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Old 12-05-2013, 10:45 AM   #23
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,152
Re: The uke/nage paradigm

Long Trinh wrote: View Post
It is an university dojo, so full of students my age, in our early 20. I think some, but not most, Aikidoka come to Aikido as a means to explore themselves or as a resolution to their problems. It is the age when people are still confused about what they want and are trying to prove themselves, so yeah you can say a lot of them has an "identity crisis". It is understandable if someone draws their validation from their aikido competence to become absorbed in it and thus becoming sensitive or over-protective of their own Aikido.

Not everyone is like that though. We are very numerous, a good 50 people and I do learn a lot from some of them. My Sensei is the best I have seen (I ever had three). A few rotten apples are bothersome but should not denounce the entire tree.

I would be careful when judging the entire dojo or the teacher based simply on the students.
My point was more directed at developing a single curriculum and disseminating that instruction. At some point, the instructor make a decision- "Irrimi nage shall look like this." That shape is taught as kata. Students are expected to learn and replicate that kata. We then grade based upon that kata. Eventually, students become skilled at that kata and can explore subtle changes that allow the kata to flex and accommodate more variations to the shape.

But, we don't always train like this. Often, we "break" kata. We intentionally change what we do so as to re-create the result of the kata, but in doing do cease to retain the form itself. Commonly this happens when we focus on the throw and not everything else that makes the throw happen. Irriminage, for example, becomes some variety of a clothesline choke with a leg sweep.

Once I say, "thou shalt do kata this way," I have inherited a burden of responsibility to make sure that kata is consistent with that of my instructors, seniors and what I believe to be "aikido". And don't think that doesn't freak me out. I constantly look for changes that improve the kata. Or worse, one of my seniors says, "why the f$#k would you do that?" and they correct my mistake. I am grateful because the instructors to whom I look for this advice are positive, friendly and sincerely interested in making sure I am less of a screw-up.

Taken within another context... I enjoy geometry far more than algebra. If I was expected to teach algebra, but instead taught geometry (because I like it more) I would be confronted with a critical problem - I am not teaching algebra. Geometry is great; and following a basic algebra education, geometry is the next curriculum to learn. But geometry is not algebra. Within aikido, I think our kata education is lacking because "waza" is more attractive to its practitioners. Or, within the context of this thread, it is more attractive to be nage and throw than uke and get beat up.

I think the balance is important and when I perceive a dojo loses balance, it can create a "identity crisis." And to be clear, I do not perceive this to a a negative thing. In fact, most dojos with which I am familiar tend to swing in a natural pattern of focus and interest. Just so long as it comes back to balance... Sorry for the drift, I think I brought up about 3 issues that could/have been threads...

Last edited by jonreading : 12-05-2013 at 10:50 AM.

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