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Paula Lydon
02-25-2004, 02:01 PM
~~After my recent testing, I asked one of my teachers (a 6th Dan) for his observations on it and advice for me as I moved forward. He muttered some, wondering what had been 'up' with my uke and commented that most of how someone appears during any test is contingent on the performance of their uke. He then went on to give me some appreciated pointers.
~~I've never really cared about how I appear during a test as it's just a moment in time and it's about nage, not uke or attacker. I give it my best and it's done. But I got to thinking, if an upper dan says such a thing--a top instructor--then what's the real point in taking these tests? Doesn't your teacher know where you are by watching/working with you during regular classes?

Don_Modesto
02-25-2004, 02:25 PM
....what's the real point in taking these tests? Doesn't your teacher know where you are by watching/working with you during regular classes?
Laboring in the teaching profession, I often thought the same in my early years, anyway. What I've noticed, though, is that tests--

* Motivate. Students study for them and push forward.

* Enhance morale. My students' feedback was always stratospheric in the classes where I tested regularly; desultory in those in which I didn't.

* Stress. We don't have competitions and most of us don't street fight. Tests provide a useful demand that the student perform unders stress.

* Diagnose. This is on the teachers' end, that is, how well has the INSTRUCTOR done? In tests, problems leap out at the teachers and they know where to direct lessons for a while.

Ted Marr
02-25-2004, 02:33 PM
Hrm... this shines some light on USAF-E's policy of your uke having to be of roughly your own rank... although it's sometimes inconvenient for people from small dojos (like me), 'cause we can't always BYOU (bring your own uke) to the test if there is nobody of appropriate rank free to travel on that day...

wendyrowe
02-25-2004, 02:55 PM
Ted,

"BYOU" -- I love it! If you start hearing it from people just over the border from you, you'll know it's because I've started using it here in Massachusetts.

Next thing you know, there'll be "Rent-an-Uke" services (delivery extra).

As for uke/nage performance, so far we've tested in pairs. So, both are being tested and also being uke for one being tested -- that works well for us.

paw
02-25-2004, 03:29 PM
Don,

How do you reconcile the need for "stress" with Paula's original post? I guess I'm asking, how does testing provide stress if much of the stress is provided by uke, who may or may not be up to the appropriate level of performance?

Regards,

Paul

Don_Modesto
02-25-2004, 03:42 PM
...how does testing provide stress if much of the stress is provided by uke, who may or may not be up to the appropriate level of performance?
She didn't specify what UKE's sin had been. I find NAGE to look better with an UKE who resists a little too much than with one who is limp. I think you're addressing the second circumstance. If I were doing the testing in that case, I might admonish UKE to attack harder or I'd call for another UKE.

As to the other case, I think that an UKE who doesn't give it away makes NAGE look better for the whole affair being more honest. I don't want to see choreography. One of my favorite training partners once complained about someone who'd given him a hard time on his NIDAN test. Later I got to see the video of his test and I couldn't see what he was bellyaching about; the fellow was merely giving honest attacks. To my thinking, a test is indeed a test, not a show. Interestingly, as an UKE on others' tests, my friend does precisely to his NAGE what his nemisis had done to him. So maybe it comes down to Potayto, Potahto.

Does this address your question?

Fred Calef III
02-25-2004, 04:39 PM
If uke doesn't give an appropriate attack, how can nage respond with the technique called for? And if uke doesn't give any energy into the attack, how can nage respond to a non-attack? (other than possibly giving a big atemi, but that's another thread) There is a time to pull (irimi) and a time to push (tenkan) and uke should be doing something appropriate and continuously to allow the technique to happen. Otherwise, a different technique is called for.

I'm sure others have said it, but uke training is just as important as nage training. In fact, it would be nice if people were tested on receiving AND giving the technique. What good is knowing a technique if you don't know how to take it too?

Bronson
02-25-2004, 10:13 PM
I find NAGE to look better with an UKE who resists a little too much than with one who is limp.
I was actually "marked down" on a test for picking and uke who gave me limp attacks. Sensei said it was my responsibility to pick a good uke, I didn't so it was my fault :D

Bronson

Paula Lydon
02-25-2004, 11:25 PM
~~I think I wasn't very clear in my query. It wasn't my point to malign uke, but to ask: If what uke does or does not do during a test is such a large factor, then what is the point of the test for nage? Where is the value?~~

PeterR
02-26-2004, 12:23 AM
~~I think I wasn't very clear in my query. It wasn't my point to malign uke, but to ask: If what uke does or does not do during a test is such a large factor, then what is the point of the test for nage? Where is the value?~~
With respect to exams.

