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Old 05-31-2005, 06:47 AM   #1
mj
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Atemi Question

I was fortunate enough to attend a 4 day seminar over the long weekend (not the Expo sadly) and had a great deal of help with my Aikido from such branches as Shodokan, Aikikai and Yoshinkan.

On the last day we had a 3 hour class to finish off with during which I had occassion to practice with a 1st dan who presented me with a problem that I felt I did not deal with properly. (I am a 3rd kyu)

We were following one of the instructors instructions and applying a traditional form of ikkyo/oshi-taoshi/ikkajo. Uke would grab my upper sleeve (kata-dori) in gyaku hanmi, I would step offline to the outside, apply atemi to his face and use my movement to create the technique.

Your most basic technique.

The trouble is - as I applied atemi to his face, he stood looking bored into the distance, watching what other people were doing around the mat, neither did he make any attempt to block the strike. Having no kuzushi I could not apply the waza properly on him, for which he berated me saying I was not doing it properly.

I smiled and tried again, whipping a vicious hammer type punch from above this time to smash him in the face, stopping close enough to feel the warmth from his lips. No movement, no blocking and no acknowledgement at all of the strike. This time he berated me for using the wrong strike.

"Don't you think you should block it?" I asked him. He replied that he didn't think that it was important.

He grabbed me kata-dori with his right hand once more. This time I grabbed his right elbow with my left hand, pulled my right fist up to my drawn back right shoulder (boxer style) and threw 3 hard punches at his face in close succession. He looked to his left to see what was happening over there. He did not try to protect himself in any way, he did not attempt to deflect or block the atemi. He just ignored them because he knew I was not going to hit him

To me this was a waste of time for both of us.

Should I have hit him?

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Old 05-31-2005, 06:59 AM   #2
grondahl
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Re: Atemi Question

Yes. At least one in the stomach, just as a wake upp call.

Last edited by grondahl : 05-31-2005 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 05-31-2005, 07:01 AM   #3
aikidocapecod
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Re: Atemi Question

No. That would have not been the correct thing to do. When one is that unwilling to help a student of a lower rank, then striking will only induce a violent reaction. One for which you would not be able to defend...most likely...

A Dan(any rank) that has that much disinterest in the learning of his/her fellow Aikidoka, should not be on the mat at all. But as we have no control over that, we must just control ourselves as best we can.
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Old 05-31-2005, 07:47 AM   #4
jss
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Re: Atemi Question

In my opinion you shouldn't have hit him. I can understand people who would, it is one way of dealing with uncooperative ukes. I prefer trying to work with what they give me (which is both a technical and a mental challenge).

If I give your uke more credit than he probably deserves, I'd say that he might have wanted you to use his kata dori grip better to unbalance him and not just the atemi (from your post I it looks like your kuzushi depends largely on the atemi). However, if that were the case, he should have said so, especially since you clearly asked if he shouldn't block your strike.
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Old 05-31-2005, 08:22 AM   #5
grondahl
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Re: Atemi Question

If the atemi to the face is a part of the technique demonstrated by the teacher, you should hit his face. After all itīs practice in prearranged forms. Both tori and Uke have to fulfill their part of the deal to have a good learning experience. Unless of course both parties have agreed on anything different.

You should anyhow be able to get kuzushi on uke without atemi, but that feels like a different question.

Last edited by grondahl : 05-31-2005 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 05-31-2005, 08:52 AM   #6
mj
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Re: Atemi Question

I could of course have created kuzushi in another way, or indeed merely have changed to an ura variant, different waza or so on.

My concern was the total lack of any reaction at all to my atemi, whether traditional or increasingly threatening.

When I asked him if he should block the atemi and he replied that it was not important, my first thought was to knock him on his ass and ask him if he thought it was important then.

On the simplest level my atemi gives him the opportunity to practice protecting his face, shows him if he goes onto his back foot, if he turns, what openings appear and myriad circumstances that are created.

To stand and casually look around at other people while I am striking at his face absolutely begs for something to happen. I do not mean I was enraged or angry, upset or annoyed. To be frank I found it quite amusing. Although I did not hit him (god knows I have a bad enough reputation lol) I have to wonder if I let him down by being the better man at the time.

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Old 05-31-2005, 09:00 AM   #7
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Re: Atemi Question

Quote:
Mark Johnston wrote:
I have to wonder if I let him down by being the better man at the time.
Don't worry. He wouldn't notice

There are many odd attitudes shown on the tatami. What you describe is one of them, and I bet we've all come across it.
What to do?

When people don't want to learn, there is no point in trying to teach them.

You could have asked him to show you how to do it, since he could not accept what you were doing at all.
I'm not sure that would have been very interesting to you, but at least a way to spend the time until you could change partner

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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Old 05-31-2005, 09:17 AM   #8
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Atemi Question

Well, next time something like this happens, why not use shomen ate for your atemi, and plant him? Maybe then he'll pay more attention to who he's training with. Of course, he might get up and plant you back...but then, you'd be paying attention, so...

