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Mark Gibbons
12-29-2010, 11:06 PM
Ikeda Sensei taught at the last seminar I attended.

One exercise called for two ukes, one on each arm of nage. The ukes were supposed to be grounded, hold on and not move. The exercise was completely static. Nage was supposed to do whatever it was Ikeda Sensei had demonstrated and move the ukes. I didn't know the person I was holding on to was a 5th dan and a dojo cho. So I stood there getting tugged on. The guy on the other arm was moving quite freely. Sensei came by and arranged us with the whole dojo watching, nage was then able to move us both. Let's chalk that one up to doing the expected.

Out of 30 nages I trained with, only Ikeda Sensei and one other did something that made me move without major yanking. From what I could see most other ukes were moving for almost everything. Some of them even moved for me and I really did not understand what I was doing.

I think that too many aikido ukes are trained to move for anything and will, especially when rank and social expectations enter the picture. So is what I think I saw and felt really going on? Is this behavior helpful for learning aikido?

Regards,
Mark

Janet Rosen
12-29-2010, 11:44 PM
Some of them even moved for me and I really did not understand what I was doing.

I think that too many aikido ukes are trained to move for anything and will, especially when rank and social expectations enter the picture. So is what I think I saw and felt really going on? Is this behavior helpful for learning aikido?Mark

Mark, I wasn't there so I can only speak insofar as it relates to experiences I have had at various dojos and seminars....
Yes there are folks who will "tank" - sometimes I've had ukes start to turn away from me before I've connected to them or moved, a real head-scratcher that! - and there is no doubt rank and or expectations play a part...
But may I be permitted to answer your question by posing one? How can one ever learn what is only partly understood if he is never permitted to succeed? If I feel nage is heading in the right direction in terms of connection, posture, etc then as uke I keep my side of the connection open and let myself be moved just enough for nage to get the feedback that he is on the right track.
Now that begs the question in context of your description: if the instructor explicitly said not to move at all, then perhaps he meant to set up an all or nothing situation.
But in general I don't think that is conducive to learning a physical art; a disconnected, tanking uke sucks but the nage who is given no opportunity to succeed can't learn.
I think in there s much to be said for the koryu tradition of senior students taking uke's role in order to teach the junior.
My 2 cents, maybe only worth a penny....

Amir Krause
12-30-2010, 02:36 AM
I wrote on this numerous times. The correct answer is that being a good Uke is extremely complicated issue.

Uke response should be situation dependent, some indicators are:
- How experienced is Nage?
- How close is Nage to the exact technique (no one is perfect)?
- Is this a new technique for Nage ?
- Is this a learning phase or an examination phase?

All of those, assume that Uke himself is much more experienced then Nage, knows this technique and related openings & mistakes much better then Nage, and even knows the level of proficiency currently expected of Nage.

In a seminar situation, as you describe, the above is obviously not true, most Uke do not even know Nage, and have very minor idea of the technique. In such a state, what are the possible approaches:

- Uke could resist as strongly as he can, and only let very good techniques work
This is an erroneous teaching style, one can not learn a technique in such a manner (even in martial -arts which favour "live testing" the learning is not done this way). All (except the 2) would have failed.

- Uke could only follow if he must, or if he feels this is in the right direction
In most cases, this behavior is the best one. While "right direction" is determined by the experienced Uke. In a way, this Uke is guiding / teaching the Nage, even without speaking (or he may had verbal explanations / suggestions). In most cases, this is the best Uke, but in this situaiton, Uke might be judging it completely wrong, what then?

- Uke could go with the flow, except when it feels completely wrong
In this particular case, this seems like the best solution. Again, this type of response is not the best, only when Uke has only a vague idea on the technique. Such an Uke is not sufficient in order to really master a technique, only adequate to start learning it.

- Uke could always go with the flow, regardless
Most practitioners do not have clear ideas on principles and are un-certain as to the exact identification of "wrongness" . Thus, they follow this concept, instead of the previous one. Obviously this option is inferior to the previous two, yet those required knowledge.

To my understanding, the last option, the always following Uke, is still better, compared to the non-responding Uke. If Nage has a general idea of the technique, he could slowly build the dynamic situation to resemble the example, and improve it.

Enjoy
Amir

Tony Wagstaffe
12-30-2010, 02:58 AM
No uke should jump, tank whatever you call it.... period

No matter how frustrating that is to nage.
I nearly decided to give "aikido" the "elbow" at first as I did not think it worked until I met the "right" people.....
If no one could throw me, I always thought their problem not mine...:straightf

Mark Gibbons
12-30-2010, 09:05 AM
...
But may I be permitted to answer your question by posing one? How can one ever learn what is only partly understood if he is never permitted to succeed? ...
I think in there s much to be said for the koryu tradition of senior students taking uke's role in order to teach the junior.
My 2 cents, maybe only worth a penny....

Thanks Janet. I'm not sure how anyone was supposed to learn what was being shown. It was one of Ikeda Sensei's, see it's on, now it's off seminars with no visible difference detectable from where I sat. All I could figure out was to try to follow instructions as uke and as nage. So for the static grabs I tried to connect with nage's center and pin them. Most folks just muscled things and some were strong enough to drag me around. The folks that tried doing whatever kind of internal stuff was being shown might not have moved me but got real practice, just not the reward of seeing uke move or fall. What does succeed mean in this case?

Ukemi has always been a mystery to me. I try to do what's asked for but what I understand and do never quite matches what other people seem to do or exect. I like the idea of the senior people taking all the ukemi.

Mark Gibbons
12-30-2010, 09:14 AM
No uke should jump, tank whatever you call it.... period

...

And yet I've read far too many comments about good hard training that's safe enough unless uke "resists". Then uke gets broken. I think that idea trains people to fall very early and it makes sense to me to fall rather than press on and have someone crank a pin in revenge.

Regards,
Mark

Mark Gibbons
12-30-2010, 09:26 AM
I wrote on this numerous times. The correct answer is that being a good Uke is extremely complicated issue.

Enjoy
Amir

Thanks Amir,

I thought that was a very good analysis. I like to try for a slightly different idea when practicing established techniques. Instead of resisting I try to keep attacking while I'm uke. Resisting strongly is too much hard work. Following when it makes sense to protect myself and attacking vulnerabilities is what I like do with the people I really respect.

One Sensei told me, just attack and the fall will happen at the right time. I probably over learned that lesson.

Cheers,
Mark

Amir Krause
12-30-2010, 10:00 AM
Thanks Amir,

I thought that was a very good analysis. I like to try for a slightly different idea when practicing established techniques. Instead of resisting I try to keep attacking while I'm uke. Resisting strongly is too much hard work. Following when it makes sense to protect myself and attacking vulnerabilities is what I like do with the people I really respect.

One Sensei told me, just attack and the fall will happen at the right time. I probably over learned that lesson.

Cheers,
Mark

Mark

You are of course correct in the sense that rigid resistance is not a smart martial move. Yet, it is often useful as a teaching guide, and so is showing a person his openings.
But, as I wrote above, both assume Uke is more experianced then Nage.

Amir

Amir Krause
12-30-2010, 10:17 AM
No uke should jump, tank whatever you call it.... period

No matter how frustrating that is to nage.
I nearly decided to give "aikido" the "elbow" at first as I did not think it worked until I met the "right" people.....
If no one could throw me, I always thought their problem not mine...:straightf

"Showing prowess" does not equal training, not to speak of learning.

You are describing entirely different situation in which Nage is supposed to be much more experienced, and Uke should be able care for himself.

The issue is not the frustration of Nage, rather his ability to learn anything. People learn best if they get ~75% of success, this is how our systems are wired. The brain is a neuron network, and it needs both positive and negative feedbacks to learn.

The above does not imply a fair Aikidoka should not be able to throw a non-cooperating person attacking him. Again, that is the different situation, and if one is not able to throw in such a situation, it is not the place of choice for me either.

