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Old 02-02-2005, 04:29 PM   #1
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Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

Discuss the article, "Taking Ukemi and Being Uke" by Peter Boylan here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/training/boylan4.html
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Old 02-12-2005, 05:27 PM   #2
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

I've heard of schools that require a test applicant to perform as ike as well as demonstrate techniques as nage.
This seems like a step in the direction you talk about.

Also, Aikido Today Magazine's current issue interviews 3 European teachers ,(Jan Nevelius, Frank Ostoff and Jorma Lyley) who are attracting a following there and in the US by advocating an emphasis on uke's role, among other things.

Great article!

Jeanne Shepard

< www.tantobeak.com >
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Old 10-12-2007, 11:51 AM   #3
mikebalko
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

I agree 100%. Many people stop training because of the ridiculous way uke in their local aikido dojo "attack". This "attack" is basically something the uke came up with on his on to make an aikido lock or throw impossible for anybody to perform, by doing this he is opening himslef to be creamed by strikes, but due to a common misconception about aikido philosophy nage will usually never even point that out with even just a feint. What is most infuriating is when a senior practitioner does this to every member in the dojo except the sensei who he takes falls for in order to demonstrate "the technique" to the class. In reality what is being demonstrated is useless cooperativer choreography which resembles an aikido technique to those who don't know any better. What is funny is when a beginner attacks the sensei in the same way this senior attacks his juniors and a newb with 6 months of experience can block anything a sensei with 20 plus years of experience might try, including transitioning into some other lock or throw than the one originally demonstrated! The worst part is that I have witnessed this from 6th dans under Saotome sensei who is known for stressig suki and atemi! Although I have never been a member of any koryu I teach logical, effective attacks in which the uke does not present any openings for strikes or any techniques which could injure him and which allow uke to sense where nage is putting strength into a technique (instead of just letting it happen) so uke can counter. The fact that this was ignored is the reason I disassociated from any large political aikido organization. A perfect example of what I am talking about is shomen uchi empty handed. This is usually practiced as a strike with the edge of the hand to the top of the head. This attack is completely useless in a fight, it is telegraphed, leaves uke wide open to pre-emptive strikes when he delivers it and to counter strikes when it is easily deflected, blocked or avoided, that is why you will never see anybody actually use it in a fight, aikido shihan included, yet most people still practice it that way. First of all, the distance is wrong. It is in reality a simulation of a weapon attack delivered from outside the range of any of nage's natural weapons(empty handed strikes and kicks), practiced empty handed for the safety of a beginner nage who might be practicing with an uke with poor control. This should not be forgotten and the proper maai maintained, this way it is impossible for anyone to resist or counter nage's properly executed technique.
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Old 10-14-2007, 11:52 AM   #4
Don
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

The article is very correct about being uke and following the inital attack with follow-through both in attitude and physical movement. I would argue one small point that one poster included. While a shomenuchi attack derives from sword movement, and while an empty hand attack is less likely to look like that attack, the movement in an of itself is a training artifact in timing and entering or turning. Once nage has for instance the timing and movement down for shomenuchi ikkyo omote (or ura) one can begin practicing the same response to a left hook or a right cross. The timing is easier to learn from shomenuchi that it is from a straight (horizontal) punch to the face from the left or right. Its just an artifact of the training methodology that has been handed down to us. If one insists that everything one learns be absolutely applicable from day one, then training in shomenuchi attacks makes no sense except in the context of perhaps knife attacks. However, if one recognizes that certain motions are trained for best with specific attacks and techniques (think Karate Kid and "wax on wax off") then training in what seem to be arcane attacks makes more sense.
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Old 10-14-2007, 12:59 PM   #5
mikebalko
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

The problem is not only with not following through but with the initial "attack" itself. Shomen uchi, the way it is usually demonstrated and trained today, was simply a method of demonstrating what aikido looks like without actually giving anything away in terms self defense application or combat effectiveness. An example of the japanese riddle/ "figure it out for yourself" instruction method. The distance and ability to string together combinations of attacks is completely different when comparing the type of weapon attack I refered to in my last post (the kind that aikido joint locks and throws were actually intended to be used against) to a boxer entering into a maai where he is close enough to be struck himself in order to deliver hooks and crosses. Attempting to enter and turn with ikkyo against such an assault is as completely ineffective and suicidal as trying to stand your ground and trade blows empty handed with someone wielding a katana.They are two completely different methods of attack which require completely different responses. Training in something that makes no sense and is not immediately applicable, or at elast recognized as applicable by someone with sufficient training, experience and skill, is a complete waste of time. The type of shomen uchi attack which is illogical and counter productive can be applied to a knife attack as well if uke holds the tanto in a reverse grip, by doing so he gives away the reach advantage his weapon provides him. The type of shomen uchi attack which makes efficient use of a weapon and offers the attacker protection from being struck or injured himself can be performed with a sword, a knife, a club, a jo, even very small short weapons which do not offer the attacker any reach advantage unless they are thrown, often using the shomen uchi movement.

Last edited by mikebalko : 10-14-2007 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 10-14-2007, 03:55 PM   #6
Don
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

Well, I respectfully have to disagree. Here is a specific lesson I taught our class. After the typical warm-ups I demonstrate shomenuchi ikkyo for the millionth time, and we practice both omote and ura. Now, the type of attack I insist on is a shomenuchi sword movement made with the arm, with the intention that uke is going to cut through nage's head and cleave them in half down to uke's obi. So, if nage waits too long, they can't really do ikkyo omote and will have some adjusting to do ikkyo ura. So we practice that a lot.

Then we transition. First I have to work on right cross and left hook since most don't have good form. Then I point out that boxer (or wild hitter) maai is closer than normal aikido maai, and if you don't ahve your arms up and out in ikkyo position you are asking to get hit. You will not have the reaction time. Then I demonstrate that if uke comes in with say a right cross AND you have your arms out, it is a simple matter to move to the outside, make a connection and then turn with your feet in the same relative position (not full tenkan) and execute a really effective ikkyo technique. It also puts you behind uke and leaves you open to do other techniques. It seems like its not at all related to shomenuchi ikkyo but it is and I found that trying to teach it going right to a right cross is more difficult than if the students work on shomenuchi ikkyo a lot first. And I learned this from one of those visiting 6th Dan's of Satome who happened to be in town and visited our dojo.....But hey what works for me may not seem very productive to you so as long as the students get it that I suppose is what counts in the end. Always interesting to hear other teaching techniques....!
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Old 10-15-2007, 12:41 AM   #7
thomasgroendal
 
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

My particular take is to teach a counter, usually by demonstrating it for stiff, or overfocused attacks. For Ikkyo I find a common mis-resistance to be to stiffen up the shoulder and upper body. I usually talk about their being options, and snap a kick into the groin area.

This is of course all flash and no bang, but I do it with the intent to contact strong enough that it usually takes uke out of "be stiff, or don't be ikkyoed" long enough that the ikkyo then drops them like a stone.

My other option, for a more Aiki-ish alternative, is to slide the front foot as far as the uke's lead foot, and hook the heal with the arch of my foot. I slide my lead hand from the upper arm, or wherever, to the other side of the neck and weight underside/pull from the base of the neck, around and down, like peeling an orange. At the same time I pivot on the lead food and bring the person down. This also has the benefit of dropping the uke right in front of you for potential control techniques, and protecting the head in the fall for situations when you have parameters for use of force.

Instead of telling the uke they are being a bad uke, which only feeds the skeptic inside, I have the nage practice this alternative, and that switch back and forth. The uke is to occasionally choose to lock up the shoulder, and typically to stay relaxed enough not to open themselves up to easy strikes or the counter throw. "kokyunage from blocked ikkyo?"

This way by playing in the paradigm, you can encourage the students to see the learning process and learn to make the correct decision when someone who should be or maybe purposefully tries to be

For ikkyo ura I use an armbar alternative, or nikkyo. etc. etc. I think the pedagogical key is that you provide a clearly defined paradigm for alternative A and B, and discourage the immediate overwhelming data to sift through in an anything goes scenario...

