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osaya 08-28-2013 06:29 AM

dealing with uke from hell
 
George Ledyard Sensei recently wrote a brilliant post about the Role of Uke, and i wanted to bring the discussion back to the role of tori, with that already in mind.

when I say 'uke from hell' (UFH), i use the term as i remember reading it from somewhere long ago, in that UHF is a skilled practitioner who knows what s/he is doing, but intentionally gives tori uncommitted attacks, locks off, or pulls a kaeshi waza. in the context where i first read about that term, it was used as a specific training drill to help tori learn sensitivity, reversals and so forth.

however, i'm wondering what one could/should do if there were particular practitioners, who were UFH out of a specific training context? i meant, if there was a practitioner who would constantly give uncommitted attacks, lock off, or pull a kaeshi waza, regardless of what sensei was teaching, what should one do?

assuming that sensei has decided not to take specific action on that student--does that mean that tori should move out of the boundaries of the specific technique being taught, and start implementing his/her repertoire of henka waza, kaeshi waza or atemi waza on that person? or is that just being spiteful and disrespectful?

without having to fall back on sensei's role/responsibility here, what would be the responsible and appropriate response of a fellow student in this case? should they just try and try again to do the specific technique that sensei demonstrated, patiently until they get it just right? or is this an off-mat matter?

Belt_Up 08-28-2013 07:39 AM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Seng-Yew Ong wrote: (Post 329325)
does that mean that tori should move out of the boundaries of the specific technique being taught, and start implementing his/her repertoire of henka waza, kaeshi waza or atemi waza on that person?

Oh my yes. If uke is resisting in such a fashion, you must change and adapt. If uke knows which technique is coming, even if you're stronger, they know exactly how to resist in order to defeat it. So, improvise, and do something else.

Training with resistance can be very useful. However, this type of resistance is spiteful, disrespectful, and a waste of time for tori and uke.

NagaBaba 08-28-2013 11:56 AM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
I believe this kind of training is very valuable as a part of normal training cycle. It means, during class, you need a time to learn a new technique in very cooperative way, but also must be a time where you are pushed outside of your comfort zone by the kind of training you describe.
You can set yourself different goals when you face uke with described behavior: an easy one is to respond to his reaction with whatever is efficient to control him. This kind of training develops spontaneous reaction from your part. Another goal can be closing all openings in a known technique – then you try to do only this one technique. Normally, when you really master a certain technique, no counter is possible (see top judo players who use only 2-3 techniques and everybody knows which technique they are using).

So I think it is nothing to do with respect but it is a part of normal training. Sure thing, non-committed attacks are very difficult to deal with, even if you have 8 dan level. But it is a fun way to discover hidden aspects of aikido :)
You are very lucky to have such partner in your dojo.

Rob Watson 08-28-2013 01:57 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Anything that is not disruptive to the class is on the table in my book.

Conrad Gus 08-28-2013 03:11 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Seng-Yew Ong wrote: (Post 329325)
assuming that sensei has decided not to take specific action on that student--does that mean that tori should move out of the boundaries of the specific technique being taught, and start implementing his/her repertoire of henka waza, kaeshi waza or atemi waza on that person? or is that just being spiteful and disrespectful?

That would be the worst thing to do. It will just turn into a pissing contest that is categorically NOT aikido training. Too much competition and ego involved.

When I run into this kind of person, I just adopt an attitude of "I guess you're just too good for me!". It's a loss of opportunity for both people, but I'd rather waste my time than end up injured. Hopefully you get to switch partners and UFH can go bother somebody else for a while. I really don't care what somebody like that thinks of me or my ability.

If the person is in my circle consistently (i.e. wasting my time a lot), then it's time to find the most aikido way to present an attitude of "I'm not training with you anymore because you're an idiot".

If I am teaching I will teach them how to take ukemi. If I'm not teaching AND I'm significantly senior to the person AND I quite like them, then I might find a kind way to enlighten them. In all other cases, they are free to bask in their own ignorance and stagnate forever.

Conrad

Susan Dalton 08-28-2013 04:27 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
A long time ago, for some reason my son was in class and I was not. He was maybe 13 or so, had been doing aikido since he was 5, and was not very big.

When I came to pick him up, I noticed that he was working with someone who used strength and size to stop every technique. Then it was my son's turn to be uke. "Uh oh," I thought, "he's going to do the exact same thing back to this guy" because of course that's what I would have done. But no, he was the same relaxed, committed uke he always is. To me, that was aikido.
Susan

Mary Eastland 08-28-2013 05:07 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Susan Dalton wrote: (Post 329375)
A long time ago, for some reason my son was in class and I was not. He was maybe 13 or so, had been doing aikido since he was 5, and was not very big.

