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Old 03-03-2008, 12:27 PM   #1
mathewjgano
 
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Connecting with "Hara"

So obviously there's a lot of talk here these days about the lack of explicit instruction with regard to "internal skills." I've always been told everything begins with hara; while using the whole body cohesively, connect hara to some given area of the body (the connection point with uke). If hara isn't leading the movement, whatever that movement is, even if the technique seems to be working, it's still not quite what we're going for. I don't know how it can get more explicit than that. I'm probably getting lost in semantics, but that phrase seems to tell me almost everything I need to know. Beyond that it seems like it's simply a matter of practice to become familiar with how my body works on another's.
Do you folks think this kind of explanation is sufficient for teaching how to utilize hara properly and why or why not? ...I'm curious about this particularly in light of the idea that one must feel "it" to begin understanding "it." ..Which seems to tell me words will never suffice; in which case you can't be truly explicit in your teaching of how to do these skills. What's your take on my take?
When I've read what little I can recall, it just seems like I'm mostly replacing one set of jargon with another.
Take care,
Matthew

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Old 03-03-2008, 12:41 PM   #2
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

I do not think it is enough. I know many people who SAY what you just said, but when I really look at what they DO, I feel a lot of the front of the shoulders in their waza. I don't get knocked off balance just because I push on them, no matter how lightly or how hard. They don't feel "invulnerable" in the same way as the folks like Dan, Mike, Akuzawa, Allen Beebe, etc. feel.

I would prefer that people tell me specifically WHERE and WHAT to relax. Tell me WHAT in my body should be bearing weight. Guide me through expressing power correctly, with hands on checking of what muscle groups are firing that shouldn't be firing. And what is correct. Put their hands on my shoulder blades, let me know where there is tension, how to position them correctly.

I can go on for a while now. Just from what I've learned from 3 meetings with people delving into this stuff. I may suck at it...but at least now I am slowly finding ways to suck less.

Just my opinion. I'm a newbie.

Best,
Ron

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
So obviously there's a lot of talk here these days about the lack of explicit instruction with regard to "internal skills." I've always been told everything begins with hara; while using the whole body cohesively, connect hara to some given area of the body (the connection point with uke). If hara isn't leading the movement, whatever that movement is, even if the technique seems to be working, it's still not quite what we're going for. I don't know how it can get more explicit than that. I'm probably getting lost in semantics, but that phrase seems to tell me almost everything I need to know. Beyond that it seems like it's simply a matter of practice to become familiar with how my body works on another's.
Do you folks think this kind of explanation is sufficient for teaching how to utilize hara properly and why or why not? ...I'm curious about this particularly in light of the idea that one must feel "it" to begin understanding "it." ..Which seems to tell me words will never suffice; in which case you can't be truly explicit in your teaching of how to do these skills. What's your take on my take?
When I've read what little I can recall, it just seems like I'm mostly replacing one set of jargon with another.
Take care,
Matthew

Ron Tisdale
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Old 03-03-2008, 01:02 PM   #3
Timothy WK
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I've always been told everything begins with hara; while using the whole body cohesively, connect hara to some given area of the body (the connection point with uke).
1. What, exactly, IS the "center" or "hara"?

2. a) What, exactly, does it mean to move "the whole body cohesively"?
b) How, exactly, do you move cohesively, and/or how do you train to move cohesively?

3. a) What, exactly, does it mean to "connect" the body?
b) How, exactly, do you connect a body part to the hara, and/or how do you train to do this?

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 03-03-2008, 01:12 PM   #4
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
I do not think it is enough...
I would prefer that people tell me specifically WHERE and WHAT to relax. Tell me WHAT in my body should be bearing weight...Just my opinion. I'm a newbie.

Best,
Ron
I see what you mean and I have to agree. Thanks. As usual, you have a good way of putting things in terms for me to understand what other folks are talking about.
Take care, Ron,
Matt

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Old 03-03-2008, 01:19 PM   #5
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

No, Thank You. An open mind asks questions, evaluates the answers fairly, and forms its own opinion. Couldn't ask for anything more. Much respect, and good training.

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-03-2008, 01:24 PM   #6
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
1. What, exactly, IS the "center" or "hara"?

2. a) What, exactly, does it mean to move "the whole body cohesively"?
b) How, exactly, do you move cohesively, and/or how do you train to move cohesively?

