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Paula Lydon
06-25-2003, 06:05 PM
~~Hi all! Just wondering...as instructors, do you teach the roll that uke plays in the kata we practice as equally detailed as that of nage?
I often find uke not seeming to understand the dynamic we're trying to practice together and have noticed that uke role is rarely explained or demonstrated by most instructors. I've been trying to focus in my own training to fully understand both roles so that I can come to a place where those rolls blend into one because we're both moving with authenticity. Enjoy! :)

Thalib
06-25-2003, 06:42 PM
When I'm leading a class, I would do my best to explain the role of uke. The best way of doing that is being uke myself.

There's a total beginner class every Sunday afternoon, and my Sensei wants me and my fellow seniors to take the class. When I'm explaining a technique I break it up into different parts (almost like the Yoshinkan way of doing it).

When I'm nage, I explain the different parts of being nage. When I'm uke, I explain what is the role of uke in each of those broken up steps. I explain why the uke react the way they do.

I always explain time and time again that uke is not a punching bag that the nage could throw around. Uke is suppose to be active not passive. When uke doesn't fall, uke doesn't fall. But many misunderstood this, they think that by saying that, uke should block the technique and hold his ground and stay static.

When I'm uke I show the reason why uke follow through, one of them is uke wants another chance for an attack. It is shown by the reaction of the uke that the uke is maintaining connection and keeping himself stabilized to prepare for another attack. It's not dancing, there's a reason why uke follow through, uke's role is to attack in any circumstances.

aikidoc
07-07-2003, 11:31 AM
I frequently show the ukemi for the technique and how to take it properly. I also explain the role of ukemi and that it is just as important to learn as a tool for helping understand the energy of the technique and for uke's safety.

rachmass
07-07-2003, 11:55 AM
In class, as teacher, I demonstrate first the technique as nage, and then my uke and I switch and I take the role of uke. Have to admit though, that there is more emphasis while demonstrating, on the nage side. During the part that follows however, I try to give equal weight to uke and nage. That said, bear in mind that my dojo consists only of beginners, and that this is really necessary. The dojo from which I come, has many high level students, and there is much less emphasis in the demonstration role for ukemi. I think everyone stresses ukemi however while they are just working on techniques, but I think that Paula was asking about the demonstration end of it for the instructor.

jxa127
07-07-2003, 01:24 PM
Paula,

At my dojo, our instructor spends a heck of a lot of time teaching ukemi. With beginners, he focuses mainly on falling safely. One goal is that students should be able to take a break fall by their 7th kyu test (we have an 8 kyu system).

After the first couple weeks of practice, more and more emphasis is given to attacking and "follow through" in ukemi. Even after almost four years of practice, I still work at refining and sharpening that aspect of my ukemi.

Recently, another student and I have passed our test for 3rd kyu. Our instructor consideres us as assistant instructors for him. We're only expected to teach within our ability, and to focus on basics. One of the things I'm sure we'll both be focusing on is giving good ukemi.

Regards,

-Drew

opherdonchin
07-07-2003, 02:07 PM
Here's a contrarian point of view:

I'm actually slightly uncomfortable with too much 'teaching' of uke. I think we (or at least I) spend an enormous amount of time in Aikido telling people what they are supposed to do, and that one of the wondeful things about uke is that it leaves a little more breathing room for self-discovery.

Sometimes, however, I will devote a class to focus on uke and their choices and point out the opportunity that being uke gives you for learning about commitment and being responsive. I also make a point, when working with people, to let them know if it seems like they are throwing their balance away unnecessarily.

jxa127
07-09-2003, 02:54 PM
Here's a related question: how often, when teaching, will you take ukemi for a student?

Regards,

-Drew

rachmass
07-09-2003, 03:02 PM
almost every time (or at least 80% of the time).

Patrick O'Reilly
07-11-2003, 02:56 PM
I wanted to chime in here from a stundents point of view, namely one of Rachel Massey's newbes. We were talking about this subject just last night in class. It was about the 50/50 thing, 50 percent training as nage, 50 percent traing as uke. One of her main points is "don't give up as uke". Even though nage is applying a technique don't just give up or submit. I't ain't over until you're pinned to the mat. Rachel stresses the point that as uke to keep as strong a stance as possible because you may get the chance to reverse it (that's later training I know). During the traing last night she told me to try and reverse her technique so I could see the importance of a strong uke stance. I did, still ended up planted in the mat but it was a good point to consider while uke.

Oh ya, she loves ukemi as much as the rest of us. I guess once a student always a student.

David Yap
07-14-2003, 03:47 AM
Both Sides - my views as a student and as a MA instructor

What instructions should be given to the Uke/Tori?

For a start, the Uke should be taught to carry out an attack with commitment. Commitment does not necessary means to attack forcefully. The strike (shomen/yokomen) should be aimed at the intended target and carried out in a flowing and willing manner.

There are no “teasing” attacks in aikido as there are no competitions in Aikido. In other competitive martial arts, an artist may carry out deceptive or “dummy” attacks to test the skills of his opponent or to create an opening for the finishing strike/cut/blow. Such techniques of attack have no place in an aikido dojo. Some instructors teach their students that when attacking, the uke is required to have “Awase” – to blend with the Nage. No doubt “Awase” is a requisite to avoid injury of any kind (spiritual as in ego or physical) to either Uke or Nage. The “Awase” of the Uke is not intended to change the course or technique of attack – by doing so the “kumi” (drill) would become a “shiai” (duel).

O’ sensei has stressed over and over again that Aikido is firstly Budo and its shell is always Budo. Hence, in Budo, when confronted with an attack the immediate response is to Step off the line of attack, next Off-balance the attacker and finally, Control the attacker. Most instructors these days have either have discarded these principles (for reasons they know best) or have not learned them in the first place or lack the skills to present them. Most time the students are wondering, “How come I could do this a moment ago but I can’t do now?” or “How come I could do the technique with partner A but not with partner B?” Sometime the instructors themselves are wondering the same thing. In their analyses of what went wrong, the Uke are most times named as the culprits – the Uke did not have Awase (not blending with the Nage). The Uke are then taught to step here or there or turn to assume an unbalanced posture so that he or she can be moved at ease by the Nage. What an insult to O sensei’s art of Aikido? Aikido is not a choreographed dance or action movie scene.

