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Old 05-21-2018, 01:20 PM   #1
"Clove"
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Angry Violence against "overly resistive" uke

I am looking for some advice / ideas on how to deal with people trying to "kill" me.

What you should know:

I hate violence, and I am scared of hurting other people. Usually I tend to be very careful during practice.

Now, I also do another sport which makes me stronger in my upper body than an average girl, and I have a stressul job. All this means that I tend to be both "too strong" and quite tense. I am working on it, but this does not change overnight - it's not like someone says "relax" and you are like "OK fine now I suddenly know what to do!"

I have a lot of trouble with ukemi. I have made a huge progress, really, learned a lot. But - whenever we do something I do not know very well (or do not know at all), my ukemi is funny and a bit tense and a bit "heavy", I am not as responsive as I should be, not " light on my feet" or whatever you call it. Again, I am aware & working on this, but I cannot change this by magic in 2 min.

The problem:

Some people mistake my lack of knowledge / skill for basically being an a-hole, an overly resistive person who interferes with their practice. And they respond violently, in a way which really hurts, with a lot of force, almost like "you not gonna fall? I show you!"

Two examples: i. Someone threw me flat on my back (no chance for me to roll or anything as I didn't see / feel it coming). This caused me a lot of panic because I could't breathe at first. ii. Someone nearly broke my wrist because I didn't go where I was supposed to (not knowing the waza & not feeling enough lead from the person).

I need to stop this thing asap, before I get really hurt. Any thoughts, ideas, insights? Thanks in advance.

(Changing a dojo is not an option for me right now, stopping aikido neither.)
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:46 PM   #2
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

If you are "lost" on a technique and are feeling tense, let your partner know that instead of leading them to believe you are intentionally resisting. I suspect the vast majority of sempai will work safely with you and help you move properly in your ukemi. Good luck !!

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:09 PM   #3
Walter Martindale
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

As Michael says - let your partner know you're nervous and not sure what's happening, not intentionally resisting.

It sounds a bit like you're relatively new at aikido, too. Ask people to slow down so you can learn what you're doing. Mention your concerns to your sensei (don't necessarily need to name names).

With respect to "too strong" - One of my sensei in the past said don't rely on strength to make things happen, but don't be afraid to use it if you know what you're doing. I started aikido after doing a lot of strength training and after a competitive rowing career. One of the reasons I tried rowing in the first place was when I had a "groundwork" (newaza) practice with a rower who knew no judo, I couldn't control him because he was SO strong and fit. After a season of rowing I went back to my judo club and essentially wore out everyone in the club, including my sempai. At aikido, when I was being as loose and floppy as I thought I could be without being unconscious, I was still accused by some of using too much muscle, especially when I was new.

What's your other sport?

(I was relatively strong when I started aikido, too, to the point that our shihan said I had too much muscle and too much strength - then he laughed his AO after I nearly blacked out a nidan who was trying to push me around a bit in a seminar (I was a 5th kyu at the time, but had a shodan in judo - we finish throws differently in judo))

Again, tell people you're trying to learn the movement and need more guidance and patience, and you're scared of getting hurt - Remind people that you're at aikido to learn, and that YOU NEED YOUR WRISTS FOR WORK AND GENERAL LIFE.

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 05-21-2018 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 05-22-2018, 04:48 PM   #4
erikmenzel
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

It is the responsibility of both partners to find a way to train such that it is safe and useful to both partners.
If you feel this is not the case, then let your partner know in a constructive manner. Usually a request for help and guidance is a pretty safe way. In my opinion people tend to work safer, slower and more focussed when they are asked for help. Help me feel the movement, help me feel the rhythm, help me to find the safe direction.

Quite often making you partner an accomplice in your learning will make for a more pleasant training. This should be normal, but sometimes normal needs a little hand to happen.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 05-23-2018, 09:49 AM   #5
lbb
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

Clearly there's some partner miscommunication going on. Have you tried speaking with your partners? What happened? You mention two incidents in particular - what happened following those incidents? Did practice stop? Did you speak with your partners? Did the misunderstanding persist?
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Old 05-28-2018, 01:45 AM   #6
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

What is your teacher doing, daydreaming? There are valuable lessons to be learnt for both partners, genuinely martial based understandings about force on force, how to soften the body, how and when to use or not use “hard” power and so on. I agree that dojo partners should be able to talk to each other but the creation of a proper dojo climate and context is the responsibility of the Sensei.

