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guest12
09-12-2004, 07:15 PM
I have been practicing Aikido for about 6-7 months now and wouldn't trade it for the world. I also study at the only dojo in town. I just really wanted some feedback about a certain situation I got into...

People tell me I'm a very good uke (I have taken Judo and BJJ), and they always seem to like to throw me fairly hard. Senior students and my instructors are always really hard on me compared to everyone else, but I think that also means I'm a good student.

The other night I really felt bad. My instructor and I were working on katatetori ikkyo omote (ai hanmi) and I failed to step off the line enough and I saw my instructor's uppercut coming for my midsection. In a strange reflex movement, I came straight in and accidently poked him in the eye with my thumb. This was totally unintentional. I then tried the same technique again, fouling it up; I got punched in the stomach. This happened about three times and I took some pretty strong hits. I think this amount of force was totally justified for my instructor to use. Then when he used me for uke in front of class he threw me unusually hard. I sense that I really made him mad by messing up such basic technique.

I think his actions were totally justified, because I need to learn that my strength (and sometimes reliance upon) can really hurt uke. I just wanted to know if everyone else thinks what transpired was appropriate. I really did feel terrible for what happened, I still do. It happened so fast I don't even know how my hand ended up there.

Janet Rosen
09-13-2004, 07:08 AM
I then tried the same technique again, fouling it up; I got punched in the stomach. This happened about three times and I took some pretty strong hits.
This is the part that bothers me.
You accidentally "got" him. It happens. Any of us can accidentally do that to any partner of any rank. We don't feel good about it, but it is a risk inherent in training.
It sounds like what he did was respond to openings in your technique by chosing to punch you. THing is, there are other options available: the most interesting and (to me) relevent one being a reversal; a polite one would be a mild "here I am" atemi to the stomach. Why did he chose outrght punching? Is this the standard that is being practiced there?
My objection goes beyond the possibility that he was acting our of pure anger/revenge. It's also a very practical teaching issue: we really do learn what we train. Training under these conditions teaches the student to go through technique being very tense and on the lookout for "sneak attacks", and guarding his midsection against pain. No matter how much he is told to be relaxed, he can't.
If you are looking for combative training, why did you switch to aikido?

Pauliina Lievonen
09-13-2004, 09:34 AM
Anonymous,
I don't think you need to feel bad for accidentally poking your teacher in the eye. It happens, especially if you choose to startle people with something unexpected, like he did.

"Then when he used me for uke in front of class he threw me unusually hard. I sense that I really made him mad by messing up such basic technique."

It doesn't sound to me like he was mad at you for messing up the technique. It sounds like he was startled by you managing to get him, and reacted by being more aggressive in his practise afterwards. I don't think that's immediately too bad either, btw, it's human after all, as long as he was at least trying to control himself as best he could, which is hard to tell from the description. If he wasn't trying to control himself, though, hmmm...

Janet said:
"My objection goes beyond the possibility that he was acting our of pure anger/revenge. It's also a very practical teaching issue: we really do learn what we train. Training under these conditions teaches the student to go through technique being very tense and on the lookout for "sneak attacks", and guarding his midsection against pain. No matter how much he is told to be relaxed, he can't. "

IMHO, this depends on what you call "a pretty strong hit". I've practised a little with people who train this way -hitting hard enough that you feel it, but not hard enough, or vulnerable spots, that you'd get injured. Definitely harder that "a mild atemi" though. After a while, people get used to it, and it doesn't get them stressed in the same way anymore. I quite like it, because it drives home lessons of proper distance &timing etc. quickly on a more instinctive level, at least for me. But I do think Anonymous' instructor crossed even that line...

kvaak
Pauliina

ruthmc
09-13-2004, 10:35 AM
Ok, so you made a mistake doing ikkyo on your instructor. Hands up anyone who hasn't!

He reacted by attempting to exploit the opening you left, and you counter-reacted by entering, accidentally poking him in the eye. So far, fair enough. If you have been training for less than a year, I would expect you to react in all sorts of ways I'm not expecting to anything I try to do to you :-)

However, I'm not convinced that repeatedly walloping you in the stomach is a good teaching tool, particularly not at your stage.

How do you feel about this?

Ruth

Marc Kupper
09-13-2004, 12:02 PM
People tell me I'm a very good uke (I have taken Judo and BJJ), and they always seem to like to throw me fairly hard. Senior students and my instructors are always really hard on me compared to everyone else, but I think that also means I'm a good student.I'm not sure of the training philosophy at your dojo but it seems to me that you are getting taken out of your personal comfort zone too often and that escalated into an accident. It would be hard for me to focus on learning/training if every practice was an adrenalin rush of "save my neck" survival skills.

Another thought is for you to ask people if they are comfortable with how you are throwing them. It's possible they are figuring out "how you like to play" from the way you are dealing with them. Pay close attention to your own intensity level and check with your partners on if that's how they want to practice or if they want to try something else for a while.

How about if you mention to the instructor that you were not comfortable with the way things escalated the other night. If you have not already done so, apologize for the poke in the eye and get back to training.

Don't feel bad for accidentally hitting someone. Ideally the person hit recognizes they had their body in the wrong place. If the person hit is not sure where the right place should be then either ask the instructor or dial down the intensity and figure out where the right place is and how to get there.

