Within Tensoku Ryu we use Onna No Atemi Waza to:
- Cause pain and/or injury
- Move an opponent into a more beneficial position
- Control an opponent such that a void is (or is not) created
- Enable a rapid succession of strikes in a brief time
- Juke an opponent to gain instantaneous control
- Destabilize an opponent and compromise his or her structural integrity
- Confuse, disorient, and bewilder an opponent
- Take away one or more of an opponent’s sensory perceptions
- Demoralize and intimidate an opponent
- Position an opponent for a subsequent Otoko No Atemi
- Start Nage
- Reposition yourself relative to your opponent
- Check some portion of an opponent’s body
- Prevent the retraction of some part of the opponent’s body
- Prevent extension of some part of the opponent’s body
- Intercept an opponent in rotation
- Start opponent rotation
- Use contouring movements
In reality, this is only a partial list. What one can accomplish with Onna No Atemi Waza is boundless. Due to the variety of uses and movements involved in these strikes, it is not possible to define a set of criteria for their use. But here are some common characteristics of these strikes:
- The movements are often:
- Very short and quick, perhaps using limited power
- Long and circular, perhaps using significant power
- Strikes can use any part of the body, including but not limited to:
- A fist
- An open palm
- The back of the open hand
- Your wrist (inside, side, or back)
- A forearm (any surface)
- Your elbow (any surface)
- An upper arm (any surface).
- Upper torso
- Rib Cage
- Thigh (any surface)
- Knee (any surface)
- Lower leg (any surface)
- Each movement positions yourself or your opponent for a natural subsequent strike of some sort
- Two subsequent motions will often not be along the same geographic plane
- Two subsequent motions may operate on and amplify the same axis of rotation
You can even use the head (never use the head for Otoko No Atemi Waza). You might notice that you can use any part of your body as a weapon in the right circumstance.
These strikes take some time to get used to if you have only considered Otoko No Atemi Waza. Onna No Atemi Waza strikes are best practiced with a cooperative partner who will move, perhaps slowly at first, to mimic an opponent’s movements. See which quick strikes might inhibit a retraction or circumvent an extension. See which movements might keep an opponent close, or which might position an opponent closer.
Onna No Atemi Waza Application
This can all be very confusing when you first encounter it. Here is an example of a sequence of these strikes that you might find enlightening. Note the lack of retraction at the end of the following strikes. You may think there is one retraction, but if you look close, you will see it is not a retraction but a strike.
- When your opponent closes, let’s say with a Migi Oi Tsuki), step forward and impact them to the left side of his or her face, at about the level of the cheekbone, with the inside of your right forearm, but do not retract the strike.
- Rotate your right forearm and press a strike into their lower left jaw using the underside of your forearm.
- Drop your forearm down into the opponent’s shoulder area, striking with the outside edge of your forearm as you open your hand and point your fingers to the ground behind your opponent’s back.
- Pull inward with your right hand against the back of the opponent’s shoulder so he or she moves forward a slight amount.
- Bend the right forearm and deliver a Tate Empi Uchi to the opponent’s collar bone.
- Slap the opponent’s left ear with your open right hand.
- Rotate your wrist and strike with a Migi Shuto Uchi to the opponent’s neck using your right hand.
There you have it in a nutshell. These strikes used a single arm. They are fast and varied, with one strike leading to another without explicit retraction or unnecessary movement. You could deliver this entire sequence of movements in as little as a single second or two. That suggests the power of Onna No Atemi Waza.
In reality, you might use both hands to deliver alternate (perhaps not alternating) sets of strikes in which one strike sets the opponent up to receive the next strike. Some strikes will have more of a positioning effect, while others may be impactful. There is no preferred sequence or set of movements. You need to experiment to see what makes you comfortable and then extend your horizons so difficult sequences become part of your subconscious movement repertoire.
You will do much more with these types of movements in later belts. We introduce it here so you have time to experiment with these movements and become acquainted with what is possible using the Onna No Atemi Waza concept. You will want to practice this often. It will become an essential skill.
