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Old 09-01-2009, 11:43 AM   #1
jss
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"Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

On p.177-178 of 'Hidden in Plain Sight' it says
Quote:
Nonetheless, the importance of ukemi - of being slammed over and over again to the floor, and of being cranked over and over again in various joint locks until one learns to absorb the force, redirect it, and even add ones own power to it and send it back to one's "attacker," is clearly inherent in both Ueshiba and Sagawa's training method.
Which makes me wonder:
- How would that work exactly?
- How much skill can one develop using only ukemi as a training tool?
- What are the advantages/disadvantages of this approach?
- What changes would you need to make to aikido practice to incorporate this approach?
- If techniques were partly chosen for the quality of ukemi training the provide, does this mean aikido techniques are less effective than they could have been without focus on ukemi as a training tool?
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Old 09-01-2009, 12:34 PM   #2
Alfonso
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Hi Joep, I'm going to make a flying leap maybe it makes sense, but I don't know what Ellis thinks, and I have the same questions that you have,, this is what I've thought up on my own

Quote:
- How would that work exactly?
Uke is always asked to attacked with a very constrained set of requirements. Typical descriptions include "sincere attack", "with intent" ,"with spirit", "intensity, not speed", "committed" and "centered" (if your'e lucky).
Nage starts handling Uke , and Uke is supposed to "continue the attack" . Typically it doesnt necessarily mean that after the initial imbalancing of Uke all bets are off and Uke can do whatever he wants. Usually it means, that Uke has continue to try and continue providing "Input" for Nage to deal with all the way.. as long as Uke continues inputting Nage continues putting Uke into awkward positions from which Uke needs to find a way to recover center and continue the attack. Without breaking contact. So you end up in frequently trying to meet Nage's forces and rearrange to negate them with the least amount of exertion ;-|

Quote:
- How much skill can one develop using only ukemi as a training tool?
Good question, how much skill can one develop without knowing what you're going about?

Quote:
- What are the advantages/disadvantages of this approach?
Could there be advantges to having a training situation where you work on Jin/Kokyu against Intelligent reistance? I mean in a gymn type of way , where you have machines you use to work out. What if you didnt know what you're after though..

Quote:
- What changes would you need to make to aikido practice to incorporate this approach?
If my aikido practice is geared towards Ki/Aiki then I need to understand that I'm not pantomiming fight routines only and that cardio is probably not what should be the main focus, nor flying as uke.. I mean Uke should be actively looking to get under Nage, not somersaulting around in high leaps.

Quote:
- If techniques were partly chosen for the quality of ukemi training the provide, does this mean aikido techniques are less effective than they could have been without focus on ukemi as a training tool?
Do these things have to be binary? O Sensei seems never to have given any importance to any "aikido techniques" effectivity seemed to rely on his power and skill combined. Does hand waving become a technique when you've got the world behind it so to speak? So maybe they were just nage/uke training tools

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 09-01-2009, 01:04 PM   #3
jss
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote: View Post
Usually it means, that Uke has continue to try and continue providing "Input" for Nage to deal with all the way.. as long as Uke continues inputting Nage continues putting Uke into awkward positions from which Uke needs to find a way to recover center and continue the attack.
There are aikido places that train this way (and then there's judo randori, etc.), but no real internal skills are developed there. So there probably is more to it.

