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thomson 03-29-2002 06:18 AM

uncooperative, overbearing....
Last night I had the distinct displeasure of working with an uke that was hell bent on (I believe) proving that aikido doesn't work or MY aikido doesn't work. This fellow is roughly 2 inches taller than me, but in much better shape and much stronger. While practicing ushiro arts he would grip my arms as hard as possible (hard enough I still feel it now, the morning after) and lift up. I could not get my hands in front of me for anything. His reasoning was that if done correctly it wouldn't matter how strong or weak I was I would be able to finish the technique. (Probably true, however, I'm a 6th kyu that still trying to figure out where my feet need to be, among other things. He is also 6th kyu with less hours than me.) My retort to that was that it would never reach that level of grip in reality, because I'm not going to stand there while he torques down, he says...blah blah blah. You get the idea. Anyhow, after a few tries we switch and he wants me to hold with the force he was using on me. Now folks, believe me I wanted to, problem is I'm pretty out of shape, which caused jackball to question my manhood. Basically I felt this whole thing was a challenge, and part of the reason I started aikido was to help control my wicked temper. I could tell I was ready to snap so I made up a story and left class. I figured it was better to bow out early than to start using the street and wrestling "arts" that I actually do know. I'm still fuming and frustrated over this whole situation. Not sure if I did the right thing. Part of the rest of the problem is nobody else want to work with this guy, so because I'm newer to the dojo, a lot of times I'm still looking for a partner after everyone has run from him. I don't believe I'm a big (good?) enough person to continue to work with the guy without losing my temper. But I'm not about to quit aikido because of him. Sorry, about ranting, just needed to get this off my chest, I guess I'm still upset by allowing someone else to get me so worked up I didn't get to enjoy training, something I've come to look forward to every mon and thurs. Any ideas, comments? Oh yes, I plan on saying something to sensei when I more calm.


shihonage 03-29-2002 06:28 AM

Yeah. When he does that, launch yourself forward vigorously. Then you will be able to turn around and go into an ikkyo or a sankyo (while keeping his elbow on your chest).

You will encounter more of these guys, however they're not your enemy. Just do what you can do at the moment, and try to learn something from it.

Wayne 03-29-2002 07:58 AM

As another beginner to aikido, I understand your frustration. I also find myself working against strength moves from time to time. I think that your reason to leave the mat was a good one and I think that talking to sensei is the best next step.

If your are correct in thinking that no one else wants to work with this bozo, perhaps you can mention that to sensei at least to the extent that you would like suggestions on how to deal with the strength moves.

As encouragement, if you continue to have more hours than him, at some point all of the moves and techniques will start to click and you will be able to deal with him. The potential, at least, is there. He is providing a great deal of energy that is available for redirection.

Good for you for controlling your temper, too!

Carl Simard 03-29-2002 08:15 AM

Yes, from time to time you will meet that kind of guy. The best I've found is to ask them to do the technique gently because, for now, you don't want to do the technique "as for real" but that you simply want to study it and, for that, you need the technique to be done slowly, without much resistance... Usually, they become cooperative since they see that, for you, doing the technique is not a challenge or a competition...

You're right about doing the techniques somewhat gently at first and concentrate on basic things like the position of your feet and your body. After some times, these basic things will come in place naturally and the technique will works much more naturally and gain in efficiency...

By the way, at sixth kyu, you're job as a student is really to get the basics. Working ushiro is certainly interesting, but at sixth kyu, you're certainly better to concentrate on getting your feet right, keep your balance, have a good general posture, than concentrating on absolutely be able to pass the guy, no matter how you get it done... No one expect to see a 6th kyu doing a perfect ushiro... If you're simply able to get a good posture and stay in balance, it will be already quite good at this level, no matter how you get the rest of the technique. The rest will come later...

One last thing, at sixth kyu, it may well be that the guy is not attacking you correctly for an ushiro. What I mean is that you have to do an ushiro on an attack where another technique would be more appropriate (and where you will be doing another technique if the guy was attacking you this way in a randori)... It may even be impossible to do ushiro the way he's attacking... Since other peoples don't want to train with him, it may really means that the guy doesn't attack too well...

