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Old 12-09-2003, 11:23 AM   #1
kensparrow
Dojo: Methuen Aikido
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Feb 2003
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sitting ducks

Hi everyone.

A recent thread on atemi sparked a question in my mind. I used to study karate and am still pretty good at pulling a strike at the last instant to only make brushing contact. This is how I try to do my atemi whenever possible. The problem is that some people will let me do this over and over without ever trying to block it! When this happens I find myself doing less effective atemi because I'm afraid a) I might make strong contact by mistake or b) they will think I'm a jerk for repeatedly making contact at all.

I haven't been doing this long enough to feel I have the right to instruct anyone about anything but sometimes I just want to scream "Why are you letting me hit you!?" I guess my real question is am I wrong to do my atemi this way? Should I only do it with people I know can "handle" it or is that as bad as an insincere attack by uke?
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Old 12-09-2003, 01:28 PM   #2
otto
Dojo: Independent
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Dear Ken..

I for one , appreciate a "malicious" uke as those last standing attacks show either an opening or lack of control or a problem in your position relative to your uke , so I welcome the creativity...

As far as being concerned about dealing some real damage , well...at least your sempais should be able to properly handle those attacks , in my case at least i'm encouraged to attack as sincerely and strongly as common sense allows when practicing with my fellow sempai so I would say...go for it.

Now when dealing with your kohai , there is no point in going full force/speed and showing every opening they present to you , as it only will demotivate/frustrate them , so in this case i think is better to just give a clear , uninterrumpted attack..

Have a nice practice.

Otto.

"Perfection is a Process"
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Old 12-09-2003, 03:04 PM   #3
kensparrow
Dojo: Methuen Aikido
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After reading Ottoniel's reply I wonder if I was unclear in describing the situation. I'm talking about when I am acting as nage and uke fails to deal with my atemi as I apply a technique.
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Old 12-09-2003, 05:57 PM   #4
otto
Dojo: Independent
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Oops....my fault..

I'm so focused on a situation I'm experiencing on my dojo recently that I forgot the fact that term atemi is strictly associated to the role of nage...

I think that uke should be in a very defensive mindset (mostly expressed on the guys who dont commint sincere attacks out of fear , or because they know whats coming) for him to be able to actually avoid an atemi...this is of course assuming i've had proper timing and speed...

Else i believe its more of the same Ken..I was either late doing it or didnt break his balance and so he was able to keep his guard up , if uke is able to resist my technique then something is very wrong from the early stages (whether your waza includes atemi or not)..

Again , here i'll appreciate my partner to be as tricky as possible , after all dojo is a lab in some way , up for us to test all combinations and variables as possible..

Hope this time i've made some sense of myself..

Luck

Otto.

"Perfection is a Process"
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Old 12-09-2003, 07:03 PM   #5
Thalib
 
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Good point... it is very important for uke to protect him/her-self. That's how the techniques evolved. Techniques evolved not because of the passivity of uke, but because uke always maintains balance and try to look for an opening for another attack.

An uke is not a rag doll or a punching bag to be used an discarded. The uke is actually the nage's equal. This is not saying that the uke should be stubborn. There is a training method.

As we progress, our partners progress with us. And as we are climbing that ladder, our training method evolves, not change. When applying an "evolved" training method make sure that one your training with is the one that has the same understanding.

The training method for a beginner and for a yudansha is the same in form. Look a bit deeper, and there are differences. Joe Thambu, 6th Dan Yoshinkan, Shudokan Australia, told a story how his kihon dousa (yoshinkan guys correct me if I get this wrong) that he had done for 30 years was commented as "no good" by Inoue Kancho. I saw Thambu sensei's kihon dousa and to me it was perfect, but I guess kancho sensei has a different view that I don't see.

Last edited by Thalib : 12-09-2003 at 07:15 PM.

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Old 12-23-2003, 03:23 PM   #6
Ian Upstone
Location: Sussex
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Where I train, we tend to use atemi as a distractive, rather than destructive device, and use it to take uke's attention away from what we're doing to their wrist! However, atemi is also sometimes used as a balance break, or in my case, to try to cover the massive holes in my techniques.

If atemi has a 'structural' use in your techniques (i.e. a balance break), and uke is not responding, make a point of slowing right down and slowly placing the atemi in the correct place, as if teaching. If the atemi is more of the distractive sort, merely place it as normal for your own peace of mind, regardless of ukes reactions, as at least in your own mind you know you have 'used' it.