IMHO, there is no such thing as two sets of separate instructions such as one for the Uke and one for the Nage for any technique to work. The role of the Uke or the “Awase” of the Uke is to acknowledge defeat and yield to defeat when already defeated. Any further resistant or attempt to overcome the defeat or impending defeat will only bring more pain. In this regard, all Uke must have the ukemi skills.

The highest level of the art of aikido per O sensei is Takemusu – spontaneous response to an attack. Control the opponent in the quickest and shortest technique. As in Budo, strive to defeat the opponent without humiliation. Any technique having the fundamental elements of the art will always work regardless of partnering with Uke of different size/height/gender/age or training at different dojo environment. For the technique to work, one also requires the calmness of mind to assess and ascertain the presence of such fundaments. When ones mind is disturbed, the techniques seldom work and even if they do work they are done so with much excessive force. One can always judge the quality of ones instructors by reading their temperaments in the dojo. If they are quick-temper, easily angered or irritated and show their impatience or frustration with violent and excessive force on the students, then they have not reached the level of being teachers. Basically, one judges the quality of the teacher by looking at the quality of his/her students.

Generally in all martial arts (including Aikido, of course), the principles of self-defence in respond to an attack are:

Move off the line of attack (Principle of the Triangle, moving omote or ura)

Off-balance the opponent (Principle of the Circle)

Control the opponent (Principle of the Square)

To off-balance the opponent, we need to understand and apply the following Aikido Principles:

Principle of centricity

Principle of extension

Principle of sphericity

Principle of leading the mind

Aikido is a science and not a mystic art. Generally, if you have a good understanding of the above principles and a good amount of practice and training, you would be able to get a Shodan within two years. If you have been training for years and have not heard your teacher utter a word or demonstrate how these principles work, you better ask them now. The above principles are the magical formulas of Aikido. As in physics and relativity, each scenario requires one or more combinations of the formulas to work effectively.

What, if you then may ask, my teacher does not know all of the above principles yet he/she could successfully carry out the techniques? Some people learn by perceptions and then they teach others based on their perceived understanding of the art or teachings by O sensei. Aikido is a martial art that offers hundreds of perceptions. The danger of perceptions is that sometime you are right and sometime you are wrong and when one teaches based on perceptions both rights and wrongs are passed down. In an isolated group, most times you perceive that a technique is 100% workable but unless you train with someone outside your group you may find your technique jammed up because that someone may offered you a different “Awase”.

Many times people have asked me whether Aikido is a good martial art to train for self-defence. My answer has always been - “When it comes to self-defence, it is a question of seeking the right teacher not the right Art”. Someone wrote somewhere – “If you cannot find someone to teach you the right skill, then you are better off not training at all” – or something to that effect.

Happy seeking or training.

Regards.

PeterR
07-14-2003, 03:59 AM
David very eloquently states his views - don't agree with all of them, agree with others.

There is something to be said for allowing drills were feints are allowed. This introduces a level of unpredictablility which can be very difficult to do otherwise. How often do I see people basically kuzushi themselves because they think they know what uke is going to do. Once balance is broken they are at uke's mercy.

opherdonchin
07-14-2003, 08:28 AM
David very eloquently states his views - don't agree with all of them, agree with others.Now, that is what I call eloquent. I couldn't agree with you more, Peter.

I don't know if I need feints in Aikido. I do think that a big part of what nage learns on the mat is how to tell a committed attack from one that can be safely ignored. I understand that feints are supposed to teach this, but to me (based on very little experience) it always seems like they cloud the issue more than they clarify it. Still, it's something I don't know much about so I shouldn't talk about it.

I am sort of amused by David's idea that Aikido can be explained as a set of principles, easily understood and mastered, and applied in proper admixture. Maybe my teachers are just really bad, but I feel like I'm still learning more all the time and it's been quite a few years.

Also, I hate it when people throw around the word 'science,' but that's just the scientist in me bristling.

Patrick O'Reilly
07-14-2003, 05:37 PM
This is probably a mistake to reply but....David Yap, above your post where do you see the words " “teasing” attacks or “dummy” attacks"? I hope you didn't get that from my post which is just above yours because that's not at all what I said. I looked through all the posts and couldn't find those words, maybe I missed them.

I was saying that uke shouldn't consider himself/herself just a bag of rags to just be tossed around or am I mislead? From what I've learned from a year in Aikido is that Uke has just as much of a roll as Nage. I have been in classes where uke just sits there like a bag of rags and it's harder to learn as nage in that situation.

rachmass
07-14-2003, 05:53 PM
I didn't see anything in your post Patrick that elicitated that response; it might well have been from an earlier post to which he was replying. In any case, I agree fully with you, that uke and nage have equal roles, and that uke shouldn't consider him/herself a bag of rags. Neither should uke fight back in such a way as to get hurt though. There is this fine line between trying to keep following through with the attack and being resistant (if you resist, you stand a very good chance of getting hurt).

My aikido teacher used to go through a series of reasons why we take ukemi. The first was always to neutralize the force, the second to create distance and the third to regain balance (not necessarily in that order though).

best,

Rachel

Mel Barker
07-14-2003, 06:06 PM
A few quick questions for our new-comer, Louis.

How many times have you been physically assaulted "on the street" over the past ten years? How about the past twenty years?

Where are you situated? Which aikido dojo have you taken a look into?

You said you do not have any experience physically training in martial arts -- is this correct?

-- Jun
Oh no, Louis is in trouble!:blush:

Mel Barker

Mel Barker
07-14-2003, 06:11 PM
My aikido teacher used to go through a series of reasons why we take ukemi. The first was always to neutralize the force, the second to create distance and the third to regain balance (not necessarily in that order though).
Hi Rachel, how's tricks?

