AikiWeb Aikido Forums

AikiWeb Aikido Forums (
-   Training (
-   -   What does being an Uke mean to you? (

Dave Sampson 03-14-2014 08:16 PM

What does being an Uke mean to you?
I try to help tori as much as i can, as Uke, so they get better. I have noticed that i tend to give my time to people so they can practice their techniques on me so they may advance and get better. This is not at the cost of me and my time, mind you.

I just like aikido whether it is as uke or tori. If i can help somebody with some extra time to practice their technique i am ok with that. Since i am a white belt i still feel like i am getting the better deal even if i let them practice their tori techniques on me. My practice does not suffer as a result of my actions. I am fortunate to be able to warm up properly on my bicycle and to come home afterwards and stretch properly for at least 30 minutes a day. That is when i am able to start my own aikido studies at home. I feel lucky that i do not have commitments that others have taken up. Kids, school, demanding work schedules.

Are we not meant to help our partners? I give constructive input when i feel that my tori did not handle me like my sensei did when i was used as an example. I make my tori do it over till it feels similar to way it felt like when i was uke'ing for sensei..

Tonight, i think, i helped one of our redbelts who does not have tons of time for aikido remember a technique better by having sensei come over and explain to him what was different about the way he did it to me and the way sensei did it to me.

I did not have to go out of my way to call sensei over to explain what was missing. I told sensei, while lying on my stomach, that the "snapping back of the arm" was missing in his technique so he showed it to my tori. After that this was present in his technique. Learning, at the time, felt to me like it was a collaborative effort and it made me feel good to be on the end of a successful technique that we came up with as a unit.

What other ways can i help tori as an Uke? Aikido is, after all, a collaborative effort.

I am grading this weekend for 8th Kyu so i wont be white for much longer provided i pass and don't choke :)

Edgecrusher 03-15-2014 12:58 PM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?
Being a good Uke is important for the growth of the Tori and yourself. I have always been under the impression that it is my job as Uke to sell the technique and help assist Tori with learning. It helps everyone when resistance is applied. Obviously most Tori's will not be as proficient as the Sensei but, we are all learning.

Janet Rosen 03-15-2014 04:15 PM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?

Kenneth Hannah wrote: (Post 335869)
Being a good Uke is important for the growth of the Tori and yourself. I have always been under the impression that it is my job as Uke to sell the technique and help assist Tori with learning. It helps everyone when resistance is applied. Obviously most Tori's will not be as proficient as the Sensei but, we are all learning.

I agree we help each other learn but disagree that resistance is part of the learning process.
To use an instructor's analogy: do we help beginning drivers if the instructor in the passenger seat applies the brake every time the learner in the driver's seat applies the accelerator?
I believe my job as uke is to give honest feedback with my body by going exactly where tori is putting me. With a beginner I will stay a little ahead of tori in order to help guide them IN the right direction and magnify this feedback so they can see and feel where WE are going.
For non-beginners, if their intent-driven small movements are beginning to have an affect in shifting my weight, I let my body move with that (rather than readjusting or regaining my balance) so they see and feel they are on the right track and don't feel they have to add muscle to "make" me move. I add verbal feedback too if it seems needed - "you have my balance now" or "you disconnected there."

lbb 03-16-2014 09:57 AM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?
I'm going to wax philosophical for a minute here, on the subject of helping people. I've had the experience of wanting to help people, being desperate to help people -- and knowing the right answer -- and yet being unable to help them. My answer, my right answer, my 100% correct answer, simply didn't...didn't what? Didn't work for them. Didn't help them.

I have experienced this with people who couldn't get a mathematical concept. I have experienced this with people who couldn't learn how to roll a kayak. I have experienced this with a loved one whom I would have died to help, but whom I could not help to get free of addiction. It didn't matter that I had the right answers. My answers were not their answers; my way of seeing the answer (my path up the mountain, to use a popular metaphor) didn't make sense to them; they were not yet ready to accept my help, or my kind of help.

If you want to help someone, being right helps. If you have the wrong answer, you can't help someone. Sincerely wanting to help also helps -- meaning that all you care about is helping them, and not about showing off how smart or skilled or clued-in you are. But they're not always enough.

