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Old 03-16-2014, 08:57 AM   #4
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,183
Re: What does being an Uke mean to you?

I'm going to wax philosophical for a minute here, on the subject of helping people. I've had the experience of wanting to help people, being desperate to help people -- and knowing the right answer -- and yet being unable to help them. My answer, my right answer, my 100% correct answer, simply didn't...didn't what? Didn't work for them. Didn't help them.

I have experienced this with people who couldn't get a mathematical concept. I have experienced this with people who couldn't learn how to roll a kayak. I have experienced this with a loved one whom I would have died to help, but whom I could not help to get free of addiction. It didn't matter that I had the right answers. My answers were not their answers; my way of seeing the answer (my path up the mountain, to use a popular metaphor) didn't make sense to them; they were not yet ready to accept my help, or my kind of help.

If you want to help someone, being right helps. If you have the wrong answer, you can't help someone. Sincerely wanting to help also helps -- meaning that all you care about is helping them, and not about showing off how smart or skilled or clued-in you are. But they're not always enough.

Being truly helpful also requires the wisdom to know when your help isn't helping. I think that in aikido as in many other things, you can quickly get to the point where you can spot the flaws in what someone else is doing. It takes longer to get to where you can offer good solutions (and I think this point comes some time after the point at which you think you have good solutions). And it takes still longer to get to the wisdom of knowing if your solution will help this person at this moment. So many things can get in the way.

That's all by way of saying that I think partners should help each other, but be certain that you have a solution to offer when you point out a problem (and be sure that it's the correct solution!), and quick to recognize when you help isn't helping. I think if you offer help, that's your responsibility. I don't see the role of uke as a license to teach. Assuming that sensei is doing his/her job of supervising practice, I think that the role of uke is to help as Janet describes -- by giving feedback with your body (not resistance) -- and not so much by teaching.
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