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aikido_fudoshin
09-26-2002, 06:25 AM
As I get better at being a good Uke, I'm starting to wonder if there might be some disadvantages of it. Part of being a good Uke involves helping out Schte by putting yourself in the proper position. Obviously this is a great way to learn a technique but is it totally beneficial for Uke's sake in a real situation? Does anyone believe that in a real physical conflict that maybe this practice of putting yourself in a vulnerable position could have ill effects on your safety? For example: flipping when it is not totally necessary, or instead of trying to get out of a move, following along with it. Which do you think would be most dangerous? I guess what I'm trying to get at is whether or not constantly putting yourself in a vulnerable position when a technique is performed on you, would infact be disadvantageous in a real situation? ex. putting yourself in a prone position when it may not totally be necessary, yet because of so much Aikido training you just naturally do it.
(I just woke up, so maybe my brain isnt thinking straight):dead:

Creature_of_the_id
09-26-2002, 06:47 AM
For example: flipping when it is not totally necessary, or instead of trying to get out of a move, following along with it.
I personally dont consider flipping when it is not totaly necessary good ukemi. A good Uke should 'recieve technique'.

It is similar to being nage. Nage blends with the speed and timing of ukes attack, and uke blends with the speed and timing of nages technique. (So really, the 'speed' of ukes attack should relate to the speed of his or her breakfall).

if you flip unecissarily then you are not recieving technique, your ukemi should be relevant to the current situation... wether that be counter attacking and finding openings or not depending on the principle that the sensei in the class is hoping to share at that time.

I'm not sure if i clarified what I tried to say.. but I will post this and maybe try again later

erikmenzel
09-26-2002, 07:04 AM
Good ukemi does in my understanding not mean you put yourself in a vulnerable position all the time.

Good ukemi means in my understanding putting yourself in the least vulnerable position.

Good ukemi means riding the technique and examining it, looking for openings and weaknesses.

mike lee
09-26-2002, 07:33 AM
The biggest disadvantage I've found is that good ukemi could very well make you into one of the fittest, fastest, toughest, most clever and skilled hombre's on the planet. If that (and the occassional boo-boos:freaky: ) doesn't appeal to you, then, by all means, avoid it like the plague. :rolleyes:

Ta Kung
09-26-2002, 07:54 AM
Hi!

Just some thoughts: If you end up in a prone position when you attack, it's simply because you attacked. And if you don't attack in a real life situation, you probably won't end up in that very prone position anyway. Moral of my rambling: Don't attack, and you'll be fine. :)

Regards,

Patrik

Aikilove
09-26-2002, 09:20 AM
All of the replies above says what I feel about the subject. Let's summarise it...

Being an good uke (all should strive for that) means to a) attack well defined (what ever attack you do), so that nage learns something from it, b) when nage takes your balance (we asume nage does! :D ) make sure you (uke) still want to continue attacking (i.e. try to position yourself so that you can attack again, but hold back depending on the skill of nage). If not b) is done by uke then uke will be of no threat to nage anymore. The attack stopped and nage doesn't have to (shouldn't) do anything but walk away (run to the police...). Since we want to practice for the worst case scenario (i.e. uke being very sensitive and skilled) in the dojo uke has to do b). And c) Take safe ukemi (i.e. be aware about your vulnerability e.g. insisting that your elbow being straight in ikkyo would be stupid and alow nage to break it easily), but don't take un-necesary ukemi.

As you can read following these praxis is the complete opposite to - flipping when not needed and positioning ones self in most vulnerable position.

Talk about summary :eek:

SeiserL
09-26-2002, 09:49 AM
IMHO, in the beginning we tend to cooperate to learning. Its necessary. As we advance, hopefully, we also make our approach and cooperation more realistic, committed, and compliant with the waza rather than giving it away and doing it for them.

But, I do agree that I see/feel a lot of people giving it to me rather than receieving it and making me work the waza.