BC 03-29-2002 08:48 AM

All of the above suggestions are good. One more might be to talk to one or two of the senior students in your dojo about it. As sempai to both you and this individual, it is part of their responsibilities to help their kohai understand proper behavior in the dojo (both on and off the mat). That, and you can just refuse to train with him. It is perfectly within your rights to do so. Between your sensei and the sempai, this individual will most likely either change his behavior or leave the dojo. At least that's what has happened in my dojo in the past.

Krzysiek 03-29-2002 08:53 AM

Grrr! Thag no let you do TECHNIQUE! Grrr!
Personally I've been lucky to never have to train with somebody who tried to overpower (although my partners and I do play with muscle power here and there to highlight mistakes) and insult me at the same time, but I know this works well:

Tell Sensei you're just not getting it right at the moment (because you don't know how to deal with your partners strength) and ask him to show you. If he uses your partner, enjoy the show, if Sensei uses you, it helps you focus on the technique and ignore the schmuck. The four teachers I've had a chance to learn with were all good about knowing what the above request means and watching more carefully afterwards.

Lyle Bogin 03-29-2002 08:59 AM

All of of the suggestions so far in this thread have been good ones. There's no need for excuses, just ask him to tune it down a bit so you can "get the movements right".

Soon enough you will be looking forward to these kinds of challenges. I know I do :).

bcole23 03-29-2002 09:05 AM

I think that how uke fits into the realm of how Aikido works is normally not understood for quite a while. Many new students never really get it explained to them, and those that do, have a hard time understanding something they haven't experienced.

Aikido is very different from other "martial arts" and takes years to learn the basics, as opposed to other MA where a studious person can learn the basics relatively quickly (not master them of course). When the theory of how to be a good uke or why we initially attack in unrealistic ways is not explained clearly, then beginners have to try to figure things out for themselves. It takes a while to figure out that uke is there to help nage learn, and while you might initially think that a really strong attack will help someone learn faster, that's not always true. Uke needs to tailor his attack to the level that nage can learn from. For this reason, this guy should practice a bit with the more advanced students to get a feel for what he should be doing. He will learn much faster from them than from you.

You should definitely discuss this with your sensei first.

Also, when this guy is starting to grab you, you don't have to let him get a death grip on you. As you progress, you'll find your reflexes will develop to a point that it's hard for anyone to really get a death grip on you.

Carl Simard 03-29-2002 10:05 AM


Originally posted by bcole23
Also, when this guy is starting to grab you, you don't have to let him get a death grip on you. As you progress, you'll find your reflexes will develop to a point that it's hard for anyone to really get a death grip on you.
You're abolutely right. And it's particularly true on an ushiro attack as written in the initial post of this thread. If you don't want to let your opponent grab your second arm, there's no way he can be able to do it. If for real, as the guy mentionned, you can begin to react as soon as it begins to grab your first arm, not necessarely in a "ushiro" technique but more on an "aihanmi" one and your opponent will be down well before he's able to even touch your second arm... So, if he don't stop to block you even if you ask him, telling you "I do it like real", the next time he attacks don't do ushiro but start a shionage, kokyu, or any technique that you know as soon as he grab your first arm. If he ask you what you do, you can then tell him that "If you attack me that way, for real, I will be doing that, not ushiro... I will never let you grab my second arm...".

Our sensei tell us many time that, in regular practice, it's very easy to block anyone since you know what the other will try to do. However, in the real thing, you don't know what he will do, so blocking don't have any sense. In a randori, for example, if you see that a particular technique has no chance to work, you simply do something else, more fitted to the situation... If the other try to block you, you can easily switch to something else, which is not the case when only practising a particular technique...

