Stanley Archacki wrote:
What are some thoughts on this. What is the role of the uke who gives realistic but "tricky" attacks?
Stanley, you started a good thread. You've had some great replies. Since you said the "punishing uke" thread made you think about it, and I started that one, I'd like to comment.
I think the role of the uke who gives realistic but "tricky" attacks is what you need for the highest level of aikido training.
I see five levels of aikido learning.
1. A completely cooperative uke who allows you to learn the fundamental movements and concepts.
2. A cooperative uke who lets you know when you're grossly off course by being immovable in that direction.
Attacks for these two levels are as Kevin Leavitt describes them. In the next levels, they should become faster.
3. An uke who gives strong, balanced attacks of every kind--punches, kicks, grabs, sweeps, judo and jujutsu attacks, sword, bo, jo and tanbo, and resists when you're the least bit off the technique. At this level, uke counter-attacks when you miss. So he comes in with a kick. You avoid but fail to throw him. He immediately launches a backfist to your face. You grab his arm but fail to move him. He sweeps your feet...etc. In Japan, most attacks at this level ended on the floor and were followed with submission grappling. You might have to grapple two or three minutes with each of five partners or more per round as nage.
4. The tricky uke. This is the last level of training. He attacks as described in level three, but is very measured on his approaches. He won't rush in. He won't overcommit. He will feint very believably and most people will respond to his feint.
This is training for reality.
I really liked Logan Heinrichs' statement:
"When a confrontation occurs and the, lets say nage, takes up a fighting stancem this tells the attacker that they have to be tricky in order to launch a successful attack. This is what leads to the feints, jabs, and fakes that you see in fighting. If nage takes up a relaxed stance, he may be very ready for the attack, but look very open. This is when bullies try to take the "death blow" that we aikidoka prefer. I dont think aikido was developed for fighting, but when it is used for self defense the evasions and techniques all make a lot of sense."
and Lyle Bogin's comment:
"There's a kid of trickiness that works well for aikido..the lead up to the committed attack is a great place to play."
The thing is, with a tough fighter who is used to being smacked around but finally beating his opponent into submission, we may be able to get him to attack very powerfully and we may be able to make him fall hard, but if and when he gets up, he is likely to remain intent on delivering his share of the pain. I knew a fellow once who was that way. He understood it as a mental illness. If you hurt him, he would instantly see red, even if it were an accident, and he would give you back at least twice what you gave him. He had no control over it. Once he got into a confrontation in a pool hall and threw every billiard ball on the table at this guy, like baseballs, and hit him numerous times. I don't remember what the other guy had done, but this fellow just rained destruction on him. He once told me, "You couldn't me any of that aikido stuff you do. If you was to sling me down on the ground, I'd say, 'Hey, that was pretty good. Let's go inside and have some coffee.' and we'd go inside and I'd get that coffee water boiling and come in there where you was sitting and I'd sling that boiling water on you." He said he didn't know why he was that way, but he was and he had served some time in prison. He got it into his mind twice to test me and my aikido training enabled me to convince him without touching him.
And there is Level 5: USING AIKIDO.
When I taught English in Japan, Dr. Robert Lado, professor emeritus on Linguistics at Georgetown, gave us a number of lectures on the subject. He was the head of my school and I underwent his week-long training seminars multiple times. He said that there are five stages to learning any subject. These are:
1. Experience. That means your first exposure to the thing you're trying to learn. In language, this is a language you've never encountered. You hear its sounds, unrelated to your own language, see its physical gestures, unrelated to your own culture's gestures, see its written symbols, unlike anything you're familiar with. It makes no sense. It is pure raw experience. This relates to the level 1 uke who just gives you a clean general experience of aikido.
2. Remembering. This is when you start to recognize patterns in the raw cacophony of the new experience. In language, it is when you recognize words or phrases and recognize what they mean without searching for the knowledge. In aikido, that's when the uke moves to level 2, making you refine the pattern you remembered.
3. Assimilation is when you place several words and phrases in relation to one another. You know the pattern and have associated it with a reply. You know that the pattern is a greeting or an expression of surprise or whatever and you know the appropriate response to it. This is when the aikido uke begins to give powerul attacks and strong resistance. You're beginning to deal with the art itself at this level.
4. Facility. In a language, that means fluency. You know pretty much all the standard words and phrases of the language and can converse freely and spontaneously on any topic without more hesitation than a native speaker. This is where the aikido uke can become "tricky". I say that's the highest level of training because the next step is not "training" anymore.
5. Usage. This means "using the knowledge for some purpose other than acquiring the knowledge." As long as you're learning a language in a classroom, you're not really "using" the language for any purpose other than learning the language. When you go out and use that language to get a job, communicate with co-workers, find a girlfriend, talk someone out of robbing you, etc., you are "using" the language for some purpose other than learning it.
With aikido, you are "using" aikido when you apply it to some problem in your real life.
In the case of the fellow mentioned above, the first time I met him, someone told him I was an aikido brown belt. I suddenly found myself face-to-face with him, maybe a foot apart, and he said, "What would you do if somebody was to attack you from right here?"
Well, you know, they say O Sensei was able to read minds. I must have caught some of that from my training because I suddenly understood that if I were to "say" something to this guy, he was going to put a right hook on my left temple. I just felt it. I would say, "Well, I would--" WHAM! he was going to hit me. I understood this instantly. I said, "I'd do THIS!" and I dropped my weight, put my right foot back and thrust both te gatana at him, stopping an inch from his chest. And I stood there, knowing if he swung or kicked, I could drive him back and probably knock him to the ground. I did not know what a bloody horrible move that would have been, but I didn't have to find out. He was surprised by my instant reaction and he just nodded and said, "That's pretty good," and he left me alone.
So what is "using" aikido?
It's the highest level. And it can take whatever form you want it to.
But working with a tricky uke is one of the most important developmental experiences you can have.