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Old 02-18-2004, 01:37 AM   #1
tedehara
 
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Question O Sensei starts "No Atemi" Aikido?

Ki Aikido practices without atemi (strikes). I've always thought that was done because of Koichi Tohei, the founder of the Ki Society and former Chief Instructor for O Sensei.

While reading an article about Bernie Lau by Joseph Svinth, I came across the following:
Quote:
Lau's interest in karate was sparked by two separate incidents in which properly applied aikido joint locks failed to subdue the people he was trying to arrest. "I tried traditional aikido techniques," he says, "and they simply pulled out of them. We're talking big guys who knew how to street fight." He himself did not get hurt as a result, but both suspects and a partner did. This bothered him. "I felt that if I could have better controlled the situation, then things might have turned out differently." When he mentioned the problem to Sadao Yoshioka, a former aikido instructor from Honolulu, Yoshioka replied that strikes could provide openings for locking techniques that were otherwise impossible to obtain. "But there are no strikes in aikido," protested Lau. "True," replied Yoshioka, "but that is because Ueshiba was working on spiritual development rather than fighting, and [color="red"]so he took them out.[/color] Look at old photos and you'll see what I mean."
Does that mean atemi was taken out originally by O Sensei and reinstated later by Aikikai? I have film footage of O Sensei before his death. I never noticed it before, but he never did atemi in them.

Of course, I know that O Sensei did practice atemi, at least earlier in his career. But does anyone have something to refute this quote that it was Morihei Ueshiba rather than Koichi Tohei, who took atemi out of aikido?

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Old 02-18-2004, 09:49 AM   #2
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Re: O Sensei starts "No Atemi" Aikido?

Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
Ki Aikido practices without atemi (strikes).
Not even in taigi number 19?

-- Jun

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Old 02-18-2004, 09:50 AM   #3
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According to the book,"Aikido Shugyo: Harmony in Confrontation", Shioda Sensei relays that O'Sensei taught,"In a real fight, Aikido is 70 percent atemi and 30 percent throwing."

This ratio is often tossed around at seminars and in the dojo. You'll find it at various places on the internet, etc. but now I have a written source to refer to regarding it.

Instead of thinking that O'Sensei took out atemi from aikido, I'd ask where it was written or taught that he did? Who said it? Did they have the authority to say that? Do they have a resource backing up that idea?

In my dojo, we learn atemi. There are various definitions of it, but I think the complete absence of it is a HUGE mistake and that ANYONES aikido will fail in a true fight without the use of atemi.

1) Figure out the true definition of atemi.
2) Realize the purpose behind it.
3) Look for source materials (O'Sensei, Doshu, etc.) that clarify and do not listen to verbal communication on it unless it is your immediate sensei. Then follow up with questions if you have them.

I'm not rude if I have a question, I just wanna know stuff. Don't argue... ask and then listen. Good luck!

That's my 2 cents.

Last edited by John Boswell : 02-18-2004 at 09:55 AM.

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Old 02-18-2004, 12:02 PM   #4
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This is the first comment I have ever found on atemi being taken out by O'Sensei. I have read the aikido literature specifically looking for atemi references. On the contrary, most of the reference with pictures of O'Sensei show him delivering atemi to suki. The question I have is whether Yoshioka stated an opinion or was directly quoting O'Sensei. If the message came through Tohei shihan with his ki emphasis I would wonder if the distinctions as to the source were becoming blurred. O'Sensei may have relied on less atemi in later years but keep in mind the dojo is not a real combat situation.
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Old 02-18-2004, 12:32 PM   #5
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I was recently told by a sempai, that at a recent seminar with Kanai Sensei, he stated that O'Sensei band atemi strikes on his death bed. Kanai Sensei seems to be a reliable source. He then proceeded to show some of the ones they use to do and a couple of them would probaly knock you out or cause severe pain. I've always thought atemi was more of a set up than a strike. I'd be interested in hearing more about this subject.

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Old 02-18-2004, 12:38 PM   #6
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Perhaps O Sensei took the strikes out of (his own) aikido. Which is to say that he got good enough that they weren't a strictly neccessary component of his technique, so he stopped using them. The rest of us shmoes, however, can still benefit from knowing a bit about atemi.

About that last post, my understanding is that "atemi" as we use it in Aikido isn't neccessarily the same as it is used in other arts. I have heard other people say that atemi (at least in their style) refers specifically to pressure point striking, rather than striking in general. If this is true (and I'm not entirely sure that it is), then O Sensei may have banned pressure point striking (a potentially very dangerous practice), without forbidding the use of a well placed fist to distract someone.
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Old 02-18-2004, 02:25 PM   #7
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Kashiwaya Sensei is coming to our dojo tomorrow for a three day workshop, and I will be sure to ask him about this question.