Edward 03-29-2002 10:24 AM

I'm still puzzled with how in the world does a 6th kyu learn Ushiroryotetori techniques. At our dojo, the equivalent of 6th kyu (11th kyu actually) students are busy learning Katatetori Ikkyo and Kokyuho, and learning how to ukemi.

Lyle Bogin 03-29-2002 11:41 AM

Ushiro Ryote Tori is taught to all levels at the dojo I attend (as part of a cycle) as well.

thomson 03-29-2002 12:15 PM

Thanks all!
Thank you everyone, this discussion is definitely helping. I appreciate all the ideas on how to handle an ucooperative uke. I especially liked Carl's idea of moving the minute the attack is initiated, in my frustration a lot of thinking became seriously clouded and I was too concerned with "blowing my stack". BTW, Edward, like Lyle's dojo we also train in all the arts or techniques from the beginning. Our dojo has two classes a week with an optional saturday class that is mixed from 6th kyu to yudansha.

Thanks again, all!!! :D

Carl Simard 03-29-2002 12:20 PM

In our dojo, everybody is also training in all the techniques. We're simply not enough to separate peoples in beginner's and advanced classes. However, when practising more advanced techniques (like ushiro), the sensei tells the beginners that's it's normal if they aren't able to do it right. They simply should try to get a good posture and be in balance and it will be OK for them... They also must learn how to be a good ukemi on ushiro, and the sooner you learn it, the best it is...

Chris Li 03-29-2002 04:49 PM

Re: uncooperative, overbearing....

Originally posted by thomson
Last night I had the distinct displeasure of working with an uke that was hell bent on (I believe) proving that aikido doesn't work or MY aikido doesn't work.
Consider yourself lucky that you have somebody like that to work with and learn as much as you can. It doesn't matter if you can't do the technique - if you could do the technique already than you wouldn't have to train, right?

Now, I'm not saying that it's good to train this way 100% of the time, but as that doesn't seem to be an issue where you're training I wouldn't worry about it.

IMO, the uke is never wrong - it's my responsibility to deal with what they're doing, no matter what it is. Sometimes things don't work out so well - that's OK, that's part of the process.

If he pisses you off, well, that's OK too, it's part of the training. Live with it and try to do better next time. You mention that one of the reasons that you started training is to control your temper, but if you only work with people who don't piss you off then it doesn't make for much practice in temper control, right?



Brian H 03-29-2002 05:38 PM

Let me be the first to give you some bad advice
Hit him... Not eye popping out of the head hard, but enough contact that uke notices deliberate atemi. Ushiro works great when you atemi to the ribs as you step under uke's arm. Let the clod learn that when uke latches down hard on one arm, which is only roughly one ninth of the body surface, that the other eight ninths are then at complete liberty to smack him at will. It is very easy to stop an aikido technique when you know what technique is coming. You owe it to uke to move on (atemi or different technique) if they are deliberately thwarting you.

Peter Goldsbury 03-29-2002 06:00 PM

Mr Thomson,

I am curious as to what your instructor was doing when you encountered your strong uke, and how much actual instruction you receive on how to attack.

I regularly instruct in Holland, where some of the younger men are very tall and very strong. I can tell you it is quite a change from what I am used to here in Japan, and a welcome change, I might add. At my last seminar the technical level ranged from 5th dan to complete beginners and we spent an entire day on ushiro waza. As usual, there was a wide spectrum of attitudes, from the 2nd dan who felt that aikido should be practised 'softly', to a couple of 1st kyu and shodans, for whom the technique had to work, no matter what.

It is not my practice to use one particular uke unless there is a special reason for it, so for me there is one solution for beginners who think that the techniques do not work: use them as uke and show that they really do work.

I agree with Chris Li that the overall responsibility for making the technique work lies with tori / nage. That said, you should expect to find a difference in being atacked by a strong beginner and a 4th dan, for example (and the 4th dan should be harder to throw). I also agree with Robert Cronin that the senior students set the tone for the dojo, so to speak, and you might look at how they deal with your strong 6th kyu. But I also have separate classes for yudansha and instructors, and have come to believe in the importance of this. I wonder if this is common practice.

