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Aikido is 100% atemi!

A while back I mentioned the old aphorism that "atemi solves 80% of the problems in aikido," and I got a response from someone along the lines of, "What? Are you nuts? Do you really think that hitting people in the face will ever solve any problems in aikido?" At the time I didn't respond, but it's funny how this sort of thing roils in my mind for a while until I decide that I really do want to respond.
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So, why in the world would someone think that atemi accounted for most of aikido?
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Sensei Strange, an aiki blogger that I try to keep up with, mentioned in a previous post (sorry I didn't dig up the link) that he thought aikido is primarily about kuzushi. Another blogospheric aikidoka, LF Wilkinson, stated in a previous post (again, I didn't dig up the link for you) that aikido was all about 3 things - timing, ma-ai, and kuzushi.
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Do you see some common ground developing here? Five out of every four sensei surveyed state that kuzushi is a critical element of aikido. I've written before that kuzushi is critical (though I don't think it is the only important principle or even the most important).  This aiki=kuzushi idea is pretty common.
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Consider what it takes to effect a kuzushi - you have to exert some force (sometimes very little) against uke with a certain timing and in a certain direction.
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If the force is exerted over a prolonged period of time, then uke can receive support from you, nullifying the kuzushi. The force must be a sudden-on, sudden-off sort of thing. So, you are really talking about creating a jolt or shock or bump on uke at a certain time and in a certain direction.
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What does a "timed, directed jolt of force against uke" sound like? To me it sounds like a strike. Atemi.
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Thus, to the extent that aikido relies on kuzushi, it relies on atemi because all kuzushi is atemi (except for the no-touch stuff, but even that is generally done by making uke think you are about to hit him).
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Maybe shomenate (chin jab or frontal face strike) itself only solves 80% of problems in aikido, but aikido in general is nearly 100% atemi. There are no techniques in aikido that you can do without jolting uke into unbalance.
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Bet you never thought of aikido as a striking art!

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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 木蓮
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