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Old 12-14-2002, 12:11 PM   #26
Location: Bangkok
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 803
I am afraid that there is a slight misunderstanding here. If you look at the title of the thread, coward is between "" (I don't know how you call them in english, we call them guillemets in french ) and ends with a question mark?.

I was looking for a provocative title for the thread to entice more people to read it. But in the same time, I thought that the "" and the ? would be understood as they are meant to be.

Anyway, we are not talking here about people with physical infirmities such as the person mentioned by Erik Knoops. Our subject is people with a psychological problem, which is fear. Maybe I should have called the thread the fearsome uke? Would that have sounded better.

I do not intend to judge others, nor is my aikido free from these fears. As a matter of fact, as Jun mentioned, we all have our limits, and the more we come near these limits, the higher our internal alarm will sounds.

I think that Lynn is being too harsh and judgemental in my regards too. I am not telling people how they should do aikido. I am talking about people who have a serious problem which can cause injuries to themselves before it causes it to others. The injury can be self-inflicted, such as in solo ukemi practice.

The first person I mentioned (the one who grabbed my waist) is a very good friend of mine. He has been practicing for 3-4 years, is very aware of his problem, and has been trying very hard to overcome this handicap. When we practice together, I lead him to the point of loosing balance and stop there, I let him jump by himself and merely guide him safely to the mats. I can tell you that while doing ukemi, he's so crisp and tense that he reminds me of a cat about to be put in the bathtub. In the mentioned incident, I think he jumped higher than intended and got scared and grabbed me. An incident.

The other person mentioned believes that ukemi is harmful to the body. He practices aikido as a form of tai-chi and he does not accept anyone to throw him, well very rarely and reluctantly. He annoys all our members. Excuse me but don't you think he's in the wrong art. You cannot put conditions before you come to the dojo that ok you are willing to do aikido, but you don't like ukemi. Or you accept to do all the techniques except koshi nage. Or it's alright to do standing techniques but no suwari waza.

Now you tell me this or that person cannot do ukemi because he has a back injury but he really wants to do aikido, I will understand. But you tell me someone cannot do ukemi because he believes that aikido is a form of tai-chi and that ukemi is harmful to the body, that I think is unacceptable.
Lynn Seiser (SeiserL) wrote:
IMHO, people train in Aikido for various reasons. To call them "cowards" simply because they don't do it the way you want them too seems a bit judgemental and harsh. Perhaps some respect, acceptance, and compassion for those that train despite their fears may be in order.

Until again,

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Old 12-14-2002, 06:59 PM   #27
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
I guess you have to laugh at this type of reaction.

I am afraid that I do the same thing, but for reasons of having my balance leave me during practice ... grabbing or holding at inopportune times as to throw the nage into total confusion, but it is to steady myself into a modified throw, or stretch without the throw.

So, I do know how it feels to work with someone who does something unexpected that would seem to interupt the flow of a practice technique or throw, but I must reitterate ... you must be aware at all times, protect yourself at all times, and be ready to accept unaccepted movements within a certain sphere of movement.

There is always a conscious effort upon both participants in practice to find offensive and defensive openings in techniques, or look for said openings and their possibilities.

If you are not looking to things beyond whatever techniques you are out right practicing, then you are missing a big part of the martial aspect aikido contains.

Sometimes I ask my partner to hang on to improve my stances, my control of technique, and my ability to respond to variations within the practice.

I can't say I have the grab for dear life syndrome since leaving karate for aikido, but yes, I have been there and done that.

Reminds me of running in sandlot football with my brother and one of his friends hanging on. My determination reached beyond the normal fall to the ground when tackled, and this translates into the same type of determination and awareness you should be trying to practice with your aikido.

You know, nothing is for certain, except that nothing is for certain.

I believe you to be a good practitioner of aikido, as well as one who learns from his own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others.

Tuck this experience under that category ... and let it go.

Of course, tell your buddy if it happens again you will have to hurt him, but that you will gladly take him to get his injurys repaired as a good buddy should.

It will either cure him or kill him.

In either case, remember the one sheet of paper rule.

