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Old 08-19-2011, 08:22 AM   #1
dapidmini
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early kyu expectations

I've been reading some threads in aikiweb and it seems that people here expect early kyus not only to be able to perform the techniques accurately, but also to be able to keep their center well. isn't that a little high standard for an early kyu such as 4th kyu? in my dojo, early kyus are allowed to have not-so-good ukemi and just perform roughly-correct technique.. is it just my dojo that is too loose in quality?

what do you (as examiners and/or sensei) usually expect of early kyus? (4th-2nd kyu)
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Old 08-19-2011, 09:29 AM   #2
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Re: early kyu expectations

Just my opinion, but by 3rd kyu ukemi should be an afterthought, they should have a good grasp of the techniques for that level and be able to perform them against some resistance. Basically well beyond the going through the motions point. We only test once per year though, so the time to kyu ratio could be different than what some are used to.
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:32 PM   #3
Phil Van Treese
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Re: early kyu expectations

At 4th kyu, your ukemi should be almost perfect. How can you take a fall and land with "not so good" ukemi??? That's the best way to get hurt---broken arm, broken/cracked rib etc, etc. When you are a beginner, or even advanced aikidoka, your emphasis should be on proper ukemi. This "not so good ukemi" garbage will get you a medical bill you don't want to see.
Perform "roughly correct techniques"???? You should be doing all shown techniques correctly. The last thing you need is to develop bad habits and try to "correct" them later on. Sounds to me like you are being taught to "slide by" with minimum standards and performance. You need to separate yourself from that garbage. Learn everything like your life depended on it. My students don't get away with anything like that. Sub-performance will get someone chewed out in a heartbeat!!!!
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Old 08-19-2011, 01:04 PM   #4
Basia Halliop
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Re: early kyu expectations

What do you consider 'correct', though? Presumably there are things a 4th kyu does (whether it's footwork, posture, timing, balance, position, and so on) that a shodan wouldn't be allowed to do, or things that a 4th kyu is allowed to not do that are necessary for a shodan. Let alone a higher dan. How correct is correct in either situation?
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Old 08-19-2011, 01:16 PM   #5
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Re: early kyu expectations

Well, there's no such thing as perfect ukemi, or perfect anything else. I think what Phil was trying to say is more like "correctly executed". In that case, maybe we can say that the difference between what is expected of a a 4th kyu and of a much higher rank is:

- Intensity and speed of the attack is less
- Intensity and speed of the technique is less
- Simpler variations are acceptable
- Atemi is a bit mellower

IOW, as a 4th kyu, you'd be expected to do whatever you're expected to do correctly within the context of the test. You're not expected to do advanced techniques, nor to deal with an all-out high-speed attack (or an all-out high-speed response to your attack).
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Old 08-19-2011, 06:02 PM   #6
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Re: early kyu expectations

Quote:
Phil Van Treese wrote: View Post
At 4th kyu, your ukemi should be almost perfect. How can you take a fall and land with "not so good" ukemi??? That's the best way to get hurt---broken arm, broken/cracked rib etc, etc. When you are a beginner, or even advanced aikidoka, your emphasis should be on proper ukemi.
Perfect ukemi by 4kyu? You're crazy.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't have good ukemi. I think the ability to perform most types of ukemi from most techniques done at a reasonable pace is a good aim. What you have said about getting hurt is absolutely correct.

My problem is with the term perfect ukemi. I am currently shodan, but my ukemi is far from perfect. I have trained with many people whose ukemi is much better than mine. I hope to improve in the future. When I was 4kyu, I would say my ukemi was what I described above. It is now much better than that.

I guess my point is that if you limit yourself to what is achievable at 4kyu, then you are doing yourself a disservice. You should be able to keep improving your ukemi until your body starts to deteriorate due to age.

Sorry to be picky. I recently had another rant on the topic of ukemi in another thread, so I guess this is a topic that is important to me.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:08 AM   #7
dapidmini
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Re: early kyu expectations

by "not-so-good ukemi" I mean that even though some 4th kyu in my dojo don't make fatal mistakes like landing on his hand or something, they still roll on their side rather than on their shoulder.. and by "roughly correct technique" I mean they still can't apply all the little details such as hands and feet positions and posture some of the times.. although, my dojo holds a kyu examination every 6 months so I guess our standards ARE supposed to be lower than you guys...

Last edited by dapidmini : 08-20-2011 at 04:11 AM.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:18 AM   #8
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Re: early kyu expectations

Well, if people can't do a forward roll correctly, I would be worried.

As far as techniques go, if people can't do it at a high speed, and with a high degree of effectiveness, I would say that is normal for 4kyu. If they are mixing up their hands and feet for the techniques they are supposed to be doing for their grading, I would be worried.
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Old 08-20-2011, 05:22 AM   #9
Mario Tobias
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Re: early kyu expectations

The ukemi intensity depends on dojo. We can do top ukemi/high breakfall by 6th kyu in my previous dojo. My current dojo, even 2nd-3rd kyus still have difficulty doing these.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:59 PM   #10
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Re: early kyu expectations

I'm just a 5kyu (recently), but as far as I can see, there is a clear distiction from beginners (4th kyu and below) and 3rd kyu and up:

From my viewpoint, 3rd kyu and up more or less know what they're doing most of the time.

