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Old 06-01-2009, 08:54 PM   #1
"AnonymousPoster"
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Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

I've been training in Yoseikan budo for 4 months, and this is a bit of an awkward issue for me.

There is woman in the class, ~5 ft tall, and 100 (more or less?) pounds - very light. She has just started training.

My issue - here, and in general - is using just the right amount of force. Specifically, I wonder if I'm using too little force - to the point where she feels insulted. I don't want to use too much force, either, and seem inconsiderate.

Rationally, this seems to me like something that comes with experience (knowing how much force to use with a given partner). I still worry about it though, because I don't want her to feel like I'm judging her strength due to gender (if I am using too little force).

I've always been a bit awkward in social situations, and I can't think of a way of simply asking her about it that doesn't itself seem sexist.

I'm not particularly strong myself, and am 5'11", 145 lbs.

Any suggestions, or polite ways to ask her?

Thank you.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:11 AM   #2
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

IMHO, asking for feedback from any uke (large or strong, male or female) is always acceptable and appreciated.
As her if it feels right? Enough force or too much? Making connection? Taking balance?
Don't make it about gender, make it about training.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:23 AM   #3
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Lynn has it right. Combine that with finding out how much force until they fail (male or female, big or small) while still using proper posture. Once the posture fails under load (that could be just them obviously straining) then lighten up. For shugyo, keep it just on that edge. Always push a little more each keiko, so they keep improving under greater loads.

Wash, rinse, repeat, make accomodations for bad days, etc.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-02-2009, 10:30 AM   #4
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

I'm a woman and the smallest adult in my dojo, so I speak from experience: if you cannot make your technique work on a bigger and stronger person, it means that it's not good. Period. How many times have I practiced a technique with somebody my size (usually a teenager), and, just when I thought I had it, Sensei makes us swap partners, and I find myself looking at some bearded creature one hundred pounds or more heavier than me, and my technique just does not work on them. Aha! Believe me, babying a smaller training partner does not help them. Imagine what will happen when they need to defend on the street, and the beautiful technique that worked so fine on you does not work on a aggressive thug. This is the reason why Sensei will let a small person practice a technique first on someone their own size, or sometimes smaller, so that they can have the coordination for the moves. Then, switching to a stronger partner is necessary.
But I do know how you feel. Precisely because I am short, Sensei sometimes pairs me up with his ten year old daughter. I mean, I know I'm supposed to attack her, but she's so funny and so cute that I often get reprimanded for not attacking hard enough. I'm a woman, and I'm a sucker for cute funny kids.
So be nice to your smaller training partners: let them learn. That means, do attack.
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Old 06-02-2009, 12:17 PM   #5
Nick
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Strong lead... soft finish.

You get to train to your level of comfort and they can still fall at their level of comfort.

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Old 06-02-2009, 02:15 PM   #6
Lan Powers
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Talking Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

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Nick Porter wrote: View Post
Strong lead... soft finish.
Great way to develop control as well as making the ukemi be fun for the uke too......

L

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Old 06-02-2009, 04:08 PM   #7
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Simply ask if you are hurting her/ throwing her too hard. You don't want to slam her. If she is new, chances are her ukemi and slaps aren't that great yet. On the other hand, if she seems to be doing okay with a certain fall, speed it up a tad. Don't baby her (as mentioned above it doesn't help her), but don't slam her either because she isn't ready for it.

Also, watch her face. If she is making faces when she lands, then it just may be hurting her.

Good luck.
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Old 06-02-2009, 05:10 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Also part of her training should be that the speed and intensity of her attack should match the energy she can take in having technique applied.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-02-2009, 06:10 PM   #9
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Thank you for your thoughtful replies!
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Old 06-02-2009, 06:53 PM   #10
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Well put, Nick. You summed it up in four words. I'll be verbose and expand on it; I've trained with bulkier guys, some of whom have a higher threshold. I've trained with kids and men and women on the frailer side. Since there are 6.6 billion, unique people in our world, I train differently with everyone.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:22 AM   #11
Abasan
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Actually I echo the same thoughts. Most holds I have no problem with finding the balance. But 2 I have some trouble with.

Shihonage and Sankyo.

I know it can be done without pain to the partner. I know I'm only trying to take their balance. I just don't know how to hold it without some discomfort on uke's part, not without losing control of uke anyway.

Discomfort occurs at Uke's wrist. Not shoulders or elbows etc.
Would welcome any insights.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:43 AM   #12
Eva Antonia
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Dear Abasan,

I have the same problem with shiho nage, and, to lesser extent, with Sankyo.
But it has nothing to do with the partner's size or strenght, more with his flexibility or his ability to fall in the case of shiho nage, which hurts much less if you can do mae/ yoko ukemi to get out of the wrist lock before spiralling down. And the problem is the same: it hurts too much for the partner when I control while letting him down in order to block him on the floor, but it doesn't hurt if I just throw him, letting him go once he is on his way downward. I don't have a clue to this one.

For sankyo, I think it is possible to apply just a tiny bit less torsion without losing control - there the challenge is that everyone has a different threshold to react...impossible to find the limit if you don't know the person!

