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MaylandL
03-15-2002, 02:39 AM
I was wondering if the members of this forum can give me some advice and their experiences.

The dojos that I train at have a couple of very large and heavy set aikidoka. One is a 4th Kyu (I think) and the other is a nidan and will soon be going for his sandan. They're atleast 6 and half feet tall and over 100kg of muscle. In one case this guy's biceps are larger than my thighs.

The principle of aikido is about harmony and using the other's force. Strength is not an issue but ki is and that's why we practice kokyo-dosa, ki exercises and funi kogi undo and others to develop our ki. Thing is I'm knee high to a grasshopper and barely to the right side of mr punyverse.

My question is how do people train well and effectively with these people where it seems size does matter? How do you make the training sincere and safe for both movement and static situations so that their attacks are sincere and that you are able to train to further develop your ki without being overwhelmed by the size and strength?

How might techniques and execises done change to accommodate the difference in physical size between training partners?

My fear is that if I power on a technique I might lose control and hurt uke (hmmm....like a bug might hurt a car winscreen/shield :D )or I may miss the timing and technique and get buried in the mat.

I would appreciate any thoughts, comments (witty, smart and otherwise) experiences that members of this forum might have.

Edward
03-15-2002, 03:24 AM
Well, every dojo seems to have 1 or 2 of these wonders of nature. In my dojo there is one yondan with whom I practice regularly. It is great exercice and I always get very exhausted. However I start to wonder if Aikido really works with such huge people, because sometimes when I'm throwing the guy in Shihonage or Kotegaeshi, I am not able to carry his weight with my hands (while he's flipping) so I have to let him go. On the other hand, eventhough he always throws me carefully, I have to use all my Ukemi abilities to come out unharmed, but sometimes this is just not enough.

I guess aikido is about practicing with all kind of people, big and small. This is one of the most attractive sides of it.

Cheers,
Edward

Jim ashby
03-15-2002, 05:56 AM
Trained that way last night. In my group were Phil (5'11" and a good 250 lbs) and John (5'2" and 120lbs). It all worked through timng, movement and practise. I'm no lightweight myself at 5'10" and 230lbs but I still have a can of whoopass opened on me regularly by my Sensei's wife (5' and I'm not even going to speculate about the weight!!). The size of Uke is not truly irrelevant, but it all boils down to "if you see a problem, it'll be a problem".
Have fun.

Randy Pertiet
03-15-2002, 07:28 AM
In my dojo, I'm normally the biggest (6'4", 300lbs), but when my brother attends (6'8" 320lbs) I always get stuck working with him and have a lot of the same issues described here. The ONLY way I can move him is to do the technique correctly. Any time I try to muscle him, he doesn’t move at all and most times uses an advanced technique as a counter.:grr: Technique, Technique, Technique.

Bruce Baker
03-15-2002, 07:34 AM
I don't know if I should give you the secrets to moving the mountain, because I am one of them, but then again ... just kidding.

Do you understand the meaning of the eight directional exercise, or the eight directional diagrams sometimes found on some Kempo Karate peoples logo's? North, South, East, West, and then the compass points inbetween?

We all know about the weakness side to side when front to back is strong, and front to back being weak when side to side is strong, but nearly all of the motion innitiated from a rooted stance is affected by projecting off the corners or odd compass points. For some reason, the human body adjusts quickly to main forces, front to back or side to side, and less quickly to the corners? When you move someone remember the corners as you project beyond these points into the far reaches of the room.

The other point to work on, sending energy out one side, or coordinating one side of your body to move in unison to effectively innitiated movement. Being a tree, I have tried to be gentle to smaller people, but I have learned to move even bigger taller people without resorting to muscular movement of Judo, which if applied too quickly is like felling a tree with dynamite. If you get a gentle soul who will let you practice with corners, and help you learn to get the projection of energy into the corners, then you will quickly gain the feeling of finding the weak balance point of even the strongest tree.

A stiff uke is even more susseptable to toppling if they haven't practiced rooting. Even if they have, it is your own visualization of them being as light as a cloud that will up root them.

Last year, at a Chi seminar, we had a fourteen year old boy who had practice at rooting allow the larger participants try to pick him up, they didn't use undo force but they failed. I went over and picked him up, very gently, by picturing him as floating upward, without weight. These are my visualizations, but should you research rooting, you will find others that basically follow the same reasoning that parallels hypnotizm.

Play with the visualization of not just moving one side, but sending energy beyond the one point used to move your partner, and work with the weak balance points ... it should solve the mystery of moving large objects.