3. a) What, exactly, does it mean to "connect" the body?
b) How, exactly, do you connect a body part to the hara, and/or how do you train to do this?
Well, I'll bite...
1. Hara is the area of your body which operates at your center of gravity.
2a. Moving so muscles/etc. don't conflict with each others' movements; using complimentary movements/muscles/etc. instead.
2b. By paying attention to your own body as it interacts with the world around you. Gradually one should feel the same efforts becoming exponentially easier.
3a & b. For me this means to feel the parts of the body and how they interact. I use my senses and imagination to to accomplish this.
How would you answer those questions?
Thanks, and take care,
Matt

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Old 03-03-2008, 01:48 PM   #7
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I've always been told everything begins with hara; while using the whole body cohesively, connect hara to some given area of the body (the connection point with uke). If hara isn't leading the movement, whatever that movement is, even if the technique seems to be working, it's still not quite what we're going for. I don't know how it can get more explicit than that.
Hey, good question. My last Aikido dojo used this concept a lot, so I'm pretty familiar with the paradigm. One problem that I have with it, is that when you tell most folks to move "from the hara" they often move the abdomen first and then let that movement propagate out through the limbs. In effect however they are disconnecting the hara from all of the limbs briefly (legs and arms) in order to move the abdomen in a 'relaxed' fashion. Then when they try to allow that motion to transmit out to their partner, they have compromised joints (hey, anybody out there have any knee problems? shoulders?) which have to take up the slack before they can actually transmit any true connection to uke. This kind of movement builds up into moving uke and a sensitive uke can often feel it coming. A lot of folks are trained to just kind of go with it, sort of the ride the wave idea. When you feel the kind of body coordination that folks have been talking about it has almost no build-up and moves you without giving you much if any warning. I think the support/movement paradigm becomes more like "connect through the hara" rather than "move from the hara". In other words, I'm looking more at how I can connect pressures through my arms to my feet/legs (not to mention which arm to which foot, that's been huge...)

It's all easier said than done however, which is why (for me) it's been so huge to have a training paradigm that slowly builds this kind of connection through the body.

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
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Old 03-03-2008, 05:45 PM   #8
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
I don't know how it can get more explicit than that. I'm probably getting lost in semantics, but that phrase seems to tell me almost everything I need to know. Beyond that it seems like it's simply a matter of practice to become familiar with how my body works on another's.
I just started working with these exercises and I'm a complete newbie to aikido, so "I don't know jack and am probably totally wrong" disclaimers apply... but this is my opinion:

I think "Moving with the middle" is more of a mnemonic (like Tohei's 4 principles) than a explicative thing, as in, you can chant it to someone as much as you want and they wouldn't figure out anything new if they didn't know it beforehand.

The question that is begged (as TimWK pointed out) is "how exactly does moving my middle push my hand out". As Chris Moses said the short answer is "connection". There are several layers of sophistication to that and I don't know any of it, just enough to keep me busy at my total newbie level. There are definitely specific exercises that target the skill and conditioning aspect of this; one typically has to be work those with slow and simple movements before being able to incorporate them into waza effectively.

I guess deriving skills from first principles and personal observation is possible but not something I'd do: the technology has been known for centuries (millenia), you just need to access it, there's really no need to take the long road of reinvention... especially when you might end up with something not quite optimal if you try to derive it yourself.

I hope this is helpful!

Last edited by Haowen Chan : 03-03-2008 at 05:55 PM. Reason: clarification and details.
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Old 03-03-2008, 08:43 PM   #9
mickeygelum
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

You can not get confused with this...

Head up,
back straight,
ass in,
belly out,
all your weight in your hand,
body moves the hand/arm,
hands, hips, feet aligned,
everything bottom heavy.

how's that for simple...

Mickey
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Old 03-03-2008, 10:12 PM   #10
dps
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
...it just seems like I'm mostly replacing one set of jargon with another.
Exactly right, don't be beguiled by whispers in your ear, telling you no one has shown you this.
It is in the very first and every technique you have been shown.
David

Last edited by dps : 03-03-2008 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:06 AM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

IMHO, hara is a good start, words are insufficient, open the mind and heart, keep training, more will be revealed.

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 03-04-2008, 04:48 AM   #12
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Tanden, the center

Oh, I regard tanden, the center, as the very foundation of aikido. I made a web page about it, also with some tips on how to exercise one's awareness of it, here:
http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/tanden.htm

Tanden is the center of gravity, but so much more. It is the big bang out of which every technique is born. It is the way to a presence and posture that makes you the middle of your own universe, and anyone entering it will have to yield to it (something that Osensei seemed to regard as essential in his perspective on aikido).
It is also a source for your continued development in aikido. If you remain in your center, you can't go wrong.

People talk a lot about ki, but I am convinced that their aikido would gain from more focus on tanden, the center. Not that the one excludes the other - quite the contrary. But the center comes first.