Another thing to consider is that with your previous experience of a striking art you are more comfortable with applying/receiving strikes than most, especially if the aikido you train in does not emphasise the use of atemi.

I personally would avoid the 'pulling a strike at the last instant' mentality as it is, in my opinion, not neccessary as you should not be striking hard, especially as many atemi are targeted at vulnerable points, and your description seems consistent with a 'sparring' mentality, which may rile your training partners, despite your best intentions.

If uke is meant to recieve atemi on a regular basis they should be blocking out of habit, and a gently but positively placed fist should be a good reminder if this is the case.

I would ask your sensei what they would recommend - after all, you are training in their dojo. It really is best to find out the intention and application of atemi where you train.

I'll stop now. Sorry for the waffle, hope this is of some help anyway...
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Old 12-23-2003, 05:33 PM   #7
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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As a strong proponent of atemi waza, I find it useful to stop the technique while I repeatedly show the student the opening until they decide to block my atemi. If it is the rib cage, I will flick them on the ribs lightly. If they still do not get that there is an opening and it needs to be covered with a block then I tell them to block. You might suggest to your ukes when they don't block that to block might be a good idea since you never know when you might accidently misjudge the distance to pull the atemi.
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Old 12-23-2003, 06:02 PM   #8
thisisnotreal
 
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To Block; or To Move

Greetings!

I have a question for our senior Aikidoists:

What is the ideal?

During practice: Do you prefer Uke to block the atemi with hands/forearms or to move their head/body out of the way?

I've seen it done so that uke's block was mainly done to get his hands in a useful spot so that nage could then apply a technique

&

I've seen it done so that the block was used to cause uke to lose his balance.

I would think the more martial of the two ways is for uke to block. I also think this simulates reality more closely....although if you do rock uke with a wicked atemi I think he would move....

I don't know which is the best way to practice.

Is the answer to practice with both responses?

Thanks.

josh
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Old 12-23-2003, 07:32 PM   #9
Mark Jakabcsin
Dojo: Charlotte Systema, Charlotte, NC
Location: Carolina
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Ken,

Be real! Your strikes should be real. Uke isn't reacting because, as you admitted, your strikes aren't real, you pull them. In training your strikes don't need to be full speed, nor full power but they need to be full of intent, i.e. itensity and intent are two different things. If you are full of intent uke will move or uke will get hit, it is solely up to him/her. Most of the time I find people move when I am full of intent, they just instictively know the striking is coming and they must move or they will get hit.

Another reason to be real with your strikes is that when you aren't you aren't helping your partner train. Actually you are cheating them of one of the most valuable lessons; movement. It doesn't matter who is playing the role of uke or tori the opportunity for learning is just as great as is the need to protect oneself. If/when you partner isn't moving to protect themselves you must make them aware of their weakness. Actions speak louder than words, hence your atemi's should be real. This isn't a punk thing, simply honest training. Don't speed up, don't heat seek, simply delivery honest attacks. That is the best way to help your partner learn. Be real.

mark

Take care,


Mark J.
www.charlotte-systema.com
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Old 12-24-2003, 06:57 AM   #10
jxa127
Dojo: Itten Dojo -- Mechanicsburg, PA
Location: Harrisburg, PA
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I agree with Mark 100%!

There've been some excellent threads here on atemi from both nage and uke's perspective. Use the search feature and see what you find.

Regarding blocking: we are taught, as uke, to not block. Instead, we move out of the way (when possible) and continue our attacks. The basic rationale is that uke should be constantly attacking, so to stop and defend makes things too easy for nage. Furthermore, a good atemi from nage will be very hard to block because it won't be easily seen and nage will be in a better position than uke.

Ellis Amdur has a great essay on atemi in his book, "Dueling with O'Sensei." I'd suggest checking it out.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 12-24-2003, 08:10 AM   #11
Michael Karmon
Dojo: Aikido Jerusalem
Location: Jerusalem Israel
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 56
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Re: sitting ducks

Quote:
Ken Sparrow (kensparrow) wrote:
Hi everyone.

A recent thread on atemi sparked a question in my mind. I used to study karate and am still pretty good at pulling a strike at the last instant to only make brushing contact. This is how I try to do my atemi whenever possible. The problem is that some people will let me do this over and over without ever trying to block it!

...am I wrong to do my atemi this way? Should I only do it with people I know can "handle" it or is that as bad as an insincere attack by uke?
Hi ken,

I understnd your dillema. Like, you I did a "punching" art befor Aikido. When Uke does not respond to my Atemi I do one of two.

