Thoughts on Atemi and Uke/Nage

Discussion in 'Aikido' started by TSDTexan, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    The space between uke and nage is undifferentiated potential. If uke has lethal intent, he is seeking to apply some destructive force onto nage. Nage is maintaining aiki, that is, manifesting the natural complement to whatever uke's actions (and forces) are.

    There is an infinite set of possible ways for uke to manifest his attack, and the simplest and most readily available ones are strikes. Complex throws, takedowns or joint manipulations are possible, but their probability is much lower than the multitude of possible simple strikes. In the course of the interaction, the realm of superposed possible states is winnowed down to actual, manifested actions. (This is the transition from wuji to taiji.)

    Any strike that has not been made impossible, difficult, or futile should remain as the next most probable state that can arise.

    This is the natural unfolding of the situation.

    That is honest and natural, and it is the means by which aiki readily manifests in different forms, be it weapons, striking, grappling, etc.

    A dojin should be able to strike just as much as he should be able to do ikkyo.

    The reason ikkyo comes out (instead of striking) is that uke and nage mutually constrain the possible states such that strikes are being prevented and countered.

    This is done through the application of force and body positioning, and retained/regained balance, so yes, uke must be trying to affect nage's whole body.

    If he doesn't, we are doing a kind of striking practice (if we are being honest and simple).

    That is, it is uke's attempt at constraint of freedom that gives rise to something other than striking.

    The corollary is that a serious study of striking must be done by all aikido practitioners for this to make sense.

    An understanding of striking (and potential striking) is that really in reality from an Aiki viewpoint, striking and grappling are the same thing - grappling is "sustained" or tonic striking, and striking is sudden, sparse grappling.
     
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  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    Agreed. A few notes to further the discussion:

    I have heard discussions that the primary reasons we don't see many strikes in Ueshiba's Aikido (term used for clarity, as there are other arts in the Aikido family, as defined by the Dai Nippon Butokukai) are that 1) most of his original students were well-versed in other arts, so he had no need to teach them strikes and was focused on teaching them the aiki principles that were central to his art and 2) after his conversion to Omoto (I think I've got that right) and as his devotion to it increased, he personally used fewer strikes and focused on being "softer" in his style. I don't personally know enough of the early history of Ueshiba's Aikido, but this seems in line with what I do know. In watching video of some of the early students, I see a much "harder" style, which seems in line with the second reason.

    In my own experience, in a related art (Nihon Goshin Aikido, also descended from DRAJJ), I know the importance of using strikes. They are one of the ways I set up the off-balancing necessary for throws and locks, as well as being useful techniques on their own.

    All that said, if we go back to the original premise (that Ueshiba could reasonably assume certain pre-existing knowledge among his early students), then the constraint from strikes actually makes good senses. If I am teaching someone who is experienced in a striking art (actually one of my current beginners, as well as several students from the past), one of the things I will do is constrain them from depending upon their Karate (or whatever art) to force them to learn new methods. Of course, later I help them integrate their prior learning into the new learning, so they have both available. I do the same when someone comes in, for instance, with background in Ueshiba's art (or one of its descendants), by keeping them from using the forms and techniques they learned there until they learn to use ours, then integrate the two sets of knowledge.

    Aiki, as a principle, can be applied to strikes, throws, locks, defensive theory, and even offensive theory. In a complete study of a martial art (whether theoretical, sport, or self-defense), if the art is an aiki art, then aiki should show in all these areas.


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  3. Argus

    Argus Black Belt

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    In my head!
    That makes sense. Coming from other arts myself, I find it odd that some Aikido instructors/practitioners talk about all of the opportunities for atemi, as if they are some secret. It seems quite obvious, I think, to anyone versed in martial arts where opportunities to strike are present for nage, or uke for that matter.

    Excellent point! There is nothing that turns me off from Aikido more than those who argue that anything the least bit offensive in nature - even just counter offensive - is not "aiki." The concept of blending with your opponent is present to varying degrees of prominence in many arts, and takes many forms. To be honest, I think that I've learned more about blending with an attacker from Wing Chun, and from Fencing, than I have Aikido. But, that experience is what makes me appreciate what Aikido has to offer, and seeks to accomplish.

    In a way, Aikido is one of those arts that I strongly believe you should come to with broad prior knowledge and experience in the martial arts, or else seek it in addition to your training. It's not that Aikido alone doesn't suffice - and, I believe that if you're using Aikido, you should be doing Aikido. But there's a lot of understanding that I think a student will miss unless he is exposed to other arts and training methodologies. My other training has given me an intuitive understanding for lines and angles of attack, energy, timing, change and flow, and an awareness for danger; where I'm open, whether or not I'm in a favorable position, and where his next most likely attack is to come from, and when I may need to abandon my position and change to something else. Those are all things that are needed to use Aikido effectively, but are often overlooked in Aikido training alone - which isn't necessarily bad if you already have prior experience and understanding of them.
     