Its a tough question. I know I've been paying more attention to the instructor at times when working with a partner and trying to learn the form. I can think of one time when it must have seemed rude and somewhat pointless to a partner. Still learning...
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-31-2005, 09:17 AM   #9
rob_liberti
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Re: Atemi Question

I would have praticed hitting him and pulling it at the last minute just like you did. That is great practice. I haven't cared if the person falls down in a long time. I don't judge success based on what they do. I just manage myself as best as I can to have the best practice I can have in that situation until the teacher hopefully comes by to help or they change partners. I explain to my juniors - because that is my roll. If it is a senior, then I leave it up to their seniors to help them. My physical feedback is enough for them.

Hitting someone "skin hard" would work only if that is the agreed upon standard in the situation. If that is not the agreed upon standard I'd say you did the best you could.

Rob
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Old 05-31-2005, 09:27 AM   #10
gstevens
 
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Re: Atemi Question

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote:
You could have asked him to show you how to do it, since he could not accept what you were doing at all.
I'm not sure that would have been very interesting to you, but at least a way to spend the time until you could change partner
There is definitely some Ego here. Remember we PRACTICE aikido, just like Doctors PRACTICE medicine, only difference is that we rarely kill anyone. So the technique didn't work because the UKE was not ATTACKING YOU! What are you going to do with no energy to work with? Create some by punching him in the noggin? That might be more energy than you wanted!!!! (Definitely seems like it could be a lot!)

I was thinking about starting a thread on Atemi, and maybe will now. I have huge issues with them. I watch the people in our Dojo that are really good at atemi. The best is probably sensei, (you know that he is not going to hit you in the face, at least no one tells stories of getting hit in the face But the intention that he puts behind Atemi-es is such that there is no way that you can stand there. Heck I am bigger than sensei, I know that he is not going to intentionally hit me in the kisser, and yet there is no way that my body is not getting out of the way. He has tried to explain this to me about a dozen times, I still don't get it. Last time we worked on it, he came by me on the mat, and as I was throwing an atemi asked who was getting hit, apparently the look on my face looked like I was the one receiving the Atemi not my uke.....Sigh..... and that was after working on them for over an hour.....

You learned a lot through this episode, which is what that mat is for. I would have probably done something completely stupid, like asked to switch roles again, and then stood there and not moved for his atemi. Just to see what he thought the physical lesson was about. Then again I am in a stage where I am pushing my Ukemi as far as I can

Last edited by gstevens : 05-31-2005 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 05-31-2005, 09:30 AM   #11
raul rodrigo
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Re: Atemi Question

I would have hit him. It would have been my job to give him an honest strike, and a disservice to a yudansha to pull it back. Maybe you would then get into a real scuffle at that point, but at least it would have come about because you were trying to do the right technique. And to me that's all right.
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Old 05-31-2005, 09:35 AM   #12
happysod
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Re: Atemi Question

Quote:
I would step offline to the outside, apply atemi to his face
Mark, as a point of interest, did your initial movement off the line actually take his balance or was the atemi on its own meant to destabilize uke? Perhaps the other person was waiting for your initial irimi to have an effect before acknowledging your atemi? [sorry, devils advocate mode today]
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Old 05-31-2005, 09:52 AM   #13
mj
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Re: Atemi Question

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
Mark, as a point of interest, did your initial movement off the line actually take his balance or was the atemi on its own meant to destabilize uke? Perhaps the other person was waiting for your initial irimi to have an effect before acknowledging your atemi? [sorry, devils advocate mode today]
Hi Ian.

My initial movement had no effect on him either as his grip of my arm/sleeve was empty - he cared as little for gripping me as he did for me striking him. In my opinion the atemi is meant to stop uke following up as I step offline...but I have also found that in real life an atemi like this can actually increase the strength and 'pull' in ukes grip which is just as good.

There is no need to apologise, and I can see where everyone is coming from with their views.

The instructor was not part of the equation, Ron - but I don't think uke was being rude either. I got the feeling he had never been punched in the mouth before so he did not appreciate this part of the practice.

My quandary is specifically that I failed him by letting him get away with it. In the same was as if I had been jumping every time he threw me instead of allowing myself to be thrown by his technique.

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Old 05-31-2005, 09:58 AM   #14
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Atemi Question

Your quandry is why I suggested shomen ate... that usually wakes someone up, yet in a (relatively) safe manner. Did this person train in the yoshinkan?

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-31-2005, 10:04 AM   #15
mj
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Re: Atemi Question

Ron why ask if they train in the Yoshinkan?

I'm not going to punch someone in the mouth if they will just punch me back...will I?

btw this seminar was attended by Gadi Shorr and his young friend Alon, who are currently training in Yoshinkan combined with Brazilian JJ. They are entering the World Championships in Brazil quite soon I think.

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Old 05-31-2005, 10:06 AM   #16
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Atemi Question

Quote:
Guy Stevens wrote:
... (you know that he is not going to hit you in the face, at least no one tells stories of getting hit in the face But the intention that he puts behind Atemi-es is such that there is no way that you can stand there. Heck I am bigger than sensei, I know that he is not going to intentionally hit me in the kisser, and yet there is no way that my body is not getting out of the way.
I agree with what Guy says above. You got a very good lesson about "intent". You don't have to hit people; they have to feel deep in their subconscious decision making centers that you're going to hit them and that they need to move away from the atemi. It can be done in slow motion and it still works. Even when they know consciously that you aren't going to hit them and hurt them and you go slow (full of real intent) and strike through the target...they'll move.

