AJ Forum: “Proper Attack, ukemi and blocking questions”

“I cross train in karate and have a background in escrima. As a result, I frequently get chastised by the upper kyu and Dan Nages because:

1. they get offended because I block the strike, (block my face) while taking ukemi
2. throw a real punch (not hard, but a proper fist in the actual direction of the nage, without relenting. In other words, although I move slowly, if you don’t move, you will get hit). How can a person work on a technique when the attack is poor?

Can someone tell me why this is? I truly don’t get it.”

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  1. I second all the responses already made, especially Autrelle Holland’s, “Hit them harder!!!” and Yankeechick’s, “Aim correctly.”
    Offended are they? Well the would be “aikido world” is full of petulant wankers who just want to fake training and are more interested in deceiving themselves and others and impressing those even less competent than themselves. Lemmings.
    You should take some measure of responsibility for wasting time in substandard training and find somewhere or someone who is training for more purposes than feeling important about themselves.
    The first weapon of a budoka is discernment. And honesty. Even if it may often be uncomfortable.
    Be choosy who you train with.
    “Can someone tell me why this is?” Yes, because they are incompetent fakes.
    Covering up and proper maai is mandatory as is correct attack. Otherwise you are doing worse than wasting time but letting bad habits creep in which could cost you your life in a real assault.

  2. bruce baker says:


    Because you and they .. are programming your inner mind to react beyond the speed of the thinking mind.

    If you are faster then they are, and doing unfamiliar movements that make the situation unsafe or dangerous in some way, THEY need to step it up, program their inner mind as well as their body to step it up and get there before you do, or … do something different.

    YOU … might need to put your ego and speed away for some practice partners so they .. can program their mind and body to catch up to you.

    When you can throw your best punch and it is neutralized by using what you are supposed to be learning in Aikido, then you will understand. But until then .. you will ask .. why?

  3. Wabi Sabi says:

    These posts and most of the other opinions of “Arrogant” Martial Artists make me realize the that most of their understanding is generated by Ego… How sad it is to find that after a life time of training that all these people achieve is the understanding of clinging onto human permanence through ego is futile…O Sensei realized this, it took him a lifetime and yet he tried to pass this important knowledge to us and all some of us can do is chase the ego for the rest of out lives. Aikido – The Way of Harmony….

    My advice to you is practice without ego, gentleness is the way of heaven and this is an important understanding, one I hope we can realize before it is too late…

    I personally have trained over 30 years in different Martial Ways and found some of the wisest and powerful teachers have been the most humble…These men have and understanding that life is precious and it is also impermanent, the spirit is what we train…I’m sure they will be many ego driven men who will happily reply to me and tell me I’m wrong but life or death will eventually awake them like I…

  4. David DeLong says:

    We learn to aim our strikes precisely, whether we’re on the uke or nage side of the equation.
    Aside from the issue of “putting an attacker out”, there’s the aspect of communication. If you want to “resolve the conflict,” you need to communicate effectively to your partner. You need to be connected to their center. You need to know where their chin,solar plexus, groin, is, even if you’re not looking at it. If you simply stick your hand up in vague approximation of a strike, you’re just presenting a handle for them to get some leverage on your body. If you’re attacking, even if you’re doing slow kihon you need to give them an attack that they actually have to respond to by blending.
    The issue about how to “block” or “slip” punches is a little more complicated.
    However, although it’s great to learn other martial arts, try setting them aside for a moment while you learn what your teacher is offering.
    First of all, that’s a fundamental principle of etiquette where I train.
    Second, you may learn something your karate training didn’t offer.
    Where I train, we understand that each time we bow to a partner, we’re agreeing to train for our mutual benefit. We’re not in a contest. That doesn’t mean we make it easy for our partner.
    Maai can be considered as a “sphere of influence”, rather than an “inpenetrable shell”. A “shell” is brittle, if it’s broken, there’s nothing left to stop the attack short of your chin. You should be learning to blend. That means a whole-body response, even if you don’t actually take a step or do a big tenkan, etc. If you just rely on your hands, without activating the rest of your body to move, you’re handicapping yourself. In sparring disciplines, there’s a different emphasis. There’s nothing wrong with that.
    In aikido, there are big, languid spirals, and there are tight, quick spirals. There are lessons in all of that.

  5. In our dojo the advanced practice is exclusively jiuwaza rather than the traditional way of training through emulation of technique. A proper attack by uke is essential to training, but in some dojos the attacks we provide for each other might elicit a similar response to the ones you receive. This is because we are relentless in our pursuit of aiki which is both effective and kind. The key descriptor of our attacks is “meaningful.”

    By that, we mean that the attack has a purpose other than just extending an appendage so that nage can leverage us into a throw. Intention is everything, so a strike is meant to kill and a grab is meant to control. If a strike is meant to miss, in order to insure nage’s safety, nage will be training to perform ineffectively in a real assault because the practice strike is ineffective. If a grab is meant to just hang on to nage while being forced through a technique, nage will not get the feedback as to whether his actions are true aiki or whether they are resistant and will cause uke to alter his attack or defend himself as you do when you protect your face during ukemi.