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  4. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    This is a result of the Omoto influence. My understanding is that Omoto is very peace-oriented, and as Ueshiba's devotion to it increased, so did his teaching of non-harm. I've read that he actually changed the interpretation of the kanji (most have more than one literal meaning) to "peaceful" rather than "soft, blended" (both are rough translations, based on my meager understanding). If you look at some of his early students, you don't see this. Look at Gozo Shioda's art, Yoshinkan Aikido, for instance.

    I've read a post on another MA site that proposed precisely this, relating to Ueshiba's Aikido. Since most of his early students were well-trained prior to their arrival, he never taught those strikes. Students who became instructors emulated this, so they never taught strikes, though some of their students didn't already have them. Over time, this has had a huge impact on the art.

    I love what can be done with Ueshiba's Aikido. However, I believe the lack of strikes in the training of most students causes two problems: 1) they don't use strikes where they are the most appropriate response (even within aiki principles), and 2) some of the students aren't training at how to give a realistic attack. In some schools, the attacks have become stylized to the extent that they no longer resemble common attacks, at all. I don't care if it's open or closed hand, but I want a movement that's likely to actually come up in an attack.

    This is one of the things I like about Nihon Goshin Aikido (again, for clarification, not descended from Ueshiba's Aikido, but part of the Aikido family of arts as defined by the Dai Nippon Butokukai in the 1940's, like Korindo Aikido). We train strikes as a primary part of the art. Depending upon the instructor, you'll see them taught (and used) to varying degrees, as you'd expect. To me, aiki is a principle that isn't necessarily about peacefulness (I'm not prepared to be peaceful to someone who comes at me with a knife). In daily life, it translates that way, but in combat it's about working with the force of the attacker. In some cases, that means letting him walk into a strike.
     
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  5. Jenna

    Jenna Senior Master

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    Hello there, I like your thoughts here, can you say please how do you mean with your point 1 ? What kind of atemi would you practice? And when are these strikes the most appropriate response within aiki principles? thank you, Jxx
     
  6. JP3

    JP3 Black Belt

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    We do this, Gerry. It is a beginner thing, at least for us it is. Sort of in line with the progressive resistance theory, too. At the very beginning, with people who know nothing at all, or have no idea what is about to happen To them, we dumb down the attack and put the training wheels on. If you really want to run off a pair of prospective no-nothing students, make sure they see colored belts ont he mt defending against full power boxing style punches on the day they visit the dojo without explaining it to them that it is a learning curve, etc.

    And then down the road a bit, which distance depends on the individual, we'll start working in real, meaningful hand strikes and big grab grapples with which they are expected to deal with, but now they know how to do so.

    I find myself apologizing for the stylized attacks at beginner level all the time, and I shouldn't. I've not had a training accident in years, though my people have been effective "out there" in recent memory.

    It IS a neat feeling though to have had a girl student who was a frail, shy and timid type who squealed and cringed at the beginning of her training, but stuck with it, and ended up being my choice to demo the Merrit-Stevens SD "kata" training tool I've been using for the past 5 years or so to introduce people to the idea of SD/realism, where they had no clue before.
     
  7. Blues

    Blues White Belt

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    Ueshiba early Aikido was pretty much like Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu, a battlefield martial art of the Takeda Clan from the Sengoku period (~1600), whose roots are set way back in 900, if I remember correctly.

    I think atemis should always be executed with the honest intention to strike and hit. I've always done this way (and, belive it or not, I got in trouble with other students for being "too realistic"), even adding fakes, closing up the distance in order to make it harder to evade the atemi and not looking directly at the uke but somewhere else.

    By the way, I think the big loss in modern Aikido are atemis, most Aikido dojos don't teach you how to strike and where to strike, as stated above.
     
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  8. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    And being disconnected from any realism is where a martial art deviates into fantasy martial arts.

    Aikido can become legitimate or a playground for fantasy martial artists.

    The choice is up to each school, and it's teachers.

    It is also up to the student(s)/student body who's realized they are getting took by a flimflam outfit...who can stop subsidizing this foolishness.

    But cults can and will continue to exist for this reason (among a few others)
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
  9. JP3

    JP3 Black Belt

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    The problem with training seems to be, by consensus, that if too real, you run the risk of being broken, and if not real enough, you run the risk of being broken.
     
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  10. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    Well summed up.
     
  11. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    That's a nice summation. My preference is to play a bit on both sides of that. Some training should be unrealistic (this is how we get a chance to practice a brand new technique). And some training should be a bit too realistic (when there's enough experience among the partners to be able to turn it off in an instant, should the need arise). There's a risk in working too well within the safe zone. If you aren't taking some beating, you're playing too soft. Of course, if you take too much beating, you might as well just go get beat up on the street.
     
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  12. JP3

    JP3 Black Belt

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    Right.

    It is much, much better to get beaten up by your friend, or friends, than it is to be beaten up by people who neither know you or care.

    The former leads to pain and bruising, but is generally healed from, and also learned from.

    The latter... is just not as good an outcome. Sub-Optimal, I'd call it.
     
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