Our newest thinking on ukemi adds another reason. To learn aiki! Trying to develop the same sensitivity that is vital to excellent nage waza while doing ukemi.

Mel Barker

Patrick O'Reilly
07-14-2003, 06:21 PM
Sorry, didn't mean any thing by it. I shouldn't have posted here in the first place, I'm not a teacher.

Erik
07-14-2003, 06:26 PM
A few quick questions for our new-comer, Louis.
There's a post by a Louis in this thread?????

PeterR
07-14-2003, 07:29 PM
I understand that feints are supposed to teach this, but to me (based on very little experience) it always seems like they cloud the issue more than they clarify it. Still, it's something I don't know much about so I shouldn't talk about it.
When we train we are very clear when its time for feints - otherwise you are perfectly correct it tends to cloud the issue. We have a series of exercises, starting with simple taisabaki to a straight knife thrust no feints leading to full blown randori with feints but even these exercises are usually left to the last 15-20 minutes of class. Most attacks during training are very clear.

rachmass
07-14-2003, 08:26 PM
Patrick,

You didn't write anything offensive in your posts; don't worry about it!

Most of the folks who post here are not teachers, as a matter of fact, I would bet that fewer than 10% are (Jun, do you have statistics about this?). Anyway, the forums are for everyone to post on, and you shouldn't apologize for what you said; there was nothing wrong with what you said. I for one am delighted to see you post here.

Hey Mel! How are things over in Kentucky? Going to ER camp? Shawn and I are headed there next Friday, long drive. Looking forward to some excellent training.

best,

Rachel

David Yap
07-14-2003, 11:22 PM
Hi Opher
I am sort of amused by David's idea that Aikido can be explained as a set of principles, easily understood and mastered, and applied in proper admixture. Maybe my teachers are just really bad, but I feel like I'm still learning more all the time and it's been quite a few years.

Also, I hate it when people throw around the word 'science,' but that's just the scientist in me bristling.
Why should you be amused? This is not my idea in the first place. Though O sensei was a great martial art genius and technician, he wasn't a patient teacher. This might be due to the fact that he had so much thoughts and tactics that needed to be manifested before they get forgotten. Thankfully, we have great teachers in Tohei sensei, Shioda sensei, Saito sensei and others who put forth to us such principles and fundamentals of aikido so that we can easily understand and grasp the meanings of aikido.

What I was trying to express in my thread was that the learning process in Aikido would have been much shorter if we have been shown and taught these fundamentals at the early stage. Sometime I wonder if the teachers are underminding our level of intelligence. I have been learning martial arts since 11. I'm 46 now and I'm still learning. I commenced aikido training in 1993 with various Aikikai styled instructors. My last instructor in 1997 was an Iwama stylist. Result-wise, there is no difference between these two "styles". The objective is the same but the routes are different. I stopped training in aikido in 1998 after the last instructor had to returned back to his home country and I moved to work elsewhere. I jump-start Aikido a couple of months ago and surprising my moves are still there - because I can still remember the principles and fundaments taught to me by the last instructor. However, when it come to swirls here and swirls there sometimes I'm completely lost. By swirls, swirls & swirls you can figure out what school I'm in now.

Happy training

Regards

David

opherdonchin
07-14-2003, 11:47 PM
What I was trying to express in my thread was that the learning process in Aikido would have been much shorter if we have been shown and taught these fundamentals at the early stage. Sometime I wonder if the teachers are underminding our level of intelligenceI guess this is what I was objecting to. I've seen lots of different teachers and lots of different teaching styles. Some have been didactic, oriented around principles, and cerebral. Others have been intuitive, oriented around examples, and expressive. I can't say that any of them provide shortcuts, although clearly each person is comfortable with certain styles more than others. I can't even say that I know for sure that the teaching style I'm most comfortable with is also the one that teaches me best (most quickly, most thoroughly, most deeply).

Its great that you have a clear idea of how Aikido should be taught (if that's what you are saying). I think having a clear idea like that helps teaching, whatever that clear idea is. On the other hand, I can't claim that I myself have any such clarity.

David Yap
07-15-2003, 02:43 AM
This is probably a mistake to reply but....David Yap, above your post where do you see the words " “teasing” attacks or “dummy” attacks"? I hope you didn't get that from my post which is just above yours because that's not at all what I said. I looked through all the posts and couldn't find those words, maybe I missed them.

I was saying that uke shouldn't consider himself/herself just a bag of rags to just be tossed around or am I mislead? From what I've learned from a year in Aikido is that Uke has just as much of a roll as Nage. I have been in classes where uke just sits there like a bag of rags and it's harder to learn as nage in that situation.
Sorry Peter, it wasn’t from your post. I was replying to someone’s post on separate instructions for Uke and Nage.

You are absolutely right – Uke has an equal role as the Nage. Almost all of the learning processes in Aikido are in drill forms. Drills that need a partner to train with. Even when your Uke is a beginner, you still would learn something from this experience. Have you tried doing shihonage with a first day beginner? As you turned around to lock the Uke’s arm in a bended elbow the Uke turned around with you and both of you ended up in the same neutral position as before. Do you blame your Uke for not understanding your intention (not allowing you to complete the technique) or do you blame yourself for giving enough room for the Uke to turn with you?

