Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Am Atemi

Bernie Lau often quotes OSensei as saying aikido is 80% atemi.  I'd like to see a citation, because I doubt it.  It is either a bad translation or apocryphal.  Aikido comes from kendo, and even the kendo dudes say striking is 1/3rd of kendo (the sword has three business sides to be used in equal measure).

Of course atemi is a settled part of aikido, but how does a conscientious objector practice atemi-free aikido?  How to have a martial art in which there is not atemi?

As I was listening to John Kanetomi instruct on atemi this morning, he noted that you have to "sell" the strike, convince the opponent he will get hit, even if you do not.  That is one way.  There is another that I like, and that is to be the atemi.

You must make your opponent believe they will connect, hit you.  So there is a strike, but it is their strike.  And the more energy with which they strike, the harder they fall.  Now, a good atemi saps energy from the opponent, part of the point, and to not zap energy first with atemi is to assure the opponent hits the ground all the harder. And since few know how to fall or roll properly, the fact is atemi-less aikido may in fact be more dangerous for the opponent.

To avoid this, you practice after throwing to not let go, pulling in, and hard slamming your opponent to save the opponent from injury or death.    It will hurt very much, and disincline an opponent for another ride.  Aikido without atemi.

You are not sapping their energy at the beginning when they are attacking you and you are striking them, you are sapping their energy at the end when you are saving them.  If you strike an opponent, you use up some of your energy.  If your opponent hits the ground, the rotation of the earth will sap the energy of the attacker.  When an opponent meets the energy of the earth's rotation, he realizes there is a whole lot more where that came from.

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