1. If I think Uke did not see the blow or did not have a chance to react then I give a more "Thatrical" Atemi - Bigger, slower and more visible.

2. If Uke is not respectfull to my Atem because some people do not practice Atemi very well or he is not sure towards the proper Ukemi/reaction then I give him a controlled yet significant blow up to the level of getting his respct and attention.

If someone thinks a punch to the nose or solar plexus is a joke and ignors it when it comes as a practice Atemi then he is a mega-jerk and you are doing him a great favour by demonstrating it's significance.

I had a Kohai sulking at me for months because of a couple of good punches I issued in order to get her attention, today we are best of partners and she has some devastating Atemi's

Eat, Sleep, Exercise and watch out for cars
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Old 12-24-2003, 08:53 AM   #12
Ian Upstone
Location: Sussex
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Quote:
Regarding blocking: we are taught, as uke, to not block. Instead, we move out of the way (when possible) and continue our attacks.
I agree with you Drew, regarding moving out of the way being preferable than blocking atemi, however a lot of atemi is applied when uke is 'comprimised' and moving away is not available!

Also, we tend to apply atemi at the beginning of most techniques, so as uke, we soon get into the habit of needing to block as soon as we grasp or strike sh'te/nage; moving away is not an option at that point as we are struck while still attacking.

I realise striking uke when they are helpless is not universally practiced, but blocking skills are useful to develop in case moving out of the way is not an option.

Ian
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Old 12-24-2003, 10:55 AM   #13
jxa127
Dojo: Itten Dojo -- Mechanicsburg, PA
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Join Date: Jul 2000
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Cool

Quote:
Ian Upstone wrote:
I agree with you Drew, regarding moving out of the way being preferable than blocking atemi, however a lot of atemi is applied when uke is 'comprimised' and moving away is not available!
Of course. Often, we just move the part that's being hit out of the way. That is, if a strike is coming to the head, move the head, but keep the hips moving forward.
Quote:
Also, we tend to apply atemi at the beginning of most techniques, so as uke, we soon get into the habit of needing to block as soon as we grasp or strike sh'te/nage; moving away is not an option at that point as we are struck while still attacking.
Do the strikes from nage always target the same area? We often vary where we strike as nage. For instance, one time we may strike the jaw, the next we may strike the solar plexus, and a third time we may crack the ribs or kidney. Uke never knows with certainty where the strike is going, so blocking as soon as we grasp isn't a smart move.
Quote:
I realise striking uke when they are helpless is not universally practiced, but blocking skills are useful to develop in case moving out of the way is not an option.

Ian
Hey, I've got no problem striking uke when they're helpless. It's a good training tool. And anyway, we can always choose not to strike our attackers if we don't want to hurt them.

The exception to our practice of not blocking is when nage is specifically working to elicit a response from uke. Usually, nage is blending with uke's attack, but sometimes, nage will strike first and use uke's block to set up a technique.

Don't get me wrong, I can see the case for blocking. We just don't do it that often.

Regards,

-Drew

Last edited by jxa127 : 12-24-2003 at 10:58 AM.

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Old 12-24-2003, 11:00 AM   #14
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
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Quote:
What is the ideal?

During practice: Do you prefer Uke to block the atemi with hands/forearms or to move their head/body out of the way?


I've always been taught to do both when possible, block and move the target (especially if the target is the head). Both uke and nage (shite) should think in terms of levels of protection.

1) move target

2) block/redirect/parry

3) move your body/evasion

The more levels of protection you have, the better off you ususally are. I have partners whose strikes I often have trouble blocking, even drawing on my shotokan training. They're just too strong. So I almost never just stand there and block.

As to the initial question, I think your instructor knows best. Some styles of aikido don't believe in blocking at all, some do it more as a parry/redirection, some do full out blocks as well. When in Rome...

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 01-06-2004, 11:21 AM   #15
kensparrow
Dojo: Methuen Aikido
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I guess I should have kept my mouth shut. Last week a fellow student decided he needed to make his atemi more realistic and in the process, he nailed me right in the nose! In my own defense (no pun intended) I did try to block it and get out of the way, just not very effectively! At least I got off the mat before it started bleeding. Oh the irony...
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Old 01-06-2004, 02:42 PM   #16
Alfonso
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a suggestion, Ken, slow down your strike and don't pull it back. If Uke is not registering the threat it may be too fast for them to react to , by the time they see it it may have already been pulled. That makes it a non-threat.

So unless you want/need to smack your ukes, slow your strike down ; if Uke doesn't react, keep on with the strike..After all it has to get their attention

Alfonso Adriasola
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