There is a whole mix of people doing Aikido. My seniors for not allowing them to complete their techniques sometime reprimand me. Honestly, I have no intention to stop them or to behave like a bag of rags. I had been a Uke for visiting shihans and senior instructors, I can proudly say that my ukemi is good having done judo before. As a Uke, my attacks are willing, committed and consistent regardless whether the Nage is a Shihan or a 5th kyu. As a Uke, I will try to feel what the Nage is doing. When the Nage happens to be a Shihan or senior instructor, I would normally feel nothing until I am in the air or being locked or swirled and I am helpless to do anything while in this state and before you know it, it’s all over. When the Nage is of lesser experience, I would feel almost everything from the inception till the end of the technique. Thus with lesser experience Nage, I would tell him what I felt so he can know the flaw of his technique. In this new class I joined, I was a Uke for a senior (with 10-15 years of Aikido experience behind him) in jiyu waza. As usual, I attacked with the same commitment, he turned ura and I found myself in his swirl and when the swirling(s) stopped I felt nothing and found myself in upright balanced position with one of his hand resting on my neck and the other gripping my upper arm. I waited for his next move to unbalance me again - it never came. What I got was a nasty bruise on my arm where he gripped me. Later, he told me off that as a Uke, I must learn how to blend with him to allow him to do his techniques; I should learn to empty the cup of the art/style I learned before (TKD, Iwama-ryu aikido) and start all over again. As for the bruise, I did not get any apology from him. I cannot figure out what I did right or wrong. The icing on the cake was “Don’t be angry with what I said”. As a budoka, I was definitely angry with him for undermining my maturity and insinuated that I have used TKD in the class. Then again, if I had used TKD in the class wouldn’t it be easier for him to throw me?

Can someone out there figure it out what are my mistakes as the Uke in this instance? But don’t ever tell me go for a special course in ukemi; O sensei will flip in his grave if there’s one.

Still searching …

David

David Yap
07-15-2003, 05:03 AM
Hi Opher
“I guess this is what I was objecting to. I've seen lots of different teachers and lots of different teaching styles.” Opher
Seeing and doing it are two different things. Example:

“Iwama-ryu is hard, I don’t think my students can take it”. “Have you trained Iwama-ryu before?” “No.” “Then, how do you know that Iwama-ryu is hard?” “Well, it looks hard to me.”
“Some have been didactic, oriented around principles, and cerebral. Others have been intuitive, oriented around examples, and expressive. I can't say that any of them provide shortcuts, although clearly each person is comfortable with certain styles more than others. I can't even say that I know for sure that the teaching style I'm most comfortable with is also the one that teaches me best (most quickly, most thoroughly, most deeply).” Opher
Agreed that there are no shortcuts in any art forms. The pointer of truth is the student and not the teacher. The teacher is only a guide. The teacher may have so much to offer on a plate but the student will still have to taste and feel whether the stuff offered are palatable. As a student, I would be much happier to verify that the principle is true – “Hey! It works all the time, teach me more” than spend time figuring out the underlying principle by try and error that most time is a long process because the teacher keeps changing to a new technique before one can start to figure. Other thing is the student’s perception on the integrity of the teacher. If the student finds that certain things can be taught in a simple and comprehensive manner but the teacher chose to take longer path to express them – was it deliberated so he/she could earn more income? When I first started as an Auditor’s assistant I was told that when you expect a simple answer and received a complicated reply then the person replying is trying to hide something. On the contrary when you expect a complex answer and the person answered in simplicity – then the person does not know the subject matter. BTW, IMHO, integrity is more important – saying one is honest is not enough; one must be seen to be honest.
”Its great that you have a clear idea of how Aikido should be taught (if that's what you are saying). I think having a clear idea like that helps teaching, whatever that clear idea is. On the other hand, I can't claim that I myself have any such clarity.” Opher
Modesty will not take you anywhere



Happy searching...

David

jxa127
07-15-2003, 08:22 AM
Hi all,

Something I read about the koryu arts really helped put ukemi into perspective for me. In the koryu arts, the instructor would usually take the "losing" side of a kata, and the student would "win."

I'm not necessarily sure why that works so well, but it's a great psychological boost to the student. Think about the first couple of times you sucessfully threw your instructor. :D

It is most beneficial for a student as nage to have a more experienced uke. Uke is nage's teacher. Uke need not overtly teach, but by offering good, centered attacks and being sensitive to nage's openings, uke can show nage where there are problems in the technique.

It follows that the instructor should have the best ukemi and be the best person to teach through ukemi.

Regards,

-Drew

DaveForis
07-15-2003, 05:18 PM
Wow. What a lengthy thread!

I'll just be quick about my $.02.

How much attention should be given to waza/ukemi?

50/50

Why?

Balance. Is there a better reason?

Charles Hill
07-15-2003, 06:16 PM
But don’t ever tell me go for a special course in ukemi; O sensei will flip in his grave if there’s one.
Why would you think this, David?

Charles

David Yap
07-15-2003, 09:48 PM
Why would you think this, David?

Charles
Sorry guys/gals for that sweeping statement. Allow me to clarify. I assume that ukemi is normally taught part and parcel in every class. My definition of special course is where specific instructions are given to "propective" uke to blend with the nage's moves thereby enabling the nage to complete his intention with success. This is also known as "choreography".

Now, wouldn't you think that O sensei will flip if everyone choreograph his aikido?

As a sempai, I would sometime allow a lesser experienced kohai to feel the flow of a technique by blending to his/her moves but I would inform them of what I was doing and their objective was to lead my mind into doing all that on their own.

Nacho
07-16-2003, 12:33 AM
My definition of special course is where specific instructions are given to "propective" uke to blend with the nage's moves thereby enabling the nage to complete his intention with success. This is also known as "choreography".
Ukemi is receiving the technique. If nage is not doing properly the tecnhique and you are perfoming good Ukemi you can counter his technique.. and if he do performs properly and he can enter with his technique your ukemi may help YOU to take care of your body.

That's not choreography I think.

And maybe you should train seriously with people qualified and you will discover that instead of choreography you should be able to adapt your ukemi to their technique so you can protect your teeth, your wrists, elbows, nose, and all your body.

David Yap
07-16-2003, 01:05 AM
And maybe you should train seriously with people qualified and you will discover that instead of choreography you should be able to adapt your ukemi to their technique so you can protect your teeth, your wrists, elbows, nose, and all your body.
Ignacio,

I believe that you have not been following my previous posts on this topic.:)

Keep searching ...

