View Full Version : Poll: How often do you find yourself having to suppress your own natural responses as uke during aikido practice?

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06-18-2006, 12:30 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of June 18, 2006:

How often do you find yourself having to suppress your own natural responses as uke during aikido practice?

I don't do aikido

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=329).

Mark Uttech
06-18-2006, 04:52 AM
This particular poll could prove informative and interesting; being that ukemi is something we
"have to learn" but it is based on "natural movement"? There is part of an answer contained in the zen koan: "The elbow does not bend outwards..."

Shannon Frye
06-18-2006, 08:26 PM
It's always hard for me to supress the instictuive (and learned ) response to do something other than allow someone to throw me on the ground.

Interesting related question for ya'll - if ukemi is what we (aikidoka) do to get out of a worse situation (broken limb), how come it all seems to end with the fall? I've never seen aikido train "what to do after" if you are the one falling to avoid a broken arm. If I have to jump into ukemi, just because I hit the ground doesn't mean the fight is over.

Just a thought -

Pauliina Lievonen
06-19-2006, 03:38 AM
I don't "do ukemi" in order to avoid a broken limb. If my training partner is experienced enough, I roll or fall because I can't stay upright.


06-19-2006, 07:28 AM
I often have to supress my natural response to strike or reverse tori who leave openings so big you could fit a bus through them.. :D

But it's cool to find a practise partner who doesn't mind playing this way :cool:


Nick Pagnucco
06-19-2006, 08:14 AM
Seeing how my natural response is to often tense up, I'd say I sometimes gotta suppress that. Its easier to supress when things aren't at a high energy level... I need to fix that before I move into more randori training.

As for 'doing ukemi' and it ending in a fall, nothing we do at my dojo qualifies as sparring (I'm sure its different elsewhere). Pairing up and practicing a technique means just that, no more or less. I have seen instructors demonstrate counters, including sacrifice throws where you essentiall grab onto uke as they throw you, change positions a bit, and launch them over you so both of you fall. One practices a single thing at a time.

Now, sometimes, you will be training in a situation, like ruth described, where nage leave him or herself open. I've seen sempai do things like show where nage created an opening for a strike, or just not fall to make the point nage missed something.

06-19-2006, 11:28 AM
I love to fall. (My life proves that!)

I have to suppress my survival instinct when nage helps me to feel threatened. I have fought for my life, and aikido training is really about staying out of that modality.

For me, training and ukemi is learning how to be human and not an animal. My wife claims I have a long way to go, and would you Please pick up after yourself :)


Patrick Crane
06-20-2006, 04:03 PM
Yep, it's a huge problem.

1. I'm a newbie.
2. I'm very stiff and have minimal flexibility, even after stretching.
3. I'm built like a football player...thus the tendency to muscle through ukemi and crash to the mat instead of flowing and gliding.
4. I have a problem with this thing called a "committed attack."

I realize that with the "committed attack" all we're really trying to do yet is learn the basic physics and physiology of how people move their bodies....fine, but It just seems so counterintuitive to throw a big "hay maker" strike at someone in such a way that all they have to do is sidestep me and I lose my balance.......especially if I KNOW that's what they're going to do.

And with things like shoulder grabs and lapel grabs.....basically what I've learned so far is that I'd have to be a moron to actually grab someone that way knowing how easily I could lose an arm to someone who knows what they're doing.

06-21-2006, 02:17 PM
When doing ukemi, "natural" responses often aren't.

Once you learn a technique well enough to execute it, you learn how to set yourself up to prevent the technique from happening. Going ahead and executing the attack in a way that actually allows the technique feels unnatural at that point. "If I do this, he'll do that and then I'll fall down."

This all starts long before there are openings in the techique being attempted. You can really see this when someone makes this mistake in attacking a nage who is experienced enough to adapt the "real" attack rather than trying to work with the attack that was supposed to happen.

On some level, learning how to execute the attack and follow the process through according to the stated plan is a great tool in learning the dynamics of the techniques. It points out the openings left in any attack and the dynamics in taking uke's balance.