Injurys require three sheets of paper and death only one. So there are no injurys in the dojo.

(just kidding .... mostly.)
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Old 12-16-2002, 01:40 PM   #28
Rob Coote
Dojo: Alberta Aikido Tenshinkai
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 10
This is an interesting thread and I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in..

Having only been practicing Aikido for a few months, I only recently became aware of the importance of nage/uke cooperation in the learning process. I've lucked out, in that about the same time I joined, another person joined the class as a white belt, and we ended up working together a lot.

She and I have become good friends, and good Aikido partners. We know each other's limitations, and we have good time giving each other feedback and praise in everything we do. We have the same learning curve, and the same focus on learning this art to the best of our ability.

We now find that when one of us is absent from class, we sort of feel "lost". It isn't that we don't work with the other students, but the trust/confidence is not as prevalent. Aside from this, I have to agree (somewhat) with the initial post here...there ARE people who are practicing Aikido, that are simply *bad* at it. For fear of continued flaming I need to clarify...

These are people who have worked with several others in class, one-on-one time with Sensei, extra coaching before and after class, review after review of ukemi and atemi, and yet they still miss the basics. None of their movements are smooth, fluid, or gracefull, and they resemble the "cat about to take a bath" that someone else mentioned. Now I don't hold this against these students personally, I try and work with them, but it is decidedly difficult to do. There is only so much you can do to try and *earn* someone's trust, or teach them the right way to do things. If they are not willing, or simply not able to do it, they won't.

The key example of this came during my recent testing for my first belt. kyu 6. Having worked on the required techniques over and over again for review, I was ready and confident. When paired with one of these types of folks to have one of our Nidan review my work, he mentioned that my techniques looked "stiff" and "forced". I politely explained that uke was the cause of this, and asked to be paired with my usual partner for the testing. Obviously not having much faith in my reasoning for the poor technique (I swear I was not trying to pass the buck here...) the Nidan then began to practice the same techniques on my uke. The result? Exactly the same as with me. the techniques looked atrocious, poorly timed falls, stiff movement, and an overall hesitation by both nage and uke. I was excused to go work with my usual partner while the Nidan once again went over basic techniques with this uke.

I want to be clear...it's not his fault he is this way...he is hesistant, reluctant, and to be honest seems like he does not want to be there most of the time. It is definitely hard to work with him, let alone learn anything while working with him.

There are others that just smell bad, but that is another thread.

I'm more than open to feedback on what I can do to help these folks, but after a certain amount of time focused on helping them, one begins to wonder why my learning has to be stalled?

You can say that it's my fault...that my execution is flawed (Todd Jones), but I disagree. When I can perform the exact same techniques with ANY OTHER STUDENT, or any teacher in the class, and have a better result, how can I be to blame?

/rant off

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Old 12-16-2002, 04:03 PM   #29
kung fu hamster
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 166

When I first saw this thread I thought someone at my dojo was posting about me...

First time I ever took a koshinage throw was when a blackbelt loaded me up (I think I was a white or yellow belt) and said "Ready?" Not knowing what was involved and seeing that everyone else seemed to be having a lot of fun, I replied "Sure." He popped me up in the air and I fell like a turtle. End result, badly sprained ankle. Lesson learned on my part, don't always believe a whitebelt/newbie when they say they can take a certain fall or other, their abilities are not consistent and they not be able to handle the fall at that time even if they say they can. Another thing that used to happen when I was first learning to breakfall was when I practiced with a sempai and they held my hand to do a breakfall exercise, my forehead would crack onto their knee as I went over. This only happened with certain people and I think something must have been funny about their stance or something. It makes me more aware myself of what not to do when I'm throwing an uke. But when I get hurt frequently (through being too stiff or hesitating until it's too late, whatever) it's very off-putting, and it can make one quite leery of falling. Some people (like me) just aren't that coordinated - I'd say many of us are working on learning to overcome that - we know we're stiff but we're still there trying... that's what training is for, isn't it? Bottom line, if you notice people getting injured from your throws, maybe you need to sensitize your sense of touch to accommodate their 'inadequacies'.
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Old 12-16-2002, 05:52 PM   #30
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 52
Re: The "Coward" Uke ?

