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Old 10-01-2005, 01:24 PM   #1
Hagen Seibert
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atemi is 90% of Aikido

Hello,

I frequently heard the quotation of O-Sensei, that "atemi is 90% of Aikido". Now, without the context oft these words one can interprete a lot into the statement. Does anyone know more about this statement, context, source, etc.....

Thanks for your help !
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Old 10-01-2005, 01:38 PM   #2
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
Hagen Seibert wrote:
Hello,

I frequently heard the quotation of O-Sensei, that "atemi is 90% of Aikido". Now, without the context oft these words one can interprete a lot into the statement. Does anyone know more about this statement, context, source, etc.....

Thanks for your help !
My favorite comment on this subject was from Peter Goldsbury Sensei... He said "atemi is 90 % of Aikdio is wrong... atemi is 100% of Aikido."

Now it is readily apparent from watching Aikido that one doesn't see atemi being executed in every technique. But it's there. It's simply implicit rather than explicit.

It is one of the koans of Aikido to solve this in your training and understand what is meant by it.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 10-01-2005, 02:31 PM   #3
SeiserL
 
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

IMHO, a strike can be a block, can be a lock, can be a throw. Make your movement strike to the center and kuzushi balance point.

IOW, I don't really know either.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-01-2005, 03:09 PM   #4
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

My favorite variation on this comes from a senior student at the dojo I train in: "Atemi is 90%, uke's face is the other 10."
Whichever way it goes, I think atemi is immensely important to aikido...or at least mine.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
-Barry LePatner
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Old 10-01-2005, 03:15 PM   #5
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

I really didn't understand aikido and the importance of atemi until I started studying BJJ and Judo. Both arts typcially will isolate this part out of the equation. It becomes very difficult to demonstrate the dynamic of aikido once you eliminate the core of what makes aikido aikido.

(this is not to say that atemi is not apart of the BJJ or Judo curriculm...just not emphasized or as important to things as it is in aikido).
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Old 10-01-2005, 03:44 PM   #6
Ron Tisdale
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Try getting a copy of Gozo Shioda's autobiography. I think its mentioned in there. If I get a chance, I'll post the relavent phrase.

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-01-2005, 04:18 PM   #7
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

With out a strike one would be better off using the principle of "ju" and not "aiki". Aiki is (in my opinion) blending with a motion in space. Like a strike coming in. A sword swing, and thrusting jo, a fist or what have you. With out a strike, or something coming at you in space (a body trying to tackle you) there would be nothing to blend with, no intention to connect to, no motion to lead. When purely wrestling one should use the principal of "ju". To move around physical action, when pushed to absorb the force, and flow around it. Judo, and BJJ use pure "ju" to practice their techniques, to flow with someone and find weakness then take advantage of weakness. Aiki is different, aiki seeks to be with your opponents mind long before there is physical action, to read ones intention and use that information advantageously. While aiki can be used in a grappling situation, it is limited in it's application here, it is best suited to dealing with incoming strikes. I believe the quote "aikido is 90% atemi" doesn't have as much to do with nage as it dose with uke, that is to say it's not nage making the "strike" it's uke.

-Chris Hein
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Old 10-01-2005, 04:43 PM   #8
aikidoc
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

"aikido is 90% atemi" doesn't have as much to do with nage as it dose with uke, that is to say it's not nage making the "strike" it's uke.

Sorry, Chris. I've got to agree with George on this one. In my article in Black Belt Magazine, June 2005 I address this issue from the aikido literature. I read everything I could find on atemi in the aikido literature. No where in the literature does it refer to the uke but takes the viewpoint that nage is delivering the atemi, or at least strongly infers it.
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Old 10-01-2005, 06:32 PM   #9
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

"No where in the literature does it refer to the uke but takes the viewpoint that nage is delivering the atemi, or at least strongly infers it."

Well....
Who's judging what the "inferring" is? What I think something infers, and what you think something infers can be two dramatically different things (depending on our differnt reasoning, and experiences). I also agree with George, it's kind of a koan, and you should ask yourself what it means. That's (that it refers to incoming attacks) just what I think it means. I do however think that this is the dividing line between "aiki" and "ju".

-Chris Hein
p.s. John, I like your web page!
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Old 10-01-2005, 10:57 PM   #10
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

I love the Aikido is 90% atemi crowd: lousy command of Aiki bolstered by a theoretical reliance on striking. And since most Aikido schools do little or no striking training, congratulations, you end up with nothing.