It's hard to know if your instructor got out of line with the punches though it seems odd they would land several hard punches in a row and then throw you hard. If you regularly feel abused/victimized then that's a bad scene though from your description it sounds like a one-off incident.

guest12
09-13-2004, 12:49 PM
The punches were fairly hard, but not nearly enough to injure me. Just hard enough to almost take the wind from me. I will admit I never feel abused, and that I really do like a high level of intesity when training. I have even sparred with my instructor, lol. I forgot to mention my apology and my instructor's. I feel his response was justified...but not completely appropriate. We were joking about it by the end of class.

He realizes I have a lot of other training in very combat oriented arts so he kind of caters to the way I'm used to training. Which is really great of him. From these sneak attacks you really learn whether you can execute effective technique or not. Most the time I practice very relaxed and proper, though.

Ron Tisdale
09-13-2004, 02:14 PM
Be carefull...that extra experience you have could set you up relationship wise and technique wise for a hard fall. But that doesn't have to happen...I think some of the suggestions already given are good ones. Just remember to be very aware of what you are doing, and check with your partners often. It doesn't sound like you are competing with your instructor, but I'd be carefull of that if I were in your position. It sounds like you have a lot of very usefull skills...It would be fun to train with you.

Ron

shihonage
09-13-2004, 02:48 PM
If you are looking for combative training, why did you switch to aikido?

I do believe if he wanted to learn a pretty dance he would've gone to a ballet school :rolleyes:

Back on topic: I was punched in the diaphragm while doing ikkyo, it was also when I had about a year of training, and it was because I had little self-control, I was tense, and I was antagonizing uke and struggling with him.
He probably punched me simply because of the expression on my face (in addition to giving him an opening, of course).

That made me gasp for air for a few moments and also made me think. Not that I haven't been punched in the diaphragm before, but that was during the school years.
A person however sometimes needs a little shock to snap out of a certain way of thinking.

Janet Rosen
09-13-2004, 03:26 PM
I do believe if he wanted to learn a pretty dance he would've gone to a ballet school :rolleyes:.
and if I wanted to train combatively I'd gone to a different martial art.
For me the essence of aikido is cooperative training.
I've taken blows off the mat delivered in anger and on the mat delivered by accident.
If they happen by chance during my training, its no big deal. I just don't consider them an integral part of my training. ymmv.

shihonage
09-13-2004, 03:39 PM
and if I wanted to train combatively I'd gone to a different martial art.
For me the essence of aikido is cooperative training.
I've taken blows off the mat delivered in anger and on the mat delivered by accident.
If they happen by chance during my training, its no big deal. I just don't consider them an integral part of my training. ymmv.

I completely agree - as long as your definition of "combative" does not include "effective when attacked by some hobo in the parking lot".

Marc Kupper
09-13-2004, 05:00 PM
Something this thread is making me think about is how the relationship dynamic seems a little different when someone joins the dojo that is already fairly experienced in another martial art or another style of Aikido. Someone wrote in another recent aikiweb thread about the tension created within himself when he trained with a female student for the first time. I could see a similar tension arising when training with someone that's already fairly experienced in a martial art. There's a certain amount of self(ish) conflict involved too in that you'd want to both impress the person (after all, we all are MARTIAL artists ;)) while also encouraging them to stay a dojo member for the long haul because of the cross training that they bring.

This could result in non-normal (not quite abnormal...) behaviour such as getting all stiff, throwing the person harder than the usual newbie, paying far more attention to them than other newbies, etc.

Janet Rosen
09-13-2004, 05:18 PM
I completely agree - as long as your definition of "combative" does not include "effective when attacked by some hobo in the parking lot".
Nope. Just don't think we learn pattern effective technique by struggling against our partners.
I've visited your dojo and trained there and elsewhere w/ folks from there; don't think that in practice we have a fundamental difference.

Rocky Izumi
11-25-2004, 09:02 AM
Getting hit by a student on purpose during practice is something I like. Often, when teaching, I find that I can get sloppy because I think I am teaching rather than practicing. However, all activity is practice so I should not get complacent. That complacency could carry over to other situations. So I usually thank the student and continue. However, when I continue, I do the technique much more appropriately so the student must be prepared to take the technique with a better ukemi. If they are not ready because of my previously poor technique, it can be dangerous. So I hope there has been no situations in which the student has not been prepared for a more crisp technique. That does not mean that I do it faster or harder, just cleaner.

I often tell my students to make sure they do not allow me to become complacent. At times they do try something that is inappropriate and they hurt themselves when trying to hit me from a position that does not allow hitting without twisting his/her shoulder out of joint. But then, I hope my technique is good enough to allow them sufficient movement to not hurt themselves yet not allow them to hit me.

Generally, the student apologises but I tell them not to apologise and thank them for hitting me. I often do tell them, though, that if they are going to hit me, make sure the strike is decent and done well rather than sloppily so it should hurt me enough to teach me a lesson.

If, on the other hand, the student tries to get out of a technique by doing something stupid while I am going slowly to explain, I do speed up and take them down hard with force, usually with a henka-waza. Common sense.

So, I guess my point is that yes, I do the techniques a little more crisply after being hit but it is not to get back at the student but is simply me doing the technique correctly. Even softly, when the technique is done correctly, uke will bounce on the mats a little more strongly.

P.S. I don't allow beginners to try and get out of a technique because they have yet to understand the techniques enough to know when and where to resist (unless they have a good prior MA background). And I do differentiate between students who are pissing around and those that are truly trying to give me good practice. It is just harmony.