Now let's hear it from the opposite side of the spectrum, for I am one of those "uke with a falling complex".

My complex is mainly about falling on the left side, be it mae ukemi or break fall. I simply freeze, and that sometimes annoys the nage I work with.

Luckily, some seniors have found a way to help me get over my fear; instead of being rude or impatient, they insist on throwing me on my 'left side'; sometimes I hurt myself trying, but they don't let me "be a baby" about it. They're persistent, but gentle; maybe because I'm the the only single girl in class, and the youngest at that?

P.S.: The only fall I do not fear is that of koshinage actually, because nage is the one who does most of the work for you. I actually quite like that fall.

Jujinage and shihonage on the other hand are harder because in the former both your arms are 'locked' and in the latter you have to jump 'over' your arm or something.


~ Mona
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Old 12-16-2002, 06:09 PM   #31
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 6,003
Hi Mona,

Have you ever asked your body what it's doing differently when falling on the left side as opposed to when falling on the right side? What differences does your body feel in the same kind of falls on the left and right sides?

-- Jun

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Old 12-16-2002, 07:53 PM   #32
Location: Western Australia
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 241
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
Ukemi, to me, is the most important part of aikido practice. Yet, it seems to be one of the most overlooked, unfortunately.

...When I do the ukemi class, I try to get people to become comfortable with things that are, by their very nature, uncomfortable. ....

...I believe it's very beneficial to spend time working consciously through the "fear" factor ...

...I try to let uke work in a sort of "healthy discomfort" zone, one in which they can work consciuosly into the "unkonwn."

...I guess all I want to say is that I wish every dojo had at least one class focusing on ukemi. There's just so much to be learned while uke! ...
At one of the dojos I train at Ukemi training is all part of the regular class. We work on various ways for Uke to receive Nage's technique. I definitely agree that Ukemi training is very important.

When I was beginner and someone who assists Sensei with beginners, the sorts of things that go through their minds when doing Ukemi include:

- Am I in the right position

- What is this guy throws me too hard/fast

- That mat looks awfully hard

- Gee its a long way down

So we take it one step at a time moving from one level of intensity to the next while providing them challenges.

For the beginners (and people who are less confident/skilled with their Ukemi) we focus on fundamental breakfalls such as the forward and backwards rolls. We also use soft gymnastic mats for them to fall on when we are focussing on getting the body in the right position for more complex breakfalls. Less experienced people feel more comfortable with blending with Nage and getting into the right position without being worried about how hard they are going to hit the mat. As they become more used to the movement and more confident, the soft mats are taken away when Ukemi practice is done.

Sensei stresses that it is very important for more experienced students, especially Yudanshas to look after less experienced students and to guide them into the right position to allow them to ukemi. It is the opportunity to train control and precision. Uke's regardless of experience should not feel as though they are being yanks off their feet. Taking balance and creating the space ("hole") for them to fall into are important aspects of our training.

All in all we are there to train and in the spirit of Aiki to help our fellow Aikidoka train.

All the best for training

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Old 12-16-2002, 09:43 PM   #33
Bronson's Avatar
Dojo: Seiwa Dojo and Southside Dojo
Location: Battle Creek & Kalamazoo, MI
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,677
Ok, this is a slightly silly but rather fun way to train front breakfalls. At our dojo we have one of those big inflatable exercise balls you see in aerobics studios. The thing must be 30 inches across. Anyway we were goofing around with it one night after class and somebody went up to it and dove on it. He intended to land on it on his belly but went a little lower and landed on it with the point of his hip. He was trying to see if he could land on it and have it bounce him back up to his feet....so he was keeping his body straight. Well, because the point of impact was lower (hips) instead of bouncing him back up it bounced him over, and with the straight body he landed in a perfect breakfall. Now, he has done breakfalls before so this wasn't a new feeling. And I have tried to use it to teach new people breakfalls and it doesn't really work too well. But for someone who knows the basics but doesn't want to go too high it works really well. Some things to watch for though: 1) Make sure you take the ball on the point of the hip, this helps rotate you correctly 2) Don't land on the ball with your belly or you just bounce and look funny 3) Don't miss and land on the ball with your thighs, you'll get front breakfall practice as you protect your face from smacking into the floor. 4) Keep your body straight. The bounce of the ball does all the work all you have to do is put yourself in the correct position to accept the fall.


