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Old 09-13-2013, 10:23 AM   #51
Chris Li
 
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
If the police departments had their own dojo and training programs already, then obviously branding is everything with regards to Takeda, because why else would you train with a guy who would demand "would a bushi allow a technique to be applied to him?" There were no bushi and hadn't been for some time - bushi were a thing of the recent past.
Well, his badass reputation, what else?

Their training programs weren't any more modern that what he was doing, in most cases.

I think you're reading too much into that quote. In Japanese, especially Japanese of that era, it's more like "would a warrior allow a technique to be applied to him?" than what you're attempting to imply.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-13-2013, 10:26 AM   #52
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
So, you just break their arm?
God, no. Why would I do that?
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:47 AM   #53
jonreading
 
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
I hope the title is sufficiently inflammatory. Having the role of uke performed properly is critical for anyone who is trying to learn techniques and principles. Until someone really understands the techniques being practiced and the principles involved, letting the act as uke does them a tremendous disservice. My complete thoughts on the subject are at
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/09/...hy-is-one.html

And yes, I am wearing my asbestos undies.
Interesting blog, thanks for sharing.

From my perspective:
1. A good uke is simply someone who can protect herself and affect nage. I touched on a similar point in another thread, but we are moving away from qualifying uke beyond an assessment that uke has an obligation to [negatively] affect nage and protect herself from injury. Likewise, a good nage is someone who can protect himself and affect uke. In this sense, we have a parity of obligation and an outlet for both partners to experience aiki.
2. I do encourage the senior student to "lead" the technique. Because of the parity in roles, it is actually suprisingly easy to lead from eithe side of the technique - if fact much of our kaishi-waza progenates from uke accelerating the technique past nage.
3. I support hands-on training. At the end of the day, repetition is the best education. I think sometimes "good technique" and "real technique" are not the same thing. Kata is a tool that balances a prescribed scenario to allow repetition with accuracy and some freedom to experience the nuances of different engagements. Uke is simply limited by the number of aikido engagements she can remember.

The more I am exposed to serious fighters, the more I appreciate how stupid I must sound when I say, "you're not doing that right" to my partner. It's like making fun of Michael Jordan because he couldn't play baseball for the Chicago White Sox.

Thanks again!

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Old 09-13-2013, 03:03 PM   #54
aikijean
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

There it is, when you have problem with a beginner(it is always the case in my experience) it is time to reevaluate your way of doing technique and reevaluate your level in aikido (very difficult for the ego).But don't worry I have seen many high skilled aikidokas who had problems with new peoples.
Breaking the arms of those ukes or causing them pain is easy, everybody can do it but finding a way to not do it is the real aiki for me.
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Old 09-13-2013, 03:50 PM   #55
Keith Larman
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

Going back to the original post and blog... Um, yeah, of course, sure, it makes sense. Then again it's not always possible given class composition. And sure, there are lots of folk teaching who could probably get up off their lazy butts and take more ukemi. Heck, I'm one of those guys dealing with all sorts of physical limitations and injuries, but I still get out there, especially with beginners, to guide, to model, to help. But all that said the statement that "beginners should not be allowed to act as uke" is obviously extreme, impractical and quite simply false. If they never take ukemi they will never be anything but beginners in terms of taking ukemi. So at some point they need to take ukemi the first time. Unless you're saying they need to be non beginners in terms of doing the art before they're ever thrown. In which case I think the argument is simply silly and bordering on pedantic posturing. Yeah, okay, great, but at some point Junior over there is gonna need to find out how to fall down. Or have their wrist cranked.

So in the end, sure, yeah, I get the point underlying and agree to some extent. But the title is simply silly and adds to the perception that some take this stuff way too seriously.

"Ah great gods of Aikido, please share more wisdom with the mere mortals. How *should* it be done to be "real", "traditional" and "best"?"

Yeah, well sometimes you just get out there and do what ya can. The ideal case is great, but it is still that, the ideal case. And while we may strive for more ideal cases, reality has a nasty habit of doing whatever the hell it wants regardless of our ideals...

Just sharing what I found kind of, well, uncomfortable about the whole thread's vibe. And why I think some are reacting the way they are.

