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Old 02-01-2005, 12:24 AM   #1
Dan Gould
Dojo: Cilfynydd, Pontypridd
Location: Abercynon, Wales
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 49
United Kingdom
Ai symbol Uke-ing

I've been away from aikido for about six weeks due to illness, and went back tonight. I've decided, while I'm nothing spectacular as a nage, I absolutely suck as uke - I can't grab fast enough, I can't land right, and I get tired very fast. I also have extremely stiff shoulders, so joint locks hurt a real lot.

I know this is the sort of "just give it time, you'll get used to it, you'll get conditioned" thread, but really, I feel I'm hindering the others as much as hurting myself with this.. The more I do this and aikijutsu, the more I believe I'm not suited for a physical martial art involving throws, I mean I've been trying for nearly a year, and I STILL get a crunch in my spine when I try to forward ukemi off my left arm, and I can't roll backwards over my shoulder. I feel really hopeless.

I think I should just quit and find a kendo dojo or something so I can satisfy me yearning for martial arts without killing myself.

No, I don't know what I want from this thread either.

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Old 02-01-2005, 01:48 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
Janet Rosen's Avatar
Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,340
Re: Uke-ing

Dan Gould wrote:
No, I don't know what I want from this thread either.
hmmm....maybe somebody to suggest that if you REALLY wanted to give up aikido and take up kendo, you wouldn't have posted? (smile)...Dan, Some of us take to it like fish to water and some of us have brains or bodies (or both) that resist some aspect of the training whether due to fear or neurology or proprioception or patterning or anger or...the list is long.....
Bottom line is, if you really love the art, and you are not actually creating chronic injuries, don't stop.
In terms of others in the dojo, don't worry. You are responsible for your training, they are responsible for theirs.
In terms of your situation: guess the question I'd ask is: looking at the past couple months, in terms of ukemi, are you progressing, staying on a plateau, or getting worse? Can you ask your instructor his/her perception of your progress? Can you ask your instructor to watch/feel your ukemi and work with you on it?
If its any consolation, during my first 3 yrs of training, it was not unusual for me to drive home crying and banging the steering wheel out of sheer frustration with my own limitations. But I loved training, and it never occured to me to stop. weird, huh?

Janet Rosen
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 02-01-2005, 02:04 AM   #3
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,267
Re: Uke-ing

Dan Gould wrote:
I've decided, while I'm nothing spectacular as a nage, I absolutely suck as uke - I can't grab fast enough, I can't land right, and I get tired very fast. I also have extremely stiff shoulders, so joint locks hurt a real lot.
One of the Grand Champions of the Japan Karate Association confesses that he was terrible in the beginning. He said that he so disgusted his seniors that they used to beat him to try to get him to quit.

It's a very common story.

I trained with a very famous Shihan before he became famous for his subtlety. At that time, he was an unrepentant gorilla. If he missed a technique, he'd just pick you up and throw you. He kicked me in the stomach once, jumped onto my chest, and began pummeling my face (with his fist but loosely closed). No kidding.

The race is not to the swift. You will always have good people on your side as long as you're trying.

Your call.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 02-01-2005, 07:24 AM   #4
Dojo: Memorial University Aikido Club
Location: St John's, Newfoundland
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 49
Re: Uke-ing

I think it's just a matter of time perhaps. But if not, perhaps you should examine how you're going about things like rolling. My forwards rolls used to be really bad until someone pointed out that I was trying to roll at my feet instead of actually going forwards into it.

The same with my backwards rolls, oftentimes I bounce instead of a smooth roll, my Sensei gave me a couple pointers to help me smooth things out a little bit and now it's not quite as bad.

As for gettng tired, if you're not very active than that might explain it. I was really bad for that when I started but took up other activities as well and now it's not so bad, though my sunday morning class is still a trial at times.

But one thing you have to remember is, if you quit because you feel you can't do this and join another style, what happens when you hit another roadblock? And another? You'll run out of martial arts before too long. Anything worth it, is worth working for.

It's really a matter of is Aikido really for you?

Just my humble 2 cents, if it's worth even that much.
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Old 02-01-2005, 07:27 AM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 27
Re: Uke-ing


Reading your post and subsequent posts has helped me to realize that I am not the only one who suffers deep frustration! I get so nervous whenever I go to seminars or the like because I feel I won't be able to keep up. My ukemi is weak and every time an event comes up I threaten not to go….because I will hinder others or that I don't deserve to be there…and all kinds of negative thinking. I think the frustration deepens when we have a strong desire to succeed and a love for Aikido. The fact that you are posting says that you have the want and desire to continue. I decided that dealing with my frustration and having patience with myself will be PART OF my training…as important as technique and ukemi. Don't worry about the other students so much. The fact that you worry at all says that you have awareness and respect for them. That is enough. They need to be able to train with all sorts of people at different levels. Having patience and humor with yourself will help to create positive energy for your partners and for yourself. It is hard to step over our pride and continue to fail, as we perceive it. But keep going and give yourself the benefit of patience. Your breakthroughs may be smaller than others around you, but they will be there. Failure is just a prelude to success. It builds our character and helps us have compassion for others who suffer as we do. Let us use it instead of drowning in it. (Now, if I can only remember my own advice when I'm working on ukemi!)

Best wishes!
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Old 02-01-2005, 05:09 PM   #6
stuartjvnorton's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Shudokan
Location: Melbourne
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 225
Re: Uke-ing

Sounds like you need to relax a little.
It will help you read where shite/tori is going so you can get in a better position to take the ukemi when they throw and it will help your stamina, because you'll use less energy.