Last edited by Dave de Vos : 08-20-2011 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 08-20-2011, 05:58 PM   #11
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Re: early kyu expectations

My experience is similar. 3rd kyus are generally a big step above 4th and below. They know a much wider range of techniques, their ukemi is of a higher standard, etc. The difference between 4th and 5th (speaking as a recenth 5th myself) is minor.

I 'know' the techniques I am supposed to, I just don't get all of the details right when I perform them. My ukemi is merely bad, but it was awful.

I know of one 3rd kyu who cannot roll for toffee, yet their techniques are very good.
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Old 08-25-2011, 02:56 PM   #12
Phil Van Treese
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Re: early kyu expectations

Crazy about a 4th kyu having ALMOST (if you would have read it correctly) perfect ukemi?? If you are a shodan and your ukemi isn't good, why are you wearing a black belt?? By dan rank your ukemi should be ALMOST perfect and that carries over from the kyu grades. No one will be perfect in ukemi but it is a goal to strive for. You have to continue to try to get to being perfect since you have to teach the beginners their ukemi. Tomiki Shihan was a bear on ukemi so by the time his students made their shodan, it was darn near perfect as it should be. Maybe you should take some judo lessons and then your ukemi would be perfect, ALMOST.
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Old 08-25-2011, 03:27 PM   #13
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Re: early kyu expectations

Which type of ukemi would be almost perfectly performed by 4 kyu?

I think in our dojo, most 5/4 kyu have little trouble doing this type:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jkdgm2HONBQ

But I think this level of ukemi is more like 3/2 kyu and up in our dojo:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW7sL2xc7qQ

And I think this level is more like 2/1 kyu an up in our dojo:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWhg3OGRWWo
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Old 08-26-2011, 01:03 AM   #14
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Re: early kyu expectations

Quote:
Phil Van Treese wrote: View Post
Crazy about a 4th kyu having ALMOST (if you would have read it correctly) perfect ukemi?? If you are a shodan and your ukemi isn't good, why are you wearing a black belt?? By dan rank your ukemi should be ALMOST perfect and that carries over from the kyu grades. No one will be perfect in ukemi but it is a goal to strive for. You have to continue to try to get to being perfect since you have to teach the beginners their ukemi. Tomiki Shihan was a bear on ukemi so by the time his students made their shodan, it was darn near perfect as it should be. Maybe you should take some judo lessons and then your ukemi would be perfect, ALMOST.
Sorry I missed the 'almost' there.

My ukemi is good. I would even go so far as to say that it is very good. I think it is better than average for people of my rank. However, I have seen better. Now, if I have been doing this for 10 years, and I have above average ukemi for a shodan, and yet it is far from perfect, then how can I expect someone at 4kyu to have almost perfect ukemi?
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Old 08-26-2011, 07:20 AM   #15
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Re: early kyu expectations

good ukemi = no matter what happens, you're going to not end up getting hurt because you can't take the fall.

Baring some sort of physical limitation, people should have good ukemi at or around 3rd kyu or after 1.5-2 years of consistent practice. There are obvious exceptions though.

People should feel obligated to have good ukemi and should be willing to invest personal time in getting it. Someone in average condition who takes the training seriously should have good ukemi after 6-9 months at most.

YMMV.
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:44 AM   #16
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Re: early kyu expectations

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
good ukemi = no matter what happens, you're going to not end up getting hurt because you can't take the fall.
"No matter what happens" is a pretty wide range. Even if they throw you into a wall, or into another person?
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:53 AM   #17
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Re: early kyu expectations

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
"No matter what happens" is a pretty wide range. Even if they throw you into a wall, or into another person?
C'mon, Mary, do you really think that's what I meant? I can spell it all out if needed, but I figured most everyone would get the gist of it.
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:11 AM   #18
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: early kyu expectations

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
good ukemi = no matter what happens, you're going to not end up getting hurt because you can't take the fall. [...] Someone in average condition who takes the training seriously should have good ukemi after 6-9 months at most.

YMMV.
With my (limited) experience, I'd be very impressed if someone could handle this level of ukemi without getting hurt after 6-9 months: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3NmaYu2Kvc
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:28 AM   #19
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Re: early kyu expectations

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
C'mon, Mary, do you really think that's what I meant? I can spell it all out if needed, but I figured most everyone would get the gist of it.
I don't think that's what you mean, but I do think that you could define your "whatever happens" so that people will know what you do mean. Does it mean "no matter how fast the attack is"? Does it mean "no matter how strong the attack is"? Does it mean "no matter the size of the attacker"? Does it mean "even if the attacker changes the attack"?