Amir

Tony Wagstaffe
12-30-2010, 10:52 AM
And yet I've read far too many comments about good hard training that's safe enough unless uke "resists". Then uke gets broken. I think that idea trains people to fall very early and it makes sense to me to fall rather than press on and have someone crank a pin in revenge.

Regards,
Mark

No cranking involved just good kuzushi......:straightf

Tony Wagstaffe
12-30-2010, 10:58 AM
"Showing prowess" does not equal training, not to speak of learning.

You are describing entirely different situation in which Nage is supposed to be much more experienced, and Uke should be able care for himself.

The issue is not the frustration of Nage, rather his ability to learn anything. People learn best if they get ~75% of success, this is how our systems are wired. The brain is a neuron network, and it needs both positive and negative feedbacks to learn.

The above does not imply a fair Aikidoka should not be able to throw a non-cooperating person attacking him. Again, that is the different situation, and if one is not able to throw in such a situation, it is not the place of choice for me either.

Amir

As I have always enthused that with out kuzushi there is no waza..... When my posture was upset by kuzushi I was thrown easily, even by my wife who I am much stronger than....
That is the biggest problem I see in the aikido today....
If uke does not have their balance broken, no amount of cranking or trying to break uke will result in a throw, unless the uke is far weaker physically..... :straightf

C. David Henderson
12-30-2010, 12:16 PM
This is a nice discussion. As I read Mark's OP, it appears the situation was explicitly a training exercise (from myrote dori?), not a technique. In that kind of situation, I believe I try to follow Amir's second example. FWIW

Shadowfax
12-30-2010, 03:53 PM
I attended a seminar with Ikeda in the spring and we did the same exact training excercise. In my group of three there was a gal who was a bit higher ranked than I and just as solid, and a tiny little girl who was brand new only had in like one or two days of training.

Well when me and the other solid gal got the greenie between us of course this poor little thing could not move us. Well that is until Ikeda came over and walked her through it. We moved... and I guarantee neither of us was giving it away.

The look on her face when we went flying was priceless. :D

We work with these kinds of excercise in my dojo fairly often and I have worked with people who would succeed in getting my balance but not fully understand just how they had done it. Sometimes it takes a while for some to really be able to feel what they are doing internally.

Pauliina Lievonen
12-30-2010, 04:05 PM
I've been in this situation at a seminar with Ikeda sensei. It's an unusually tricky one I think because if uke moves out of politeness in this situation (static exercise looking for a connection) nage can really get led astray and learn the wrong lesson out of it.

I'm almost leaning towards no one should move unless they have to, and everyone's technique should just fail. Because then maybe they would get more hands on explanation. :p But that is very hard to do, socially, if people don't know each other very well.

Our "at home" seminars with my teachers teacher Terry Ezra sensei also include a lot of this kind of practice. And you'll often see a couple of people almost not moving at all, until tori maybe finally succeeds once or twice. But that is between people who have gone to the same seminars for years together and know each other well.

(Sometimes you'll hear two people going:
"no, lost me there" "now i've got you again""you're forgetting your elbow" "oh, thanks" "yes, got you again" and all the time there's barely any movement visible... :D )

It's also the kind of practice that needs to be built up over time, just seing it at a seminar somewhere is bound to be frustrating.

kvaak
Pauliina

Janet Rosen
12-30-2010, 04:19 PM
(Sometimes you'll hear two people going:
"no, lost me there" "now i've got you again""you're forgetting your elbow" "oh, thanks" "yes, got you again" and all the time there's barely any movement visible... :D )

Yes, this is also valuable feedback I find it helpful to both give and receive when working slowly on connection and kuzushi.

Mark Gibbons
12-30-2010, 04:25 PM
... We moved... and I guarantee neither of us was giving it away.
....
I'm fairly sure the guy on my nage's other arm would swear he wasn't giving it away either. Yet there he was moving all over for no reason I could detect.

Regards,
Mark

Mark Gibbons
12-30-2010, 04:38 PM
..

Shadowfax
12-31-2010, 02:19 PM
I'm fairly sure the guy on my nage's other arm would swear he wasn't giving it away either. Yet there he was moving all over for no reason I could detect.

Regards,
Mark

Understood. So in other words you just have not learned what it is you are looking for and just hit on it without really realizing. Get between a couple of people at your own dojo and try this with them giving you the kind of verbal feedback mentioned above and this might help you detect the feel of the connection that causes the unbalancing.

Even when you know what it is you are feeling for it is really not easy to accomplish. It's more advanced training I guess.

We have a newish guy at the dojo right now who has said he also can't feel what it is he is supposed to feel yet. He is equal in rank to myself but his training in other dojo just had not included this lesson yet.I get the impression that a lot of people don't begin to see this stuff at their home dojo until after shodan....

Mark Gibbons
12-31-2010, 02:50 PM
Understood. So in other words you just have not learned what it is you are looking for and just hit on it without really realizing. Get between a couple of people at your own dojo and try this with them giving you the kind of verbal feedback mentioned above and this might help you detect the feel of the connection that causes the unbalancing.

Even when you know what it is you are feeling for it is really not easy to accomplish. It's more advanced training I guess.

.......

Huh? No nothing like that at all. I was expressing doubt of your guarantee of not giving it away when you were uke.

kewms
12-31-2010, 06:58 PM
And yet I've read far too many comments about good hard training that's safe enough unless uke "resists". Then uke gets broken. I think that idea trains people to fall very early and it makes sense to me to fall rather than press on and have someone crank a pin in revenge.

I'm not very big, which means that many people can successfully muscle through a technique when working with me.

My take on it is that I'm responsible for my own body, not for nage's training. If they decide that encountering my structure means that they need to do more of whatever they're doing, then I'll move, even if whatever they're doing is wrong and wouldn't work on someone their own size. I'm not going to sacrifice my joints (and, ultimately, my ability to train) in a misguided attempt to enlighten them. *But* the structure is there for them to encounter, and people who are paying attention will recognize that they've gotten stuck.

As for the dangers of resisting, part of the problem is nages who mistake force for effectiveness, but it's also true that ukes often choose to resist in really stupid ways. If someone has taken your balance and is in a position to drop their entire weight on your lumbar spine, resisting is a really dumb idea.

Katherine

kewms
12-31-2010, 07:01 PM
Our "at home" seminars with my teachers teacher Terry Ezra sensei also include a lot of this kind of practice. And you'll often see a couple of people almost not moving at all, until tori maybe finally succeeds once or twice. But that is between people who have gone to the same seminars for years together and know each other well.

(Sometimes you'll hear two people going:
"no, lost me there" "now i've got you again""you're forgetting your elbow" "oh, thanks" "yes, got you again" and all the time there's barely any movement visible... :D )

It's also the kind of practice that needs to be built up over time, just seing it at a seminar somewhere is bound to be frustrating.


Yes. If all parties understand the exercise and can give useful feedback, it can be very valuable. That's usually not the case at a seminar.

Katherine

Shadowfax
12-31-2010, 08:35 PM
Huh? No nothing like that at all. I was expressing doubt of your guarantee of not giving it away when you were uke.

LOL oh ok... well... I know when someone has me and I know when they don't and I don't move until they do. That goes for everyone including my own teachers. I tend to be a popular partner for this kind of stuff specifically because I do not give it away and I'm not easy to get.

SeiserL
01-01-2011, 06:57 AM
I train with Ikeda Sensei every chance I get so I know what you are talking about.

One one level, uke may be moving in cooperation with the tori/nage appropriate to their level of proficiency. Meaning its a sensitivity drill which is best learned with sequentially more and more resistance. Too much resistance too soon just sets up failure. Too little isn't helpful. If its a new skill, rank doesn't really matter. Sometimes higher ranks have a harder time stepping out of their well hones box of skills to learn something new. IMHO, very few people are doing what Ikeda Sensei is asking us to learn and do.