The person you were training with may not have intended to give you this lesson, but it's there for you to learn anyway.

Understanding atemi at this level is very difficult for some people. Find someone that can do it and learn. This will change your practice.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-31-2005, 10:16 AM   #17
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Atemi Question

Mainly because I'd be surprised is someone training under the teachers I've heard of in GB would get yudansha status and not respond to atemi. Nothing nefarious, just currious...

Best,
RT

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-31-2005, 10:24 AM   #18
mj
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Re: Atemi Question

Ron I should merely have said no. He was not from the Yoshinkan.

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Old 05-31-2005, 10:34 AM   #19
aikidocapecod
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Re: Atemi Question

A few responded with...I would have hit him.

well....again I think that is not the proper action.
Let's look at it from a totally different point of view. This uncooperative Uke has a wife and 3 kids. He is the person who provides for his family. He gets struck in the face and is out of work for any length of time. His family suffers. I think that making Uke fall to the floor does not outweigh damage that could be done to him/her......and the possible harm to the family.

This is just my opinion.......

Next time, rather than strike Uke....just take an index finger to his/her face and give a gentle nudge.
I think Uke will move somewhat and perhaps that movement can be used to encourage him/her to move and practice the technique.

BUT....(again...just my opinion...) actually stiking Uke hard in the face to get compliance my have consequences to others outside the dojo.....is that really worth the risk????
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Old 05-31-2005, 10:52 AM   #20
mj
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Re: Atemi Question

He's doing a martial art, Larry.

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Old 05-31-2005, 10:57 AM   #21
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Atemi Question

In such case you don't need to hit him, simply push your hand against his face strongly. if there is reaction you work on it. If not, continue to push, if he goes down, you are done, if only bends back, you can choke him nicely.
usually next time he block your strike, if not, you may repeat it every time increase intensivity of your technique.

very nice practice, by the way.

Nagababa

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Old 05-31-2005, 11:14 AM   #22
aikidocapecod
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Re: Atemi Question

Mark,
I agree, studying a martial art increases the potential for injury. But if an injury can be prevented by simply deciding NOT TO PROVE A POINT....is that not the best solution? If this disagreeable Uke has a family, and is out of work for a time just because he was a dope....was proving the point worth the possible harm to the family?

As I have stated....this is just my own opinion and not right or wrong...just opinion...
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Old 05-31-2005, 11:48 AM   #23
mj
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Re: Atemi Question

Larry...I would agree with you if it was a real life situation. The higher ideals of aikido would, hopefully, take precedence in such cases. We do not disagree.

On the mat however this man wearing a black belt is meant to be my attacker. We practice together for *mutual* benefit. Standing pretending that you are not being hit is perhaps what someone in shock would do when being attacked, an attacker would not.

There is no point to be proved, do you think he would have stood dreamily staring at other things if the 5th dan instructor had called him up to be uke and had thrown a punch to his face?

When it was his turn, you know, every time he made atemi towards me you can be sure I protected myself.

Larry whilst I understand what you are saying about the repercussions possible...the fact that there was no resolution is what concerns me. The fact that it may have taken a punch in the mouth to resolve the situation strikes me as deeply ironic.

If I may recount another situation during the seminar I was practicing with Alon, an Israeli Yoshinkan/BJJ fighter and there were a few minor distancing problems (that were not really problems because I knew he was thinking about takedowns) and because we had had some good practice together the next time he got too close I just headbutted him. We both had a good laugh about it. Problem, resolution, good training.

Please don't confuse my disappointment for misplaced aggression. I am enjoying the feedback.

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Old 05-31-2005, 12:00 PM   #24
aikidocapecod
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Re: Atemi Question

Mark

I did not think for a minute that there was unprovoked aggression on your part. I was merely stating my thoughts on the situation.....as it would pertain to anybody, not you in particular. I agree with you that this Aikidoka, whose rank is above yours, was obviously more interested in being someplace else on the mat.
I have encountered this situation in the past. Though it was quite a long time ago. Since I have been a student of William Gleason Sensei, I can say that none of his students from the most experienced to the newest newbie has that type of problem. Gleason Sensei's dojo is a great place to train because we all want to work with and help each other.

Seminars, such as that you were in, will draw students from all walks of the Aikido world. And unfortunately, the only thing required to be left at the door is your $check$. Too bad there is not a shelf at the door for EGOs!!!!
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Old 05-31-2005, 12:45 PM   #25
aikidoc
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Re: Atemi Question

What I sometimes do when people don't pay attention to an atemi or act like it is not real is to give them a little tap initially, then I immediately follow it with a little more aggressive tap-if they don't respond at that time I let them know that the next one is for real and they might want to block or pay attention or they are going to get hit. If that doesn't work, I bow out and say I'm going to find a new partner that wants to train.
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