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Old 10-23-2011, 07:39 AM   #1
Dave Gallagher
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Being overly complacent as Uke

My original teacher used to always warn us about this. He said that if your partner is not leading you somewhere with his or her technique then don't go along with it as it helps neither one of you. He said not to overly resist but not to just throw yourself.
We see so much of this in public demos that I feel that this is where some people get the idea that Aikido is fake.
I was trained to believe that true technique is only learned by making it work and not by having uke throw themselves because they think this is what is "supposed" to happen with that technique. In this case uke gets the best practice but the partner learns nothing from someone flipping themselves because you touched them.
We were taught that there is a line between real technique and just going through the outward motions.
I see a number of videos on Youtube that really hurt the reputation of Aikido in my opinion.
We were taught that as uke you should actually feel what is happening and move with it and not move because you know you are supposed to fall or roll etc.
I am of the opinion that this kind of dojo teaches Aikido that is effective as self defence and still remains true to the "do" part.
I am posting this to see if anyone else has trained this way or if you learned from the "School of being over complaisant" and if so please share the values of it as I have not trained like that and am curious about this philosophy.

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
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Old 10-23-2011, 10:06 AM   #2
Walter Martindale
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Re: Being overly complaisant as Uke

I've had instructors who have actually punished people for being "too compliant" - the uke goes with (or even ahead of) the nikkyo, sensei warns uke not to go until it's "on", continued over-compliance gets dealt with in the "pin" - where sensei pushes the limits on the pin to the point where the uke can't use his arm for a few minutes after the demonstration - nothing's broken, but the message from sensei is:

Look, I can, if I choose, rip your arm off at any moment - I won't, but you have to offer SOME resistance or require SOME work from me before you submit to the technique - don't lead me in my technique - so - yes, your arm hurts, but it's still attached, please give me something to work with next time I'm demonstrating... Make me throw you, don't throw yourself.

I've had the experience of practicing with people who threw themselves and others who required that you actually do something. It's a wake-up call when all of a sudden there's a person just standing there - not really resisting, but also not taking a dive. Instead of getting upset with the person who was just standing there, I got up with myself (and with the diving team)...

Throw me, or I'll just stand there (and possibly apply a counter)... and either help you figure out how to throw me (if the situation is appropriate) or ask the sensei to help us figure out how my partner can throw me...

One sensei said "Help him - no just let throw, make him work, help him learn."
W
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Old 10-23-2011, 11:28 AM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Being overly complaisant as Uke

To the above I would say, I see uke's job as maintaining the same connection nage is aiming for. In some dojos or training situations, the aim would be to counter, in others to keep providing what nage needs to see if he can auto-correct - so I wouldn't just stand there and wait.

Janet Rosen
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Old 10-23-2011, 01:40 PM   #4
Alberto_Italiano
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Re: Being overly complaisant as Uke

Well complacent ukes are very useful.

In fact, it is by training with them that, a fatal day that you get confronted by a real and not totally incompetent challenger in a street situation, you will discover only at that very same moment and for the first time that all you have learnt won't work at all - and you will get killed.

So, complacent ukes are very useful if you're so naive and daring to think of using aikido for self-defense purposes (you should know that a martial art is not meant for that... come on everybody knows that... you should rather cultivate aiki instead, for aiki-do is not for self defense but to enhance your spiritual side...) - complacent ukes are quite useful if you're planning... suicide.

Last edited by Alberto_Italiano : 10-23-2011 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 10-23-2011, 02:49 PM   #5
Mario Tobias
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Re: Being overly complaisant as Uke

Hi Dave,

You will encounter this always. The important thing is that you distinguish the overly compliant ukes and understand the underlying reasons. I think there are several factors contributing to this IMHO.

1. Ego and conflict avoidance. Everybody hates to admit they make mistakes. This applies to both nage and uke. Some nages have a "my technique is always correct, and yours is always wrong, therefore my techniques always work" or "know it all" attitude. Ukes can sense this with a nage and become too compliant to avoid conflict otherwise they get reprimanded or get a telling by nage.

2. Uke being uncomfortable because of an injury. Some techniques even done incorrectly to an injured part can be excruciatingly painful. Uke throws himself to relieve the pain or avoid risk of further, more serious injury.

3. Too much pain being inflicted by nage when he does the techniques. Some nages crank it up too much that uke throws himself ahead of the actual throw to save himself.

4. Not really understanding the role of uke. This is where the teacher makes the difference. It is the senseis role to set clear expectations of what ukes role should be and refresh the message regularly during practices. The tricky thing is that the role between nage and uke is mostly nonverbal communication and has some degree of cooperation to make the most out of the training sessions and understanding of techniques. The force coming from both uke and nage should be "just enough". The part about nonverbal communication, level of cooperation and use of right force are as important and equally difficult as the understanding of the techniques themselves.

