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Old 02-06-2005, 05:38 PM   #1
Bryon Lichtenhan
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Iwama Atemi

I have a question for those who have trained with Morihiro Saito Sensei in regard to his Atemi. When striking with a fist Saito Sensei always had his middle finger knuckle pointed out. My question is why did he make this particular fist as opposed to a "regular" closed fist. I know plenty of possible reasons, but I am hoping to hear what Saito Sensei might have said about this. I am also wondering if anyone knows if this was taught to him by O'Sensei or if this was his own insight into the art.
Thank you,
Bryon
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Old 02-06-2005, 05:54 PM   #2
Jordan Steele
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Re: Iwama Atemi

To the best of my knowledge, that type of punch is usually directed somewhere around the stomach, but the knuckle is used to hit a a pressure point. I have seen it done a few times and read about it. Apparently there are a few pressure point areas around the torso that when struck a certain way can be devastating.
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Old 02-06-2005, 05:55 PM   #3
Greg Jennings
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Re: Iwama Atemi

It is not the only way that atemi is delivered. Look to Daito Ryu and the assumptions there for your answer.

Best regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 02-06-2005, 09:30 PM   #4
Huker
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Re: Iwama Atemi

A punch like that delivered to the liver can cause severe damage and may kill your opponent. I've been hit lightly there by that kind of punch. You can feel your whole body "rubberize" when you're hit there and it can be painful too. Ask your sensei about it, he or she would probably know.
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Old 02-06-2005, 09:51 PM   #5
Greg Jennings
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Re: Iwama Atemi

"Can you explain these differences in ippon dori?
The Headmaster's ippon dori comes from the period when people wore armor. This meant that thevulnerable. In the old form of ippon dori you raise your opponent's arm and thrust your dagger into that open area. It was said that in order to accomplish this you must raise the opponent's elbow and thrust underneath it, so I think that's probably why the non-armored version of the technique has been changed to something like "raise the opponent's elbow, execute an atemi to the armpit, then throw down and pin."

YMMV,

Greg Jennings
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Old 02-06-2005, 10:17 PM   #6
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Greetings Jennings Sensei,

I remember the first time you visited our dojo after I started and you addressed this way of atemi...You said it was originated in an older jujutsu form and the knuckle was raised to simulate a type of ring dagger used by the samurai, and that it was a way of keeping the ancient forms alive. Did I remember that correctly?...

Bryce
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Old 02-06-2005, 10:46 PM   #7
Steven
 
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Parker Sensei and many other high ranking Yoshinkan instructor's I've had the pleasure of practicing with use this hand position as well. So it's not just a Saito/Iwama thing.
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Old 02-06-2005, 11:48 PM   #8
justinc
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Another view of this comes from Hapkido (which in turn comes from the earlier arts mentioned previously in the thread). The knuckle punch can hit various areas that a normal closed fist can't. I've not seen it's use illustrated/demonstrated for body blows, only around the head. (In the 5 World HKD Federation empty hand forms, three of them use knuckle punches, all nominally directed at uke's face). For example, a punch to the face with a closed fist won't do much other than break a cheek bone or nose. They won't incapacitate the attacker. However, a knuckle punch will land in some nasty places like the inside of the eye socket, below the base of the jaw or where the skull attaches to the spine. Because of the natural cavities in various parts of the facial structure, the point of the raised knuckle on impact will tend to hit and slide into the cavity. Thus, if your aim is slightly off, the technique still works correctly, compared to a straight fist. Sort of a self-navigating blow, if you want to think of it that way.

Justin Couch
Student of life.
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Old 02-07-2005, 12:32 AM   #9
wxyzabc
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Hya guys

It`s pretty much a standard karate punch to have the middle knuckle protruding...probably been adapted from that maybe.

Really though I think it comes down to good form..most people haven`t really punched anyone properly in real life (thankfully) and certainly not in the dojo. If a properly directed punch (i.e. with the centre knuckle) isn`t executed then its pretty easy to instantly bruise your fist to the point when your hand/arm becomes useless....obviously not something thats wanted if you need to apply a technique or pin an opponent.

Lee
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Old 02-07-2005, 07:17 AM   #10
Greg Jennings
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Quote:
Bryce Montgomery wrote:
Greetings Jennings Sensei,

I remember the first time you visited our dojo after I started and you addressed this way of atemi...You said it was originated in an older jujutsu form and the knuckle was raised to simulate a type of ring dagger used by the samurai, and that it was a way of keeping the ancient forms alive. Did I remember that correctly?...
Bryce,

Close. It is straight out of Daito Ryu and is symbolic of using a dagger/push dagger/armor penetrator. Just like the finishing "tegatana" in Daito Ryu is symbolic of using a weapon to finish an opponent.

Being from Daito Ryu is basically why you see it in Iwama, Yoshinkan and others that draw more literally from Daito Ryu via the Founder.

I'm not saying that it's better/worse, more/less effective, I'm just stating what I heard directly from Saito Sensei (through an interpreter).

FWIW,

Last edited by Greg Jennings : 02-07-2005 at 07:28 AM.

Greg Jennings
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Old 02-07-2005, 11:23 AM   #11
jonreading
 
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Re: Iwama Atemi

My understanding of the atemi also implies the protruding knuckle in aikido probably came from daito ryu. Ippon atemi is popular in many other arts though, and not just localized to Japan.

