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Old 05-06-2023, 02:48 AM   #1
Dojo: Yuishinkai Aus
Location: Australia
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 22
Real peace is in Uke's hands

Budo is a tradition with a long and sometimes disturbing history. The culmination of which was world war 2. In this period of the tradition of the warrior, there have been men of great renown whose message has passed to posterity.
Tsukuhara Bokuden, Musashi Miyamoto, Itto Itasai, Yagyu Munenori, Yamaoka Tesshu to name a few.

O'sensei was also one such man. A master of many martial arts, and teacher of the Japanese military.

After the battle of Sekigahara, a unified Japan became a disarmed Japan. Wanting to preserve the way of the warrior(Budo) but without internal conflicts that necessitated constant training in warfare, the warriors turned to the perfection of the arts of war as a way to temper the human spirit, and understand the vagaries of life and death.
The founder of Aikido, moving to Iwama during the Second World War also had to undergo internal tempering. The soldiers he had taught and the war upheld by the emperor he worshipped had torn into his spirit. So much death and loss. Did the way of the warrior just amount to this?

Aikido was born of this realisation, that a true warrior's obligation was to life, to love and to peace. A true warrior had no enemy. The art he wanted to pass to the world had to reverse the script on traditional martial arts. It was no longer the person in defence that created harmony or neutralised the situation, but rather that the person attacking the one that broke harmony with the universe was responsible for restoring it. In this way uke is the one that has a profound realisation. It's through the art of uke that 80% of learning transpires, and it is through uke that ego learns surrender. To fix the conflict we create. This is true peace. This is unconditional love. This is Aikido.

There is a lot of ignored evidence to back up this realisation. Many Shihan claimed that the founder would dismiss anyone as his uke if they didn't realise this message. He demanded of them a particular way to receive, and scolded those he saw resisting technique during training saying "that's not Aikido".

The centre always moves forward into the space(itsumo manaka), always. The body trying to maintain this relationship softens and relaxes, dissipating force into the ground.

Without uke, there is no learning. Without uke, Aikido becomes the opposite of what it set out to be.

I cannot think of a more arrogant self centred state of heart for a human than to think that they can impose their will on another, even supposed good intentioned will. I will do technique on them, I will control them, their mind, their intent, their energy/ki. I will resolve this disharmony that has arisen in you, I will harmonise with your attack to show you the error of your ways. Many lives have been lost in the past with such good intentions. Even WW2 smacked of this intention, to fix those of lesser understanding/breeding/religion.

Really? Are you more enlightened than me, more righteous, more entitled?
Maybe you are, and it's you can fix all of life's problems with your Aikido.

I believe this message has been propagated by instructors that never understood uke, never spent the time to learn uke or to acknowledge its true potential. Uke isn't rolling around the mat, it's a matter of the heart mind and spirit.

Aikido deserves better than a message of blending with an attacker in an attempt to harmonise with their energy.

We absorb the totality of the attackers intent, we allow them in, to realise their learning, they are there to receive the teaching. If Aikido is performed without intent, uke dissipates their own energy, with nothing added from tori, they resolve their conflict.

There is only an enemy if we perceive an enemy. Mind creates opposites, spirit and heart reconcile such duality.

If I died tomorrow this is my message to the world. Learn uke. Reconcile the disharmony you create in training, in the family, in the world.
I will leave you with a quote.

Master Shinjuro Narita, Soke- Korindo Aikido

No matter how good the sensei is, if the person who is attacking is not honest, it is difficult to handle the situation as freely as he would like.

If you are honest and give your body and soul to the teacher, he will give you everything.

If you resist even only a little bit, it means that you are disobeying the teacher's will and are not following his ki.

If your body and mind are able to adapt to what the teacher is doing without any resistance, then the essence of the teacher's both physical and mental teaching has been transmitted to you as it is. There is no other way to learn the essence of the teacher. It is not knowledge, but an unconscious intrinsic ability that is stored in the body itself.

In any case, in order to receive what emanates from the heart of the teacher, you have to empty yourself. If there is any self-consciousness such as doubt, desire, discrimination, judgment, etc. left, it is like putting a stopper at the entrance of the vessel, and you will never be able to receive his will. It's not that a part of it overflows, but the whole thing refuses to enter, not even a drop.

This is the important part, and we must keep it in mind.

One of the last words from my teacher is, "When there is nothing, it is transmitted from the master to the deshi (student).

I believe this means that it is essential for the transmission of the michi (道) that the mind of the master and the mind of the deshi (student) be united in an unobstructed fusion, that they be able to communicate with each other.


"Don't resist, receive ukemi."
Koretoshi Maruyama, founder Aikido Yuishinkai

A message can't get any simpler than this, can it?