Last edited by sanskara : 10-01-2005 at 11:11 PM.

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Old 10-01-2005, 11:35 PM   #11
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
James Bostwick wrote:
I love the Aikido is 90% atemi crowd: lousy command of Aiki bolstered by a theoretical reliance on striking. And since most Aikido schools do little or no striking training, congratulations, you end up with nothing.
Yeah, but tell us what you really think! So either you're just providing a worst-case, gass is all the way empty, scenario, or you're making a generalization. I of course don't know how many of the "atemi crowd" you've experienced. I think atemi is an important aspect of Aikido though. Even if you don't use it, I think you should be able to pretty much any time. It's kind of like the "4-directions" throw: there's an infinite number of directions (within a finite range) you can throw someone. Maybe in the same way someone could say Aikido is 90% atemi and not be as worthless as you just described? After all, language is awefully interpretive and not everyone speaks it literally, as you yourself just demonstrated.
Just my two bits...er...wooden nickle.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 10-02-2005, 12:10 AM   #12
aikidoc
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

"I love the Aikido is 90% atemi crowd: lousy command of Aiki bolstered by a theoretical reliance on striking. And since most Aikido schools do little or no striking training, congratulations, you end up with nothing."

How does atemi and a lousy command of Aiki get together. If you bother to look at the film and books you'll notice O'Sensei striking regularly which is hardly theoretical. Because it was de-emphasized by Nidai Doshu does not mean that O'Sensei placed less importance on atemi. Initially, in my research I thought atemi was rarely discussed and found otherwise. Your statement makes it look like those who apply atemi do not apply aiki priniciples. I don't think my shihan would agree with that. That would be as accurate as me saying that all who don't apply atemi are more like dancers than martial artists. It is my opinion that: "The failure to use all the weapons available in a conflict situation demonstrates ignorance of the serious implications of violence."

Chris: no where in the literature do I see O'Sensei taking atemi-on the contrary he is delivering it. Our weakness is to not be very specific or scientific about it and the tendency of a lot of people to use it as a distraction rather than the definition by Sandai doshu "strikes to vital points". Also, thanks for the comment on my website.
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Old 10-02-2005, 01:42 AM   #13
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
James Bostwick wrote:
I love the Aikido is 90% atemi crowd: lousy command of Aiki bolstered by a theoretical reliance on striking. And since most Aikido schools do little or no striking training, congratulations, you end up with nothing.
Well James,
If I didn't know you are far more knowledgeable than this statement would indicate, I'd assume you didn't have a clue. Barring the fact that the Founder actually said this, which makes him part of the "90% atemi crowd", this statement was recounted to me by Saotome Sensei as part of my training. I can't think of anyone who would seriously maintain that he has a lousy command of aiki. Nor do I think I know anyone who would be dumb enough to assume his knowledge of striking is "theoretical".

Anyway, there are enough really fine Aikido teachers around who do believe this statement is true and an understanding of this area is crucial to understanding of Aikido technique that you might consider being a bit less obnoxious with such blanket statements.

While I am not advocating using atemi as a substitute for good technique, I can guarentee you that if I attacked you and you didn't have at least the possibility of atemi at your disposal, you couldn't throw me. Saotome Sensei taught us that, if you know your partner will not strike you, all techniques are stoppable. My experience confirms this so I'll stick with this viewpoint until someone can show me I'm wrong.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 10-02-2005, 02:32 AM   #14
kokyu
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Try getting a copy of Gozo Shioda's autobiography. I think its mentioned in there. If I get a chance, I'll post the relavent phrase.

Best,
Ron
Shioda Sensei says in his superb book [Aikido Shugyo] that "Atemi are 70% of a real fight". The text also quotes O-Sensei as saying "In a real fight, Aikido is 70 percent atemi and 30 percent throwing". Shioda Sensei continues with "In Aikido, atemi is not limited to punching or kicking".

However, I am curious as to how dojos actually emphasize atemi. From the Sensei that I have seen, atemi is shown in 2 ways:
(1) When we need to off balance uke in techniques such as tsuki kotegaeshi
(2) When uke presents an opening for a punch or kick

In actual practice though, most of the emphasis is getting atemi right in (1). I almost never practice (2) - i.e. doing a mock punch or kick when the opening presents itself. I can't remember using other parts of my body for atemi, although it looks impressive.

