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Old 10-26-2007, 09:42 PM   #1
G DiPierro
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Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

I've been getting some questions and requests to post something in more detail on resistance training. So, here is a very basic overview on the four levels of resistance training. THIS IS NOT A HOW-TO OR INSTRUCTIONAL GUIDE, and I take no responsibility for the consequences of the use or misuse of this information. I just drew this up in a few minutes and it's not by any means a final or definitive statement on anything. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

First, let me define a couple of terms that I will use later:

Passive connection: allowing the other person to feel where your center is through your body.

Active connection: feeling where the other person's center is through his body. In a martial context, this includes attacking the other person's center by trying to gain control of it and move it where you want it to be.

Now, for the four levels:
  1. Compliant: Uke works to establish and maintain passive connection with nage's center. If nage breaks the connection, uke will reestablish it by "following" the nage's movement.

    This level of training is what is typically found in aikido, but it is useless except for learning choreographed techniques that have little relevance to a real situation. Often I will train with yudansha at seminars who break out of my grab and then chide me to "hold on" because they have never progressed beyond the level of compliant training. In my dojo, I don't even start beginners out at this level since there is really no good reason to spend any time here.
    .
  2. Passive resistance: Uke initially establishes passive connection with nage's center via his attack, but does not attempt to reestablish it if nage breaks it. Uke also does not attempt to break the connection himself or to attack nage's center with the intention of taking control of it.

    This is useful for training nage how to maintain a connection with uke's center, which is very important but still only the first step in learning how to perform aikido effectively against realistic opponents. This is the most basic level of resistance training I do at my dojo, and it's also the level of resistance that I like to give people at aikido seminars. It is still often too much for many experienced aikido people, who not infrequently respond by getting upset and going to a much higher level of resistance themselves (usually the third one here but sometimes the fourth). However, most aikido shihan can throw someone working at this level in a freestyle context, even if not in the context of a set technique, although they too might get upset when they encounter it.
    .
  3. Active resistance: Uke initially does not establish any connection with nage's center via his attack and attempts to break any connection that nage attempts to establish with his center. However, this is still a passive form of ukemi since uke does not attempt to establish an active connection with nage's center.

    This is useful for training nage how to establish and reestablish connection with nage's center, which is crucial in learning how to use your aikido against realistic attacks and resistance. This is typically the highest level of resistance that I will go to when taking ukemi for anyone at aikido seminars (and even then only very rarely), as it is very difficult to overcome even for relatively skilled practitioners.
    .
  4. Countering: Uke attempts to establish an active connection with nage's center via his attack with the intention of physically moving nage's body (perhaps to the floor). Uke also works to reestablish this connection if nage breaks it and to thwart or break free from any of nage”Ēs attempts to establish such a connection with uke”Ēs center.

    This is a true attack. At this point, there is no distinction between the role of uke and nage, so against an opponent trying to fight back it becomes freestyle kaeshi-waza training. This is the highest level of resistance training and the one at which I like to practice at myself. This is the level of resistance that sparring and matches in all competitive arts take place at.

These levels are not set in stone, just rough descriptions of common training scenarios. It is important to realize that the level of resistance can also be changed during a technique for various reasons (some good, some not). For example, technically speaking, the second level I presented here is actually a hybrid with the initial attack being compliant and the remainder being passive resistance. This is because a level where the uke does not establish any connection with nage's center without any intent to break any connection that the nage creates makes little sense from a martial training perspective.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 10-26-2007 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 10-28-2007, 03:22 PM   #2
A Reed
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

Hi Giancarlo

Could there also be 3 extra categories (say A, B and C) which could classify what type of power is being used to bring about the ‘resistance'. For example:

Type A -- Relaxed internal power (jin/kokyu/ki or whatever you want to call it).

Type B -- A mixture of internal power and isolated muscle tension.

Type C - Only isolated muscle tension.

For example it could then be said that type 1C resistance (combining your scale with this scale) would mean that a small amount of physical tension is used to provide a connection. It would be Just enough to connect but not enough to disrupt.

