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Old 06-04-2008, 03:29 PM   #1
Antonio Hudson
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being a good (bad) uke

im a most of the time reader, seldom poster, but i wanted to hear peoples opinions when it comes to ukemi. The way I see it ukes go from light footed (high centered) to near immovable, from extremely pliable and cooperative to uncooperative, from mindless to self aware.
So according to you guys who have been around a while, what makes a good uke good? is part of it the fact that he is "bad" (ie not perfectly cooperative)? is it his ability to take ukemi? is it his ability to move ahead of the technique? Is it his ability to gauge nage?

I know this subject has been touched upon plenty in several threads but I still feel that not enough people pay attention to the intricacies of being a good uke so I was hoping I could get some input. I at times feel as uke I should be nages conscience (letting him know when technique is "right" or "wrong"), but then again how can i be sure myself all the time?

Peace
AHJ
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Old 06-04-2008, 05:07 PM   #2
Ron Tisdale
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
I at times feel as uke I should be nages conscience (letting him know when technique is "right" or "wrong"), but then again how can i be sure myself all the time?
It's a good question, and a very complicated answer. Which is one of the things that makes aikido so hard. In judo, I don't know that there is such a thing as a good or bad uke. Maybe when they do kata (how many judoka still do kata? I don't know, just asking). I know in wrestling it never came up

I have different modes for different types of training, and different types of training both at the dojo that know me, and in my home dojo. In other words, it depends (which is a crappy answer, I know).

Some types of training I don't even think about resisting. Yoshinkan hitori geiko (I think I got that right) would be one. You have a line with one person up front throwing, and you move fast. The lead person throws every one in the line. Especially if you are working with upper ranks, the best way for me is to take the ukemi. Sensei is walking around saying "hurry up, faster! Faster!" and you don't really want to stop and correct someone. So I am pretty strong on the attack, but I don't try to fool around with grounding out, or being difficult. It's not really the point of that keiko in my mind, anyway.

Then perhaps you're training shite uke (partnered practice) with one of the fourth dans. I don't want to be a cup cake there...I protect myself, but I try not to bail too early, so they can really work the waza and controls. Others will do the same for me. There I can pull more shenanigans Carefully though!

Some people (myself at times) WANT you to resist more, keep them honest, let them know where the holes are, etc., and I'll do that for them. Kondo Sensei used to talk about promise training...I promise to give you a strong attack and not to bail on you, and you promise not to break anything. That is fun, but I almost always only do that with people I really trust.

But you have to balance that with what is GOOD resistance. Is what I as uke am doing logical in that place? If someone goes to apply nikkajo, and I ground out the control, am I leaving myself open to a punch in the snoz? A kick? A transition to aiki-nage? Any "resistance" has to make sense in the immediate context.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-04-2008, 07:21 PM   #3
Marc Abrams
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

In traditional arts, the uke's role is one of teacher. The question that the uke should ask one's self is what kind of teacher am I? Am I honest? Am I helping the person to learn to make techniques work? Is my EGO TOO BIG? Do I have my philosophical head up the dark hole of peace/love/understanding? Questions could be endless, but thinking of one's role as teacher is a good start.

Marc Abrams
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Old 06-05-2008, 12:16 AM   #4
Amir Krause
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
Antonio Hudson wrote: View Post
So according to you guys who have been around a while, what makes a good uke good? is part of it the fact that he is "bad" (ie not perfectly cooperative)? is it his ability to take ukemi? is it his ability to move ahead of the technique? Is it his ability to gauge nage?
If you search, you wll find this has already been answered dozens of times.

To be A GOOD UKE is a matter of art, just like beig a good Tori. In some respects, Uke role is more complicated! A GOOD UKE is normally not the one who is immovable ans shows you as incable lout, nor the one you can throw with a glance. To be a GOOD UKE one should be better then Tori, and adjust his behavior to Tori ability and the purpose of the exercise as the teacher set it. In some rare cases, this would result in one of the two extremes mentioned above. In most cases, it does not.

Uke role is to assist Tori in learning and not take the center for himself. To be a good good Uke takes years (I think I only started to be marginly acceptable as a rather vetran Shodan, and am still learning how to be improve after over 15 years of training).