Just wonder how other people practice atemi
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Old 10-02-2005, 04:28 AM   #15
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

If you are locked down, atemi is a great way to get things flowing again.

John:
My knowledge of Japanese is pretty limited, but I don't' think the word "atemi" is limited to punches kicks and other unarmed strikes. If you include atemi to mean any strike, including tackles, sword strikes, jo thrusts etc., then I see him "taking on" more of these then I see him actually punching people. I'm not saying that O-sensei didn't advocate striking people (see my above statement) I am however saying that "Aiki" (that which "Aikido" is based) is very involved with strikes (weapons or otherwise), so involved that I would say it takes up about 90% of the idealized attacks.

-Chris Hein

Last edited by ChrisHein : 10-02-2005 at 04:36 AM.
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Old 10-02-2005, 04:46 AM   #16
Hagen Seibert
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

I really enjoyed reading all the contributions to this thread. In a way it seems most people have heard it from somebody else, but not directly from some kind of source.

Thanks Soon-Kian for pointing out Shioda Senseiīs book. Could you perhaps post the full paragraph ? In most styles of Aikido atemi is rather a means than a technique, i.e. a means to break balance, to distract, to win time for entering, ot to make uke move in a certain way like make him do a block which you can use for e.g. ikkyo on this blocking arm. So naturally (2) will be rarely practised as this would be the original meaning of striking: hit an couse trauma or injury. Though in my opinion itīs a thing one should know (even if you donīt want to use it, because it gives a meaning to your way of atemi). I think I agree with most posters on this thread here.

Ron, is this quotation the same you had in mind ?

George, I think Jamesī post was directed towards people, who have the words on their lips but do not have the experience and knowledge in striking to match it (as indeed itīs rarely part of the regular training, like Soon-Kian said). I think he did not refer to teachers like you or Saotome Sensei.
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Old 10-02-2005, 05:21 AM   #17
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Well James,
If I didn't know you are far more knowledgeable than this statement would indicate, I'd assume you didn't have a clue. Barring the fact that the Founder actually said this, which makes him part of the "90% atemi crowd", this statement was recounted to me by Saotome Sensei as part of my training. I can't think of anyone who would seriously maintain that he has a lousy command of aiki. Nor do I think I know anyone who would be dumb enough to assume his knowledge of striking is "theoretical".
Well, hey, if Saotome said it. Look, like it or not, be it or not, there is a group of people out there with no command of Aiki that would like to rely on strikes to get them through. Ueshiba also said that spirits inhabited his body when he performed Aikido. Have you been praying to them to acquire similar advantage?

Now, atemi is part of Aikido--absolutely. Anyone checking my profile will note that my primary martial art is Karate (no bias against striking there.)

My quam is with the "atemi is 90% of Aikido" bullshit. Yes, that's what it is. Atemi means to hit the body. If you are not hitting the body in 90% of your training in the dojo, you are not practicing what you preach--period. If you are not teaching people to strike with proper alignment and targeting, conditioning their bodies for impact, etc, you are not doing proper atemi, much less at a 90% ratio. How hard is that to understand? Hopefully not very.

Quote:
Anyway, there are enough really fine Aikido teachers around who do believe this statement is true and an understanding of this area is crucial to understanding of Aikido technique that you might consider being a bit less obnoxious with such blanket statements.
You know what? I'm all for being less obnoxious when it's not important, but this is. You are not practicing Aikido with 90% atemi and neither is anyone else on this board--neither did Ueshiba, nor does Saotome.

Now, if you want to change the definition of atemi from hitting the body to some sort of euphamism for taking a person's mind and/or balance (Ki, if you will), then you've changed the definition to justify the statements of your influences.

Quote:
While I am not advocating using atemi as a substitute for good technique, I can guarentee you that if I attacked you and you didn't have at least the possibility of atemi at your disposal, you couldn't throw me.
True, because if I'm within reach of your grasp or strike, I do have the possibility of atemi--not a very challenging statement, when you think about it. If I'm too far away to hit, it's difficult to downright impossible to throw even an inanimate object.

