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Old 05-31-2006, 06:15 AM   #1
Amir Krause
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Randori, Sempai and experiences

I am quite confused with my thoughts on this matter. This is the reason I wish to share it. But my own confusion, and probably a multitude of assumption that seem obvious to me, but not to others, might make this post difficult to understand. If this is the case, I apologize.

In short - I had a bad Randori session yesterday. And Sensei had a multitude of comments about it. But my problem is, that even after hearing him, I am not so sure how I should have behaved given the dilemma I was in:

I had practiced Randori (free play, all attacks types allowed from both sides) with another student of my sensei from a different dojo. The other student is not very experienced (about a year I think) and seems at least to be much older then me. During Randori, I had felt he was using a lot of force unnecessarily, and more importantly, acted in bursts - very strong and fast, then stop, then again. He also had often tried to resist my techniques with force, but rarely succeeded. I should also comment the Dojo was full, and one had to be careful throwing to prevent inter-couples accidents.
In this situation, While I found myself throwing him without much difficulty despite the resistance (though not smoothly, and often with some manipulations). I also felt abused by the strength he often used, and to the velocity changes - I am attacking him slowly and he responds very fast, then stops then again. My Uke capabilities have improved over the years, but I did feel slapped a couple of times.
At one point, I was angry enough to start slamming him, working at his fast rate continuously and introducing him to the mat more closely. But, I immediately felt fear I might not be able to this without injuring him, and his being older then me (in his late 40's or early 50's - I don't know), has also calmed me down. So I just kept going on, knowing this is not a good practice but finding no solution.
I did try and ask him to slow down a couple of times, and I have tried to keep my own Ukemi as soft and non-resistive as possible in hope it would help him relax. But to no avail.

After the Randori ended. I got a very cold wash from my sensei. Indicating that as a sempai and yudansha, it was my role to find a better solution to the Randori, and that I must not let a Randori continue at such a level. He more then implied I should have made the other person feel his wrong doing and even reminded the story of the monk who reached enlightenment by a sandal to his head ...
He also mentioned the other way, of letting the other succeed to relax him, then have a more fruitfully Randori.
Sensei said that by letting the other train this way, I am not only disrupting my own Randori and wasting my time (instead of progressing), but as a sempai, I am also becoming a culpit in his not learning well, giving him a bad example and letting him continue down a no-exit route.


I am not sure if there is any clear question here. But perhaps you could understand what I am looking for and replay.

Thanks
Amir

P.S.
Just to clarify, I am practicing for more then 15 yrs. I trust my Sensei and listen to him even when I disagree, I asked him after the lesson but he could not give me a clearer answer.
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Old 05-31-2006, 09:01 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

As Sempai (of 15 years) in Randori with Kohai (of 1 year), I think your Sensei was simply saying you were there to teach your training partner how to be a better uke.

Yet, in all honesty, your Randori sounded pretty familiar when going against someone who uses what they know rather than limiting it to Aikido.

A learning experience for all. Train on.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 05-31-2006, 10:01 AM   #3
Nick P.
 
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Hmmmm.

If I were you, let the whole experience and what your sensei said just "sit" in your mind. Don't analyze it too closely, for now. Detaching from one's ego (and I am in no way implying yours is a problem) might clarify what you have experienced and heard.

Likely it will become clearer to you in time. I hope.

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Old 05-31-2006, 11:07 AM   #4
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

This one is a tough one, partly because I feel like I know you a little bit from all the time online where we have corresponded. Frankly, I think the other guy was an idiot, and he's probably lucky he had you as his partner...some others would probably have slammed him and moved on.

Are you allowed to do much talking on the mat in your dojo? It may be that actual verbal communication was called for here, on the side, away from prying ears. Especially since you asked to go slower and he seemed by his actions to refuse. At some point, if that didn't work, I might have just told him I was going to join a different group, as I wasn't profiting from my time with him.

I have been in situations where on a particular day, some particular partner and I just won't synchronize for what ever reason. Generally one of us just switches with another group, or we both back off and take it easy. It's always embarrassing when that happens, but I try to remember that embarassment is not big deal, and beats injuring or being injured.

