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John Matsushima
05-06-2006, 01:47 AM
In our practice of the physical application of the techniques of Aikido, I have found that the skills of an uke are imperative to training. Learning Aikido and doing techniques is not just a individual activity, but demands cooperation between two people. The role of the uke is only to cooperate and move in a way that allows the nage to do a technique. It is not uke's place to teach, challenge, show openings, or overly resist nage's efforts. Nor should the uke simply move through a technique without any action of the nage. If the uke behaves in such a manner, then it hinders the nage's opportunity to learn and can confuse them or even lead them down the wrong path.

Here are some ways in which the uke should NOT behave:

1. The easy uke - Overreacts to atemi, and often jumps into ukemi. If the nage stops in the middle of a technique, the easy uke somehow keeps going through the technique and throws himself.

2. The stiff uke - Just stands there like a statue and waits for you to execute your technique. Stiff-arms nikyo applications and freezes their arm midair in a shomen uchi attack. Some say that this is a way of resisting and gives the nage a chance to test his technique and learn practical technique. However, this is not natural resistance, and is not even practical. Anyone who attacks another person, then stands there like a statue is going to either get poked in the eyeballs kneed in the groin or worse. The stiff uke usually doesn't react to atemi either, even when you stop white-knuckled at the tip of their nose.

3. The loose uke - This person also just stands there, but instead of being like a statue, they become completely relaxed. When you move their arm, their body and shoulder is disconnected making it extremely hard to do techniques like kaiten nage, or ikkyo. The loose uke expects you to be overly aggressive and TAKE their center. However, the problem with this is that now you are making the nage the attacker. Also, when doing techniques that simply shifts the uke's balance, the loose uke will simply move their feet to the place where they should fall, for example, just stepping to the "third leg" area. Again, the intention of the uke is good, to help you learn the technique in a practical way by not being an easy uke, but instead being difficult. A person who attacks and then relaxes and stands there gives no reason to do a technique.

4. The fighting uke - The biggest pain of all. This person always intentionally moves in the opposite direction that you intend to go, but the energy is there even before you move. So, you say OK, and decide to work with him and do some type of oyo henka move, and it works. The problem is that what you did wasn't what the sensei wanted you to practice,

3. The teacher uke - no matter how long this person has been practicing, his way is superior to yours. Often stops nage's techniques to make corrections. The intention is good, but the uke's limited understanding can hinder nage's learning.

The interesting thing is that we never see this type of behavior demonstrated on sensei. But then, perhaps this is why we sometimes hear stories of X Sensei breaking someone's arm.

The effect that this type of uke has on learning is negative. When a technique isn't working, we should think "What am I doing wrong?", but "Why is this happening this way?" This is extremely important especially for beginners to learn correct form and movement. Often times, someone is doing a technique correctly, but is given false information by a difficult uke.

In our practice of the physical application of the techniques of Aikido, the skills of an uke are imperative to training.

rottunpunk
05-06-2006, 02:22 AM
i think that t works both ways.

uke has to be relaxed and respond to the technique. this way injuries are less likely, and it helps tori.

though if im uke, and the technique being done has no effect (e.g not being done correctly, or with any amount of force at all) i wont go. how else would tori know that they are not doing it correctly otherwise.

aikido is all about blending and working together in order to enabe the technique to be carried out.

in the past, ive found that if i have an unwilling or unresponsive uke, i get shouted at for not doing the technique correctly (either because it wont work at all or because i have to adapt it in order to make it work). the same went for thursday night when i was uke, and i wasnt falling right, it messed up my partners whole form, and i felt very bad for that.
:p

Mark Uttech
05-06-2006, 02:51 AM
It is always a difficult problem, an ongoing problem. For example, in post #1, The #3 example comes before the #4 example, and reappears after the #4 example. Are there 5 examples? Or a quick rearrangement? What arises in many dojo is the same type of thing. In gassho

John Matsushima
05-06-2006, 05:08 AM
though if I'm uke, and the technique being done has no effect (e.g not being done correctly, or with any amount of force at all) i wont go. how else would tori know that they are not doing it correctly otherwise.

