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Old 05-04-2006, 06:20 PM   #126
Mark Freeman
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Good post Ken,

I don't have any affiliation to your organisation, have not seen Saotome Sensei in action. However, everything that you wrote makes perfect sense to me.
My own lineage comes via my own teachers extensive time with his major influences Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and later Tohei Sensei. The approch to ukemi you outline above is common to us. Your quote
Quote:
When Sensei throws people, and so more if it is a more martial application, it does not feel like force, or leverage, it feels light as a feather, and yet you can't stop yourself from falling. It is not fake. It is perfect connection. To get that good, he says, you must practice in the cooperative manner I have described.
surely encompasses all postwar aikido?

I happen to agree that it is definitely not fake, but not everyone seems to feel the same.

regards,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 05-04-2006, 06:36 PM   #127
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Thank you Ken,
this is somewhat better explaining, but still I have to recall everything I have seen on seminars and videos, read in books and told by people, who studies under Saotome Sensei to get an idea, what you might mean exactly, and yet I am not sure, if we are talking about the same Mitsugi Saotome.
We are not member of ASU and the most important reason is, that ASU is not willing to cover Europe. So I guess you know him better than me.

I totally agree about your view on nage - and yes in some context co-operative is right as well as non-resistent and simulated combat - and yes, the truth is somewhere between dancing and killing.
Sometimes your explanation sounds like "choreography of simulated combat" and I am not sure, if Saotome would even accept the wording "ASU or similar style" as he always laughed about styles - or even neglected the existence of styles in true aikido.

If I am very lucky I might have another chance to talk to him this summer in France. I'd be very curious about his comments.

All the best

Dirk
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:33 PM   #128
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Here is an article written by George Ledyard, longtime student of Saotome sensei. It's very relevant to this topic, and the first section on static practice is exactly what I am talking about. It also goes into flowing practice, committment, counters, and other key aspects of ukemi.

The Nature of Ukemi

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:19 PM   #129
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
Here is an article written by George Ledyard, longtime student of Saotome sensei. It's very relevant to this topic, and the first section on static practice is exactly what I am talking about. It also goes into flowing practice, committment, counters, and other key aspects of ukemi.

The Nature of Ukemi
A good article Josh, thanks for sharing.

Also I managed in between issues at work to dig up a few more quotes from Mitsugi Satome Sensei from Aikido and the Harmony of Nature:

"As in training by giving ever-increasing resistance, it takes many years to discover"

Then about 3 paragraphs down he states:

"If you are always training softly, immersed in water, you will never be stressed enough to discoer your strength. You will lose reality, you will lose the fire, and you will lose the Way."

Then in his training section on tenkan:

"When you try tenkan from a very strong grab, you will at first be unable to move. As you continue to try, your instincts of defense will start to evolve."

I think that is enough for now.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 05-05-2006, 02:54 AM   #130
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Thanks Josh,

and thanks to George for this excellent article. Yes that is my understanding of non-resistant and co-operative uke. He has to play his role, but it is never (there are exceptions, as mentioned) his task to help nage performing a technique, that would not work otherwise.

Now, if someone is interested in, we could start discussing, what might be a good reaction, if your uke is not doing his job well.

Kind regards


Dirk
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:43 AM   #131
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Dirk Hanss wrote:
Now, if someone is interested in, we could start discussing, what might be a good reaction, if your uke is not doing his job well.

Kind regards


Dirk
Good atemi?

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 05-05-2006, 11:20 AM   #132
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

This discussion is getting to some real meat.

I know you were partly joking Michael, but if I take the atemi suggestion seriously, I'd have to say that in keiko that allows more resistance, atemi is a short cut of sorts...especially if it is atemi that does not land, atemi that your partner always blocks, atemi that shite can use but uke cannot...

Basically, reliance on atemi in the kind of training I think we are discussing can be a weakness. It can cover up a host of problems that will only get worked out if you DON'T rely on atemi to solve them. Which is not to say that atemi is bad, or incorrect, or shouldn't be trained, or shouldn't be integrated into regular practice. It's just that in a more free form, resistant type of training, a reliance upon atemi has issues.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 05-05-2006, 02:21 PM   #133
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Michael O'Brien wrote:
Good atemi?
Yes, one solution, not harmful, but rather showing, why uke cannot do it this way. He has to protect himself, maybe and in the end very often, by rolling.