Quote:
Saotome Sensei taught us that, if you know your partner will not strike you, all techniques are stoppable.
True in training. In real application, someone attacks with purpose and that purpose is not to lock up your technique, but to do you harm. That goal changes the whole dynamic of the interaction. Too many people get caught up in dojo technique.

Quote:
My experience confirms this so I'll stick with this viewpoint until someone can show me I'm wrong.
I think I just did. Obnoxiousness maybe, but no offense intended.

Last edited by sanskara : 10-02-2005 at 05:28 AM.

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James Bostwick
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Old 10-02-2005, 06:08 AM   #18
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

The closest I can find to a direct statement attributed to the Founder occurs on p.38 of Volume 5 of M Saito's Traditional Aikido.

I quote the English translation:

"Atemi accounts for 99% of aikido." was a remark once uttered by the Founder. (The actual Japanese reads: Aikidou wa sono 99% ga atemi de aru.) However, Saito Sensei goes on to give some explanation. I introduced atemi at some length in Volume 4. Atemi is virtually omitted in aikido training on the grounds that that preliminary blow should not become a matter of dominant concern. However, there are quite a few cases in which the meaning of a technique is incomprehensible if the attendant atemi is left out. I suggest therefore that, after reading Volume 4, study shoud be made as to when atemi should be delivered in the execution of a technique and (of) cases of omission.

Note that atemi is not defined in the Japanese text. It is simply a heading. In the English translation, Body blow, prior to applying technique is given in brackets after the heading.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 10-02-2005 at 06:12 AM.

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Old 10-02-2005, 07:29 AM   #19
Tom54
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

This is a direct quotation from the Japanese version of "Aikido Shubyo" by Shioda sensei. The title of the chapter is "In a real fight 70% is Atemi".

After explaining some real figthing occasion in the previous chapter,
"Maybe you are surprised that I used mostly Atemi in these occasions.... but my teacher Morihei Ueshiba sensei always had stated that in real fighting occasions 70% of aikido is atemi, and 30% is throwing. You may maybe ask about the various locks that we are training. If you are picked uped with a drunk, maybe wrist locks are better choice to control the opponent, but in a life and death matter or if you are facing multiple opponents, speed is the crucial part and you must rely on atemi or throws that can be done in a moment."

After that he explains several principles that can make the atemi in aikido effective (Irimi, timing and the concentration of the power).
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Old 10-02-2005, 07:46 AM   #20
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
Hagen Seibert wrote:
Thanks Soon-Kian for pointing out Shioda Senseiīs book. Could you perhaps post the full paragraph ?
There is more than one paragraph on this topic from Aikido Shugyo, by Shioda G. (translated by Payet J. and Johnston C.), Shindokan International, (c) 2002, pp 19-20:

"In Aikido, atemi is not limited to punching or kicking. Any part of the body can become a weapon for executing atemi. Some of you may have seen me in demonstrations use my back to repel an opponent rushing at me, or my shoulder to send my opponent flying as we pass each other. The reason these techniques work is that the contact point in itself becomes the atemi."

BTW, you can buy this book at http://www.shindokanbooks.com

Just out of interest, my Japanese dictionary defines atemi 「当て身・中身」 as (my translation):
"In Judo, by the fist/elbow/foot and suchlike, the technique of thrusting [at] or striking partner's vital areas. Because it is a dangerous technique, it is forbidden in randori or competitions."
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Old 10-02-2005, 10:51 AM   #21
kokyu
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
Hagen Seibert wrote:
In most styles of Aikido atemi is rather a means than a technique, i.e. a means to break balance, to distract, to win time for entering, ot to make uke move in a certain way like make him do a block which you can use for e.g. ikkyo on this blocking arm. So naturally (2) will be rarely practised as this would be the original meaning of striking: hit an couse trauma or injury. Though in my opinion itīs a thing one should know (even if you donīt want to use it, because it gives a meaning to your way of atemi). I think I agree with most posters on this thread here.
When I mentioned (2) in my post, I was referring to mock punches and kicks. If we really tried to punch or kick, I think we would run out of ukes soon.