Quote:
O Sensei seems never to have given any importance to any "aikido techniques" effectivity seemed to rely on his power and skill combined. Does hand waving become a technique when you've got the world behind it so to speak? So maybe they were just nage/uke training tools.
But that implies that aikido techniques are not fighting techniques at all, while most people training aikido seem to think so. It would mean that the rowing exercise contains as much martial information as irimi nage. The end result would be a vitiated martial art, an art containing only body skills, but no martial skills.
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Old 09-01-2009, 01:51 PM   #4
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Been doing a lot of writing and responding and don't recall exactly what I've written when . . . .One final caveat - I am NOT setting myself up as an authority on internal training - HIPS is very deliberately not a "how-to" book - it is a "It exists" book. I notice what people have said, and what a few people have showed me - and highlight them for people's own attention, for them to follow up as they will. I am pursuing my own training regimen, but any response to questions like the above are my somewhat informed speculations. I'd urge you to pursue further with the "open sources." That said,
Here's the sequence as I see it:
1. Ukemi - in the sense of falling - is a great body conditioner. And you learn to relax while taking a huge blow from the ground. And done over and over again, getting up with a centered posture, ready to "fight," trains kamae, kokyu (in the sense of aerobics), emotional centering.
2. I am only theorizing here - BUT - if ukemi/falling is coupled with specific breathing exercises - is it not possible that it, like most other activities, could become a vehicle for internal training? I believe the possiblity that this is what Sagawa might have meant. OR, he merely meant that you have to develop the right body as "vessel" to contain internal training - and he saw taking hard falls as a means to this. In either event, he - and Ueshiba - cite ukemi as essential for the development of the "aiki body." And I think they were referring to both ukemi as falling (otherwise, why, "bang, bang, bang") and in other references, to the concept of ukemi as the redirection/countering/transmuting of force.
3. Beyond this - ukemi as a vehicle for internal training - now if we talk about ukemi, not as falling, but as reception, sensitivity, getting inside the other, redirection of forces - this, I've discussed to the best of my ability in Aikido is Three Peaches, in HIPS. Dan Harden, over the years, has made some really cogent posts on this subject specific to aikido/aikijutsu.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 09-01-2009 at 02:04 PM.

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:46 PM   #5
dps
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

From my own experience, after awhile doing ukemi, a person instinctively learns how not to loose kuzushi to tori.

What O'Sensei was doing physically was his wordless book of instruction, but in part not what he was doing himself but what he was doing to uke?

So learning good ukemi is the first step in learning Aikido?


David

Last edited by dps : 09-01-2009 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:46 PM   #6
jss
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
I am only theorizing here - BUT - if ukemi/falling is coupled with specific breathing exercises - is it not possible that it, like most other activities, could become a vehicle for internal training?
There are qigongs that include hitting/slapping oneself, so it's a possibility. And if yoga asanas can be internal training, then why not being the subject of a correctly applied joint lock?

Quote:
Beyond this - ukemi as a vehicle for internal training - now if we talk about ukemi, not as falling, but as reception, sensitivity, getting inside the other, redirection of forces - this, I've discussed to the best of my ability in Aikido is Three Peaches, in HIPS.
The problem is I can't think of any source that states that this was the case during aikido practice under O-sensei. I haven't reread the chapter yet, though.
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:22 PM   #7
Alfonso
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
The problem is I can't think of any source that states that this was the case during aikido practice under O-sensei. I haven't reread the chapter yet, though.
How would this look like Joep? How would you describe seeing someone take ukemi at the hands of their "uke" who is more skilled than them?

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:58 PM   #8
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote: View Post
How would this look like Joep? How would you describe seeing someone take ukemi at the hands of their "uke" who is more skilled than them?
You probably should ask Dan Harden, but here's my two cents.
Uke is more skilled than tori: tori unbalances himself through his efforts to throw uke. If he realizes this, he starts over. If he doesn't, he throws himself. If uke is a bit of an ass, he throws tori with his attack, before tori has the chance to do anything.

Tori is more skilled than uke: if there is a large gap in skill level, tori will basically do as he pleases with uke. If the two skill levels are not that far apart, uke may be able to thwart a few of tori's attempts until tori prevails. (Of course, the same may happen with uke prevailing.)

To be honest, the main question is imho not "What would it look like?". The main question is: how to create a form of training in which tori AND uke are constantly working on their internal skills, be it actively (applying aiki on the training partner), be it passively (being throw, joint locked). Both modes of practice should train the 'power pathways' inside the body.
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Old 09-01-2009, 04:03 PM   #9
phitruong
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post

To be honest, the main question is imho not "What would it look like?". The main question is: how to create a form of training in which tori AND uke are constantly working on their internal skills, be it actively (applying aiki on the training partner), be it passively (being throw, joint locked). Both modes of practice should train the 'power pathways' inside the body.
wouldn't this required uke to be a great deal more skill, internal skilled, than tori since uke controlled the interaction?
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Old 09-01-2009, 04:23 PM   #10
jss
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
wouldn't this required uke to be a great deal more skill, internal skilled, than tori since uke controlled the interaction?
I don't see how. One can apply aiki on a dumb external force, so no skill required by uke. (You do want to learn how to apply aiki on someone with internal skills as well, though.) Being thrown, joint locked would require uke to know what is being trained and tori should be able to facilitate this.
Rather it seems to be the case that tori needs to be more skilled than uke to be able to apply a joint lock in such a way that it trains uke's 'power pathways'.
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Old 09-01-2009, 04:50 PM   #11
Alfonso
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

in your scheme though who is who ?