"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 12-17-2002, 08:40 AM   #34
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
Many Aikido enthusiasts miss the point of taking spectacular aerial flights of fancy ... they are not because you wanted to go there, but the shortest way for you to rebound to protect yourself.

Those who don't fly ... well there are more to the martial aspect of what we are supposed to be rather than allowing ourselves to be the fluid dancers who take that loud attention drawing slap of the mat which says look at me, I am taking up a lot of space as I make all this noise! Please, stop thinking this, or trying to fly high, or trying to evolve Aikido into a dance, it may look like a dance but it is not!

The stupid resistent uke who gives you trouble should be your prime candidate if you have favorite partners who make practice easy and flowing, because you are now ready to learn the heart of Aikido ... stop your dancing and learn it!

I used to wonder why Sensei Butch Chernofski would spend the time he did when I began Aikido and had trouble not blending with the other dancers, it sure wasn't because I was young and pretty. It occurs to me, now, you learn more from those who have the most trouble, are the most resistent to getting the simple lessons of Aikido than you do from a good training partner who makes practice so easy. We all get the lessons of how to make practice easier, the little hints, clues, lessons of teachers or advanced students, and if you listen, learn, and think about it, they were the best lessons of your Aikido practice.

Correct position? Forget about it!

Any fool can work with someone who knows what you are going to do.... go over there and work with new guy/girl who having nothing but trouble practicing, driving sensei to drink.

There may not be any great breakfalls, or aerial photography happening, but then Aikido comes from a backround of applications that were designed for war, and applying them in a safe manner of practice is a miracle in itself.

Stop telling me how you fly, or mesh with the right partner ... go work with the worst people in your dojo ... if you don't get what you are supposed to have learned ... then reevaluate your practice and fix it!

I can't wait till spring ... I am pretty grumpy when my toes are get cold in winter... sorry 'bout being grumpy, please take it in the humorous way it was intended.
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Old 12-17-2002, 08:50 AM   #35
Ta Kung
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 237
Sometimes when we do jiu waza (sp? I'm refering to free techniques, and not randori), the techniques don't look that beautiful. Uke goes down with a bang, not with a nice aerial flip.

Sensei once said that "this is how Aikido looks if used for defence, but we train it as an ART. It's supposed to be beautiful!"

I agree with him.

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Old 12-17-2002, 01:50 PM   #36
Doug Mathieu
Dojo: Aikido Bozankan
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 64
Hi Rachel

Sorry if my opinion upset you. I did not intend to discredit your achievements or years of practice.

I am sure you are a good Yudansha who well deserves their rank. Not many people continue training for 20 years.

I do understand individuals can have issues with some aspect of training. I really respect those who work on them to improve as best they will be able to.

My background causes me to feel a certain way about ukemi. It doesn't mean that is the only measure of the student. For example I know I would not rate as a Yudansha under an Iwama run Dojo. I simply do not have the weapons training needed. However I still feel okay as a Yudansha.

I also know students who have rarely done any kind of hard breakfall vs. a roll out because their teachers did not emphasis it. In particular some Ki Society students I know and respect.

In any event please don't be put off by my post. No disrespect was meant.
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Old 12-17-2002, 02:26 PM   #37
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 794
Thank you Doug, I appreciate your clarification. My hope for these forums is that people feel free to express their opinions, or concerns (in this case it was a concern), without being demeaned. Your last comment helps me understand where you are coming from in regards to your previous comments (which I took to mean "if you can't do all ukemi right, then you shouldn't be a dan rank"). Obviously it was a matter of miscommunication, easy enough for both of us to do.

Thanks for writing,

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