:p

The is a very good point, but it is the main reason that I think people behave poorly as uke's. It is their intention to show uke their failures, or weak points in their technique. I think we have to let go of that attachment. As a practitioner, how do we really know what is correct? From my experience, i have "corrected" people only to find out that later that it was a different way, or even advanced way to do the technique. Through my limited understanding of aikido, I put that limitation on uke and stopped him from progressing beyond my own level. That was wrong. It is not our place to judge and teach, that is Sensei's job. I believe it is Tori's job to pay attention and know if they are using too much power, are unbalanced, have openings, etc. Besides, who can do a technique perfectly every time? When you do a technique right, you can feel it.
Thank you for your input.

Mark Freeman
05-06-2006, 05:12 AM
All the ways of incorrectly being uke should be highlighted to students from the begining of their training in aikido.
The first 4 examples given are easy to deal with, the errant uke can be shown the 'right' way to move as opposed to the 'wrong' way.
The last example given the 'teacher uke' is a much more complex beast. If someone is doing 'bad teacher uke' then this needs to be discouraged by the dojo sensei ( unless it's the sensei themselves doing it, then there is no easy answer ).As has been pointed out, this creates frustration and inhibits learning.
There is however 'good teacher uke' which requires good ukemi skills, and sensitivity to the level of the nage.
If I am teaching and I can't see an obvious problem with a students technique, I will make ukemi and the problem will become apparent because my following will reveal the issue that needs to be looked at.
Of course I could disregard the students grade and make it impossible to throw me, but no one would benefit.
The use of ukemi as teacher in aikido is imperative, the teaching of good ukemi skills are fundamental.

Personally it was when I started to focus on the 'art' of uke rather than learning to master techniques that aikido started to reveal itself to me.
just a few thoughts.

regards
Mark

Mark Uttech
05-06-2006, 05:32 AM
The 'teacher uke' is known as the 'shadow teacher'. Becoming a shadow teacher is part of the path.
It is a rather sad part of the path, because it has an addictive quality about it. That is the trouble with progress; you can't go home again.

dps
05-06-2006, 05:34 AM
I agree with John and Mark.

I would add that unless their sensei tells uke otherwise, uke is to attack nage at the speed they are practicing and practice falling or rolling.

Mark Freeman
05-06-2006, 05:37 AM
That is the trouble with progress; you can't go home again.

Agreed, perhaps the reason for progress is that you leave home because you don't want to be there any more?

regards
Mark

Lucy Smith
05-06-2006, 10:56 PM
The 'teacher uke' is known as the 'shadow teacher'. Becoming a shadow teacher is part of the path.
It is a rather sad part of the path, because it has an addictive quality about it. That is the trouble with progress; you can't go home again.

You mean an advanced student shouldn't tell a beginner how to do a technique correctly? Why do they work together then?

Amir Krause
05-07-2006, 02:48 AM
I can not answer your question - I think this is situation dependent:

The proper way to be Uke depends on many factors, one of those is experience of each, another is the intention of the specific practice (the same situation and technique can be practiced with a variety of goals).

A good Uke is essential to learning good Aikido, but one should not mistake the meaning of this statement and put the responsibility of performing a good technique on Uke. Uke is responsible for giving an opportunity and proper feedback for training only. Tori is responsible to perform the technique to perfection, and as the level advances, should be able to perform some technique in an situation. Note, the latter does not fit practicing Kata (technique practice in pre decided situation), in which Tori may succeed in performing some technique, but not the desirable technique intended for practice.

Amir

P.S.

I loved the cataloging of "Bad Uke" behaviors.

Hanna B
05-07-2006, 02:59 AM
If uke does nothing, there can be no aikido so in a way it all depends on uke.

Now we are waiting for the poll of next week. Will it be "How much of aikido training in the dojo depends on tori?"

Mark Uttech
05-07-2006, 06:27 AM
An advanced student helps a beginning student by taking ukemi.

nathansnow
05-07-2006, 08:54 AM
I think the hardest thing about being uke is that you have to empty your mind of what you know is coming. If I know what is coming, I will tend to make sub-conscious adjustments to where nage will be. You have to focus on your job. "Punch nage in the face".... this has to be your only thought. It can be done at full speed or half speed as long as it is done with intent.
Good Randori is a very good example good ukes. If uke is anticipating during randori it tends to look very choppy and uke will more than likely end up with some type of injury either fighting back against a technique or jumping one way while nage is trying to go the other way.