    Because our attacks are meaningful (relentless intention) the intensity can be regulated for safety without sacrificing honesty. This can make practice much more revealing for us as nages, but it also means that we spend more time than some dojos focusing on the nature of attack rather than technique. We feel that this exploration deepens our understanding of how and why aikido really works.

  6. Hit them faster and harder!!!!

  7. There are all sorts of things here, most of which are explored above. I was doing some filming a year or so ago. My uke was moving WITH me. Good news and bad news. Good news that he could do that. Bad news because IF he did that, the technique that I was trying to demonstrate wouldn’t work very well. Something else would, BUT… In general, free form is over the heads of most aikido folks who have no background in other arts and haven’t been training that long. Either their forms are too rigid, or not strong enough. Personally, I like folks who can hit and kick. But if doing forms, it’s hard to fit all the alternatives in.

  8. Soft, formulated, dance like, single techniques are valid training.
    Especially for beginners.
    Striking to miss is dangerous practice, for anyone, because it is deceitful in training and breeds suicide habits.
    Sempai who “get offended” over chudan stances, or don’t know what jodan and chudan are should hand their “rank” back, quit training and take up ant farming or something.
    Gedan is not a stance, unless you are conscious of all the factors.
    “A proper strike [sic] in the actual direction of the nage, without relenting… although moving slowly, if you don’t move, you will get hit..” is reasonable training procedure. Essential before any progress can be made.
    Doing erroneous katas is not, but I get the distinct impression Yankeechick, is indeed being respectful in complying with dojo protocols, but simply exercising common sense. As she should.
    Everyone, from wrestlers to the marines train safely. Obviously.
    A real situation cannot be safe. For anyone. It contains real risk.
    On this basis, essential it is to train honestly, striving to develop clarity. Continually tweaking, refining, adjusting and correcting lesser technique and stepping up to improving.
    What terrifies dysfunctional/politico/cult builders is an awakening person who uses common sense better than they dare to.
    It depends on one’s motives for “doing aikido.”
    If training is not sincere, it is a waste of time.
    Sincerity means using common sense instead of following the mistakes of others as if they were gospel.
    We train to learn from each other and upgrade our skill and awakening.
    If your practice is preparation for a career in professional protection, you should be taking training very seriously.
    If it’s just a casual pastime, with lots of showing off and some politics behind the scenes, then I recommend dance sport. Not Budo. Especially not Aikido. And if you think dance sport is a reprieve from being slack-arsed, you have a surprise in store.
    Aikido is self-correction, service, clearing the mind and uplifting the world.
    And to be lucidly skilled when under fire. Real fire.
    It will come at least once in everyone’s life.
    How you trained and the attitudes you hold, will make all the difference.
    Progress in Budo, or anything meaningful, requires rigorous sincerity, willingness and a desire to get rid of all bullshit.

  9. I would take your questions directly to your sensei and follow their guidance. At our dojo, if we do not protect our face from an atemi, we will get hit… end of story.

    We also need to be able to deal with what ever form the attack is presenting itself, whether someone knows how to punch correctly or not.

    During jiyuwaza, if uke attacks in an unconventional manner, for example, grabbing our belt, bear hug or what not, we cannot stop and say, “Oh, I’m sorry please do not attack me that way.”

    Someone on the street will not be limited to the repertoire of standard aikido attacks. We should be able to resolve any attack.

  10. If the atemi is telegraphed it should be blocked. A proper atemi should have the same effect on uke as a fly or mosquito that comes out of nowhere for their face. The bug does not weigh more than a couple of grams & even if it flew directly into your cheek could not hurt you. If you watch the reaction most people have to the insect it is certainly out of proportion to the actual danger imposed. That is what we should strive for. It is a mental issue of perceived threat.

  11. Keith Gates says:

    Not sure if previous comments have satisfied you or not.

    Anyway here is my two cents worth.
    The answer is two fold.
    You cannot work on your technique if the attack is poor.
    There are dojos out there that would appreciate your prior experience.

    I am taking a wild punt here and I may be completely wrong. I am guessing that what they are really getting at, is a sense rigidity on your behalf.

    If you have practiced Karate it may be the case that you have a very solid base and solid blocks and solid ‘feel’ about you.

    Aikidoka are not used to this and generally they don’t like it. Remember that in Aikido you are developing sensitivity, hard to do if you are rigid.

    Also have a think about the Japanese sword, it is hard on the outside but has a softer inner core. This provides a degree of flexibility, otherwise it is brittle and will fracture. Karate trains one to be hard like an iron rod, Aikido like a razor sharp Nihonto.

    Just try to relax and be a little softer, blocking with only the force needed to deflect not shatter bones; smile and they will follow suit.

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