Until again,

Lynn

akiy
09-26-2002, 09:55 AM
Cooperative ukemi is appropriate, I believe, in the same manner that cooperative nagewaza is appropriate -- to moderate your intensity in proportion to the experience of your partner. In the same way that throwing a beginner uke in a throw that's too intense is often counter to uke's progress in the art, the same occurs by being too intense an uke. I could probably freeze out all fifteen beginners in the beginners class going on at the dojo right now or hit them too fast that they'd only be relying on their reflexes to do something, but what would that accomplish when they're still just learning the footwork and handwork in a technique? But, say, with our resident sixth dan senior student, I'll most likely be a lot more "wily" and intense in my attacks than with the three-months-total-experience student...

George Simcox sensei once said, "We learn ukemi so others may learn aikido." I'll further that thought and say that we, too, can learn aikido through ukemi.

My thought these days is that there's no difference in the principles behind being a "good" nage and a "good" uke. I believe we are trying to learn aikido through both roles -- not just through the role of nage. In my opinion, people who think that we only learn aikido through the role of nage is mistaken as I believe the role of uke serves the same purpose; for example, as soon as you grab in katatedori, are you not "nage" in the sense that you're trying to take uke's balance through connecting to their center and using kuzushi? The "roles" become a lot more ethereal once you realize they get swapped throughout a technique according who has the "initiative" (sente).

A good uke, in my mind, does not put herself in a disadvantageous position without having been placed there somehow, whether through force or through all of the "advantageous" positions being blocked off.

Lastly, I'll end with the thought that, at times, the most vulnerable seeming position is, in fact, the most advantageous.

Good thread. I hope others will keep sharing their thoughts here.

-- Jun

aikigreg
09-26-2002, 10:01 AM
When I am uke, I try to use the time I am receiving the technique to discover any openings or counters to nage. For the most part, if I am working with someone who isn't that skillful I will take the ukemi if they are going through the right motions, helping them feel out the technique. Then as we progress working on the movement, I give more and more resistance, sometimes reversing to show my balance was never taken. It's my way of teaching through the ukemi.

Now when I'm working with someone of equal skill, we don't play that game.

Kevin Wilbanks
09-26-2002, 10:12 AM
I liked what someone else said a few weeks ago: that compliant or cooperative ukemi is preparation for learning reversals. As Jun said, the only reason one should be in a 'vulnerable' position in ukemi is because all less vulnerable ones are blocked off. You should always be striving for the safest position for you body, least open to strikes, and most ready to reverse if an opening arises. If you're not finding these positions, or don't understand the utility of the responses that you are using/being taught, ask your teacher(s) about it.

I agree about 'diving' and taking unnecessary hard falls. It can be useful to prepare for when the technique comes fast, and you need to, or to help beginners, though.

DanielR
09-26-2002, 10:23 AM
Does anyone believe that in a real physical conflict this practice of putting yourself in a vulnerable position could have ill effects on your safety? For example: flipping when it is not totally necessary...

Recently our sensei demonstrated a variation of kotegaeshi where the uke's hand is curled kind of inside, like forcing it into a fist, rather than turning the wrist so that the uke goes into a breakfall (hope I'm making sense here). If the uke doesn't react on time, this could be extremely painful - it feels like your ligaments(?) are about to get torn. What I'm saying is that in this case being a good uke actually has a pretty good effect on one's safety :).

Don_Modesto
09-26-2002, 12:27 PM
Recently our sensei demonstrated a variation of kotegaeshi where the uke's hand is curled kind of inside, like forcing it into a fist, rather than turning the wrist so that the uke goes into a breakfall (hope I'm making sense here).
(You are.)

I think this is still within the context of this thread...

I can't do the "turn the wrist out make UKE fly" KOTE GAESHI because folk can seldom do it to me. I find it very easy to take the stretch, reach around their head, and pull their chin backwards to drop them. Training with UKE undaunted by my rank, ie, with someone giving desirable UKEMI, they do the same to me.

I've found that to guarantee UKE going down, I have to do the "curl" KOTE GAESHI. Folk don't do pretty arcs in the air, but they do end up wearing the darndest expressions! Indeed, the technique is usually mistranslated as "wrist twist". Correct me if I'm wrong, O Ye competent speakers of Japanese, but the correct translation is more like "forearm return." As one UKE kindly explained to me, the working objective is to bring UKE's elbow into NAGE's center. It works for me, but I'm still working on it (nothing in this world being pat, I'll confess to having indeed been sent flying with the outward KOTE GAESHI.)

jaime exley
09-26-2002, 01:22 PM
In my own training taking ukemi is not as much about thinking or strategizing as it is about feeling. Some of the best advice I have ever gotten was to find someone who's Aikido I really respect and then take ukemi from them until my lungs burn and my legs wobble.