Now that the tree is in motion, how do you direct that motion, and maintain your own balance with being squished? Be Quick!! Get out of the way!! Good luck.

akiy
03-15-2002, 07:45 AM
My teacher often talks at his seminars about if small people try to move around large people by just using brute strength, the results will be like what happens when a dump truck hits a Honda Civic. His thought is that martial arts were created for smaller people since, well, larger people can just use their natural mass and strength to overpower most people. As he also says at other times, "Aikido works -- your aikido doesn't work"; there's a difference in that...

So, how does a smaller person affect a larger person? Kuzushi -- by affecting the larger person's balance and undermining their structural integrity, even a larger person will be unable to produce as much power as a balanced nage.

Of course, that's more easily said than done. Nage has to have good timing, a well-developed center, efffective movement, strong connection, and so on.

I believe it was Yamaguchi sensei who said that if you're using more than six or seven ounces of "force" to affect your partner, then you're not doing aikido effectively and efficiently. Of course, not all of us are at Yamaguchi sensei's level...

-- Jun

jk
03-15-2002, 08:15 AM
Large, water buffalo-sized partners tend to make your technique more honest...just be glad they're around. When you work with people that are about the same size as you, or smaller, sometimes you get sloppy, and power them down with upper body strength, for example. That stuff doesn't work so well with water buffaloes...in addition to what the others have said, you might want to make sure that your hips do their fair share of the work. If they're not, then your movement is probably not optimal. And proper atemi never hurts...

Regards,

dc20
03-15-2002, 10:04 AM
I'm 6'0" and 205 (and a rank beginner), and I am certainly guilty of (unintentionally)using strength to complete techniques when I am bigger than uke -- which is a pretty common situation for me in my dojo. I try harder in this situation to concentrate on relaxing and being fluid, and letting the technique work --a good training opportunity! Then when I'm training with someone of equal or greater size than myself, I think that's great, too. I can't muscle through a technique which I'm not doing correctly -- also good training which keeps me honest! So I guess it's all good training, right?!

Chocolateuke
03-15-2002, 10:11 AM
We have a dude at my dojo that is like 6' 4" and I have to toss him around sometimes im 5' 7" and he over masses me ( is that correct english?). Anyway I use tecqneqs that can use my whole body like hiji- shimi or shomem uchi irime nage. Those throws ( for me) seem to get uke of balance real fast, without using strength! Well gotta go make a Word search! have fun!

Anat Amitay
03-15-2002, 01:53 PM
Hi there!
well, I don't know about water buffalos, but in my dojo is a guy that only needs a helmet with two horns to become a perfect viking! :D
He is a really great guy, nidan now (I think).
anyway, when he practises with new students he doesn't give them a hard time. I think first of all, not to frighten them and second, it's more important to understand the movement then being correct in everything they do. As they advance he gives them a harder time little by little, letting them understand their mistakes but not taking advantage of it, instead, showing them how and where or letting them figure it out for themselves. It all depends on the person training and their feelings.
I think he's doing a great job and I really enjoy training with him.
even though I hope I'll never be stuck in the 'dark alley with a big guy' evileyes sceen, I believe he is the best uke to work with in order to ever handle such a situation (may it never happen). :eek:
good training!
Anat

MaylandL
03-15-2002, 06:21 PM
Thank you for your thoughts and comments. They are very much appreciated and has given me a lot to think about.

I had the pleasure of training with godan about two weeks ago. A solid and heavy built man with wonderful aikido. His advice to me when I was having problems with large ukes was not to let them influence my centre and to just do the technique concentrating and focusing on ki, movement, posture and technique. Part of that is my attitude and intent. If I believe that it will be a problem then it will be problem.

There's a lot that I have to work on with ukes twice my size and most are twice my size :) I am glad that there are these large ukes to train with and I take every opportunity to train with them to improve my aikido.

I can either get them off posture but I cant control them because they arent in my centre or I cant get them off posture. For me there's a lot of inertia and momentum to control. Its not that they are being difficult or too compliant ukes, its that I need to control their movement.

The quality of my aikido isnt sufficient to be consistent with large ukes. Well not yet but knowing more about what I need to train and practice is the first step in improvement and that is a good thing. I'll keep all of you updated on how things go. Again thanks for the advice.