Best,
Ron (maybe let it settle, and then speak to your teacher about it some more...direct questions like what would be a better approach...)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 05-31-2006, 11:24 AM   #5
happysod
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Sounds like your instructor was worried you were more intent on "winning" than in practicing. On the plus side, you can take the admonishment as a back-handed compliment as they obviously feel you have the skill and the temperament to deal with even the most vigorous and difficult of partners. Senseis eh, the little buggers are never satisfied - hope the next randori hits the spot (or several)
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Old 05-31-2006, 12:21 PM   #6
Nick P.
 
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Maybe this will help, as it has begun helping me...
<paraphrasing> "You just worry about your own Aikido; let your partner worry about theirs." How to do that yet still be "connected" with your partners is still something I am wrestling with, but I like the sentiment it embodies.

Now of course if your partner is about to cripple you, additional tactics might be required to keep you (and others) safe, but I still like this sentiment. They say you awaken to enlightenment, it is not something you achieve, and though it is rather muddled in my own mind right now, the practice of Aikido is an exercise in realising that enlightement.

Reviewing what your Sensei said, he might have been saying the same type of thing.

Best,
-Nick

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Old 05-31-2006, 12:30 PM   #7
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Man I hate that kind of randori - it makes for difficult training at best and a waste of time (so to speak) at worst. I certainly appreciate your frustration with your partner and have experienced that situation before.

It sounds like your instructor was chastizing you because he/she felt you are capable of addressing your partner's issues and providing the tutleage to repair your partner's mistakes, which is a positive thought. Take the criticism with a positive spin and go from there. As for suggestions to address this issue in the future, I always look for what I am doing wrong first, then I communicate my reponse to my partner.

In the scenario posted I would first address the issue of jerking motion (very common in new student). When I cross a street, I calculate the speed of vehicles and the intentions of a driver by their action. I would be comfortable walking in front of a car deccelerating at a consistance rate while approaching a traffic light and remaining within their traffic lane. I would not be comfortable walking in front of a car was was driving at an inconsistent speed and swerving between lanes. My partner's erractic action implies that that do not have control of their body in the fashion my swerving driver does not have control of their vehicle. Your partner's erractic behavior is telling you "Stay away! I can't control myself!" Tell your partner "I don't feel comfortable doing anything because you are communicating that you can't control your actions." Then look to explain why your partner should slow down to better control their body. I prefer the "Danger Will Robinson!" robot quote from Lost in Space...

Sometimes our actions don't communicate our intentions to our partner (are you listening?). You might have been burying your partner, but unless your partner understands that your waza is communicating an incorrect action, your partner will only perceive your "gift" as a hard workout, not an instructional tool.

Last edited by jonreading : 05-31-2006 at 12:30 PM. Reason: spellin'
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Old 05-31-2006, 12:56 PM   #8
Amir Krause
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Have not much time, will try and respond briefly only and without speller, sorry:

Lynn Seiser:
Quote:
Sensei was simply saying you were there to teach your training partner how to be a better uke.
I think the same. He expected me to raise the others level during this Randori, by giving him some type of a lesson. I am just not sure how.
Quote:
your Randori sounded pretty familiar when going against someone who uses what they know rather than limiting it to Aikido
As I wrote, it felt more like he did not know what he was doing, and did not have control of himself.

Nick Pittson:
Quote:
Likely it will become clearer to you in time
I hope. I decided to give it a try here.

Ron Tisdale:
Quote:
the other guy was an idiot
Not really, he his a nice guy. He just does not control himself.

Quote:
verbal communication
We have some freedom with it, especially the sempai. But I did try to tell him to slow down and move more smoothly, and he was not willing. I considered quiting the randori, but felt that would have been a failure too, and there was not another person to train with (all were in pairs).

Ian Hurst:
Quote:
intent on "winning" than in practicing
Perhaps, but on the other hand, how would I have "given a lesson" as he implied without winning? (though I did not do that either)

Nick Pittson:
Quote:
"You just worry about your own Aikido; let your partner worry about theirs."
I don't think this was the case this time. A significant part of my admonishment was for not making the other guy learn a lesson in some way (soft or hard).

