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Old 04-24-2010, 01:47 PM   #1
BAP
Dojo: Union University Aikido
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Bad Uke

I was wondering regarding the general approach taken to incorporating what might be termed "Bad Uke" training at least as compared to what tends to normally exist in dojos.

By "Bad Uke" I mean encouraging training with technique in which the uke is granted permission (encouraged) to actively take nage's center upon the entry and not "go along" compliantly with the counter, and rather if able to still control the nage (as opposed to just stop/blocking the particular technique itself).

I am not saying this should be the default method of practice. At the lower level it is important to have some degree of cooperation in training to further to process of getting a feel for the technique and the physical process of applying whatever the specific technique may be that is being taught. At the higher level it seems this should be much more, at least subtly, the default setting.

The inherent training environment of most aikido does place some general constrictions of this type of bad uke training. Not many dojos have head pads, mouth pieces and other such of materials that could be beneficial if taken to a more realistic power level. Even a small brief scuffle isn't necessarily bad on occasion. Of course, in a perfect aiki world there would be no need for any force more than the inherent blending with the uke's force into some controlled conclusion to the encounter.

Just as a periodic "reality" check it seems that some degree of "bad uke" training isn't necessarily a bad thing even if its intent and result is to open nage's eyes to the degree that their technique may not be quite as effective as they imagine it is from just normal day-in-day-out training. If there is some further refinement that may be needed in certain movements (ie such as sankyo) it is a lot better to realize that with a bad uke in the dojo than a bad uke outside the dojo.

One other issue that having this sort of training produces at least in my (limited) experience is reinforcing the need to appreciate and apply atemi as part of standard technique. A little effective atemi helps to cover a multitude of small deficiency in technique and as well as avoid some of uke response to control your center when you begin your own blending.

Blair Presson
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Old 04-24-2010, 02:07 PM   #2
Gorgeous George
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Re: Bad Uke

There's somebody I train with who, I think, doesn't understand the basis of aikido kata and the role of uke: it's pre-arranged, and uke has to try and blend - he is learning aikido as much as nage is.

So when i apply a technique - which he knows in advance i will be applying - he will deliberately 'lock out his strength' to thwart my attempt to apply that very specific technique - which i have no choice but to apply, as that is what we are practising; in the words of the great Gozo Shioda 'The highest and most difficult level of training is to unbalance someone who has locked out their strength specifically in order to stop you from unbalancing them'. I'm a 5th kyu. He also 'catches' my atemi - the atemi that he knows, with 100% certainty, will be coming. I think he'd prefer to do jiu-jitsu.

Basically, when he does this, he is obviously only protecting himself from one angle/attack/what have you, so sometimes - more and more frequently in recent times in fact - i will respond to how he responds to me, and abandon the technique, adopting another.
I have managed to 'take his back' and get my arms around his neck to apply a choke quite a few times.
Not that i want to: i have just lost my focus due to frustration.

So i guess the question is: can uke resist, knowing exactly what nage has to apply to him? If he can, that's not very realistic, is it: someone 'outside the dojo' wouldn't know what's coming, and nage wouldn't have to restrict his techniques?
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Old 04-24-2010, 03:33 PM   #3
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Bad Uke

Within the context of a form, lets say "Katate Dori Ikkyo, Ura Waza", Uke's job is to provide the proper "energy" for that form. So in this example, if Uke is trying to force their elbow down, lock their elbow, or pull away from Nage, they are not providing proper energy for the technique.

Often people think they are helping your training by "making it harder" on you, however this idea is flawed. Uke knows what technique you are going to do, so it is easy for him to provide the wrong energy for the from. This means his resistance is not active, but instead dead and static. If you simply changed the technique (in our example, switched to Nikyo, Rokyo, or Ikkyo Omote waza) Uke would go flying.

The idea of training is not to put any technique you want on someone anytime you want to. The idea is to understand when you are getting the right kind of energy for a technique to work properly. Uke is training you to understand proper energy, he is helping you by giving the correct energy for that particular form.

