Thread: Punishing Uke
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Old 06-09-2006, 11:15 AM   #28
Robert Rumpf
Dojo: Academy of Zen and the Ways
Location: Kailua, HI
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 164
Re: Punishing Uke

David Orange wrote:
To me, "There is no resistance in aikido" means that NAGE never resists anything UKE does.
You're advocating the path of least resistance to uke's actions.

I'm sure that many people would agree with this, but it comes at the cost of learning to stimulate uke behavior. This means that uke (in your model) dictates the terms of the encounter. There are many situations where you don't want this to happen, and this is reflected in the types of training that I've seen where nage attacks.

Still, I'm sure that many in Aikido would agree with you that nage is mainly supposed to be receptive, and lets assume that this is a good attitude for training. I like this attitude a lot when trying to learn jiyu-waza and randori, where nage is able to just respond to uke in the way that uke's attack dictates.

It's great mentality and what "real" aikido might look like.. but randori and jiyu-waza are not typically all, or indeed most, of the training that I have experienced in any dojo - and with good reason.

Its very hard to train that type of training well without it devolving into wrestling or at least people ignoring technique until all practitioners are at least somewhat skilled..

For the most part in class, I find myself practicing kata, and I am attempting to work on the fine details of the movements and timing of a given principle by practicing the kata as demonstrated by my instructor. If I end up outside the kata, I tend to try not to go far.

That's if I have an experienced partner.

If my partner is inexperienced, I'm just trying to get them to put their feet into roughly the correct positions and to follow along without hurting me or them, all without micromanaging or contradicting the instructor.

To put it simply, I'm trying to help the novice to learn the kata so that they can later get rid of the kata or at least study it more thoroughly..

Its often unclear what my partners are trying to do...

Ideally, in order to be consistent with what you're advocating (and what could be "real") and to allow for precision practice and learning in a kata environment, uke should attack precisely and repeatably in a way that provokes the response that the instructor is trying to emphasize in the kata practice, while pretending that they don't know what you're going to do in response to their attack..

Well, I've never had an uke who was able to do that.

Most of the time, I get attacked shomenuchi in a way that lends itself to sankyo or koshinage, and I am told to do ikkyo by the kata and the instructor. Or I get attacked shomenuchi and I'm told to do ikkyo, but the attack is specifically designed to prevent ikkyo because uke knows it is coming. This happens even more often with pain-compliance techniques and that type of teaching - one of the chief reasons to avoid pain-compliance.

Sometimes, the instructor comes along to help when I can't get the kata to function and, surprise surprise, uke's attack and attitude changes as (a) his partner is different (b) he is more aware as it is the instructor (c) he believes the instructor will make the technique work. The instructor looks at me and is puzzled as to why I can't get the kata to work, but the attack, to me looks completely different..

I suspect most ukes are not able to be precise and repeatable. This could be, in part, because they are not trained to be so consistent - I know that I am not so trained. I've considered taking karate so that at least I could punch consistently.. but I haven't. It could also be that such a precise attack would be seen as being "staged" and therefore uke believes it is useless.

One of the pleasures of being a shodan is that your instructors tell you to polish your technique and work on the fine details and your ukes decide that in order to "help" you as a shodan, they need to be more resistant and more anticipatory of their response... I don't need resistance in kata to sort out details; I need consistency..

That, and a hell of a lot of jiyu-waza and randori (at the appropriate time). That said, they'd better be able to take the ukemi if they want to leave things open-ended.

I think there is a danger in too much jiyu-waza as well - people tend to play to their strengths. Kata presumably makes you exercise every muscle.

In any case, getting an attack that naturally leads to one thing, where that thing is not what is in the kata at all, is the cause of much of the frustration that you see on these forums directed towards uke..

Like most things in life, negative reinforcement is often the most easy and most counterproductive any difficulty. Its hard to learn to do otherwise, but its often wasted too because communication is a too way street.

David Orange wrote:
the only way to make it more accurate and realistic is to resist their technique when it breaks down.
I very strongly disagree that this is the only way.

A technique, an argument, a piece of software, a relationship, or whatever system you choose that is constructed by you (with or without other participants), that is flawed (and they all are) has flaws that are self-evident to an accurate and perceptive observer who is trying to exploit such flaws.

Becoming such an observer (learning how to attack your own technique) is, I believe, one of the potential ways in which martial practice can be brought effectively outside the dojo.

By uke pointing those flaws out gratuitously, uke is robbing me of my ability to grow perception of my technique failures on my own. Failure of my technique is written in uke's body at any given moment if I know how to read it.

In addition, awareness of a flaw doesn't necessarily mean that you know how to fix it. Beyond that, knowing how to fix a flaw doesn't mean that you actually can fix it, repeatedly, over a variety of ukes and intensities. Those are all different steps that need to be made, and they require patience from uke with respect to nage's limited progress and capabilities.

I'm constantly aware of how broken my technique in kata is. If I thought that my kata was effective at all, I'd be wasting my time practicing it because I'd have nothing to learn from the kata.

Another pitfall: as soon as uke starts to get into the position of judging technique and pointing out flaws, then when a flaw doesn't come up, the nage naturally assumes the technique was well done. This is where Aikidoka become arrogant about their technical abilities.


Last edited by Robert Rumpf : 06-09-2006 at 11:17 AM.
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