Jon Reading:
Quote:
It sounds like your instructor was chastizing you because he/she felt you are capable of addressing your partner's issues and providing the tutelage to repair your partner's mistakes
I had the same feeling. My problem is the how to do that? And during Randori (In Kata with constant verbal and non-verbal communication and repeated exercise it is easier, and I sometimes succeed )?

Quote:
. Your partner's erractic behavior is telling you "Stay away! I can't control myself!"
I did feel he had a problem with controlling himself, but I think my challenge was supposed to be to create a beautifully looking Randori even with this type of uncontrolled partner. Creating Harmony from chaos - isn't this what Aikido is all about?
Obviously, I was not successful this time, but if I quit without trying, how Will I ever get better ?



To all:
Yes, Sensei has a very demanding standard for his "advanced"\Yudansha students. And he expects a lot from us. I am not complaining about this, and I am definitely happy he believes I already can do better. I mostly wish to confer on the how to do that.


Amir
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Old 05-31-2006, 01:13 PM   #9
DonMagee
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

I think your sensei was trying to get you to lead your partners actions. I have not done much aikido randori, but I have done a lot of judo randori. When working with a new guy they will be all over the place. Kicking your legs, hoping up and down, twisting turning, etc. They act like its a competition. The first thing I do is lock them down. I force them to use clean technique. I start to give them openings and if they take them, I dont try to stop the throw. I have good enough ukemi to take even sloppy throws. After they calm down and work this way (usually after a period of them realizing i'm just gonna stand there and look at them like an idiot until they stop lashing out) then I will start to counter them and keep it difficult but not impossible for them. I try to get them to work at the highest level they can work at. Sure I could throw them about and tap them out over and over again. I'm not going to learn anything, and neither are they. But if I let them go wild they wont learn anyting and I wont either. So I work on controling the situation and forcing them to learn good technique. Maybe that is what your sensei is trying to get across.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 05-31-2006, 01:25 PM   #10
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Excellent post Don. I'm trying to think of some things that work in kata practice for that 'locking down' that could transfer to randori. Who knows, maybe I'll come up with something for my own training tonight!

Amir, I think you are on the right track...

Best,
Ron

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Old 05-31-2006, 05:09 PM   #11
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Since you asked, I'll tell you what would be my expectations for student with 15 years experience against 1 year experience.
Full resistance randori is very difficult for everybody. Normally one does his best, and it is impossible to give him good advice. It is very valuable practice and should be done as often as possible.

However, the difference in experience between you both is too much. He should be no match for you at all. It is your entire fault to create situation when he could make ANY resistance. I would see you rather playing with him, as father play with his child. Doesn't matter he was using a lot of primitif strenght or not, you should contol him even before attack starts.

As a uke, I'd expect after 15 years of practice to take ANY ukemi from 1 year experiences tori without even notice that he wants to do some technique faster or more powerful. Again, you should control him at any level, at any moment, your capacity of 'taking' must be bigger than his capacity of 'giving'. Then you will not need to be angry, to slamm him, do resist, counters or do other tryvial things. You suppose to be at completly different level, far above all those small tricks.

Don't be angry at me, that is not personal attack on you.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 06-01-2006, 04:12 AM   #12
Amir Krause
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Don Magee

I think you are right, my problem is once again on the how to do this in Aikido Randori, I believe there is a significant difference since the range is such that one does not grab the other and the control has to be imposed without touching

Szczepan Janczuk

I guess I am not up to your standard. At least I was not that evening. As I wrote, I did not have much difficulty in throwing him, but I would not say I did not feel his resistance, I did feel it, and did have to go around it from time to time.
I am coming to think part of the problem was this was supposed to be en-randori, not full resistance fighting exercise, and it became the latter rather then the first.
And no, no hard feelings. If I wish to improve, I should understand my weaknesses first.

Amir
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Old 06-01-2006, 05:37 AM   #13
Mark Freeman
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Why not point any 'resistant' uke's in the direction of the many video clips of O Sensei working with his students, pre or post war it doesn't matter. Of all the footage I have seen, none of the uke's are 'resistant' in any way, they all follow the technique and escape accordingly. The look supple and strong to me. They went on to become the first generation of teachers to take aikido out into the wider world.
IMHO if O Sensei's students didn't practice in a resistant way, why is anyone else trying to do aikido with it.
A completely non contentious nage will control a resistant uke because resistance needs something to resist against. This is not easy to master, it is (for me at least) why we train, to become more profficient at taking any type of attack and leading it to a conclusion.