A good uke will make you look better - but everyone knows that the uke is good and will expect more.

A bad uke will make it feel more difficult - but everyone knows that the uke is less than perfect and you will be judged accordingly.

If you are no good - no uke is going to save you. If you are half way reasonable no uke can harm you.

Still grumbling about the uke that was assigned to me the last time. I really think there should be some matching of body type and attitude.

paw
02-26-2004, 05:49 AM
Don,
Does this address your question?

I think so. If I understand correctly, you're saying that if uke doesn't provide enough "stress" you would change uke.

This does leave me with a second question. What if nage, having tested several times previously, no longer finds testing stressful? .... but this is tangental to Paula's question, so let's just leave it out there for now.

Regards,

Paul

George S. Ledyard
02-26-2004, 06:40 AM
~~I think I wasn't very clear in my query. It wasn't my point to malign uke, but to ask: If what uke does or does not do during a test is such a large factor, then what is the point of the test for nage? Where is the value?~~
When you "test" within your own dojo the test exists for your benefit for the reasons Don cited (your teacher certainly knows what level you are without seeing you test):

* Motivate. Students study for them and push forward.

* Enhance morale. My students' feedback was always stratospheric in the classes where I tested regularly; desultory in those in which I didn't.

* Stress. We don't have competitions and most of us don't street fight. Tests provide a useful demand that the student perform unders stress.

* Diagnose. This is on the teachers' end, that is, how well has the INSTRUCTOR done? In tests, problems leap out at the teachers and they know where to direct lessons for a while.

I wouold add one more factor to this list and that is that testing is a dojo wide affair. When people are getting ready for testing the whole dojo supports that in various ways. Certainly a whole team of people helps them get ready. Even the folks who aren't directly involved get carried along by the heightened energy in the dojo.

Although the test is about you, the very fact that everything we do is paired, makes the role of the uke very important. If you pick your own ukes for a test then you should be very careful to get the best ukes you can. An uke who doesn't attack strongly and can't take good clean ukemi will make it difficult for you to really show your stuff. I don't look for an uke who is there to fascilitate your technique but rather one who is really attacking. I expect to see the uke test you once or twice (at the higher levels) to see if you can step up and handle a bit of pressure.

If you don't pick your own ukes and you get a bad one, the teacher who is presiding will usually call for a new uke after a short time so you can get a chance to better show your stuff. I have seen Ikeda Sensei do this at my own dojo.

happysod
02-26-2004, 07:37 AM
What if nage, having tested several times previously, no longer finds testing stressful? For those confused, Paul's off to the testing vs competition for grading here where he will be joined by shodokan's main advertisement PeterR. Happy to resurrect old thread and have another go:D

Interestingly enough, some of the more experienced ukes are often booked in advance with us, I was beginning to wonder about suggesting introducing a randomn factor and/or bank of ukes who change during grading, so this thread has been very useful

Taliesin
02-26-2004, 09:38 AM
in my dojo people are usually grade in pairs. because of this you are gradeon your ukemi as well as your techniques in the same grading. As far as what's up with Uke, it's your duty to move in harmony with a technique. providing enough energy for Stay/Tori to use. The higher grade you go the more important a commited attack by Uke is.

Peter Goldsbury
02-26-2004, 10:53 AM
Don,



I think so. If I understand correctly, you're saying that if uke doesn't provide enough "stress" you would change uke.

This does leave me with a second question. What if nage, having tested several times previously, no longer finds testing stressful? .... but this is tangental to Paula's question, so let's just leave it out there for now.

Regards,

Paul
Hello Paul,

Ohisashiburi! (= meaning, 'Good to hear from you again after a long absence'\if you didn't know).

In my own dojo tests are a meaningful ritual, but I try to increase uke's input with the gravity of the test. But this is still at low kyu grade level, so (1) the point is whether tori can actually execute the techniques and (2) whether tori has any awareness of the potential of the art.

I understand that (2) is very hard to evaluate, but sometimes, as we train each week, there are flashes of intuition/inspiration, as a student sees the possibilities. I want to test these in the grading, usually by demanding techniques slightly different from what the student has prepared for.

In Holland, during my twice-yearly visits, I cannot check daily training, so I approach tests much more as a 'foreign' visiting instructor. In Holland I deal only with dan tests and usually forbid candidates to test with the ukes they have trained with.

In Hiroshima there have been some memorable 2nd and 3rd dan tests, where, for the jiyu waza part, all yudansha present were ordered to get up and attack. This meant jiyu-waza against 10 to 20 attackers and the results were sometimes hilarious. Of course, most of the attacks were stupid, but there were one or two cases where both uke and tori understood principles like correct distance and using one uke against others.