I'm not saying I disagree with any of these, but again, we're talking about the expectations for ukemi at a certain kyu level. We're never going to come up with a universal consensus answer even within aikiweb (and as soon as you actually get on the mat, where a different answer may be the rule, whatever we say here is so much hot electrons anyway). But, for the purposes of the discussion, it would help to know what is encompassed in your "whatever happens".
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:22 AM   #20
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Re: early kyu expectations

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I don't think that's what you mean, but I do think that you could define your "whatever happens" so that people will know what you do mean. Does it mean "no matter how fast the attack is"? Does it mean "no matter how strong the attack is"? Does it mean "no matter the size of the attacker"? Does it mean "even if the attacker changes the attack"?

I'm not saying I disagree with any of these, but again, we're talking about the expectations for ukemi at a certain kyu level. We're never going to come up with a universal consensus answer even within aikiweb (and as soon as you actually get on the mat, where a different answer may be the rule, whatever we say here is so much hot electrons anyway). But, for the purposes of the discussion, it would help to know what is encompassed in your "whatever happens".
fair enough.

To your examples I would say yes, yes, yes and yes. Pretty much anything that happens in the course of practice, you should be able to safely fall out of. Whether it's you coming in really hard and getting thrown out really fast or someone breaking your balance suddenly and then very quickly following through on that into a koshi where you don't have an opportunity to recover. Your body should simply be comfortable reacting to whatever happens.
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Old 08-26-2011, 02:42 PM   #21
Phil Van Treese
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Re: early kyu expectations

Ukemi needs to be practised every class---right and left side falls, rollouts right and left side and backfalls. The only way your ukemi will improve is with constant practise, practise, practise. There is no escape from that. If you want a diamond to shine, it has to be polished. Your ukemi is your diamond and you need to polish it over and over and over. I don't care what rank anyone has---I am a shichidan (7th dan) and I do rollouts and all falls with the class. They watch me and they try to imitate me. You have to do the same. Your students will copy you and imitate you. I was not being sarcastic when I said that you needed to take some judo lessons to learn how to fall. The judo class falls with Tomiki Shihan carried over into aikido and I thank him to this day that he was a bear on ukemi. Ukemi is the only technique, according to Tomiki Shihan, that you must master or strive to get there. We cannot expect to teach our students proper ukemi if we are sub-standard. Yes, I am a bear on Ukemi----ask my class!!!!! Growl.
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Old 08-26-2011, 06:01 PM   #22
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Re: early kyu expectations

This is something that I absolutely agree with, Phil. It illustrates my point exactly. Your ukemi can keep improving well beyond the early kyu grades, and it should if you keep practicing.
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Old 08-27-2011, 07:52 AM   #23
dapidmini
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Re: early kyu expectations

ok, I think I get the color of the answers regarding the ukemi.. but what about the techniques? sometimes I get the urge to point out every little details that the beginners missed but after saying a couple of points I feel that they won't be able to remember everything I said.. or even worse, they might get bored and think that aikido is too hard to learn for them... so usually, I'll just point out 1 or 2 mistakes and let the other mistakes get away as "beginner standards".. what do you guys think?
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:50 AM   #24
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Re: early kyu expectations

Quote:
David Santana wrote: View Post
ok, I think I get the color of the answers regarding the ukemi.. but what about the techniques? sometimes I get the urge to point out every little details that the beginners missed but after saying a couple of points I feel that they won't be able to remember everything I said.. or even worse, they might get bored and think that aikido is too hard to learn for them... so usually, I'll just point out 1 or 2 mistakes and let the other mistakes get away as "beginner standards".. what do you guys think?
I realize you asked for the input of instructors but though I would give you some perspective form a student's point of view. Hope you don't mind.

I think you need to be careful of overwhelming a beginner with too many details. This is something I have observed quite a bit with a couple of people I train with. They try to teach them everything all at once in detail and the poor student becomes hopelessly confused and frustrated. You don't teach a first grader to read by handing them a copy of Moby Dick.

Aikido is very hard to learn. No sense in hiding that fact from a student. But overwhelming them with too many details before they are ready is a good way to get them frustrated and make them want to give up. If they can get just a couple of things going well they will gain confidence and be more willing to keep working on the things they have trouble with.

As I understand it kyu rank students have not even qualified to be considered beginners yet anyway. They (we ) are learning how to learn aikido. My teachers really emphasize our learning to understand the principles and basic shapes of techniques and ukemi and not so much the perfecting of them. That comes after shodan.

Last edited by Shadowfax : 08-27-2011 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:20 AM   #25
Basia Halliop
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Re: early kyu expectations

I don't know but I don't think you need to think of it (or explain it to them) as letting things slide because they're beginners. To me it seems like more a matter of prioritizing and giving people a workable short-term project -- e.g., what do you think are some good next things to think about in their practice? As a student I often find that helpful... So you could concentrate on a few mistakes they are making and get them to practice doing those things right until they begin to understand them and begin to make them a habit, then move on to the next few things....

I think you can do that without either giving them the mistaken impression that everything else they're doing is perfect, nor that they are doing unusally badly either.
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