As to smaller persons - I also have this problem, being nearly 1,80 m tall. There are lots of smaller women, children and also some men in the dojo. I think they don't take offense if you start "tenderly" and then, seeing how much they can take, get a bit stronger - or not. No gender issue in my opinion. It's more a matter of how well you know the partner. In my dojo in Belgium, where I train regularly, we all know each other and are aware of what the partner can take, and when training abroad or going to seminars you have to find out. If someone is training too sweetly with me I'm not offended, but I just tell him that he can apply the technique more vigorously. And if I'm not sure of the partner I just ask.

Best regards,

Eva
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:35 AM   #13
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Since she is new and probably is confused herself she may not know how to answer.

Watch how others treat her. Ask your teacher how she wants to treat new students.
Mary
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Old 06-03-2009, 06:25 AM   #14
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Quote:
I know it can be done without pain to the partner. I know I'm only trying to take their balance. I just don't know how to hold it without some discomfort on uke's part, not without losing control of uke anyway.

Discomfort occurs at Uke's wrist. Not shoulders or elbows etc.
At some point, uke has to protect themselves with their ukemi. They have to absorb the control in their body, move to a place in a way to take the pressure off, or tap (or some combination of these). It's uke's responsibility to let shite know if there is too much pain or tortion.

Of course, this is assuming a reasonable and responsible shite.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-03-2009, 07:51 AM   #15
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Actually I echo the same thoughts. Most holds I have no problem with finding the balance. But 2 I have some trouble with.

Shihonage and Sankyo.

I know it can be done without pain to the partner. I know I'm only trying to take their balance. I just don't know how to hold it without some discomfort on uke's part, not without losing control of uke anyway.

Discomfort occurs at Uke's wrist. Not shoulders or elbows etc.
Would welcome any insights.
My take fwiw. Pain in the wrist implies you haven't taken their balance and only have a "wrist" lock of sorts. The goal isn't controlling the wrist but everything else. Don't focus on the wrist but focus on taking their center away well before. Done correctly the shihonage and sankyo are simply controls as you continue to remove their balance. No pain necessary. If you stop and they regain balance, well, it becomes much harder to hold either of those two without delivering pain to get them off again. But if you're in a good flow with their balance taken initially, you can complete both without ever reverting to pain compliance again assuming you prevent them from regaining a balanced state.

Slow down and take balance before it is applied with vigor.

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Old 06-03-2009, 08:09 AM   #16
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Hmm, Keith I think you've something there. When I do these dynamically, there's very little pain. As you said, I'm aiming to blend and take their center.

Its when I'm asked to pause at the control stage (point where I'm about to throw) that I have problems. I think I tend to lose it there. And now that you mention it, as Uke finds his feet they tend to receive more pain.

Eva, I think I know where you're coming at with Shihonage. I like to slide uke along my leading leg to brace the fall without undue pressure on their wrists but foremost I make sure their head is bent to their shoulder to ensure no shoulder injury happens.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:36 AM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Ahmad, it might help you focus more on balance and less on wrist if you change, even temporarily, where you hold uke. For sankyo, how about simply holding uke's fingers and very slowly applying sankyo until you move the lock all the way up the arm, past the shoulder to the center? Shihonage you can try holding a little higher on the forearm and making sure that before you start entering uke is already on tiptoe and slowly do all your entering and turning making sure uke stays on tiptoe; then when you are ready to throw uke is only standing because you are supporting him and you can gently project.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:43 AM   #18
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
My issue - here, and in general - is using just the right amount of force. Specifically, I wonder if I'm using too little force - to the point where she feels insulted. I don't want to use too much force, either, and seem inconsiderate.
Hi there,

Has she given you any indication that she thinks you're using too little force, or patronizing her in any way? If not, then you really DON'T have a problem

Usually uke will indicate if you can crank it up, or if you need to crank it down. As you advance you'll also feel their arm tightening up, their centre being taken, and have an appreciation for their ability in ukemi, which can help you gauge your throw.

It's really good that you are open to developing sensitivity to your training partners, as there are too many who just see other people as a rag doll or a throw toy!

Ruth
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:52 AM   #19
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Its when I'm asked to pause at the control stage (point where I'm about to throw) that I have problems. I think I tend to lose it there. And now that you mention it, as Uke finds his feet they tend to receive more pain.
Hi Ahmad,

If you pause at the point just before the throw and uke is finding his feet, then perhaps you haven't quite got his balance?

Last Friday class my Sensei was demonstrating this with our 2nd kyu student as uke, and had him leaning backwards, mostly off-balance, with uke's arm under Sensei's control. The final part of the throw was a sword cut movement of tori's wrists which takes uke completely off balance. Uke wasn't in great pain but he wasn't comfortable either, and Sensei was in a good position to control him if he decided to try to regain his balance...