Now another bad uke is the one who falls no matter what you do. He is also not helping you to train.

I made a video of this, I'll try and get it up this week.

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Old 04-24-2010, 04:12 PM   #4
Gorgeous George
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
The idea of training is not to put any technique you want on someone anytime you want to. The idea is to understand when you are getting the right kind of energy for a technique to work properly. Uke is training you to understand proper energy, he is helping you by giving the correct energy for that particular form.
Thank you! That is exactly what i was trying to say.
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:20 PM   #5
fisher6000
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
There's somebody I train with who, I think, doesn't understand the basis of aikido kata and the role of uke: it's pre-arranged, and uke has to try and blend - he is learning aikido as much as nage is.

So when i apply a technique - which he knows in advance i will be applying - he will deliberately 'lock out his strength' to thwart my attempt to apply that very specific technique - which i have no choice but to apply, as that is what we are practising; in the words of the great Gozo Shioda 'The highest and most difficult level of training is to unbalance someone who has locked out their strength specifically in order to stop you from unbalancing them'. I'm a 5th kyu. He also 'catches' my atemi - the atemi that he knows, with 100% certainty, will be coming. I think he'd prefer to do jiu-jitsu.

Basically, when he does this, he is obviously only protecting himself from one angle/attack/what have you, so sometimes - more and more frequently in recent times in fact - i will respond to how he responds to me, and abandon the technique, adopting another.
I have managed to 'take his back' and get my arms around his neck to apply a choke quite a few times.
Not that i want to: i have just lost my focus due to frustration.
I train with someone who does this too, and am also 5 Kyu. He is coming to the dojo with a very full cup, he's got a lot of experience with judo.

I find when I train with this person that I waste a lot of energy thinking in terms of the word "should." He should not be tracking punches. He should not be striking with no energy, so that there is no momentum to work with. He should not resist so much that he leaves himself open.

But you know, whether he should or not he resists so much that he leaves himself really open, just standing there in Horse stance with his groin completely unprotected and his hands deathgripping my wrists. So I have started to incorporate swift "knee atemi" when training with him, and this works consistently to get him moving and playing along.

I try not to train with him too often, it's too frustrating. But I tend to come across him in randori class and when I do he is teaching me a lot. He's teaching me about the limitations of thinking in terms of should. I have to accept him as he comes, even if he thinks it's appropriate to choke or bear hug a relative beginner. I also learn a lot about my own ukemi and what it means to offer a committed attack that isn't leaving me unnecessarily open.
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Old 04-24-2010, 10:41 PM   #6
Abasan
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Re: Bad Uke

Deborah,

You don't need to come to class to perform knee atemi to the groin. Take it as a gift that this uke is giving you a hard time but without really attacking you or with danger lurking at the end of it. Instead, try to learn to do what you have to do from that position.

Its a pain, but if you elect not to use force or speed, and instead adhere to the principle of aikido which is to harmonise with your opponent then eventually you'll find a way and your aikido will be better for it.

You can always get flowing uke, and 'follow the format' uke too, to help you understand the form. But life is like a box of chocolates...

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-25-2010, 02:57 PM   #7
Gorgeous George
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Deborah,

You don't need to come to class to perform knee atemi to the groin. Take it as a gift that this uke is giving you a hard time but without really attacking you or with danger lurking at the end of it. Instead, try to learn to do what you have to do from that position.
I guess what Deborah is doing is showing this person that, although he thinks he's thwarting her, he is in fact leaving himself wide open to other things - so he's not being as smart as he thinks...

And as has been said already: he might be providing some resistance or what have you, but if he is doing it in such a way that makes the pre-arranged technique impossible (or only possible for people like Gozo Shioda), then what can you do? It drives you to distraction, leading you to lose focus and abandon practice as you want it to be/it should be.