NagaBaba
05-07-2006, 08:13 PM
I voted: uke is never wrong.

Sorry Amir, I didn't have time to respond your question in other topic, but here we can talk about it. ;)
Of course in the beginning, uke's help is necessary to learn the techniques. But this situation can't be set up for all your life.
Ultimate goal is to develop your skills at the level, where uke help is not necessary anymore. In other words, your technique doesn't depend of uke will.

One must state this goal for himself as soon as he knows general form of a technique and even if he still needs help of uke. This way, instead of loosing his limited training time correcting "bad uke" he will use it to develop his own skills.

Also even if you give 1 % of responsibility of technique for uke, you create situation, where tori have room to endlessly discuss behavior of uke. Again, attention is given to uke instead of polishing his own skills. This 1% of freedom, will create 10 000 different interpretation and tori will never develop correct feeling "what is right and what is wrong". This special feeling is a base to make right decision in the moment of contact to develop spontaneous response.

There are many other negatives consequences, among them, even after many years of practice, a student will be always searching fault in uke behavior and will try to correct him, give him ‘friendly advices’ which at black belt level will create a lot of tensions and bad feelings. We don’t have a luxury of competition to clearly establish who has a reason. So instead of that, we need a very sever rule, that prevent development of unclear situations. Without such rule, we will face more and more divisions in aikido world instead of Harmony.

In the other hand, aikido is supposed to develop spiritual part of human life. Such practice is always directed to ‘inside’ and our rule uke is never wrong will direct all efforts exactly in this direction. Everybody has a lot of work on his own body and mind and we need concentrate all energy to do it. If one can’t shift responsibility on somebody else, it will create positive environment to work on himself.

I hope it is more clear now. :cool:

Leon Aman
05-08-2006, 02:40 AM
If uke does nothing, there can be no aikido so in a way it all depends on uke.



Hmmm...isn't that a tori must control his/her uke and not an uke control a tori?

leon

Josh Reyer
05-08-2006, 02:46 AM
Hmmm...isn't that a tori must control his/her uke and not an uke control a tori?

leon

What Hanna means is that if uke doesn't attack, or grab tori's wrist, or advance, or anything like that, there's nothing for tori to do. You can irimi-nage air, but I don't know if you can really call it aikido.

Alec Corper
05-08-2006, 03:28 AM
I have to agree with Nagababa, uke is never wrong, at least not for tori, but maybe for their own training. For tori, however, everything is good, since we are seeking a flexible, natural response to what we meet, and not the ideal reproduction of the perfect technique. All the possible "faults" in uke's behaviour teach us something, if we are willing to learn. If we have already decided what we wish to learn before meeting the moment how can we respond.Delivering atemi to a resistant uke is easy, finding a way to turn their resistance into compliance with your technique is hard. If your uke is "too" flexible then reduce their options. If they are attempting to teach you, incorporate their advice, execute the technique and thank them. They may not have helped you technically but they have provided you with the opportunity to get to grips with your ego. I agree that Aikido is and must be a joint training, but ultimately whatever happens right now is what has to be dealt with, including the irritation of a "non-attack".

John (King John)
05-08-2006, 05:26 AM
I have to agree with Nagababa, uke is never wrong, at least not for tori, but maybe for their own training. For tori, however, everything is good, since we are seeking a flexible, natural response to what we meet, and not the ideal reproduction of the perfect technique. All the possible "faults" in uke's behaviour teach us something, if we are willing to learn. If we have already decided what we wish to learn before meeting the moment how can we respond.Delivering atemi to a resistant uke is easy, finding a way to turn their resistance into compliance with your technique is hard. If your uke is "too" flexible then reduce their options. If they are attempting to teach you, incorporate their advice, execute the technique and thank them. They may not have helped you technically but they have provided you with the opportunity to get to grips with your ego. I agree that Aikido is and must be a joint training, but ultimately whatever happens right now is what has to be dealt with, including the irritation of a "non-attack".
I think this sums it up nicely for me.

