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Aiki-strikey and the starburst

A while back, I published a list of five pointers that I try to keep in mind in order to make my atemi better.

  • Timing - only hit on a footfall
  • Kuzushi - only hit after an initial off-balance
  • Direction - strike on one of two weak lines
  • Gravity - add a full body weight drop
  • Connection - don't hold them up afterward

Today I want to add a sixth idea that comes from some of the striking gurus - specifically I think I got this from the Parker Kenpo guys.  I call it the starburst principle and I think they might call it something similar.

When your striking limb has momentum, it is not possible to change its direction arbitrarily.  When its in flight you can steer it some, but not much.  This is one of the basic rules in toshu randori. But as soon as it hits something, you can redirect that limb in any direction, because its momentum is imparted to what it struck.

If you imagine a starburst, or a three-dimensional asterisk, at the point of contact, the points of the star describe the places you can go after that impact.

The Kenpo guys use that to build combos.  They might strike arm then glance off to neck, drag through to strike the other arm, and bounce off to the groin, etc...

But you can use this idea to figure out how to put successive off-balances on uke until he crumbles.

Basically, in an aiki context, the starburst tells you to hit, and instead of driving through uke in that same line, change your line of force by 90° or 180° and keep hitting them with off-balances separated by 90° or 180°.

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