Or maybe I am that guy with the hose yelling "Get off my lawn!!!!". Please, carry on...

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Old 09-13-2013, 04:06 PM   #56
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

I am not a very generous uke, and I discourage my practice partners from giving me any easy flops. Sometimes they get mad, but if their waza's weak they need to find out in the dojo.

Some Aikido schools should definitely NOT be offering instruction in self defense. If they are, they need to teach techniques that the average 6th kyu student can use on anyone, not just someone who knows how to yield properly. Like Hiji Shime, Kote Gaeshi, Ude Garami and (of course) Irimi Nage.
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Old 09-13-2013, 09:05 PM   #57
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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If they are, they need to teach techniques that the average 6th kyu student can use on anyone, not just someone who knows how to yield properly. Like Hiji Shime, Kote Gaeshi, Ude Garami and (of course) Irimi Nage.
The defensive tactics that are available in Aikido's curriculum surely aren't a function of which techniques you know. In fact I would go so far as to say knowing how to yield your ass off until you have a chance to run like hell is the way to go when it comes to surviving violence. Attempting to using techniques to dominate the other person, even if you are very good at martial arts, is unwise.

Because the Aikido uke role has the rather unique property of making you more durable (if you are doing it well) it is fairly underrated, particularly in the current culture of "no ukemi" as a method to proof your nage. Proofing your nage is absolutely essential, but in my opinion is something to be used occasionally for the purposes of gauging your development, rather than as your routine training mode. Several of the folks I have trained with (including some pretty advanced people) who have taken this on as a routine training mode have become stiff and have, at least for now, lost much of their grace as a result.

Last edited by bkedelen : 09-13-2013 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:49 PM   #58
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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The defensive tactics that are available in Aikido's curriculum surely aren't a function of which techniques you know. In fact I would go so far as to say knowing how to yield your ass off until you have a chance to run like hell is the way to go when it comes to surviving violence.
We all know that under stress, humans fall into their training patterns. So the defensive techniques we use are the ones we have recently trained. That is why unaltered Yoshinkan curriculum is taught as tactical training to the Kidotai (those black-clad, Japanese riot police you saw in clips of the Tokyo subway nerve gas attack).

If you have been doing a lot of three-man jiyu waza and tenchi nage is your "go to technique" (which happens), you are in for some big surprises if you come upon a situation you have to intervene in (which happens).

My assertion is that many Aikido dojos do their students a disservice by not preparing them for this eventuality. Many mid and high level practitioners do not have a realistic view of their martial effectiveness. Someone has to tell them, before they get themselves hurt. That is uke's job, IMO.
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Old 09-15-2013, 04:20 PM   #59
Robert Cowham
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

I agree that two beginners can teach each other bad habits, but usually find that it doesn't last too long in any case (the practicing that is, since we switch around). Practicing with beginners is usually interesting as they don't know what they are supposed to do, so you get a better feel for how well or otherwise you are doing your technique. You also may need to be able to change technique if they give you a different attack. This can be quite useful for those who have some experience. Anyway, things generally work out fine.

As regards kenjutsu, with a more koryu style background in our style, it is seniors who take ukemi. There is a challenge there too in that it can be too easy to just "teach" and not really push yourself. How can you ensure that you are training yourself while taking ukemi for someone - that's a good study in itself. One of the mantras in my ear is that of a certain senior saying to me "don't be lazy Robert!"

Last edited by Robert Cowham : 09-15-2013 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 09:13 PM   #60
eschatts
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

When I saw this thread, I did not know what to think, especially with all the comments like “I get weary of being paired up with a hack newbie”. That is un-Aikido to me. I echo most everyone's comments about it is good to train with a new person because it does test your current skill level. And it is very hard for a senior person to get over his or hers ego. One lesson I learned from one of my teachers is that I was always afraid to fail. I think it is a very good lesson to reflect on as you progress in your Aikido journey. Especially when it comes to working with new people.

I went back and read the full blog, and I think I agree with almost every aspect of the article. The only problem is that this is only possible in a perfect dojo. And if most dojo's are like ours there is only one or 2 senior students and all new people. So there is no way that can ever happen.

