View Full Version : The Making of Uke and Tori

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02-05-2002, 07:13 PM
After reading some of the posts on partner difficulties, I was wondering what makes a good Uke and Tori. In aikido, we do paired training and help each other with the practice of aikido. But what does that actually mean when we train with each other?

Is a good Uke someone who receives well but at the same time is sincere about providing energy into the technique as well as providing feedback about whether his/her balnce was disrupted? Is there more to a good Uke? Should the Uke provide resistance and be difficult?

What about the Tori/Nage? What makes them a "good training partner" and how should they train with the Uke to enable both the Uke and Tori to learn?

Anyone have any thoughts about this.

02-05-2002, 10:12 PM
I think there may be many different definitions of what makes a good uke and nage. A lot of them colored by the opinion of the sensei, or the senior students, or both. All of them correct. I think one thing uke needs to be regardless is in control of themselves, meaning not attacking past their ukemi ability; responsible for their own safe landing. Other than that, uke should be what nage needs to learn, to the best of their ability. Obviously, it may be difficult for a small uke to 'really resist' a nage twice their size, but if my nage asks for that, I do my best. If nage wants me slower, faster, harder, softer...their wish is my command, so to speak. I try to stay balanced, but by moving me and staying connected to nage, not by pulling my energy or attack/twarting the technique...in part to practice, in part to protect myself...and when I feel unbalanced I fall. In short, what makes a good uke is being mindful of what nage wants.

02-06-2002, 01:39 AM
To me a good uke is a truthful uke. One that does not "fake it".

If an uke is able to safely resist the technique, then the uke should do so. Then I'll know that there's something incorrect about my technique. If the uke falls down when not need be, the uke is actually not helping the nage, because the nage believes that the technique was sufficient when it is not.

Of course I would not recommend this to someone that is only starting Aikido (let's say for the first year) because it would intimidate them greatly. Only just when they feel that they have a sufficient undertanding of kuzushii.

Of course if after several attempts (3 or 4) the nage still fails to do the technique, I always recommend to just learn the form first, and we'll try to find the answer later. This is very tiring, but one learns more this way, if one is patient. I learn more from failures than I do from success. Actually to me, success really swells up my head and leave it up in the clouds, but I always meet a situation that brings me back down to earth.

In my experience the hardest ones are uke that is about 1/2 to 3/4 my size and understand well about their balance and center-point, those are the really strong ones. And there are many techniques in Aikido which is easier done when the nage is shorter than the uke, sometimes I have to do it in zagi-waza, which makes it so much easier.

02-06-2002, 02:47 AM
I think that the ideal Uke, pretty much as Colleen has expressed it, is the one who understands Nage's needs and follows them.

However, there is no absolute truth in here and the relation is reciprocal. Because Nage is Uke and vice versa several times in the short period they train together, 5-15 minutes according to dojos. Some days I come to training full of energy. As Nage, I want a challenging Uke who would attack me very sincerely and try to resist and even block my techniques, and immediately attack me after I throw him. I will be definitely a difficult and challenging Uke at that particular time. Some other days, I am tired or injured or just not in the "mood" and would rather like to play it "soft", and I will be a very docile Uke as well.

It happens very often that I meet an energetic Uke when I'm tired or the opposite and the result is frustrating. In my opinion, a difficult Uke is not only the challenging one, but also the one who falls by himself and anticipates your technique so that you feel that you're doing a solo kata.

But this is a part of Aikido, and I like to think that these difficult partners have been sent to me by Osensei to test my patience :D


02-06-2002, 06:53 AM
I think part of belnding is 'matching' with the output of the uke. The difficulty is often that we do set techniques, so uke must attack in a certain way to do these techniques. Therefore uke needs to know the mechanics of the attack (i.e. whether they are pulling back, pushing through, defending themselves with an arm etc). Basically uke is a moving dummy who should have smooth but realistic reactions. However even dummies do not leap over when you touch their hand.

For these reasons I think it is also important to do freestyle (where you can do any technique to an attack from uke, and therefore you can blend with whatever they decide to do), as well as doing technique combinations which allow you to change if uke reacts differently (i.e. pulls back instead of pushes). For example, I like teaching irimi-nage with kaiten-nage. If the uke does not attempt to stand back up for irimi-nage, you can continue the cut down.


02-06-2002, 08:24 AM
IMHO the role of uke in training is always underestimated. This might have to do with the understanding people have of the role of uke and the goals in ukemi.

First of all nage and uke are partners in training, both have to train hard in that goal. This means that uke has to actively receive the technique and can not settle for just undergoing it until it is time to change roles.

Second uke has to actively do ukemi. Here ukemi is not the commonly heard equivalent of doing breakfall. On the contrairy, ukemi is the art of being a soft and following nage. Follow the things nage does softly, but so closely that the difference between nage a doing it and uke doing it gets blurred. This of course means that uke has to be out with his intention, but also has to stay out all the time. This way you learn as uke to be sensitive for what is going on.

Third it is not ok for uke to try and resist or to try and find openings all the time. This would destroy the feeling of trust and safety between nage and uke. Is nage having difficulties with the exercise then move your body as uke in such a way that the technique still happens. This is not cheating or unrealistic, it is a learning process in which both nage and uke become very sensitive to whatever is going on.

Just some thoughts