-Joe
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Old 02-18-2004, 02:44 PM   #8
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Re: O Sensei starts "No Atemi" Aikido?

Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
Does that mean atemi was taken out originally by O Sensei and reinstated later by Aikikai?
Don't know anything about the death-bed stuff, but close students--Shioda, Saito, Kisshomaru, Saotome, Kuroiwa--all taught/teach ATEMI and in the only texts bearing the founder's name, ATEMI figures prominently (punches, elbows, kicks, chin into ribs, etc.)

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Old 02-18-2004, 04:58 PM   #9
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Best Aikido the Masters Course or Best Aikido, I'm not sure which (don't have it in front of me) defines atemi as strikes to vital points (pressure points). If anyone took some of the atemi out (at least in his books) it would be nidai doshu in my opinion. I don't recall Aikido showing one atemi strike and only mentioning it briefly. Yet, the new books show atemi regularly and discuss it as well. Although we may all aspire to O'Sensei's level, we lowly students may have to rely on atemi.

Most of what I've heard is so far word of mouth which changes with time in most cases.
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Old 02-18-2004, 05:00 PM   #10
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P.S. I'm a strong proponent of atemi to pressure or vital points as being the transition between art and combat. My article on the topic is supposedly scheduled by Black Belt Magazine to come out in the August issue.
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Old 02-18-2004, 05:34 PM   #11
Nafis Zahir
 
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Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
P.S. I'm a strong proponent of atemi to pressure or vital points as being the transition between art and combat. My article on the topic is supposedly scheduled by Black Belt Magazine to come out in the August issue.
I agree. Pressure points are a good transition between art and combat. I learned pressure points (and still study them) when I use to do Kung Fu. I've also been in classes where a white belt, unknowingly, was doing ikkyo, and happend to place there thumb on a pressure point on my hand and really got me moving. Keep in mind that they did not realize it and their grip was not even strong, but when it comes to pressure points, you don't need much strength, unless you plan to do some serious damage. I was also once told that Aikido did have strikes, but that they were severe and could only be taught after reaching shodan.

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Old 02-18-2004, 08:54 PM   #12
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..."He said, "But there is no striking in aikido!", so I hit him again"....

- T.K. Chiba

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Old 02-19-2004, 08:46 AM   #13
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O Sensei starts "No Atemi" Aikido?

Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
Not even in taigi number 19?

-- Jun
I'm sorry. I don't understand your comment. Could you please clarify?

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Old 02-19-2004, 09:23 AM   #14
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The question is "Did O Sensei ban the use of atemi in aikido?" From Nafis' response, the indication is "Yes".

As indicated from other responses, atemi has long been taught in aikido. Using atemi with technique makes for effective aikido. But this has no relevance to the initial question.

With all the people practicing atemi with technique, I really don't think that K. Tohei had enough authority to ban its practice. Personally, I will look forward to reading John Riggs' article.

Last edited by tedehara : 02-19-2004 at 09:25 AM.

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Old 02-19-2004, 09:25 AM   #15
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Re: O Sensei starts "No Atemi" Aikido?

Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
I'm sorry. I don't understand your comment. Could you please clarify?
Would you say that taigi number 19 does not contain any atemi?

-- Jun

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Old 02-19-2004, 09:37 AM   #16
tedehara
 
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
Would you say that taigi number 19 does not contain any atemi?

-- Jun
If you're indicating that the attacker strikes, then yes - the Ki Society teaches atemi for the attacker. However the person doing the aikido technique - the nage - is not suppose to be striking.

In techniques when atemi was used, it might be indicated with an open hand. But in any taigi situation nage is not expected to "bop" their partner.

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Old 02-19-2004, 09:54 AM   #17
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Hi Ted - It is just plain wrong that Uehsiba is not seen to be doing atemi when he was older. I'm not sure about the photos, but definately in video footage I have seen several atemi and even a kick! (though he never made contact).

Within traditinal aikijitsu there are 3 stages of progression, where atemi tends to be focussed on early, and later almost entirely removed. In my mind aikido is a structure of body movement in which you do whatever you want. The aikido techniques are so well set up for delivering vital point combination strikes that I'm suprised that there is this idea that striking is not part of aikido.

I think failure in real situations is partly down to a lack of understanding of the word 'blending' and thus someone tries to force a joint lock on, as well as an inability to see openings for atemi.

