Atemi are techniques which are intended to briefly stun opponents to allow for the setup of more complicated techniques.
The typical reaction to being hit is to momentarily stop and say “Ah! I just got hit?!” or at least “Ow,” to yourself. This moment of inattention briefly renders an opponent unable to attack or defend. However, this opportunity only lasts 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 shift from offense to defense and back to offense creates a moment of lag, effectively stunning 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