We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have virtue or excellence because we have acted rightly.
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Old 05-06-2023, 06:11 AM   #2
Location: Kyiv
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 70
Re: Real peace is in Uke's hands

Of of the meanings of kanji 武 is to stop the spear. I assume that's someone else spear not your own. Reasons, intentions, and ways of this action depend on the performer. No mentions of connection, negotiation, or cooperation either. For me, the meaning is as simple as stopping someone from actions and lack of this intention leads to other activities I can't take as martial.

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Old 05-06-2023, 10:15 PM   #3
Dojo: Yuishinkai Aus
Location: Australia
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 22
Re: Real peace is in Uke's hands

I was training/teaching up north a few weeks ago and we were exploring advanced aikido principle. I say advanced but really a very basic concept. To be in the here and now both physically and mentally.

We say we are, but actually our body action, posture, weight distribution and intent tell a different story.

The beauty of Aikido was the founders idea of an art with no enemy. No enemy means no one to do something to.

We do something to ourselves in space and time relative to an external stimuli, but we never do technique on another person. Seperate technique from movement and all that is left is movement, intent removed from movement becomes Wei wu Wei - action devoid of any intent, emptiness. In this nothings is all of creation in a moment - a universe from nothing if you will.

This is a very difficult concept to grasp.

Surely aikido is one person doing and another having it applied. Then these two swap roles.

Maybe that is correct on some levels, and it's a good start, I suppose.

But I like to think of aikido as both these people having the same role. Attempting to understand universal harmony in a chaotic situation.

Nage isn't doing technique but providing a movement in relation to a threat that neutralises the threat before it arises. Not after it has arisen, before it has the chance to arise.

This happens to them, inside them and through them.

Uke's job is to give an attack without regard to consequence, then navigate the ensuring chaos by absorbing and redirecting the incoming forces THAT THEY THEMSELVES CREATED..

Uke therefore is unravelling and destroying the disharmony that they initially created, turning negative intent into harmonious flow.

This has created an opportunity for both practitioners to each deal with their own heart, mind and intent and ask themselves - What sort of human being am I trying to be?

Why is it, according to just about all his students, when O'Sensei saw training where uke resisted the technique of nage the founder would fly into a rage and scream "that's not aikido"?

Why did kenji shimizu say that, although he was a 4th Dan in judo, his ukemi wasn't good enough for the founder and he had to learn to harmonise with the founders movement before he could understand how O'Sensei wanted his ukemi?

Why did Osawa senseis scald Watanabe sensei about his crap uke, then take him back to Hombu and throw him around until he could hardly stand up?

Why did Henry Kono say he spent three years learning uke when he was at Hombu dojo whilst the founder was alive?

Why did he also say that we cannot understand the founders aikido because we cannot understand uke?

Why did Maruyama sensei say he couldn't be the founders uke until he understood the connection he had to make between himself and the founder and how he had to mould his ukemi to the masters intentions through his "Ki extension"?

Why did Yoshio Kuroiwa say uke role was to adjust themselves to the movements of tori, Uke absorbs the movement of tori with his body by taking a pure fall. In other words, uke is not thrown but rather is practicing a form in which his role is to be thrown. Thus, the central character in practice is uke?

When we resist we create opposition. When we connect we harmonise. Just rolling and falling is not uke. When we fail to understand the roll of uke, we fail to understand the founders intention for the art - that it was always meant to have been uke that creates the harmony in the interaction.

It was this transmission that was missed in the arts dissemination, that the agressive person in the interaction is the one doing all the learning.

Once we can master this harmony, we can create harmony with any attack because we can absorb ground and redirect force. We can read intent and respond accordingly. We can flow with their go, neutralising any attacker.

The problem is that this aikido takes surrender. To sacrifice the self to the learning, to the process, and to the outcome.

Modern flamboyant ukemi by its very nature is about show and ego. It's not about surrender, it's about self gratification.

Learning ukemi is a heart to heart transmission. It's a relationship of growth and personal development.

If you have avoided uke in your training, you have avoided true knowledge, and mastery - regardless of time served or claimed proficiency, will always escape you.

That know the true heart, see the true self.

An enemy only exists in our minds. Resistance only originates in opposition to something created in the mind.

Strong, fast, slow, afraid and ideas of superior inferior - all mental projections, all mind creations and all able to be overcome through the founders Aikido vision. No me, no enemy.

A martial art without enemy is a thing of true peace, a world without enemies a utopia.
When we can truly understand what is written above, not just say it but live it, feel it and intuit it, then the road to understanding the heart is within our grasp.
Without it the philosophy of Aikido is like words whispered on a spring breeze….

We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have virtue or excellence because we have acted rightly.
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Old 05-19-2023, 05:20 PM   #4
Dojo: Ryushinkan / Rajamäki | Sasuga Daito Ryu / Helsinki
Location: Helsinki
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 28
Re: Real peace is in Uke's hands

I feel there is a risk that this topic will become very abstract and theoretic.

