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Strange answers about atemi and brushoff

The other day, Sensei Strange dared to disagree with me about what was going on in my video that I posted. The nerve of some people! Actually, I'm not offended at all by folks disagreeing with me in the comments on my blog - especially when they do it as intelligently and civilly as he does. Today I wanted to post a few thoughts in response to Strange's comments.
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First, aiki is a lot of things to a lot of people. Strange characterized it as being primarily about breaking uke's posture. I disagree. Aiki is about harmony or unity of energy. Lately I've liked to translate aiki as defending yourself by doing the most perfectly appropriate thing at just the right time. Maintaining your own posture (shizentai) and breaking the other guy's posture (kuzushi) are important parts of that, but they are not the first or the only thing that you do when applying the principle of aiki. This is the same message that I've been trying to communicate in some previous articles...
The aiki brushoff as demonstrated in that film is not done as an attack. It is done specifically to avoid attacking uke in order to minimize the chance of uke countering. I don't see it as simply moving the relationship around as Strange says. I see it as absolutely refusing to have a (physical) relationship with uke (if circumstances will allow). Incidently, it is nearly the same thing as the 'stealing the initiative' timing that Strange demonstrates on his excellent shomenate video, with the exception that your intent is to steal the initiative and use it to separate rather than to step into uke or hold your ground.
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Strange demonstrates on that same video, one counter to a shomenate used as an attack - wakigatame. That weakness exists in all aikido techniques, and I agree that when tori steps into uke with shomen it's often begging for wakigatame, but the aiki brushoff is not more succeptable to wakigatame than other variations of shomenate. It is actually less succeptable - that statement comes from a lot of randori testing. In fact, in our series of knife freeplay tests against FMA guys, this sort of shomenate and aigamaeate were the only things in the system that reliably reduced the likelihood of getting cut.
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On my film, the times that tori steps through uke with shomenate were specifically demonstrated with tori backed into a wall such that he couldn't separate. I offered the step-through shomenate as a solution when you can't brushoff. And it's a pretty good one, even if uke does counter with wakigatame. At least he's not holding you against a wall pounding on you, and wakigatame has just as many weaknesses as shommenate.
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I'd like to end by repeating, aiki is a lot of things to a lot of people and my way is not THE only way to do the thing. I do, however think it is a valid and highly valuable paradigm under which to apply aikido technique. In a previous article I characterized this type of motion as the Aiki Gift That Keeps On Giving. There are other ways to play aikido, and I'm sure that Strange's is pretty good - maybe even better than mine in some ways - but I still suggest you at least make a study of what this paradigm can do for your aikido.
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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