Amir
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:00 AM   #5
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Same as tori

I don't think there's much difference between good uke and good tori. Both should work from their center, be focused, so to speak "do their thing".
I don't like the idea that uke should resist. That gets wrong, because uke knows what tori will do, so of course tori's technique can be blocked.
Instead, uke should attack honestly and focused, but as if having no idea of what tori will do. That way, the actual aikido principles are trained, and tori can work on the technique in a constructive way.

By the way, I have a section on my website about attacks in aikido:
http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/aikido-attacks.htm
For our aikido to continue evolving, we need to improve also as uke, and we need to work with people who are skilled uke. That gets more and more important, as we progress in aikido.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:37 AM   #6
Joseph Madden
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

First of all, just because you are a good uke doesn't mean you will necessarily be a good shite (tori).I've worked with people whose uke is garbage and yet they expect their partners uke to be exceptional. This is merely ego and/or fear. Your job, if we can call it that, is to give yourself over to shite. Shite's job is to give uke the confidence that they will reciprocate in kind. "We will blend" as it were. And yet, just because you can flip well and your forward roll breakfalls make shite look terrific won't necessarily translate into you being a good shite.

OSU
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:01 PM   #7
Ketsan
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
Antonio Hudson wrote: View Post
im a most of the time reader, seldom poster, but i wanted to hear peoples opinions when it comes to ukemi. The way I see it ukes go from light footed (high centered) to near immovable, from extremely pliable and cooperative to uncooperative, from mindless to self aware.
So according to you guys who have been around a while, what makes a good uke good? is part of it the fact that he is "bad" (ie not perfectly cooperative)? is it his ability to take ukemi? is it his ability to move ahead of the technique? Is it his ability to gauge nage?

I know this subject has been touched upon plenty in several threads but I still feel that not enough people pay attention to the intricacies of being a good uke so I was hoping I could get some input. I at times feel as uke I should be nages conscience (letting him know when technique is "right" or "wrong"), but then again how can i be sure myself all the time?

Peace
AHJ
A good uke first and foremost attempts to retain their posture and find openings to counter attack relative to tori's skill level. The key to this isn't to co-operate with tori but in fact to use tori's power to move into a (seemingly) more advantagous position in an attempt to escape the technique.

So a good uke has to be able to feel where tori is going and move with them. If uke moves too fast (co-operation) or slowly (resistance) he defeats himself or gives away his intention to escape and counter attack, his survival is predicated on allowing tori to believe that he has got him which is accomplished by moving in perfect harmony with tori.

Of course a good tori can feel this and adjust his technique accordingly resulting in uke being thrown.
In an all out situation (like a brawl) the one who wins is the one who can harmonise best; if that's tori, uke is thrown, it it's uke then tori's technique is neutralised and the positions are reversed.

If an uke decides to be bad and resist the technique then he's only shooting himself in the foot as this invariably allows tori to retain the initiative and widens the opening through which tori is moving.

A stiff, static uke who is clamping down is, in my experience, open to being quickly finished off with atemi.

Last edited by Ketsan : 06-10-2008 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 06-13-2008, 07:15 PM   #8
Enrique Antonio Reyes
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Lightbulb Re: being a good (bad) uke

Strictly speaking (I believe that) the Uke should be as cooperative as possible to the tori to facilitate learning in the technique, gradually he/she should increase resistance to guide the tori in the proper execution.

The resistance however should be as natural a reaction as possible. Since the uke knows what the tori will apply he/she can easily counter the movements of the tori. This is frustrating to the tori who immediately thinks that the technique is no good.

Sincerely,

Iking
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Old 06-13-2008, 09:50 PM   #9
Shannon Frye
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

You have to be able to "read" your nage, either by sight, by touch, or by experience. Know which ones expect more resistance and which ones require less resistance. Wrongly placed resistance can open the eyes of the nage to errors in their technique - but most often will only create resentment. Lack of sufficient resistance can make you easy to throw, but can also offend a more experienced partner who "knows" that they hadn't taken your balance before you fell.

Shannon

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Old 06-14-2008, 05:29 AM   #10
Mark Uttech
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Onegaishimasu. A good uke gives a committed attack and then studies openings; both uke's and nage's.