David

Charles Hill
07-16-2003, 08:25 AM
My definition of special course is where specific instructions are given to "propective" uke to blend with the nage's moves thereby enabling the nage to complete his intention with success. This is also known as "choreography".
That sounds like good basic Aikido to me. David, you mentioned above Saito, Tohei and Shioda Sensei. An interesting thing is that their students move just like they do. This extends to their ukemi, too. Just as one can tell a Saito Sensei student from a Tohei student by his/her technique, one can do it by watching or feeling their ukemi, as well. That is because the basic way of education in Aikido is choreography.

Shirata Rinjiro Shihan defined the word Aikido as, "Hand in hand, together we walk the path." I think that, extending this to the level of basic physical practice, this means that we work with a partner with a basic form doing what we can to succeed.

Charles

Ron Tisdale
07-16-2003, 10:33 AM
Nice post Charles. Stevens Sensei says hello. He remembered your story...we both had a good laugh!

Ron

David Yap
07-16-2003, 09:35 PM
That is because the basic way of education in Aikido is choreography.

Charles
Get real, Charles!! You're better off in dancing class. Maybe, Peking Opera House (Jackie Chan's alumini) will suit you better.

If you have not noticed, almost all aikido schools sell the art primarily as a martial art. At demonstrations,they show person(s) attacking and how a trained aikidoka can defused and control the attack. They project aikido as an art of self-defense. They suck you in and then tell you that Aikido was not meant to be a martial art. No wonder they say "Selling the American way is the best way" and they came out with diferrent soaps for different purposes - cause there will always be someone like you out there.

When confronted with a real-life attack, will you tell the attacker "Hey! you are doing this all wrongly. You are not to stab me here, you are supposed to step there when I do this"?

Grow up Charles.

Charles Hill
07-16-2003, 10:57 PM
David,

You wrote that you had trained a bit in Saito Sensei's style. I would guess that means you are somewhat familiar with his paired weapons kata. The kata, as I'm sure you're well aware, are all made up of very specific moves done by both people engaged in the kata. Saito Sensei was very specific in how both sides were to move. (At least he was when I trained with him. Was he different with you?) The kata are all highly choreographed and it was the same with the taijutsu. If I I moved in a way that was different, I sure heard about it from the various Shihan I have trained with.

This was especially trying during my time at the Aikikai Honbu Dojo as each Shihan had different ideas as to how the forms should go (i.e. their choreography.) Okumura Shihan, now 9th dan and one of the most senior Shihan, talked occasionally in his classes about the concept of Shu, Ha, Ri. Put simply, shu means to copy the form, ha means to break away from the form, and ri means to intregrate the form.

Shu is the level we must practice at for a long time to truly learn the forms. This means we must copy our teachers AND the person they chose to take ukemi. This is choreography, meaning that everything we do is predecided. This has nothing to do with selling anything in America. This is the traditional way of education in Japan. The same thing happens in the art world. Students carefully copy the paintings of the masters to build up technical skill and to learn how to see the way the masters did. We do the same in Aikido.

Your post was a bit insulting towards me. Why? I have looked at my posts relating to you and found nothing insulting towards you. The few times that I was "confronted with a real-life attack," I was very happy that I have spent so many years practicing in a choreographed manner. It has taught me a lot.

Charles

Charles Hill
07-16-2003, 11:00 PM
Ron,

I'm so jealous you got to train with Stevens Sensei. Most people know him as a prolific author. I got to know him as a great teacher, Aikidoka, and human being.

Charles

David Yap
07-17-2003, 05:37 AM
David,

Your post was a bit insulting towards me. Why? I have looked at my posts relating to you and found nothing insulting towards you. The few times that I was "confronted with a real-life attack," I was very happy that I have spent so many years practicing in a choreographed manner. It has taught me a lot.

Charles
Sorry Charles if you felt my post was insulting. Sometimes it will happen in e-Forum. You show the tip and one would treat it as a whole iceberg.

Anyway, again you got your perception wrong about Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo. These two weapon trainings are not real weapon jutsu (fighting with a weapon) per se. They are training aids to help you understand and feel your own center and to take your opponent's center - this is equivalent to the Tai Chi sword or Tai Chi fan kata. When you have two persons doing kumi ken or kumi jo, you need to extremely careful, harmonised and blended (Awase). Can you imagine what it's like to have skull (even your thumb)crushed by a bokken or a end of a jo sticked into your eye socket? You can't have students doing jiyu-waza with weapons - you are just waiting for the worst to happen. In your dojo, are the jiyu waza choreographed? In the Iwama-style that you practiced, don't they teach you the concept of leading the mind, don't they tell you "If the mountain don't come to Mahammed, Mahammed will go to the mountain"?

I can't even agree with your understanding of the concept of Shu Ha Ri. In my Confusius school of thoughts - Shu Ha Ri (or Shou Pau Li in mandarin) is not what you described. Shu is to embrace, to protect, to preserve (copying is just a small part); Ha is to break the code or to analyse, to solve; Ri is to discard (the unessentials), to go beyond techniques, to acquire other skills/knowledge. My definition of choreography does not seem to "harmonise" with yours. All the Shihans you mentioned have taught you to move according to the Triangle, Circle and Square doctrines of O Sensei. These 3 doctrines are the principles of self-defence. You have "choreographed" them well but if you know the rationale of these principles/doctrines then you wouldn't call them "choreographed" movements - they are fundamentals. If you don't mind me for being brunt - despite your training spell in Japan, I feel you are still sitting within the confine of 4 walls of a room or sitting at the bottom of a well. You need to elevate to see the whole picture. It is not entirely your fault, just that in orient, the transmission of knowledge is not a straight line as you may perceive. You have to think BIG picture.

Still searching ...

David

rachmass
07-17-2003, 08:21 AM
check out the link to Chiba Sensei's article on Shu Ha Ri:

http://www.aikidoonline.com/Archives/2001/mar/feat_0301_tkc.html

Charles Hill
07-17-2003, 09:40 AM
Get real, Charles!! You're better off in dancing class. Maybe, Peking Opera House (Jackie Chan's alumini) will suit you better.