In 'strine speak (Aussie speak)...."onyah mate"....roughly translated means "thanks" :D ;)

Trying not to make a aikidoka mountain out of a mole hill

Bob Dhammi
01-21-2005, 10:04 AM
This is my First post after lurking for 3/4 years.
I felt that responding to a thread started in 2002 may be a good out of the way place to start.
I am a large person around 6ft 1 and 19 stone.
I remember my sensei telling me that I was doing well as I did not use stength but if I started to my Aikido would go backwards.
I can also recall instructors dropping to there knees and showing the same technique we were trying to practise from Haman Dashi Waza when members of the class cited size as a reason why they found a certain technique hard when practised on a taller person. This showed that it was technique and not strength or mass that was making the throw work.
There are times when people I train with will say that the technique they are practising or the attack they are coming in with is not one they would choose to use on a person of my size. This may be true for them but the instructors or the many other capable members I am fortunate enough to train with will always find the extension or atemi or draw etc to overcome the problem at hand.
Hope this is o.k.

The Molinjir
01-28-2005, 07:36 PM
I'm 6'2", but still a kid and 150 lbs, so everyone can still toss me around, but occasionally I work with a 3rd kyu who weighs about twice as much as me, which get rather interesting, as I pull muscles trying to throw him.

MaryKaye
01-28-2005, 08:09 PM
One attitude that can really help in training:

"I don't have to throw this guy. I have to learn the technique."

If you are focused on doing the technique as well as possible, remarkable things sometimes happen to the big guy. If you start to think about throwing him, he gets heavy.

Mary Heiny sensei said at a seminar that in order to do aikido really well, we have to botch a lot of techniques--so might as well start now, because it only gets more embarrassing as your rank improves. I've found this thought somewhat comforting when struggling with my difficult partners--I train with someone very big, someone very fast, and someone very sneaky. (The other night, with all three of them at once. Whoof.)

Mary Kaye

maikerus
01-28-2005, 08:38 PM
Mary Heiny sensei said at a seminar that in order to do aikido really well, we have to botch a lot of techniques--so might as well start now, because it only gets more embarrassing as your rank improves. I've found this thought somewhat comforting when struggling with my difficult partners--I train with someone very big, someone very fast, and someone very sneaky.

When I was learning to juggle the very first lesson was on how to drop all the balls. The point being that its going to happen, so you might as well get over the fear of it happening.

I remember this when I can't do a technique. It is comforting...somehow <sigh>

--Michael

Bronson
01-29-2005, 01:02 AM
When I was learning to juggle the very first lesson was on how to drop all the balls. The point being that its going to happen, so you might as well get over the fear of it happening.

Ok this is starting to freak me out. Not only do I often agree with the hardcore Senshusei graduate about aikido but now I find myself having similar experiences to him outside of aikido :freaky: I was told pretty much the same thing when I was being taught how to juggle.

Bronson

maikerus
01-29-2005, 02:03 AM
Ok this is starting to freak me out. Not only do I often agree with the hardcore Senshusei graduate about aikido but now I find myself having similar experiences to him outside of aikido :freaky:

Ha ha...maybe we should both walk around with those aluminum hats on so that we don't read each other's minds :)

--Michael

xuzen
01-29-2005, 03:30 AM
Ok fellas,

This is my take on this subject...

Remember when in dojo, textbook techniques are there for learning purpose only. Do it, learn the principle (the riai) but don't dwell on it. It is not necessary to drop everyone everytime... including the big bubba type. In a sense it is more of our ego playing tricks on our mind. I must drop this fella, if I don't I am a lousy learner, etc etc etc.

Aikido and many MA are designed to give an edge to the underdogs, the smaller fella a fighting chance. Want to know how good you are? Do randori or jiyu waza and then you will find it is a whole new ball game.

When in randori mode, you will realised that in dynamic motion weight and size doesn't matter. Imagine a 6"2' 300 pounder coming at you in full force, pivot a little, get out of way, you will realised just how easy to redirect this bulking behemoth when he/she is in motion and after taking away his balance you pretty much control him/her.

I too have encountered situation where in static position I can't throw these behemoth, but in motion.... it is different story and it comforts me to think that aikido teaches me that there are alternatives to using bull strength to accomplish a technique.

Kancho Shioda in his publication talks a lot about taking away uke's balance to execute a technique and I personally think his thoughts are invaluable aids to my understanding of aikido.

Am I rambling again? Sumimasen. :sorry:

Boon.

Big Dave
01-29-2005, 08:22 AM
Actually, as a big guy I have had a few negative experiences because of my size. The first is the tendancy of others to feel the need to "crank it up a notch" when doing techniques on me. My ligaments are just as vulnerable as the next guys...
Second, the "let's see if I can do this to big man" idea. We are working on Koshinage, and the 140 lb, 6th Kyu wants to throw me , starting of course by first balancing me on his back. Meanwhile, I am a fifth Kyu who is a relative beginner in breakfalls. He does his best, and promptly drops me straight on my head. I did not have enough skill to breakfall out of it -and landed straight on my head. Luckily I was not injured.