Oh, and I do not believe in moving before the second hand has been grasped in ushiro ryote-dori. Of course you might well do this, but the technique should also work from a static position, with both hands grasped strongly. If it does not, there is something wrong.

Best regards,

Anat Amitay 03-30-2002 03:17 AM

Hi there!
I agree with almost all of the above, so I'll try not to rewrite what was already said.
I don't agree that you should hit uke with an atemi as Brian H. said, since you are both beginners and this can become personal. And the way you discribed him, he won't let you get away with it and you might get hurt- Badly! :dead:
Don't play around with atemi. It's important, yes, but it's NOT something to show your partner that you can get him if you want.
The other thing I didn't like is the feeling that all the advanced students seemed to run off and catch an advanced student to work with, leaving the new ones to themselves. I might be wrong but that's how it sounded in the original post. In our dojo usually new comers train with the more advaced students. It's not that they don't train between themselves, but first are the new comers. So one time an advanced will work with a new student and the next technique he will do with a friend while another advanced student works with the new one.
That way you can work with students that understand that you need to learn basics and have no cause to laugh at you when you don't succeed. More than that, they can tell you about your little successes along the way (your posture is much better, you are moving more fluently, good- you're not useing force, etc.)Aikido is not black or white, you get better all the time, and you should understand it that way.
I'm not a strong female, I'm 1.62 meters, and I know I'm doing better even when I face someone like your uke. So I didn't manage to throw him, ok, let's see why and how I can improve. Try to addapt a possitive attitude all the time, even when things are hard and you don't know what is wanted or expected of you. Getting angry will do the opposite.
I'm happy to hear that you are learning to control your temper. Aikido will do you alot of good for you in this. It did for me, especially since being a girl and not big I had a lot of times I was put down. Now I learned to smile at it and know in my heart that it doesn't matter.
People who are trying to show off, by proving themselves better than me are not worth my anger and I only smile at the silly fools they make of themselves.
Aikido takes a life time to learn, you get better along the way, both in technique and in your personal life. There are hard times, breaking points etc, but keep what you hope to achive infront of you and work towards it, even if sometimes things will go hard. Because in other times they will also go smooth.
I guess I'm blabering too much :rolleyes:
So I hope you continue to enjoy training!

Bruce Baker 03-30-2002 11:20 AM

strong obnoxious ukes
You need to work on the oblique angles, that is where the stances are weak ... and ... if they, the uke, are concentrating on holding your arm then weakness occurs somewhere else. Give the uke your arm and take his/her balance. Sometimes a jostle goes a long way.

It is always an excellent class when we work on understanding the force of chi/ki when it is concetrated in one spot making others weak. Most teachers have particular methods to fix this, or you will stumble upon it in a seminar ... one way or another.

If you cannot get it in your mind how to overcome stronger opponents, especially if your temper overcomes clear thought, then don't go with this person for a while ... your teacher will understand it is the context of getting control of emotional well being.

However, never be concerned if uke has one or two hands on any one part of your body. What about your other hand and the rest of your body ... it isn't trapped, is it?


Eventually, you will get the hang of Aikido, and its many ways to take away the power of uke, and then it becomes lots of FUN!!

Until, then, read, learn, study, listen to your teacher as you take advice to overcome this minor barrier ... it will happen.

As for your temper, that is up to you. I have found the more I know, and the less threatening someone is from my knowledge, the harder it is to make me angry.

It is said among the Native Warriors of the Six Nations "a true man lets his skin grow seven skins thick, that way a clear mind rules his thoughts, not his emotions." (paraphrase but within the context of meaning.)

Yeah, we have interesting philosophy here in America too.

