Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the
world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to
over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a
wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history,
humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.
If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced
features available, you will need to register first. Registration is
absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!
I find it increasingly difficult to make progress when I practice with ukes who do not attack honestly. You know the old joke about how an aikidoka attacks? He says "grab my arm!" There's some truth in that joke.
I am not talking here about beginners. For them a strong attack will be confusing and will only make them freeze up. But higher kyus and yudansha should practice techniques against commited attacks. It's hard to explain what sort of an attack is "commited": it's not a crazy person jumping on top of you, and it's not an idiot that blindly walks into a technique even if the technique is badly executed. A commited attack has several components.
The attacker must honestly have the wish to execute the attack. Often I get ukes who stop their attack as soon as anything unexpected happens. You can try it on your uke: if the attack is a hand grab and at the last moment you unexpectedly withdraw your hand a little, what does your uke do? Do they chase the hand, and if so, do they chase it in an intelligent way? Or do they change the attack to a strike? Or do they just stand there thinking "oh, was it four times already"? I don't think anyone in the street will trade places with you after they kicked you four times.
Another way to test uke's intent is for nage to unexpectedly do nothing. Ukes intent is revealed. If he stops, he did not really want to attack. If he partially executes the technique on himself (not an uncommon situation) he was anticipating your action. If he punches you for real, he has poor control over himself.
When I attack, I find it helpful to have in my mind an entire plan, even if I am supposed to execute only part of it. Thus, if the attack involves an arm grab, I think of the whole sequence: arm grab, then punch with the other hand. Of course, I am not going to suprise my nage and punch him in the face, but I must have the intent to do it. This makes me safer, too. My brain is already prepared to raise the other arm in a punch, so I will be able to block a counter-atemi faster.
By the way, the same is true when uke is "resisting a technique": it only makes sense to resist if you know what you're going to do when you get the upper hand, so you need a plan. I often see people who resist, and when they "win" they just stand there and do nothing. Why were they resisting in the first place?
Force and speed
The attacker should take into account who his nage is and which aspect of the technique is being trained. Most often we err on the side of caution: attacks are too slow and weak. A good way to practice is to start slowly and build up force and speed as the connection with your partner becomes stronger. This is especially true when we practice with unknown people.
Sometimes I get ukes who attack fast but do silly things. An example would be an uke who attacks in a straight line, even if I move by two feet to the left when he still had plenty of time to adjust the direction of the attack. A commited attacker should adapt to whatever is going on. This means changing direction as necessary, keeping your balance if possible, protecting oneself against atemis, knowing when not to resist, not staying down on one's knees unless forced to, etc.
At first strong and committed attacks are frustrating for nageand scary for uke. However, they show us how the technique is really supposed to work, and they expose timing and distance mistakes very clearly.