...One thing that I see time and time again in Saito Sensei videos is his uke kicking their legs up into the air to take a fall.
Let me kick off this remark for my response, since it illustrates a point I want to make.
I've found myself "kicking up my legs" when taking ukemi from my sensei, and it's not to make him look good. It's because he's drawn me out and I know, from bitter experience, that the next move is a fist to the face. The most important thing in my mind at that point is to get my face out of range. Letting go isn't an option--his fist is already moving face-ward. So the flashy ukemi is really just self-defense--it's just that since the fist-to-the-face movement is never completed, it looks like compliance.
It is true that there's a social compact here. I deliver one attack, with full intent, and I protect myself after the attack. I don't deliver a second followup attack (as a boxer would); I don't go all rigid and block tori's response (because that would leave me open in a million ways, but tori would have to alter his technique which does not make for a clean demo or clean practice); and I don't just noodle out of there (which is martially stupid).
So the question Cliff raised is very much on point--if uke delivers an attack and then just hangs out waiting for tori's response, that's not good. Perhaps tori, for demo purposes, is separating the initial de-ai from the technique which follows. Fine, but I'd prefer to see uke visibly off-balance at that point. (Again, the social compact is that uke does not shuffle their feet to correct their balance, or do other moves that would not be possible at real speed.) I don't see that in these videos.
At the other end of the spectrum, the initial Kanaya videos show uke off balance from the first moment--sometimes before. Maybe uke is tanking. Maybe uke is responding flexibly to what tori is doing. Maybe uke is sensitive enough to respond before tori makes contact. I dunno, that's the limitation of video.
My bet is that Kanaya is showing some real skill and exaggerating it for the camera. He's taking what's really internal and making it external so people can see it--which, paradoxically, means it's no longer real. And his uke is showing some skill in being able to stay connected in even totally compromised positions, even though again it's exaggerated for the cameras. The danger for both is that they get so enamored of the exaggeration that they mistake it for the real thing.
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