OTOH, yes, many uke are in collusion and give a false sense of proficiency to the tori/nage and a bad name to Aikido. We need to do more focused and instruction on being a good uke and calibrating to the tori/nage level of skill/proficiency so they can learn.

amoeba
01-01-2011, 07:03 AM
Well, one other thing that might make a difference there is that on a seminar with people I don't know, I normally move along with what they're doing. At home, when we do stuff like that (or if I know my training partners), it's interesting to try to make myself as heavy and unmovable as I can when doing this kind of excercises (one of my teachers teaches Daito Ryu, too, and we did a lot of that there). But with people I don't know too well, I don't like doing that unless they specifically ask me to... I don' move on my own or anything, I just try to be cooperative.

JCT53
01-01-2011, 08:19 AM
I don't know about anyone else, but at our Dojo we are taught to not fall unless someone has our balance and stability. So, no bailing out. The only exception is when a younger student (like me) is really close to a technique. Then we generally fall and then tell them how to improve it.
That's just how we do it.

jurasketu
01-01-2011, 09:31 PM
I think it might be instructive to look at professional baseball and basketball. Every day, pro baseball players take batting practice against someone throwing 55 - 65 mph fastballs down the middle of the plate. This allows the hitter to work on good form, motion, timing, posture, etc. This builds confidence and good muscle memory.

If a hitter took batting practice against a pitcher throwing his best *stuff*, unless the hitter already has their timing and form in perfect order - they would likely fail completely - instead of just mostly. Sure they need at-bats against live pitching to be really proficient - but that is just a very small portion of their training time.

Similarly, basketball players spend a lot of practice time shooting and making moves to the hoop with no one guarding them or only pretending to guard them. It's hard to get shooting or moves solid in a reasonable amount of time if the ball is constantly being swatted away or the move is being countered.

So it seems to me that professional athletes in competitive sports seem to think that a significant amount of collusion in practice/training is extremely useful. Something to think about anyway.

Mark Gibbons
01-02-2011, 12:02 AM
Granted there are different levels of practice and as a normal matter of course different levels of uke response are appropriate. When the Sensei asked the ukes to try not to move it seemed to me like they did their usual level of resistance, almost none. It just seems like in this exercise just following and being nonreistant was contrary to what the instructor was asking for. The level of collusion made it difficult for people to be sure they were really succeeding against solid opposition.

Remember this was just an exercise, no falls, no danger, minimal technique. I don't think a generalization to "nage won't learn if they never succeed" applies. It looked like more of a case of the ukes not being able to break out of their usual methods.

Do people do anything but what they already know at seminars? I hope so, but didn't gather any evidence.

Mark

Janet Rosen
01-02-2011, 01:01 AM
It looked like more of a case of the ukes not being able to break out of their usual methods.

Do people do anything but what they already know at seminars? I hope so, but didn't gather any evidence.

Mark

Ah...well, that is a specific complaint I have heard/read several high ranking instructors make after seminars over the years. And I have watched and partnered with folks, often quite senior to me, at seminars who seemed to go on autopilot the moment they I.D.d the technique being demo'd, completely ignoring either the verbal direction from the instructor or the crucial detail/difference from "usual" in the demo.
Why they bother to attend, travel to, pay for seminars then just train as usual, that's always been a mystery...I may not "get" what is being taught but it won't be for lack of trying!

bkedelen
01-02-2011, 01:17 AM
I often find that I don't get much out of seminars and classes when I spend my time thinking about how everyone else is doing it wrong.

Janet Rosen
01-02-2011, 03:50 AM
I often find that I don't get much out of seminars and classes when I spend my time thinking about how everyone else is doing it wrong.

"worry" - no I'm training not standing there and critiquing, and- what 99% are doing doesn't affect me- but it is not easy to learn when partnered with people who insist on doing things via their default rather than working on what is being taught.

SeiserL
01-02-2011, 06:11 AM
So it seems to me that professional athletes in competitive sports seem to think that a significant amount of collusion in practice/training is extremely useful.
Yes agreed.
The training aspects are certainly different than the competitive aspects of any activity. And since Aikido does not have a competitive (with a few exceptions) aspect we are left with training. Good point.
Welcome to AikiWeb.

jurasketu
01-02-2011, 12:16 PM
I perfectly understand Mark's basic complaint that started the thread. It is actually comical that people expend effort, time and money to attend training where they proceed to seemingly ignore what is being taught. I don't think this is limited to Aikido seminars. We'll find the same thing in virtually any voluntary training.

It might be interesting to speculate about why that would be (some of these points have already been mentioned by other posters but I thought a summary would be useful)...

1. People are stupid. We are. But that is besides the point.
2. People don't listen very carefully. We don't. That is hard to fix.
3. People don't understand what is being asked. We do something we do understand desperately hoping that we're close.
4. People will have preconceived expectations of what will be taught. We will do what we were expecting instead of what was actually asked.
5. People are uncomfortable doing things we don't know (yet). We do something we know instead and cover by saying we're doing it the *effective* way.
6. People are under stress. We revert to previous training.
7. People have their own training agenda. We do what we want to do regardless of what was shown.
8. People like to show they are competent. See number 5.
9. People find learning challenging. See number 6.
10. People actually know all this and still ignore what is being taught. See number 9.

How do we fix this? The answer is to always train with a "Beginner's Mind". Please let me know when you can do that consistently -- and maybe hold a seminar that I can attend and uh... learn that... hopefully...

ravenest
01-04-2011, 08:59 PM
Ikeda Sensei taught at the last seminar I attended.

One exercise called for two ukes, one on each arm of nage. The ukes were supposed to be grounded, hold on and not move. The exercise was completely static. Nage was supposed to do whatever it was Ikeda Sensei had demonstrated and move the ukes. I didn't know the person I was holding on to was a 5th dan and a dojo cho. So I stood there getting tugged on. The guy on the other arm was moving quite freely. Sensei came by and arranged us with the whole dojo watching, nage was then able to move us both. Let's chalk that one up to doing the expected.

Out of 30 nages I trained with, only Ikeda Sensei and one other did something that made me move without major yanking. From what I could see most other ukes were moving for almost everything. Some of them even moved for me and I really did not understand what I was doing.

I think that too many aikido ukes are trained to move for anything and will, especially when rank and social expectations enter the picture. So is what I think I saw and felt really going on? Is this behavior helpful for learning aikido?

Regards,
Mark
SOOO glad you bought this up! Recently I got so frustrated with one in particular, I hardly touched him and he goes flying past and dives through the air and roles ... WTF!? I thought, if he's gonna do that, he should get nikkyo on himself and tap ou t:D he got up and goes, sorry can we do that again? But he always recieves like that. I'm one of those guys that dont hunker down and dig in, but I dont take a dive and that frustrates some. I'm easy to move, I'll take a floop step forward or back, let my body be pushed around and go floppy, I'm not resisting but few people follow through and throw me easily (except those that know what they are doing ;) ) I'm constantly saying, just keep going - If they do, down I go. But some think I am resisting ????

I think its hard to see a lot of the point of aikido unless it is clearly understood the reason for the particular exercise AT THAT TIME.

ravenest
01-04-2011, 09:06 PM
I don't know about anyone else, but at our Dojo we are taught to not fall unless someone has our balance and stability. So, no bailing out. The only exception is when a younger student (like me) is really close to a technique. Then we generally fall and then tell them how to improve it.
That's just how we do it.

That sounds good, but in some dojos NON of this stuff is talked about.

lbb
01-05-2011, 10:07 AM
I perfectly understand Mark's basic complaint that started the thread. It is actually comical that people expend effort, time and money to attend training where they proceed to seemingly ignore what is being taught. I don't think this is limited to Aikido seminars. We'll find the same thing in virtually any voluntary training.

In a lot of other things as well. I'm reminded of the way that people often go about religious practices, attending worship services but ignoring (or even resisting) the opportunity (imperative?) to make the personal changes that the teachings imply. I guess the common thread is, "Here's a path that offers you instruction in how to change to become more like X."