So for most small dojo's you just have to be flexible and rotate after each set of techniques and if junior students start picking up bad habits from each other, it is the senior people who need to try and correct it.

As a side note - If a senior student only wants to take Ukemi from other senior students I think that person is fooling himself in think he or she is better that they really are. Everytime I hear this I think of this youtube video -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_vvI26NnwE

I have to say after years of practicing, I really like guiding new students while being an Uke. I feel like I am giving back.
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Old 09-17-2013, 10:05 PM   #61
Krystal Locke
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

Quote:
Eric Schattschneider wrote: View Post
I went back and read the full blog, and I think I agree with almost every aspect of the article. The only problem is that this is only possible in a perfect dojo. And if most dojo's are like ours there is only one or 2 senior students and all new people. So there is no way that can ever happen.
I really dont think most aikido schools are like yours. I wouldn't say that most were like mine, either, but I do see a trend to topheaviness that makes sempai = uke much more possible. My dojo has a 6th dan, at least 3 5th dans, a couple, three 4ths, maybe 1 3rd, at least one 2nd, 4-5 shodan, maybe a handful of kyu folk, and new folk hover right around 3 but dont show up much. I'd love some fresh blood to take ukemi for.

THe new folk are all intimidated by our general yudanshaness. No peer(rank) role models, they think they are wasting our time when we train with them, and they dont believe us when we thank them for being good, strong, unpredictable training partners, no matter as uke or nage.

Send us some of those newbs, please.
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:44 AM   #62
Robert Cowham
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
I really dont think most aikido schools are like yours. I wouldn't say that most were like mine, either, but I do see a trend to topheaviness that makes sempai = uke much more possible. My dojo has a 6th dan, at least 3 5th dans, a couple, three 4ths, maybe 1 3rd, at least one 2nd, 4-5 shodan, maybe a handful of kyu folk, and new folk hover right around 3 but dont show up much. I'd love some fresh blood to take ukemi for.

THe new folk are all intimidated by our general yudanshaness. No peer(rank) role models, they think they are wasting our time when we train with them, and they dont believe us when we thank them for being good, strong, unpredictable training partners, no matter as uke or nage.

Send us some of those newbs, please.
I think this is not uncommon these days - average dojo age going up 1 year at a time! Perhaps we should be doing BJJ or MMA...

Bringing the new blood in is a constant challenge, and then of course keeping them, and as you say, inspiring them and motivating and encouraging them to just keep going. Having a good atmosphere in the dojo allows all to be engaged at their own level and to be making progress. A little competitiveness is not necessarily bad, but can be detrimental - but people always compare themselves to others.

Had a new chap just join who said he wasn't sure if he was too old at 52! When I pointed out I was 51 and another chap present was 54, he was somewhat relieved (our youthful looks obviously confused him!). He seems enthusiastic and engaged (and has paid for a month now), but it's very early days yet in his possible aikido career...

Mind you, I was chatting with Robert Mustard sensei and Toby Threadgill sensei over a beer after their excellent seminar in Dartford on Saturday. Both said that they don't necessarily have large numbers in their home dojos. There's Mustard sensei, one of the top Yoshinkan instructors in the world, with invites around the globe for seminars. He said he has rung up Neil (who organised the event last weekend), and told him "5 people in class today" and put the phone down - he can hear Neil's teeth gnashing in frustration at the wasted opportunity all the way from Vancouver! Prophets not recognised in their home towns!
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Old 09-28-2013, 10:51 PM   #63
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

I, of course, agree with most (if not all) of what you've said, Peter. It seems to me that some respondents might be bringing other factors into the conversation. (Naturally, I reserve the right to be wrong.) To illustrate my thoughts on this, let's take this out of the dojo and into a slightly different educational context.

I teach ESL at a major university. My classes comprise virtually 100% international students who are in the U.S. for the purposes of getting into this (or other) university. Many of them have conditional acceptance (i.e., they are accepted under the condition that they improve their English skills). That's where I come in.