5. Bad habits or different goals. Different people come to practice for different reasons eg exercise, socializing, lifestyle choice or martial arts application....People with reasons other than seeking martial arts effectiveness would progress differently imho.
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:50 AM   #6
Ketsan
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Uke shouldn't move unless moved; ukemi really should be an attempt to regain a stable posture from which to fight back. I think of it this way: If Aikido is about leaning correct body mechanics and uke co-operates with me how does that help me work on my body mechanics? That just creates an illusion of competance and so the more I move into a teaching role the less useful I find a co-operative uke.

Uke is a role for the analysis of what tori is doing; if uke is working to produce the technique then it's fudging the results of tori's technique.
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Old 10-24-2011, 11:00 AM   #7
BWells
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Hum I think I'm going to disagree with this comment slightly. If in the process of being uke, I find myself in disadvantaged place (ie providing an opening), I will move to cover that opening. So in one way I am being forced to move but not physically "moved" by the nage. Even at slow motion we try to keep the intent as realistic as possible, which means I am always looking to move to a place where I am both continuing my attack and protecting myself from a hit or throw. If I lock down to force the nage to throw me, I also provide a static target and break my attacking intent.
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Old 10-24-2011, 11:01 AM   #8
Richard Stevens
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

I think they're are certain degrees of collusion that are acceptable dependent upon the practitioner's skill level. If I were working with a new student I don't have an issue in moving where they should be leading me so they gain a better understanding of footwork, alignment and placement. However, if I were to continue doing that as their skills progressed it would be detrimental to their development.
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Old 10-24-2011, 11:55 AM   #9
Ketsan
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Quote:
Bruce Wells wrote: View Post
Hum I think I'm going to disagree with this comment slightly. If in the process of being uke, I find myself in disadvantaged place (ie providing an opening), I will move to cover that opening. So in one way I am being forced to move but not physically "moved" by the nage. Even at slow motion we try to keep the intent as realistic as possible, which means I am always looking to move to a place where I am both continuing my attack and protecting myself from a hit or throw. If I lock down to force the nage to throw me, I also provide a static target and break my attacking intent.
True.
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:04 PM   #10
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

The role of uke (allthough I prefer aite) is to allow tori to learn the technique. Obviously there are several layers in learning each of which require a different aite.
Once the global form is there aite can become tougher (resist more) and see whether or not tori can still maintain control of the situation. Another step is that aite tries to take over the technique at possible openings of aite.
Perhaps aite should try to be the opponent tori can only just manage to control.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:17 PM   #11
Janet Rosen
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
Uke shouldn't move unless moved; ukemi really should be an attempt to regain a stable posture from which to fight back.
I have been taught and train a little differently - unless I am reading you wrong, which I admit is possible.
Most aikido training (outside of kaeshiwaza and jiyuwaza) is kata; uke and nage each have a role to play.
My role as uke is to provide the energy, in the form of the called-for attack, that nage uses to perform the called-for technique.
I agree that my attack needs to be a good attack in the sense of my ending posture being stable unless nage has disturbed it (drives me nuts to see an uke complete a strike by throwing himself into a roll!).
But if for some reason nage has stalled out, my role as a training partner is not to also stall out so we just stand there - my role is to continue to provide input/energy by pressing the attack enough for nage to try to find the correction he needs to get back on track to take my balance and complete the technique. May not always be possible of course and depends on skill level of nage, but that's how I look at it.

Janet Rosen
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:28 PM   #12
BWells
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

I actually find uke stalling out (I've attacked so have done my part what now? ) to be a bigger problem than uke being overly complacent. The overly complacent uke is in my view just not understanding and is easier to correct. The stalling out is or can be fear, confusion, not knowing how to attack, or the old, you didn't move me so I will never move! We spend a lot of time trying to get uke's to act as if they were really attacking, not doing stop and start. Even at more senior levels this can sometimes be a problem. And by the way I am guilty sometimes myself, sigh. It is old thinking ahead instead of being in the moment and responding to what is happening NOW.
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:32 PM   #13
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Although the two words have the same root, and one is listed as a secondary/alternate meaning of the other, in common usage "complacent" and "complaisant" have rather different meanings. OP used the former when I think he meant to use the latter.
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:33 PM   #14
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
Uke shouldn't move unless moved; ukemi really should be an attempt to regain a stable posture from which to fight back.
I think I see what you mean, but these two statements are contradictory. At least in practice, an uke who refuses to move may be stable, but usually is not in a position from which they can fight back.

The classic "immovable uke" -- someone who clamps down on your wrist and grounds out -- does not strike me as particularly helpful, either for training against "real" attacks or for actually learning anything about aikido. Even (perhaps especially) in static practice, uke needs to be sensitive to what nage is doing and respond in a way appropriate to nage's skill level.

