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the newguy
03-05-2010, 04:10 AM
hi everyone

im quite new to Aikido having done around 18 months and reached 5th Kyu.

At my local club there has been a change which i am having trouble getting to grips with. A student has returned to the Dojo who happend to be the sensei's best friend. This usually would not matter but the chap in question applies strength over technique, forcing uke into position rather than allowing you to gett he hang of anything, which is frustrating and counterproductive in my opinion (but i am new)

unfortunately he manages to get away with this almost every time as the sensei is so happy that he's come back and doesnt want him to leave again.

Overcoming My frustration is now becoming the biggest part of the lesson and whereas before i could be at peace knowing ive tried my best and that i was making progress.

now my peace of mind is disappearing during lesson and whereas im not feeling intimidated i feel that this is what the other student is trying to do.

Should i try a new club? is there a lesson in this somewhere that im missing? do you have any advice with dealing with a unhelpful aggressive Uke?

thanks in advance

03-05-2010, 08:38 AM
It might be helpful to try to step back and formulate a more dispassionate view of the situation, what's going on and why it is bothering you. Easier said than done, I know...but I get the sense that there may be some things unstated in your story.

Here's what you stated -- my paraphrase, so correct me if I'm wrong:

"When I train with this person, he doesn't do the techniques correctly, and so I feel that I can't get good practice with him."

Here's what you didn't state, but which I think may be there:

"When I train with this person, I'm afraid of injury. My ukemi can't keep up with the force (or maybe speed?) of his techniques."

...and here's another thing that isn't stated, but which may be there as well:

"When I train with this person, I feel like what he's really trying to do is establish dominance over me, rather than train with me. I feel challenged, and I don't feel like I can adequately respond to that challenge."

None of these is a bad or wrong way to feel -- no value judgments here. I think, though, that it would be really helpful for you to think about which of these may be true, or any other concerns that you have -- because the three statements describe three different (albeit related) problems, and I think they call for different (but again related) remedies. The "I'm not getting good training and that's frustrating" statement is a legitimate complaint, but if you proceed as if it's your only complaint, you risk not addressing some other very real and serious problems.

03-05-2010, 09:18 AM
Our Aikido training does not prepare us to either avoid all challenges, nor to take on all challenges as we grow. Rather, together with proper and consistent guidance from the senior students and the instructors in the dojo, we progressively and persistently build up our conditioning, our skills, and our knowlege in dealing effectively with these challenges. We also learn to postpone certain lessons until a time we are better prepared to face them. This is not only proper caution, but correct martial thinking.

Aikido training, like with any other martial art, is not without its share of risks of pain or injury. One must be prudent in selecting a personal method of training consistent with the training style of the dojo one belongs to. Being proactive about one's safety and peace of mind is the first real lesson of martial training to begin with.

The points made by Mary Malmros are well taken and presented, and may well serve as a workable base understanding of how to achieve an equitable solution to your immediate challenges.

An honest series of conversations with your seniors, instructors, and yes, even this individual, may actually provide the answers and solutions you seek. Actual and correct training is not all physical.

Training is an ongoing phenomenon, as we each remain "works in progress" as we follow our paths of Aikido development and self discovery. We must learn how to protect ourselves as ukes, and to project ourselves as nages, maintaining a "no harm" commitment to our training, and a ":win-win" agreement when training with our partners on the mat. In a sense, training is a lot like our daily lives, whereby we are most successful by knowing how and when to "negotiate" for the best benefits and outcomes possible.

Continued good luck on your ongoing journey of beneficial and joy filled training, and for the satisfaction of constant self discovery!

In oneness,

03-05-2010, 10:42 AM
The concept of blending is especially important in aikido. But, one aspect that is commonly overlooked is that your training partner often does not meet you exactly in the middle... With practice, you will become better able to adjust to those "off-center hits" that happen when one partner or the other is a bit too exuberant or too passive. Let's face it, aikido could not be considered truly martial if you could not prepare yourself for an adversary who is strong. So, you might find yourself better able to accept this individual and his "differences" if you use it as a means of pushing the envelope of your own training.

That said, if you have serious concerns about his injuring you, and you feel certain that your instructor will not help you correct the situation, then you need to seek a different alternative, and possibly look to train elsewhere.

Ron Tisdale
03-05-2010, 11:00 AM
Just a suggestion, but if you do try it I would be interested in the result.

On the next training opportunity with this person, as uke, do your very best to follow them during every moment of the waza very closely. Try to "match" every movement they make. If they step out to the right when you are holding their right hand with your left, match them with enough energy so that they don't have the opportunity to over power or drag you. As you do this, keep your left hand ready on your centerline. See if following them closely leaves any openingings for you to use your other hand offensively.

Do not strike them even if the opening is there...just note what happens and what you feel is available, and think about how to use it.

If he is doing iriminage, when they enter strongly, stay focused on him, do not flinch...and instead of letting them move you, move yourself into the position they are going for, and as they throw, see if there is an opening as you let them take you over to grab their elbow and throw them instead.