I like your list a lot. I wonder how many of those items boil down to (or derive a lot of their oomph from) resistance to change.

Basia Halliop
01-05-2011, 11:41 AM
Well, I'm a white belt, so maybe it's not exactly the same experience, but I've often realized at seminars that what I'm doing is not exactly what the teacher is showing, especially if they do things very differently from my own teacher.

However, I really am trying to learn what they're teaching. It's just that if so many aspects of what they're doing are different from what I know (basic footwork and body position and posture all different than I have been taught, plus a new technique, plus a different approach to ukemi, etc), then it's kind of a mental overload. I just can't mentally take in ALL of it at once in a weekend, let alone a two minute demo of a single technique.

So I end up picking one or two things the teacher appears to be drawing attention to or talking about or some specific thing I notice them doing, and trying to see and work on those. By default, the rest of what I'm doing tends to end up looking more like what I know best and have spent years training my body to do...

I.e., it's not always intended as disrespect or lack of interest in what the seminar teacher is teaching...

jurasketu
01-05-2011, 10:33 PM
Re #35: Mary-

"...resistance to change..." Aikidoka resisting a learning challenge. That is also highly comical. Thanks Mary.

Re #36: Basia - Failure is part of the learning process - you are trying. Mark is complaining about folks that aren't really "trying" so they are avoiding failure and hence learning.

My favorite saying about learning is this: "You learn from failure, not success." [Really - it should be "You largely learn from failure, rarely from success"]

Robin

Mark Gibbons
01-06-2011, 12:02 AM
My objection was directed more towards ukes that don't try to or are so conditioned that they can't follow instructions and in effect stop folks from practicing what the Sensei is trying to teach.

With diving ukes I can't tell if that's just the way they do it, if I'm so brutal they are trying to stay safe or if they just want to get it over. Nage's practice is their problem. At seminars I'm almost never senior enough to know when nage is doing something right. About all I can do is try to follow instructions, attack and hope I can stay safe.

Regards,
Mark

Randall Lim
01-06-2011, 02:10 AM
Mark, I wasn't there so I can only speak insofar as it relates to experiences I have had at various dojos and seminars....
Yes there are folks who will "tank" - sometimes I've had ukes start to turn away from me before I've connected to them or moved, a real head-scratcher that! - and there is no doubt rank and or expectations play a part...
But may I be permitted to answer your question by posing one? How can one ever learn what is only partly understood if he is never permitted to succeed? If I feel nage is heading in the right direction in terms of connection, posture, etc then as uke I keep my side of the connection open and let myself be moved just enough for nage to get the feedback that he is on the right track.
Now that begs the question in context of your description: if the instructor explicitly said not to move at all, then perhaps he meant to set up an all or nothing situation.
But in general I don't think that is conducive to learning a physical art; a disconnected, tanking uke sucks but the nage who is given no opportunity to succeed can't learn.
I think in there s much to be said for the koryu tradition of senior students taking uke's role in order to teach the junior.
My 2 cents, maybe only worth a penny....

I agree with you. As an Uke, I would move when Nage leads me. If Nage doesn't lead me, I would hold firmly or attack committedly.

Holding firmly means making sure the entire surface of my palm is in physical contact with Nage's wrist (if it is a Katate Tori). I do not need to hold so tightly such that Nage feels pain, loses blood circulation or is unable to move an inch.

As long as I can feel the connection with Nage's centre (through our arms), I would adjust my body & centre to maintain this connection.

In this way, Nage learns to achieve connection
& develop his Ki projection through the subtle sensational feedback I give to him that he is doing it right.

However, if Nage lures & leads me, I would adjust my body & centre to achieve a firm grip. But the very moment that I do achieve a firm grip, I would be in an awkward position, making my balance at risk. This is the wonder of LEADING.

George S. Ledyard
01-07-2011, 02:46 AM
Ikeda Sensei taught at the last seminar I attended.

One exercise called for two ukes, one on each arm of nage. The ukes were supposed to be grounded, hold on and not move. The exercise was completely static. Nage was supposed to do whatever it was Ikeda Sensei had demonstrated and move the ukes. I didn't know the person I was holding on to was a 5th dan and a dojo cho. So I stood there getting tugged on. The guy on the other arm was moving quite freely. Sensei came by and arranged us with the whole dojo watching, nage was then able to move us both. Let's chalk that one up to doing the expected.

Out of 30 nages I trained with, only Ikeda Sensei and one other did something that made me move without major yanking. From what I could see most other ukes were moving for almost everything. Some of them even moved for me and I really did not understand what I was doing.

I think that too many aikido ukes are trained to move for anything and will, especially when rank and social expectations enter the picture. So is what I think I saw and felt really going on? Is this behavior helpful for learning aikido?

Regards,
Mark

Much Aikido ukemi was designed around making the techniques work. Very few people I encounter take good ukemi. They are either reactive or stump-like. Neither represents good martial arts.

A martial artist simply cannot have too much sensitivity but his training should be geared towards reducing reactivity to as close to zero as possible. So you have the folks who are very sensitive... which generally means that if you look at them, they fall over.

If you want to see an example of this, just take a look at Watanabe Sensei's ukes at the All-Japan Demos up on YouTube. You can see exactly how he is projecting and his ukes have been trained to move simply because they felt the direction of his intention. It might be interesting sensitivity work but it is wretched martial arts. Having actually trained with Watanabe, I know that he is quite capable of doing solid Aikido, so I can't say what is going on in his mind. But he has gotten his ukes to suspend any common sense and take ukemi that has simply passed from the realm of anything one could call martial arts.

On the other hand, many of us trained with teachers who, in an attempt to demonstrate that they could do technique effortlessly against stronger, larger partners, encouraged their ukes to resist strongly. Whereas that might make a good demo and certainly makes the teacher look good, it is terrible methodology and has given many practitioners the idea that making a good attack in Aikido is to shut the partner down.

Aikido is about training. Training is done to learn. Imagine that you were in driver education and the instructor told you to start the engine, put the car in gear and then start driving, then, every time you tried to hit the gas, he hit the break. You will NEVER learn proper technique by not doing it. You will never learn to relax by imprinting tension.

The uke is your training partner, not your opponent. It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly. There is no intention to resist, that's bad martial arts. The ukes job is to establish a solid connection to the nage's center. If nage can get kuzushi, then the uke takes the fall. If, on the other hand, nage at any point runs into uke's structure, the technique should stop dead (at the yudansha level, it should be reversed). Uke does not compromise his own structure, nage must figure out how to do that. When nage does figure it out, uke takes the ukemi.

Especially when working on really high level technique, like Ikeda Sensei is doing, it is imperative that nage can count on the fact that uke isn't "tanking". With my own students, I will purposely do a technique wrong, tense up, push or pull, and they had better not let me get away with that. With "aiki" work, it is so effortless when it's right that one needs to be sure that the partner was trying to maintain his structure.

That's uke's job... to maintain his structure, to recover his posture if compromised (if possible), and to not create any tension that would be bad martially (anything that would slow him down, restrict his total freedom to react as needed, or diminish his power). Too reactive is no good, too resistant is no good.

There is no valid reason to fall down for anyone unless they make it happen. But training with the intention of stopping the other guy is just as bad. Neither results in developing the real skills that eventually would make collusion or resistance moot.

Cliff Judge
01-07-2011, 08:46 AM
One exercise called for two ukes, one on each arm of nage. The ukes were supposed to be grounded, hold on and not move. The exercise was completely static. Nage was supposed to do whatever it was Ikeda Sensei had demonstrated and move the ukes. I didn't know the person I was holding on to was a 5th dan and a dojo cho. So I stood there getting tugged on. The guy on the other arm was moving quite freely. Sensei came by and arranged us with the whole dojo watching, nage was then able to move us both. Let's chalk that one up to doing the expected.