In such tests uke presents a problem to the extent that injuries are possible, and my own experience has been that injuries are mainly caused in dan examinations. Tori gets hyped up and and loses the essential element of control, or uke tries to go on beyond what his/her stamina allows (part of the imported Japanese 'fighting spirit' syndrome).

In my general opinion, uke is never to blame for being uke, though, occasionally he/she has to be taught the hard way about openings etc. But this is not usually relevant to testing.

Does this all make sense?

Best,

PAG

Don_Modesto
02-26-2004, 01:54 PM
What if nage, having tested several times previously, no longer finds testing stressful?
I haven't seen this very often, have you?

Ron Tisdale
02-26-2004, 02:14 PM
Well, Paul has stated in the past that he himself no longer finds testing stressfull at all. If someone is used to a competitive environment, like some of the guys I used to wrestle with, I can see this happening. Myself, I never got to that level with wrestling, so I always get nervous around testing/demo's etc. But it has gotten somewhat better over time.

I have the feeling that experiences may vary greatly on this...especially with a strong, competitive background.

Ron

paw
02-26-2004, 02:50 PM
Don,

For the record, I didn't want to go here and hijack Paula's thread....but ok, I'll be as brief as I can.
I haven't seen this very often, have you?

Sure. In my experience it was common for everyone over shodan, and often considerably sooner.

Let me explain. Sure people worked hard, the tests were demanding, and at times, people didn't pass the test...but they weren't scared or tentative, like you would see in most people's first test (I mean, I've seen people have panic attacks during their first test).

Over time someone new to aikido learns to do a forward roll. After hours of practice (or hundreds of hours depending on the person), a forward roll no longer concerns them. They have adapted, as they were trained to do so. Why wouldn't the same thing occur with rank exams? Over time, people would adapt, having had previous tests and knowing what to expect.

Does that make sense?

Ron,

Hi Ron! :)

Peter,

Hello.
In Hiroshima there have been some memorable 2nd and 3rd dan tests, where, for the jiyu waza part, all yudansha present were ordered to get up and attack. This meant jiyu-waza against 10 to 20 attackers and the results were sometimes hilarious.
Sounds like a hoot!

Hope things are well in your neck of the woods.

Regards,

Paul

PS --- sorry for hijacking the thread Paula

Robert Jackson
02-26-2004, 04:15 PM
Personally I believe there is great value in testing mostly motivation. While I've always loved martial arts I probably wouldn't get far if I didn't have a goal to achieve. The next level is always that immidate goal (getting to dan ranking being a further goal).
* Stress. We don't have competitions and most of us don't street fight. Tests provide a useful demand that the student perform unders stress
I do not see stress as one of the factors though. I felt stress my first aikido test because I didn't know Sensei or anyone else in the class. I just wasn't comfortable. Come my 2nd test I've made friends with them all. I know everyone there and I'm there to have fun. I know my own ability, I know what I can and can not do and so does Sensei. Personally testing is less stressful then trying to learn a new techinque.... but thats just me.

Paula Lydon
02-26-2004, 05:09 PM
~~That's okay, Paul, it'll come back around...or perhaps be more interesting. I love to see where things go~~;)

PeterR
02-26-2004, 08:04 PM
For those confused, Paul's off to the testing vs competition for grading here where he will be joined by shodokan's main advertisement PeterR. Happy to resurrect old thread and have another go :D
I don't see testing and randori as fulfilling the same function - I think both are necessary.

More in tune with the thread I think it is important to learn how to be a good uke for exams. What goes around, comes around.

Uke should know what the technique is and the proper ukemi - technique testing is kata.

Uke should know how to attack strongly enough so that it looks like something is being done without loss of control. No limp wrist-ed granny attacks, no enraged Neanderthal.

Uke should not anticipate Tori's actions. One of my biggest criticisms is doing before a technique is even started uke is airborne. Hate that. Don't do it with me I'll make you look like as ass.

Randori/shiai is not a great way to test an understanding of technical points in that it tends to be messier. Great for testing kuzushi, timing and adaptability.

Kata testing has no role in providing a stressful environment. The stress is different than when you face an opponent and very easy to overcome.

paw
02-26-2004, 08:35 PM
Uke should know what the technique is and the proper ukemi - technique testing is kata. ...snip...

Kata testing has no role in providing a stressful environment. The stress is different than when you face an opponent and very easy to overcome.

Well said. Actually, I wish I had said it. Peter when you're in my neck of the woods, first round is on me.

Paula,

Thanks for the indulgence.

Regards,

Paul