Just wanted to share a recent experiane. A good friend of mine is a 2nd dan in Kendo, he has an extra kendo helmet, and we decided to meet up and do some training together. \
Anyway, after we finished with the shinai (he whooped me pretty good), I asked if he wouldn't mind doing some empty hand stuff. I decided to only focus on atemi that I have learned in Aikido (taegatina 'knife hand' strikes, and tsuki's). The result was interesting and gave me a new respect for this often maligned aspect of tradional Aikido.
What I noticed, having just played with the sword in a freestyle environment, was that when I thought of the hands as a sword, and thought of the strikes, not as strikes, but as tools for unbalancing and setting up what I could best describe as 'optical illusions', the results were a lot better than expected.
Keeping in mind that my friend hasn't studied striking arts for a long time (he has a first dan in Shotokan that he received 8 years ago), I'm not going to suggest that someone should try these strikes in a striking environment. But what did become clear was that these strikes:
a) create great setups.
Which leads me to believe there is a good reason why they appear telegraphed. Many are meant to be.
b) When they do land on the tradional targets, they unbalance the opponent from their root, and make a throw or lock much easier to acheive. Now I'm sure any strike to these areas would do the same. My point here is that these strikes do what they are intended to do, and that one may not have to look to a different art for learning them (assuming you work them at your dojo).
c) when done in a relaxed way, like the cutting motion of a sword, the strike are far more effective than when the arm is tensed on any level.
Although they appear to be all 'arm', this isn't really a bad thing. Again, we are not trying for knockouts here. The point is that by 'whipping' the arm, you don't need a strong root from which to throw the strikes. As the strikes are merely setups, this allows simutaneous movement that follows a contradictory path than the strike does (hope that makes sense).
Anyway, I'm going to continue to continue to play with this stuff, and I'm thinking about signing up for Kendo here at the University. What is nice about this, to me, is that Kendo might provide a far more suitable forum, from an Aikido perspective, for engaging in freestyle mock combat, than other combat sports. It may allow one to build attributes that Aikido doesn't usually spend a lot of time on, while not taking away from one of the levels of the 'Aiki' element of the art (as this is found very much in sword arts, including Kendo).
"Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought."