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Old 11-28-2005, 06:07 AM   #1
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Protecting oneself as uke

Throwing this one open, after an interesting debate on Aikido-L

Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as uke? Some folk say it is - you just get good enough to survive anything.

Me, I'm not so sure. The techniques we do can be dangerous and at some point you are going to leave at least one of your joints totally exposed to tori's mercy.

Maybe this is ok if everyone you ever train with is going to be fair and competent enough not to injure you by overly harsh application, or you are strong and can protect your joints with muscle. If you are not that strong and / or run into the occasional Aiki-Zilla tori, things can get messed up.

I do totally understand that you cannot make MA risk-free, and this is not my point here. It's more a case of wondering what one can do to protect oneself from those folk on the mat who don't quite understand that Aikido is not about applying technique as harshly as they can to joints that won't survive it uninjured!

(Please don't say that the instructors should ensure this doesn't happen - they can't be everywhere at once and if they don't take ukemi for the tori concerned they don't even always know this is happening - not an excuse but a fact )

Ruth
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Old 11-28-2005, 06:37 AM   #2
ian
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

I used to be a favourite uke for a while several years ago (maybe 'cos I was quite light?) and I was flung through the air and slammed on the mat. The throws were hard and powerful, and definately not for beginners, but there was always enough space given for me to roll/breakfall/turn etc and I never injured myself. Conversely I trained with someone later who loved to just slam on nikkyo so hard that the training became superficial because I was going down before he'd even put the technique on.

Thus, I think much of what we learn in aikido as uke, IS to learn to protect ourself - and training can be done in a very effective and intensive manner as such. However, if you have a complete b***ard, they can quite easily damage you regardless. Indeed, if their intention is to cause you damage they are not really doing aikido (not just because aikido is all about love etc, but because aikido is about blending and yin/yang and therefore excessive force and destruction is being used which - in Ueshiba's view at least, will always ultimately end in defeat).

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 11-28-2005, 06:41 AM   #3
ian
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

P.S. as a practical point - if you feel there is a risk of injury do not train with them. Learn to protect yourself gradually with others who are willing to develop together with you. Injuries will in no way improve your aikido! Maybe in the future you'll feel more comfortable doing technique with them, maybe they'll realise that you don't need to destroy someone to be effective in aikido.

Also - breath out when thrown (I still forget this myself!)

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:13 AM   #4
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Well Ruth,
I think you have to create srong muscles around your joints to protect yourself against normal practice or normal mistakes, as aikido is often hard enough, even if tori/nage just tries to do his technique right.
The only full protection, you can get is refusing attack. Next best is good kaeshi waza. Both do not help really in training, as you want to provide uke as you need them, too.
Now standard protection is you feel what nage/tori is doing and reply or even anticipate accordingly. Nevertheless if you are wrong or nage/tori changes the power/direction/technique justafter your last chance to change, it will hurt. And if nage does not stop a pin when you tap out or tries too fast, there is very little chance for you to help.
I had big problems with my wrist, when I thought it was time to roll back out of shihonage, while nage/tori did not release. So I injured my wrist myself by my own weight, and sometimes I still have problems. It was my own fault, but it could also happen when nage does not really do what he/she should.

The more flexible, instinctively and the faster you can react, the better you are protected. With rude partners if you are good enough, you can get out with kaeshi waza (counter-techniques) up to a certain point, or you can bow out and have bullies train with their own species.

Maybe someone has better ideas. This is just my beginner's experience.

HAND Dirk
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:23 AM   #5
akiy
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as uke?
Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as nage?

-- Jun

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Old 11-28-2005, 10:12 AM   #6
Amir Krause
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Uke can protect himself, but then, too often, he would not function well as Uke.

To protect himself, Uke has to be better then Tori and ahead of him, but if Uke is ahead of Tori, Tori does not get a chance to sense his mistakes, and Uke is giving him a disservice.


The best way to protect yourself as Uke is to refuse practicing with someone you feel likely to harm you.

Amir
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Old 11-28-2005, 10:27 AM   #7
ruthmc
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as nage?

-- Jun
Yes I do. And I know what you're going to say - uke/nage same/same Unfortunately I am not generally ecouraged to train that way Uke and nage have separate and defined roles and we are not supposed to cross the "boundaries".

I am trying to push on them whilst causing the minimum of upset, and it's really difficult. It's a damn good lesson

Ruth
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Old 11-28-2005, 11:23 AM   #8
Choku Tsuki
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Quote:
Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as uke?
No. Not absolutely all the time, no.

Imagine the first time a beginner attempts ryote-dori koshinage and holds onto both arms and bends low after you go over and all your body weight meets the mat at your neck.

Beginners are dangerous.

--Chuck
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Old 11-28-2005, 11:24 AM   #9
Brian Vickery
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
(Please don't say that the instructors should ensure this doesn't happen - they can't be everywhere at once and if they don't take ukemi for the tori concerned they don't even always know this is happening - not an excuse but a fact )
Hi Ruth,

This is a really good topic to kick around in here! (...or should I say "throw" around!)

Ok, I won't use that old excuse about the instructor ensuring that this kind of behavior does not ever happen in his dojo, because you're right, it does happen! But as an instructor, I want to know if someone is doing this in my dojo, and it is taken care of. This type of behavior must be stopped before an injury occurs!

I think that you are right when you stated that your leaving your joints vulnerable to injury and that you're at nage's mercy. That's just thre nature of the training and each student puts themselves into that situation everytime they attack. I see it more of me putting my trust in nage rather than being at his mercy, but I guess that's just semantics. The only way to TOTALLY protect yourself is to not attack at all!

The plan of just avoiding the problem student isn't always possible if you train in a small dojo. And if you're new and the over zealous student is more advanced, you might not have the option of not training with him/her. You're also putting other students at risk who might not be aware of this persons training methods. This just can't be allowed to continue!

You can always ask the person to just ease up when their throws get a little too aggressive or their locks go to far. Slowing things down is a great way to curb this.

If you're more advanced/skillful than this person, and they continue to train this way even after you've asked them to ease up, maybe you might consider explaining this to them in a more physical way! There's a saying in my dojo: "Paybacks are always a few seconds away". I'm not saying that you should intentionally hurt somebody, but if you SHOW them what they are doing, in a controlled manner, and they actually FEEL what they're doing to other students, then that might be the best way to get them to undrerstand what they've been doing & stop it!

But however you decide to handle this situation, please tell your instructor what's going on!

Best regards,

Brian Vickery

Brian Vickery

"The highest level of technique to achieve is that of having NO technique!"
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Old 11-30-2005, 10:20 AM   #10
stuarttheobald
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

When you give yourself as Uke you are relying on nage to look after you and there ahs to be that trust there, if you are unsure then dont train with them.

We always look at the belt wrapped around the person to also give us a clue as to how hard/fast your techniques should be....what you do to a brown belt you would never dream of doing to a white belt.

Ultimatley its about communication with your partner, i have weak wrists and so tell teh person before we start any techniques that they dont have to put teh techniques on too hard as the effect is magnified
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Old 12-01-2005, 01:41 AM   #11
Nick Simpson
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

'Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as nage?'

No

'Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as uke?'

Most of the time.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 12-01-2005, 08:16 AM   #12
Steve Mullen
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Quote:
Nick Simpson wrote:
'Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as nage?'

No .
True, the lump under my eye off tim told me that

Quote:
Nick Simpson wrote:
'Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as uke?'

Most of the time.
not true, the lump on the top of my head off YOU told me that, god its good to be back training

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 12-01-2005, 10:05 AM   #13
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Our top kid student came back from a month in Japan very determined to show what he'd learned. He got me into a koteoroshi (like kotagaeshi) pin and my shoulder was hurting for two days afterwards. I don't know that I did anything wrong, other than letting him get me there in the first place. You're really vulnerable there--that's why it's a good pin.

Relaxing the shoulder and extending ki through the arm will reduce the chance that uke gets hurt while pinned, but if nage pushes hard enough something bad will still happen.

We don't tolerate "it was uke's mistake" where pins are concerned. If uke's arm is unsafely straight or he's tensing it up in a dangerous way, nage is responsible for fixing this before proceeding.

Mary Kaye
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Old 12-05-2005, 05:43 PM   #14
Black and Blue
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

There is no way to completely protect yourself as uke. As soon as uke commits to attack nage, he compromises his safety. But the uke can do a number of things to keep himself safe: Uke should never attack too fast. Uke should try to sense what the nage is doing and try to stay a beat ahead. Uke should not allow the nage to manhandle him. Uke should only fall from a throw when he is able. Uke should tap out when he feels pain from a lock. Uke should also be aware of his fellow akidoka on the mat. Uke should also let nage know if he has any physical problem.
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Old 12-06-2005, 06:37 AM   #15
tarik
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
I do totally understand that you cannot make MA risk-free, and this is not my point here. It's more a case of wondering what one can do to protect oneself from those folk on the mat who don't quite understand that Aikido is not about applying technique as harshly as they can to joints that won't survive it uninjured!
Ruth,

I missed participating in the discussion on aikido-l due to life stuff, but thought I'd comment here.

I've thought a lot about what you post and I think you have received a lot of good feedback already. At this point in my own training, I am fairly confdent in my ability to protect my body, but there is always the dimension of how to deal with those who are; intentionally or otherwise, not aware of the risks involved.

So remember to use your options. You can tap out (in many ways). Only you can determine when your joints are truly in peril, and you should only test those limits with partners you trust implicitly.

If your partner doesn't respect the tap, you have a valid reason to not train with them, as they are violating the training contract and are not the sort of partner you can implicitly trust. So with them, simply make your margins large enough to protect your safety.

Sometimes those margins are so large prevent our training with some people; but as our skill and understanding progress, that should go away.

Tarik

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 12-06-2005, 07:57 AM   #16
jk
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
Do you think it is possible to protect yourself completely as nage?

-- Jun
Sure, if you're willing to go half-assed all the time in terms of intent, speed and power. Otherwise prepare to accept a few dings, even as nage.

I had somebody go full throttle on me with shihonage and encouraged him to put me through the mat repeatedly; I was being quite cooperative. He managed to dislocate his thumb in the process, and required surgery. I felt really bad about this one.
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Old 10-31-2006, 09:34 AM   #17
med
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

I could comment about the way I feel shite should approach Uke in training but I think thats not relavent to the question. The question was about UKE!!

I agree I think the answer is no. I do however think that a Dan grade should be able to protect themself from most people as uke. For the benefit of their own training its in your best interests to be as close to the edge as possible as uke. thats where you start to learn some really cool stuff.

I'm confident enough personally to go to the most egotistical ahole dojo in the world and train with their biggest gorilla without to much fear of injury. I have done that before to 'take one for the team' if you like and avoid injury to less hardy Aikidoka. Dont get me wrong i was pooing my pants scared. Im not saying that im not afraid of anything or nervous of injury. But I know my ability and trusted in that.

Also this doesnt mean that I always train at the edge. Or that I always throw poeple hard. Just that Im glad that when I need to I can pull a good fall out of the bag.

All of this though is purely personal and may not apply to you. It may also be that physically i am reasonably durable as it is, which sort of makes up when my speed goes down the pan cos im cream crackered.

On an entirely irrelavent note. Sensei Mustard recently through me as hard as ive ever been thrown by anyone and the only thing that i felt was floor. lots off floor mind. a bit more floor and then a bit of floor. it was full tilt balls to the wall Sokumen Iriminage and it didn't hurt. (well maybe the floor hurt a bit but you know what i mean)

Last edited by med : 10-31-2006 at 09:39 AM.

med
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Old 10-31-2006, 11:14 AM   #18
ian
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

I think you can protect youself against anything when you get good enough if the intention isn't to break bits off you.

I think its possible to have an enormous amount of control over the break-falls and ukemi. Even if you are thrown down quite hard (though its not pleasant and probably would make you punch drunk in time).

However, a tight wrist technique (kote-gaeshi, nikkyo, sankyo, shiho-nage) could be forced on so fast and hard, and in such a direction, that it would break the wrist (or dislocate shoulder with shiho-nage). This could be done without uke being able to foresee the speed at which it is applied and also forcing the choice of a wrist break or a damaging throw. Rokyo and zenponage could also be applied fast and hard enough to break the elbow with no escape.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-31-2006, 11:36 AM   #19
DonMagee
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Safety breeds complacency. I pefer to not be totally safe. If i'm in no danger, what is the point?

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 10-31-2006, 12:17 PM   #20
ramenboy
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

i thought that was why we learn to take ukemi...to protect ourselves
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:03 PM   #21
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Protecting oneself as uke

Completely, always and forever risk free? Impossible. Shit happens. However:
Martial arts are about observation and awareness before physical contact begins, pay more attention to nage's demeanor if you don't know them.
Anticipation is not the same as expectation.
Learn to follow ( many ukes try to determine the way tori should move (for their own comfort and out of fear) often resulting in a collision of intentions
Dont train with maniacs, someone will get hurt badly (not necessarily you!)
Get stronger and more flexible
Train to the edges of safety (from time to time)
Ukemi is not about rolling or falling, it is about receiving and dissipating uke's energy and thereby paving the way for kaeshi.
Don't be a "crash test dummy" ;-)

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