Mark, hang on, are you saying you willfully colluded because Sensei was making a point in front of the whole seminar?

Interesting way to start a thread about the Problem of Collusive Uke, but at any rate - you might not have had to do that. Ikeda Sensei enjoys setting up a very small nage with a very large uke, and telling nage to move uke. Nage can't, so Ikeda Sensei reaches down and adjusts something in nage's posture and then it works. I have seen this happen so many times and with such a variance of success that there has got to be something to it.

Ikeda Sensei's internal work, I really think, requires a special kind of ukemi. Its not collusion so much as limiting the extent to which you will alter your structure before "giving" it to nage. And you should end up giving it to them, because at some point it is just dumb to be either standing there, with your entire frame organized around resisting nage's flow of energy, or stretched out in some weird posture but yet still kinda standing.

Also, at regular speed, you don't have the opportunity to make these adjustments, I think. Or maybe you do, but you wouldn't, because nage would be stupid to try to sit there and continue to try to do the same thing to you.

Ikeda Sensei's seminars are unbearably frustrating, because you do so much work at such a slow speed for such a miniscule payback of perceived success.

But I do believe it's important to strive for what he's got. And that requires mindful ukemi that is strong but honest. And as soon as I figure that part out I'll let you know!

Mary Eastland
01-07-2011, 08:58 AM
"Very few people I encounter take good ukemi. "
George...this is such a general statement.
We all try so hard to be good ukes. At our dojo much emphasis is placed on the roles of uke and nage. Yet we all have our limitations in both roles. Isn't that what makes Aikido so interesting?
My training as nage is to accept each uke as them come...some fall to soon, some resist illogically, some are stiff and unnatural, some selfish and afraid and some are from uke heaven. Each uke in each instance offers me an opportunity to see myself in that moment and watch and move and be...
Aikido is that connection of me and uke...I may feel frustration or judgement and then I can go back to my center and really connect...again... the next time I may lose my center and get yet another opportunity to reconnect...
I am hoping to come to your seminar in New York. It will be nice to meet you.
Mary

Mark Gibbons
01-07-2011, 10:59 AM
Mark, hang on, are you saying you willfully colluded because Sensei was making a point in front of the whole seminar?

Interesting way to start a thread about the Problem of Collusive Uke, but at any rate - you might not have had to do that. Ikeda Sensei enjoys setting up a very small nage with a very large uke, and telling nage to move uke. Nage can't, so Ikeda Sensei reaches down and adjusts something in nage's posture and then it works. I have seen this happen so many times and with such a variance of success that there has got to be something to it.

Ikeda Sensei's seminars are unbearably frustrating, because you do so much work at such a slow speed for such a miniscule payback of perceived success.

...


It wasn't completely willful collusion. But it was collusion. Sensei set up a good magic trick and I fell for. He adjusted things and I didn't readjust after he changed things. My balance got changed just enough that it made sense to move. Social pressure and uke training were also a big part. I'm not complaining about everyone else doing things wrong. I object the most when I do something that doesn't make sense. I probably would reset now and be a much tougher uke.

Realize, I wasn't just being a brick in the first place. It wasn't a very martial exercise, but I was still being aware of what I could do to nage and what nage could do to me. I think there were 6 levels of rank difference between nage and me, (4th or 5th dan, 2nd kyu). Nage really had no issue moving me if they wanted to do something else, but the nage was really trying to get what Sensei was teaching. I'm not sure what the guy on the other arm was doing.

Mark

Mark Gibbons
01-07-2011, 11:24 AM
Much Aikido ukemi was designed around making the techniques work. Very few people I encounter take good ukemi. They are either reactive or stump-like. Neither represents good martial arts. ...

Aikido is about training. Training is done to learn. Imagine that you were in driver education and the instructor told you to start the engine, put the car in gear and then start driving, then, every time you tried to hit the gas, he hit the break. You will NEVER learn proper technique by not doing it. You will never learn to relax by imprinting tension.

The uke is your training partner, not your opponent. It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly. There is no intention to resist, that's bad martial arts. The ukes job is to establish a solid connection to the nage's center. If nage can get kuzushi, then the uke takes the fall. If, on the other hand, nage at any point runs into uke's structure, the technique should stop dead (at the yudansha level, it should be reversed). Uke does not compromise his own structure, nage must figure out how to do that. When nage does figure it out, uke takes the ukemi.

Especially when working on really high level technique, like Ikeda Sensei is doing, it is imperative that nage can count on the fact that uke isn't "tanking". With my own students, I will purposely do a technique wrong, tense up, push or pull, and they had better not let me get away with that. With "aiki" work, it is so effortless when it's right that one needs to be sure that the partner was trying to maintain his structure.

That's uke's job... to maintain his structure, to recover his posture if compromised (if possible), and to not create any tension that would be bad martially (anything that would slow him down, restrict his total freedom to react as needed, or diminish his power). Too reactive is no good, too resistant is no good.

....

Thanks Sensei. I heard this before and I keep trying.

I notice you said "It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly." Once we get past knowing which foot to move and hand to use I've never really been able to translate that statement into what I should do. I think it takes way more skill and experience than I have. I hesitate to presume to judge what people way more experienced than I am should be doing with a technique. I can usually help people with way less experience, but what if my understanding of what they should do is wrong? People can usually count on me for honest ukemi with no real intent to embarass or hurt them. But my honest is still very aggressive. Shouldn't uke be trying to disrupt nage's posture?

I will say most of the time when teachers are trying to purposely do a technique wrong they usually have many tells (card player term) that let the students know they should not fall. Ikeda Sensei did that a lot at this seminar, but it was really obvious when folks were supposed to fall and when they were not.

Thanks again,
Mark

Cliff Judge
01-07-2011, 11:44 AM
It wasn't completely willful collusion. But it was collusion. Sensei set up a good magic trick and I fell for. He adjusted things and I didn't readjust after he changed things. My balance got changed just enough that it made sense to move. Social pressure and uke training were also a big part. I'm not complaining about everyone else doing things wrong. I object the most when I do something that doesn't make sense. I probably would reset now and be a much tougher uke.

Realize, I wasn't just being a brick in the first place. It wasn't a very martial exercise, but I was still being aware of what I could do to nage and what nage could do to me. I think there were 6 levels of rank difference between nage and me, (4th or 5th dan, 2nd kyu). Nage really had no issue moving me if they wanted to do something else, but the nage was really trying to get what Sensei was teaching. I'm not sure what the guy on the other arm was doing.

Mark

FWIW, it seems like it is pretty normal for nage to be able to move one uke, while the other one is unmoved, in that exercise. In my experience.

I think when you said "my balance got changed just enough that it made sense to move," you hit the nail on the head. The right thing to do is to feel for nage connecting to your center and nudging your whole body. That's what the goal is. Then you both learn how to feel when a good connection has been made, and when the resulting setup between your two bodies is such that nage can express some movement without breaking the connection.

Its actually difficult to take the appropriate ukemi for these exercises. There are a collection of things that I believe are wrong that I experience all the time:

1) Steel grip, noodle arms. So you can't actually connect to their center. They don't actually have you, of course, and you can do whatever to them....but you're both trying to do one particular exercise at that moment and henka is not really appropriate.

2) Overstrong grip. Uke grabs really really tight, so tight their muscles actually expire after a few seconds, and then all of a sudden they go. Its like great, now I think I can actually make this work, thanks. Sometimes you both think nage just did the technique.

3) Dead Fish Eyes. I am guilty of this all the time. Uke grabs onto nage and then their brain goes somewhere else. Either they are thinking about the technique they just did, or they are thinking about the beer they are going to drink in an hour. But its really hard to connect with somebody when they are not mentally there. Uke's mind and body are both needed! Anyway its really good training to force yourself to focus when you are very tired.

