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Old 05-02-2006, 12:52 AM   #90
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 688
Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
Hi Amir,
Such concept as 'bad uke' simply doesn't exist. It is only cheap excuse to bad technique. And to preserve the illusions about own 'perfect' aikido. So ego can grow quietly.

I can understand when uke helps (in very limited way) to other beginner. But it is certainly not a case when nage is black belt.
I disagree. Bad Uke does exist in a training environment:
Most of the Aikido practice is Kata practice:
When we practice a particular technique, Uke is supposed to attack in a certain way, and Tori is expected to use one particular timing point, move to a prespecified direction and perform a specific technique.

Now, suppose Uke decided that instead of Shomen, he will attack you with a low-kick. Could Tori practice the same response?
The above is a large-scale example of the principle. But it holds true in much smaller situations as well. Another simple example would be a hand grab: it could be neutral, pull or push, each of these requires a different response. The hand grab can also respond to your actions and try to oppose any direction of force or neutralize any attempt you try to do, one may decide he wishes to practice at the latter way, but slowly, and then, if Uke responds very fast compared to Tori, despite the agreement, he would nullify the exercise. Another more subtle case of "bad Uke" is very common among beginners - in Yokomen, they attack with no force at all, just throwing the hand, limp, in such a way that when the hand is deflected the body is not affected and Kuzushi in irimi techniques(such as sumi otoshi - throwing the corner) is almost impossible. True, this type of attack would have been acceptable for advanced practice with a knife, but it would not have done any damage in most other situations. Thus, when one practices Yokomen he would not necessarily wish to practice this situation.

Practicing Kata allows us to concentrate on few elements of the equation and improve them. For this purpose, we superficially recreate a specific situation - placement, attack, directions of force, intentions. We then repeat the same situation lots of times, without variation from Uke side, as Tori tries to improve his responses. This type of repetition is done as a training tool, and should never be confused with a fight.

One should vary the rules for the Kata practice. A simple example we just did on Sunday was moving from a single Uke, attacking from the front, to multiple Uke attacking at their own will, from any direction. The attack and the intention of Uke stay the same, the technique Tori is required to perform is also fixed. Yet the Kata has changed, and several more variables enter the practice:
Even only the varying directions and times force better focus to identify the attack and "situational awareness", the Tai-Sabaki is more difficult, since one has to adjust the direction. Several people attacking means each of them is slightly different - different reach, different weight, different speeds etc. Again making the execution more difficult. And then, there is the pressure that rises in us as we know multiple people will attack us, even from behind, and try to smack us on the head.
This is an example of a simple change in the Kata, that makes Tori role much harder. Yet, given this change, had one of the Uke changed his attack, or decided to try and nullify Tori technique by softening all of a sudden, he would have violated this Kata and be a bad Uke.

In Korindo Aikido, we consider Kata practice as just one of the foundations of the practice. We practice with full variations in another type of exercise, which is just as important - Randori. Randori levels vary, from something that resembles the above Kata, to full blown fight at variable speeds. The common way we practice Randori among non beginners, is both sides attack, defend and counter at will. Thus, during such practice, Uke may actively try and evade the technique and then counter (with a technique or a secondary attack) or distance himself (if he feels in disadvantage). Even in this form, there are things that are discouraged and considered "Bad Uke" such as deceptions. Obviously, those same things are considered legitimate tactics Randori practice of slightly higher level.

There is a difference between practicing M.A. in a structured manner, bringing each element in it's own time. And throwing a person into a stormy sea to learn and swim. "Bad Uke" is equivalent to the latter.

If you wish to claim that a Black Belt student should have been sensitive enough to realize the changes a specific Uke is employing after several rounds. I would agree that he should, but admit that in some cases this is not so simple, and in some other cases, such as group practice, one may not wish to disrupt the whole group for this.

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