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Old 05-03-2006, 10:51 AM   #98
Ken McGrew
Dojo: Aikido at UAB
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 202
Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

This discussion is really a discussion about the Nage/Uke relationship and proper Ukemi. Whether the student should have fallen or not depends on the circumstances that we did not experience ourselves and the expectations of the school and style where the student trains.

Having said this, I can only address the question from my understanding of Ukemi that I obtained from my instructors and from their teacher Saotome Sensei. When I read comments that black belts should be able to make a technique work by forcing it if necessary, or that Uke should resist in order to show Nage what isn't working, then we aren't discussing anything I recognize as Aikido.

Uke and Nage engage in a simulation of combat. Both are holding back. Both should move as if it were an all-out attack, even though it is slower than that for training, even if it is static, they should move as if there were momentum in Uke's body. In a real attack, and in proper Ukemi, there is little opportunity to resist or brace. I am not suggesting that Uke fall down for no reason, that is something else. Nage should not force anything. Nage should ride the wave of Uke's body momentum, allowing Uke's motion to continue, but shaping it towards a resolution that is safe for Nage and, if possible, merciful towards Uke.

If this does not fit your understanding of Aikido I would encourage you to look again at the video footage of O'Sensei (after WWII), Doshu, and 2nd Doshu. Pay special attention to the practice of the students who you can sometimes see in the background or who are sometimes the focus of the footage. Do you see ANY resistance in their Ukemi? Do you see any forcing of the technique?

Saotome Sensei has addressed these questions in two of his videos, The Principles of Aikido and Oyo Henka. The narration from the Principles video sums up his understanding of the Nage/Uke relationship:

"The old conception of Aikido which Saotome Sensei views as tragic has to do with crushing, destroying an enemy... O'Sensei abandoned this conception of the art... Often when practicing Ikyo students will struggle against one another. Nage... will sometimes grab Uke's arm and Uke will sometimes brace and resist. According to Saotome Sensei such struggles reveal arrogance and ignorance. As the stud of the old concept of Aikido reveals, once the Ikyo movement has begn both participants enter a fluid martial arts situation in which the outcome is undetermined. In this situation Uke may be completely open to elbom breaking strikes, punches, kicks and so on. Those who struggle or brace in Ikyo have forgotten the art's original martial purpose."

As O'Sensei stated, "Aikido is the art of non-resistance."

Ken McGrew

Last edited by Ken McGrew : 05-03-2006 at 11:03 AM.
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