Originally posted by Sarah
<There's more, but it's a bit long to repeat. You can go read it upthread.>
Um - having read and reread your reply I am still at a loss as to why uke blends.Your answer doesn't seem to address this at all. It just says that when you take ukemi you try to blend.
Come to think of it, I would also like to know what you mean by 'blending'. I thought I knew but I am becoming less and less sure that I do.
First: Follow your dojo and your sensei. :)
If my expressed thoughts really strike an idea in your mind, ask your sensei or instructors. I'm not in any way trying to preach. I'm really just trying to air my ideas to see what others think. (AND my apologies up; This is a MONSTER of a post.)
Chris Satori <upthread> also expressed a counter opinion. I was going to speak to his points, but didn't have enough time to spare at work that day. hehe... I'll try again now (to explain more clearly).
#0 (numbering at Sarah's suggestion)
Uke's primary concern, really, should be the personal safety of oneself and of nage. This is the distinction been practice (by definition) and "getting jumped in an alley." To this end, uke often does things no real attacker would do. Witness pulled atemis and puches, break falls, and basically ukemi in general. Obviously, high level nages need no "carefulness" from uke -- but it's still an important concept when training.
For non-newbie level ukes and nages (say, uke and nage are abouve 3rd kyu). #0 becomes pretty trivial. Uke is well practiced at taking ukemi and this becomes second nature. Uke can aproach closer and closer to the "fine line" between practice and a REAL attack.
Now I'm going to ignore all this stuff under #0 for the rest of this message. Personal safety is not the reason I keep saying "blend uke, blend." :)
#1 (my original #1 upthread)
My purpose, when I'm in the dojo is to train, and I train for self improvement. I'm specifically NOT there to stroke anyone's ego, show off, do neat techniques that look cool, etc. In the dojo I am priveleged to have the opportunity to grow and improve in many ways; Uke waza, Nage waza and acting in the traditional instruction role to name just three obvious ones. (In our dojo, the ikkyu students are sometimes asked to teach the classes with "less advanced or newbie students" when a regular instructor is unable to attend. This doesn't happen often and is normally arranged in advance of the class. I digress...) Nage waza and instruction are off topic. So here, I'm focusing on uke waza.
How do I grow through uke waza? It's quite simple (in principle.) By practicing the same things that I hold fundamental in all aspects of my aikido training. Extend ki, keep one point, and blend. ("blend" being the wishy washy topic of my discourse). Ki and one point aren't the topic at hand here. So, on with "blend". What do I mean by "blend" and why blend at all.
Aikido is not, and cannot be performed in a vacuum. Chris pointed out upthread that O'Sensei did not require nor care about cooperation from uke. But, saying "uke blend!" does not mean "uke, cooperate with nage so nage can throw you!" I agree with Chris (aikido works, cooperation from uke is irrelevant.) Witness O'Sensei and countless examples I'm sure we've all seen in our own dojo.
Ok, Craig, what exactly then, is "blend"?
Aikido implies, by definition (ai ki), that you should be one with the universe. You cannot ignore uke -- O'Sensei certainly didn't ignore uke.
"one with the universe". That's a little too ethereal for me to grasp. So I start by thinking of this in layers. On the most trivial ("least important", not "most simple to master") layer, certain techniques will operate a certain way in certain situations. So it's important to stand correctly, move correctly, do the technique correctly while still being able to adapt (stance, movement, technique) slightly or greatly as is appropriate for the one moment you are in. To me at this level it's: uke attacks, nage applies a technique, uke is dead/immobilized/disarmed/on-the-floor/whatever. Uke's cooperation is irrelevant. Nage wins. Period.
At the next deeper level, nage's ki and extension blend (blend in the plain english sense) with uke's. My(nage) ki and your(uke) ki are the same ki in a kitchen blender. I have learned that I can't keep one point, or extend ki unless I get beyond the previous "trivial" layer I discussed just above. (ie, do it without thinking)
Ok, so now I'm moving and applying techniques as I'm nage. I'm trying not to get in my own way of being one with the universe. And my ki is blending (plain english sense) with uke's. To me, these concepts are obvious because uke has ki wether uke knows aikido or not. Aikido uke's have lots more ki and they extend too, but it's still just ki.
Now let me flip over to being in the uke role. The first layer still holds. You can't throw a shomen uchi, tsuki, whatever you like unless you move, keep one point and extend. ..well, you can, but it's more powerful if I do those things, and I'm certainly not going to practice NOT extending ki and NOT keeping one point when I throw strikes. And, regardless of what I do, my uke ki blends(plain english) with nage wether I want to believe so or not.
(staying in uke's role here..)
Now, if I am extending ki as uke, how can I NOT be and do all the things that I do as nage when I extend ki. As uke I feel nage's ki, I know where nage is, I know where nage is leading my ki, where nage is leading my mind. To me, there is NO time when I am not "living aikido". So no suspention of aikido just because I'm an uke. (I hope that doesn't make me sound like an aikido nut. :)
Now two uke examples:
(call this "top" of a rainbow spectrum)
I uke for a 4th dan. I attack honest-to-goodness-no-bullshit. I try to keep one point, but try to take their head off. (blur) I'm on the floor. :) #0 of course saved my ass from injury without thought.
(and this "bottom")
Next, I'm uke for a college girl (imagine she's 10+ years and 130+ pounts my junior. Note: I'm a big burly sweaty 250 6' teddy bear) during her 20th class. I attack with focus, keeping one point of course. I slow the attack down but still bring the intention to the situation. She moves, she extends a little teeny tiny bit of ki, she takes my one point, I fall, finish.
Obviously, I've got the two extreme ends of a rainbow there. Blend (not the plain english "blend" here on out) means keeping my ki feelers out there from the bottom example to the top example. I'm blown away (blur, whack) at the top, I'm totally-aware at the bottom. In fact at the bottom, I can work with nage to set them up to extend ki, to set them up to find my one point, to feel my ki, etc.
"cooperation" are those annoying uke's who take a dive, or fall over at the touch of a finger.
To blend is to sense uke's ki. At the bottom, blending lets me intentionally stay just on the verge of losing one point to kindle that little tiny bit of nage's ki that's extending. At the high end, through blending I learn to sense nage's ki. (blur whack) no clue what happened. A few months later (blur whack) hey, I felt nage's ki. I understand what he did when HE blended with me. This encourages me to extend more ki, to notice when I've lost one point and to regain one point. Suddenly, my uke waza is a critical to my "whole life aikido training" as is my nage waza.
Blending gives uke power (not "strength".) Power to be sure #0 functions for safety. Power to present nage with a SURPRISE! brick wall. smack. Aha nage, wasn't extending... "cooperating" ukes can do none of those things.
You can practice Aikido, or you can blend. Sadly you cannot do both.
It's my opinion that you cannot practice aikido UNLESS you blend at all times. I can't practice by saying "I'm doing technique foo and you're going down." It's different every time, I can't ignore uke. I have to be aware of uke, feel uke, be in one point.
'Blend' is much easier to say.
What I cannot tell is if Chris and I have the same idea but our language(that "blend" word) is different. It sounds to me that he's saying what I believe. O'Sensei simply "was". He didn't have to "do". Uke attacked, O'Sensei blended with uke's ki, led uke's ki, etc etc etc. (blur whack). (My language, definitely not Chris's.)
aside: this took an hour to write. I think I just saw an email that sarah just posted more, so this is going to appear after her post, even though I haven't read it...