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:57 AM   #13
Upyu
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, hara is a good start, words are insufficient, open the mind and heart, keep training, more will be revealed.
Lynn, I think you're a nice guy,
but I think it's the kind of advice mentioned above that leads people to waste so much time.

"Keep training, you'll feel it eventually"

"Just empty your mind and relax"

Now personally I think I got lucky and most of my teachers had these skills from the get go, so I a) had a good sense for who had these skills and who was full of bs
and b) to a certain degree they would SPECIFICALLY talk about how to develop these things.

Anyways, I'd urge anyone that still doesn't have a clear idea of what they're supposed to be training (with regards to internal skills) after about a year or two (and even that's being generous) should seriously reconsider their training. Its like any skill , if you aren't making headway within a year or so, then the methodology simply sucks.

That is, if your goal is to get internal skills. (If it isn't, then consider yourself lucky for not getting addicted to something that's hard as hell to find good instruction in )
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:23 AM   #14
Mike Sigman
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Try to do everything with the lower body: the legs, hips, tanden. Hook-up/connect via the upper torso/arm but then try to do 100% of whatever you're doing with the legs/hips/middle. It will be very cumbersome and "stupid" at first, but it gradually improves and gets subtle. The upper body is relaxed and only connects the middle to whatever it is you're trying to move.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-04-2008, 06:45 AM   #15
mickeygelum
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Tanden is the center of gravity, but so much more. It is the big bang out of which every technique is born. It is the way to a presence and posture that makes you the middle of your own universe, and anyone entering it will have to yield to it (something that Osensei seemed to regard as essential in his perspective on aikido).
It is also a source for your continued development in aikido. If you remain in your center, you can't go wrong.
That is a great explanation, I understand and agree with you wholeheartedly, I have been in Aikido for 30 years...too bad to a beginner it would not mean squat.

Quote:
hara is a good start, words are insufficient, open the mind and heart, keep training, more will be revealed.
..nice fortune cookie quote....to a beginner, this is the look you get back..

Mr. Gano raises a very valid point...With all the knowledge and experience that y'all share, why the all the posturing for vernacular?

Mr. Skaggs furthers this, what happened to basics? Are you that far removed or in need of validation that confusing the rest of the world is a competition.

How many more threads are going to be diverted for sake of Hsing-I, internal /external power...and the furtherence of the Baron Munchausen Martial Arts.

"When in Rome..." , we all know the old saying, try " When in kindergarten..or, When in fourth grade..."

Love, Peace and Harmony to you all,

now lets go kick some a$$..

Mickey
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Old 03-04-2008, 06:49 AM   #16
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Robert John wrote: View Post
Lynn, I think you're a nice guy,
IMHO, not really.

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 03-04-2008, 07:26 AM   #17
phitruong
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Michael Gelum wrote: View Post
You can not get confused with this...

Head up,
back straight,
ass in,
belly out,
all your weight in your hand,
body moves the hand/arm,
hands, hips, feet aligned,
everything bottom heavy.

how's that for simple...

Mickey
Still stuck on the "head up" section. it's a pain in the neck really.

the taichi folks wanted the tail bone tuck in and stomach curve in a bit, which are somewhat different than aikido approach. still trying to figure out which one is better. the question is how to maintain stability, power, connection and flow at the same time.
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Old 03-04-2008, 07:49 AM   #18
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

couldn't find hara if someone hit me with it. don't have much understanding about the "internal" stuffs. found something by accident not too long ago.

was working with my son on kicking and striking stuffs. was holding a kicking pad on my arm and my son worked on round house kick. every now and then he kicked hard enough to send the pad, along with my arm, back into my face (told him to use more hips and that what happen). as usual, i tensed up at the moment of the kick impacted the pad. then out of the blue an idea came up, why not just relax and lets the whole body lose. then wondered if the boy will blow me back into the wall with his kicks. it was quite a surprise when i felt the impact and felt the power flown down to my opposite ankle/foot and the arm with the kicking pad didn't even waver. thought it was my imagination, so told the boy to kick harder, same thing happened. big grin on face at this time. then experiment with channeling the impacted power to either foot then both feet, then stand on one foot.
have being working with that sort of feeling against push and pull, sometimes standing on one foot other times both feet with hips wiggling back and forth. recently starting to feel the same sort of things with jo and bokken practice. don't know if this is right or not, sort of groping in the dark. it feels right some how. could be my imagination or inhale something strange. new thought occur recently, can i coil the impacted power back to its source?
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:12 AM   #19
Upyu
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
it was quite a surprise when i felt the impact and felt the power flown down to my opposite ankle/foot and the arm with the kicking pad didn't even waver. thought it was my imagination, so told the boy to kick harder, same thing happened. big grin on face at this time. then experiment with channeling the impacted power to either foot then both feet, then stand on one foot.
have being working with that sort of feeling against push and pull, sometimes standing on one foot other times both feet with hips wiggling back and forth. recently starting to feel the same sort of things with jo and bokken practice. don't know if this is right or not, sort of groping in the dark. it feels right some how. could be my imagination or inhale something strange. new thought occur recently, can i coil the impacted power back to its source?
I think you're onto something

Some people are smart, now the question is, how do you condition the channels that you're discovering, what's their relationship in the body, and how are they interconnected?