Life is choice.
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:43 AM   #8
Dieter Haffner
 
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

I like to see shomenuchi as uke's defense to a pre-emptive strike to the head from tori.

If tori's timing is perfect, he will knock uke in the head and it is over.
If tori is a bit slower, uke will be able to defend his head by raising his arm, when uke's balance is broken, go through with omote.
When tori is even slower and uke's balance is not broken, you might have to go for ura (depends on the energy of uke).
If tori does not have any clue about the pre-emptive strike and is waiting for the first strike of uke, he can expect something else then shomenuchi.

Just my thoughts on the subject
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:30 AM   #9
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

Quote:
Dieter Haffner wrote: View Post
I like to see shomenuchi as uke's defense to a pre-emptive strike to the head from tori.

If tori's timing is perfect, he will knock uke in the head and it is over.
If tori is a bit slower, uke will be able to defend his head by raising his arm, when uke's balance is broken, go through with omote.
When tori is even slower and uke's balance is not broken, you might have to go for ura (depends on the energy of uke).
If tori does not have any clue about the pre-emptive strike and is waiting for the first strike of uke, he can expect something else then shomenuchi.

Just my thoughts on the subject
preemptive strike is a more advance approach which I am in favor. tori/nage initiated the strike. uke used standard karate respond with high raising block and a punch. tori/nage dropped the ikkyo omote or ura (depends on tori/nage mood) on uke. if uke doesn't raise his/her arm up to block, the shomen uchi strike becomes a palm strike (similar to iron palm) to uke nose. of course uke can always respond differently with a kick or something else, but tori/nage has the initiative and would follow through with something else. If you watched Mary Heiny sensei, then you will see that she didn't wait for uke to start.

sometimes you have to put yourself into a vulnerable position in order to illicit a respond from the other person. Not everything is as it seemed.
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:30 PM   #10
mikebalko
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Re: Article: Taking Ukemi and Being Uke by Peter Boylan

Hi Don, what is the point of pretending that a hand can cleave a person's skull in half? What happnes to your tecnique if uke doesn't hit that hard and attempt to penetrate so much out of an understandable fear of actually making contact with the skull and breaking his own hand? Having Nage put his arms up sounds like a boxer's strategy to me. What happens to nage's arms when you put a blade in the boxer's or wild hitter's hand? Does it really work for you? I am by no means a pro boxer but I haven't found anyone who can execute an ikkyo on me (without causing me to break my own posture by making me avoid a strike a first) when I start circling, using feints, level and angle changes and combinations. I would like to know the name of the ASU 6th dan that can make what you describe work so I can attend one of his seminars and be proven wrong. If it actually is a skill that can be learned by anyone why couldn't any of the the three dan ranked ASU instructors who first taught me aikido ever pull it off?
Hello Thomas, if safe maai is maintained by uke resistance or stiffness accomplishes nothing, the first technique still works effortlessly and smoothly. As a matter of fact, this type of strong, static attack should be practiced before ki no nagare in order to get a solid basis in the mechanics of the art. Most attackers are by definition resistant and stiff( which is exactly why they aren't much of threat) so why even bother with the ikkyo attempt at the wrong distance when it would be more efficient to just kick the groin as the first option, especially with the possibility of having to deal with a second attacker? How is not striking an opening more "aiki-ish" when the founder of aikido stated that his art was 90% strikes?
Hey Dieter, I agree with you, but only when weapons are being used (nage wielding a much longer one, like a boken when uke is armed only with a tanto) nage only feints as opposed to actually striking and the proper distance is being maintained, the reason being the vulnerability to a kick mentioned by phitruog.
Phitruog, the only way a shomen uchi strike can become a palm strike to the nose is if nage decides to look up at the ceiling at the moment of impact since a shomen uchi is a strike to the top of the head. A downward strike to the nose with the palm is not a useless technique empty handed in terms of results but it is called shomen ate. If uke throws a kick at the same time that nage commits to a forward step with shomen uchi empty handed the only way nage will be following through will be to collapse to the ground.
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