Katherine
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Old 10-24-2011, 03:25 PM   #15
Dave Gallagher
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Mary, you are correct. complaisant is the word I should have used. A partner who is just limp and will roll or fall with or without receiving a good and proper technique just to make it look good.

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Old 10-24-2011, 04:30 PM   #16
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

I think all of you have described what an uke should do, albeit in different situations and to different degrees. I just want to add that when I have trained with very good ukes, it has been like trying to hold a snake by the tail. They don't go dead after they attack. They allow themselves to be led, but at the same time, they remain aware of their own balance and how they are able to move. Whether they reverse the technique or strike etc depends on the level of nage and the type of training we are doing.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:17 PM   #17
RED
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Re: Being overly complaisant as Uke

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
I've had instructors who have actually punished people for being "too compliant" - the uke goes with (or even ahead of) the nikkyo, sensei warns uke not to go until it's "on", continued over-compliance gets dealt with in the "pin" - where sensei pushes the limits on the pin to the point where the uke can't use his arm for a few minutes after the demonstration - nothing's broken,...
I have torn tendons in my arm from a nikkyo. It will never heal, I will need surgery eventually someday, until then it is something I just simply train on. I find it very shocking that a sensei would act so irresponsible. The tendons and tissues a nikkyo pin is taking advantage of are major tissue groups. If you can't use your arm for a few moments afterwards the nage has in fact done serious damage to the uke. I don't agree people should be "easy" uke, they should in fact be thrown. And yes you should discourage, particularly at the higher levels, uke that thrown themselves. I believe in uke practicing to their nage's level. It is about learning.
Again I find the practice of "pushing the limits" on pins and joint manipulations to be disrespectful to your uke, and their health. If you get a dead arms from a nikkyo, see a doctor. Training isn't play time, and self preservation is a virtue, and respect for your uke's body is required to train in Aikido at all. And it is particularly hard to maintain training schedules, and train to our highest levels injured like this.

Last edited by RED : 10-27-2011 at 01:21 PM.

MM
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:46 PM   #18
Ketsan
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
I think I see what you mean, but these two statements are contradictory. At least in practice, an uke who refuses to move may be stable, but usually is not in a position from which they can fight back.

The classic "immovable uke" -- someone who clamps down on your wrist and grounds out -- does not strike me as particularly helpful, either for training against "real" attacks or for actually learning anything about aikido. Even (perhaps especially) in static practice, uke needs to be sensitive to what nage is doing and respond in a way appropriate to nage's skill level.

Katherine
Uke should want to keep his center; there's no stiffness or tension or clamping down in a muscular sense implied. Just like in push testing you don't keep your center by going stiff, same same with uke.

If tori wants uke to move then tori has to put uke in a position where moving is his best option or where he has been put in motion by tori. Uke is training his centre just as much as tori and shouldn't do anything to give it up. I don't when I'm practicing/teaching, if he's not taking my centre he's doing something wrong and rather than adapting to the wrong thing I'd rather stop and see what the mistake is and put it right.
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Old 10-27-2011, 08:54 PM   #19
jlbrewer
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

I too was taught only to fall if the nage makes me need to, don't be stiff, don't force resistance (with an unwritten "unless you're a pair of yudansha testing each other's response"), but there's one exception I'm curious about that I haven't gotten around to asking sensei about yet. Anything that involves a throw into rolling ukemi, you roll no mater what, even if the person didn't successfully throw you. I'm guessing this is partly for safety, partly for practice doing rolling ukemi well? It usually manages to still be obvious to the nage and the sensei if the throw wasn't good.

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Old 10-27-2011, 09:45 PM   #20
Janet Rosen
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Quote:
Jamie Brewer wrote: View Post
I too was taught only to fall if the nage makes me need to, don't be stiff, don't force resistance (with an unwritten "unless you're a pair of yudansha testing each other's response"), but there's one exception I'm curious about that I haven't gotten around to asking sensei about yet. Anything that involves a throw into rolling ukemi, you roll no mater what, even if the person didn't successfully throw you. I'm guessing this is partly for safety, partly for practice doing rolling ukemi well? It usually manages to still be obvious to the nage and the sensei if the throw wasn't good.
Depends. With a newbie I take the roll. With somebody else depending on their skill level and other factors....I may follow their energy even if my balance isn't fully taken and let us make the roll happen OR ... I may go where they are actually putting me, for instance, if my balance is intact and they push me, I'll walk out of the push as a reflection of what I felt done to me.