Or type 4A would be actively trying to disrupt and counter your partner using internal skills while 4C would be actively trying to disrupt with muscle.

I'm not sure if all the combinations would work but would this help to clarify things in some situations?

Regards

Andrew
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Old 10-29-2007, 04:42 PM   #3
Aran Bright
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

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Andrew Reed wrote: View Post
Hi Giancarlo

Could there also be 3 extra categories (say A, B and C) which could classify what type of power is being used to bring about the ‘resistance'. For example:

Type A -- Relaxed internal power (jin/kokyu/ki or whatever you want to call it).

Type B -- A mixture of internal power and isolated muscle tension.

Type C - Only isolated muscle tension.

For example it could then be said that type 1C resistance (combining your scale with this scale) would mean that a small amount of physical tension is used to provide a connection. It would be Just enough to connect but not enough to disrupt.

Or type 4A would be actively trying to disrupt and counter your partner using internal skills while 4C would be actively trying to disrupt with muscle.

I'm not sure if all the combinations would work but would this help to clarify things in some situations?

Regards

Andrew
Good question Andrew,

I would mostly agree with the above outline for resistance training, as long as it is understood from the outset what is going on. Perhaps some of the reasons that people get upset is that they are expecting a certain level of co-operation and get something else.

I for one know that when I am at a seminar I am often trying to get my head around new stuff and would want level 2 resistance, certainly not active resistance. Demonstrations would be similar.

One of the other factors that should be considered too is that resistance is really against the idea of using ki, when developing ki you can only offer token resistance as anything more will be using strength and counter productive.

Just a few thoughts.

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Old 10-29-2007, 04:51 PM   #4
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

Quote:
Aran Bright wrote: View Post
One of the other factors that should be considered too is that resistance is really against the idea of using ki, when developing ki you can only offer token resistance as anything more will be using strength and counter productive.
So one can't resist using ki?

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 10-29-2007, 06:13 PM   #5
A Reed
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

Thanks Aran

If resistance=local muscle then I would agree with you about it being against the idea of using ki. But I was trying to point out that in my limited experience I think it is possible for someone skilled enough with ki to stop a technique completely using only those internal skills and not local muscle.

What they are doing physically might appear to an onlooker no different to physical resistance that a complete beginner could offer. Even a tori who has not had much exposure to being stopped with ki might confuse this for local muscle resistance. But a tori who knows the feel of the difference between local resistance and being stopped with ki may be able to use the situation to improve their own internal skills.

In that case it could be argued that the uke is practicing using their ki and giving the tori the opportunity to feel and work out how they are being stopped. The tori is being given the opportunity to work out how to use their ki in order to continue with the technique. So what can appear as 'resistance' is actually a useful learning experience, unlike being stopped with local muscle when you are just trying to get started!!

But this depends on both people knowing that this is what is being practiced and on uke using the appropriate amount of ki for the toris level (i.e not too much otherwise it just becomes an ego thing in the same way as too much local muscle resistance).

In that way once both tori and uke are far enough advanced in ki skills maybe type 4A resistance would be very useful at training ki?
To someone with a high enough skilled level perhaps even type 4C would be a useful experience to just experiment with what can be done?

Hope that makes sense.

Regards

Andrew
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Old 10-29-2007, 06:25 PM   #6
G DiPierro
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Re: Resistance training overview: the FIVE basic levels