Grow up Charles.
David,

If this is the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest? You don't know me other than a couple of words written on a computer screen, yet you write the above and you claim to know that I am "sitting at the bottom of a well." I don't know much about you so that is why I have made no comments that pertain directly toward you.

In your last post you seem to concur that Saito Sensei's weapons kata are choreographed. Are they then not Aikido? You write of jiyu waza, but it doesn't make sense as the term "jiyu" is an antonym of choreographed in this usage. And no, I don't ever recall Saito Sensei mentioning Mohammed.

As you indicate, maybe we are having a problem with the word "choreographed." I'm taking it to mean that the movements are all prearranged. I don't know about the "transmission of knowledge" in Malaysia, but in Japan, that is how education is done.

As for shu, ha, ri, I don't know what it means in terms of Confucianism, but as Rachel's link indicates, Ha doesn't mean to break any code, it means to take apart, to destroy. At least this is how the various Shihan describe it. It is not my personal definition, it is their's. As for shu, you included the meaning of copying. This is what I wrote along with the caveat, "Put simply,"

I don't feel you were being blunt, I feel that you have shown your character by evaluating me based on very little.

Keep searching

Charles

David Yap
07-17-2003, 09:42 PM
David,

You don't know me other than a couple of words written on a computer screen, yet you write the above and you claim to know that I am "sitting at the bottom of a well."
Thanks, Rachel, for directing us to Chiba sensei's article. In that article, Chiba sensei has mentioned about Mu-Shin (No mind), Sho-shin (Pure Heart/Pure Mind), Shu-Ha-Ri. I ageed wholeheartedly with Chiba sensei's writings. However, with respect to Chiba sensei or his translator, the article very briefly described some meanings of these concepts. He has explained the bunkai of the concepts but he did not dwell into their oyo. I suggest that you go down to local libraries or universities where there are facualties of Oriental Studies. Perhaps there, you may find the true origins and meanings of these concepts. If you are doubt, speak to the professors, get an independent view.

When I said that you are confined within the 4 walls of a room or sitting at the bottom of well and I suggested that you should elevate to see the whole picture - I was merely asking you to practise "Shoshin".

Once you have done a thorough research on these topics that were mentioned. I suggest that you read all your postings again. I guarantee that you will say "Gosh! Did I write those?". Like a bible or suptra, you read them over and over again but at different stages of your life, they have different meanings to you.

BTW, the methodology for the transmission of knowledge is similar across all cultures (I'm a Chinese born and bred in Malaysia), in the Orient (The Far East - China, Japan, Korea included)and where the teachings of Confucius is still preserved (Vietnam for one)- the methodology is coined "Shu-Ha-Ri".

Happy re-searching ...

David

Charles Hill
07-17-2003, 10:21 PM
- I was merely asking you to practise "Shoshin".
Why would you do that?

Charles

David Yap
07-17-2003, 11:40 PM
Why would you do that?

Charles
Goodbye, Charles.

Charles Hill
07-18-2003, 07:25 AM
David,

You have first insulted me and then attempted to give me advice all while not knowing much about me. Unlike you,I have (successfully, I believe) refrained from writing anything about you personally as I felt I didn't know enough about you. Now that I know a bit, let me try to explain what I have noticed. As you write that you are "searching" maybe my insights will help.

You indicated that you studied with various Aikikai style teachers for four years and then with an Iwama-ryu stylist for around a year. You called these styles "different routes" indicating that they were quite different. Even with only one year of practice, you wrote that you are an Iwama-ryu stylist. This would only be a guess, but as you started Aikido a bit later in life from the norm, I'd bet that you didn't practice daily.

You write as if you know Saito Sensei's weapons kata well, but with only one year of training, there is no way you understand them. Saito Sensei made his top American student, Bill Witt, do only the suburi for three years before teaching him the kata.

I have noticed that there is often a phenomenon that often occurs after someone has practiced for a few years. They think they know something about Aikido because it has been an active part of their lives for awhile. So they have a strong urge to teach others about it. The problem is that they can mouth some words, but they really really don't understand it deeply because they don't have the serious practice time in. At their dojo, this teaching doesn't work as everyone knows how little that person knows because they, too, have experienced this stage. And talking at their friends doesn't work, because people who don't practice Aikido often find the topic boring. Fortunately or unfortunately, e-forums become the place where they can teach everyone what they know. They can instruct others who are below them in knowledge easily as here there is no need to understand someone's comment or question before reaching for the keyboard to bestow their great wisdom.

Again, this is just what I have gathered about you from a few posts. If I'm mistaken, then it won't matter much. But if I got you pegged right, this could be an opportunity for you to really learn something.

Goodbye David,

Charles

Ron Tisdale
07-18-2003, 09:54 AM
Nicely done Charles. This is not a new thing...people are always on the podium, always right, and their ego excuses their bad behavior. Oh well.

I should have a review of the seminar shortly...draft is done, and I need permission to post from an instructor who helped us. You have to let me know if I've got anything wrong...I'm still learning this stuff. I've already made some corrections to my draft.

You are absolutely correct about Stevens Sensei...This was the forth time I've been able to train with him, and each time I peel another layer off the onion. The man is deep. His aikido is fantastic, and if I'm lucky, I'll be able to aid in helping people to know him for more than his writing. He really has a strong legacy to pass on in his (and Shirata Shihan's) aikido. I only hope people are afforded the opportunity to be exposed to it.

Ron

Charles Hill
07-18-2003, 11:17 AM
You have to let me know if I've got anything wrong...I'm still learning this stuff.
Ron,

The thing about Stevens Sensei is that he always changes. He discouraged videotaping (always in a nice way) because he would say it'll be different tomorrow. That is why I'm eagerly awaiting your review so I can see what I have got wrong.

Charles

David Yap
07-19-2003, 03:00 AM
David,

You have first insulted me and then attempted to give me advice all while not knowing much about me. Unlike you,I have (successfully, I believe) refrained from writing anything about you personally as I felt I didn't know enough about you....