Janet Rosen
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Old 10-27-2011, 09:49 PM   #21
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Quote:
Jamie Brewer wrote: View Post
I too was taught only to fall if the nage makes me need to, don't be stiff, don't force resistance (with an unwritten "unless you're a pair of yudansha testing each other's response"), but there's one exception I'm curious about that I haven't gotten around to asking sensei about yet. Anything that involves a throw into rolling ukemi, you roll no mater what, even if the person didn't successfully throw you. I'm guessing this is partly for safety, partly for practice doing rolling ukemi well? It usually manages to still be obvious to the nage and the sensei if the throw wasn't good.
Ever seen someone pull out of a roll at the last minute and land on their shoulder? It is not a pretty site. A dislocated collarbone can take months to heal, if it ever fully heals.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:07 PM   #22
Walter Martindale
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Re: Being overly complaisant as Uke

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I have torn tendons in my arm from a nikkyo. It will never heal, I will need surgery eventually someday, until then it is something I just simply train on. I find it very shocking that a sensei would act so irresponsible. The tendons and tissues a nikkyo pin is taking advantage of are major tissue groups. If you can't use your arm for a few moments afterwards the nage has in fact done serious damage to the uke. I don't agree people should be "easy" uke, they should in fact be thrown. And yes you should discourage, particularly at the higher levels, uke that thrown themselves. I believe in uke practicing to their nage's level. It is about learning.
Again I find the practice of "pushing the limits" on pins and joint manipulations to be disrespectful to your uke, and their health. If you get a dead arms from a nikkyo, see a doctor. Training isn't play time, and self preservation is a virtue, and respect for your uke's body is required to train in Aikido at all. And it is particularly hard to maintain training schedules, and train to our highest levels injured like this.
To some extent I agree - deliberately harming someone is not on. However in this situation the arm was dead only for a minute or so after - no torn ligaments, no permanent damage - It was a shihan letting an overly compliant uke know that a) he could tell where the limits of uke's flexibility was, and b) don't lead the ukemi. Oh, and uke WAS (and still is) a doctor...
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Old 10-28-2011, 01:19 AM   #23
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

First rule of Budo: protect yourself at all times. ALWAYS!

Aikido practise is inherently safe. When it is not, you are doing it wrong!
No one should make a point using pain/cause injury. Especially not the teacher. In case this happens do not train with that person, warn others about it or perhaps even leave!

In role of aite you allow tori to do the exercise, while protecting yourself at every step of the technique. It does not matter if tori is your teacher, an experienced student or novice. There is a risk that tori is too strong/too good for you to maintain control and you rely on your trust in tori. So know who you can trust, or do not train with them.
Accidents do happen, unfortunately, but they occur by chance not on purpose!

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:25 AM   #24
Walter Martindale
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Re: Being overly complacent as Uke

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
First rule of Budo: protect yourself at all times. ALWAYS!

Aikido practise is inherently safe. When it is not, you are doing it wrong!
No one should make a point using pain/cause injury. Especially not the teacher. In case this happens do not train with that person, warn others about it or perhaps even leave!

In role of aite you allow tori to do the exercise, while protecting yourself at every step of the technique. It does not matter if tori is your teacher, an experienced student or novice. There is a risk that tori is too strong/too good for you to maintain control and you rely on your trust in tori. So know who you can trust, or do not train with them.
Accidents do happen, unfortunately, but they occur by chance not on purpose!
Again, I agree in the general case. In this specific case the shihan had seen the uke develop from gokyu up to sandan, and knew the limits. There was nothing fast.

If I'm uke, I essentially "let" the nage do the technique if he or she is doing it. I actually let them do it 'wrong' a few times while I'm figuring out if I'm able/qualified to help them. If I think I can help them, I do. If I don't think I know enough, I call the shihan or sensei over and ask why my partner is having so much trouble making me move. If it's a shihan doing the technique to me, I usually don't have much choice in the matter - OK, I don't have any choice in the matter. Hmm - THAT's what he's doing...

The only accidental ouch I've had when being thrown by a shihan, I was planted firmly on the ground with a kotegaeshi that had some pretty good air in it (flying lessons, Japanese style), which was just fine, but my lower leg, on the way to the mat, landed on someone's heel just as he was pushing off the ball of his foot. MAN that hurt.
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:55 AM   #25
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Re: Being overly complaisant as Uke

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
To some extent I agree - deliberately harming someone is not on. However in this situation the arm was dead only for a minute or so after - no torn ligaments, no permanent damage - It was a shihan letting an overly compliant uke know that a) he could tell where the limits of uke's flexibility was, and b) don't lead the ukemi. Oh, and uke WAS (and still is) a doctor...
If my teacher chose to not respect my tap and release his hold on my command, it would be the last time I train with that teacher (If I didn't get up and lay a beating on him).

Respecting the tap is the single most important thing that can happen on the mat. It's not my training partner or my teacher who has to live with the injuries. They do not know better than I on what my body can or can't take. Unless they are willing to go to my job for me and pay my mortgage they have no say in this matter.

In my opinion, not respecting the tap is the single most irresponsible and disrespectful thing someone can do on the mat.

- Don
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