Sometimes, my students are rank beginners. Sometimes, they are very advanced. However, in all cases, I am clearly the senior. As we say in my dojo, "I have the 'stuff'." I *do not* look to my students to improve my English. When I want that, I talk to other native speakers who are sharp enough to challenge me and push the boundaries of my vocabulary, critical thinking, and understanding of grammar. (Or, I just read Mad Magazine.) These are different educational processes.

What I *do* learn from my students is not only how well *I* understand the subject, but also how well I am able to *convey* that information and lead students into demonstrable results. As they progress, they need me less and less, and actually become quite capable of helping themselves and each other.

Ultimately, my responsibility is to teach them to not need me.

Michael Hacker
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:39 AM   #64
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

A couple of points:
1. At the time Takeda was teaching, koryu was still very widespread. For example, Kobayashi Seiko of Toda-ha Buko-ryu believed that, through her teaching in the school system, she had taught over 10,000 people in her life. There was a profound decline of budo in the Edo and Meiji periods: EDO - because the daimyo demanded that many schools consolidate to make "han-kenjutsu" - this is the roots of kendo MEIJI - a rejection of feudal culture and an embrace of European culture led to the abandonment of many schools. Then, there was a renaissance. First, through modernization (judo, kendo, etc) and then, as Japan became outward looking/Imperialistic, there was a revival of interest in older martial arts. In the early 1900's through WWII, many koryu were quite popular.
2. If you read the article on Takeda Sokaku, called "Ima Bokuden", you will find that Takeda definitely taught police agencies. Furthermore, Takeda's cachet WAS that he was considered one of the last of the old-time bushi. Yes, there was a lot of koryu around, but Takeda had something special. AND - Takeda considered himself a bushi--as did most old-school people. The law may have phased out the caste system, but people still maintained it. This is true, even today. A friend of mine was in a very rural area, and had to contact a family regarding an investigation. He spoke with a woman of about 60, who proudly informed him that they were a bushi family. Asking about a house within view, the woman said, scornfully, "Oh, the new people." They came here 400 years ago, and were elevated to bushi status then. I know nothing about such people."
3. What people do not understand is that Ueshiba was not considered a "modernizer" in the 1920's, 1930's. He was considered an exemplar of old school martial arts, his skills those of times past. In fact, there is good reason to believe (I cannot find the citation right now) that the entire thesis of Saigo Shiro preceding Takeda as a student of Daito-ryu was a fabrication in the 1920's by the Kodokan, so that they could say, in counter to the increasingly popular Ueshiba that, "we do that too." (I want to prevail on the person who did that research to go public with it - it's fascinating, the level of historical rewriting that the Kodokan apparently did, that is countered by newspaper accounts - - or their lack - -in the 1880's.
4. Aikido's real revolution--which I believe has filtered backwards into modern Daito-ryu is reciprocal, non-competitive practice. (I go into a lot more detail in a new chapter in Dueling with Osensei, 2nd ed - out in 2014). We focus too much on Takeda's paranoia. I would wager that reciprocal practice was enacted amongst Takeda's students, and this further amplified by Ueshiba. This is revolutionary. With all the wonders of koryu and its teaching methodology, it perpetuates a feudal mindset. Aikido, through reciprocal practice establishes that, within its context, each can become the other's uke (and, btw, if one is training in some form of internal training, this is undeniable).
5. In this sense, (again, I go into much more detail in the book), if I am senior and throwing you, a beginner, although you are "taking a fall," I am still uke to you. Takeda was, in this sense, taking ukemi. He received the attack of his students, and taught by "what happens next."
Best
Ellis Amdur

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 09-29-2013 at 11:42 AM.

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Old 10-02-2013, 11:36 PM   #65
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

Personally, I value having a fresh newbie become my uke because they behave in a manner which is completely natural to them. Their balance, movement, speed, and timing is all pure and untainted. It also gives me a chance to really practice my control in my technique.It can be quite difficult to put someone down who doesn't know how to fall without hurting them.