It is up to each individual teacher to instill good ukemi skills in their students, the sooner that the 'resistant' tendancies are picked up on the better. The resistant uke cannot follow with the speed and sensitivity required to 'feel' the 'holes' in nage's technique.

Sure, there is a place for 'controlled resistance' in training but IMO this should only be done once the skills of good ukemi are ingrained, ( usually quite a long time ) Beginners find it hard enough as it is to grasp the concepts of non-resistance, without getting confused with the sometimes it's ok to resist sometimes it isn't.

Just a few thoughts.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 06-01-2006, 08:45 AM   #14
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Strangely enough, my instructor was focusing on getting me to put uke in a position where they **can't** resist last night. When he threw me, he specifically told me to resist, so I relaxed, sunk my root, tried to be immovable. Some how he stretched me right out of my root, took my balance, and gently tossed me away.

Thing is, if I hadn't resisted, I wouldn't have gotten the point (not sure I do get the point, since I'm still puzzling over just what he did). At the same time, I do understand the paradigm that Mark speaks of. The question for me is...were Ueshiba Sensei's uke's *not* resisting, or were they **unable** to resist? And doesn't that make a rather large difference?

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-01-2006, 09:49 AM   #15
Mark Freeman
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
The question for me is...were Ueshiba Sensei's uke's *not* resisting, or were they **unable** to resist? And doesn't that make a rather large difference?
Hi Ron,

I don't suppose we'll ever know the answer to that one without speaking directly to those involved.

My take on it is that it didn't matter that much as Ueshiba demonstrated by throwing them anyway.

To me they look as if they are not resisting in the films that I have seen, but that doesn't mean that they didn't resist at all. Maybe they 'had' been resistant and found that it was not to their advantage.

Fully resistant uke's tend to go down like a 'ton of bricks' the tension they create by resisting tends to transfer to the floor

regards

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 06-01-2006, 11:49 AM   #16
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Yes, it does tend to strengthen the connection to the point were that energy has to go somewhere. But that outcome is NOT the point. Let me ask again...

were Ueshiba Sensei's uke's *not* resisting, or were they **unable** to resist? And doesn't that make a rather large difference?

The **process** of training correctly is what I'm trying to focus on. If that **process** (competing, not competing, resisting, not resisting, relaxed, not relaxed, etc.) is correct, the correct results will follow. If the process is not correct, you may occationally get pleasing results...but that does not mean that you are going down the correct path.

Best,
Ron (I'm being picky here because I've been down bad paths that had seemingly good results...until I learned better, that is...)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-01-2006, 12:25 PM   #17
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Hi Ron,

I don't suppose we'll ever know the answer to that one without speaking directly to those involved.

My take on it is that it didn't matter that much as Ueshiba demonstrated by throwing them anyway.

To me they look as if they are not resisting in the films that I have seen, but that doesn't mean that they didn't resist at all. Maybe they 'had' been resistant and found that it was not to their advantage.



regards

Mark
Yes, I think daily training has nothing to do with demo for film purpose. Every time when new student wanted to join a dojo, Founder asked him to attack with all his skills --- this is very know story. I suppose it was possible cos he did a lot of things BEFORE contact, and such approach eliminate almost completly possibility of resistance.

Quote:
Fully resistant uke's tend to go down like a 'ton of bricks' the tension they create by resisting tends to transfer to the floor
Only when he is very beginner. Advanced attackers don't go down at all, you go down very quickly

I agree with Ron, if technique is well done, uke can't resist or counter even if he wants to. It is matter of control time/space around you rather then attacker.

Quote:
I am coming to think part of the problem was this was supposed to be en-randori, not full resistance fighting exercise, and it became the latter rather then the first.
So you did let him dictate you the conditions where he was most confortable (full resistance fighting exercise).??

