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Old 01-05-2007, 11:26 AM   #48
mriehle's Avatar
Dojo: New School Aikido
Location: Stockton, CA
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 320
Re: Crazy Ki demonstration by Barrish Sensei

Don J. Modesto wrote:
I've seen this before, solid teacher, flaky UKE. Curious correlation...
You know, this is one thing that's been bugging me in this discussion, but until you made the above statements I couldn't put my finger on what, actually was bugging me.

I've seen this before as well. With a teacher who is very strong, sometimes the experienced ukes have learned to protect themselves to the point where they're tanking all the time. Especially if the strength is ki.

I see it, sometimes, with my teacher. He has that kind of wave-the-hands-and-wham-you're-down energy sometimes. So I sometimes see students clearly tanking. It bugged me at first because it undermined my confidence in his Aikido. Now it bugs me because it's unecessary.

There seem to be two reasons why students do this with him:
  1. They think they're doing him a favor or showing him respect.
  2. They're afraid of the fall.

The first, IME, is just muddy thinking. The two or three people I've met like this don't really appreciate it. They will correct blatantly incorrect ukemi especially if it puts uke at risk, though. I think what sometimes happens is someone who's been corrected for doing something stupid overcompensates.

The latter I have a bit more sympathy for. I've, personally, been thrown into some pretty alarming falls because I came in with strong, determined energy and found it, um, redirected. I find it kind of fun when it works out like that, though, but I guess I'm kind of an Aikido geek.

(Remembering one attack when he was demonstrating irimi nage and I came in fully intending to take him to the mat. When I realized I'd leveled out in the air at about four feet up I actually started laughing. Laughing your way into a high fall like that is a Bad Idea... )

As a teacher I've actually had students do these things to me even though I'm nowhere near that level. It can be a real problem. It's one of the reasons I like to regularly work with Aikidoists who are not my students. I can't always tell when my students are tanking and if they do it starts to affect my Aikido as well as theirs.

This would be one concern I'd have with a teacher whose students tank like that. How long have they been doing that? If it's been awhile, he's probably not as good as he was when they started doing that. Unless he's got other students who don't tank. Also, if it's not a fear thing, I worry about what he's teaching his students in terms of ukemi.

As for Barrish Sensei, I think my favorite quote of something he likes to say in classes would be, "Arrive organized". Apparently it's a hot button for him that some people just stand there and receive the attack rather than preparing and actively dealing with it.

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