I want to be the kind of uke that my sempai trip over each other to practice with. When a Shihan comes to visit our dojo, I want to be the guy that gets all the hands on experience. I have a hunch that when that day comes... my real training will begin.

Don_Modesto
09-26-2002, 01:39 PM
When a Shihan comes to visit our dojo, I want to be the guy that gets all the hands on experience. I have a hunch that when that day comes... my real training will begin.
Why wait? When SHIHAN walk by me in a class, I bow and ask to take their UKEMI. No complaints yet.

akiy
09-26-2002, 01:40 PM
Why wait? When SHIHAN walk by me in a class, I bow and ask to take their UKEMI. No complaints yet.
Agreed. The secret word is, of course, "onegaishimasu."

-- Jun

aikido_fudoshin
09-26-2002, 02:14 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone, thats exactly what I wanted to hear. :D

BC
09-26-2002, 02:15 PM
One of my favorite descriptions of the necessity for good ukemi was given by Ellis Amdur in one of his articles included in "Dueling With O Sensei." In summary, Mr. Amdur states the reason that a good uke flows with the technique is that any diversion from that path is unsafe or dangerous. This is because aikido techniques represent a continuum of actual or potential atemi. Therefore, by following the technique, uke selects the safest path or continuum of positions relative to nage in order to emerge from the technique unscathed. I know I haven't articulated the concept as well as Mr. Amdur, but hope that it adequately conveys its meaning.

Because of that, I don't think there are any disadvantages to being a good uke.

Plus, as I approach middle age, I'm constantly looking for ways to insure that I can continue practicing aikido as my body and brain age. Improving my ability to receive techniques is one way of doing that. Providing I remember, of course. :rolleyes:

Matt Ashley
09-26-2002, 02:30 PM
I guess what I'm trying to get at is whether or not constantly putting yourself in a vulnerable position when a technique is performed on you, would infact be disadvantageous in a real situation?

Ukemi is complex and can be viewed through many different lenses. From a martial perspective, ukemi (as well as the role of nage) teaches you to put yourself in the most ADVANTAGEOUS position. If as uke, I turn my back to nage or act in some other martially foolish way, a good and sincere nage may as well punch me and forgo the subtle and difficult aiki technique. Of course, this is not why we train, so a good uke should continue the connection (conflict/attack) while not providing any openings for nage to take advantage of. This forces nage to work on yielding to uke's force and subduing him with aiki. There have been a couple of memorable moments in my training when both my partner and I maintain the connection (originally a hostile attack) very strongly and one of us is subdued. Throughout the process, each of us is safe, strong yet not violent. At these times the dichotomy of attacker and defender seem to disappear and a brief enlightenment is reached. It feels great!

Also, the attack is a crucial part of "good" ukemi in that it teaches you initiative. In one sense, nage (even a kind and moral nage) uses an "attack" to accomplish his technique. The difference is that nage attacks uke's BALANCE (or ki, center, etc.) and not uke himself. During my experience as nage, I have found that when I take a strictly "defensive" mindset, the techniques don't work very well. Both uke and nage need to be assertive (or even act in a controlled and specialized form of aggressiveness). You should take into account your partner's ability, but for the most part, nage's job is not to be passive.

Good Luck,

Matt

JW
09-26-2002, 02:35 PM
I completely agree with the consensus:

"Good ukemi" is actually the opposite of putting yourself in a vulnerable position and staying there; actually it is trying desperately to avoid the bad positions and to continue the attack until you are absolutely out of any options other than either suicide or saying hi to Mr Floor.

One interesting story: the dojo I was in in San Diego was very much into being totally receptive and perceptive as uke. In other words good ukemi (as we have talked about) is to NOT fall till you have to. THere was one guy who visited for a while. You could tell he thought his ukemi was real good. And according to HIS definition, it was! See he was into doing really pretty breakfalls, even as a solo practice. During a jiyuwaza he received a juji nage, but didn't fall so the nage stopped (I guess he either thought damn this isn't working, or I better stop before this fool's elbow breaks). Our friend the uke didn't stop though. I guess he was just taking a little longer than normal to fall, and after nage released the wrist holds, the uke confusedly glanced back at nage before leaping over his own arm, to the mat.

