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Old 06-27-2005, 11:48 PM   #1
Tubig
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Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

I started aikido in the Tomiki Style. I was 16 it was fun and sporty. The first five techniques of the basic seventeen was called atemi waza, the rest incorporated the other pilars of aikido. Dai yon and the ancient techniques in Tomiki Aikido becomes less competative and sporty and more traditional.

14 years later I am now a son of Iwama Ryu (my old Tomiki ryu sensei sent us to Iwama Ryu because he going to live interstate). But why Iwama Ryu we asked him? His reply was: Aikido does not work without atemi; and you will learn proper traditional aikido (which is more than 50% atemi) in Iwama Ryu. The rest was history.

After practicing with hundreds of bodies throughout these years, I have seen aikidokas that do their techniques well without atemi, and I have equally practiced with aikidokas that depend on atemi alone to have a good technique.

The million dollar question is:

Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?
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Old 06-28-2005, 12:28 AM   #2
xuzen
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Yes, absolutely... especially when uke is trying to be non-conpliant.

But then maybe it is just that I am an ATEMI Kind of GUY.

Personally of the different waza that is available to me, I find atemi type of waza to be the simplest, easiest, most direct, least complicated waza to use. And when you are facing with 3 or 4 ukes coming fast at you duting jiyu waza / randori... you probably will not see me doing nikajo or yonkajo...

Boon.

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Old 06-28-2005, 12:40 AM   #3
Tubig
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Can one do koshinage without atemi? Yes

Can one do iriminage without atemi? Yes

Can one do shihonage without atemi? Yes

Can one do Hamni Handachi without atemi? Yes

Can one do kotegaeshi without atemi? Yes

* So is Atemi Necesssary for each of these pillars then?*
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Old 06-28-2005, 01:27 AM   #4
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Quote:
Cromwell Salvatera wrote:
Can one do koshinage without atemi? Yes ...
In the dojo, yes, probably every time.

However, I'd amend the statement to read: Can one do XYZ waza on a non-cooperative person without atemi? Sometimes.

So, in the dojo setting, atemi is not necessary at all to apply valid technique, as long as your partner is cooperative and participating in the kata.

However, since the founder and most of his students DID use atemi and have incorporated atemi into the waza/kata practiced in aikido (remember the infamous 99% statement?), then in those dojo of those lineages, atemi is strictly necessary, because it is part of the system part of the theory, and part of the practice.

On the other hand, how can you practice anything resembling effective technique if you don't understand the attacks (atemi and others), how can you learn what you're supposed to be doing to counter them? In this case, it is essential to learn atemi to be a good uke, whether or not your flavor of aikido has nage/tori using strikes.

Chuck

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Old 06-28-2005, 01:55 AM   #5
JJF
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

This topic pops up ever so often, but I always feel that this discussion is without meaning unless we first agree on what constitutes the term 'atemi'. In some styles it is a strike/punch to the face of your uke, in the style I practice it is something different. Bear this in mind when reading my reply to the question:

Atemi is essential... not as a strike but as a potential strike. Without awareness of the possible atemis throughout the many steps of a technique it is likely nage/tori will use excessive power rather than movement of the body. Understanding atemi is - in my opinion - the basis of understanding irimi, body movement, cutting, maai and much more.

I seldom strike uke with my hand but I always strive to be in a position where I could strike him if need be. That is - the way I see it - atemi. In short: Without atemi - it's not aikido the way I see it.

Just my point of view.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

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Old 06-28-2005, 02:04 AM   #6
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Jorgen's point should be well taken. In any debate or discussion you have to get the right semantic background in order to facilitate the communication. Given, Jorgen's definition of Atemi, I would find myself in agreement with his position.
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Old 06-28-2005, 03:10 AM   #7
Charlie
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Atemi is always there - it will always BE there! The only question is does the practitioner utilize it. Just because a person chooses to not "throw" an atemi doesn't mean that it isn't contained in the technique.

I also have to agree with others...which definition of atemi? Because there is a lot more than strikes/punches that constitute an "atemi".

Charles Burmeister
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Old 06-28-2005, 03:33 AM   #8
Amir Krause
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Quote:
However, I'd amend the statement to read: Can one do XYZ waza on a non-cooperative person without atemi? Sometimes.

I think you have answered the question here. It is possible to apply several techniques without atemi, even against a resisting person, given the person does not know what is coming, and Tori does everything very well - takes great position at exact timing and succeeds in gaining good Kuzushi.

However, one can not trust on being perfect every time, the atemi grants you some "error margin". Further, at least the way I am taught, some techniques use atemi in the first contact to facilitate the kuzushi, since the attacker is unlikely to loose his balance without it. Naturally, in these later cases the atemi in inherent in the technique, and in most cases, it is not a strike to the face rather some other move.