As a result of a completely unresponsive uke, i've done a little 'improv' on uke, which was very eye-opening: i managed to maintain a connection and follow his energy and get into a 'dominant' position - i've shown him that is he wants to get into a sort of 'anything goes' situation, i can do that, and best him, but he doesn't realise this, and continues regardless...
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Old 04-25-2010, 03:50 PM   #8
Dieter Haffner
 
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
George Howard wrote: View Post
And as has been said already: he might be providing some resistance or what have you, but if he is doing it in such a way that makes the pre-arranged technique impossible (or only possible for people like Gozo Shioda), then what can you do? It drives you to distraction, leading you to lose focus and abandon practice as you want it to be/it should be.
On the other hand, you have the opportunity to practise on something that you might need to use more in nowadays society then actually knowing how to fight.

Don't let him get under your skin. As long as it doesn't get you in any real danger, you should try to enjoy the training with him. You let him defeat you both physical as mentally, and the mental kuzuchi is not even what he is trying to achieve.

As you try to relax more when he attacks you, you might even start to find little holes in the attack that you can use to your advantage. The mind works strangely in this way. The more you open your mind, the more information will get through.

So, try the easy way and go for the groin takedown or even stop training with him all together. Or choose the hard path and see if you can get something positive out of it.
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Old 04-25-2010, 04:11 PM   #9
RED
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
Blair Presson wrote: View Post

Not many dojos have head pads, mouth pieces and other such of materials that could be beneficial if taken to a more realistic power level.
I'm not seeing why you would ever need guards or pads, even if training at a high level... even if being thrown by a shihan.

We train in ukemi for many reasons, but one reason is for the purpose of training. The better equipped your uke is to handle a throw, the harder you can throw him, thus the harder everyone can train. In Aikido what do you consider a realistic power level? I don't know why I'd ever need a head pad... I've never taken forward ukemi where i landed or my head, or back ukemi where my head was ever in danger of hitting a mat. And why a mouth guard? I've never gotten my teeth knocked, if I did it would be a rare thing, not something I need to be regularly protected against.
Most injuries in ukemi are shoulder injuries from rolling incorrectly and landing on your shoulder... the only protection for that is proper training. But my head has never been in danger of smacking against anything. :/ ??? Maybe atemi??

MM
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Old 04-25-2010, 05:45 PM   #10
Eric Winters
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Re: Bad Uke

I think training with pads would be a good thing. Get a heavy bag and hit that with the type atemi and in the positions you would do during a technique and visualize exactly what you are doing and hitting. Also putting pads on someone and doing standard aikido waza while actually hitting them would be outstanding for figuring out maai for you waza.(you don't have to knock them out, just give them a good shot) That will also help uke a bit with getting hit and not flinching as much. When people train without hitting a lot of the time nage will be way out of position to actually threaten uke with the atemi and so hhis should help you to figure out proper maai.
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Old 04-25-2010, 05:54 PM   #11
RED
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
Eric Winters wrote: View Post
I think training with pads would be a good thing. Get a heavy bag and hit that with the type atemi and in the positions you would do during a technique and visualize exactly what you are doing and hitting. Also putting pads on someone and doing standard aikido waza while actually hitting them would be outstanding for figuring out maai for you waza.(you don't have to knock them out, just give them a good shot) That will also help uke a bit with getting hit and not flinching as much. When people train without hitting a lot of the time nage will be way out of position to actually threaten uke with the atemi and so hhis should help you to figure out proper maai.
I'm not a fan of bags. Atemi is effective with active movement. Active movement amplifies atemi's power. A lot of the effectiveness of atemi is with the momentum. I just don't see how a bag will help you learn how to apply atemi in a real situation. I make contact with atemi when practicing. I don't ring my uke's bell. But I have a definite feel that I'm holding back and a definite feel for how much for force is needed to be more effective. Aikido is a fluid and breathing art. I'm not a fan of a non-human uke.

I don't see why you need pads either. You can give a good shot without pads.In Aikido you should NEVER hit hard enough to cause serious damage, that's opposing to Aikido's ideology. I don't believe in hurting uke... but come on... we can take a clean shot from time to time can't we? A little pop won't kill you. Nor will a bloody nose or split lip from time to time. It's training for god sakes, that's what happens when you train. I've taken a shot, and likewise I will give a shot. Why pad it? It just inhibits movement. Let's not wimp-inize our training.