4) Uke focusing every fiber of his being in opposing your technique. A few summer camps ago I grabbed one of my kohai and wanted to work on some aiki-age stuff George had showed me. My friend just got completely on top of me and I couldn't do a damn thing. But all I had to do was switch to a drop and he was on his butt in half a second, because he had entirely organized his structure to resist my lifting technique. This is a really tough thing to work through because it seems like what you are supposed to do. Sensei says "strong please," "don't let partner move it," etc. But you should pretend that you don't know exactly what technique is coming, or else you cheat both of you. Because, again, you are both there in a contrived situation trying to work out a principal through one technique. Its not the time for henka, so uke should not put nage in a position where they have to switch to another technique.

5) Adjusting to the point of absurdity. There is a basic exercise Ikeda Sensei used to do towards the beginning of a class, where you do irimi and rather than you moving forward, you get uke to come along. Now uke can certainly refuse to move his feet, and wind up completely bent forward with his arm extended and his butt sticking out the other direction. But what's that supposed to be about? You don't even have a center anymore.

Cliff Judge
01-07-2011, 12:14 PM
I notice you said "It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly." Once we get past knowing which foot to move and hand to use I've never really been able to translate that statement into what I should do. I think it takes way more skill and experience than I have. I hesitate to presume to judge what people way more experienced than I am should be doing with a technique. I can usually help people with way less experience, but what if my understanding of what they should do is wrong? People can usually count on me for honest ukemi with no real intent to embarass or hurt them. But my honest is still very aggressive. Shouldn't uke be trying to disrupt nage's posture?

We would not have these problems if Aikido was like most koryu weapons arts, where juniors always take the nage-equivalent role in kata until they are at a certain level, then they are taught the "uke" equivalent role.

Of course there would probably not be so many of us that we'd all be here, and we'd probably be less open about our training, etc.

SeiserL
01-07-2011, 01:31 PM
Ikeda Sensei's seminars are unbearably frustrating, because you do so much work at such a slow speed for such a miniscule payback of perceived success.
But so worth the patience, mindfulness, and discipline.

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 02:52 PM
Ikeda Sensei taught at the last seminar I attended.

One exercise called for two ukes, one on each arm of nage. The ukes were supposed to be grounded, hold on and not move. The exercise was completely static. Nage was supposed to do whatever it was Ikeda Sensei had demonstrated and move the ukes. I didn't know the person I was holding on to was a 5th dan and a dojo cho. So I stood there getting tugged on. The guy on the other arm was moving quite freely. Sensei came by and arranged us with the whole dojo watching, nage was then able to move us both. Let's chalk that one up to doing the expected.

Out of 30 nages I trained with, only Ikeda Sensei and one other did something that made me move without major yanking. From what I could see most other ukes were moving for almost everything. Some of them even moved for me and I really did not understand what I was doing.

I think that too many aikido ukes are trained to move for anything and will, especially when rank and social expectations enter the picture. So is what I think I saw and felt really going on? Is this behavior helpful for learning aikido?

Regards,
Mark

Man, this is such a good post. Nice observations, Mark. So what was it that Ikeda Sensei was doing when he moved his own uke's? How does it work? What are the parameters in relation to uke's and Ikeda's position and actions that it takes for the demonstration to work? And so on. I think if you can pin all of that down, you can pinpoint the observations about ukes' participation pretty accurately.

Ikeda controlled 2 ukes. How did he do it? If no one knew for sure then probably no one was doing the right physical things. Or then again, maybe an element of (some degree of) collusion was involved and the demo is not really a good one. And so on. Worth dissecting.

2 cents.

Mike Sigman

George S. Ledyard
01-07-2011, 03:13 PM
Thanks Sensei. I heard this before and I keep trying.

I notice you said "It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly." Once we get past knowing which foot to move and hand to use I've never really been able to translate that statement into what I should do. I think it takes way more skill and experience than I have.

Your key is to look at the Sensei's uke. Ostensibly, the Sensei was doing a technique that was appropriate for the attack his uke gave him. It is your job to deliver precisely the same attack that the Sensei got from his uke. It is staggering how many ukes do not do this. The Sensei's uke pushed, my uke is pulling. The Sensei's uke was quick and responsive, my partner thinks he should grab me and set in stone. This virtually guarantees that you will force the technique in an effort to make it look like the Sensei's technique when in fact, what needed to happen was that a different technique should have taken place.

I hesitate to presume to judge what people way more experienced than I am should be doing with a technique. I can usually help people with way less experience, but what if my understanding of what they should do is wrong? People can usually count on me for honest ukemi with no real intent to embarass or hurt them. But my honest is still very aggressive. Shouldn't uke be trying to disrupt nage's posture?

What did the Sensei's uke do? At the lower levels when learning Kihon Waza, ordinarily the uke is not trying to disrupt nage's balance but is simply trying to establish the connection to the center that would allow him to do so. If you are trying to learn a technique and I have already broken your balance, how are you ever going to learn the technique.

This so-called "aggressive"...what is that? If you are competing with your partner, you have the wrong attitude. You are there for his or her learning as they are for yours. That is training. If you are fighting with your partner, that is something else.

Many folks have no idea how to attack properly. This is because they have no background in any other martial art or what background they did have was bad. I constantly get partners who think that on katatetori, they should push my hand into my body. That's their idea of a committed attack. What idiocy. Katatetori isn't an attack at all. It is a piece of an attack. I should be practicing a grab that can take your balance and allow me to strike you with my off hand. Pushing my hand into me places your head inside my striking range. I'll let you push then punch your lights out.

A good grab establishes connection with the nage's center as lightly as possible so that you can use only the most minimal effort to break his balance. With beginners, I simply connect and then let them work the technique demonstrated. But with mid to higher level yudansha, I should actually be trying to take their center. If they understand what they are doing, at that level I won't be able to even if I am trying.

We have started teaching this to the beginners at my dojo. We teach them how to grab and effect the partner's balance. This cannot be done using muscle power and doing the immovable rock ukemi number won't do it either. You have to be relaxed and fluid to break someones balance with just a hand grab and that is what the uke should be imprinting, not the nonsense commonly seen.

I will say most of the time when teachers are trying to purposely do a technique wrong they usually have many tells (card player term) that let the students know they should not fall. Ikeda Sensei did that a lot at this seminar, but it was really obvious when folks were supposed to fall and when they were not.
Thanks again,
Mark

Of course. Demonstrating is different from training as well. The Sensei has a communication with his partner about what he wants so that he can show what he wishes to show. Taking ukemi from the "big guy" is a good way to develop sensitivity to subtle signals and changes in intention, which is good martial arts.

However, it is a problem when people misunderstand the purpose of what the Sensei is doing up there. Often the Sensei is asking the uke to do things he or she should never do. They tell the uke to resist, to be really strong, to try to stop them. That makes the Sensei look really great when he does the technique. But he already knows the technique! Everybody else is trying to learn the technique and messing with them while they try to figure it out will not result in efficient learning. Not to mention that you have had the uke doing precisely the opposite of what he is trying to do when he is in the nage role...

50% of your training time is spent as uke. If you are doing something different as uke from what you are as nage, your body only gets confused. This is what I love about Endo Sensei... he won't allow that. So much of Aikido is about nage trying to learn and execute technique at the most subtle and sophisticated level while working with a partner who acts like a moron. If we are truly training martial artists, the both partners need to be doing good martial arts. Neither should be doing anything in his practice that imprints habits that one doesn't wish to have at the end of the process. If you are training tense, you will have tense Aikido. If you are training fearfully, your Aikido will be fearful.

All training should be constructed with a certain goal in mind and everything should be about doing what is necessary to get there and not doing anything that interferes. It's really simple... you become what you train. If you are aggressive, then your Aikido will be aggressive. If you train with no content, your Aikido will have no content.

