A lot of buzz has been going around lately regarding "atari"; which is translated to mean:

" (N) (1) hit; (2) success; (3) guess; prediction; (4) affability; friendliness; (5) sensation; touch; (6) bruise (on fruit); (7) situation in which a stone or chain of stones may be captured on the next move (in the game of go); (8) bite (of a fish on a hook); strike"

Everyone focuses in on the definition "hit" and assumes it means "when you hit your opponent"; this is not so. Atari as it applies to Martial Arts is more like the last definition: "Bite of a fish on a hook; strike". On top of that, it does not refer to what the fish is doing, but to what the fisherman does.

For those of you who do not fish, when a fisherman feels the strike of the fish on his hook he instantaneously jerks back on the line to set his hook into his quarry. If his timing is correct, he catches the fish. If not, the fish gets away. In old Japan, fishermen sat in the surf on chairs, with fishing poles and with hooks that had no barb. When a fish would strike the fisherman would jerk the fish out of the water by the hook and toss it over his head onto the beach, where it would be collected and stored. There were no barbed hooks, no fighting, no reeling, and only one chance to get the fish before it spat out the hook and swam away.

Atari in martial arts is what you do at the moment your opponent acts. if your timing is right, you win the exchange. Otherwise, you lose. IT also encompasses "guess; prediction" and (if properly executed) "success".