When I came to pick him up, I noticed that he was working with someone who used strength and size to stop every technique. Then it was my son's turn to be uke. "Uh oh," I thought, "he's going to do the exact same thing back to this guy" because of course that's what I would have done. But no, he was the same relaxed, committed uke he always is. To me, that was aikido.
Susan

What a splendid example of what Aikido is.

Janet Rosen 08-28-2013 06:55 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Susan Dalton wrote: (Post 329375)
A long time ago, for some reason my son was in class and I was not. He was maybe 13 or so, had been doing aikido since he was 5, and was not very big.

When I came to pick him up, I noticed that he was working with someone who used strength and size to stop every technique. Then it was my son's turn to be uke. "Uh oh," I thought, "he's going to do the exact same thing back to this guy" because of course that's what I would have done. But no, he was the same relaxed, committed uke he always is. To me, that was aikido.
Susan

I have at times with such students, if their technique as nage isn't dangerous to me but their ukemi isn't offering me what I think I need to learn from, simply offered to continue in the role of uke, smiling and saying I learn so much more that way...and just focus on my ukemi skills from good attack through maintaining softness and connection....

Shadowfax 08-28-2013 07:58 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Keep in mind that uke is on his own journey and might be completely unaware that he/she is being difficult. Or maybe he/she is aware and is working on it but is just not there yet.

If I am consistently having a problem with a specific person I just ask my sensei how I should respond when in that situation. It is usually me that needs to change rather than my partner. Occasionally it is the other way around and sensei speaks to them about it or perhaps it is someplace in the middle. Any rate perfect ukes are few and far between. Which is probably as it should be.

osaya 08-28-2013 08:26 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Geoff Byers wrote: (Post 329327)
Oh my yes. If uke is resisting in such a fashion, you must change and adapt. If uke knows which technique is coming, even if you're stronger, they know exactly how to resist in order to defeat it. So, improvise, and do something else..

Quote:

Szczepan Janczuk wrote: (Post 329348)
You can set yourself different goals when you face uke with described behavior: an easy one is to respond to his reaction with whatever is efficient to control him. This kind of training develops spontaneous reaction from your part. Another goal can be closing all openings in a known technique -- then you try to do only this one technique. Normally, when you really master a certain technique, no counter is possible (see top judo players who use only 2-3 techniques and everybody knows which technique they are using) .

Quote:

Robert M Watson Jr wrote: (Post 329363)
Anything that is not disruptive to the class is on the table in my book.

assuming that one takes this as an opportunity to be more spontaneous, and polish their own techniques etc., should one do this only with the explicit consent/understanding of sensei or even the UFH--or just do it whenever this comes up?

are there any established etiquette or code of conduct in regard to such a situation particularly if you are not at your regular dojo (e.g. at a large seminar or another dojo)? i mean my concerns are primarily re: 1) being inadvertantly disrespectful to sensei, 2) things deteriorating into a 'pissing contest' or 3) missing the implicit lesson of developing patience and harmony.

osaya 08-28-2013 08:31 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Susan Dalton wrote: (Post 329375)
When I came to pick him up, I noticed that he was working with someone who used strength and size to stop every technique. Then it was my son's turn to be uke. "Uh oh," I thought, "he's going to do the exact same thing back to this guy" because of course that's what I would have done. But no, he was the same relaxed, committed uke he always is. To me, that was aikido.

Quote:

Mary Eastland wrote: (Post 329377)
What a splendid example of what Aikido is.

Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 329379)
I have at times with such students, if their technique as nage isn't dangerous to me but their ukemi isn't offering me what I think I need to learn from, simply offered to continue in the role of uke, smiling and saying I learn so much more that way...and just focus on my ukemi skills from good attack through maintaining softness and connection....

i think there certainly is a great aspect to develop and nurture--i.e. continuing to maintain self-control as uke when you have been treated difficultly by the training partner. but i'm wondering what your thoughts would be specifically on the role of tori in such situations?

Michael Hackett 08-29-2013 12:39 AM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
If Uke isn't trying to be a PITA, I will ask him to lighten up so I can work on moving through the technique to learn it. If that fails, I simply do a henka waza with a smile and continue to train. I have had one experience in which Uke was intentionally being a PITA, and after discussing it with him a couple of different times, did the henka waza and explained that we can all thwart a technique we know is coming from virtually anyone, but some of us know two or three other unexpected techniques that will work. Never had a problem with that person again and I enjoy working with him now.