Hanna B
05-08-2006, 05:31 AM
If we make an average of the current results of the poll, then 60% of aikido is uke. If we make a similar poll "how much of the aikido training is tori" I am sure the average would be at least 60%. Thus, aikido is at least 120%. :D

happysod
05-08-2006, 06:56 AM
A good Uke is essential to learning good Aikido, but one should not mistake the meaning of this statement and put the responsibility of performing a good technique on Uke as Amirs answer is so succinct, all I can do is quote and agree

SeiserL
05-08-2006, 07:53 AM
I am 100% selfish in my training.

When I am uke, it's 100% about me. It's harder to be a good uke than to learn waza.

When I am tori/nage, it's 100% about me. I should be able to handle whatever comes my way.

See, told you I was selfish.

Steve Mullen
05-08-2006, 08:38 AM
Don't worry Lynn, we forgive you :D

Amir Krause
05-08-2006, 10:21 AM
Szczepan Janczuk

The strange thing is, I read your post, and fully agree with the ideas behind it. But then I think about it in terms of an organized practice or learning process. And there I have the problem.

We have full agreement on the final goal - one should strive to be able to apply some technique in any attack situation, regardless of his attacker behavior, be he resistant, responsive or just unskilled and awkward. Anyone who does not strive for this goal is no longer practices Aikido as a Martial Art and should not claim any self defense improvement.
I also agree that Tori should always look at himself for the reasons a technique is not working. The concept of laying blame is wrong for one's Aikido, one should always look at ways to improve his own performance first.


Our disagreement is in the role of Uke for an organized practice. As I previously wrote, much of Aikido practice is a paired Kata. The more I advance, the more I understand that such a Kata requires cooperation form both partners. I will try to demonstrate this by giving a few examples, in addition to the cataloging done above:
As I wrote, the first part of being a good Uke is giving you the prescribed attack, not trying to hit near you to the left' right or front (I lost count of the number of times I had to stand in place and wait for a beginner Uke to attack me again and again until they were finally willing to try and hit me).
Another example I previously gave is a person who when acting as Uke attacks you differently then the exercise dictates (My Sensei had multiple experience with such cases when he was teaching at Uni).
Then there are the more subtle cases where only the directions of forces are changed: one is asked to grab and push and he grabs the same grab but pulls instead. One is asked to attack then pull back his hand (preparing a second hit), but he just punches and forgets his hand in front.

All of the above cases are examples where Uke did not follow the Kata, and has actually changed the situation. If are in a fight, sure, you should adjust to this change, modify your technique and act differently. But if you are in a lesson or practice, and wish to repeat the same situation a few dozen times to improve your reaction with a specific technique, such behavior would be destructive for you.

The second role of Uke is to give Tori feedback on his technique. The feedback does not have to be verbal (unless Tori requires it for him to understand). Many mistake this role as well
The most problematic for me today in this regard is an Uke who falls without a reason. I had some practices in which I felt my belt had thrown more people then me. Uke fell even when my technique had been very poor, and I had stopped it in mid air. How would you call this type of Uke?
There are multiple more behaviors of this type, but they were categorized above very nicely, so I would not repeat them.


Uke exists when practicing Kata. When one wishes to practice a varying situation like a fight simulation, he should practice it in the proper form -- Kyoshu or Randori. This is the right format for this very important type of practice. Even if for some reason, your practice does not include this type of training, you should find a route to increase the flexibility within the Kata (do this or that type of concept, etc.).


Amir

I recommend for reading on this subject:
http://www.freewebz.com/aikido/lecture/unit5.htm
and the following 2 articles.

NagaBaba
05-08-2006, 12:38 PM
I think the difference in our approach comes from different understanding of aikido practice as ‘Kata’. I can’t say how you guys practice it, but in my dojo, what we are doing, only looks like kata because of a fact having prearranged attack and prearranged technique. In reality, however, there is so much room ‘inside’ of attack and a technique, that one can’t really call it Kata.

Event at very first level of learning, I’ve never seen in any aikido style such rigor to execute a technique as I saw in Koryu training or in Judo kata.
Once one arrives at 3-2 kyu level, all resemblance to kata training is completely gone. And at 2-3 dan level, only global shape of attack / technique is preserved, but I’d call it rather application of technique.