Kevin Leavitt
01-29-2005, 02:25 PM
size matters. however, principles are the same regardless. I have found that you have to adapt the principles to fit the person. Aikido is not "one size fits all". As a tall guy, I almost have to get on my knees to do a koshinage to a short person. While some may look at this and say "that does not look like a koshi!" but it is since the principles and dynamics are the same. Doesn't make much sense for a guy whose hips are a good 2 feet above the center of another to try and pick up uke. Same with a small uke, no need to tip toe up to balance a good 150 lbs more on your poor back. Koshi can be performed at the knees for this person.

I suck at Koshinage, and I find it to be one of the hardest things to do since you must have a breadth of experience to deal with the various body types.

Jill N
01-30-2005, 03:01 PM
Hi all:
Just today at the dojo, Dave, Joel and I were working on how to help the tall guys do a shiho nage on a short person without compromising balance or putting the hands in a vulnerable position behind the head. As I am the shortest one in the dojo, the two 6 footers were using me as cannon fodder. Lots of fun. Lots of ways tried, lots failed, some worked. How do you tall guys deal with a shorter uke in shiho nage?
e ya later
Jill.

justinc
01-30-2005, 03:21 PM
I'm 6'4", so definitely on the tall side. Still fairly slim though so I don't qualify for the Mountain title. The best way I deal with Shihonage is that I keep the arm in contact with me and always out to the side above my head. In variably I end up with one knee on the ground as I do it to the shorter students. This is because I find it more stable to have one knee on the ground, rather than just an inch or two above it. By keeping uke's arm in contact with my arm-shoulder-head as I'm doing the technique, it maintains keepig them off balance. If they try to turn into the technique, then the typical result is closer to a kotegaeshi throw rather than shihonage.

The technique that I find most shorter people have troubles with me is Sumiotoshi. They try to lift me up by lifting up their own shoulder, and then leaning backwards or sideways to try to may balance. Of course I'm still standing flat footed with them underneath my armpit leaning over furiously wondering why I'm not moving.

maikerus
01-30-2005, 08:37 PM
Hi all:
Just today at the dojo, Dave, Joel and I were working on how to help the tall guys do a shiho nage on a short person without compromising balance or putting the hands in a vulnerable position behind the head. As I am the shortest one in the dojo, the two 6 footers were using me as cannon fodder. Lots of fun. Lots of ways tried, lots failed, some worked. How do you tall guys deal with a shorter uke in shiho nage?
e ya later
Jill.

Hey Jill,

I deal with this all the time since I'm 190cm and am frequently practicing with somewhat shorter people.

I find the best thing to do is to widen my stance and push my forward knee forward so that my forhead is about at uke's armpit level. Then whenever I have to shift or crossstep or whatever I make sure that my balance stays the same but that my hips don't come up.

The problem is that if I keep that height in a crossstep I end up moving my uke too much, so I have to do a half cross-step in that I bring my back foot up where it needs to be and then slide my other foot back so that my height stays the same. Shifting is a little easier, but there is still the problem of moving uke too far, so I have to make sure my feet can adjust without raising my hips.

This would be so much easier to show than type. <sigh>

Does that make any sense at all? I can't tell.

--Michael

Alvin H. Nagasawa
01-30-2005, 08:39 PM
Working with different height and body mass is a plus to any student involved in the training of Aikido and other MA's. One has to adjust to the situation. Remember the taller person has to come down to your height to attack you properly. The shorter person in height has the advantage of been closer to the ground and should have better balance if one trains one self properly. This is in relation to ones daily Dojo training. One has to blend with the Uke & Nage, Don't be overwhelmed by the persons height & size This will take way your confidence and one point. Respect when training is important in your development.

Amanda
01-31-2005, 12:31 PM
I stand 152 cm / 5 foot tall and in my (admittedly limited) experience I find that being short is certainly an advantage. For one thing it means you have less distance to fall :p . For another as my centre is generally below my partner's I seem to find my stance more stable.

maikerus
01-31-2005, 06:16 PM
I stand 152 cm / 5 foot tall and in my (admittedly limited) experience I find that being short is certainly an advantage. For one thing it means you have less distance to fall :p . For another as my centre is generally below my partner's I seem to find my stance more stable.

One might even say that Aikido is a martial art created by short people for short people ... and those of us over 175cm are infinitely jealous ;)

Luckily I have some tall instructors <grin>