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 05-28-2018, 06:53 PM   #7
shizentai
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

Your training partners should be aware that you're new, and treat you accordingly to help you. You should look up basic ukemi for core techniques on Youtube, to help your training partners.

There's another potential angle here, though. You could be the type of personality who subconsciously provides a level of resistance you deem common-sensical and necessary, thinking "okay, this higher rank should be able to safely deal with me regardless of what I'm doing".

The problem is, Aikido techniques require motion and energy to work. When uke gives uncommitted energy and stalls, it is actually less realistic, because in real life an attacker would always be moving in some way. Aikido relies on certain behaviors from uke that are dictated from either their need to continue attacking, or self-preserve.

There are people who come to Aikido and subconsciously test it this way, not just because their ukemi is poor, but because they think "it oughta work regardless of what I am doing". This is more of a sparring mindset, and such a person may find that a system like Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is actually more aligned with their expectations.

Aikido is rooted in Daito Ryu, a battlefield weapons system which was designed to deal with pronounced, dedicated attacks, and at its core it is not compatible with the concept of sparring, where people play games with feints and set-ups.

Last edited by shizentai : 05-28-2018 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 05-30-2018, 01:17 PM   #8
jonreading
 
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

Quote:
Aleksey Nikolaevich wrote: View Post
Your training partners should be aware that you're new, and treat you accordingly to help you. You should look up basic ukemi for core techniques on Youtube, to help your training partners.

There's another potential angle here, though. You could be the type of personality who subconsciously provides a level of resistance you deem common-sensical and necessary, thinking "okay, this higher rank should be able to safely deal with me regardless of what I'm doing".

The problem is, Aikido techniques require motion and energy to work. When uke gives uncommitted energy and stalls, it is actually less realistic, because in real life an attacker would always be moving in some way. Aikido relies on certain behaviors from uke that are dictated from either their need to continue attacking, or self-preserve.

There are people who come to Aikido and subconsciously test it this way, not just because their ukemi is poor, but because they think "it oughta work regardless of what I am doing". This is more of a sparring mindset, and such a person may find that a system like Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is actually more aligned with their expectations.

Aikido is rooted in Daito Ryu, a battlefield weapons system which was designed to deal with pronounced, dedicated attacks, and at its core it is not compatible with the concept of sparring, where people play games with feints and set-ups.
First, in answer to the thread, training is your training and should accommodate your goals. You should be able to train successfully within in aikido dojo. A bit of advice is that your training will include physical contact and risk of injury - you need to grow comfortable with those risks, even if it's a little bit at a time. You also have a responsibility to care for your body to minimize your risk of injury and learning ukemi will help that. Good luck and keep training.

Second, Aikido needs to accommodate martial interaction. The simple fact is that all good fighting movement is balanced, powerful, fast, and [relatively] successful. In aikido, we sometimes say "dedicated" but we really mean "poor body movement". While I have no objection to saying "I can't deal with martial movement", that is different than saying aikido doesn't deal with martial movement.

I think we need to challenge ourselves to become more comfortable understanding that we need to deal with good fight science and still have success in our training.

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Old 06-04-2018, 09:36 PM   #9
Susan Dalton
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

Clove,
I am also a strong woman with more down energy than up. I used to get stuck and I would be slow to move because I wasn't sure where to go, which as you say can be interpreted as being resistant. Even after 27 years, I'm not the world's best uke, but a couple of things have helped a great deal. First, I keep my knees bent. Before, they would lock up and then I'd be stuck with nowhere to go, especially in kaitenage. If we are doing a straight hand grab, I concentrate on keeping my palm glued to the back of nage's wrist, which means again that I have to bend my knees and move in order to stay with nage. All the while I keep my center pointed towards nage and my body balanced on the balls of my feet (I used to rock back on my heels and plant, again getting stuck) so that I'm ready to move and I can be responsive to nage's movement. Also, I asked for help with my ukemi and stayed after class numerous times to work on it. It is something I will always have to work on.

I agree with all who suggest more communication. Ukemi is difficult, and good communication is even more difficult. Good luck!
Susan
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Old 06-05-2018, 06:10 AM   #10
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

Clove (and others) - to my mind, this is an illustration of how aikido lost its way. As I write in considerable detail in Hidden in Plain Sight aikido has somehow reversed itself. In fact, UKE (the word means "to receive," is the one being educated in aikido waza and TORI ("the taker") is the one providing the education. The aikido technique is offered to Uke to teach her/him the experience of being attacked-unbalanced-required to respond in a way that either leads one to more integrity or less. Tori's job is to provide an attack in a way that best educates UKE on how to create an 'aiki body' (one able to express takemusu aiki). If TORI is far more experienced than UKE and she is "not moving properly" . . .AKA "resisting," then TORI is responsible to provide an attack that guides UKE in the proper response.