However, (2) may have several problems:
(I don't claim to be an expert in this area so this is just what I think)
(a) Punching or kicking may require a sudden change of technique - i.e. when you strike at an opening, the whole nature of the technique will change. The "well-aimed blow" may cause uke to double-over or fall back. This may require a change in technique (or another atemi) because of the difference in uke's position/posture.
(b) The flow of movement may be disturbed because one has gone for a strike - e.g. in the middle of shihonage ura, you stop to give uke a sock in the ribs. I always thought that continuous flow was an important part of Aikido.
(c) Nage may not be able to control his strength and really hurt uke - this may happen with an over-enthusiastic nage or a nage who has training in another martial art that emphasizes striking.

Again, I wonder whether anyone trains by deliberately striking (albeit softly) at every opening when doing an Aikido technique in normal practice. I've seen people do mock punches from time to time, but kicks?
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Old 10-02-2005, 11:23 AM   #22
Charlie
 
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

This subject comes up so often that I decided to reread some of the training text that I have in my library. The book I started with was Budo - Teachings of the Founder of Aikido by Morihei Ueshiba [Translated by John Stevens/Introduction by Kisshomaru Ueshiba]

My understanding from reading the Translator's Forward, is that this is "as literal as possible" translation of the original text Budo, which was published in 1938 and is the only INSTRUCTION MANUAL that Morihei Ueshiba posed for himself.

That being said...
Quote:
James Bostwick wrote:
...Atemi means to hit the body. If you are not hitting the body in 90% of your training in the dojo, you are not practicing what you preach--period. If you are not teaching people to strike with proper alignment and targeting, conditioning their bodies for impact, etc, you are not doing proper atemi, much less at a 90% ratio...

...You are not practicing Aikido with 90% atemi and neither is anyone else on this board--neither did Ueshiba, nor does Saotome...
As your statement is a cut and dry assessment of atemi, I offer:

Page 33

under the heading "The Essence of Technique"

"3. Shomen Training
Striking with the right or left hand
Use of the te-gatana [hand-sword] (or fist): in order to deliver a
devastating blow to an enemy, one must be enlightened to the
principles of heaven and earth;... ...Without offering your
opponent the slightest opening or allowing a break in the flow of
kokyu and ki, you must be enlightened to the
essence of 'striking'"

and further on page 34

"...Regardless of what may arise, one should be prepared to
receive ninety-nine percent of an enemy's attack and stare
death in the face in order to illuminate the path. Strike like
thunder and fly more quickly than lightening-that is the way you
should act. Keep these things in mind as you train and discern
how to avoid entirely the pressure of an enemy's attack."

Most of the techniques found depicted in this publication are full of Osensei applying a whole variety of atemi. Open and closed handed with strikes to the head, body and wrists/arms.

Page 46

"Yokomen
11.
Tori: Fill yourself with ki and invite your opponent to
deliver a yokomen strike.

Uke: Step forward on your right foot and deliver a
yokomen strike with your right te-gatana to the left side of
your opponent's head.

Tori: Advance slightly on your left foot and with your left
te-gatana neutralize your opponent's attack, while
simultaneously striking his face with your right hand (29). Then
enter deeply to his side, and cut down his attacking te-gatana
with your own right te-gatana, while striking his ribs with
your left fist (30). Next use your right arm to down him (31)."


When I read Osensei words it seems to me that there was quite a bit of importance lended to proper striking whether you are Uke or Tori. And at least in these early pictures, you see him applying atemi in almost every technique. Now whether that equates to Aikido is 90% atemi, I don't know.

And for the record, the majority of photos are pre-war. However, "for the sake of comparison", photos where added from Wakayama (1951) when Osensei was 68 yrs. old...and he was applying atemi...

Last edited by Charlie : 10-02-2005 at 11:31 AM.

Charles Burmeister
Aikido Yoshinkan Yoseikai

"Calmness is trust in action"
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Old 10-02-2005, 12:02 PM   #23
ChrisHein
 
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

If you take "atemi" to mean nage is striking uke with a hand of foot or what have you. Then either: O-sensei was bad with percentages, or none of us are doing Aikido, or we have misunderstood his meaning. Western boxing is barely 90% atemi, there are lots of strikes, but there are also a lot of footwork drills, covering technique. Most styles of Karate are probably not "90%" atemi, there are a few throws, and blocks etc. If your direct meaning is 90% of the Aikido syllabus is made up of atemi, then something is wrong, because it's not. If you mean to say that Aikido forms use atemi 90% of the time, (meaning you will see an atemi happen in 90% of the techniques) , and you take 90% to mean only a lot, and not litteraly 90%, this could be correct, because a lot of them do, still not 90%, but quite a few do.

