What is it that is important for atemi then? It is timing. Even if you go and watch a boxing match, for example, you will often see someone get knocked out by a very casual looking punch. This is an example of judging the opponent’s changing movements and punching with absolutely perfect timing
by GOZO SHIODA
As I mentioned before, once you have acquired the ability to co-ordinate your breathing with this timing, you will be able to attack using any part of your body. Here is an interesting story about the technique I often demonstrate in which I use my back to repel my opponent. It happened at a martial arts demonstration when K, a student of mine from years ago who is now active in the United States, was still an uchideshi. We were doing the usual demonstration in which a group of attackers comes at me simultaneously. I sensed K coming at me from behind so I judged the distance between us and, with a bang, threw my back into him. It is difficult to explain just how I knew his position and distance without having eyes in the back of my head, except to say that after many years of training, it is a matter of knowing the timing through intuition and the sound of his footsteps.
In any case, this single shot was a clean hit and K tumbled head over heels and collapsed. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t get up — he was out cold! His stomach was swollen up like a frog’s. It appears that just as he was breathing in I threw my back into him and he stopped breathing, just like that. We rushed to revive him and when he came to, as soon as he saw me, he immediately lunged at me again. It seems that he had lost consciousness halfway through his attack and so, as soon as he came to, he just kept going from where he had left off.
And because it all happened so fast, without thinking I threw him off again. Incidents like this occasionally take place because I am always telling the uchideshi to attack with the full intention of knocking me down. K showed his outstanding spirit by trying to complete his attack after regaining consciousness.
Be that as it may, I think you can see how, with perfect timing, atemi can become a single definitive blow.
Source: Gozo Shioda, Aikido Shugyo – Harmony in Confrontation, Shindokan Books, 2002
Copyright Jacques Payet and Christopher Johnston ©2002
Aikido Shugyo, by Gozo Shioda, was originally released in Japanese in 1991. Throughout this important and insightful work, Shioda Sensei relates many stories about the time he spent training directly with the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, about his war-time experiences and about his years as the Headmaster of the Yoshinkan. He also uses countless anecdotes to convey important insights into the functioning and application of Aikido techniques. Aikido Shugyo will inspire anyone interested in traditional martial arts with its lessons, its history, and its straight-forward approach to the application of Aikido techniques.
Aikido Shugyo is a rare insight from one of the leading and most well-known martial artists of his time. Already a “classic” in Japanese, it is a required text for every martial arts library. This first ever English publication is a faithful and complete presentation of the original Japanese text and includes a Foreword by Kyoichi Inoue Sensei, 9th Dan, Dojo-cho of the Yoshinkan Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.
Buy Aikido Shugyo here