I think we are forgetting something. 9 out of 10 times atemi does not have to make contact to be effective. The threat and posture of damage is often enough to get uke going where you want him. Aikido is 70% mental and attitude.

Last edited by RED : 04-25-2010 at 06:00 PM.

MM
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:02 PM   #12
RED
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Re: Bad Uke

I also hate the atemi: knee to groin. In my opinion, men have spent their entire life protecting that area. It might be better to aim for an area that's a little less guarded.

MM
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Old 04-25-2010, 07:03 PM   #13
jonreading
 
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Re: Bad Uke

Couple of comments...
1. Fighting is not cooperative. If you make the choice to train cooperatively with your partner you become reliant upon that partner to train. This is kata.
2. Bad Uke waza is not about you. Bad uke waza refers to poor fighting and protective habits of uke.

An uncooperative partner is frustrating. Not successfully completing technique is frustrating. But, aikido is about self reliance too. I have never heard a shihan tell uke she had bad energy... Uke always gives us the opportunity to train, sometimes it's just not what we want to train and sometimes it reminds us we are not as skilled as we imagine ourselves to be.
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Old 04-25-2010, 07:16 PM   #14
RED
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Couple of comments...
1. Fighting is not cooperative. If you make the choice to train cooperatively with your partner you become reliant upon that partner to train. This is kata.
2. Bad Uke waza is not about you. Bad uke waza refers to poor fighting and protective habits of uke.

An uncooperative partner is frustrating. Not successfully completing technique is frustrating. But, aikido is about self reliance too. I have never heard a shihan tell uke she had bad energy... Uke always gives us the opportunity to train, sometimes it's just not what we want to train and sometimes it reminds us we are not as skilled as we imagine ourselves to be.
I second this statement.

MM
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:57 AM   #15
SeiserL
 
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Re: Bad Uke

IMHO, "bad" is a judgement.

There are ukes who don't do it the way I think they should.

There are uke's who are still learning to blend (not cooperate) with tori/nage making reversals possible.

There are ukes who are still afraid to take the fall.

There are ukes who are still on an ego power trip.

But, the only "bad" uke I know is me. Some people just don't appreciate it if I don't give them the technique if they don't do it right. So figure.

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 04-26-2010, 08:25 AM   #16
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
Blair Presson wrote: View Post
I was wondering regarding the general approach taken to incorporating what might be termed "Bad Uke" training at least as compared to what tends to normally exist in dojos.

By "Bad Uke" I mean encouraging training with technique in which the uke is granted permission (encouraged) to actively take nage's center upon the entry and not "go along" compliantly with the counter, and rather if able to still control the nage (as opposed to just stop/blocking the particular technique itself).
If this is pre-arranged, why do you call "bad Uke"?

Quote:
Blair Presson wrote: View Post
I am not saying this should be the default method of practice. At the lower level it is important to have some degree of cooperation in training to further to process of getting a feel for the technique and the physical process of applying whatever the specific technique may be that is being taught. At the higher level it seems this should be much more, at least subtly, the default setting.
One may and should train at different levels of resistance, according to the purpose of that specific practice as instructed by the Sensei.
Beginners need a lot of cooperation, but even at advanced levels, there is a lot to learn while following repeatedly the very same exact script of the Kata a good sensei proscribed. Sensei may also instruct the practice to include some resistance, or be at high speed etc. According to the level of the practitioners.
At least in the dojo I train, one should get immediate feedback of his mistakes, if Tori's technique is not working, Uke is expected to let him feel it, but, in a methodical manner – mistakes should only be pointed in accordance to the beginner level, not too many at once, …

Quote:
Blair Presson wrote: View Post
The inherent training environment of most aikido does place some general constrictions of this type of bad uke training. Not many dojos have head pads, mouth pieces and other such of materials that could be beneficial if taken to a more realistic power level. Even a small brief scuffle isn't necessarily bad on occasion. Of course, in a perfect aiki world there would be no need for any force more than the inherent blending with the uke's force into some controlled conclusion to the encounter.
Slight resistance should not turn into a scuffle, there is no need to change the Tori and Uke settings in order to let Tori note his technique is not working as he expected.

