of the other posts yet so if that is rude or I am repeating what anyone else said I apologize. I have always been curious about what I would really do in a physical conflict now that I have practiced and learned what I have. I really am not sure. I do know what my personal views on violence are right now though. I feel that if I know that I can control uke without hurting them, myself or others I will. But if I feel that I got a pin or anything else by luck and I let them go I or someone else will be hurt then I will do whatever is necessary to not let that happen. My sensei has said "Sometimes you have to break an arm to save a life." I agree with this statement, but only when it is necessary to do so. I practice a "soft" style of aikido but I enjoy the harder practice sometimes and want to learn it. I like learning it because then I know that if I need it I can always step it up to meet the situation.
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Old 06-04-2003, 08:23 PM   #25
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Hi Jeff,

I didn't read anyone's responses to your post, so I apologize if I step out of context here, but; I was at that seminar, and don't see what came across as violent. It was quite laid-back and geared towards the basics from what I could tell. Was it Charlie McGinnis Sensei's classes? Yamada Sensei's? or was it the partners you trained with? Please elaborate for me, as I found this an incredibly enjoyable weekend of training (and yes, I engaged in some butt-kickage, but that was just with a friend or two, and all in good spirit).

best,

Rachel
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