Not by words. Not by scolding. And certainly not by brutal physical actions. But by making their attack 'readable" - this means that UKE's response is a centered counter to TORI's attack (and 'taking a fall') ...jeez, I have to use a lot of quotation marks....is a kind of a counter, not a flip-flop rag-doll. In other words, TORI attacks and UKE's response is for the purpose of being a better martial being.

The way of far too much aikido is UKE's response is for the purpose of colluding with TORI in imagining himself/herself in being a better martial being.

BTW - this may be confusing, because we think of the grab or shomen-uchi as the 'attack' - no - ikkyo shihonage, etc is the real attack that UKE learns to forge power against. At a higher level, it should be two UKETORI's inter-relating and mutually forging themselves. But without the preliminary step I have described, such tanren will never occur.
Ellis Amdur

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 06-05-2018 at 06:13 AM.

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Old 06-06-2018, 01:47 AM   #11
Currawong
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

I just finished HIPS. I think you have a very important point.

I can't help wondering if there isn't a strong mindset among many practitioners that when a technique is being practiced, that it MUST be completed, leading to frustration and force when they have an training partner that doesn't move how they are used to to having an uke move.

I was training the other day with a new member who, as I'm sure everyone has experienced, would step forward when an ikkyo (omote) was applied exposing their rear and making the technique difficult to impossible to do conventionally. As usual, I stopped and explained how to do ukemi for ikkyo and that it was for the purpose of maintaining their own balance and control during the technique. I expect that in many dojos people don't stop but instead try and force the beginner down instead, thinking that what they, TORI, are doing is "correct" so how dare it not work on a beginner.

Last edited by Currawong : 06-06-2018 at 01:50 AM.

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Old 06-06-2018, 02:32 PM   #12
Susan Dalton
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

Clove,
Thank you for bringing up this topic. It's one that never goes away, I'm afraid. I looked back at my reply, and I hope you don't think I am blaming you. What I am telling you is just a way to keep yourself safe. I do NOT condone people forcing their technique, over torquing your wrist, or slamming you to the ground to prove something. I agree with Ellis. That is not aikido.
Susan
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Old 06-06-2018, 02:58 PM   #13
Walter Martindale
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

Ellis, Thank you for the explanation of the roles of tori and uke. Kawahara sensei used to say nage (tori) initiates with an attack or by creating a tempting target for an attack (not really his words, but that was the gist of it).

I hope "Clove" is getting things sorted at the dojo and having better experiences.
Walter
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:38 AM   #14
ddease2
 
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Re: Violence against "overly resistive" uke

In addition to proper execution of the "roles" during training, there's also the consideration of what is actually being practiced in that particular session. We make it a point to differentiate between kihon waza and ki-no-nagare practice in our classes.

During kihon waza, the actual goal is to perform the technique being asked for by the instructor. Completion of that form is the goal of both participants. So uke has a job to do, not just tori. When practicing waza like ikkyo omote, we may be able to complete the waza with an unskilled uke. Taking the center line directly and in one movement allows tori to control the situation. However, when practicing ikkyo ura, shihonage, iriminage--and most aikido waza--a thinking and reacting uke is mandatory to train effectively.

Unfortunately, most dojos don't share Ellis' perspective on the roles of uke and tori. They invest little, if anything, in the role of uke, so completion of the technique becomes the training. The result is a more ki-no-nagare practice, where natural responses and techniques emerge. While this is also valuable training, if the stated goal of the session is practice kihon-waza then the training digresses. This is where injuries and "misunderstandings" can occur.

"Clove": your first and foremost focus should be on understanding what the role of uke is in each waza. This does a few things. It gives you direction and an active role in your practice, which will build your confidence. It should also keep you from resisting, as very rarely is that EVER the role of uke. Most importantly, understanding your role provides the platform for positive communication with tori (or the teacher) if you are feeling pain. If the technique is hurting you, simply ask, "my understanding is that I'm supposed to be doing this...but its causing me pain. Am I misunderstanding something?"
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