Being truly helpful also requires the wisdom to know when your help isn't helping. I think that in aikido as in many other things, you can quickly get to the point where you can spot the flaws in what someone else is doing. It takes longer to get to where you can offer good solutions (and I think this point comes some time after the point at which you think you have good solutions). And it takes still longer to get to the wisdom of knowing if your solution will help this person at this moment. So many things can get in the way.

That's all by way of saying that I think partners should help each other, but be certain that you have a solution to offer when you point out a problem (and be sure that it's the correct solution!), and quick to recognize when you help isn't helping. I think if you offer help, that's your responsibility. I don't see the role of uke as a license to teach. Assuming that sensei is doing his/her job of supervising practice, I think that the role of uke is to help as Janet describes -- by giving feedback with your body (not resistance) -- and not so much by teaching.

SteveTrinkle 03-16-2014 02:39 PM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?
to me, uke is about learning how to find my center so I can begin to move from center and, to that end,I depend on Nage,usually my sempai, to move from their own and then, throw me from mine so, being ukeis, in my opinion about becoming sensitive

SteveTrinkle 03-16-2014 02:42 PM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?
if I am not sensitive to myself when i am uke ,how will I become sensitive to my uke when I am nage?

Walter Martindale 03-16-2014 03:49 PM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?
It's depend. I agree with a lot of what Mary says.
When uke, if I'm with someone who's got a clue about what the movement/principle is, I like to go with the flow and learn what that person's version of what we're doing is, in case I can learn yet another variation on a theme.
When with someone new or significantly less experienced, I also go with the flow until I find a point at which I can help them be more effective (if, indeed, I can identify such a point) and depending on the situation, I'll mention "try this", or I'll stop them at the weak point in their movement and help them past it, or I'll ask the sensei/shihan over to help identify what's holding the person up, or.. or..

One of my sensei in the past said that you learn more from beginners than from experienced people. it took a while but I think I understand where he was coming from. You also learn a lot from teaching/coaching.

The folks in the "intrinsic learning" circle of research into how people learn say that teaching people by providing lots of instruction isn't that great, and that teaching by guiding the discovery through repetition and approximation (closer and closer with repeated attempts) of the ideal, people learn more slowly but better. As well, "errorless" learning, where the task starts simple and slow, getting more complex and fast as repetitions progress is also a better, more robust way to learn.

So... as uke, I like to see if I can guide the nage into really good movements (if they're less experienced), and to see if I can guide myself into better ukemi with either type of partner...

SeaGrass 03-16-2014 09:37 PM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?
means I'm the teaching side, so I'd try to teach, help, and not jerk my partner's chain. I would push my partner to get better but consciously try to not counter his technique so he/she can learn.

Eva Antonia 03-17-2014 04:17 AM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?
Dear all,

to me, being uke mainly means a big challenge. I am not sensitive, I have zero intuition, I do NOT feel what tori intends to do and in which direction he tries to direct or unbalance me (once I'm unbalanced, I fall, but I don't see it come), and my only instinct is resistance and counter technique. Surprises always come as surprise and catch me unawares. So for me being uke is the most challenging peace of learning.

Knowing about this handicap, I always fear that having me as uke is not exactly a learning opportunity for tori, and sometimes I am sorry about people having to train with me. As tori, I think I'm up to my level, but as uke...sorely behind.

Strangely enough, although I'm bad at it, I love being uke, and I enjoy all sort of ukemi.

All the best,


BWells 03-17-2014 11:38 AM

Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?
Interesting, I think there is no one answer here. One of my favorite exercises when I teach a mixed class of beginners and folks with a few months experience, is to have uke lead. They move as if the nage is doing it all perfectly and actual nage is to just be along for the ride. I like to use ikkyo for this. Later nage does the technique and as long as nage is doing anything right, uke moves as if it is all right. Much later say 4th kyu up, I like to provide a little resistance to see if nage can find where they can move and have no resistance. Much much later we start talking IP at which I am just a beginner exploring the possibilities. It is all good and all run:D

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:15 PM.

Powered by: vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.