SMAA Explains "Ai-Uchi," Mutual Destruction

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michimich -- Have you ever heard the term "ai-uchi" used in your martial art?

What does "mutual destruction" have to do with modern martial arts?

There is a term you will sooner or later hear in Japanese martial arts called ai-uchi. It is often used in kendo; fencing with bamboo staves, but you may hear it in old-fashioned karate schools and the like. Ai-uchi, to most practitioners, simply means the two sides strike each other at the same time, so their points cancel out each other in a contest.

Sasama Yoshihiko, in Zusetsu Nihon Budo Jiten, offers a more in-depth definition. One old meaning of the term is actually a kind of gangtackling an enemy. When two or more people attack a single enemy at once, it is called ai-uchi, the ai (meaning "mutuality") now meaning "group" attack.

But the meaning of most importance to martial artists is the concept of ai-uchi as "mutual strikes." Your strike hits the opponent the same time as he strikes you. So theoretically, both of you die.

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There are a number of things to consider concerning ai-uchi. In a sportive contest of point-taking, like kendo or karate, it's a lot of fun to just go at it and strike the opponent without fear of much bodily injury, thanks to rules and protective gear.

Their conclusions were that there were three things that can result from a real battle, and two out of three were very, very bad. The good result is if you win and the other side dies. The really bad result is if the other guy wins and you die, and finally the third is still bad news for you; ai-uchi is when both of you kill each other off.

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About Shudokan Martial Arts Association: SMAA was founded in January 1994 by a group of martial artists concerned with promoting and safeguarding Nihon budo and koryu bujutsu—the traditional martial arts and ways of Japan. SMAA is a non-profit that aims keep the spirit of traditional budo alive in the West. Anyone can become a member, even if you aren't a martial artist, and SMAA members are from multiple countries across the globe. For more information, visit

Shudokan Martial Arts Association

Source: Shudokan Martial Arts Association

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