Ruth
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:38 AM   #20
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

In my first post, I talked about attacking a smaller partner. When applying a technique, however, we are encouraged to go slowly in order to give time to the other student to first get used to the technique and allow their joints to get some stretch before tapping when they have enough. When I apply a shihonage, I also release my grip on my partner's wrist when I take them down, so their joint can readjust and I can finish without torturing them. And this is regardless of the size of the partner. One of the big guys in our dojo, one of those who can really show me wether I've mastered the technique or not, is very stiff and taps very early. Unbalancing him is difficult, but once the technique has worked, we need to handle him very delicately.
That's the beauty of Aikido: it really shows you how far your toughness goes.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:46 AM   #21
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Hmm, Keith I think you've something there. When I do these dynamically, there's very little pain. As you said, I'm aiming to blend and take their center.
FWIW sometimes I tell students to think about sankyo like gently turning a chain. The first bit of turn contacts the second link. Once that is turned a bit it connects to the third. And so on. Eventually you have a moderately solid thing even though it is still a chain -- you've locked everything together. If you only have the first link or two you have to rely on pain since you have no connection to the rest of the chain. Done correctly you've started to "lock up" things starting at the wrist but your goal is to connect via that "chain" all the way to the person's center. That's not done with a hard twist but with a gentle connection. Once you have them all then you have a solid, connected "handle" of sorts rather than a loose, flopping chain. With the former you can control their center and move them. With the latter your only means of control is that first link relying on pain.

FWIW.

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Old 06-03-2009, 12:55 PM   #22
Janet Rosen
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Keith that's a nice explanation/elaboration of what I was trying to express about moving the lock ever upward and then to the center.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:18 PM   #23
Abasan
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Ruth exactly my point. I have him off balanced right of the bat, otherwise I'll get hit. But when I pause the technique midway instead of flowing through it, invariably uke will find their balance. I don't yet get how to keep them on their toes without using too much force to keep them there and some pain being generated as a consequence.

The thing is, senior ukes are fine. They are somewhat pretty light on their feet. Its the juniors who feel the pain and they tend to drag their weight on my arm.

My sensei can keep you on your toes regardless who you are, weightwise or experience wise. There's no pain either.

Keith, chain connecting to each other is an interesting concept. The way I try to apply it is through the little finger gripping Uke's palm, torque upwards through the elbow and from there to their center. It helps if I use my free hand to palm up the tip of their fingers. I think I'll try the chain. Somehow I sense that there's a technique there that will eliminate the wrist pain. Ie focusing on the chain in the hands as oppose to the hand itself.

Eva, a link of the shihonage I meant. Couldn't edit it in my previous posting. As you can see, I don't straight arm him like a sword cut since he's relatively new. I slide him along down to brace his weight.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cSxT4Yedtj...U/s320/476.JPG

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Old 06-03-2009, 02:11 PM   #24
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

I think the problem is that you're thinking torque at all. Sankyo is IMHO one of those very elegant and subtle techniques that can be applied early and with finesse. People tend to think of sankyo as the twist with the "down" or "final movement" while at least in my experience it has more to do with the setup initially. Getting all that slack out and connecting directly to the center as Janet discussed is critical. We all talk about aiki and internal skills, but how many do sankyo as a purely physics experiment? Or pain example? You've got them and the whole point is to control their center through the connection you have. Make the connection to the center and try not to rely on the wrist itself. Once you have that connection you have control even if you haven't really "finished with" the sankyo yet (in the sense of sending them down, out, or wherever). So think of having sankyo connected all the way down the chain *before* you try to do anything with it. Then you have full control the entire time.

I have very flexible arms, strong arms (polishing swords is hard work for the forearms and wrists), and many complain they have trouble applying it to me. The reality is from my point of view most who have trouble are the ones who hurt me because they tend to rely on pain rather than the blend and control (aiki?) aspect. My sensei is dramatically shorter than me, not as strong, but has zero problem tossing me around the room with sankyo. He has never hurt my wrists even with a fast, powerful sankyo. Others will hurt me regularly. He tends to call me up to take ukemi when demonstrating sankyo I think to make the point to others that they don't have to hurt me to apply sankyo -- they just need to do it more calmly and with more of that connection. Too often, however, people try to compensate by speeding up, or torquing harder, or dropping and twisting the wrist really hard. Sure, I go down then too. But usually they do it faster than I can react (I'm big -- inertia is a tough thing to overcome) and I end up with injured wrists to show for it. There are some people I'll avoid with sankyo solely out of the desire for self-preservation.

Last edited by Keith Larman : 06-03-2009 at 02:17 PM. Reason: clarifying

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Old 06-03-2009, 02:16 PM   #25
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Re: Using less force on a smaller person w/o being patronizing

Forgot one thing -- the palm on the fingers thing in addition to the conventional hold is one of those things I think you should hold in reserve and not rely on. If you have them completely you can do what you want as long as you can keep that connection hence control. The habit of the extra "umph" on the fingers in sankyo goes more to pain compliance rather than a physical manipulation of their structure. If I'm angry and attacking, pain just makes me more angry. I'll fight through it and try to shove my elbow through your head -- I've been in conflicts before. I know I can fight through pain. But if you have my center, you have control of me. Twist my fingers and Mongo wants to crush you all the more...

Honestly I think sankyo is one of those techniques that doesn't require pain. Like most of these things it is more about controlling their center through their structure. Lock up their structure while maintaining your center and taking over theirs and you can do as you please. But... Easy to say, hard to do...

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