Looks like I originally posted this overview a little before it was truly ready for public release. After I thought about it some more I decided that it makes more sense to add another level differentiating between level 2, which is a hybrid level incorporating a compliant attack followed by passive resistance, and pure passive resistance, now at level 3, which I think does have some usefulness as a transitional level between semi-compliant and active resistance. Since Jun Akiyama would not allow me to edit the original post, here is the new list:
  1. Compliant: Uke works to establish and maintain passive connection with nage's center. If nage breaks the connection, uke will reestablish it by "following" the nage's movement. This level of training is what is typically found in aikido and it is only useful for learning and practicing choreographed movements.
  2. Semi-Compliant: Uke initially establishes passive connection with nage's center via his attack, but does not attempt to reestablish it if nage breaks it. Uke also does not attempt to break the connection himself but allows nage to control and throw him as long as nage maintains the connection. This is a hybrid level with the initial attack being compliant and the remainder of the ukemi being done at the level of passive resistance, and it is useful for training nage how to maintain a connection with uke's center.
  3. Passive Resistance: Uke initially does not establish any connection with nage's center via his attack but also does not try to break connection once nage establishes it, instead allowing nage to throw him as in the previous level as long as the connection is maintained. This is a transitional level between semi-compliant and active resistance, and it is useful for training nage how to initially establish connection with uke”Ēs center.
  4. Active Resistance: As in the previous level, uke initially does not establish any connection with nage's center via his attack, however following this uke attempts to break any connection that nage attempts to establish with his center and thus prevent nage from throwing him. This is useful for training nage how to spontaneously and continuously reestablish connection with uke's center and also excellent training for uke to learn how to avoid being thrown.
  5. Countering: Uke attempts to establish an active connection with nage's center via his attack with the intention of physically moving nage's body (typically to the floor). Uke also works to reestablish this connection if nage breaks it and to thwart or break free from any of nage”Ēs attempts to establish such a connection with uke”Ēs center. This is freestyle kaeshi-waza practice with no distinction between the roles of uke and nage.

The intent of this list is to show how the levels of semi-complaint, passive resistance, and active resistance can be used to gradually increase the challenge that uke presents to nage as nage progressively learns the building blocks of controlling uke's center. They are training methods meant to work towards the point where nage can immediately take control of uke's center and then maintain that control through a technique despite uke's attempts to break that control and either to relaunch another attack or counter nage's technique.

Ultimately all a list like this does is to try to describe a complex real-life interaction in way that makes it easy to isolate and understand some aspects of the interaction. The options that Andrew proposed are another way of looking at resistance training, focusing on a slightly different aspect of the interaction. Both approaches are useful in describing some of the concepts to think about in engaging in this kind of training, although both are also limited in that they look only at some small aspect of a scenario that can, in practice, be very rich and complex. However, this is also true of all other approaches to training martial arts as well.
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Old 10-29-2007, 10:32 PM   #7
wxyzabc
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

Hya GDipierro

Really nice post and very informative...this is something not many people consider...I'm sure it will give many people, myself included something to think about regardless of their level.

Thanks for sharing..

Lee
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Old 10-30-2007, 04:15 AM   #8
Aran Bright
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

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So one can't resist using ki?
Larry,

Yes, of course you can, I just feel that resistance is so easily focused on normal strength, it can make it so much harder to develop your ki/kokyu skills if resistance training if done prematurely.

Andrew,

I like what you are saying, I'd just drop the type B. It so hard to figure out one from the other the getting stuck somewhere in the middle is too easy.

Giancarlo,

Overall like your ideas, its just that resistance training too early can negate the chance to understand ki, I am fairly certain I have read before that O'sensei didn't allow resistance until third dan. But as a general guide to martial arts and aikido training I reckon that is a guide set of guidelines.

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Old 10-30-2007, 09:52 AM   #9
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Re: Resistance training overview: the FIVE basic levels