Dirk
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Old 05-05-2006, 03:14 PM   #134
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Quote:
Your personal preferences are disabled in the dojo. Nobody cares what you like or not. This is a place for martial art practice and not restaurant where you can chose your prefered food.

Yu must move faster to be able to match speed of technique. This is your most important duty on the tatami.

you must learn how to receive the techniques in safe way. this is your homework to do after every class with some help from dojo mates. I think you have 2-3 months to do it, after that advanced ppl will not want to practice with you.
They can't all their life slow down normal rythme of practice only because you 'don't like' move faster.You as uke in 99% must take care about your own safety.
Thanks for your reply. I think you may have misunderstood some of what I wrote. In my dojo, it is emphasized that the sempai has a responsibility to the less experienced student and someone who chooses a new student should not practice at a level that will potentially hurt that person. I have practiced with 3rd Dan who have moved very slowly in their practice. Speed doesn't make you superior.
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Old 05-05-2006, 03:29 PM   #135
Qatana
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Martha, don't wory about what ANybody says you Must do or learn or be training for. The only thing you must do is show up.

Q
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Old 05-05-2006, 08:56 PM   #136
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Quote:
Martha Kops wrote:
Thanks for your reply. I think you may have misunderstood some of what I wrote. In my dojo, it is emphasized that the sempai has a responsibility to the less experienced student and someone who chooses a new student should not practice at a level that will potentially hurt that person. I have practiced with 3rd Dan who have moved very slowly in their practice. Speed doesn't make you superior.
I understood you very well, don't worry.
In aikido there is no competition (Ok, ok we are not talking here about Tomiki fighters) so there is not question at all who is superior. We are talking here about your duty as a beginner, not to slow down progress of advanced folks, and in the same time, how you can survive safely normal rythme of training.
It is your job to adapt yourself to this rythme. That is my advice.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 05-06-2006, 06:23 AM   #137
Mark Freeman
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
Your personal preferences are disabled in the dojo. Nobody cares what you like or not. This is a place for martial art practice and not restaurant where you can chose your prefered food.

Yu must move faster to be able to match speed of technique. This is your most important duty on the tatami.

you must learn how to receive the techniques in safe way. this is your homework to do after every class with some help from dojo mates. I think you have 2-3 months to do it, after that advanced ppl will not want to practice with you.
They can't all their life slow down normal rythme of practice only because you 'don't like' move faster.You as uke in 99% must take care about your own safety.
I come from a completely different perspective to this. As far as my practiced goes, it is not up to uke to speed up to match the speed of nage. It is the duty of nage to blend with uke, if nage is going too fast for uke then where is aiki??
If advanced people do not want to practice with someone because they haven't reached some percieved level of ukemi so that they wont get hurt when techniques are applied is for me, egotistical nonesense. Where is their desire to help someone on the path, where is their practice of control, where is their leading by example, where is their humility? I could go on.
It is nage's job to take care of uke. Of course uke has responsibility to look after themselves, but if they are with a more advanced student, the responsibility lies with the one with greater experience.
Normal rhythm of practice is not fixed, it changes and adapts, otherwise it becomes 'stuck'.

Obviously aikido is done in many different ways.

regards,
Mark

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Old 05-10-2006, 11:39 PM   #138
Ken McGrew
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

I think it is a mistake to quote something from Saotome Sensei in order to refute other quotes from him. I did not "make up" the narration in his videos nor my experiences with him. Those who question what I am saying should buy and watch the Oyo Henka video. He does not contradict himself. English is simply not his native language. You have to listen carefully.

There is a difference between excercises (perhaps training with a strong grab on occaasion) and Ukemi, which he believes should be flowing and cooperative; as his Principles video says, simulated combat. There is a difference between a strong grab and resistant ukemi after the grab. In Chicago in November Kevin Choate Sensei made a clear distinction between "technique" training and "static training." I don't like this distinction mystelf, as not all static training is resistant training, but the basic point I think should be clear, that there is resistance and then there is cooperative ukemi.

I've spent a lot of time at Saotome's seminars, trained since 1993 with two of his senior students, and have attended his teaching oriented training at his private dojo (where he told us to teach flowing and cooperative Ukemi, but to change techniques when confronted with resistance). People like to do what they are used to doing, but that doesn't mean that what they are doing will ever get them to his level of Aikido.