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 06-14-2008, 10:31 AM   #11
John Matsushima
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
Antonio Hudson wrote: View Post
iThe way I see it ukes go from light footed (high centered) to near immovable, from extremely pliable and cooperative to uncooperative, from mindless to self aware.
So according to you guys who have been around a while, what makes a good uke good?
I think that the very fact that I have practiced with so many different types of ukes, as you mentioned, has greatly improved my level. For me, I accept the ukes as they are. It is challenging, though, because when I'm having trouble, I have the urge to ask uke to change their attack. But then that ruins everything. By practicing with so many different people over the years, I feel I have become more sensitive, and a better artist. I try to customize each technique to fit to each uke. As Forest Gump says, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get" And so it is in the dojo as well.

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Old 06-15-2008, 02:10 PM   #12
mathewjgano
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

I like Ron's "it depends" answer. The more I really consider Aikido and how to describe certain aspects of it, that answer is the only one I end up being comfortable with. As has been pointed out, the line between a helpful (helpful to the learning process) uke and a disruptive uke can be very thin and depends upon the relative skills of those involved, not to mention the purpose of the activity itself.
As I see it, the basic role of uke is two-fold: learn how to move from a weaker position (which includes how to not get hurt); and offer an attack for nage to deal with. The difficulty in ukemi is maintaining that initial flow of movement. Because we train relatively slowly most of the time, uke has time to shift their tempo and change attacks. In my experience, this is the hardest part of ukemi: maintaining synchronicity. How do we find a common tempo so we can work on understanding the physical/postural relationships (instead of just using faster timing to take advantage).

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 06-16-2008, 08:01 AM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Hi Mathew,

I like what you just said as well. Too often I use speed to cover holes in my waza. That usually means a combination of things...I've not unbalanced uke at first contact, I haven't moved to the correct position relative to uke, I've left a major opening...all kinds of things.

Training slowly, without sudden variations in tempo, allows me to find and work on these holes. It gives me the opportunity to check my mental and physical connections and positions.

It also can make the training easier on my body!

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-16-2008, 11:51 AM   #14
kocakb
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

personally, I don't like good (looking) ukes anymore. Recently, I watched a dan exam where an uke was flying. From public eyes, it was impressive. Technical, he was cooperative and knew how to fall...
However, I think that this makes (or has made) aikido weak.
Uke and nage are thinking to make the technique look good. It results to less concentrating on effectiveness.
What's more, most of aikido practioners don't know how to attack (including me). We try to defend, instead of offense. So, if you are weak in attacks, you can not learn how to defend.
There are plenty of videos on the internet, look how the ukes are attacking. From artistic point of view, excellent, martially, I believe there is something! missing.
My opinion, if the effectiveness of aikido is discussed so much, the main reason is in being good uke. If we were bad uke (just focusing on to help improvement of nages technique, instead of artistic points, flying ukemis etc). aikido would progress.
Certainly, it is funny and makes to feel good, if you throw high ukemis. I like it, too... but is not martial
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:28 PM   #15
mathewjgano
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
Bülent Koçak wrote: View Post
What's more, most of aikido practioners don't know how to attack (including me). We try to defend, instead of offense. So, if you are weak in attacks, you can not learn how to defend.
I don't think you necessarily have to be good at attacking in order to learn how to defend. I think it usually helps quite a bit, though.

Quote:
There are plenty of videos on the internet, look how the ukes are attacking. From artistic point of view, excellent, martially, I believe there is something! missing.
Here I think the purpose of the ukemi is different. In most cases I've seen, at any rate. They're basically just demonstrations, some of which are even choreographed, but they're supposed to look pretty. They're an idealized form: paired kata.

Quote:
My opinion, if the effectiveness of aikido is discussed so much, the main reason is in being good uke. If we were bad uke (just focusing on to help improvement of nages technique, instead of artistic points, flying ukemis etc). aikido would progress.
Certainly, it is funny and makes to feel good, if you throw high ukemis. I like it, too... but is not martial
I think high-falls and other acrobatics have their applications, but I agree the role of uke is important for effectiveness. When I train with the guys who will bop me on the nose if I don't move in time I tend to learn to move in time (it usually takes a few for it to sink in ). On the other hand, when I was working more on learning the basic form and movements, that kind of thing would have been inappropriate I think.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 06-16-2008, 07:38 PM   #16
nagoyajoe
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Reading the above posts, I tend to agree with some of what has been said, especially with redard to uke's attack being should honest, genuine, committed and focused. I also think that it is the responsibility of uke to resist logically, and this is often overlooked. For example, in katatetori or katatekosa dori, if the uke grabs with all their might and resists the technique from the beginning, this is not logical. Nage could simply slug 'em in his/her head...this is self defense. On the flip side, the uke that is so compliant doesn't really make nage work through the technique is equally illogical.