Brian H 03-31-2002 11:20 AM

Atemi is not "dangerous"
What I would describe as "atemi" as practiced in most dojos is "putting" the strike in place with a relaxed arm. Nobody is hurt by a fisted pressed against their body or held in front of their face (touching their face is just rude). My (less than clear) point is that if my arm is being held utterly immobile in a two hand hold (so as to make any kokyu into a static arm wrestling match), even the biggest guy in my dojo would be powerless to prevent me from changing hamni toward him and putting my fist under his nose. Uke has two choices 1) laugh off an uncontested strike to the face (not bright in a "street" situation) or 2) move. If he moves than it is no longer static and Nage has something to work with. So in the case of Ushiro, I was taught to practice an atemi to the belly as I stepped through under the grabbing hand. Uke is trying to get behind Nage and in the "street" this is a Bad Thing, so why not let the air out of his tires with a belly strike(simulated only) as early as possible. Now most Ukes would start to see a pattern of belly strikes. Uke sould block to the inside and blade their bodies to prevent the strike from landing. This makes the hole for Nage to step through bigger and puts their non-grabbing hand in a very nice to be grabbed by Nage (makes all the hand changing variations of Ushiro Waza possible) If Nage refuses to gently show Uke that he is leaving himself open than his defense is just as dishonest/inept as Uke's attack.

thomson 04-01-2002 06:20 AM

Howdy All,

I'm overcome by the amount of replies received on this subject. Since the "incident" I've been soul-searching and talking to sempai's and reading your posts here. I can honestly say every idea I've read here is a good one, I believe the most difficult part is going to be knowing when to apply which idea, Brian's atemi, or moving before both hands are grabbed as Carl says, etc. I think the idea of not working with him has merit (what I'd like to do, or not do?) at the same time there is something to be said for working with an uke that is resistant. I think I'll just take things as they come and try and blend with them. Use aikido in more of a spiritual or psychological way as opposed to the physical aikido that I'm obviously having difficulty with. BTW the sempais I spoke with don't feel this is something to bother sensei with, however, they are going to speak with the other yudansha, and they felt I should calm down. They also offered many of they other ideas mentioned in this thread.

I cannot begin to tell you all how much I appreciate all your wonderful help. Thank You Very Much!!! :D

Mike :p

Mares 04-01-2002 08:28 PM

Re: Wow

this comment may not be much help, but you do realise you have answered your own questions and queries in you signature (ie. the quote from Sun Tzu)


Creature_of_the_id 04-02-2002 03:59 AM

There are many ways out of such a situation, I am sure you will learn them as time passes and your training develops.

but that is not really the issue. I have found a similar situation in a dojo I train in. There is one student who believes he is helping nage by resisting with all of his might, when really he isnt.. as I have demonstrated to him time and time again.

These people who resist technique instead of co operating, may be good to learn from at higher levels, but at earlier levels all they do is serve to reduce confidence within the art for the person who is having a hard time.

The person I know who acts in this way during training believes that he is creating a realistic situation in which to train. But, he has just watched sense demonstrate technique and so knows what is comming and can attack and resist in such a way to restrict that particular technique. I have found that if I change technique then that person ends up on the floor or pinned every time as the resistance he is using is useless for the alternitave technique I have chosen... which is obviously why I chose it.

but alternative technique is not really a solution. as through the ukes un co operative nature you are forced into bad ettiquette, by not practicing the technique which was demonstrated by the instructor.

I have found one way of dealing with it is to not actually do anything, just stand while uke grabs really tight and wait. he usually gets bored and relaxes, giving you the opening to do the technique that was demonstrated. after repeating this many times uke will either start co operating... or start doing all kinds of awful stuff :P

discuss training methods with your sensei, discuss your problems within the training without necissarily discussing specific people. hopefully your sensei will talk a little to his students on the role of uke and the reasons for co operation, especially during kyu grade practice

thomson 04-02-2002 06:36 AM

Well last night was the first class since the incident, and things went well. I made sure I went in with a good attitude and left work where I should have and also made sure I had an "empty cup" for sensei to fill. I also had decided that should I get stuck with my uncooperative friend then I would make the best of it and learn something, and concentrate on the learning instead of the frustration. I did not, however, have to work with that fellow, but I did not go out of my way to avoid him. Last night was probably the most enjoyable class I have attended to date. I truly believe it was due to comment, suggestions and ideas from you folks. Those comments and such made me really think and I approached training last night with joy in my heart that I can train and a much better attitude, (left work at work, and my temper at the door).