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Looks like I originally posted this overview a little before it was truly ready for public release. After I thought about it some more I decided that it makes more sense to add another level differentiating between level 2, which is a hybrid level incorporating a compliant attack followed by passive resistance, and pure passive resistance, now at level 3, which I think does have some usefulness as a transitional level between semi-compliant and active resistance. Since Jun Akiyama would not allow me to edit the original post, here is the new list:
  1. Compliant: Uke works to establish and maintain passive connection with nage's center. If nage breaks the connection, uke will reestablish it by "following" the nage's movement. This level of training is what is typically found in aikido and it is only useful for learning and practicing choreographed movements.
  2. Semi-Compliant: Uke initially establishes passive connection with nage's center via his attack, but does not attempt to reestablish it if nage breaks it. Uke also does not attempt to break the connection himself but allows nage to control and throw him as long as nage maintains the connection. This is a hybrid level with the initial attack being compliant and the remainder of the ukemi being done at the level of passive resistance, and it is useful for training nage how to maintain a connection with uke's center.
  3. Passive Resistance: Uke initially does not establish any connection with nage's center via his attack but also does not try to break connection once nage establishes it, instead allowing nage to throw him as in the previous level as long as the connection is maintained. This is a transitional level between semi-compliant and active resistance, and it is useful for training nage how to initially establish connection with uke”Ēs center.
  4. Active Resistance: As in the previous level, uke initially does not establish any connection with nage's center via his attack, however following this uke attempts to break any connection that nage attempts to establish with his center and thus prevent nage from throwing him. This is useful for training nage how to spontaneously and continuously reestablish connection with uke's center and also excellent training for uke to learn how to avoid being thrown.
  5. Countering: Uke attempts to establish an active connection with nage's center via his attack with the intention of physically moving nage's body (typically to the floor). Uke also works to reestablish this connection if nage breaks it and to thwart or break free from any of nage”Ēs attempts to establish such a connection with uke”Ēs center. This is freestyle kaeshi-waza practice with no distinction between the roles of uke and nage.

The intent of this list is to show how the levels of semi-complaint, passive resistance, and active resistance can be used to gradually increase the challenge that uke presents to nage as nage progressively learns the building blocks of controlling uke's center. They are training methods meant to work towards the point where nage can immediately take control of uke's center and then maintain that control through a technique despite uke's attempts to break that control and either to relaunch another attack or counter nage's technique.

Ultimately all a list like this does is to try to describe a complex real-life interaction in way that makes it easy to isolate and understand some aspects of the interaction. The options that Andrew proposed are another way of looking at resistance training, focusing on a slightly different aspect of the interaction. Both approaches are useful in describing some of the concepts to think about in engaging in this kind of training, although both are also limited in that they look only at some small aspect of a scenario that can, in practice, be very rich and complex. However, this is also true of all other approaches to training martial arts as well.
Not bad...Nothing new here...A good basic approach.

William Hazen
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Old 10-30-2007, 06:27 PM   #10
G DiPierro
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

Glad a few people are getting something out of this post. As for Andrew's types of resistance I'm thinking that someone who knows how to resist internally would not really want to resist only with muscle. It would feel somewhat unnatural and perhaps even unsafe in a martial context since so much of the internal stuff is something that you embody naturally rather than turn on and off. It's also not very useful since you want to train with internal resistance as much as possible anyway.

I'd say leave the muscle-only resistance to beginners (and others) who don't have any internal skill. I like to encourage new people to try to use anything they have learned elsewhere and see what I can do against it, and so I will usually let people resist me with whatever they can initially. That's typically going to be muscle only until they start learning the other stuff. One of the goals of this is for them to realize that this doesn't work, and another nice benefit is that it allows me to practice against natural, untrained (by me, at least) resistance. Once they learn enough of the other kind of resistance to make that practice not as worthwhile, then I will usually have them start to focus on relaxing more, since that is the important and more difficult part.

You can always add the muscle you have to internal resistance to make things harder, but since aikido is not about using muscle power it doesn't make sense to me to train in this specifically. My philosophy is that you should train mainly in the stuff you want to be able to do, both as uke and nage, and this is also one reason why I don't do striking techniques much, even in full resistance freestyle. However, since not everyone is going to train the way you do, it's useful to occasionally work against things that are outside of you own training goals but within the realm of what you might face from someone really trying to get you, such as combined internal and external resistance and striking techniques.
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Old 11-01-2007, 08:29 AM   #11
Amir Krause
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

The following links are to a set of lectures by one Shihan in Korindo Aikido. They describe the basic pedagogical approach of Korindo Aikido.

