Atemi are attacks which are intended to briefly stun opponents, to buy the time needed to setup more complicated techniques.
The typical reaction to being hit is a momentarily pause to say to yourself, “Ah! I just got hit?!”, or at least “Ow.” This moment of inattention briefly renders opponents unable to attack or defend. However, this window of opportunity will only last a fraction of a second. With training, that brief advantage is enough to launch an incapacitating attack, like a side kick, or a hip throw.
Atemi are not powerful techniques. However, atemi make up for this shortcoming with their incredible speed. Even if an atemi does not harm your opponent, they will be forced to immediately react to it. This mental switching from offense-mode to defense-mode and back again creates a moment of lag, which also effectively stuns the opponent.
Atemi are typically thrown with the lead hand. The following techniques are considered to be atemi:
- Front-foot punch
- Backfist strike
- Spearhand strike (when thrown with the lead hand)
- Kakutō uchi
- Haishu uchi
- Thumbknuckle strike
- Crescent kick
- Leg sweep