Quote:
Blair Presson wrote: View Post
Just as a periodic "reality" check it seems that some degree of "bad uke" training isn't necessarily a bad thing even if its intent and result is to open nage's eyes to the degree that their technique may not be quite as effective as they imagine it is from just normal day-in-day-out training. If there is some further refinement that may be needed in certain movements (ie such as sankyo) it is a lot better to realize that with a bad uke in the dojo than a bad uke outside the dojo.
You are not describing a "reality" check. You were describing technique practice as part of a Kata. To improve, Tori should get a fair feedback, about 80% of successes in consistent manner. "Reality check" is an all together different matter. Just like any other type of a test, reality checks should be done occasionally, but not too often. Proper feedback should given as a norm.

Quote:
Blair Presson wrote: View Post
One other issue that having this sort of training produces at least in my (limited) experience is reinforcing the need to appreciate and apply atemi as part of standard technique. A little effective atemi helps to cover a multitude of small deficiency in technique and as well as avoid some of uke response to control your center when you begin your own blending.
I disagree – the aim of practice is to throw minute errors to the surface, so one could correct them. If your Attemi helps you to cover your deficiencies, it is counter productive to training.

Generally, I think your post shows confusion about the following topics related to learning M.A.:
1. Kata
2. Methodological training feedback
3. Counter techniques (Keashi Waza)
4. Randori / Kyoshi
5. "Reality check" of S.D. fighting

Quote:
George Howard wrote: View Post
There's somebody I train with who, I think, doesn't understand the basis of aikido kata and the role of uke: it's pre-arranged, and uke has to try and blend - he is learning aikido as much as nage is.

So when i apply a technique - which he knows in advance i will be applying - he will deliberately 'lock out his strength' to thwart my attempt to apply that very specific technique - which i have no choice but to apply, as that is what we are practising; in the words of the great Gozo Shioda 'The highest and most difficult level of training is to unbalance someone who has locked out their strength specifically in order to stop you from unbalancing them'. I'm a 5th kyu. He also 'catches' my atemi - the atemi that he knows, with 100% certainty, will be coming. I think he'd prefer to do jiu-jitsu.

Basically, when he does this, he is obviously only protecting himself from one angle/attack/what have you, so sometimes - more and more frequently in recent times in fact - i will respond to how he responds to me, and abandon the technique, adopting another.
I have managed to 'take his back' and get my arms around his neck to apply a choke quite a few times.
Not that i want to: i have just lost my focus due to frustration.

So i guess the question is: can uke resist, knowing exactly what nage has to apply to him? If he can, that's not very realistic, is it: someone 'outside the dojo' wouldn't know what's coming, and nage wouldn't have to restrict his techniques?
Yep, you are describing a "bad Uke" given your level and his, I suggest you try to avoid training with him for a while. Hoping he will learn a better way in the future.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Couple of comments...
1. Fighting is not cooperative. If you make the choice to train cooperatively with your partner you become reliant upon that partner to train. This is kata.
2. Bad Uke waza is not about you. Bad uke waza refers to poor fighting and protective habits of uke.

An uncooperative partner is frustrating. Not successfully completing technique is frustrating. But, aikido is about self reliance too. I have never heard a shihan tell uke she had bad energy... Uke always gives us the opportunity to train, sometimes it's just not what we want to train and sometimes it reminds us we are not as skilled as we imagine ourselves to be.
All true, just remember:
Unlike fighting, Training is a cooperative thing – both you and your partners cooperate to arrive at the dojo together and LEARN, TRAIN and PRACTICE. Much of Aikido training is done via Kata, when practicing this way, you should do it well, regardless of your role as Tori or Uke. Doing it well, the cooperation of Uke in a Kata should not mean the technique should succeed regardless of Tori Actions – Uke responds to Tori actions as they were, and gives Tori a feedback. The feedback may point to Tori errors, it may direct Tori on correct application of the technique in this Kata, or it may be just to be thrown as Tori desired. All according to the situation (respective levels & ability in specific settings).
When a Sensei / Shihan is teaching, he is not practicing. His Uke knows this too, and helps him (some consciously and some not). When practicing, an experienced person working with an inexperienced one (who creates difficulty), will normally have a lot of edge and room for correction of miniscule errors. It is much more difficult to face the same "bad uke behavior" when you do not have such an edge.