Nagababa

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Old 06-01-2006, 12:30 PM   #18
Mark Freeman
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Let me ask again...

were Ueshiba Sensei's uke's *not* resisting, or were they **unable** to resist? And doesn't that make a rather large difference?
maybe thay were both not resisting and unable to resist?

Quote:
The **process** of training correctly is what I'm trying to focus on. If that **process** (competing, not competing, resisting, not resisting, relaxed, not relaxed, etc.) is correct, the correct results will follow. If the process is not correct, you may occationally get pleasing results...but that does not mean that you are going down the correct path.
True

Quote:
Best,Ron (I'm being picky here because I've been down bad paths that had seemingly good results...until I learned better, that is...)
would you care to expand Ron?

cheers,
Mark

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Old 06-01-2006, 12:52 PM   #19
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Hmmm, expand? No, there are personal relationships involved, and I don't believe in bandying those about on the net. I think we have enough to go on...if anyone is interested in the turn this has taken.

Not resisting and unable to resist. Well, if I am not resisting to begin with, unable to resist doesn't really show, does it? But if I am resisting, doing my utmost not to be thrown, but find I can't sucseed, then I know something has taken place, and I want to know what. At the same time, there is a difference between 'resisting' and 'attacking with no thought to take a fall', isn't there?

I find that these are questions that go to the heart of a lot of issues in aikido...

compete vs don't compete
internal vs external power generation
uke vs nage relationships
effective vs not effective

You could probably go on and on...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-01-2006, 01:00 PM   #20
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

I'm not inclined to trust much film of Ueshiba showing aikido. Film perforce is a demonstration (whether an official embu or not) and I highly doubt his uke were ever going to allow Ueshiba to look anything less than perfect on film.

There is, however, footage of Ueshiba applying shiho-nage to U.S. servicemen. This is very instructive because unlike Ueshiba's uke (who fall in the same footage as cleanly as usual), the servicemen are not practiced in aikido ukemi, nor inclined to give in to the old man. Ueshiba's technique works. It's not pretty, but the men do go down, and by entirely recognizable shiho-nage.

So, IMO, the uke in any footage of Ueshiba is focusing on clean ukemi, not on providing Ueshiba with a typical training partner. And given that a number of Ueshiba's direct students (Saito, Shioda, Abbe, to name a few) have taught their students to provide solid resistence as uke, I think that's even more indicative of how aikido was truly trained, rather than demonstrated.

Josh Reyer

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Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 06-01-2006, 01:28 PM   #21
DonMagee
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Any idea where I can find those videos?

- Don
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Old 06-01-2006, 01:39 PM   #22
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
Any idea where I can find those videos?
http://www.aikidojournal.com/

Josh Reyer

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Old 06-01-2006, 03:08 PM   #23
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Hi Josh...I'm not sure I'm familiar with a video that shows Ueshiba throwing outsiders...do you have a name for that video?
Thanks,
Ron (excellent info by the way...)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-01-2006, 03:12 PM   #24
bob_stra
Location: Australia
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Devils advocate:

I'm unclear on what you mean Amir

Why is resistance "bad"?

Is it "bad" that he resisted, or is it "bad" that you got angry because he resisted? And even if it is bad(tm), it seems you learnt something from it, without any injury to the parties involved? Why is that bad? (Unsettling, distrubing, a shake up - sure)

Say, did you get a chance to talk to the other fellow after the event - what were his thoughts?

May I also ask - how did this feel abusive to you - ie: do you feel it broke some unspoken contract between the two of you? Or something else?

Feel free not to answer any or all of these - just trying to clarify (mostly for myself, as I've encountered similar situations. Not trying to second guess or preach

Last edited by bob_stra : 06-01-2006 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 06-01-2006, 10:39 PM   #25
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Randori, Sempai and experiences

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Hi Josh...I'm not sure I'm familiar with a video that shows Ueshiba throwing outsiders...do you have a name for that video?
Thanks,
Ron (excellent info by the way...)
The tape "Morihei Ueshiba & Aikido Vol. 2 Takemusu Aiki". I'm not exactly sure how you could get a hold of it. While the Japanese side of Aikido Journal (and many major bookstores here) still have it available, it doesn't appear in the product listing on the English side.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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