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Old 03-29-2004, 11:51 PM   #1
taras
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what exactly is an atemi?

I had a discussion with my mate at the dojo yesterday about this. According to him (he has some previous experience in ju-jitsu) atemi literally means a vital strike, and as such always executed as a strike with either an elbow or a fist.

I always looked at atemi as a means to make your uke move in certain way, or stop him from moving, or just take his attention. And as such it does not have to be a strike, if I just point two fingers at his eyes and make him move - that's all I wanted so I am not going to hit him if I don't have to. My mate said this was not an atemi but 'ki dissipation'

I would appreciate everyone's input on what do you think atemi is.

Thank you
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Old 03-30-2004, 12:44 AM   #2
PeterR
 
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Re: what exactly is an atemi?

Quote:
Taras Poltorak (taras) wrote:
I had a discussion with my mate at the dojo yesterday about this. According to him (he has some previous experience in ju-jitsu) atemi literally means a vital strike, and as such always executed as a strike with either an elbow or a fist.
Your mate is correct in the first part but I think wrong in the context of Aikido with respect to the second.

Atemi can be executed by any part of the body to any part of the body. Vital does not necessarily mean a place where if you hit hard enough the person will die but that there will be some debilitating effect. This is opposed to joint manipulation. It, in my opinion, also precludes anything where contact is not the intent. Waving your hand or pointing fingers is just a distraction as is a feint.

Look at the five atemi waza and you will understand what I mean.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-30-2004, 04:59 AM   #3
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Re: what exactly is an atemi?

Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
It, in my opinion, also precludes anything where contact is not the intent. Waving your hand or pointing fingers is just a distraction as is a feint.

Look at the five atemi waza and you will understand what I mean.
There's a bit of friendly debate about this point... Whether I intend to strike is not the defining element in my opinion; it is that uke believes that I intend to and can't tell the difference, therefore is forced to put his attention on it.

I agree that pointing fingers and waving hands are not atemi but rather "distraction techniques".

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-30-2004, 09:42 AM   #4
Richard Cardwell
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As far as I have heard it defined, an atemi is a strike which is aimed at a targeted point on uke, whether to cause injury at that point or cause them to move in such a way that the shift in balance can be exploited by nage/tori.
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Old 03-30-2004, 10:24 AM   #5
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IMHO, atemi can be a strike or a feint providing it changes the uke's priorities. The same word has several meaning especially in difference context and in reference to different arts.

I love either/or questions.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 03-30-2004, 10:47 AM   #6
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Taras,

There have been many threads looking at every aspect of atemi. The most recent thread, and very through, was this one:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...5&pagenumber=4

I highly recommend looking this over. Also, go to the top of the page and click on "Search". Punch in the keyword: atemi and see what else comes up.

My opinion is to keep an open mind on the subject. Everyone has their own views based according to how they were taught or what they have read. I think there are multiple definitions of Atemi and key to it is what is your Sensei teaching you and how do you intend to use it?

Figure those two things out and you'll know what you need to know about atemi.

Good luck! Keep training!

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Old 03-30-2004, 01:42 PM   #7
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My understanding of atemi is similar to George's; in our school we emphasize both that it is not a strike (though it could be), and the intention, which is what causes uke to "change his priorities," as Lynn says. My sensei stresses that my intention and projection must be honest; even if I do not wish to strike, my intention is to go through uke - my projection (when I do it right) causes him/her to respond whether my hand makes contact or not.

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Old 03-30-2004, 01:43 PM   #8
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"Atemi is a pre-emptive strike directed toward an opponent's vital points; atmei is employed to put an opponent off balance or to prevent a counterattack." Best Aikido page 30.

I agree with George on the distraction issue. If the intent is not perceived or there, it is distraction. To me it's block or get hit before it is atemi. Although, I think there are some issue than expansion of the definition could address.
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Old 03-30-2004, 07:15 PM   #9
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Re: Re: Re: what exactly is an atemi?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
There's a bit of friendly debate about this point... Whether I intend to strike is not the defining element in my opinion; it is that uke believes that I intend to and can't tell the difference, therefore is forced to put his attention on it.
I intrinsically like the turn around about what uke believes but it is a bit problematic.

Let me give you an example. During tanto randori feints are often used everything from a slight movement of tanto to a shift in posture. Sometimes your opponent reacts and offers himself up even though he doesn't intend to. You have gotten a reaction but there is no way you could call what you did atemi.

At higher levels (ie. when toshu isn't nearly so much of a sucker) the above happens infrequently. To get a reaction tanto must intend to strike. That intent is picked up by toshu just as lack of intent is less likely to gain a reaction.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-30-2004, 09:11 PM   #10
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Re: Re: Re: what exactly is an atemi?

Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
During tanto randori feints are often used everything from a slight movement of tanto to a shift in posture. Sometimes your opponent reacts and offers himself up even though he doesn't intend to. You have gotten a reaction but there is no way you could call what you did atemi.

At higher levels (ie. when toshu isn't nearly so much of a sucker) the above happens infrequently. To get a reaction tanto must intend to strike. That intent is picked up by toshu just as lack of intent is less likely to gain a reaction.
Sure, no question... but it isn't that you are doing or not doing "atemi" here. It's the possibility that suckers the opponent into reacting when he shouldn't.

A thrust takes place so quickly that the defender must react instantly or have little hope of being on time. So a feint is a "possible" strike which doesn't materialize. If he failed to start reacting and indeed I did actualize the strike his parry or movement would be too late.

Why do experienced people get better at not reacting to this? Their ability to control their space is better and they can recognize a movement which really could hit from a very similar movement which could not. They also develop the ability to react much later in a movement (they can read the ques which telegraph an attack much better than a lesser skilled person, they are more relaxed and therefore faster; they force an attacker to really commit before they react).

If an atemi is simply a blow delivered to a vital point then this isn't atemi but if a wider definition is used to define atemi, say any use of destructive energy, whether actualiized or held in potential, which is used to effect the opponent in a confrontation, then a feint as you describe does fit the bill.

In the tanto work you guys do, it is my undertanding that, the defender cannot deliver atemi to the attacker with the knife. So one of the two comes in with no expextation or need to worrry about those openings. In a real knife defense situation, not only could the attacker feint with the knife to create an opening but so can I. An eye flick or a kick to the knee would be possiblities and I would be able to potentially produce the same response in my attacker which he is trying to create in me.

In either case the "response" created in the opponent occurs because of this energy which communicates to him the possibility of being struck.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-30-2004, 09:33 PM   #11
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what exactly is an atemi?

Great response thanks.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
In the tanto work you guys do, it is my undertanding that, the defender cannot deliver atemi to the attacker with the knife. So one of the two comes in with no expextation or need to worrry about those openings. In a real knife defense situation, not only could the attacker feint with the knife to create an opening but so can I. An eye flick or a kick to the knee would be possiblities and I would be able to potentially produce the same response in my attacker which he is trying to create in me.
True in tanto randori/shiai but other tanto work gets done. Some of the responses are very much sen no sen timing.

Question with respect to your real situation - are both equally armed? Frankly speaking in an unequal situation I doubt very much I would be actively feinting (possibly fainting ). I believe I would resort very much to go no sen timing.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-30-2004, 09:47 PM   #12
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what exactly is an atemi?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
In the tanto work you guys do, it is my undertanding that, the defender cannot deliver atemi to the attacker with the knife. So one of the two comes in with no expextation or need to worrry about those openings. In a real knife defense situation, not only could the attacker feint with the knife to create an opening but so can I.
Interesting post. This again brings in the question of what the definition of atemi really is. In our shiai tanto work, one can use Atemi waza, which is like a blow throw, and it can be used for feinting to entice Tanto into making a different area of his body vulnerable to technique. I often fake a gyakugamae ate (sokumen) and as Tanto reacts (by pulling his head back) or attacks with the thrust, I drop the attacking arm onto his arm and go into kotegaeshi. In this case the atemi waza works as a distraction if Tanto reacts, or as a technique in itself if he does so too late. I use percussive atemi in much the same way as well, but not in shiai tanto work.

Of course being faced with a real knife attacker I'd be cagey to feint a strike and expose my wrists to being slit.

Just some thoughts.

LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 03-30-2004 at 09:49 PM.

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Old 03-31-2004, 12:42 AM   #13
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what exactly is an atemi?

Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
Great response thanks.

True in tanto randori/shiai but other tanto work gets done. Some of the responses are very much sen no sen timing.

Question with respect to your real situation - are both equally armed? Frankly speaking in an unequal situation I doubt very much I would be actively feinting (possibly fainting ). I believe I would resort very much to go no sen timing.
This takes us a bit outside of the usual Aikido repertoire where the tanto technique is very simplistic. In a "real" situation I would be more likely to use these concepts but use the techniques of kali / silat. It is not unusual for them to initiate a cut or thrust, fully expecting that the opponent will attempt to cut the exposed wrist as you mentioned, then they redirect their own technique to cut the opponent's cutting wrist. Even if I wasn't armed, it would be far better for me to entice the opponent into cutting my arm than to deliver a finishing blow to my center. If I could entice him to go for something less than lethal, it would be good as long as I was entering decisively at the same time.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 04-25-2004, 12:52 PM   #14
Chris Birke
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Re: what exactly is an atemi?

George, I'm with you on kali concepts. Is aikido tanto technique derived from sword? The no feinting no sen strategy seems far more pracitical in that context.
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