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Old 02-19-2006, 09:23 PM   #1
Lorien Lowe
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pre-emptive strikes

I'd like (as much as is possible, given the title) as non-political of a debate as possible...

Is it valid, according to the philosophy and practice of aikido, to strike uke before uke moves to strike you? By 'strike' I mean a true attack, not just an attention-getting atemi.
You know that uke is going to attack you - that's uke's 'job.' How important is the timing? And how imortant is the difference between striking and atemi?

-LK
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Old 02-19-2006, 10:10 PM   #2
Edwin Neal
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

yes i believe it is... for example yokomenuchi anywaza we strike both the yokomen uchi and the uke, before they strike us... atemi is striking and includes strikes to distract or kill... i believe that when it is obvious that you are being threatened with physical violence you are empowered to use whatever reasonable force is necessary to defend oneself... including striking first...

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-19-2006, 10:24 PM   #3
Lorien Lowe
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Usually I practice yokomenuchi with a pretty dramatic tenkan to the back of the person, starting with a back-handed blend that rolls off and suppresses rather than a simultaneous shomen. It sounds like you must focus on the timing so that your shomen arrives earlier than theirs and thus avoid the clash? How is the ukemi taken for that, and/or what do you do then?
We use a *lot* atemi at my dojo, but it's explicitely stated that the point is to get uke's attention rather than to damage them. Or we put out a fist and allow uke to run into it (assuming uke isn't paying attention) in the course of *their* attack on *us*, rather than moving the fist to them. When we talk about 'if you wanted to hurt someone who is out to get you...' it usually involves joint damage somewhere in the middle of the technique.

-LK
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Old 02-19-2006, 10:25 PM   #4
PeterR
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

First technique in Budo Renshu by Ueshiba M. has tori initiating a strike.

If uke does not respond the stike would work - the technique is great because when uke does respond you get to do him anyway.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-19-2006, 11:17 PM   #5
Edwin Neal
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

what i am thinking of is what we term a hantai tenkan movement... stepping back and away at a 45 degree angle while delivering a strike(s) to ukes attack and to ukes head... and the timing is before ukes strike arrives... then an irimi or tenkan movement... as to atemi we use lots too, but with the understanding that it can be either distraction or damage or both usually...

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-20-2006, 04:24 AM   #6
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
I'd like (as much as is possible, given the title) as non-political of a debate as possible...

Is it valid, according to the philosophy and practice of aikido, to strike uke before uke moves to strike you? By 'strike' I mean a true attack, not just an attention-getting atemi.
You know that uke is going to attack you - that's uke's 'job.' How important is the timing? And how imortant is the difference between striking and atemi?

-LK
In my opinion there is no simple answer.

Training environment:
You know, uke will attack as it is his role, but how does it apply to "real life"?
First situation: sleepy uke. Teach him/her zanshin by stepping in - and striking - first. pure teaching, not related to self defense.
2nd: Multiple attacker randori: you're already threatened. Step in first, unless you feel akready the vibrations of each uke, so you can afford to let them move first.
3rd. One to one. Again in training you know uke has to attack. For training purposes you can strike first. but be aware if you are striking first you might give him/her the pulse of energy uke can use for an aikido technique. Why should uke attack with shomen-uchi, if he/she can just do an ikkyo?
But again what are you training for? You are walking at midnight in an empty street or park and suddenly someone is standing in front of you - with dark, threatening eyes. And you know, the guys in this area are all gangsters. Well , probably it is just another innocent, maybe frightened passer-by. No you should not train for this purpose.*

Someone stands in front of you and says -by all appearance seriously - he is going to kill you / beat you up. Now that is starting an attack. If you wait until he draws a gun/knife or even just is getting in kamae, you risk that one of you might get hurt, though it was avoidable. So it is your task to save yourself and your opponent. If you are able to, step in and knock him out first. that is probably the safest for both of you. Then you can calmly call the police - or run away, whatever seems to be appropriate.

Another scenario: someone does not attack you directly, but his going to attack a weak friend of yours or is going to burn your house, car, etc. How could you protect the other person or your property without attacking first?

So yes in training you can attack first, but always think about the situations, you would apply it in.