I'm trying to see this through the prism of "Nage is Uke" that Ellis puts out. So, if the traditional teacher is taking ukemi, and aikido's reversal of roles was intentional then the teacher (Nage) is taking ukemi forcing uke to recover and counter and get inside his technique.

And even if its not relevant to ask what it looks like as a pointer of how to train it , i was trying to see how it could have been observed by an outsider who was not being taught the meaty substance.

If Aikido is a viable training tool for internal strength, and a martial art then it must have had some folks who have gotten somewhere with it knowing the things you need to know to make it happen.. or not.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 09-02-2009, 04:38 AM   #12
jss
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote: View Post
in your scheme though who is who ?
To avoid confusion, I maintain the standard terms as used in aikido. Uke attacks and gets thrown or locked. Tori/nage is attacked and throws or applies a joint lock. Ukemi is receiving nage's technique (e.g. ikkyo).

Quote:
I'm trying to see this through the prism of "Nage is Uke" that Ellis puts out. So, if the traditional teacher is taking ukemi, and aikido's reversal of roles was intentional then the teacher (Nage) is taking ukemi forcing uke to recover and counter and get inside his technique.
Based on Wikipedia: in koryu the terms uchidachi and shidachi are used. Uchidachi ("striking/attacking sword") is the senior or teacher that attacks and loses. Shidachi is ("doing/receiving sword") is the student that responds and wins. The common way to map this to aikido is uchidachi = uke and shidachi = nage, meaning it's mostly nage that's training aikido.
However, Ueshiba and Takeda mostly assumed the role of nage, which implies that nage would be uchidachi and that it's mostly uke that's training aikido through ukemi (being thrown, being locked, absorbing forces, redirecting forces). This begs the question what and how uke is learning, hence this thread.
I can see how going with "Nage is Uke" can lead to the statement that "the teacher (Nage) is taking ukemi", but to me that's no more than a confusion of terms. I hope the above mapping with uchidachi/shidachi clarifies my point of view.
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Old 09-02-2009, 11:23 AM   #13
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Of my own experience, my ukewaza...

"Nonetheless, the importance of ukemi - of being slammed over and over again to the floor, and of being cranked over and over again in various joint locks until one learns to absorb the force, redirect it, and even add ones own power to it and send it back to one's "attacker," is clearly inherent in both Ueshiba and Sagawa's training method."

1. Ukemi is physical conditioning to improve the body's resistance to injury.
2. Ukemi is training by experiencing the human condition response.

To these points I say that ukemi is important to well-rounded aikido.
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Old 09-02-2009, 11:31 AM   #14
Alfonso
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
"I can see how going with "Nage is Uke" can lead to the statement that "the teacher (Nage) is taking ukemi", but to me that's no more than a confusion of terms. I hope the above mapping with uchidachi/shidachi clarifies my point of view.
ok, so another way to paraphrase (keeping modern aikido roles)

Nage teaches by being defeated by Uke

Now, that sounds like a sneaky way of teaching ( and the mother of all excuses for screwing up a tech)