Huh.. "masterful ukemi skills" according to him I'm sure, but this thread shows a general disagreement..

OK that story isn't really why I'm posting. Here's something I thought of a while ago, and I think it really is like what Mr. Cronin is talking about:

In kokyu ho (some folks call it kokyu nage I called it kokyu ho mm-hmm), the one where your arm ends up under uke's chin as you raise and turn to throw uke behind you (and behind him): if done slow enough, you as uke might realize "oh darn, his arm is about to blast me in the face." THis is of course true if you are trying to keep your distance from nage--like if you are scared and trying to get away (unfortunately for you he has your wrist so you can't successfully get away). You know how when firing a rifle or something you are supposed to keep it really tightly pressed to your body so the recoil doesn't hit you like a hammer? Well we can imagine anyway. If you hold it away from you and fire, you get hit with your own gun and your bullet goes somewhere crazy. If you pull it in and press into your shoulder the same explosive force is absorbed into your body and you don't even get a bruise.

So one time while receiving kokyu ho, after having been thinking about ukemi for a while, I realized: by pressing your body close to nage, or your chin into his shoulder/tricep even, right before he throws, you take away his chance to smack you in the face! You trade the possibility for him to smash your face for the certainty that he will (relatively) gently throw you.

What do you think? "giving your chin up" to nage seems a little like putting yourself in a vulnerable position, but then again you have no hands and no other way to avoid a potential gigantic-elbow-to-the-face.

Well of course if it is katate dori or something I guess you have the far hand to receive the elbow or throw so I guess you wouldn't have to use your chin like that.

Anyway. Something I thought applied here.

--JW

Janet Rosen
09-26-2002, 03:06 PM
To try to return to the original query: re possible dis/advantages "IRL"--I totally agree with the major points folks have been making about good ukemi being about NOT being vulnerable. What I would add is, just as people report having rolling and falling skills save them from bad injury going off motorcycles, horses and curbs, I'd expect that if some idiot threw me I'd have the wits to roll and pop up, and that if really grabbed, then staying connected and looking for suki --skills only honed by being uke--would be the reflex I'd want to rely on.

opherdonchin
09-26-2002, 03:57 PM
So, I'm starting to wonder if anyone is going to step away from the (admittedly convincing) party line and talk about ways that ukemi as taught in AiKiDo may have disadvantages. Is it really true that anyone who has thought seriously about this has only ever come up with the wisdom of it, and no one has found anything there they want to question?

shihonage
09-26-2002, 04:07 PM
So, I'm starting to wonder if anyone is going to step away from the (admittedly convincing) party line and talk about ways that ukemi as taught in AiKiDo may have disadvantages. Is it really true that anyone who has thought seriously about this has only ever come up with the wisdom of it, and no one has found anything there they want to question?
Yes.

G DiPierro
09-26-2002, 06:25 PM
It's true that "good" ukemi, in general, is is putting yourself in the least vulnernable position. With experienced people, though, this usually means following them the best you can, since if you do not you are simply causing yourself undue pain and risking injury to yourself.

With students near your level, there will often be holes in the technique that, as uke, you could exploit to reverse or escape from the technique. You should be aware of these, but normally decline to take advantage of them. This depends on the type of practice that you are engaging in, though. Sometimes it is better to go along and let nage learn without interrupting the technique, and sometimes it is better to offer some more obvious feedback. One must use judgement.

With beginners or much less experienced people, you should lead as uke, taking the correct fall for the technique regardless of the errors nage is making. I think that this what Bryan was referring to in his initial post. In that context, his ukemi is "good," but as he was beginning to notice, this strategy is not ideal for all situations.

Aristeia
09-27-2002, 04:43 AM
Good points have been made. The only thing I want to add is that it really annoys me when I see Uke's leaping into top ukemi when they don't need to. Sure it looks great for the bystanders but it cheats nage of the opportunity to actually practice the technique. Worst case scenario, nage may not be aware of that fact and think that dey the man. But most of the time it's both bloody obvious and bloody annoying when uke throws themselves (unless you're a beginner). Usually when this happens I abandond the technique and just kind of wave my arm and watch uke fly through the air. Generally they get up with a sheepish look and apologise.