IMO it is in accordance with O sensei teaching, he said that he broken with traditional Koryu spirit and approach to practice Budo in kata form.

tarik
05-08-2006, 03:16 PM
There are different levels of ukemi and it can be practiced for different purposes.

Unlike Lynn, I am not always 100% selfish, although that type of training has it's place.

Unlike Szczepan, I don't believe that uke is never wrong, although that type of training also has it's place (http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/thegrindstone/2005_10.html).

Teacher uke's are great, and it is my responsibility to be that for many of my partners, particularly when they're lost or confused.

What's really missing is a discussion of how much time each a person should spend in the different types of ukemi (for personally developing technique, for teaching your partner, for challenging your partner, etc.) to develop one's own training and one's partner's training in the most efficient way possible.

Leon Aman
05-09-2006, 01:05 AM
What Hanna means is that if uke doesn't attack, or grab tori's wrist, or advance, or anything like that, there's nothing for tori to do. You can irimi-nage air, but I don't know if you can really call it aikido.


Can you also call them *uke* if they doesn't move/attack? isnt that uke=attacker?

Anyway I go for 50 50 for without ukes cooperation *harmony*, no tori can perform exquisitely as he/she is hankered for. I pressume.

leon

Amir Krause
05-09-2006, 02:21 AM
I think the difference in our approach comes from different understanding of aikido practice as ‘Kata'. I can't say how you guys practice it, but in my dojo, what we are doing, only looks like kata because of a fact having prearranged attack and prearranged technique. In reality, however, there is so much room ‘inside' of attack and a technique, that one can't really call it Kata. .

Do you practice some form of Randori / Kyoshu ?
If you do not, then this may explain the source of the difference. You would have to find some other way to gain the benefits of this type of practice in your system training style.


Event at very first level of learning, I've never seen in any aikido style such rigor to execute a technique as I saw in Koryu training or in Judo kata.
Once one arrives at 3-2 kyu level, all resemblance to kata training is completely gone. And at 2-3 dan level, only global shape of attack / technique is preserved, but I'd call it rather application of technique.


I have not seen enough Koryu practice to compare. At least to the best of my understanding, as far as my sensei and shihan have explained it to me, Kata need not be rigid in form. The Kata in which one has to step in some exact way etc. are very formalized forms. In a seminar with an Iai teacher, he claimed this is an element in which he preferred the Koryu concept over the Seitai concept (I never learned the latter, so I can only trust him): learn the essence and adjust to circumstances as opposed to precise steeping and movements definitions.

This is the way I grasp Kata: It is a practice pre-ordained by someone in order to teach something to the practitioners.
If the Kata is done correctly - you should learn something from it, if this aim is not achieved, someone is goofing, it is most likely to be Tori, might be Uke and in some cases, might be the teacher who invented the Kata.
I thing one should learn from a specific Kata might be any one of multiple ideas: rough execution of a technique, specific evasion against some attack, Timing, Kuzushi, sensitivity, handling stress, etc. A good teacher should know the reasons he is teaching this particular form, I will admit the truly great teachers (I include my own among them), know this without thinking, instinctively, at some unconscious level. They can later rationalize and explain their reasoning, but when they teach, they do not need to pass through this phase. If one has a good teacher and he trusts him to lead the path, one should try and use each Kata to learn from it, the ideas the teacher stressed in it, to the best of his ability.


IMO it is in accordance with O sensei teaching, he said that he broken with traditional Koryu spirit and approach to practice Budo in kata form.

I do not follow the path of Ueshiba, so I would not presume to know. As far as I understand it today, without learning any Koryu style, Korindo Aikido follows some Koryu styles approach more closely (I know different styles have different approaches, and we are a modern eclectic, yet traditional style).

Amir

David Yap
05-09-2006, 03:28 AM
You mean an advanced student shouldn't tell a beginner how to do a technique correctly?
Only if he himself understands the principle of the technique. I have a shodan mate who loves being a "teacher uke" even when visiting other dojo or attending seminars. The problem is after he has "instructed" the beginner or junior student, the shihan or the instructor has to correct both his and his partner's technique. The sad part is he still could not get those corrections and he is still teaching the wrong techniques at the dojo where he acts as an assistant instructor. He calls himself a socialite aikidoka...