If you watch Saotome's videos you can see his Aikido for yourself. If you go to a seminar you will never see him tell the students present to grab in a resistant manner. But more than this, as a matter of martial application, when and how does one's hand get grabbed in the first place? It just makes no sense. It's an excercise. I don't stand around waiting for people to grab my writst. If they do manage to grab my wrist, it would be because they were charging in toward me and therefore would have too much momentum to be resistant. In the hypothetical, if an attacker grabbed my wrist, I'd break his nose. (As an aside, raising the arm will not stop a real strike either, which will only drive your own hand into your nose). It just makes no sense all this grabbing and resisting. If you grab my wrist and do not follow, you make it easy for me to break my hand free, and strike you with a back fist. Following is your protection.

Aikido is about capturing the attacker's energy, blending, and redirecting. You get good at that by creating a situation where you can practice it. Think of Irimi Nage. The first ura and blend brings Uke down. The second ura and throw happens only because and if Uke continues her attack. Saotome's style of Irimi Nage really emphasises blending because he turns and turns rather than stepping back and stepping in. If you practice trying to resist as Uke after the initial attack, you are merely asking Nage to kick or hit you, and taking advantage of the fact that you have not fully attacked nor Nage fully thrown, and in general are wasting your time and your partner's time as well.

It's good to have these conversations. In the end people can think and do what they want. Students under Saotome, however, in my opinion, have an obligation to try to do what he wants them to do. He is famous for getting angry at seminars when students aren't training the way he wants. Given language barriers I think many students never understand what he is looking for. I'm trying to articulate this to the best of my ability.

Ken McGrew
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Old 05-11-2006, 02:40 AM   #139
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Thank you Ken,
I guess, That is more or less exactly, what we are told.

In my own simple words it says:
As uke you should not try to spoil the exercise, as you you what comes, but you should try to do a serious attack and protect yourself - that's why you follow (continue your attack or try not to show nage your back) and take ukemi (protect by escape and try to get a second chance). But you should not just simply follow any movement - or even anticipate - just because nage expects you to do.

As nage you should never blame uke for resistant application, but change your technique instantaneously. You can simulate a punch or kick (low level), you can do another technique like tenkan instead of irimi, kotegaeshi instead of iriminage, etc. (medium level) or you can just change posture a little bit to redirect uke in a way you can do exactly the technique, you are expected to do (high level). If uke does not understand the message, you can tell him afterwards verbally. If you cannot do either of them, either uke is senior and wants to teach you something - you might ask, what, or uke is not experienced enough, but you aren't either, so you know, what you have to work on - Yes, you can ask him to support you in this exercise, as you are too junior to find a solution. If he is just an idiot, you need to look for another partner, but this should never happen, if you are nidan and your uke ranked significantly lower.

Hopefully I did not misinterpret you or Saotome. What I am told and have understood at his seminar, he always tell, that blaming uke for not being relaxed or any other excuse for not doing the technique, is not the martial attitude, an aikidoka (yudansha) should show.

Kind regards Dirk
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Old 05-11-2006, 04:17 AM   #140
Mark Freeman
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Following is your protection.
Absolutely!! Good post Ken.

It would also make a great bumper sticker

regards,
Mark

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Old 05-11-2006, 08:50 AM   #141
roosvelt
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Absolutely!! Good post Ken.

It would also make a great bumper sticker

regards,
Mark
If you can count the hair on his ass, you're following too closely.
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Old 05-11-2006, 02:18 PM   #142
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Likewise, if you can pick the hairs off of someone else's....

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-11-2006, 05:10 PM   #143
Mark Freeman
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Likewise, if you can pick the hairs off of someone else's....

Best,
Ron
Come on chaps, this is all getting a bit to close for comfort

cheers
Mark

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Old 05-16-2006, 06:58 PM   #144
David Orange
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
...as a matter of martial application, when and how does one's hand get grabbed in the first place? It just makes no sense. It's an excercise. I don't stand around waiting for people to grab my writst.
That's a good question. It is addressed on the Aikido Journal blog in this post:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=1985

In particular, concerning the origin of wrist-grab attacks in aikido:

One famous aiki master addressed the mystery of why the training includes so much practice against the wrist grab. It's argued that men don't fight that way and that we are unlikely to be grabbed by the wrist in a fight. This master said that the wrist grab comes from an opponent's trying to prevent you from drawing your sword. Well, maybe he was hiding something there. It's true that if someone grabs your wrist, you can effect aiki age by reaching across your body and turning your hand as if to draw a sword. But I think the mystery of aiki training for wrist grabs is simple: it comes from a parent's taking a child by the wrist. That was where I think the old masters saw the genius of a genki toddler for escaping. A healthy baby, before much social conditioning, has a healthy spirit and a will to do his own business. His human nervous system naturally uses both kiai and aiki to get what he wants and neutralize the strength of people much larger than himself. Imagine if your aikido were effective against someone five times your size. That is effective aiki and babies have it. Of course, it is limited, just like a sprout coming up from the ground. But it is effective and reliable enough for a jujutsu master to base a revolutionary fighting method on it.

Think of the young girl whose kidnapping in Florida was caught on video. The attack was a classic same-side single-hand wrist grab. That video could easily have shown the girl throwing the attacker with shiho nage or yonkyo. Neither is too difficult for an eleven-year-old girl. I taught both techniques to both my daughters before they were ten. I've taught them to many children before they were ten. Not that I would ever want them to need it. But you simply spin around in either direction from the same-side grip and you get one technique or the other. It may be just effective enough for the intended victim to escape.

I've met numerous young women who reflexively twist and turn out of a wrist grab, but they tend to be awkward, without basic organization and with extra movement and self interference that comes from all their social conditioning, inhibiting much of their true spirit and sense of self. Real aiki is pure economy in relation to another human being's presence and actions. So most people believe this must have been figured out and calculated, organized and formed outside the human mind and body, then pressure-cooked painfully into the individual. But I have observed many examples of toddlers in action, displaying pure aiki movement without awkward or extraneous effort.

Quote:
If they do manage to grab my wrist, it would be because they were charging in toward me and therefore would have too much momentum to be resistant.
An experienced real world attacker won't over commit. Or at least, we really shouldn't assume that he will.

Quote:
In the hypothetical, if an attacker grabbed my wrist, I'd break his nose. (As an aside, raising the arm will not stop a real strike either, which will only drive your own hand into your nose). It just makes no sense all this grabbing and resisting. If you grab my wrist and do not follow, you make it easy for me to break my hand free, and strike you with a back fist. Following is your protection.
How is that different from pre-war aikido? Would you elaborate on the distinction? To me, pre-war aikido is just that kind of pragmatism plus severe training in the actual techniques to do what you describe. Where do you draw the distinction?

Quote:
Aikido is about capturing the attacker's energy, blending, and redirecting. You get good at that by creating a situation where you can practice it. ...If you practice trying to resist as Uke after the initial attack, you are merely asking Nage to kick or hit you, and taking advantage of the fact that you have not fully attacked nor Nage fully thrown, and in general are wasting your time and your partner's time as well.
Aren't they both wasting each other's time?

The fundamental truth is that if uke attacks well, he can only resist if nage makes a mistake. "Not falling" is far from "resisting." Sometimes not-falling results from the body's involuntary reflex responses. But those reflexes can only respond if uke "feels" nage's action. If nage acts correctly, uke either will not feel it, or the technique will trigger his reflexive response in such a way that he throws himself. But if uke can "balk," even involuntarily, nage is simply failing to do aikido.

Quote:
It's good to have these conversations. In the end people can think and do what they want. Students under Saotome, however, in my opinion, have an obligation to try to do what he wants them to do.
Well, we've seen examples in earlier posts where Saotome sensei says opposite things. That's the trouble with big teachers. They're always saying something different because they're always talking about "right now," commenting on what someone is doing before their eyes. The fact that he said something almost opposite on another occasion doesn't mean he refutes himself, but that, most likely, the context in which he was speaking was very differently similar.

Everyone knows the story of the blind men describing an elephant. Aikidoka aren't blind, but they're all trying to describe a hundred-year long dragon, each looking at different parts. It looks very different at every turn of its body, but the essence is the same, from the tip of the nose to the teeth, the front claws, the body, the rear claws and tail.

Because one doesn't recognize what he sees as aikido does not mean that it isn't aikido. It may just be a different part of the dragon.