Walter Martindale 08-29-2013 07:14 AM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
If you're in a dojo where speaking during training is permitted (some don't allow it), ask something like, "Ok, I see I'm not moving you - where am I going wrong - what do I have to do to make you move?" or something along those lines.

My experience has been that most people of higher grade than mine will let me get away with somewhat ineffective movements, (particularly with a new move) but get less and less forgiving as I learn the movement, until if I screw up, they block at least, counter at most. I usually look inquisitively and ask how to make it work - or I ask sensei - who usually fixes it with a "turn hip this way"...

HTH.
and if none of that works, try to problem solve yourself. If that's not working, buy the guy/gal a beer and ask what you should do.. If THAT doesn't work I'm at a loss.

Janet Rosen 08-29-2013 11:51 AM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Of course you can also always say Onegaishemasi...to Sensei and tell him you seem to be having problems doing the technique.

aikijean 08-29-2013 12:08 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
A resisting uke is open for every thing else since his mind is on resisting a technique he knows is coming.When you resist you cannot do kaeshiwaza and you exposes yourself to all kind of bad things from nage. I never saw resistance in a jiuwaza or randori because uke does not know what's coming.
I am with Corky Q on that one when he says a resisting uke is not attacking but defending and to do aiki you need a commited attack.
When I enconter a uke like that I try to relax completely, that way I do not give any physical indication in my body where my energy will come from. I have learned one thing over the years, if nage is tense uke becomes tense, if nage relaxes uke relaxes even if he wants to resist. It is very hard to do, I can do it sometimes not much enough to my taste but working very hard on it. I wish somebody had teached me that when I was beginning aikido.
My worst uke is somebody whose not attacking at all, I mean he grabs me with a noodle arm or does a shomen who dies before it even starts. I don't know what to do with that kind of no attack. I cannot connect with him, should I throw myself at him, march on him until he goes to the ground ?

senshincenter 08-29-2013 12:12 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Noting that this is an UFH, and not a compassionate senpai that is teaching and guiding through exposing openings or incorrect angles, etc., in a kohai's technique, adapting the technique is never a good idea in a Kihon Waza setting. As others have said, the UFH will just become (now) openly egocentric and express that lack of virtue via anger, insult, or even violence. This is especially true when the nage does not have the institutional support of the ranking system and/or federation title.

Over the years, in my contact with UFHs, I've done the smiles, and the reversals, and the atemi, etc., but looking back now, I see that what is really going on is a dojo being ran by a sensei/dojocho that either doesn't know the right thing to do or that does not have the courage and integrity to do the right thing. That is the only way you get a UFH to reguarly appear on the mat in a Kihon Waza oriented class.

If you really want a solution to this problem, I would leave the dojo and find a more cultivated teacher.

hughrbeyer 08-29-2013 01:56 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Saotome Shihan says that if you're not allowed to hit uke, uke knows what you're going to do, and you're not allowed to change it, any aikido technique can be blocked. (I think Ledyard Sensei quoted him in the article referenced by the OP.)

In our dojo, it's fine to show uke gently why the way they've chosen to block a technique leaves them open to atemi. It's fine to show how it invites an alternate technique too. But these days, unless I care for them enough to be training them, I generally take it as a challenge to see what I can do with the situation as presented.

Sand-Wind 08-29-2013 11:55 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
I will be only writing what I have learned so far and if in any way it is wrong or misunderstood it is not the fault of my instructors but my fault because of my poor understanding of Aikido.

1-Now when it comes to attacking while Uke is attacking Uke must commit to the attack if Uke did not commit to the attack it will be of know value and Nage will not be able to learn the technique or the principles behind it. This will be hard for some beginners since at the start of Aikido they will feel that it is unrealistic to do that. They do not understand that its a way to learn more realistic training and situations will come later. That should be discussed between them and their Sensei.

2-If Uke suddenly decides to change the attack or to shift his weight to somewhere other than the attack Nage can either adjust to be able to do the technique or switch to another technique since the attack or the commitment of the attack has changed. Aikido flows and adapts to situations.

3-If Uke is experienced Uke will be more compliant with beginners since they need to learn the motion behind the technique to learn the principles but after a some time(maybe a few months) Uke will be putting up more resistance to make the attack more realistic(some practitioners ask for more resistance from their Uke) and to make sure Nage has good grasp of the principles. That is one of the ways to improve.