What separates Aikido from other martial arts? Is it simply the technical syllabus? I believe O-sensei's idea of what Aikido went far beyond it's shihonage's, kotegaishi's, and other simply technical aspects. I believe that he was truly interested in studying "Aiki". I think you could have giving O-sensei any technical syllabus, and he still would have formed "Aikido". Weather he had been purely a Karate man, or a kendoka, or what ever, he would have still invented "Aikido". True Aikido is not attached to the 7 throws, and 6 controls, it is only attached to the idea of "Aiki". Find what Aiki is and I'm sure you'll find the answer to "Aikido is 90% atemi".

-Chris Hein
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Old 10-02-2005, 12:04 PM   #24
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
James Bostwick wrote:
I think I just did. Obnoxiousness maybe, but no offense intended.
I certainly understand that no offense is intended and since we have had some substantial back and forth over the years and I know you are both serious and knowledgeable, I don't take the "obnoxious" tone of your first statement personally. n fact i agree with you that many, if not most folks out there do not understand atemi, can't do atemi effectively, use atemi to make up for their lack of ability to achieve kuzushi properly. But I am not talking about those people. I am talking about people who do know what they are talking about and are highly skilled.

The whole logic of the paired interaction of Aikido requires atemi. Your narrow definition that there is no atemi until the atemi actually manifests is just wrong. Martial arts is about suki (openings). In Aikido we endeavor to close our suki and expose the partner's. This is the learning process.

If you take the simple training exercise of kokyu dosa as an example, it would be impossible without the possibility of atemi. The uke, sensing that his center is rising, would simply let go and break the connection and stay grounded. It is the knowledge that if he lets go, he is exposed to a double knife edge strike to the neck that causes him to choose to hold on, thereby producing a technique which, to outward appearances has no atemi. But the entire logic of the interaction was based on the possibility of the atemi. The uke CHOOSES to move in such a way as to acknowledge that possibility and the nage does not need to manifest it.

A flowing technique such as yokomen-uchi ikkyo is completely dependent on atemi. Uke attacks with yokomen-uchi... nage receives using the irimi-tenkan entry; one hand receives the strike and nage rests his weight upon the attacking arm (in the same manner one would rest ones sword blade on a kesa giri) while the other hand executes an atemi to the face of the uke.

If there is no atemi to the face of the uke, he can turn that hip inside the arc of the movement and deliver a strike with that hand; it is the atemi which forces him to protect himself by deflecting the blow before he attempts to strike with that hand.

Why doesn't the uke simply pull the arm back once the yokomen uchi has missed its target? In fact he will, unless one has entered properly and rested his weight on that arm as previously described. At that point he cannot take that arm away without exposing himself to the atemi line that exists up the inside of the arm to the face / neck. He must maintain contact as a defense against that line; if he tries to use his opposite hand to protect against that threat, he opens himself up to the original line of atemi to the face. He has no choice but to stay connected which allows the nage to effect his center through the connection created by that attack. If there were no atemi involved, the uke could and would simply disconnect the instant his yokomen did not hit the opponent or he would attack in combination by throwing the yokomen and then instantly delivering a tsuki with the other hand. the only thing that prevents either of these possibilities is the proper alignment and spacing of the nage which puts him in position to strike with either hand while nage can only effectively protect himself from one of the two lines of attack. Understanding this fact, the uke is forced to leave his arm out making it possible for the nage to execute the ikkyo. No atemi, no technique; period. That doesn't mean that every atemi is thrown; the partner is assumed to be smart enough not to open himself up to the atemi because he can feel the intention of the nage to strike if he leaves himself open.

The narrow definition of atemi as a physical strike to the body leaves out some of the most important usage of atemi which involves striking the space the uke needs to be in (in order to effectively complete his attack) before he actually gets there, thereby giving him the chance to break his posture and avoid being hit. In fact, if i can put my Mind into that space and the uke feels it, then he will experience it as being unable to attack himself because he knows he will be struck if he does. O-sensei could do this, I have felt Saotome Sensei do it to me and Ushiro Sensei at Rocky Mountain Summer Camp gave a lengthy description of what is going on when you do this.