Dirk
---
P.S.: This situation reminds me on some fellow karateka and some soldiers, who told "When I was in Chicago/Iraq we were train in a way that if someone would have touched our shoulder from behind, we would have killed him before really recognising, who he was." It does not matter, whether they really had this skills. Who would they have probably killed? A friend, who wanted to say hello, a passer-by, who just wanted to ask a question, maybe (less than 20%, I guess) a thief or some guys, who try to spit in your face. But only one out of a million could be a silly assassin or terrorist, who really gives you a chance. With all the others the first thing you feel would be th knife in your ribs or the stick on your head/neck. So how many people are you allowed to kill, just because of assuming they could attack you?
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Old 02-20-2006, 06:23 AM   #7
Steve Mullen
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

I think the idea of striking uki because you know they are going to strike you, is all fine in the dojo as it is uki's job to strike you, but inthe street i would feel more inclined to make one of those "attention grabbing atemi" first. see if that puts him in a position for you to deal then cut and run if needs be.

An example

I was walking back from training one saturday when some fool came over to me and started pushing, (i say fool as i clearly had my sticks on my back) anyway, he came in again and i cut into his left arm, aimed an 'attention grabbing atemi' at his face, when he leaned back i turned him round and pushed him away, much the the amusement of his friends who promplty dragged him away. I get the feeling that if i stepped up and planted him with a left hook his friends (all 6 of them) would have felt compelled to pile in and give me one hell of a good kicking.

Sometimes less is more

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 02-20-2006, 08:12 AM   #8
roosvelt
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:

Is it valid, according to the philosophy and practice of aikido, to strike uke before uke moves to strike you?
Don't understand your question. You used "uke" in your question, I'd assume you mean in a dojo setting. Why would you want to strike uke? If you do, you're not practicing Aikido.
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Old 02-20-2006, 10:50 AM   #9
ian
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

I think aikido is about harmony. Not in the, 'lets all hug bears and dance with the rabbits' type harmony, but the harmony of yin and yang. Thus, if 'an uke' is considering an attack, and you can see that they are about to strike, a pre-emptive strike is not only recommended, it is what SHOULD happen. Really nage should initiate the attack - we need to get that interaction between nage and uke as soon as possible. If someone is coming towards you to attack, you don't back off, you move towards them, and initiate - the key thing is that if they use lots of force you can open up and let them come through, whereas if they are very weak you can enter and take them. It sounds aggressive, but it shouldn't be - it should be the promotion of an interaction. However I think practically, it takes alot of time to intuitively read someone's intention. I would not attack if I 'thought' someone may hit me. I would attack to stall someone who was about to hit me.

Of course, although we may 'initiate' attacks as Nage in the dojo, I think it's unfair to just punch someone really hard prior to their attack/response.

I think the timing is fundamentally important. I think striking and atemi are identical in aikido in that any action is not just a dissociated action, but you are aware that there is a consequence (possibly an attempted counter), and you are happy to move/blend respond to this in exactly the moment in which it happens. In the same way, there is no point fighting unless you are fighting for a beneficial outcome (i.e. just beating someone up or responding with excessive aggression usually helps neither you nor them). Atemis are directed at quite dangerous locations on the body (usually) - although we may 'play' a reaction, really you are forcing them to make a decision i.e. get knocked out or get taken with a technique so then I can knock you out.

Last edited by ian : 02-20-2006 at 10:54 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-20-2006, 08:39 PM   #10
PeterR
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
Don't understand your question. You used "uke" in your question, I'd assume you mean in a dojo setting. Why would you want to strike uke? If you do, you're not practicing Aikido.
See my post above.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-21-2006, 12:53 AM   #11
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

In traditional budo you have the timing of sen-sen no sen. This is carried out by leading the initiative of the attacker. Saito Sensei would often use the term "aite no ki wo yobidasu" - to call out the ki of your opponent. When we are training, uke is the designated attacker. As mentioned in some of the other posts - when someone already has the clear intention of attacking you, the person already has his energy focused on this. We are not attacking an innocent person, the aggressive intent is there, but has not become a physical movement yet. The idea of sen-sen no sen is to draw out the physical form of this intention, and use it to neutralize the attack. This does not, in my opinion, make Aikido an aggressive, offensive martial art.

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:04 AM   #12
Charles Hill
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Hi Ethan,

Did Saito Sensei use the term "sen sen no sen" himself?

Charles
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Old 02-21-2006, 02:23 PM   #13
tarik
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
Is it valid, according to the philosophy and practice of aikido, to strike uke before uke moves to strike you? By 'strike' I mean a true attack, not just an attention-getting atemi.
Not only valid, but in my opinion crucial.

The atemi that opened my eyes to the possibilities was delivered by my Shotokan Karate instructor when I was very young. I was unexpectedly knocked on my ass and I never felt the blow that that hit me in the mouth, not even later on with a bruise. This was no accident and believe me, it got my attention AND it was the entire technique and it is everything that aikido is and should be.

