Re: What makes a good uke?
I'm unfortunately NOT a good uke, though I'm doing aikido since 7 years, but at least I know why, and I can give you a list of my defaults, being representative for deficient ukes. And it is NOT AT ALL easy to overcome them.
1) No intiuition. A good uke needs to feel somehow the direction and strength of tori's movement and adapt his own posture and reaction - no way for me. I try to muscle through and if that doesn't work, take a fall or do a countertechnique. In fact, I try NOT to do so, but if I'm not paying attention this reaction automatically comes, and even if I pay attention, the intuition is still lacking. I hope one day experience will replace intuition.
2) Unprecise, uncommitted or overcommitted attack. How can tori defend when uke attacks 10 cm beside the target, stops his shomen because he thinks tori cannot defend, arms his yokomen 50 cm behind his shoulder in order to hack through tori's whole body with all his might etc.? Or if uke just stops a full blast attack 5 cm before the impact because unconsciously he's afraid of the full blast ukemi that will ensue? My problem is precision at the moment, but I've been through all the other defaults, too.
3) Anticipation of techniques. How can tori finish his technique conveniently if uke is already gone? Why take a breakfall over kote gaeshi if tori didn't throw you because he wants to do a proper lock at the end? I always do because it's so much fun, and I even didn't realise that this might offend tori until someone told me.
4) Overcompliance and overresistance. How can tori see if his movement is good or bad if uke complies with everything? Tori does a weak ikkyo, uke goes down elegantly and immediately, and tori wouldn't even have a clue that his ikkyo wasn't worth 2 cents. If uke has the not-attacking hand hanging down limply, instead of placing some nice atemi when tori comes too close, where would tori learn from to keep the right distance and right angle? On the other hand, when doing a static exercise, and uke resists strongly, tori wouldn't have a chance to go through the movement. Either he is a beginner and rests clueless, or he's more advanced and applies a henka waza. But then the initial technique gets lost...
These are the four examples of being a bad uke coming to my mind immediately.
But I'm sure there are lots more...
Anyway, if you are on your way to be a good uke, all the better for you!
Me, personally, I'd love to have seminars for ukes where the teacher focuses on uke behaviour and reactions because I really feel that I have to improve them, and I suppose I'm not alone with that handicap.
Have a nice week-end,