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My Path Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 06-08-2009 02:55 PM
Linda Eskin
My path to and through Aikido. Observations on Aikido, fitness, happiness, horses, & life, by a 53 y/o sho-dan.

This same blog (with photos and a few additional trivial posts, but without comments) can be found at www.grabmywrist.com.

I train with Dave Goldberg Sensei, at Aikido of San Diego.
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 242
Comments: 367
Views: 822,299


In General Uke and Schoolmasters Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #112 New 01-10-2011 02:15 AM
There is a very good discussion on the AikiWeb forums, about uke collusion in practice/training. It's particularly relevant for me, because I will be participating in the Aikido Bridge seminar later this week, where Ikeda Sensei will be teaching, and where there will be lots of opportunities for refining my own ukemi, and observing the ukemi of others.

One of the comments there, about how professional athletes train, brought something to mind: In horseback riding the relationship between the rider and the horse is very much like the relationship between Nage and Uke.

The rider (Nage), through their cues, posture, weight shifts, placement of attention, and so on, is able to affect the balance and motion of the horse (Uke). It should not be a battle - it should be a partnership. They are not in opposition. Horse training essentially is training the horse to be a good uke - sensitive, not reactive, not anticipating, but moving as directed when the rider makes a request correctly.

Of course, beginning riders are hopelessly uncoordinated about their weight, center, attention, posture, hands, feet, etc. A horse that refuses to budge, or who can't understand what is being asked, would only frustrate them. Thankfully there are talented, experienced, angelic horses referred to as "schoolmasters" who and understand, and who happily play along with these fumbling newbies. A good schoolmaster lets the rider get the feeling of what a correct trot, balanced halt, or smooth canter depart should feel like, even when the rider doesn't know how to ask perfectly yet.

These horses, bless their hearts, can also perceive the skill level of their riders. While they may jog along sweetly for a little kid flopping around on their first ride, they may just as well require quite correct riding from someone more advanced.

In essence, the schoolmaster colludes, but only as much as is appropriate for the level of the rider. Pretty amazing ability, for a horse, but they do it regularly.

My understanding is that a good uke should provide that same kind of feedback to Nage. With a beginner, one may have to essentially guide them through the motion at first, by doing the ukemi as though Nage had performed the technique correctly, even if Nage didn't really have their center, or didn't take their balance. With a more advanced nage, feedback more along the lines of "Nope, I ain't goin', you don't have me" might be more appropriate.

Of course, there are good-natured, willing horses who simply do not understand, perhaps through lack of experience, what the rider is trying to ask. And there are others who know exactly what the student is requesting of them, but who have a "betcha can't make me" attitude. The former may grow into happy and useful schoolmasters with experience. The latter will likely end up paired with riders who have similarly been trained in the "make 'em mind you" philosophy of horsemanship, where force, conflict, and opposition are just the way things are done.

As a human uke, I'd sure rather work toward being more like the schoolmaster.
Views: 2934 | Comments: 7

RSS Feed 7 Responses to "Uke and Schoolmasters"
#7 01-13-2011 09:54 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
Funny, Carina, I was just thinking about that last week (and awesome video, by the way), when we were doing suwari-waza and hanmi-handachi in class. We were really focusing on the hips, and I was thinking that work would be good for my riding. :-) Aikido and riding/horsemanship work together in so many ways. Really cool stuff to explore.
#6 01-13-2011 09:48 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
Onegaishimasu, Takahashi Sensei. Are you sure you don't have a horse? ;-) You are correct. I actually came to Aikido to work on my rider-as-uke qualities (although I didn't think of it that way at the time) - staying relaxed and present enough to execute a reversal (regain control of the situation), or bail safely and live to ride again. :-)
#5 01-12-2011 02:49 PM
guest1234567 Says:
Thanks Linda, I told my collegue Katrin, she took note and told me about bareback riding without reins like in that video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Pg1EbXbZO4 This must be also good for aikido if you move your body mostly your hips like that. And you must be one with the horse, very very nice
#4 01-11-2011 11:48 AM
aikishihan Says:
Lovely post, Linda, as is your usual. At once thoughtful, poignant and informative with examples of Aiki for many of us without "horse sense" to share! Can't help thinking, however, that the roles of both Nage and Uke are essentially interchangeable, often without notice or warning. Wonder how you would allow your noble steed to be "nage" on occasion, and what your response as "uke" would be. hmmmm. Schoolmasters indeed appear in all guises. in oneness,
#3 01-11-2011 11:22 AM
Shadowfax Says:
I second the book Mark Rashid is awesome. I look at the uke/nage relationship of horse and rider as a blend of each being both. Sometimes the rider needs to be a good uke for the horse in that we allow the horse to move us and flow with him rather than resisting. This is especially useful in sitting the trot or riding a cutting horse or trail horse. We want to allow them to move freely and not be in their way while still providing guidance.
#2 01-10-2011 09:55 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
Get her a copy of Mark Rashid's book "Horsemanship Through Life". It's an interesting and useful book for any horseperson, and he's a great storyteller. It was Mark, and that book, that got me started in Aikido. :-)
#1 01-10-2011 02:49 AM
guest1234567 Says:
Thanks for your thoughtful post, very nice, I would tell it to my collegue at my work who does horseriding, but she doesn't know anything about aikido, I understand that the relationship between nage and uke could be the same as you commented between rider and horse

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