I didn't feel anything like that again for a long time, but the most similar thing to that in my experience is shomen-ate and properly done, it is a true attack.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:31 PM   #14
mattnowak
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

I have read many books and articles; I have also spoken to my Senei about this subject.

According to my understanding, the philospphy of aikido does not permit a strike before it is given to you. Aikido is meant to harmonize the world. Aikidoka are trained to avert any hostile action before it becomes physical, and ff it happens to become physical then we know how to take care of ourselves. As for training: I don't beleive that the dojo is a good example of the real world; therefore, the idea of a pre-emptive stike does not seem that out of the ordinary. In the real world, I believe that any pre-emptive strike is an abuse of the techniques trusted upon you by your teachers.
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:52 PM   #15
tarik
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Mathew Nowak wrote:
I have read many books and articles; I have also spoken to my Senei about this subject.

According to my understanding, the philospphy of aikido does not permit a strike before it is given to you. Aikido is meant to harmonize the world. Aikidoka are trained to avert any hostile action before it becomes physical, and ff it happens to become physical then we know how to take care of ourselves. As for training: I don't beleive that the dojo is a good example of the real world; therefore, the idea of a pre-emptive stike does not seem that out of the ordinary. In the real world, I believe that any pre-emptive strike is an abuse of the techniques trusted upon you by your teachers.
We differ in our understandings then. That's cool. While I wouldn't make it my first choice, I believe it is crucial to recognize that sometimes a pre-emtive strike is absolutely essential to resolve a situation with minimum harm to all involved. I can easily think of such situations where words or waiting for the other side to attack simply will not suffice.

I committed such an act once as a child before I knew anything about Aikido or other martial arts when, after many prior repetitions, I recognized that someone was setting up an after school fight and I didn't know any other way to get out of it. It worked and there was no fight because he was too busy getting stitches in his lip.

When I began training in Aikido, I used to tell that story (in more detail) as an example of not using Aikido and talked about how I was in the dojo to learn another way of dealing with such situations.

Now, after a number of years of training, I see the incident very differently. I am not proud of it, nor am I ashamed of it any longer. It absolutely was Aikido, and I did the least harm necessary to resolve the situation, with the tools I had at the time. If necessary, I would certainly do such a thing again and in my opinion, anyone who would not is a fool.

However, I have learned many other things that allow me to short-circuit and prevent such situations and simply not found it necessary to engage anyone in this way since I began training in the martial arts (even before finding Aikido) and I have spent more years skillfully avoiding or preventing violence than indulging in it.

Regards,

Tarik

Tarik Ghbeish
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MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 02-22-2006, 01:40 AM   #16
Dieter Haffner
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

I would like to suggest to read a column by George S. Ledyard about the Nature of Aiki.
http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/gledyard/2006_01.html

You have to see these pre-emptive strikes in the context of the third level of aiki, called "aiki of unity" by Ledyard sensei.
For a bystander this looks like nage/tori is the first one to strike (not aikido), but in fact it is uke that had the first intention to strike (what makes it very much aikido).

This might be something you need to see and maybe even have done to you before you can believe it. I have seen it once on a seminar with Shimamoto sensei. It was really an eye opener.

Dieter
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Old 02-22-2006, 02:34 AM   #17
Edwin Neal
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

"According to my understanding, the philospphy of aikido does not permit a strike before it is given to you."

Matthew this is ridiculous! you mean you have to get hit first before you can do anything??? Everyone has the RIGHT to defend themselves and others from violence... A good legal definition is: Self Defense is the right to protect oneself and others against violence or threatened violence with whatever force or means are reasonably necessary.
If some guy says to you 'I'm gonna kick your ass" that is a threat of violence and you have the right to defend yourself, and that does include the option of striking first! His intention is clear, if you cannot escape then you can use reasonable force... you could even shoot him! if it came to that level, and it would be self defense... Please reconsider this and try to understand that i am not saying any one who says a cross word should be smacked up side the head, but believing that you must accept a harmful or potentially fatal attack, before you can defend yourself is clearly not what i consider reasonable or correct with regards to aikido philosophy... you are doing yourself and others a disservice by this position IMHO...

