Recommended reading: “Anatomy of an Attack” by Stanley Pranin

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

We perceive an attack when we believe our lives or well-being are in danger or when we consider that our territory, physical or psychological, has been encroached upon. For example, if an angry three-year old child, arms flailing, approaches an adult, normally such an act is not regarded as an attack. That is, the adult does not consider the child’s action to be a physical threat. The same adult, however, the object of an assault by a gun-wielding assailant will certainly feel he has been attacked. Let us imagine a third case where a skilled martial artist is confronted by a man in possession of a knife. It is conceivable that such an individual due to long years of training and mental preparation will not in any way behave as though in an emergency situation and will matter-of-factly proceed to apply a measure appropriate to the circumstances. In all three instances, the question of whether or not an attack has occurred is dependent on the perception of the person acted upon or the person evaluating the scene.

Aikido Journal Online has the world’s largest archive of Aikido-related material including articles, interviews, photographs and video clips. As an Aikido Journal Online subscriber you will have access to a variety of website resources reserved exclusively for members. These include:

  • Full access to the ever-growing Aikido Journal archives consisting of more than 650 articles.
  • Full access to Stanley Pranin’s “Encyclopedia of Aikido” featuring some 900 entries with over 200 rare photos.
  • Full access to an ever growing collection of technical and historical video clips featuring many of the best-known exponents of aikido, Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, and other arts.

Besides these advantages, by becoming an Aikido Journal Online subscriber, you help support our staff in its continuing work of researching and documenting the history of aikido, Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, and related martial arts.

Finally, we are pleased to offer two free gifts for those readers who subscribe or renew for two years. In an effort to avoid any duplication of gift items, we have expanded the options to choose from. Click here to find out more information about our subscription/renewal options.

Click here to read entire article.


  1. Most human situations are scripted. Attacks or other violent interactions are no exception. In fact, if you think about it, most attacks are based on plans. One of the strong points of TMA, particularly aikido, is that when push comes to shove the practitioner clicks into their own script, trained in at the ballistic movement level. Can the trained person lose? Of course. For one reason or another they have dropped into somebody else’s play. They may upstage the original production and often do, but if there is any fault in losing, it’s being careless enough to be on the wrong stage.

  2. Let’s hope the attacker is NOT trained in KALI/FMA knife fighting…because your dead Aikidoka.

  3. Yep sliced, diced ready for the pot…..

  4. I do not believe it matters what art the attacker is trained in or if he has received any training at all, he can always get lucky with wild thrusts that are not precise movements. If the person being attacked has been trained in traditional Aikido most likely his automatic instincts take over and he or she just reacts within the harmony of the attack. When being attacked you do not have time to think of what technique you will do, whatever you have trained in will just come out naturally as a reflex your mind and body has cultivated by training daily. An attack is very similar to an automobile accident, although it is only seconds, motion and time seem to be in a different dimension altogether, the action appears to run in slow motion and your reaction also seems to be in the timing of the event taking place. As the old saying goes, your whole life passes before you before your demise. Same holds true even in an unexpected accident or attack, you do not think you just do. If you have trained to harm someone attacking you, then that is how you will react, if you have trained to harmonize with the attack then that is how you will react to the situation.

Speak Your Mind