Amir
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Old 06-28-2005, 03:41 AM   #9
Paul Kerr
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Yes.

Paul Kerr
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Old 06-28-2005, 07:04 AM   #10
Nick Simpson
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Id say Yes.

But not everyones idea of good aikido is the same...

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 06-28-2005, 07:18 AM   #11
seank
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Very interesting question, and I think a lot depends on your personal perspective.

Coming from a Kyokushin Karate background, I turned to Aikido because I wanted to practice a martial art where you don't need to depend on actually hitting someone. It's very easy to kick/punch/etc. indiscriminately, but much harder to effectively use these as a deterrent or incentive to move an opponent.

That said, our practice of atemi is very much as some of the posts described; an incentive for uke to move where/how you want, whilst giving you a margin of error.

Personally I think the answer to this question lying in that atemi is a necessary part of Aikido, but at the same time it is how you use atemi that makes the difference. Using this to off-balance uke and to put yourself in a good position without physically hitting them is not a bad place to be
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Old 06-28-2005, 10:52 AM   #12
aikidoc
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Sandai Doshu defines atemi as strikes to vital points. I discuss this issue in the June 2005 Black Belt Magazine article. I have included survey results and a fairly comprehensive review of the literature.

John
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Old 06-28-2005, 01:19 PM   #13
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Yes it is.
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Old 06-28-2005, 01:24 PM   #14
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Good replies so far.

I like Jorgen's approach regarding what one's definition of atemi is, since this is very important to one's understanding and the resulting tactical application of it in Aikido.

From the perspective of Cromwell's Tomiki (Shodokan??) training I can understand why he asks this question, since one learns to apply waza very effectively in the face of serious resistance without using or needing percussive atemi.

From my take and experience, atemi is not necessary for the application of effective Aikido waza against a resisting and serious opponent whether inside the dojo or out. As Amir indicated, one needs to have a thorough understanding of kuzushi, timing and positioning principles. However, training in Atemi waza is necessary for holistic and complete Aikido training imho. So it is necessary for good Aikido training.

Just my 2 cents.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 06-28-2005, 01:35 PM   #15
Adam Alexander
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Quote:
Charles Burmeister wrote:
Atemi is always there - it will always BE there! The only question is does the practitioner utilize it. Just because a person chooses to not "throw" an atemi doesn't mean that it isn't contained in the technique.
Here, here.
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Old 06-28-2005, 03:27 PM   #16
Drew Scott
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Quote:
Charles Burmeister wrote:
Atemi is always there - it will always BE there! The only question is does the practitioner utilize it. Just because a person chooses to not "throw" an atemi doesn't mean that it isn't contained in the technique.
It seems to me that the *opportunity* for atemi is instrinsic to the techniques, but that atemi is only present if you understand and choose to use that potential. To paraphrase (poorly) something I heard in a class a while back: "Aikido is NOT passive. You continuously create opportunities to do harm, but you choose to be merciful." If you train in an environment where the atemi is never mentioned, nor understanding of it encouraged, your perception of those openings, and consequently your ability/willingness to utilize them could very well be nil. Where then would the atemi be in your Aikido?

Just my $.02

Regards,
Drew
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Old 06-28-2005, 03:51 PM   #17
Philippe Cox
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Atemi is essential, in daily training.

Without it, you're missing one of the pillars of aikido.
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Old 06-28-2005, 06:28 PM   #18
maikerus
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Quote:
Philippe Cox wrote:
Atemi is essential, in daily training.

Without it, you're missing one of the pillars of aikido.
Very true.

One thing to think about is that if the Atemi takes the uke out for the count then you don't need the rest of the technique.

However...you should still practice the rest of the technique for when that atemi doesn't take uke out.

Then again...if you use atemi all the way through the technique then you probably won't need the last pin...except when you need it because your uke shrugged off the atemi.

So...sometimes it might be useful to really practice atemi strongly and try and finish a technique with that. Other times it might be worthwhile to add the atemi more for muscle memory and not as strong so you can practice the rest of the technique. And maybe other times don't use it at all and work on how to move uke through whatever contact you have.

In any event...having atemi as a tool to use is important. How you train for it is up to the instructor...and what you are working on within any particular technique.

To echo Larry's point...atemi is important for good holistic Aikido training and may or may not be used in the application of a technique.

Just some random thoughts...

--Michael

Last edited by maikerus : 06-28-2005 at 06:31 PM.

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 06-28-2005, 06:44 PM   #19
Tubig
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

I was training last nite and co-incidentally we were doing kinonagare and Ju te techniques. The Ju-te techniques needs a lot of intention as it is the next level from kihon static which is full power, 100% intention on the grip and resistance.