On Kata:
http://www.freewebz.com/aikido/lecture/unit5.htm

In fact, at least in Israel (possibly due to cultural aspects), most beginners tend to be more resistive then they should and keep trying to counter and resist techniques, long before they or their partner gets a basic grasp of the technique.
Advanced students normally change their behavior according to the ques they get from Sensei on the purpose of a specific exercise. Thus we may either make a beginner technique work before he knows how to (Yundasha are required to learn this skill as a symbol of understanding techniques) or make life extremely difficult for an advanced student (either timing wise, or requiring high level accuracy or else one will follow the power out of the technique).
We train against strong grasps or strong and fast attacks from time to time, but, these are specific exercises done when both Uke and Tori know the results.

In Korindo Aikido we also practice "free play", with both sides free to attack, apply techniques and counter (Keashi waza) at will.

The following lecture explains the different stages of this practice:
http://www.freewebz.com/aikido/lecture/unit6.htm
and:
http://www.freewebz.com/aikido/lecture/unit7.htm

I should mention that in fact, we tend to proceed to the advanced steps to soon, and Sensei has to keep hammer into our heads the purpose is to learn and not to compete \ prove ability.

However I would never call the above process "resistance training". Since we constantly train ourselves to avoid any resistance, our basic philosophy is that our opponent is always stronger, thus, if Uke resists one technique, Tori should simply perform another (and preferably utilize Uke resistance for the Kuzushi and next technique). Obviously, when doing Kata, this solution is not an option, and resistance can then be very problematic for a students progress (my slution is to return to the Kata, oftenafter showing Uke I have a different answer to his resistence ).

Amir
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Old 11-01-2007, 09:10 AM   #12
Timothy WK
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

I'm a little confused by semi-compliant vs passive resistance. Specifically, I'm a little confused by what you mean by "uke initially establishing a connection (or not) with nage via his attack".

Would you expand that a bit?

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 11-01-2007, 03:31 PM   #13
G DiPierro
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
I'm a little confused by semi-compliant vs passive resistance. Specifically, I'm a little confused by what you mean by "uke initially establishing a connection (or not) with nage via his attack".
OK, Let's start with compliant. This is compliant training:



This position, which is very common in aikido, only happens because because uke connecting himself to nage's center and then "following" nage wherever he goes. In this kind of ukemi, uke's intent is to allow nage to throw him no matter what nage does. This is often what is considered good ukemi in aikido, but it has no martial validity at all.

Semi-compliant, as I have described it, just means that uke initially connects himself to nage's center as if he were to going to take compliant ukemi. While waiting for nage to move he will also keep pressing lightly into this connection so that nage can feel the direction and intent. However, once nage moves, uke does not make any attempt to follow, but rather simply maintains the same energy he already established. If nage uses this energy to take control of uke's body, uke doesn't fight that, but if not, uke stays put.

In this type of practice it is important to have no attachment to whether nage is successful or not, since it is not a competition. It is just uke modeling the energy of the attack so that nage can work on blending with it. This level of ukemi has a much greater degree of martial validity than the previous one, but it is still very much a training tool where uke is allowing nage to perform the technique under very artificial circumstances.

Passive resistance is the same as semi-compliant except uke does not initially give nage a compliant type of connection with his center. The difference is where the energy of the attack is directed. He would grab or strike in a way that does not connect and expose his center to nage's center and then maintain this same energy as in the previous level, allowing nage to throw him if nage is able to find uke's center and take control of his body, but staying put if not. Uke still does nothing to try to stop or fight nage's attempts to control him, but also he does not try to help nage control him as in compliant training. He just focuses on maintaining the energy of the attack.

Hope this helps. It is difficult to describe these things in words, which is why I tried to make it clear that this was not meant for instructional purposes. It's the type of thing where I could show you all five levels in person in a couple of minutes, and it would be much clearer exactly what I am talking about.
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Old 11-01-2007, 04:01 PM   #14
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
It is difficult to describe these things in words... It's the type of thing where I could show you all five levels in person in a couple of minutes, and it would be much clearer exactly what I am talking about.
I'm sure it would be immediately clear if we were doing this in person.