Amir

Last edited by Amir Krause : 04-26-2010 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 04-27-2010, 11:18 PM   #17
BAP
Dojo: Union University Aikido
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
Amir Krause wrote: View Post

Generally, I think your post shows confusion about the following topics related to learning M.A.:
1. Kata
2. Methodological training feedback
3. Counter techniques (Keashi Waza)
4. Randori / Kyoshi
5. "Reality check" of S.D. fighting

Amir
I do appreciate your insight. And your analysis of my mental clarity likely would be supported by others who know me. Or perhaps part of our difference is in semantics and method of application rather than in much actual substance.

I did not mean to imply that every class and technique should devolve into a free--for-all. Perhaps my writing style would lead to that conclusion (but if it helps stir some healthy debate regarding what the scope of proper training and levels of resistance in that training could and should be then that is a good thing in my opinion).

Everyone brings their own personality and philosophy into their practice of aikido. Part of the fun (challenge) of aikido is the process of learning to adapt to each new situation and circumstance. That includes adapting to who you are training with and attempting to achieve both parties training objectives. Some people don't mind a little more resistance while others prefer to concentrate just on the flow. For others the nuance of resistance is what's emphasized (whether based on skill or just general tolerance level). For some the thought of wearing a head pad as part of training s sacrilege against the spirit of aikido, for others its just a opportunity for a different variation on training.

Then again maybe if I wore a head pad more my degree of confusion wouldn't be high as it is.

Blair Presson
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:56 AM   #18
cguzik
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Re: Bad Uke

When uke and nage have different agendas for the training at hand, situations can arise where, for example, one partner wants to focus on cooperative flow and the other wants to force his partner to move him/her. But aikido is about communication and sensitivity. So a person who clings to an agenda during training, in spite of being faced with a partner with a different idea, is missing a huge point of what is happening. You think that guy with the knife who wants your wallet is going to follow your agenda? That said, part of the training is learning how to lead your partner to abandon their agenda. Skillfully pointing out the openings associated with that agenda is not illegitimate. Atemi is often a good way to do that. So is henka waza.
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Old 05-16-2010, 09:48 PM   #19
danj
Dojo: Brisbane Aikido Republic
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Re: Bad Uke

Nishioka Sensei from Shinto Muso Ryu talks alot about the role of a teacher in the martial arts, his conclusion is that it is the role of uke (uchidachi) that is the most important. Its an interesting take for our art. Should we be focused on learning this role rather than just doing techniques?

Bad uke = bad teacher ....move on and find the good 'teachers' in each class?

Here is his article on Koryu.com
http://www.koryu.com/library/tnishioka1.html

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Old 05-17-2010, 07:20 AM   #20
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Bad Uke

Quote:
Chris Guzik wrote: View Post
When uke and nage have different agendas for the training at hand, situations can arise where, for example, one partner wants to focus on cooperative flow and the other wants to force his partner to move him/her. But aikido is about communication and sensitivity. So a person who clings to an agenda during training, in spite of being faced with a partner with a different idea, is missing a huge point of what is happening. You think that guy with the knife who wants your wallet is going to follow your agenda? That said, part of the training is learning how to lead your partner to abandon their agenda. Skillfully pointing out the openings associated with that agenda is not illegitimate. Atemi is often a good way to do that. So is henka waza.
Atemi and henka waza can also be tools for playing ego games. Make sure that your true motivation is to help your partner, and not to show them up and make a loud demonstration of your superiority.
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