Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't just do tsuki forever...

Here's a little tidbit that might upset a few aikidoka - or maybe not...
Tsuki as it is practiced as an attack in class (similar to a Shotokan or TKD lunge punch) is a good place to begin learning aikido technique, but it tends not to happen that way in real attacks. What happens more often is more reminiscent of a jab-cross or grab-cross attack. While working against tsuki can teach you the mechanics that will allow you to deal with jab-cross and grab-cross attacks, you have to constantly keep the off hand in mind. It has to dictate pretty much everything you do in aikido.
If there's one lesson you learn in aikido randori, it is that if you become too intent on doing something to the lead hand, you will get smashed with the other hand. You have to be handling the rear hand as you are evading the lead hand and vise versa.
It can help you greatly if you will (at least every so often) explicitly practice your techniques or kata against the following three attacks:
  • stab twice - rubber knife in the lead hand, uke gives one lunging attack from outside ma-ai like you're used to, but then uke can stab or slash again any way they want to. Uke's specific goal going into the technique is to cut you more than once no matter what happens.
  • jab-cross - similar to the above. Uke leads with a jab then throws the rear cross. Either may be real or a feint for the next punch.
  • grab-cross - practice grab defenses like the wrist releases with uke not simply stepping in and grabbing. Have uke grab with the goal of holding you in place or pulling you into a punch.
If you are unfamiliar with the jab or the jab-cross type attacks, here are some good sources for additional info:


  1. You are soooo right. I do some combinations like that on the makiwara, some on the bag, and you know, even at my advanced age, it doesn't take that much practice to keep those punches coming hard and fast.

    When Evil Conservative and I are learning new techniques, grappling techniques or whatever, we always have to start out slow, with predictable, uncomplicated attacks. But we know we can't stay there, because we can attack much faster and harder than that ourselves and we know what it's like.

    Some time back, we started practicing a tuite defense against a simple push. Nice and slow at first.

    We're not that far away from doing it full speed and power now, and if I hadn't hollered at the right time, last night I think he might've wrenched my hand off. These techniques really do work, but not if the practitioner doesn't make the effort to get to the point of doing them spontaneously against realistic attacks.

  2. Fantastic post.

    I posted on something similar in a rant about two months ago called The Problem with Hard Style Systems Like Taekwondo and Karate. If you think the Aiki Tsuki is an issue, think of poor hard stylists like us ... everything is focused on a 'Tsuki-like' snapshot!!! At least that's how it is for many schools that practice hard styles.

    Doing constant repetition and going up and down the line OR practicing without any insight will ultimately cause some 'zombie-like' movements (to borrow a word you've used before). Today we did strikes as we sprinted toward the target - it gets you to break the cycle of inertia, lets you reach maximal acceleration, and helps you put 'stances,' 'power,' 'style' in perspective.

    I'm going to post something on defence against the jab cross. Perhaps you should look out for your previous posts on the aiki zombie punch (I can't remember what you called it) ... but it would be interesting if you posted that link here so we can look through what you said.



  3. Thanks, guys. Here's the 'zombie' attack posts that you referred to, Colin...

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  5. I wonder how martial arts supplies have anything to do with the tsuki forever post. Hmm. Colin

  6. ALright Pat - I've just posted a response to this post on my blog.

    Do-san: Defending Against Straight Blast Punches to the Face




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