Dojo Versus Reality?
1/13/10 w [2s, 8v] A Good class, A couple of the guys are grasping both technique and the concept of breathing and relaxing, at the start, and through out a technique. The biggest issue now, is ukemi. Unlike in the dojo, people do not know how to follow in a technique and they often end up in a potentially dangerous position. There are two issues here;
I have to help/teach people to "go with the flow", to protect themselves by giving up their balance in a controlled way.
I have to improve my own technique so that uke is more apt to move where I want them to go. While uke should be able to move "protectively', it is nage's responsibility to insure uke does not move inappropriately, that both nage and uke end up in a safe and secure place. I can't teach this when I am unable to do so outside of the dojo, with a partner who does not know the safest way to move as uke.
Given the time limitations I am working with I will probably not get people to the point where they can take good, safe ukemi, but I can teach it more often and emphasize it throughout classes.
NOTE: With some techniques, even when I use fairly good form that works in the dojo, it doesn't work well when applying it "real world', i.e., with someone who doesn't know how to take ukemi. I've noticed the same phenomenon when working with a new student in the dojo. Is this a problem inherent with the technique? Or due to the fact that I am not doing it properly? How can dojo practice be more realistic? It is important to learn and practice good ukemi, but does this lead to enabling weak or improper technique.
I practice Aikido as a form of physical meditation, not necessarily for its self-defense, martial aspects. But it is a martial art, and I should feel confident in my ability to use it as such. I'm finding that confidence a bit shaken.
(Original blog post may be found here.)
Re: Dojo Versus Reality?
Well I think you are coming at this from two different angles.
First, and I'm sure you already know this, the Dojo can never be outside of the Dojo, or as some like to call it "the street". So don't try to emulate that, just figure out what people do universally and work from there.
Next, uke is not only protecting himself, he is providing the right conditions for the technique. That is to say, if uke doesn't do his part, nage can't do his. At least when we are talking about forms.
It's like this, say you are teaching boxing. And you want to show how to slip a right straight punch, but your partner keeps throwing a left hook. Now your partner could say "hey man in boxing it's totally possible that your opponent will throw a left hook", and he's correct, but dumb. You are working on the slip for a right straight, not the left hook. There is a technique for the left hook, but you are not training that right now.
This is what you have to explain to your students. They need to understand how to facilitate the techniques nage is working on. This means you have to explain why they are doing the things they are doing.
Here's an example I often come up against with new people. When teaching nikyo ura from the shoulder application. Often new people will lock their elbows when I apply this technique to them. Doing this is not conducive to training the technique. So the first thing I do is point out what they are doing, "oh, you're locking your elbow", Then I apply rokyo (the technique most available) and bring them down. Then I tell them how locking their elbow promotes rokyo, but not nikyo. Then explain why nikyo works the way it works, and explain that it is their job to help facilitate those conditions when we are practicing nikyo.
Uke's job is to provide the right situations. Now in "the street" people don't do that, we practice for that in randori though, and not in the forms. The form teaches a specific situation.
Re: Dojo Versus Reality?
Aikido practice is about the study of connection. The so-called "real world" application is about fighting. These are two different things. A technique works in the dojo because your partner is trained to stay connected throughout the interaction. In a aggressive encounter the opponent (notice I didn't say partner) will attempt to break the connection and regroup. He will actively counter the technique. Often the manner in which the opponent counters you will leave him totally open for a strike or strikes. We teach people not to leave themselves open in that way. But if you want to be able to apply your stuff in a real violent encounter, you need to have people actively countering your technique and then practice the use of the legs for hooking and sweeping, knees for striking, hands and elbows for striking.
Real encounters are largely about striking. What might be a throw in the dojo is more likely to be a way to unbalance an attacker and make it hard or impossible for him to defend against your strikes. You wouldn't want to throw him the way we do in class because that would allow him to escape. The martial stuff goes just about straight down and places the attacker where you can finish him with a set of strikes. If, for some reason, you decide not to finish him, you need him where you can apply a pin. So all the big projection throws that Aikido is known for have nothing whatever to do with applied self defense.
That said, the main problem with your technique is almost certainly that you don't have the partner's center at the instant of contact. That's the key to Aikido. The connection to the partner starts long before the physical meeting happens and when contact is actually made, the energy of the technique is already running so the attacker is caught by it at the instant of contact. This is the essence of Aikido waza. Don't feel bad if you can't do it yet, it's what makes an advanced practitioner advanced. Most folks don't do this but it's what you are shooting for. If you understand how to enter (irimi) and how to take their center at the instant of contact (katsu hayabi) then their desire to resist or coumter is irrelevant for the most part.
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