I have noticed that there is often a phenomenon that often occurs after someone has practiced for a few years. They think they know something about Aikido because it has been an active part of their lives for awhile. So they have a strong urge to teach others about it. The problem is that they can mouth some words, but they really really don't understand it deeply because they don't have the serious practice time in....

Again, this is just what I have gathered about you from a few posts. If I'm mistaken, then it won't matter much. But if I got you pegged right, this could be an opportunity for you to really learn something.

Goodbye David,

Charles
Nicely done Charles. This is not a new thing...people are always on the podium, always right, and their ego excuses their bad behavior. Oh well. Ron Tisdale
Charles,

I do not know why you are upset? I thought all advices have been given and understood. That’s nothing up there about ego. When I train in any martial art forms I train with an open-mind. Probably when I started martial arts 35 years ago, I trained with no-mind – but what can you expect from a 11-year old. During my competitive years, my training was more myopic – everything was “Yes, sensei!” or “Oss, sensei” as what you would term “choreographed” or what I would term as “obedience”.

As an open-minded martial artist (a geisha) I never claimed I was a Iwama-stylist or a Aikikai stylist. FYI, Aikikai has no specific style. I was saying from my experience in Aikido training, Iwama-ryu offers a better methodology for the transmission of knowledge. What I have offered to you was for you to think on your alone and not let someone else influent your thinking. I didn’t insist that I was right – I merely told you to do some research on the subjects on your own to get them right (for yourself). When we talk about Shu-Ha-Ri, Rachel was quick to direct us to Chiba sensei’ article. Research is also the Ha stage – as pathologist would cut-up a body or an organ for analysis, a chemist would break up a compound to determine the element structure, a re-engineering process may including breaking up a Nasa space rocket by a Japanese space engineer ;), etc. – breaking = analyse. Research does not meaning reading just one or two articles. My re-search of martial arts is a continuing process.

From the postings, you have assumed that I have a –ve mindset to your answers when I did not even say or implied, “Charles, you are dead wrong on all counts”. I merely said that our definitions of "choreography" did not harmonised. I suggested that you practise Soshin, that is to empty your mind of the +ve and –ve (both yours and mine) and re-think the subject matter holistically. Picture youself trapped in a maze and you wish you can levitate above the maze and see the route out of it – you are only interested in the end result. Now, replace yourself with the subject matter and what result do you expect to find at the end. Soshin is about knowing the consequences of the action(s) (more yours than others).

From your postings, I perceive that you’ve meant that for ALL intents and purposes Aikido is “choreography”. In my postings (without drawing the big picture), I was trying to tell you that for SOME intents and purposes Aikido is indeed choreography (e.g. Kumi Jo, Kumi Ken, Kata). That is the difference. Doing things right and not knowing why they are right are two separate matters. Aikido like most Japanese art forms are enshrined (not sure whether I put it rightly?) in Zen Buddhism – emphasis is placed on knowing the end results.

Do you get my picture now, Grasshopper :)?

Why would you do that?
Charles


Goodbye, Charles


I've assumed that you know Soshin and the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri. Goodbye means you've already known the answers. My thread is closed.

For Ron and those who have been following the trail of these postings, I hope you are able to see the shortcoming of Shu-Ha-Ri (that is exhibited here). Shu-Ha-Ri is also about intuitiveness (two mind). In general, we are innate to think with one mind. In the oriental concept, before the teacher accepts a student, he would determine whether the prospective student has a mind or not. At the Shu stage (after acceptance) the teacher would continue to assess whether that student has acquired that “second” mind. The actual teaching/training began after that. It is very individual. O sensei only trained a short period with Takeda (spelling?) of Daito-ryu. Mochizuki shihan (10th dan) also trained a short period (2-3 years) with O sensei and so did a few other high-ranking shihans who had prior trainings in other martial arts (they already had the two mind). Hence learning the Shu-Ha-Ri way is a long process; if you don’t persevere physically and mentally, you don’t arrive. Sometime, it is a question of whether one has it or not. The process can be life long, life is short, time is valuable – there are other things that have higher priority than Aikido (your family for one, keeping your job to pay for the Aikido fee, etc.). If there is a methodology that can expedite my understanding and perfection of one art – I will definitely embrace it without hesitation.

I was not being arrogant when I suggested that you ask your teachers about the principles and fundaments of Aikido. I am just being realistic. I am not about to depart with some of my hard-earned money with a Shodan/Nidan or even higher ranking instructor who he/she himself/herself is time freeze in a Sho stage and cannot even take me beyond that stage. The reason they got themselves that far in rank might be due to the fact that they are great choreographers. In some dojo, the instructor will tell you this when you sign up - “In this dojo, there is only one way – My Way or it is that way – the way to the door”. They have no knowledge of sports science and they have no knowledge of first aid. The warming up starts with exercises that put undue stress to your heart, to your joints and to your back. Why? Because they’re done that way by the shihan in Hombu dojo. By the way, do you know at what age did the shihan commence training? I don’t know and I don’t care, I care that you’ll do as told. This is obedience without understanding – the one mind at work. And you thought training in martial arts is to help you live longer and healthier life?

Humbly searching…

David

Charles Hill
07-19-2003, 10:28 AM
David,

Due to the length and (IMHO) the lack of inner logic in your last post, I see that I may have hit a nerve. I'm going to take that as my being correct in my assessment of you.

As for you not claiming you're an Iwama stylist, in post#23, you say that you had to empty your cup of the styles you had done before, TKD and Iwama. On another thread, you wrote that you have done Iwama Ryu only three months and only practiced the suburi. I bet it didn't take long to empty you cup of it. You also wrote in another post that you started Aikido in '94, not '93. That gives you a grand total of three and a half years of Aikido plus the couple of months you have been training after a five year break in which you practiced "armchair Aikido." Of course I don't know you, but it seems to me that it is going to take 10 years of actual practice to undo the damage those five years inflicted.