Last edited by Alfonso : 09-02-2009 at 11:37 AM.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:11 PM   #15
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Here's the sequence as I see it:
1. Ukemi - in the sense of falling - is a great body conditioner. And you learn to relax while taking a huge blow from the ground. And done over and over again, getting up with a centered posture, ready to "fight," trains kamae, kokyu (in the sense of aerobics), emotional centering.
2. I am only theorizing here - BUT - if ukemi/falling is coupled with specific breathing exercises - is it not possible that it, like most other activities, could become a vehicle for internal training? I believe the possiblity that this is what Sagawa might have meant. OR, he merely meant that you have to develop the right body as "vessel" to contain internal training - and he saw taking hard falls as a means to this. In either event, he - and Ueshiba - cite ukemi as essential for the development of the "aiki body." And I think they were referring to both ukemi as falling (otherwise, why, "bang, bang, bang") and in other references, to the concept of ukemi as the redirection/countering/transmuting of force.
3. Beyond this - ukemi as a vehicle for internal training - now if we talk about ukemi, not as falling, but as reception, sensitivity, getting inside the other, redirection of forces - this, I've discussed to the best of my ability in Aikido is Three Peaches, in HIPS. Dan Harden, over the years, has made some really cogent posts on this subject specific to aikido/aikijutsu.
Best
Ellis Amdur
In regards to #2. Do you think that Sagawa and Ueshiba could have been talking about ukemi as more of a progression-type of training? Working internal skills requires taking ukemi. And so, as one gets better, the internal ukemi get better (as noted in your #3). But, to get better, you still have to take ukemi of some sort.

And perhaps with Ueshiba and Sagawa, what they were taught/knew was that model from Takeda where students take falls and rolls and such? In their eyes, they knew the importance of taking ukemi (#2) because it is the vehicle (#3) for internal skills to grow. Dunno, just tossing out an idea.

Another thing that I wonder -- if the Daito ryu model was to, generally, bring uke to the feet for break/kill and Ueshiba's model was, generally, to cast away ... If we look at Ueshiba's model in a bit more detail, then do you think that rather than work within the specific model of taking uke to the feet, he was, instead, working with "following" and "changing" the energy? In other words, he was working on ways of dealing with not only regular martial artists, but also with those who had "aiki"?
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:37 PM   #16
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Hi Mark -
Quote:
n regards to #2. Do you think that Sagawa and Ueshiba could have been talking about ukemi as more of a progression-type of training? Working internal skills requires taking ukemi. And so, as one gets better, the internal ukemi get better (as noted in your #3). But, to get better, you still have to take ukemi of some sort.
My guess is that Sagawa is more likely to have explicitly had this in mind. If Ueshiba did, it would have been early in his career, because even in the 1930's, what we read of his teaching is already getting pretty cryptic. As for the second part of your question, makes sense, doesn't it? To be sure, most internal training doesn't focus on an ukemi/falling model. Which suggests, if all this speculation is on the mark, that such training might produce a particular "flavor" of skill, which would be the DR/aiki paradigm.

Quote:
Another thing that I wonder -- if the Daito ryu model was to, generally, bring uke to the feet for break/kill and Ueshiba's model was, generally, to cast away ... If we look at Ueshiba's model in a bit more detail, then do you think that rather than work within the specific model of taking uke to the feet, he was, instead, working with "following" and "changing" the energy? In other words, he was working on ways of dealing with not only regular martial artists, but also with those who had "aiki"?
I have no idea on this one. On page 191, I mention on Doshu's statement about irimi-isoku, followed by enten-no-ri. Essentially, to be successful at the "cast away," one has to master the DR entering first, something D. Harden cited is the exemplar of Ueshiba's "turn" to morality. Disengaging when one doesn't have total control of someone powerful or armed is logical enough - but I have no idea if this principle was explicitly in Ueshiba's mind. I would guess that his moral/religious preoccupations were probably paramount - but I don't think the two ideas conflict either.
Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-03-2009, 03:47 AM   #17
jss
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - ukemi as a training tool

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Another thing that I wonder -- if the Daito ryu model was to, generally, bring uke to the feet for break/kill and Ueshiba's model was, generally, to cast away ... If we look at Ueshiba's model in a bit more detail, then do you think that rather than work within the specific model of taking uke to the feet, he was, instead, working with "following" and "changing" the energy? In other words, he was working on ways of dealing with not only regular martial artists, but also with those who had "aiki"?
Let's assume that Ueshiba's casting away has nothing to do with what Ellis described as "Disengaging when one doesn't have total control of someone powerful or armed". Why do you think it makes more sense to cast away someone that has aiki than it is to bring him down at your feet? Why does following and changing the energy imply casting away uke?
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