4-GO FOR NE-WAZA ITS FUN! :D

Basia Halliop 08-30-2013 08:36 AM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Of course you can also always say Onegaishemasi...to Sensei and tell him you seem to be having problems doing the technique
Yeah, if you're not sure if Sensei has a preference on how you handle things, this is probably the best idea, IMO. Raise your hand and just say you're having a little trouble getting this technique to work, and could he watch and give you some tips. He will see what's happening and will either show you how to do the technique better so uke can't resist, or show you a way to change the technique or do a different technique instead, or take uke and tell them to move differently (I don't suggest you do this yourself if you don't think uke would welcome such advice from you - it's far better coming from the teacher), etc.

Janet Rosen 08-30-2013 02:59 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Saud Al-Zaidi wrote: (Post 329446)
4-GO FOR NE-WAZA ITS FUN! :D

:D

Robert Cowham 08-31-2013 03:47 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
UFH experiences are part of life's rich tapestry - the on the mat version at least!

Lots of good advice already given. In my experience, time is a great teacher - you find out what doesn't work, what works sometimes, you get better, they don't necessarily get better if that is all they focus on, etc...

SeiserL 09-01-2013 07:17 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Some of the best lesson I ever learned were learned in hell ...

Stephen Nichol 09-26-2013 06:14 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Quote:

Cherie Cornmesser wrote: (Post 329382)
Keep in mind that uke is on his own journey and might be completely unaware that he/she is being difficult. Or maybe he/she is aware and is working on it but is just not there yet.

If I am consistently having a problem with a specific person I just ask my sensei how I should respond when in that situation. It is usually me that needs to change rather than my partner. Occasionally it is the other way around and sensei speaks to them about it or perhaps it is someplace in the middle. Any rate perfect ukes are few and far between. Which is probably as it should be.

That reflects my experience over and over. Learning to get out of my own way.

It's funny that I think of it more like the Uke from Heaven because training with either:

A: New person with little to no martial back ground let alone Aikido does not move/attack the way someone with even a few months of Aikido 'conditioning' will. So your waza has to be good to create the shape in Uke that you are looking for.

B: Sempai who is hopefully only trying to improve your waza by only blocking/resisting the holes in it but not to the point of countering it. This provides me the opportunity to improve my Kihon.

There will always be those situations where Uke does not even realize that they have grabbed or attacked just slightly incorrectly and so I usually just ask them to make the adjustment but carefully phrase it to not come across as "Like most new people, you attacked me wrong" :p ;) but instead try for "I believe the intention behind the grab or attack for this particular technique 'Sensei' demonstrated was like this.' and if they are unable to (hopefully not unwilling to make the adjustment) then I am always happy to have Sensei come over and 'explain it to them'.

A little context about how and why the grab/attack way goes a long way towards good productive training. Even if it is only to allow Nage to develop their movement/balance through techniques more than 'this is what you do if someone manages to grab both your hands from behind you and hold them firmly at your side... because this happen to a friend of someone I know just last week...' :D

Robert Cheshire 09-27-2013 08:51 AM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
One option is to do the technique quicker than what the UFH is expecting (not giving them time to resist) or if the is a kensetsu element crank it a little harder.

It reminds me of the time when I was still a mudansha but the senior student and we had a guy that was an UFH on purpose. Me and the next highest ranked student knew we should handle the situation so our Sensei could concentrate on teaching and not any petty issues. What we did is talk to our U.S. Technical Director when we were at a training session at his dojo and explained the situation and how we didn't want to burden our Sensei with having to deal with this aspect of dojo logistics. He just smiled and said that was good (that we were trying to take care of it as best as possible) then he proceeded to tell us that "sometimes to make a (flowering) tree bloom you have to trim/prune a few branches." So basically, said you need to take the Barney Fife approach and "Nip it in the Bud!"

Bill Danosky 09-27-2013 02:25 PM

Re: dealing with uke from hell
 
Doctrinally speaking, I appreciate if uke let's me know something's not working. But in the event that they're actually screwing with you:

You have to be more careful if uke is not moving right- As an experienced shite, sometimes you really have to slow down and make sure you are getting the wrist lock exactly right. Take your time. When uke's eyebrows are raising up and down as you adjust, back off and try a couple more times- particularly with second, third and fourth control. You want to be practicing it right, after all.

If you're satisfied that lightning is now shooting from uke's arm into his brain, practice keeping tension on the lock, as you proceed to the second phase of the throw. Many Aikido techniques are complex and lengthy, so you may reach an understanding before the pin. But if you haven't, you might ask him if you're doing better now.

Repeat as necessary.


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