Best wishes.
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Old 06-14-2006, 12:21 AM   #145
topan tantudo
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Aikido is more than just practices. it is way of life. if your senpai got mad because he cannot control his "way of life" it would be better to find another way of life. If he cannot centralize his KI, his heart, and his mind, so he is not and Aikidoka.

just a point of view.
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Old 01-23-2007, 04:47 PM   #146
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

This discussion reminds me of one of my dojo mates. He's a small guy with some background in martial arts, and really a nice and generous person. I started my training with him and enjoy it very much, as he's a very small person and I'm very large, thus I learn to do what my sensei keeps telling me: bend my knees.

He was kind enough to take ukemi for my 6th kyu test. The test went well in the eyes of my sensei, but in my heart I knew I was lacking. I know I was putting my feet in (roughly) the right place, pointing certain parts of my body in certain locations, moving my hands where close to where they should go, all those other things. But I never felt the connection. What stands out in my mind is iriminage. I simply cannot grasp that technique, but it's worse with him because he falls as soon as I start turning back toward him. He is very generous in his ukemi; he'll go where he's supposed to go for the technique. But how can I tell if I'm connecting to him, if I'm harmonizing with him, if the results of my actions are the same no matter what my actions are?

On the other side, when training with my senpai, I always always ALWAYS find them exploring and experimenting. If the technique isn't being performed, either due to their lacking ability or their ukes resistance, they tug and twist this way and that until they feel a connection and can get uke off balance, and thus can perform the technique. They learn and explore, even if it's something like ikkyo, which they've been doing for 6 years. Even my Sensei does that, when she's been doing it for 25. Resistance is welcome in our dojo, so long as it's backed up by good judgement. Sensei often tells us to attack at your own speed, because nage (or since most of us are at the same level and there are only two senpai, this applies to the senpai) will perform the technique at the speed that you're attacking. If you can't take super fast ukemi, don't perform a screaming dash-in shomenuchi.

When there is resistance, it always (or usually, 9 times out of 10) ends the same way: senpai or Sensei find the path of least resistance, take it, and show uke what happens when they're stubborn. But what's amazing with all of this is that everyone is having fun! I honestly laugh my ass off when I stubbornly resist Sensei and she flips me onto my back faster than I can blink. She does NOT consider resistance a bad thing. She encourages it as long as it's warrented and safe. Everyone in our dojo likes a bit of resistance here and there because they aren't trying to get perfect footwork, they're trying to feel the connection, to get their uke off balance. Everyone enjoys the results of senpai or Sensei giving them a hands-on demonstration of the results of years and years of hard work: even stubborn ukes find their place on the mat.

And just to take this point further, we are an ASU affilitated dojo. I don't know what "style" of Aikido we train in, post war or pre war or all that. I just know that when my uke is a rag doll, I learn nothing. When my uke is a brick, I learn that I know nothing (always a welcome lesson in humility... I'll never get tired of it). When my uke is using good judgement and giving me good feedback (senpai or kohai), I learn much about the technique.

Resistance has its place, but I believe it must come with a side of judgement and a side of communication.

Adults are just outdated children, and the hell with them. - Dr. Suess

It's senpai's fault. - Andy-senpai
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Old 01-23-2007, 04:55 PM   #147
Keith R Lee
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Zombie thread! Rise from your grave...

Keith Lee
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Old 01-23-2007, 05:01 PM   #148
Freerefill
 
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Dojo: North Country Aikido
Location: In my dojo. Where else?
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Sorry! I guess I neglected to look at the dates.. I've been browsing the forum for a while and I suppose I just lost track of where I was browsing. Gomennasai!

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Adults are just outdated children, and the hell with them. - Dr. Suess

It's senpai's fault. - Andy-senpai
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Old 01-24-2007, 02:31 AM   #149
stelios
Dojo: aikido dojo nippos Crete
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 75
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

In similar situations, esp. when I am uke for my Sensei when he is demonstrateing a technique and I am doing crap, one might expect him to become furious. On the contrary, based upon a conversation we once had, he said that everytime I am making a mistake as uke (deliberately or not) he is learning of new ways to cope with the new situation.
One should most of the times be grateful to uke whilst they make mistakes as it is a means of learning our incapabilities or potential capabilities that we never knew we had.
Just a thought...
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Old 01-24-2007, 06:34 AM   #150
DonMagee
Location: Indiana
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

I know this is old, but yet another good place to post this vid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jf3Gc2a0_8

Its a good reason why at least once in a while you should resist your partner. Just not while the instructor is giving a demo to the class.

It also shows a modern day wrist grab at 1 minute into the video.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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