Bruce Baker
09-27-2002, 09:38 AM
There is nothing so useless as getting so far ahead of the technique that you are throwing yourself. Bad ... not good ... leaves you open to multiple counter offenses.

The fact that some people can add that flavor of staying ahead of the technique merely creates a loss of contact between uke and nage.

Maintain the contact to the point of being coerced into moving. Ride the force of each technique as if it was a new stretch of bumpy potholed road you have never ridden on before. Don't fool yourself into thinking every technique should be done in one particular way, with the same ukemi being the verification of a good technique.

I think many practitioners need to slow down to reevaluate their practice. Can you reach out to touch you partner with the ease of a strike or counter technique ... if you are doing the right kind of practice you shouldn't have that much slack, slow down and check out what you are doing wrong.

I agree that is is interesting to help a beginner to see the wave or motion of a technique, but not to continually throw yourself.

You have ignored the fact that your defensive posture might find an opening in the technique before it is completed?

Close the gap of practice. Stop throwing yourself. Learn to ride the wave instead.

Bruce Baker
09-27-2002, 09:41 AM
Oh, side bar.

The couple of times I was thrown by shihans, the wave worked better than trying to stay ahead of the technique. The throws felt like nothing at all, even though they were very fast and hard.

The most resistent uke is the uke who totally relaxes into a sack of potatoes, not the muscular strength some people think is resistence.

akiy
09-27-2002, 09:48 AM
Now, here's a counterpoint to a lot of what we've been saying from a friend of mine.

His thought is that a good uke has to have the ability to "stay ahead" one step of nage so that uke can stay in control. In other words, losing control as uke, in his mind, meant that uke no longer had the ability to take advantage of nage's openings.

Thoughts?

-- Jun

DanielR
09-27-2002, 09:59 AM
...a good uke has to have the ability to "stay ahead" one step of nage so that uke can stay in control.
Erm... This is probably naive, but if the nage allows the uke to stay in control, doesn't this mean the technique is not working? Or the idea was that a good uke is able to stay in control no matter how good the nage is?

Alfonso
09-27-2002, 11:46 AM
There are challenges/problems in the japanase dojo style of teaching, where self-discovery is stressed. Can it be improved? I certainly don't know , but there are teachers who are making an effort to improve Aikido teaching methodology. On the other hand I enjoy the process, I like to discover things.

Ukemi as I understand it currently is multifaceted. If things are clicking for me as uke I feel connected to the technique, and able to recover if allowed.

One step ahead is IMO a good way of learning how to find that connection, Another way of learning that connection is static resistance, discovering balance and so forth.

But to be able to protect yourself as Uke you need to be closer to the connecting point itself. If nage does the technique correctly It can be like falling for a long time..

In class what I enjoy most is getting to take ukemi for the next technique demonstrated. The first attack, before I get any ideas of whats coming... sweet.

Alfonso
09-27-2002, 11:47 AM
and what about uke's role as a teacher?

Chuck Clark
09-27-2002, 12:53 PM
Most of us want our definitions in black or white. Most Eastern terms, relationships, values, etc. are at their very root a paradox.

Words are extremely difficult to really describe what a "good uke" is. You have to feel it from someone that knows and is a good uke.

We will all continue to try to describe these ideas in words though. Until it becomes poetry, the words don't get close.

Regards,

erikmenzel
09-27-2002, 02:55 PM
His thought is that a good uke has to have the ability to "stay ahead" one step of nage so that uke can stay in control. In other words, losing control as uke, in his mind, meant that uke no longer had the ability to take advantage of nage's openings.



Maybe it is just semantics, but for me staying ahead automatically includes being able to predict the future.

Uke does however not know the future (She might think he knows what is going to happen, but this is not more than just an idea in uke's head, the reality is different.)

In other words a good uke, IMHO is not able to stay ahead, but is able to stay within the present, riding every detail of the things nage does.

Bruce Baker
09-27-2002, 04:33 PM
In western terms it is like moving the ouiji on the ouiji board. All involved are attached to the ouiji, but who is the mover and who are the followers. If it is done right, it feels like nothing.