Expect to get frustrated. Every single person here has been frustrated over some aspect of their training at 1 time or another.
But if you take up Kendo instead, you'll _never_ learn how to roll. ;-)
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Old 02-02-2005, 04:22 AM   #7
ian's Avatar
Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,654
Re: Uke-ing

Dan Gould wrote:
I've been away from aikido for about six weeks due to illness...
I can't land right
I get tired very fast
I also have extremely stiff shoulders...

...I feel I'm hindering the others as much as hurting myself with this..
...I STILL get a crunch in my spine when I try to forward ukemi off my left arm, and I can't roll backwards over my shoulder.

...No, I don't know what I want from this thread either.

To me I see two things:
1. you are very determined
2. you are in crap physical condition

Channel some of no.1 to amend no.2. Are you over-weight or excessively muscely? Maybe your bodymass is making it difficult. Try running once a week (improve your fitness and reduce your mass); no more than 3 miles, and time yourself (so you can improve).

When you are being pinned, relax your shoulders (so you get more of a stretch), and breath deeply and slowly.

With the ukemi, take a step backwards (not literally!) and ask people to be more gentle with you. Practice on your own before or after sessions (maybe even just do the reverse ukemi to make sure you are rounding your shoulder enough). Breathing out sharply when you are thrown stops you getting winded (usually). Ukemi is about distributing the weight evenly during the whole roll - from the tip of your little finger, down your shoulder, back and buttock, to your little toe.

The hard thing is often identifying the problem; you've done that - the easy bit now is working out ways to deal with it. People advance in different aspects of aikido differently. I have seen many students who take a long time to ukemi well, but they often have deeper insights into other aspects - have patience and do what you are doing - reflect on the problem and try to do things to improve yourself. Aikido/aikijitsu is Budo and involves 'spirit forging', and right now you are progressing very rapidly in this respect

(PS. hope you are not offended by any inference of you being overweight - it's a statement rather than a personal comment, although 'over-weight' suggests that there is a correct weight, which maybe many cultures would disagree on)

Last edited by ian : 02-02-2005 at 04:24 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-02-2005, 11:30 AM   #8
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 688
Re: Uke-ing

Being a good Uke is very hard. I still have a lot to improve on it, and I think I have only started getting some idea on it in the last few years, and I am training for almost 15 years.

The first thing you should work on is improving your Ukemi (Break falls & rolls). I know of no better way then practice. When I stated learning, I used to remain after lessons and do another 50-100 rolls, if your break-falls suck - you should practice them too (these days I practice weapons basic the same way - lots of basics before each class).
If you really do a lot of Ukemi it will probably also help to relax your shoulders, though this is the painful way to go.

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Old 02-02-2005, 12:05 PM   #9
Charlie's Avatar
Location: Elgin, IL
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 165
Re: Uke-ing

An Uke is always useful as long as they are sincere in there attack. You provide a different feel to nage that SHOULD help their training if they feel it. I've seen it happen where some practitioners may become complacent in there techniques because they get used to their ukes being advanced. When that newbie does come in and starts to train...quickly reminds them of proper leading and feel of uke when they are unable to get uke into proper positions.

Last edited by Charlie : 02-02-2005 at 12:07 PM.

Charles Burmeister
Aikido Yoshinkan Yoseikai

"Calmness is trust in action"
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Old 02-04-2005, 01:38 PM   #10
Dan Gould
Dojo: Cilfynydd, Pontypridd
Location: Abercynon, Wales
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 49
United Kingdom
Re: Uke-ing

Wow, lots of feedback.. Please forgive me for not commenting on each post individually, but I really appreciate your comments, I find it inspiring still. It's given me more confidence, at least patience, to know about the polishing the mirror philosophy. I pulled myscles in my arms, legs, and abdominals after Monday, so missed Thursday's class. Hopefully I won't get injured in aikijutsu on Sunday, so come Monday I'll be able to put my heart into training :-) Thank you all so much.
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:52 AM   #11
AikiSean!'s Avatar
Dojo: Alpharetta Martial Arts
Location: Alpharetta, GA
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 68
Re: Uke-ing

When I first started I asked my sensei if he had any extra time, he was more then happy to take an hour or two inbetween some of his classes to work with me. It really did wonders for my ukemi and my attacks. I reccomend the same to you! If you have the time, and your instructor has the time, take full advantage!
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Old 03-10-2005, 06:53 AM   #12
david evans
Dojo: Newcastle Iwama Aikido
Location: Newcastle
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 32
Re: Uke-ing


There's so much information out there these days, that you should know. Listen to your body. What's it telling you?

My right shoulder gives me hell (broken in a motorcycle accident). My left was broken playing football, but it doesn't stand in the way.

Once again; listen to your body.
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Old 03-10-2005, 08:06 AM   #13
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
Re: Uke-ing

Dan: Go right ahead and feel frustrated, p/o'd and generally annoyed with your performance; just about everyone does in the beginning.

Then grab your gi bag and schlepp off to yet another aikido class. It's been my experience that when you get right down to it; the ones who found it difficult, who didn't breeze through or pick things up naturally are the ones that really excel in the end; because the didn't give up.
We (soldiers) call it 'grunt'. Going through selections for my infantry Section; I never (when I was given the choice by my seniors) chose the top student in the class. I chose the one that finished last. Reason? He found everything difficult - he sweated, bitched and moaned his way through training, he always had blisters, shin splints, etc. Could never get a decent shine on his boots or crease in his pants. Sank like a stone in the water, brought up the rear in forced marches, but he never gave up. He kept going - even while every brain cell is screaming "Stop, ya bonehead!!" THOSE are the ones that really become great; that you can really count on when the chips are down.
So if the above seems to describe you; grab your gi bag and just keep schlepping along - someday; there are going to be a lot of people very very glad you did.


Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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