If you find a lot of openings in their waza, you are probably correct, they are using a lot of strength. One way to deal with that is to continue to polish your ukemi by following them very closely, never lettting them get ahead of you, never allowing them to put you in a position to surprise you or hurt you. And it will teach you a LOT about one style of ukemi often seen in aikido.

They may eventually ask for you to resist more...which will say a lot as well... ;)

Ron (stay safe)

03-05-2010, 11:10 AM
Sorry this is going on. I would still continue to work with him if I were you. If he is trying to assert his dominance over you, just ignore it. He will get over it eventually or think he staked his claim in the realm of seniority. Doesn't really matter to you as you are there for yourself anyway. Right? Now, if your safety if of concern and you are being injured, you might want to say something. Ask if he can lighten up on the techniques until your ukemi gets better. Or just ask if he can go slower so you can absorb the attack or give a better attack. Even if you aren't really watching him, maybe stating that you want to watch what he is doing will be enough for him to slow down.

Each person has their own aikido. I had a simliar problem with a female who came back to the dojo. She wanted to put me in my place (keep in mind I had been there only 3 months and she was a 3rd kyu.... so there really was nothing to even put in place). Eventually she calmed down. My ukemi got better and I was able to handle her better too. There are stiff people in aikido. There are overly compliant people in aikido. There are people who depend on strength to fill in the gaps that their technique is lacking. There are people who use strength because they don't know better. There are intense people who train. There are passive people who train. There are people who are clumsy. There are people who are graceful. There are people who throw you to the mat with their whole body and you better find a way to land safely hell or high water. There are people who throw with their whole body who somehow magically make you land on the mat not remembering how you got there, but there was no impact at all.

You will be exposed to many types of aikidoka. It is up to you to learn to adapt to each of them. You may not be successful every time. I know I'm not, but I try. Aikido is a three demensional art and unfortunately I have yet to experience two aikidoka who are alike. I do my best to give a commited attack, blend with them and try to take the best ukemi that I can. Sometimes I fall behind. Sometimes its my fault and other times my partner is told to slow down because they are going too fast for what I can handle right now (especially with ura iriminage because my lower body wants to fly away instead of staying close to uke)

Anyway, I am babbling! Sorry you are going through this, but I hope you can work through it. It seems like you like the dojo and the other students. Give it time to see how it plays out. Jumping ship at the first sign of water is no good when there is someone on the ship who knows how to repair the leak.

Ron Tisdale
03-05-2010, 11:28 AM
Sorry, that should have been keep you RIGHT hand next to your centerline...obvoiusly....sheesh. :O


03-05-2010, 01:46 PM
This usually would not matter but the chap in question applies strength over technique, forcing uke into position rather than allowing you to gett he hang of anything, which is frustrating and counterproductive in my opinion (but i am new)

It is expected, that the beginners apply strength over technique. They can't do any better; it takes many years to learn correct technique. You too, you are applying a lot of strength. That is very good, keep going.

Should i try a new club? is there a lesson in this somewhere that im missing? do you have any advice with dealing with a unhelpful aggressive Uke?

thanks in advance
You are over sensitive. Aggressive uke doesn't exist in aikido dojo. Just keep training as usual.

Janet Rosen
03-05-2010, 03:03 PM
I think Ron's advice is spot on - if you don't actually feel unsafe being his uke, then use what he is doing as nage to improve your own aikido by staying ahead of him - having said that, I don't think that, when I was a 5th kyu, I would have been able to do this! : neither my understanding of the idealized form of the technique nor my ability to be that well connected to nage would have been up to it.

One thing you, or anybody, can do is very nicely smile & explain you are having a little trouble keeping up, could he please slow down? (I do understand that the issue you identify is muscle, not speed, but this way you infer the fault is your's for being a dumb 5th kyu AND if he is able to slow down, even if he is muscling, you'll be more likely to be able to breathe, center yourself, and work on the skills you need to follow Ron's advice.)

My 2 cents.

Ron Tisdale
03-05-2010, 03:10 PM
Thanks Janet. AND don't be shy about saying you need to slow down. I've said that as a black belt when I had to. Some people went to work with someone else, some people understood and slowed down, or took it easier. It really doesnt matter what their reaction is...you express what you need. If the instructor thinks you need to push more, HE will let you know.

Stay safe,

04-23-2010, 07:40 AM
Hi newguy,

If the problem is that this guy is forcing you into position using his strength, then the solution is to not resist him in any way :)

At first this is counter-intuitive, as you feel threatened so you tense up and try not to move, but this will only make the situation worse.

If his aikido is any good he'll still be able to apply technique. If it isn't (as you suspect) then he'll end up rotating your arm like a propeller without taking your balance, and will not be able to apply technique :D

Attack him slowly and let your arms and body relax so there is no force going into / towards him, and see how he deals with it ;)

If he asks you for more resistance, just say that you aren't confident in your ukemi yet so you'd rather work at a careful pace.

Hope that helps,