Although not taught to beginners atemi is the name of the punch used in Aikido. It is used to soften and distract the opponent by hitting nerve points. Every single aikido technique has many openings for atemi. But atemi is only used as needed. If your opponent goes along nicely then there is no need for atemi. Then again if you have a really nasty opponent, a well placed atemi will break his balance, soften him up and distract him enough so you can go along with your original technique. One of my favorite spots for hitting with atemi is under the arms at the upper part of the ribcage, where a nerve point is handily located. This will usually radically change the expression on the face of your partner from grim determination to pale, especially if he/she's a beginner.

I'm speaking about Aikido. I'm 5. kyu, and I don't have any experience on other martial arts.

When the uke is in balance, it's hard to move him. Atemi is a strike to do this. Atemi doesn't have to be a real painful punch, although it can be. One of the favorite atemis of mine is a real punch that any person who is awake will try to dodge. The idea is to move the fist determinedly directly towards the uke's face, when he isn't prepared for it. A reflex will make the uke to move backwards, disturbing the balance. The punch doesn't have to hit. When I'm the uke, I find it impossible to prevent this reflex from working. One variation of this is snapping fingers instead of a fist. That is so unexpected that you get 1.5 seconds extra time when the uke ponders what's happened.

I have heard of some funny atemis. Cleavage for a woman is very effective to disturb the male. It works even for many senseis. Remember that all you need is one little glance, one small crack in the stone of concentration and WHAM! Men have also another weakness: when doing iriminage, you need the uke to bend his body forwards. Men will voluntarily bend their body forwards if you threaten their crotch. Yet another atemi is knuckle-rubbing the sternum. It is actually used as a test for unconsciousness. Accidentally inserting fingers to the mouth or nose when doing tenchinage will make anyone fall down. Kids, don't try this at home.

Anectodes from

Atemi, Japanese for striking. A term mostly used in grappling martial arts to distinguish between different categories of technique.

In Aikido as stated above it is generally taught to more advanced practitioners to develop the more practical application of the art. In other martial arts such as Jiu-Jitsu, Atemi is an integral part of the martial art.

Atemi can be used as a transitional move to distract the opponent while progressing to another technique, to aid kuzushi (breaking balance)so another technique such as a throw or take down to be performed, or as a technique in itself (using striking to deal with the confrontation).

To Achieve greatest effect with Atemis, Aikidoka and Jitsuka should aim their strikes at vulnerable points of the body, such as eyes, throat and for more advanced practitioners pressure points. Striking pressure points requires a high level of accuracy and can be highly dangerous, so when practicing and when using in real situations extreme caution should exercised.

In Martial arts that concentrate purely on striking, eg. Karate, exponents undergo years of knuckle conditioning to fashion their hands into weapons that can break through more protected areas of the body. This involves lots of painful training and will slowly deform your hands so I prefer accuracy over raw power.

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