It is uke's responsibility to show nage where the holes in their technique are, where the suki are because this will allow them to find their correct balance, relaxedness and naturalness. This is valuable, logical resistance because it shows nage where they need to focus, concentrate, or improve.
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Old 06-17-2008, 10:07 AM   #17
John Matsushima
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
Joseph Pielech wrote: View Post
For example, in katatetori or katatekosa dori, if the uke grabs with all their might and resists the technique from the beginning, this is not logical. Nage could simply slug 'em in his/her head...this is self defense. On the flip side, the uke that is so compliant doesn't really make nage work through the technique is equally illogical.
Hello Joseph, I don't think it is illogical for uke to grab as you described. This could very well happen if uke's intention is to simply prevent you from moving to point a to point b. Also, an uke might do this do set up for a strike with the other hand. Secondly, what's to stop uke from blocking the slug to the head and hitting nage back? What happens after nage slugs uke?

I think there is an unlimited number of ways, reasons, and strategies behind attacks, and we shouldn't consider any of them illogical; this is an underestimation of what an uke could do.

Even an uke that is overly compliant should be dealt with. Someone who is efficient in sutemi waza would act at first the same way as the uke who falls before he is thrown. With this type of uke, in my experience, I have learned to slow them down with technique and guide them in a different direction, resulting in an actual loss of balance rather than having them go where they want.

To me, being a good uke is not about how to attack, or how to resist. Anyone can do these things without any kind of training, which is why I think we generally don't receive this type of training in Aikido. Many consider a good uke to be one that delivers proper levels of intensity and resistance that are conducive to learning. I think the real learning begins when one steps out into the rain and gets wet and makes a choice. Learning to deal with randomness, surprise, expected and unexpected things, and most of all failure is what leads to growth and creativity. With regards to intensity, resistance, and style of attack, I say, let each come as they may and don't consider them to be bad or good; learn to accept people as they are; learn from what it is that you do, don't do, can or can't do as nage.

It has been said that a good uke must be cooperative, but what does this mean exactly? I think it means accepting ones limits, and being flexible enough in one's own thinking to willingly accept defeat, when it is staring you in the face. Some people don't react to atemi, unless you actually hit them, and then they stiffin up and try to not to move at all, saying that the nage didn't hit them hard enough. Another example is one who tries never to tap out, risking broken bones, torn muscles, or tendons. Uke should be aware to realize his position. In my experience, I have had to release ukes from certain locks, because I knew that if they continued to resist, they would break thir own arm. Well, this is not being a good uke. Of course, the nage should learn to deal with this type of reaction anyway, but on the part of uke, this way will only lead to destruction. As uke, to learn to be accepting, is to follow the Aiki Way. As other ways of martial thinking may lead one to think in terms of "fighting to the last man", or "never giving up", the way of Aikido is to be "Yawarakai". I think it is a very difficult concept for many to accept; one of giving up.
A good uke is one who knows his limits, and surrenders when necessary to promote mutual prosperity.

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Old 06-17-2008, 01:09 PM   #18
jonreading
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Good uke act with prudence.

I believe the role of uke is a teaching role for nage to experience proper technique execution. In accomplishing that role, I believe uke must first and foremost act with prudence in responding to the situation. This may range from varying speed, strength, body reaction, or counter-attacking.

I don't think there are bad uke, only poor role models. If I train technique and my partner does not react appropriately to recieve the technique, I must do something else. My partner does not thwart my intention, only my technique. I consider inappropriate behavior to encompass a spectrum from rigid resistance to false ukemi.

So a good uke will respond appropriately to nage's needs to create a reproduceable environment in which to experience proper technique.
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Old 06-17-2008, 06:53 PM   #19
nagoyajoe
 
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Smile Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
Hello Joseph, I don't think it is illogical for uke to grab as you described. This could very well happen if uke's intention is to simply prevent you from moving to point a to point b. Also, an uke might do this do set up for a strike with the other hand. Secondly, what's to stop uke from blocking the slug to the head and hitting nage back? What happens after nage slugs uke?