Fundamentally, yes, uke's role is to help nage improve and learn. But if aikido is a martial art, rather than a dance, it has to be considered that an attacker will not be cooperative in mindset. They may be ‘collaborative' in movement: doing exactly things that can get them further into trouble. But their psychology is not to be collaborative.

When training kata we are replaying a certain scenario, which means many things for uke, so that nage can train that particular principle or moment. But at the same time if we fly, just because we are expected to, rather than because that's where the situation lead us, we are not helping nage learn and we are not doing a martial art. This might sound semantic, but there is a very big difference between doing something, as an expected or possible reaction to nage, or doing the same thing just because the script says we are supposed to. I find it quite frustrating to practise with the latter. Neither of us are learning.

Now perhaps the take is that aikido is not about being a martial art (btw I don't believe this contradicts being a path of spiritual development — but rather that these goals are essentially intertwined). If one feels that aikido is the practise of dance forms, that's certainly one way of approaching it. It's not my preferred way.
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Old 05-20-2023, 11:07 PM   #5
Dojo: Yuishinkai Aus
Location: Australia
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 22
Re: Real peace is in Uke's hands

No doubt it's a challenging way to think.
I never said even for a moment my Aikido, and how I approach it isn't martial.
So in a martial context what is there to be gleaned from being uke this way?
Understanding of vulnerable positioning in relation to an opponent in a superior position? Check
Moving to avoid such an attack? Check
Feeling where force is applied and moving to where it isn't? Check
Softening the joints and muscles against incoming force? Check
Redirecting this incoming force to the ground instead of holding it in the body? Check
Maintaining connection to feel where nage is vulnerable in their structure? Check
Knowing if nage has occupied the centre of the interaction, or if you have the centre in this conflict? Check
Knowing intuitively where the vulnerable point is, and (mentally) entering such a point? Check

I suppose I would want to know what makes an interaction martial?
In my experience many martial battles are lost outside the dojo before the conflict begins as the majority of humans don't enter fight or flight, but rather freeze. This is the third mechanism of our animal instinct that is rarely discussed as it terrifies us as humans the most.
If we continue to look at Aikido the way that it has been propagated for the last 60 years in the west, we can fail to understand the profound message that ukemi holds for those that practice this way.
My master, who spent 13 years with the founder and 30 years with 10th Dan Tohei (as his senior instructor in the world)has said on multiple occasions that 70-80% of "true" Aikido is learnt through uke.
So what does it mean?
Who knows, but I hope through this message to help create in those I train with an understanding not just based on the usual way this interaction takes place.
But don't think for a moment that what I am proposing means to dance, or removes martial values from my training or teaching.
How can Aikido grow if we all just keep doing the same thing, in the same way over and over again?
Or I may just be full of it……….

We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have virtue or excellence because we have acted rightly.
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Old 05-22-2023, 03:15 AM   #6
Dojo: Ryushinkan / Rajamäki | Sasuga Daito Ryu / Helsinki
Location: Helsinki
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 28
Re: Real peace is in Uke's hands

It is true that aikido, as with all martial arts, is a game of cat and mouse, of interaction. Nothing is less like aikido than if uke just stands there while nage does a technique. To create aikido uke should be alive. Sometimes a particular variation of a technique requires that.

While that liveliness manifests well when uke is trying to correct their position, react to an opening, continue an attack, the danger, I feel, comes from when uke does something 'just because'. To act in a non-obvious or counter-intuitive way, or, at worst, to throw themselves as a reaction to nothing at all. While at the dojo we are not fighting or trying to outwit each other, or to foster a sense of winning, it is also not useful as a teaching to nage if that happens. After all, perhaps the biggest responsibility uke has is to help nage learn. Resisting for resistance sake (particularly when you know the technique in advance) is not that — it's not often useful — but throwing oneself merely allows uke to practise their ukemi, and can thus also be considered an act of ego.

So while, as people, we are collaborating so as to learn, we can also be simulating non-collaboration in the sense that uke moves to reduce the weak situation they might be in. This is a thin balance.

As a practical example of this, when practising nikyo, uke is often expected to lower themselves in response to the lock. I have found that frequently those who have not done aikido may not do that, even when the lock is on properly (as indicated by uke's expression or rubbing their wrist afterwards). If nage has it on right, they are structurally in a superior position, with all arm joints connecting nage to uke's center. They could drop their weight into uke and possibly bring uke down, however there is also a great risk of damage, and also pain for someone who is new to the art. This is a useful lesson for nage as it shows not everyone will act the way an aikidoka expects, but it also puts uke in a weaker position than if they were to try and interact. At the same time, if uke moves when nage does not have the lock and technique on right (which frequently happens in aikido circles), that is also not providing the feedback nage needs in order to improve their technique.
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