In my opinion, fixing how Aikido folks think about their ukemi is the single biggest issue facing us going forward. So, to sum up, the uke should not break his posture voluntarily, he offers his attack as a tool for his partner's learning, not as a competition, he should not do anything which reduces his complete freedom of movement (like planting and having too much tension in his attack, and when the throw is there he should take the fall. And when it isn't there, he doesn't. That doesn't mean resist. I've had people try to stop my technique when they were in the most compromised of positions. I could knock them cold and they couldn't stop it. They needed to not be there any more. If you are past the point of no return and can't recover without being totally open, the you should be falling.Later on, everything gets a lot clearer. If they don't have you, you have them... one way or the other.

Mark Gibbons
01-07-2011, 03:49 PM
I have to watch Sensei and Sensei's uke at the same time? :eek:

My definition of an agressive uke. If I can get my balance back I will. Depending if we've agreed to it, I'll reverse you if you aren't just learning the dance steps. If I can hit, or kick I'll probably do it and stop about 1/8 inch away. If I hit with one hand I think its fair game to strike with my other body surfaces as follow up.

Knowing where is the edge for overdoing it, and knowing when I'm severely compromised, well those concepts are really hard. Years ago I figured out I was fighting too much and it was getting in the way of learning. I just can't do moron uke though.

Thank you for a most instructional set of posts.

Mark

Mark Gibbons
01-07-2011, 03:58 PM
....

Ikeda controlled 2 ukes. How did he do it? If no one knew for sure then probably no one was doing the right physical things. Or then again, maybe an element of (some degree of) collusion was involved and the demo is not really a good one. And so on. Worth dissecting.

2 cents.

Mike Sigman

Well when Sensei repositioned us, I was just slightly tighter in my belly muscles, just slightly more forward and just a little bit up and floating off my heels. Also, I was rotated just a bit left forward maybe 1/4 inch. It didn't take much to make it work. My nage was a very good 4th (maybe 5th) Dan in front of a crowd, they wouldn't have any problem moving me.

What would you do with an uke to make suble positioning changes so that they could be moved easily even though they were supposed to be very stable and you were no longer touching them?

Thanks,
Mark

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 04:20 PM
Well when Sensei repositioned us, I was just slightly tighter in my belly muscles, just slightly more forward and just a little bit up and floating off my heels. Also, I was rotated just a bit left forward maybe 1/4 inch. It didn't take much to make it work. My nage was a very good 4th (maybe 5th) Dan in front of a crowd, they wouldn't have any problem moving me.

What would you do with an uke to make suble positioning changes so that they could be moved easily even though they were supposed to be very stable and you were no longer touching them?
Well, I didn't see the demo (is there a vid, BTW?), but the basics are fairly simple (much simpler if you've done all this before; not so simple if you're not used to connecting your body to your middle, but give it a try).

To over-simplify the setup, imagine that each of your arms have a big block of (non-cold) ice frozen around each one and your left arm (and ice block) is resting on a shoulder-level table on your left side and your right arm (and ice block) is resting on a shoulder-level table on your right side. IF your arm is extended and held in such a way that moving your middle is connected to the ice blocks, you can make the ice-blocks slide on the table without having to use the local arm/shoulder muscles. If there is a slackness (say a loose shoulder joint) between your middle and the ice-block, your middle will have no control over the ice-block on that side, right?

So what happened was that you didn't understand the principle, so you didn't really know what was expected of you. Uke (the loose one) didn't understand the idea, so he was providing a poor connection for you and thus you couldn't control his center with your center. And naturally there are angles in which it is easy to move uke (usually toward his back "gate" between the legs or the front gate) and angles in which it is almost impossible to move uke (like if you try to off-balance him in the direction of his supporting foot).

So Ikeda's demonstration sounds pretty valid and kokyu-correct to me, but if you and uke don't really understand how to do it then it can be frustrating. I've heard that Ikeda Sensei often says something indicating to "make one" with uke or "tension to uke", etc..... this is what it means. There has to be a solid connection between you and uke or you can't control his center with the movement (or intention) coming from your center. Also, it's easier to move an uke when he has a firm two-handed grip on you; a one-handed or just a solid connection where arms touch will naturally limit your control angles.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Mark Gibbons
01-07-2011, 04:43 PM
Hi Mike,

There's some misunderstanding. I was one of the ukes. I was trying to take nages center and kept bouncing stuff off. Sensei came over to help, positioned us and things worked for nage.

Thanks,
Mark

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 04:58 PM
Hi Mike,

There's some misunderstanding. I was one of the ukes. I was trying to take nages center and kept bouncing stuff off. Sensei came over to help, positioned us and things worked for nage.

Thanks,
MarkHi Mark:

Well, OK, then, if you were Uke, your job would have been to set up a plausible resistance in order to give Nage a chance to figure out the mechanics. Be certain that there is indeed a nice solid connection between you and Nage so that he gets a chance to figure it out. If someone wants to do "realistic resistance", that's probably something that should be for later down the road when Nage has the principle, the skill, and the practice behind him so that he should be able to handle the scenario.

BTW, if I'm Uke, I can "take Nage's center" so that he can't move... but I'm not helping him learn if I do that.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

George S. Ledyard
01-09-2011, 11:58 AM
"Very few people I encounter take good ukemi. "
George...this is such a general statement.
We all try so hard to be good ukes. At our dojo much emphasis is placed on the roles of uke and nage. Yet we all have our limitations in both roles. Isn't that what makes Aikido so interesting?
My training as nage is to accept each uke as them come...some fall to soon, some resist illogically, some are stiff and unnatural, some selfish and afraid and some are from uke heaven. Each uke in each instance offers me an opportunity to see myself in that moment and watch and move and be...
Aikido is that connection of me and uke...I may feel frustration or judgement and then I can go back to my center and really connect...again... the next time I may lose my center and get yet another opportunity to reconnect...
I am hoping to come to your seminar in New York. It will be nice to meet you.
Mary

Mary,
I realize I sound harsh at times. But I spent so long training really seriously, very hard, and completely stupidly that I really want to get across that the way most folks train, and ukemi is the most important part of this, will not result in understanding what really high level Aikido is.

I don't wish to get into a discussion of who amongst the prominent Aikido teachers I think really had the goods and who didn't. Lots of folks simply adore certain teachers that I don't think are actually very good. So that wouldn't be productive.

But I have had a chance to train with a number of non-Aikido teachers like Don Angier, Toby Threadgill, Howard Popkin who function at an extremely high level. These folks can have you headed towards the floor and you barely felt anything. Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei, my own teachers, can rest a hand on your shoulder and your balance will break while your brain is saying to you "that can't be working..." Don Angier once let me grab him repeatedly as hard as I could. I then buckled and ended up sitting on my ass and I never felt anything. Not the irresistible force some powerful Shihan can generate but no discernible force. I just moved and fell down. I was twice his size and he was totally relaxed. It was effortless.

That is the kind of Aikido I want. I now know how to go about it, thanks to these great teachers. When I see how they developed their skills and how they pass them along to others, I can see how much of what folks are doing in Aikido (and what I used to do myself) will not ever result in that kind of skill because it is imprinting exactly the wrong things.

So, it's not a statement about any student's value or effort. It is perhaps a statement about the level of instruction that allows folks to train in ways that are not productive. But mostly I just want folks to get out and experience what's available from outside of Aikido proper and see how these folks train. It's a real wake-up call for us I think.

Rob Watson
01-09-2011, 12:31 PM
Don Angier once let me grab him repeatedly as hard as I could. I then buckled and ended up sitting on my ass and I never felt anything. Not the irresistible force some powerful Shihan can generate but no discernible force. I just moved and fell down. I was twice his size and he was totally relaxed. It was effortless.

That is the kind of Aikido I want. I now know how to go about it, thanks to these great teachers. When I see how they developed their skills and how they pass them along to others, I can see how much of what folks are doing in Aikido (and what I used to do myself) will not ever result in that kind of skill because it is imprinting exactly the wrong things.

Let's not forget Don Angier is an elderly gentleman and still produces exquisite execution.