Mark Freeman
05-09-2006, 03:41 AM
Only if he himself understands the principle of the technique. I have a shodan mate who loves being a "teacher uke" even when visiting other dojo or attending seminars. The problem is after he has "instructed" the beginner or junior student, the shihan or the instructor has to correct both his and his partner's technique. The sad part is he still could not get those corrections and he is still teaching the wrong techniques at the dojo where he acts as an assistant instructor. He calls himself a socialite aikidoka...

I'd call him a pain in the a** aikidoka ;)

David Yap
05-09-2006, 10:30 AM
I'd call him a pain in the a** aikidoka ;)
Indeed he is except for the aikidoka part :D

John Matsushima
05-09-2006, 11:14 AM
This is the way I grasp Kata: It is a practice pre-ordained by someone in order to teach something to the practitioners.
If the Kata is done correctly - you should learn something from it,
Amir

I think this is along the line of thinking that I am on. I also found a great article on doing kata in Aikido at http://www.koryu.com/library/dskoss8.html

I think that in doing these exercises, it is not just the technique that is meant to be learned, but more importantly what is learned in the practice of the technique. To do this correctly, the approach to learning should be in keeping with the principles. One of the main principles of Aikido is harmony between self and other. To say that "uke is never wrong" is to take a singular approach which separates ourselves from the other. If there is no connection, no harmony, then there is no Aikido. This is not to say that tori is always right either. I think it is tori's responsibility to practice and learn. Uke's responsibility is to practice and learn also. I don't think there is any room for teaching or challenging; just practice.

Someone brought up and excellent point about randori. If someone wants to practice their skills in a type of intense "anything goes" situation, then I think randori is the only way to do it. Randori, to me is the situation where "uke is never wrong". When or if the attack comes, being right or wrong is irrelevant. But this concept is inappropriate for organized paired practice. When a person first learns to drive, it is on a closed, controlled course with orange cones with few or no other cars at all. This is like Aikido. It isn't a good idea to learn how to drive doing 90 on the interstate.

The senior student - that is a tough one. I think I might even start another thread on it. There is always the problem of who really is senior. The problem I have encountered personally is the uke who refuses to cooperate unless I follow his instruction. One time I said to an individual "I know I'm not that good, so could you please just go along with it because I'm working on something" He refused and told me how I had to take his center or he wasn't going to fall. I just told him I wasn't good enough to practice with him and sat down.

I think Leon also made a great point...if uke doesn't attack, then there isn't anything to do. I agree that if we try to control and force someone down who isn't attacking (or stops attacking in the middle of a technique), then we become the aggressor.

Controlling others? If I could only learn to control myself I would be happy.

dps
05-09-2006, 11:36 AM
Exellent posts Amir and John.

alex padilla
05-25-2006, 01:01 AM
I think the relationship is 60/40. Aikido can be done in kata forms but the problem is without resistance or obstacle from the uke (the bodyweight of the person, not the actual struggle) you might not have a feel for the proper technique, and could just do movements without precision or power. On the other hand, nage and uke relationship is vital. The uke relationship is also dependent on nage.
If uke is a beginner then paired with a another beginner, they are both lost, zero to bad learning happens.
If uke is a beginner then paired with a colored belt, the uke's reaction will be dependent on the colored belt, probably because of the 'teacher-uke' complex, because colored belt is going the path of senseihood.
If uke is a beginner paired with a sensei then all essentials is up to the sensei to teach about resistance, compliance and proper behavior or motivations with regards to being an uke.
If uke gets to be a senior or a colored belt after being paired with those three personalities then his ukemi performance will be dependent on how he learned, who he learned it from and his actual attitude towards the whole practice.
The actual attitude I think is partly a responsibility of the sensei who has guided him up to this point.
If from the sensei the attitude is that of being too relax as not to help the nage in technique, or too stiff to prevent nage from doing technique (the only solution to this stiffness is not blending but painful atemis applied to the uke) then the uke will pick it up all and add a dash of how he sees things.
So uke response is based on teacher approach plus uke's personality.
To learn techniques lies on the sensei and of course the uke, if the uke is good and faced with a senior or a sensei the latter can direct the course from soft to hard. So if uke resist they can manage techniques.