I am fond of this striking as a way to practice atemi during technique. Students quickly realize that a strike doesn't need to be a meaty fist or brick-smashing punch to be effective. They also learn the importance of precision.
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Old 02-20-2005, 08:40 PM   #12
Alvin H. Nagasawa
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Re: Atemi

This form of Atemi was shown to me by my Late Instructor. It was shown in the advance class in my training. I have seen instructors from Hombu Dojo demonstrating the same form also. The protruding middle finger with a clenched fist for example: Like the tip of the Jo. That 3/4 inch round at the tip, could you imagine running full force into that Jo. This is the reason for that from of atemi, instead of a regular closed fist. The direction of the striking atemi is directed upwards into the shadow area's of a strike zone. If applied correctly internal injury's can be obtained. This is a very dangerous strike. That is why atemi is not recommended to beginners during there course of training. Control is needed a atemi is a strike used to cause a delay or distraction so that the nage if unarmed can control a uke with a weapon of sort. And thus controlling the situation and applying a technique to over come the attacker. A atemi should be used with caution and control, and not injure your partner when training. Atemi is used only to control the situation, but to make this form of strike effective, you have to move in to make it effective. So watch your Mai ai, this is another level of proficiency one has to over come in ones training.

Lone Wolf of San Jose
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Old 02-21-2005, 04:34 AM   #13
Dazzler
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Quote:
Lee Price wrote:
Hya guys

It`s pretty much a standard karate punch to have the middle knuckle protruding...probably been adapted from that maybe.

Really though I think it comes down to good form..most people haven`t really punched anyone properly in real life (thankfully) and certainly not in the dojo. If a properly directed punch (i.e. with the centre knuckle) isn`t executed then its pretty easy to instantly bruise your fist to the point when your hand/arm becomes useless....obviously not something thats wanted if you need to apply a technique or pin an opponent.

Lee
I'd go further than that Lee and warn anyone that hasnt practiced this strike to take care when hitting anything hard...like a forehead.

With the finger isolated in this way an untrained person can do a lot more than bruise themselves...same for finger spear strikes, ridgehands arc-hands and many other specialist strikes.

all have their place but you need to be careful that you apply the correct strike to the correct target.

Specifically with Saito sensei and his usage of this ...I've seen it applied as a strike to the temple from kotgaeshi which seems perfectly valid and I think as a strike to floating ribs from irimi nage.

I'm sure Iwama ryu guys have more to offer...and I've got a shodan in the dojo whos just joined me so I'll ask him too.

Cheers

D
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Old 02-21-2005, 07:37 AM   #14
ian
 
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Ueshiba can be seen using the middle knuckle repeatedly in videos, for several parts of the body (centre of upper lip, armpit, gall-bladder meridians near the floating ribs etc).

The direction of force when applying this type of strike has to be down the length of the joint - otherwise you can either damage your supporting thumb (though in many chinese martial arts they don't use the supporting thumb) or the knuckle just gets pushed in. The idea is to hit a smaller striking area. It's hard to say where he was aiming for without watching the particular strike. Places which could be commonly attacked with middle knuckle in aikido:
- between upper lip and nose (along centre-line)
- joint of jaw (about 1 thumb width from corner of jaw)
- just behind jaw - underneath ear lobe
- centre of armpit
- floating ribs
- hip joint
- on the baroreceptor in the neck (st7?)

You can strike the sternum with a single knuckle but a vertical fist or even heel of hand is often just as effective for this area.

Unfortuantely I do think that aikido, as it is currently taught, has lost some of it's 'background' which is very important and relates to the techniques. Ueshiba (according to J. Steven's biogarphy) also utilised pressure points prior to aikido, and was known to be able to knock someone out 'with a single touch'.

Ian

PS. I take no responsbility for damage caused by any of these strikes

Last edited by ian : 02-21-2005 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 02-21-2005, 07:51 AM   #15
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Hey Ian, I already knocked out three people and tried various nerve strikes to others before I read the disclaimer at the end of your post, can I defer the lawsuits to you, or just use more atemi on them?
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Old 02-22-2005, 11:07 PM   #16
Colbs
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Re: Iwama Atemi

The protruding middle knuckle is a common punch used when targeting specific spots (i.e pressure points), the founder was well known to aim for these targets, hence why he used it a lot.

The strike is common to almost all striking based TMAs. In Aikido you'll see it employed most commonly to hit the floating rib (bottom-most rib).

The problem with this strike is that it is highly directed, and only useful if you use it to hit certain points, unless you're a trained striker don't bother, use a closed fist or palm strike because if you miss the target point you will do stuff all damage.

Unfortunitely a lot of Aikidoka have seen the founder and some of his students (those that had trained in other striking arts) using this punch and assumed that it was somehow more powerful than a closed fist and as such use it all the time, and without direction.

My teacher studied 7 years of karate before aikido and uses this particular strike often, but he is capable of spotting the target points and hitting them reliably. I on the other-hand having nearly no striking training use a closed fist and aim for the general area of the target point just in case I get lucky and hit it.
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Old 03-03-2005, 09:32 PM   #17
Ibaraki Bryan
 
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Re: Iwama Atemi

Having been poked with a knuckle when training and otherwise, I can say that even when I've firmed up my abdomen, a knuckle poke in most any spot can annoy or distract me. I know I'm not the pinnacle of martial (glad I caught that typo -- I started to type marital) standing but I think anyone who gets a little poke in the side as part of a technique will be distracted at least a little bit as well. That's the point of the atemi, right?

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