An interesting story is when Uehsiba was challenged by a high ranking Judoka, and did a shuto to the jodokas hip, permanently damaging it. Ueshiba developed a TRAINING METHOD. If it is to be used for self-defence I think the openings and atemi opportunities are an essential part of the instruction. However these are rarely integrated directly into the paired training as we are mostly trying to learn the hard bit (blending). Aikido can be adapted from a situation where you need to b gentle, to a situation where you can kill. The standard training is just the core tool box.

Ian

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Old 02-19-2004, 11:26 AM   #18
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Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
If you're indicating that the attacker strikes, then yes - the Ki Society teaches atemi for the attacker. However the person doing the aikido technique - the nage - is not suppose to be striking.
OK. I was under the impression that in taigi 19 with such techniques as "Munetsuki Kokyunage Uchiwanage Kubikiri (neck cut)," "Munetsuki Kokyunage Zempo Nage Yokomenuchi," "Munetsuki Kokyunage Uchiwanage Menuchi," and "Munetsuki Kokyunage Shomenuchi" being included that they would be considered atemiwaza.
Quote:
In techniques when atemi was used, it might be indicated with an open hand. But in any taigi situation nage is not expected to "bop" their partner.
What if the same techniques that I listed above were practiced outside of a taigi situation?

-- Jun

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Old 02-19-2004, 12:00 PM   #19
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In response to that Jun, if you're tired after a day of work and you get one of those sprung on you as uke, you get wacked in the face, and still fall afterword. And in my case, your glasses get stuck in your dreadlocks. But I no longer practice with my glasses on, so its all good.

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Old 02-19-2004, 02:16 PM   #20
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(first part of the post directed towards Ian's comment)

Please refer to the later bit of my post where I talk about the possibility of the word "atemi" meaning different things to different people.

If there are videos of O Sensei punching and kicking people in later life, this is not neccessarily an indication that he was still practicing "atemi" when you define that word to be the striking of pressure points. It is one thing to hit someone, and quite another to hit someone in such a way as to activate pressure points.

Usually, pressure points require a very specific direction of application, and to achieve any of the really impressive results (knockouts, etc), the strike must generally activate three or more points either at the same time or in rapid succession.

Perhaps we also need to draw a distinction between atemi (defined as pressure point striking), and use of pressure points to augment technique (which I have heard referred to as tuite, but that word might have other meanings, so let's keep our discussion in english).

I have heard that the former can result in training fatalities if someone hits too many points at once, or if someone knocked unconcious does not recieve immediate attention, or if they are practiced too much. This seems like ample reason for O Sensei to want to ban their practice both on practical and philosophical grounds.

However, the second kind can be really quite neat to learn, and very helpful in augmenting technique. In fact, the way that many people do yonkyo is such an application.

I'm not sure I entirely agree with saying that these are a "good way to bridge" between practice of a martial ART and a self defense, but that is simply because not all people have all the same pressure points, and they are never in exactly the same place. I for one would never want to rest my personal safety on being able to accurately locate multiple nickel-sized points on my attacker's body with any kind of speed. But if you train to have these points as an added "bonus" to any technique you do, that's just gravy.
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Old 02-19-2004, 05:40 PM   #21
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Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
If you're indicating that the attacker strikes, then yes - the Ki Society teaches atemi for the attacker. However the person doing the aikido technique - the nage - is not suppose to be striking.

In techniques when atemi was used, it might be indicated with an open hand. But in any taigi situation nage is not expected to "bop" their partner.
I guess we have different experiences of Taigi 19. When uke attempts to punch me and I as nage side step to the outside and sweep his punching arm past and strike at his head with shomenuchi, I personally would call that using an atemi whether or not I actually struck him, but I guess that is just me.

I can think of any number of atemi that I have been taught by senior Ki Society teachers over the years.

My take on it is we simply don't do atemi when it would upset the rhythm of the throw and generally in my experience we are moving to a position relative the uke that makes a counter strike impossible (at least very hard). When we move inside we definitely do atemi.

But you post about the quote from Bernie Lau was interesting and I would still be interested in what anyone knows.

YMMV,

Craig
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Old 02-21-2004, 06:09 AM   #22
George S. Ledyard
 
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Atemi

This discussion could be resolved fairly easily. Take out the atemi and practice with a partner who has no intention of cooperating.

Saotome Sensei, who had fifteen years training under the Founder, stated that "if you know that your partner will not strike you, then all techniques are stoppable".

All techniques need to be appropriate to the specific energy given by an attacker. If the attacker knows there can be no atemi, he can shift his energy to make the aplication of any technique impossible. Normally, if the nage has moved correctly and is in the proper position doing this would create a suki and leave the attacker "open". But with no atemi the question would be: open for what?