Here something for your kid, tell him to not focus on the kicking leg or hips so much. Tell him to worry more about sinking his weight to the heel of the supporting leg when he kicks. Just for "#$Es and giggles
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:28 AM   #20
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Love those last two posts!

Keep it up Phi!

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-04-2008, 09:20 AM   #21
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Try to do everything with the lower body: the legs, hips, tanden. Hook-up/connect via the upper torso/arm but then try to do 100% of whatever you're doing with the legs/hips/middle. It will be very cumbersome and "stupid" at first, but it gradually improves and gets subtle. The upper body is relaxed and only connects the middle to whatever it is you're trying to move.

FWIW

Mike
Mike, I am trying to establish some common terminology...

When I am grabbed with a simple same hand grab and I can put my power into my partner's shoulder, or his center, or ground him out so that he can't kick, or whatever by slightly changing how I align my body and how I visualize where I want the power to go, what do you call that? Rob, feel free to give me your take on it.

We were playing with this at Ikeda Sensei's seminar this weekend. I can do it and have my own way of explaining it but if there's already a terminology that exists, there's no point in my working out my own...

- George

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:39 AM   #22
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Hi folks,

I have changed the title of this thread to "Connecting with 'Hara'" to better reflect the topic of this thread.

-- Jun

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Old 03-04-2008, 11:00 AM   #23
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Hello,

I come to this conversation as an outsider. I'm here to compare and contrast.

In my practice the tantien or hara is but one major engine that co-ordinates several engines in the body. It is in the understanding of blockages and opening passageways that internal energy can best be maximized.

In other words, The hand, the leg, the hip and shoulder can all act somewhat separately. But, when each of these "pulleys" is co-ordinated in effort one can exemplify greater power.

Yet, this is only the beginning. The issue is how does one connect to the internal energy of one's opponent. How do I absorb his energy, manipulate his energy and join with his energy to create a synergy.

It is not enough to practice. I must have a metric to determine if my intentions are actually manefesting in practical technique.

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

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Old 03-04-2008, 11:03 AM   #24
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Quote:
Joseph Arriola wrote: View Post
Hello,

In my practice the tantien or hara is but one major engine that co-ordinates several engines in the body. It is in the understanding of blockages and opening passageways that internal energy can best be maximized.

In other words, The hand, the leg, the hip and shoulder can all act somewhat separately. But, when each of these "pulleys" is co-ordinated in effort one can exemplify greater power.

Yet, this is only the beginning. The issue is how does one connect to the internal energy of one's opponent. How do I absorb his energy, manipulate his energy and join with his energy to create a synergy.

It is not enough to practice. I must have a metric to determine if my intentions are actually manefesting in practical technique.

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola
Joseph,

I am of the same tradition. I am just waiting to see where they are going with this, i.e. if they get beyond the static stances and basic Chi Kung...
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Old 03-04-2008, 11:13 AM   #25
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Mike, I am trying to establish some common terminology...

When I am grabbed with a simple same hand grab and I can put my power into my partner's shoulder, or his center, or ground him out so that he can't kick, or whatever by slightly changing how I align my body and how I visualize where I want the power to go, what do you call that? Rob, feel free to give me your take on it.

We were playing with this at Ikeda Sensei's seminar this weekend. I can do it and have my own way of explaining it but if there's already a terminology that exists, there's no point in my working out my own...

- George
Hi George,

I know you are looking for answers from Mike and/or Rob (and I look forward to reading their reply) but I'll throw in my two bits to see how close it lands to their answer . . . just for kicks. Please feel free to ignore.

What you described could be the outcome of any well done jujutsu. The difference is to be found in the quality of the energy that you are using when you say "my energy."

Some aspect of the quality of energy I'm referring to is that it doesn't not require a particular timing, appropriate distance, a particular physical positioning relative to uke, tactics, etc. It just is. (After being developed and learned.)

All of the above can be used in conjunction with the energy but they are not required for the energy to be present and have effect upon any uke not as well connected as nage.

Nage could also "amp up" and pretty much destroy the structure of a less well connected uke regardless of the above factors as well.

~ Allen Beebe
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