Having said that, jiyu waza can be a lot of fun! :)

06-22-2006, 12:10 PM
Mike Riehle When doing ukemi, "natural" responses often aren't......

very thoughtful and helpful. explains some of my current issues with aikido 'as practiced'


Joe Bowen
06-23-2006, 04:46 AM
I have a small problem with the term "counterintuitive". People throw this term around a lot but I don't think many really understand the implication of what they are saying (or writing).

Let me begin with a bit of a disclaimer, this is by no means any type of attack on Patrick's post, just a comment on the use of the word "counterintuitive" which if you bear with my long-winded manner of presentation actually relates to the topic at hand.

If you throw a cat out the second story window (I'm not advocating animal cruelty, and don't specifically recommend that anyone actually conduct this experiment, this is meant purely anecdotally), it somehow manages to land on its feet. The cat's reaction is not intuitive, it's instinctual.

Intuition has to do with knowing something without knowing how you know; it has to do with perception and awareness. Aikido is all about intuition. There is nothing counterintuitive about Ukemi or Nage waza. You have to be intuitive to know where you are going and what is happening to you or around you.

Instinct is about reacting to external stimuli without cognitive functions. It is both inherent and learned. Aikido is all about instinct; specifically, understanding our own instinctive responses to our intuitive knowledge, and changing them to better suit ourselves.

Most of our perceived "natural" responses are actually learn instinctual behavior. Think about this, the first time you were ever pushed, you most likely just fell down. You didn't push back, because you most likely were only 1 or 2 years old at the time. Now, though the immediate reaction, is to push back. If instinct is 100% purely, naturally inherent and ingrained in us since birth, the first time you got pushed, you would have pushed back. Knock a baby over (again not advocating child abuse here), it doesn't try to break its fall by locking its arms out. It just falls down. That's why children hit their heads rather than break their little arms or collar bones. However; over time, we learn the value of trying to "catch" ourselves during the fall and learn to try and "brace" ourselves against the impact. That's part of the reason why adults tend to break.

What we often believe is an unlearned, "natural" response or behavior is often not. That is why in most martial arts you have to "unlearn what you have learned" in order to progress. This is apparent in many other aspects of life as well as just the physical.

An open mind, open heart, relaxed posture with keen awareness gives us the truest form of our natural state, and it is only from there that we generate our most "natural" responses. But 99.99999% of us have never been there since we were babies.....


06-23-2006, 01:24 PM
I have a small problem with the term "counterintuitive". People throw this term around a lot but I don't think many really understand the implication of what they are saying (or writing).

Well, I think you may be splitting hairs a bit, but a good post, in general. The thing about semantics and etymology is that ignoring it causes misunderstandings, discussing it causes misunderstandings and not thinking about it at all causes a complete breakdown in communication.

Your distinction between instinct and intuition is a good one.

On the whole, your post supports the idea that it's worthwhile to realize what your "learned instincts" are. I think this would apply in any endeavor, not just Aikido.

Lorien Lowe
06-23-2006, 02:35 PM

First I have to turn the higher part of my brain "off" to get myself to attack someone (especially a teacher) honestly. After that, everything flows and I have fun - but I go in knowing I'm doomed.


Patrick Crane
06-23-2006, 05:31 PM
Thanks Joseph for looking closer at the word "counterintuitive."
I think it's great to really look at words and think about what they mean and what people tend to mean by them.
I guess by "counterintuitive" I sort of just meant "feels weird"....to attack someone in a way that I know will leave me off balance and vulnerable...knowing nage fully intends to exploit that.

But then, maybe the fact that attacking in such a way feels weird to me now represents a baby step of development in aikido learning.
Maybe by studying aikido I've been learning by negative (reverse) example how to be a smarter attacker by practicing how NOT to attack.

(Kinda like that book "Websites That Suck" where you learn good web design by looking at examples of really crappy web sites.)

If I were in a "situation" today...where I actually had to attack someone in the real world, from studying aikido I would know:
1. Try to disguise the true nature of my attack for as long as possible (NOT clear, NOT committed).
2. Do not sacrifice my own balance.
3. Do not try to grab...lapel, shoulder, wrist, etc.

Thanks again