So too, the best done techniques are not you racing to be ahead of the energy, but letting the feeling of the energy carry you rather than trying to run ahead of it gives nage the practice to increase speed and intensity without causing undue danger, and uke gets a sense of timeing and blending of movement while practicing defense while looking for offensive postures during the technique.

The only problem I have with nages who can't feel the application of techniques is that they overdo to adjust for speed, considering pain to be intensity ... it is not.

If you begin to feel intensity, for my money, it is when everything slows down and you are unable to move quick enough keep up with the movements even though they seem to be in slow motion to you.

That is usually the time someone comments on how they were unable to follow the speed of your movements and how did you do that?

If you have ever experience this phenonmena, then you will know what I mean. If not, you will if you ever attain intensity of training over a period of years.

I see it a lot when shomenuchi, or weapons are use to initiate a practice, everything slows down so that I am able to move later and later with the practice until it seems inevitable that the attacker will hit me ... but usually the worst is a slightly glancing blow when I wait too long, and a strange look from a partner who wonders if they should slow down the strike.

I sometimes wonder if my training partners are actually concentrating on the entire technique,or are they more concerned with the beginning and end of the strike letting the middle become a black hole?

Relax, your intensity will increase, as will your ukemi, and your awareness.

MattRice
10-04-2002, 03:41 PM
Since uke is generally the attacker, I would say that this is kind of a mute point, we're aikidoka, we're not supposed to be attacking...however here's one disadvantage if we're talking about a real situation (where I'm attacking someone, which is pretty laughable)

I trained in karate for years, in aikido we get in the habit of delivering one strike during the attack: this is not real. In a real situation, with someone trained, there are 3 or 4 more strikes coming right up after the first one. I am not very advanced in aikido however; I would assume this kind of training exists at higher levels

tedehara
10-05-2002, 12:36 AM
...His thought is that a good uke has to have the ability to "stay ahead" one step of nage so that uke can stay in control. In other words, losing control as uke, in his mind, meant that uke no longer had the ability to take advantage of nage's openings.

Thoughts?

-- JunIf the uke has the ability to stay ahead of nage, then uke also has the opportunity to lead and counter the technique. Nage has lost the lead and control of the technique.

Uke maintains self-control and should never lose their balance, even when thrown. A good uke is actually balancing out the forces around him so he can take a safe ukemi. When someone doesn't do ukemi but actually loses their balance, he goes SPLAT! on the mat and is taken away in an ambulance.

This is not a popular view of ukemi or how an aikido technique should work. Today most people talk about breaking balance.

davoravo
10-05-2002, 06:36 AM
Being a good uke is a suprisingly variable thing. What interests me is that the way that uke attacks and receives a technique determines the way that nage performs the technique and hence the style of aikido in that dojo.

I have trained where being a good uke is to attack quickly and softly and flow with the technique. This may seem wrong but this is stylised training and nage is learning to blend with uke's movement.

I have trained in a dojo where a good uke grabbed nage and squeezed as hard as he could. There was lots of resistance but nage learned very powerful movement and technique. I don't think this was a neccessarily "more realistic" thing as on my first day, when someone grabbed me with both hands and then locked up I felt like saying "There's no point doing aikido on you cause you can't move. I'll just kick you in the shin and punch you in the head." However I did learn a lot from that way of training, it exposed all the faults and bad habits I had developed.

In the first dojo we started to try the "staying ahead of nage" way of receiving a technique. As long as uke maintains a connection then both partners learn a good deal of sensitivity. It is very difficulat and can degenrate into nonsense without sincerity.

What about atemi? What is a "good" way to receive atemi? In my first dojo we rolled with atemi, this gave nage the feeling of using atemi to take our balance. The advantage for uke was learning to roll with and slide past punches.

In the second dojo (rigid uke) we blocked atemi. This means atemi was a distraction and nage still had to work to break our balance. It also meant delivering atemi only where uke could block and not creating an opening through which to atemi to break balance (did that make sense?). I don't know which is more "realistic".

davoravo
10-05-2002, 09:16 AM
also meant delivering atemi only where uke could block
this is not a correct statement and i wish to retract it. Obviously not extending ki to all the parts of my brain at once ;)