Mike :D

Lyle Bogin 04-02-2002 07:26 AM

On Atemi
Brian H. wrote:

"What I would describe as "atemi" as practiced in most dojos is "putting" the strike in place with a relaxed arm. Nobody is hurt by a fisted pressed against their body or held in front of their face (touching their face is just rude)."

I would like to comment about this, as I do not agree and think that atemi of this sort is actually more dangerous in the long term.

IMO, if you are going to use strikes, you must sincerely strike. You may warn your partner and give them suggestions as to how to react to ensure their safety. But if you do not you lose in a few ways:

-uke has no sense of the distance his opponent will be when striking, reducing his true sense of maai

-nage has a false sense of the structure, distance and timing of an actual strike

-uke does not NEED to react, forcing him/her into friendly falling rather than actual ukemi

-uke loses a sense of knowing when a strike is real, and when it is just a feignt or lead

I am not suggesting we go out on the mat and start whalloping eachother, only that atemi of any sort must be sincere, or we lose the lessons it has to offer. If friendly hands are waved in your face over and over, when a real punch comes it will likely be an unpleasant experience. If you get used to missing the mark on the mat, you will miss the mark off the mat.

A final comment: touching someones face will make them annoyed, hot in the head, frightened, etc. This is good training. If you can learn to be calm when hit, you have gained much. After all, it's your fault for not getting out of the way.

guest1234 04-08-2002 01:53 AM

First, to Mike: congratulations on finding the fun again... and good luck on dealing with that guy in the future. At 6th kyu, many of the suggestions will be difficult to put into play, so I'd work mainly on two that can be done at any level with equal ease: first, working with jerks can be a way to practice one's calm and communication skills. Don't worry about getting that particular technique, instead count it as a victory if your 'uhm, I'm working on XYZ right now, and it would really help me if you would grab softer/slower/etc' changes his behavior. Second, practice your ability to get those you want as partners: when a technique ends, run to sit next to those with whom you want to train. After the demo, quickly bow and ask them to be your partner. Don't sit on the edges. Don't wait to see who you will get.

Lyle, as for sincere atemi, at my first dojo we thanked anyone who hit us. Immediately. Getting hit a few times works wonders in teaching movement. I can usually get out of the way of a strike, but a funny thing happened in class the other night. My sensei, who is a large/powerful man, chose--- for God only knows what reason --- me as uke. Perhaps he saw me get out of the way of my partner's strikes earlier that night, and thought I'd move... On my part, sensei is always really cautious with female ukes, rarely uses us in techniques involving falls (especially female kyu students), so I was in for a surprise.

The technique he used for my shomenuchi attack involved a quick irimi and a shomenuchi of his own. Unfortunately, due to his speed and I think with his height his arm being enough above me that he found a blind spot, I didn't realize his move until I sensed his hand coming down on my head. I dropped down suddenly to get out of the way, and I guess this made him think he'd knocked me down hard. Now everyone knows my sensei is EXTRA EXTRA gentle with women, so this probably unsettled him. I saw the look on his face and thought 'oh great, I fell too soon, I must have prematurely ended his technique' and told myself, no matter how scary it might be (and it was :eek: ), to stand up longer. He, on the other hand, seemed to pull his next strike, just confirming in my mind he didn't want me to take a fall (when in reality, he was just trying to avoid hitting me). For the next few times he attempted to get me to fall without actually hitting me, while I kept looking at him pleading with my eyes "OK, I give up, what am I supposed to do" while ordering my body not to take the fall it was aching to take.

Over pizza later, we students decided if something like that ever happens again, it would be funny with the first strike to scream out then burst into tears. Of course, since that would permanently end any chances to take ukemi, it will bremain just a joke over pizza.:rolleyes:

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