As for me being upset, you are correct, I am. I'm upset that a number of people here write demeaning and insulting things about/to other people from the relative anonymity that an e-forum provides. My basic opinion is that you, David, have no deep understanding of the things that you write and that some of it is just wrong. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to learn you hold a bokken at the wrong end. But that opinion has nothing to do with the sharing of good useful information and insightful experiences that an e-forum requires to have meaning. I think you have done that to some degree, but your arrogance and various attempts to show some authority in the martial arts make it clear that you, personally, have not benefitted from the knowledge that you have gotten from various books and have written here.

You have communicated that you will not post here anymore(twice.) I, however, will continue to post if I feel I have something to offer.

Charles

Ron Tisdale
07-19-2003, 11:43 AM
Cough....The only thing I see is...Oh never mind. Shouldn't waste my breath.

RT

Nacho
07-19-2003, 12:41 PM
bla bla bla bla bla, bla, bla bla. blabla?? bla!....mm bla bla (#!^@#%@#%##!!!)

Pretoriano
07-19-2003, 05:12 PM
Yes, get some truth from Mr Yap

Definetively you give more credit to protocolar settings to whatever substance hes trying to share, an excuse to say that was insulting! I just dont get it1 it out performs my standarised way of trainning... hes insulting nobody here as I can see. He can put his personal history in the way he prefers thats irrelevant, what counts is what he can add to the colective pot.

"He discouraged videotaping (always in a nice way) because he would say it'll be different tomorrow." Hill

Wrong! got that picture thats a summatory from.. to today... review, make the adjustements and then make another one, valuable tool btw.

Charles Hill
07-19-2003, 07:14 PM
"He discouraged videotaping (always in a nice way) because he would say it'll be different tomorrow." Hill

Wrong!
Hi Manuel,

I'm sorry but I had some difficulty in understanding your post. I am interested in understanding what you mean, especially the above quote.

I, too,think that videotaping is a valuable tool. During the time I was at John Stevens' dojo at Tohoku Fukushi College, the college students used some of the club's money to buy a video camera to tape embu and things like that.

As soon as I saw the camera, I got it into my greedy little head to tape Stevens Sensei so I could have an easier time to learn all the difficult forms. Sensei would smile, kind of shake his head, and say ok, but he would always warn me that what he was doing today, he'd be doing differently tomorrow.

I would also race over to my notebook after each class and write down all the techniques and everything I learned. Stevens Sensei would watch me and then laugh, saying something like that he used to do that until he got smart.

Anyway, sorry I couldn't understand your post, could you explain a little more?

Charles

Pretoriano
07-19-2003, 09:23 PM
Yes Mr Hill, open, questioning always have an answer

From that my point of view it is not esencial to have last video of any master technique because we havent achieved even that old way yet.

Any active master is continous working on its personal level of jutsu and do, so it is always changing and is only close followed by its contemporaries, I guess all his upgrades will pass down to students at determined time.

This is obviously not an excuse by any meanings to get stuck in old approaches or, in the case of writings Stevens Sensei would trust more on what you "recorded on your body"

during practise and thats to be smart. But also I have found and seen in some others "personal notes" on certain details and discovers as invaluable material.

"ok,but he would always warn me that what he was doing today, he'd be doing differently tomorrow."Hill

Thats also a way to say: hey, if you dare to sell this at least tell me, I deserve something :) dont show something that is not anymore.

BTW the short films Ive got from renowed aikido professors is something I could never put on sale, they are little treasures just for personal and friendly use.

Praetoriano

Manuel Chiquito Anderson

PeterR
07-19-2003, 11:45 PM
I have very little interest in video for much the same reason. Watch and train it is the best we can do.

I don't video tape my teacher and I don't video tape myself.

In the former case there are times I wish I had when up comes a technique I probably wont see again for quite some time that I found particularily interesting and complicated enough that memory wont serve. However, I wont sit around messing with a video camera on the of chance that that happens. I can understand people who don't get the exposure (ie. only through seminars) making the other choice.

As for personal videos corny as it may sound I am more interested in how my Aikido feels than how I look. I don't want to get distracted. Embu competitors often take videos to quickly identify the rough bits but I don't generally compete and therefore work on a longer time scale. By rough bits I don't mean the quality of the kata but how the pair interact. Embu requires both tori and uke to be in harmony and still look like martial action.

Paula Lydon
07-20-2003, 12:04 AM
~~Wow, a lot of information is moving through this thread. Many good ideas, insights and...well, other observations. Perhaps some of these topics should have their own thread as things seem to have strayed a bit from the origional question/post.

Thanks all!

David Yap
07-20-2003, 03:23 AM
David,

Due to the length and (IMHO) the lack of inner logic in your last post, I see that I may have hit a nerve. I'm going to take that as my being correct in my assessment of you.

..My basic opinion is that you, David, have no deep understanding of the things that you write and that some of it is just wrong. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to learn you hold a bokken at the wrong end..

Charles
Keeping going, Charles, your inner self is surfacing. Incidentally, have you read the story about Musashi's last shiai? On the boat to the island where duel was arranged, Musashi curved a bokken from an old oar that he had found on the boat. Musashi had no confidence of winning but at the end his more experienced opponent gave the battle away - he lost his composure.

Which part of the last post did not make sense to you? FYI, English was never my mother tongue. My deepest and humble apology.

David :(

Charles Hill
07-21-2003, 08:27 AM
David,

Your command of the English language has been the one thing that has been impressive in all your posts. I had picked up on the fact that you are not a natvie speaker, but that is only because I've been an EFL/ESL teacher for a relatively long time. Very impressive.

Back to the original thread.

It is my (strong) opinion that as a beginner (about the first three years) one should strive to do ukemi exactly the way the teacher and senior students do it. To do this, the beginner should be explicitly taught how to move when; attacking, blending with nage, and going to the mat. So my answer to Paula's original question is yes.

BTW, was the roll/role thing in the first post intentional? Nice pun!

Charles

Paula Lydon
07-21-2003, 02:28 PM
~~Somebody got it! Thanks, Charles...:)