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-22-2006, 02:55 AM   #18
Alec Corper
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

This has already been answered in many ways. The essence of Budo is awareness. The finer it becomes the sooner you sense the intent to attack. If you respond to the attempt before it physically manifests it may appear on the outside to be pre-emptive, but it is a response, not an initiative.
"Start later, arrive sooner" is not a matter of speed but of awareness. In many ways this should be the focus of the training. Aikido is not about fighting, it is about resolving the conflict in an appropriate manner before it can escalate into something messy. That may mean applying atemi to control the spirit of the other and end the conflict on your terms, whilst still preserving their wellbeing.

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 02-22-2006, 03:00 AM   #19
Edwin Neal
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

very well put Alec...

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-22-2006, 08:36 AM   #20
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

At our school we take the attitude that once uke has entered our ma-ai he is fair game for atemi or something more powerful if need be. This is very effective in deterring uke in a self-defense application of Aikido. It is difficult to attack when trying to defend one's self.
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Old 02-22-2006, 10:19 AM   #21
mattnowak
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Edwin Neal wrote:
"According to my understanding, the philospphy of aikido does not permit a strike before it is given to you."

Matthew this is ridiculous! you mean you have to get hit first before you can do anything??? Everyone has the RIGHT to defend themselves and others from violence... A good legal definition is: Self Defense is the right to protect oneself and others against violence or threatened violence with whatever force or means are reasonably necessary.
If some guy says to you 'I'm gonna kick your ass" that is a threat of violence and you have the right to defend yourself, and that does include the option of striking first! His intention is clear, if you cannot escape then you can use reasonable force... you could even shoot him! if it came to that level, and it would be self defense... Please reconsider this and try to understand that i am not saying any one who says a cross word should be smacked up side the head, but believing that you must accept a harmful or potentially fatal attack, before you can defend yourself is clearly not what i consider reasonable or correct with regards to aikido philosophy... you are doing yourself and others a disservice by this position IMHO...

Many times when someone says they are "gonna kick your ass" they are bluffing. More often than not the person realizes that violence would only complicate things and the attacker become scared. As for the idea that you have to be hit before you can defend yourself...that was not my intention. If you understand Aikido and truly follow its principles then you will be able to avert an attack before you become hit. Here is an idea..."Step out of the line of attack" <-- simple beginner teachings.

Please feel free to ask any more questions about my view of Aikido.

Last edited by mattnowak : 02-22-2006 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 02-22-2006, 10:28 AM   #22
Alec Corper
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Condescension is the last resort of the insecure

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 02-22-2006, 01:41 PM   #23
Lorien Lowe
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Mathew Nowak wrote:
Many times when someone says they are "gonna kick your ass" they are bluffing....
Sunday a stabbing victim came into the ED. Coincidentally, he was pre-emptively stabbed by a man he admits he told 'I'm gonna kick your ass,' although he claimed that he said this in a joking manner. The stabber, not the stabee, was the one arrested and charged.

I personally don't think that it's necessary to stand still and let oneself be hit before taking action, but I think that the wiser course might be to blend with (in the energetic sense) or avoid an innitial strike, rather than hitting back or hitting first. Assuming, of course, that one has the capability in terms of both skill and power to do so - strikes might come out of desperation.

-LK
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Old 02-22-2006, 02:22 PM   #24
tarik
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Mathew Nowak wrote:
Many times when someone says they are "gonna kick your ass" they are bluffing. More often than not the person realizes that violence would only complicate things and the attacker become scared.
Are you suggesting that it's not possible to recognize when someone is bluffing and scared vs. really intent on attacking you?

Tarik Ghbeish
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Old 02-22-2006, 02:33 PM   #25
tarik
 
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Re: pre-emptive strikes

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
Sunday a stabbing victim came into the ED. Coincidentally, he was pre-emptively stabbed by a man he admits he told 'I'm gonna kick your ass,' although he claimed that he said this in a joking manner. The stabber, not the stabee, was the one arrested and charged.
Going from a pre-emptive strike to a pre-emptive stab is stretching the anecdote, is it not? If the victim was truly joking around, than I don't see how this remains relevent to Aikido.

If he was seriously intent on "kicking ass" and got pre-empted, well, again, escalation to a more deadly weapon doesn't seem like Aikido to me, but I'll happily admit that I'll blow the head off any person whom I sincerely believe is trying to kill me or my family (which includes people at large) and still call it Aikido and I'll sleep at night just fine.

That doesn't preclude me from using many different methods to avoid allowing the situation to arise in the first place, and all of those are preferable to the decision of last resort.

I perceive Aikido an a path of causing the least harm to the most people to resolve a violent situation. That isn't non-violence in my understanding of the movement, but it is LESS violent than most of the options.

Tarik Ghbeish
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