I remember, one of the last times we had this discussion, Goldsbury Sensei corrected those that had maintained that Aikido was 70% or 90% atemi by pointing out that it was, in reality, 100% atemi.

Saotome Sensei taught us that "every throw you do is a strike which you are choosing not to do." In other words, in Aikido practice, atemi can be implicit rather than explicit. What forces an opponent to keep his energy dispersed so that you can apply a given technique is the possibility at any instant that nage can throw an atemi.

If you make some artifial "rule" that there is no atemi then Aikido is simply a dance like contact improvisation (also where there is no atemi). There would simply be no possibility of application of technique against a trained attacker. If you don't believe this then try it out. This isn't mysticism requiring many years of esoteric training. Just get an experienced partner, preferably one who doesn't share your own predisposition, and try it out.

As for some teacher or other banning atemi... I have hundreds of hours of video in my collection. I have video of Koichi Tohei using atemi, Kisshomaru Ueshiba using atemi, O-Sensei using atemi. Perhaps Tohei Sensei decided, for his own reasons to deemphasize the use of atemi in Aikido practice, but it was there in his technique.

Just look at the people whom O-sensei trained directly... certainly no one from the pre-war era maintained there was no atemi in Aikido. Of the post war era teachers some of the most notable would be teachers like Saito Sensei, Nishio sensei, Hikistuchi Sensei, Saotome Sensei, Chiba Sensei, etc. For every one of these men, atemi is an integral part of their Aikido technique. Is anyone out there maintaining that they all got it wrong? Somehow the whole bunch of them failed to understand the Founder and that a particular individual who may have chosen a different path was the only one who did get it right? I am sorry, I just can't buy it. But once again I say, don't take their word for it. Just practice with ukes who will throw combination attacks, who will resist your throws, who will tighten up when you try to apply a lock, or will slip any attept to grab them... then see.

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Old 02-21-2004, 09:02 AM   #23
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Excellent post Ledyard Sensei! Your explanation is dead on.

My experience is that the people who are able to throw me with either magical ease or no touch at all are the ones that would best be able to have destroyed me with an atemi.

After following your suggestion to train without possibility of atemi I would suggest trying to opposite. Let uke know that you intend to strike them with as much power as you can muster before throwing them. You will be amazed at how easy these throws will become without need to actually strike.

This of course will only work if uke behaves like he believes you, and has the requisite ukemi skills to prevent you from hurting him.

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Old 02-21-2004, 09:05 AM   #24
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Excellent post Ledyard Sensei! Your explanation is dead on.

My experience is that the people who are able to throw me with either magical ease or no touch at all are the ones that would best be able to have destroyed me with an atemi.

After following your suggestion to train without possibility of atemi I would suggest trying to opposite. Let uke know that you intend to strike them with as much power as you can muster before throwing them. You will be amazed at how easy these throws will become without need to actually strike.

This of course will only work if uke behaves like he believes you, and has the requisite ukemi skills to prevent you from hurting him.

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Old 02-21-2004, 10:37 AM   #25
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Systema and Atemi

Quote:
Mel Barker wrote:
Excellent post Ledyard Sensei! Your explanation is dead on.

My experience is that the people who are able to throw me with either magical ease or no touch at all are the ones that would best be able to have destroyed me with an atemi.

After following your suggestion to train without possibility of atemi I would suggest trying to opposite. Let uke know that you intend to strike them with as much power as you can muster before throwing them. You will be amazed at how easy these throws will become without need to actually strike.

This of course will only work if uke behaves like he believes you, and has the requisite ukemi skills to prevent you from hurting him.

Mel Barker
I was at a Systema workshop with Vladimir Vasiliev two weekends ago in Longmont, CO. He did a whole class on working with resistant opponents. He talked about how atemi is used to effect the opponent and position him for the takedown. He pointed out that sometimes you have a partner who initially wants to be a tough guy and he ignores the threat of the atemi (he demonstrated on one of his students with an atemi that didn't make contact; the student didn't flinch). He pointed out that "belief" was a crucial component in the use of atemi (he gave the student a real whack and you could see that it was painful and that he had to do the breathing exercises they are taught to disipate the energy of the strike). After the student had taken a real hit or two, when Vlad went to deliver an atemi the students whole body responded even though Vlad hadn't made contact. The Systema guys can deliver several of these strikes, often not even making contact and in doing so they can get the attacker to position his body in such a way as to make it unnecessary to use any more than finger tip pressure to dump him. It was amazing to watch.

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