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Old 10-03-2013, 06:26 AM   #66
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Personally, I value having a fresh newbie become my uke because they behave in a manner which is completely natural to them. Their balance, movement, speed, and timing is all pure and untainted.
Untainted by aikido, sure. Untainted by sitting on the couch watching MMA and believing that having a Y chromosome means they know how to fight, perhaps not.
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:12 AM   #67
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Untainted by aikido, sure. Untainted by sitting on the couch watching MMA and believing that having a Y chromosome means they know how to fight, perhaps not.
This must be the prettiest man ever. Except for Brad Pitt. or Cher:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Waterson

I have already expressed the increasing unease I experience when I engage in the "you're not doing X right." language. There is an innocence in newbie movement - there is an intuition that leads their movement that has not been conditioned by aikido. What ever influences have conditioned the movement, we're dealing with innocence in aikido.

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Old 10-03-2013, 01:25 PM   #68
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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This must be the prettiest man ever. Except for Brad Pitt. or Cher:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Waterson
That's an aikido newbie?
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Old 10-03-2013, 03:19 PM   #69
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Untainted by aikido, sure. Untainted by sitting on the couch watching MMA and believing that having a Y chromosome means they know how to fight, perhaps not.
Does joining an Aikido class help you fight better than watching MMA? Depends on your dojo.
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:06 PM   #70
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Does joining an Aikido class help you fight better than watching MMA?
You've completely missed the point of my comment.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:52 AM   #71
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Untainted by aikido, sure. Untainted by sitting on the couch watching MMA and believing that having a Y chromosome means they know how to fight, perhaps not.
I thought your point was to be disdainful of men and MMA. I'd like to offer some counterpoints, if you don't mind: There are certainly better training methods, but watching MMA does have it's merits. You get to see how professional, highly trained fighters miss techniques constantly. You get to see how people shake off seemingly devastating blows, sometimes winning fights with broken hands or wrists. For certain, it's the best test lab we currently have for martial techniques- The wheat definitely gets separated from the chaff. Maybe that's why it's unpopular in certain circles.
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:11 AM   #72
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

Please don't take the above comment as being harsh. I know you were joking, although I suspect your true feelings may have been revealed more than you thought.

Those "MMA guys" are probably my favorite new students. I was paired up most of Tuesday night with a first-timer, who had trained in other styles and was over 6 feet tall, besides. It was a really beneficial training session! I slowed down and gave him time to make adjustments on the falls, but he took the techniques just like I hoped it would work. It's very encouraging when that happens and it's great to see those looks, like, "Wow, there was something there." I heard he came back last (Thursday) night but I was working.
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:24 AM   #73
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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That's an aikido newbie?
Unfortunately, no; her predisposition to MMA probably changes her perception of aikido. I think you were joking, so my comments about the karate hottie, Ms. Watterson, was a quipped response to your observation about men who watch MMA and think they can fight. Obviously, women watch MMA, too, and think they can fight. As a professional female fighter, Ms. Watterson not only thinks she can fight, she also lacks a Y chromosome. Of course, she can fight.

Gendering aside, I think the comment raises an interesting issue if we are pre-judging a newbie based upon her previous experiences. If we make pre-judgments about our newbies before they ever enter the culture, what kind of pressure does that place upon a prospective student in assessing the training culture? I suppose as long as we are up front about the affect of our pre-judgments, a prospective student could use that information in determining their decision to train.

Last edited by jonreading : 10-04-2013 at 10:30 AM.

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Old 10-07-2013, 07:10 AM   #74
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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I thought your point was to be disdainful of men and MMA. I'd like to offer some counterpoints, if you don't mind:
Counterpoints to something I didn't say? Knock yourself out. Those conversations with oneself can be so engrossing, can't they?
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:01 PM   #75
Krystal Locke
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Re: Beginners should not be allowed to act as uke.

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Untainted by aikido, sure. Untainted by sitting on the couch watching MMA and believing that having a Y chromosome means they know how to fight, perhaps not.
That's always a fun night. Some favorite quotes that have come out of that sitch...

"Hey! I cant catch your kicks like I do in karate class!"
"I wasn't ready when I attacked you!"
"No fair! I thought aikido didn't have that. You cant do that!"
"OWWW! Whoa, what the hell did you just do to me?"

and the best

"How come I fell down? Do that again!"
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