Don't forget Jan 15-16, 2011 at Aikido of Diablo Valley (Concord, CA) hosts Don Angier for a seminar.

Shadowfax
01-09-2011, 02:09 PM
Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei, my own teachers, can rest a hand on your shoulder and your balance will break while your brain is saying to you "that can't be working..." Don Angier once let me grab him repeatedly as hard as I could. I then buckled and ended up sitting on my ass and I never felt anything. Not the irresistible force some powerful Shihan can generate but no discernible force. I just moved and fell down. I was twice his size and he was totally relaxed. It was effortless.

That is the kind of Aikido I want.


Meee too. :D

Linda Eskin
01-09-2011, 11:48 PM
This is a really interesting and timely discussion for me, personally, as I will be participating in a seminar with Ikeda Sensei later this week. I'm only a 4th kyu, so hardly in a position to be judging the correctness of anyone else's technique, but I do try to provide useful feedback (physically) by not going unless there's good reason to (appropriate to Nage's level, of course). I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities to mull these issues at the seminar. (And I hope we get to do that exercise! Now you've got me curious.)

Mike Sigman
01-10-2011, 12:04 AM
But I have had a chance to train with a number of non-Aikido teachers like Don Angier, Toby Threadgill, Howard Popkin who function at an extremely high level. These folks can have you headed towards the floor and you barely felt anything. Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei, my own teachers, can rest a hand on your shoulder and your balance will break while your brain is saying to you "that can't be working..." Don Angier once let me grab him repeatedly as hard as I could. I then buckled and ended up sitting on my ass and I never felt anything. Not the irresistible force some powerful Shihan can generate but no discernible force. I just moved and fell down. I was twice his size and he was totally relaxed. It was effortless.

That is the kind of Aikido I want. I now know how to go about it, thanks to these great teachers.George, you should start a thread on the topic. You should be able to do the sort of thing that Angier did by now. In other words, I know personally that you have enough information to do it, but if I had to guess, I'd bet you're suffering from "TMI from TMS"... "Too much information from too many sources". ;) It's been know to confuse many people, particularly perennial seminar goers who listen to one guy one weekend, another guy another weekend, a third guy next month, etc. It's actually pretty simple, although it still involves your having to recoordinate the way you think about moving. But what I'm saying is that you have the information and you should be able to lay out the logic like an algorithm. Give it a go sometime.

Best.

Mike Sigman

George S. Ledyard
01-10-2011, 02:29 AM
George, you should start a thread on the topic. You should be able to do the sort of thing that Angier did by now. In other words, I know personally that you have enough information to do it, but if I had to guess, I'd bet you're suffering from "TMI from TMS"... "Too much information from too many sources". ;) It's been know to confuse many people, particularly perennial seminar goers who listen to one guy one weekend, another guy another weekend, a third guy next month, etc. It's actually pretty simple, although it still involves your having to recoordinate the way you think about moving. But what I'm saying is that you have the information and you should be able to lay out the logic like an algorithm. Give it a go sometime.

Best.

Mike Sigman

Hi Mike,
I am fairly good at puling stuff together from a wide variety of sources. I get fairly consistent exposure to the different threads I am pulling from.

No question that I am interested in making it all my own, which means what I am doing isn't exactly like what any of my teachers are doing. That's intentional and I am fine with it. I look at what I can do today and even a couple of years ago i would have had no idea how to do it. So, I am pretty happy with how things are going.

So, yes, I can now do some of what Angier Sensei does. But his skill at it is still staggering. I never got to train with Okamoto Sensei but from what I have seen and been told, he probably has a touch like Angier Sensei's. Kuroda Sensei at the Aiki Expo is the only other person who I have felt who has a touch that light. You are going to the floor and you didn't feel anything. So far, the internal power folks I have trained with can drop you with a lot of result for the effort but none has the soft touch that a Kuroda or an Angier has, at least I haven't seen it. Blowing you across the room effortlessly, yes. But not the soft touch these guys have.

So, I have a certain "quota" in my head. There are a number of things that I have been trying to do for a long time. Each year, I expect to get a few more down. That's how I keep from going totally nuts over the stuff I don't know. Can I do things today I couldn't do five years ago, a year ago, last month, yesterday? I can do all sorts of stuff now that even a few weeks ago, I couldn't do or didn't realize that I could.

So, yes, i think you are correct that I have the information. I am i fact putting it togther and based on results, it seems to be valid. But I am not convinced that I necessarily put it together anything like the way anyone else has. Maybe, but I am not sure. Anyway, I am also not sure it makes a difference if I do, as long as my Aikido is accomplishing what I want it to.

Mike Sigman
01-10-2011, 09:59 AM
So, yes, i think you are correct that I have the information. I am i fact putting it togther and based on results, it seems to be valid. But I am not convinced that I necessarily put it together anything like the way anyone else has. Maybe, but I am not sure. Anyway, I am also not sure it makes a difference if I do, as long as my Aikido is accomplishing what I want it to.Hi George:

Well, there's only one basic set of principles to these things, although there are of course many levels of skills, incomplete "systems", hard approaches, soft approaches, you name it.... but there's only one set of principles. Chinese, Japanese, etc., all the same thing. Ki is the same thing as Qi.

Try to explain things to others (even on the internet). It will force you to think, to forumlate and articulate what you know. Plus it will give other people inspiration to think out loud, compare, share, etc.

Best.

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
01-10-2011, 10:04 AM
So, yes, I can now do some of what Angier Sensei does. But his skill at it is still staggering. I never got to train with Okamoto Sensei but from what I have ... Ack, forgot to respond to this bit. George, the trick you described is nice (as I understand your description), but bear in mind that a lot of the ki/kokyu tricks that are out on the circuits are great training devices (as long as they're explained; if not explained, they are carnival shows), but they won't work on someone who has similar or better skills. In fact, my opinion is that a number of the interesting tricks can either hit a dead-end if tried against a real expert in the same skills, or they can get you into trouble because you committed your ki in a direction to perform a trick and therefore opened yourself up to the other person's ki/kokyu control. So be careful what you wish for. ;)

Best.

Mike

jonreading
01-15-2011, 08:42 PM
I think that too many aikido ukes are trained to move for anything and will, especially when rank and social expectations enter the picture. So is what I think I saw and felt really going on? Is this behavior helpful for learning aikido?

Regards,
Mark

I am a firm believer that uke resolves technique. In learning technique I think we have a firmness to provide feedback on the mechanical application of technique and a sensitivity to feel the technique. I think as our mechanics corrode we put pressure on our uke to ignore the ineffective mechanics and develop a hypersensitivity to the technique. I am sure that politics plays a role in applying pressure to uke...

Sensitivity can help you learn the aiki part of aikido. My stance on this says first learn mechanics, then get gooey. You see instructors like Ikeda sensei to learn the gooey stuff. He (and you) are not at the seminar to review your kihon waza; that is something you do in class and your sensei is responsible to teach. At a later level everything is kihon waza, blah, blah, blah.

Now, as uke we need to remain honest in our offensive actions. Truth is most of us do not know how to be offensive in aikido. We hide behind a number of excuses... But we should work hard to leave no suki in our attacks just as we work hard to remove suki from our techniques.

Amassus
01-19-2011, 12:52 AM
One of the ways around uke collusion...go train with someone who does not practise aikido.

I did this today, a friend of mine has some background in stick fighting and other striking arts and he was happy for me to visit him and let me try and move him around.
I really enjoyed it.
Firstly, when I applied a classic aikido technique, he would often move differently to a trained uke. I still disrupted his balance but how he reacted to this differed to normal.
Secondly, we trained as peers, he was not overly polite, and made attempts to regain balance and avoid putting himself in a vulnerable position. No social pressures/hierarchies.
Thirdly, I asked about the ways he was taught to strike and applied aikido principles to deal with those strikes...with reasonable success.

A really valuable experience IMO.

Dean.