View Full Version : Uke - Supple or Stiff

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Jeff Hepner
09-15-2004, 07:48 AM
Hey all. First post.

While being shite (nage) I try to remain supple (think: Be the willow) to maintain better balance and to absorb / redirect force more effectively.

While being uke one of my goals is to help shite learn their technique. So here's the question...

Does uke help shite better by being supple or stiff?

A few qualifiers:

By SUPPLE I don't mean limp and unresponsive.

By STIFF I don't mean resistant. Although I do understand the value of resisting technique to help shite understand what needs to be done to affect movement or take balance.

Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts!

09-15-2004, 08:43 AM
Does uke help shite better by being supple or stiff?

IMHO, some will see supple as a help, others will see it as a hindreance. Some will see stiff as a help. others will see it as a hinderance. Both have lessons to learn. In the beginning, I think supple may help more because the shite/nage/tori has to be able to practice the technqiue. Later, stiff may help more because shite/nage/tori has to get it right to make the techqniue work and it is easier to feel the energy flow with some stiffness/resistance.

Being a good training partner is one of the harder aspects of Aikido. My compliments and appreciation for asking such an insightful and careing question.

PS: What school in Bloomfield Hills? I grew up in Pontiac and visit Oxford/Auburn Hills yearly.

Jeff Hepner
09-15-2004, 09:39 AM
PS: What school in Bloomfield Hills? I grew up in Pontiac and visit Oxford/Auburn Hills yearly.


Thanks for your thoughts.

Anshinkan Dojo (Yoshinkai) meets at the Square Lake Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills, MI.



09-15-2004, 11:09 AM
Hi Jeff,

Personally, I don't really see much good in being stiff as uke. Being so hinders movement, creates tension, and generally goes counter to what I'd like to learn in aikido. I very much believe that what we do as uke, we'll do as nage (as well as vice versa). Just as we don't aim for being stiff as nage, I try not to be such as uke, either. I already have too many ingrained body habits -- no need to create another one! Better, in my mind, to be resilient.

Just my thoughts.

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
09-15-2004, 02:53 PM
Good question, and I'm coming around to Jun's point of view. Stiffness is good to deal with occationally, but it is NOT what I'd try to develop in myself (no need, already there). I'm trying to become supple and responsive, without crossing that line to tanking. It can sometimes be a very thin line. I've also found through experience, that stiff gets you hurt as uke more if you are training with really good partners.


Paul Sanderson-Cimino
09-15-2004, 03:21 PM
I'd recommend thinking about speed of technique as well. Be on balance, but it's very hard to acquire balance while in movement...I'm not sure there's a way to strike and be on balance the entire time. But then, I've been surprised many times.

09-15-2004, 08:41 PM
Good question. I'd have to say "Yes".

Sometimes supple. Sometimes stiff.

From supple both shite and uke learn about where the technique is supposed to go and how to work on commitment and balance to get there.

From stiff both shite and uke learn how to get someone where the technique is supposed to put them.

Figure out what you want to do and make sure your partner is of the same mind.

09-16-2004, 02:53 AM
I would agree with Ron, being stiff as uke leads to injury. Being supple would be the better of the two options. Offer as much resistance as nage can deal with, but don't make the technique difficult to perform.

09-16-2004, 05:50 AM
Just relax, and "give" yourself to the mat.

If you tense up, you will get hurt.

Iain. :ki: :)

09-16-2004, 07:13 AM
I think uke should simulate a generalised attack. Usually (esp. for beginners) these are slowed down so the direction of energy must be quite continuous to simulate what would happen at a faster speed. As an uke I think it is best to forget all about aikido and just think 'I will do one strong attack'. Thus there are points during the attack when uke is relaxed, and points during the attack when uke is more stiff. This is yin/yang and it is good for nage to understand how to complement this at the appropriate time.

With beginners they are just trying to get the form correct, so often uke has to be compliant. With more advanced nage you can be more awkward, though as uke you still have a responsibility to work within the confines of an attack simulation and thus not resist a technique which normally you would not realise was going to happen. Ukes are just advanced training dummies for nage. Judging what best suits nages ability is part of being a good uke.


09-16-2004, 07:15 AM
P.S. I think it is important to train in 3 different ways to develop one's aikido:

1. stationary strong attacks (for body mechanics)
2. slow but supple attacks (for blending)
3. fast and powerful attacks (for timing)