I get that the difference between semi-compliant and passive resistance is in the initial attack. I think I know what you're getting at. Semi-compliant would be those times the attacker does an "easy" attack or kinda "settles in" before nage responds? Passive resistance would be those times uke gives a "determined" or "realistic" attack? Is that right?

My dojo operates around these levels, generally speaking, with the more senior students engaging in the fourth when they're feeling spunky.

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 11-01-2007, 05:39 PM   #15
G DiPierro
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

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Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
I get that the difference between semi-compliant and passive resistance is in the initial attack. I think I know what you're getting at. Semi-compliant would be those times the attacker does an "easy" attack or kinda "settles in" before nage responds? Passive resistance would be those times uke gives a "determined" or "realistic" attack? Is that right?
Yes and no. Realistic is a difficult word to use when talking about an attack in any kind of training below full-resistance freestyle randori because there is always some holding back of certain aspects of realism to allow the nage the chance to work on something he might not be able to do against a more realistic attack. Of course, which aspects of realism you choose to leave out and why is a major determinate of how useful your training will be against a truly realistic (or real) attack.

The difference between these two level really comes down to whether uke gives nage a connection to his center. In semi-compliant, uke exposes his center to nage's center through the connection and then lightly presses his center into nage in whatever direction is appropriate for the technique. In passive resistance, uke attacks in a way that doesn't expose his center.

Think of how a boxer (for example) would attack compared to the average aikido person. The boxer does not give his opponent a connection to his center (he also remains centered himself, but that's a a slightly different issue). However, a boxer or MMA fighter would also try to break connection if his opponent tried to establish it. This is at the active resistance level (or higher). In passive resistance uke does not give the connection, but does not try to break it either.

It's really just a training tool to work on the specific aspect of learning to establish connection with uke's center. That's one reason why I did not include in the original list. In practice, these levels are much more fluid, and ukemi could go from compliant to passive-resistance to active-resistance to countering all the same technique. If it still doesn't make sense at this point I wouldn't worry about it too much.
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Old 11-02-2007, 08:30 AM   #16
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

I think we're starting to argue over words. I believe I understanding what you're trying to get at now. (And even if I don't, it really doesn't matter, you said yourself this isn't meant as an instructional guide. Your general point, that there are various levels of resistance, is well taken.)

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 11-02-2007, 08:59 AM   #17
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

I think training with resistance is an excellent tool in its proper context. It can also be compliant in it's own way in that there's a tacit agreement and understanding between the parties as to the levels of resistance being employed (thus, each "complies" with the agreement ) via rulesets, conduct, sportsmanship, etc.
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Old 11-04-2007, 04:18 PM   #18
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Re: Resistance training overview: the four basic levels

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
I think training with resistance is an excellent tool in its proper context. It can also be compliant in it's own way in that there's a tacit agreement and understanding between the parties as to the levels of resistance being employed (thus, each "complies" with the agreement ) via rulesets, conduct, sportsmanship, etc.
Yes. One thing many people don't realize is that even competitive training is actually cooperative, since both parties are cooperating by following the agreed-upon rules of competition. This is why I used the word compliant (I had the first sense in mind) for the level of training where uke follows nage no what nage does.

One other thing that I thought of as a result of some questions asked recently is that, as I see it, the three levels of resistance training are each appropriate for a certain kind of training. Passive resistance (and semi-compliance, which is essentially a sub-level of passive resistance) is designed for kata or fixed-techniqued training where the uke is modeling the energy of a certain attack to allow the nage to learn how to move in response to that attack. Active resistance is designed for fixed-role freestyle practice, what people in aikido usually call jiyu-waza (or oyo-henka, for some). This is because the uke is trying to break the connection, and thus nage must change his movement and thus the technique as necessary to maintain or reestablish it. The final level of countering obviously applies to non-fixed role freestyle training where there is no distinction between uke and nage.
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