Having had some small kensho this summer after that camp I can also do it somewhat (not as skillfully as these teachers though) so I am not talking second hand. I know this to be true from my own practice. But the ability to stop an opponent from even being able to launch an attack, thereby winning without having to fight, is entirely based on the possibility of atemi and an understanding on the part of both parties of timing, spacing, and suki.

Anyway, some of this stuff is so self-evident in Aikido waza that your refusal to acknowledge it seems to me to be based on trying to make some point rather than what you really believe. Your point about adjusting the range to make atemi unnecessary is a good one but it assumes an unlimited amount of room to move. Sure, if one has that, one can use proper movement and spacing alone to unbalance an opponent suing only the energy of the attacker's intention to accomplish the technique. But when there is not that kind of room available, then irimi is the only possibility and any techniques being done in that context will need to function as I have described.

I am open to being shown that this isn't true... but I've got thirty years in now, have trained widely, well outside of my own organization, so no one can say I haven't seen a very wide representation of Aikido approaches and I haven't seen any Aikido which is both effective and contradicts what I am saying here. Even my investigations beyond the boundaries of Aikido with Vladimir Vasiliyev in the Systema and Kenji Ushiro of Shindo Ryu Karate have confirmed this for me.

So until someone can provide me an experience which doesn't fit my model, I am sticking with it. I will continue to stay open to any new experiences... I have trained with many of the old giants of Aikido in Japan before they died, gone to every Expo, attended seminars with both Aikido and non-Aikido teachers alike... I don't think you'll find an Aikido person more open to new ideas. But if they contradict my previous experience, they have to show me they can do it and in this area I haven't experienced that yet.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 10-02-2005 at 12:10 PM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 10-02-2005, 06:29 PM   #25
sanskara
 
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Re: atemi is 90% of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Anyway, some of this stuff is so self-evident in Aikido waza that your refusal to acknowledge it seems to me to be based on trying to make some point rather than what you really believe. .
Yes, I am trying to make a point, and here it is: the statement that atemi is 90% of Aikido is too specific to be taken any other way than literally. To an outside martial artist, it is yet another example of the confused conglomerate of philosophically-driven individuals, looking to hitch their personal ideologies to the star of Ueshiba, that largely make up the vocal culture of Aikido.

It's a martial platitude that allows an insecure Aikidoka to exclaim that no matter what you see on the mat, and no matter how unrealistic and ineffective it may appear, always remember that Aikido is in fact mostly atemi.

The notion that Aikido is mostly atemi, is ridiculous, unless it's some sort of invisible stealth percussion. Even so, basic logic dictates that you don't learn things through osmosis. To simply imply that atemi is possible is not the same thing as actually training to strike an opponent's body. If one extends the definition of atemi to encompass kuzushi, suki, or whatever Japanese term we thow into the mix, that still doesn't effectively justify the explicitness of the claim.

Quote:
The whole logic of the paired interaction of Aikido requires atemi. Your narrow definition that there is no atemi until the atemi actually manifests is just wrong.
If by narrow definition you mean literal interpretation, then yes. And it is not wrong, you are mixing disruption with atemi--related, but not exactly the same.

Let's say that the statement under scrutiny were this: Aikido relies heavily on the disruption of a person's attacking intent. This application of martial principle not only creates openings, it awakens a practitioner's awareness to the general concept of suki. At advanced levels, this forced loss of an opponent's equilibrium can manifest at range, before physical contact is even made. Such a fundamental is the cornerstone of effective Aiki.

IF that were the claim, you'd get no argument from me. But to say that 90% of Aikido is atemi is sloppy intellectualism in comparison. As Chris Hein pointed out, few if any arts can claim such a high ratio of percussive application. And I might also add, if they were lining up for categorization, Aikido would be at the bottom of the list.

Quote:
Your point about adjusting the range to make atemi unnecessary is a good one but it assumes an unlimited amount of room to move.
That was not my point. I don't look for reasons to avoid atemi, I prefer it to grappling actually. My point was that if I'm close enough to throw, I'm close enough to hit, so your claim that I could not throw you if I could not hit you is technically accurate, even if it was meant as a quasi-postural challenge.

Quote:
I am open to being shown that this isn't true...
It is true that if you are not hitting, you are not training to hit. You must hit something to claim competency in strikes (person, makiwara, even the air with full extension and intensity, breeds some competency.) Anything else is just pretend; Aikido has enough of that already.

Regards,
James Bostwick
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