I have noticed that with the full power grip (strength), I used an atemi to remove the intention from the grip and unto him regaining his balance. With Ju-te the atemi is to bring out his intention, when it came to kinonagare the atemi is no longer an atemi (as per definition; to hit vital points), but a punch a kick and a jab, to disturb his intention. At the end when we were doing Juiwaza (against three attackers) especially when the pace is quick to fast, the atemis became more cumbersome and too much involvement (like doing shihonage; when to other people are about to attack). I found kokyu nage and irimi nage without atemis more effective in this case.

I guess what I am trying to suggest is on fast pace multiple attackers when we have no time to think, atemi is perhaps not as necessary. Timing, maai, and angles are the tools that I used in this instance. Also I am only 5'6" and 85 kg compared to the average Aussie or Maori for that matter a punch, jab or kick in this situation needs to be calculated and be lucky to be effective on the same mulitple attacks.

One of the typical aikido cliches that I hear is aikido does not have to be painful to be effective. having heard this a million times and based on Jui waza maybe atemi is essential to good aikido, however not necessary all the time.
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Old 06-28-2005, 06:51 PM   #20
Jiraiya
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Atemi is should be added your arsenal of aikido throws and locks. I saw a steven segal documentary (which I beleive many people have seen), and he does incorporate atemi and randori in his aikido. (He is from aikikai and they don't normally do randori). The more you know, the better equipped for the streets you are. Atemi is good for practise against an attacker and learning how to attack yourself. It sounds contradictory to the spirit of aikido but its really about better self defense and as long as you don't go picking fights, I guess its ok.

*Hey, as a sideline, I am fascinated with Yoshinkan even though I am from Aikikai. In fact I plan to take lessons next month. Can anybody tell me a bit more ?*
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Old 06-28-2005, 07:33 PM   #21
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Depends on where you're going to be using your aikido...in a dojo atemi is not necessary...in Japan one of the best guys I've ever seen never used atemi...yet his technique was as smooth as silk and totally effective. I would say in a real situation he would have been ok without it as he could easily put down 5 bigger guys and get behind anyone ....of cause it all depends on the location thats why imho questions like these are essentially unanswerable...sorry if that sounds harsh.

Anyway I train usually in the Nishio style...here we use atemi alot...yet is it effective atemi?...not so sure..all depens on the individual...most of the time people with no background in other MA dont know how to attack imho..I sometimes think a more fluid get em on the ground quicker is usually more beneficial with that in mind.

Check out Tohei in the Aikido Classics video clip on Aikido Journal....very much like the first guy I was on about...flawless technique...executed blindingly fast yet smoothly...no need to go punching anyone maybe??
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Old 06-28-2005, 08:10 PM   #22
Tubig
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Also I have seen a lot of Osensei's black and white videos and he has done some hard core techniques on multiple attackers without atemi, punches or kicks. Just pure technique, angles, irimi, maai. I am not saying he doesn't do it all, what I am saying is he can do excellent aikido without the necessary atemi.
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Old 06-28-2005, 08:18 PM   #23
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Quote:
Cromwell Salvatera wrote:
At the end when we were doing Juiwaza (against three attackers) especially when the pace is quick to fast, the atemis became more cumbersome and too much involvement (like doing shihonage; when to other people are about to attack). I found kokyu nage and irimi nage without atemis more effective in this case.
Interesting.

When doing multiple attacker randori, atemi waza the way we do it (also using sen timing) is often a preferred technique where a quick response is required. Shomen ate and Aigamae ate are obvious good examples as seen here - http://www.ttac.0catch.com/atemi.htm . This relates to Mike's point above about doing the atemi in such a way that you don't need a follow up technique also.

Just a few cents.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 06-28-2005, 08:34 PM   #24
wxyzabc
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Quote:
Cromwell Salvatera wrote:
Also I have seen a lot of Osensei's black and white videos and he has done some hard core techniques on multiple attackers without atemi, punches or kicks. Just pure technique, angles, irimi, maai. I am not saying he doesn't do it all, what I am saying is he can do excellent aikido without the necessary atemi.
So you have answered your own question....enough said
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Old 06-28-2005, 09:03 PM   #25
xuzen
 
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Re: Is Atemi Necessary to Good Aikido?

Speaking of atemi... I have a related story to share:

I was at an aikido demo last weekend and was called up to be a volunteer for the demonstrator who happens to be a pretty Japanese lass who happens to be one of the sewanin (asst instructor) at Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo in Tokyo.

She asked me to hug her, and she asked me to hug her tight. I did... I was being very obedient. When she felt it was tight enough... she stomped on my foot and then executed a beautiful shihonage on me in a split second; the foot atemi caused me to lose my focus on the grip.

So there... is atemi necessary? In this case... atemi on my foot just did the job.

Boon.

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