You might derive the false impression that Onna No Atemi Waza strikes are less injurious than Otoko No Atemi Waza. This is often the case, but it is not always true.
For example, you might use Onna No Atemi Waza to press your open palm into the side of the opponent’s face to manipulate the head’s position. You are using the soft tissue area of your hand to strike to a bony surface. This is classic Onna No Atemi Waza. Pressing with gentle pressure into the face will change the orientation and position of the head.
Now consider Taishu Uchi. This is the same strike but used with more energy. It is still Onna No Atemi Waza and one uses it to cause pain and injury.
If you use a different strike, you could press your forearm into the opponent’s face to both rotate the face and move the head (and the body) to another location. This is a common use of Onna No Atemi Waza. When the forearm makes initial contact, it causes both head movement and rotation. While the forearm presses forward and perhaps rotates, it causes further changes in the head position and orientation.
What if you apply the forearm with significant force? You are still striking with soft tissue. Both forms of this strike are Onna No Atemi Waza. This form of striking can be both powerful and injurious.
In another example, let’s say you parry an opponent’s strike using the back of your open hand to press into the opponent’s forearm and move it away from the intended target. This parry uses a bony surface against soft tissue, but the contact is not using the penetrative force you would associate with Otoko No Atemi Waza. A parry is a form of Onna No Atemi Waza. This parry may enable a subsequent Onna No Atemi Waza or Otoko No Atemi Waza.
You might use a Ken Tsuki as Onna No Atemi Waza. Remember, Onna No Atemi Waza does not refer to the strike used, but how you deliver it. Placing the knuckles of your fist on the lower abdomen of an opponent and pressing in with gentle pressure, might press the opponent’s hip back. This might cause the head to come forward or cause the opponent to fall back (depending on the opponent’s structural orientation). This Ken Tsuki uses a bony surface to strike into a soft tissue area, but because it is not percussive and is perhaps manipulative, it is an instance of Onna No Atemi Waza.
Do not now assume that Otoko No Atemi Waza cannot be manipulative. Many percussive strikes are manipulative. They use alternate methods to produce their manipulations.
Onna No Atemi Waza Prevalence
How do you then tell if a strike is Otoko No Atemi Waza or Onna No Atemi Waza? Isn’t this a continual source of confusion?
No. Striking with a bony surface into soft tissue with percussive and injurious intent, it is Otoko No Atemi Waza. If you are touching, striking, moving, manipulating, pushing, pulling, or otherwise using some portion of your body to cause some effect on an opponent, you are using Onna No Atemi Waza. It is that simple. If it is not Otoko No Atemi Waza, it is Onna No Atemi Waza.
This means the vast majority of actions you use against an opponent in Tensoku Ryu are Onna No Atemi Waza. You will encounter it everywhere. You will find it gives you the ability to control an opponent at the start of a confrontation or allow you to strike many times in a single second. Onna No Atemi Waza is by far the most prevalent form of striking in our art.
But wouldn’t this mean that all hand blocks are a form of Onna No Atemi Waza?
This ties into the earlier discussion that all blocks are in reality strikes. But are they all Onna No Atemi Waza? Most blocks are forms of Onna No Atemi Waza. You can apply all blocks as Onna No Atemi Waza. You might apply some blocks as Otoko No Atemi Waza. It is a matter of intent.
Think about using a Chudan Uke. Is applying Chudan Uke into the side of an opponent’s forearm Otoko No Atemi Waza? Maybe. You are using a soft tissue area of your hand, but it is a harder surface than the one you will hit. You intend to cause pain or harm. So you could classify this as Otoko No Atemi Waza. However, what is the difference between this form of Chudan Uke and a Tettsui Uchi? If you think of it this way, then the “block” is Otoko No Atemi Waza.
But if you use rotational delivery, then the Chudan Uke is not as impactful. It will also have a more pronounced manipulative effect. The use of this blocking method would make this an example of Onna No Atemi Waza.
This leads us to a corollary argument. If all blocks are strikes, then can’t we use a strike as a block? Yes, you can. The strike used as a block might be Otoko No Atemi Waza or Onna No Atemi Waza.