Thank you, Doug!
I think this confusion about ukemi goes to the heart of so much trouble in the aikido community. Anyone in a koryu or other budo that keeps close the kata teaching model probably shakes their head in disbelief over this type of confusion. In the budo kata model, the uke side is the teaching/senior side, the side with greater experience. So the senior is almost always allowing the technique to function and guiding the interaction toward the ideal set forth in the kata. Does anyone think that armed with greater experience, ability and foreknowledge the uke is doing anything else? The senior knows the kata, is feeling for the application of correct principles and movement, and is providing the appropriate and safe ukemi for the benefit of the student who is trying to perfect the same. Whenever Daito ryu or Aikido abandoned that model of kata (or claimed there were no kata) and reversed the roles, I think the seeds of confusion were sown. It seems to me that aikido practitioners spend altogether too much time agonizing over the distraction of effectiveness because they've spent all their time trying to make "techniques" work in an unrealistic antagonistic environment instead of taking the time to learn the kata in the first place. As for evidence of that, you'll probably never hear a fellow aikido practitioner say, "The kata for shihonage goes like this." and get general agreement. Rather what you hear is, "X sensei teaches shihonage like this, but Y sensei says it goes like this." Or worse still: throw, throw, throw, "Dozo."
So in having a senior student attacking, we better learn how to handle the attack because the senior student can feel the openings generated from the student and provide real-time feedback to correct them...pointing out, essentially, the "why's" behind the form/waza?
But shouldn't the other side of the equation be just as important for learning how to move? Sure it doesn't teach that
technique (whatever it may be), but the principles involved should be the same, shouldn't they?
I get that the traditional model places an emphasis on sempai being uke, and from the standpoint of learning waza/form itself that makes sense to me. However, since kohai and sempai often trade roles back and forth a few times each, I don't see how that necessarily makes the difference. So I guess I don't yet see the problem as having to do with which role the senior student is in quite so much as with how forthcoming the feedback is...which is based on the senior student's ability to perceive and articulate the specific issues as they arise.
So then, is it accurate to say the "Ukemi Model" would be a situation where the senior student more or less just throws/pins/etc. the newer student around to demonstrate a form/waza and then doesn't provide much if any feedback (saying instead, "just keep trying")?
...I'm not seeing much distinction between nage and uke except that whoever uke is, they need to make sure they only try hard enough to give nage something to work with, but both need to provide feedback as much as possible; and the quality of that interaction is what makes the difference more than who's in which role. Thoughts? ...er...feedback?