I think there is an unlimited number of ways, reasons, and strategies behind attacks, and we shouldn't consider any of them illogical; this is an underestimation of what an uke could do.
Hi John! Thanks for your reply. I appreciate your comments.
Yes, there are an unlimited number of ways one can attack; however, not all of them are logical. I doubt whether katatekosa dori is a logical attack. I doubt if either katateryote tori or ryokatate tori are logical as well. They can be used to illustrate certain principles of aikido but as an attack, they are not logical.

Let me think more about this and I'll PM you later in the week.

Thanks again!
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Old 06-17-2008, 11:56 PM   #20
carlo pagal
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
Joseph Pielech wrote: View Post
Reading the above posts, I tend to agree with some of what has been said, especially with redard to uke's attack being should honest, genuine, committed and focused. I also think that it is the responsibility of uke to resist logically, and this is often overlooked.

It is uke's responsibility to show nage where the holes in their techniques are, because this will allow them to find their correct balance, relaxedness and naturalness. This is valuable, logical resistance because it shows nage where they need to focus, concentrate, or improve.
well said sir. i always do ukemi this way during practice . i just loosen it up a bit if its with a beginner. i'd just be fooling nage if i do the opposite.
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Old 06-18-2008, 01:57 PM   #21
Ron Tisdale
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

If I have a knife in my belt, and you see me go to draw it, does ryokatate tori suddenly make more sense?



Best,
Ron

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Old 07-11-2008, 03:41 PM   #22
dalen7
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Ill give my 2 cents.

Perfect example - today we did a 'mock' test before next weeks real test.

A guy a bit bigger/stronger than me resisted, pretty much full on, throughout the whole technique and with all the techniques. (It was literally like moving a log.)

Funny thing is they were instructed NOT to do this during the (mock) test.
Who knows, guess we all have our bad days...did the moves regardelss.

But it got me to thinking that a little atemi here, and if we could have switched techniques would have put a new perspective on things for uke.

Again, all things happen for a reason - perhaps its a reality check for me not to get to comfortable in movements thinking Im doing something and then get surprised if there is resistance.

Peace

dAlen

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Old 07-12-2008, 04:59 AM   #23
eyrie
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

I think the question you need to ask yourself is... what is the role of uke?

Aikido waza is like a 2-person kata - a ritualized combat of sorts - the purpose of which is for one participant (nage) to learn how to apply a technique. I like to liken the role of uke to that of a "stunt-person". So, to me, uke's role is to provide, as much as possible, a "realistically convincing" attack AND consequent response that is IN CONCERT WITH nage - while at the same time protecting themselves.

So, if nage botches the technique, then uke needs to respond accordingly... i.e. not fall over or continue the attack and/or moving in such a way as to allow nage to recover and continue with the technique or whatever... depending on nage's ability... or if absolutely necessary... Cut! Take 2... Camera... Action! Or, keep the camera and action rolling... and keep going.

In actuality, uke and nage are working together to help each other learn... a collaboration of sorts, in which uke has the more important role.

Ignatius
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Old 07-13-2008, 06:35 AM   #24
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
I think the question you need to ask yourself is... what is the role of uke?

Aikido waza is like a 2-person kata - a ritualized combat of sorts - the purpose of which is for one participant (nage) to learn how to apply a technique. I like to liken the role of uke to that of a "stunt-person". So, to me, uke's role is to provide, as much as possible, a "realistically convincing" attack AND consequent response that is IN CONCERT WITH nage - while at the same time protecting themselves.

So, if nage botches the technique, then uke needs to respond accordingly... i.e. not fall over or continue the attack and/or moving in such a way as to allow nage to recover and continue with the technique or whatever... depending on nage's ability... or if absolutely necessary... Cut! Take 2... Camera... Action! Or, keep the camera and action rolling... and keep going.

In actuality, uke and nage are working together to help each other learn... a collaboration of sorts, in which uke has the more important role.
Just one comment - In most Aikido Kata, Uke is learning too. In the last couple of years I started understanding Uke is actually learning the more important skills/ I missed this as a beginner (should have listened better to my Sensei when he explained).

Amir
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:05 AM   #25
Connor
 
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Re: being a good (bad) uke

I think it's a question of harmony. Just as you wrote above. The movements of aikido are the kata of two people. Hence, it is inevitable that both partners try to achieve harmony. If uke can not move in harmony with the defender's speed, level, etc. then the movements will be in disharmony. The same is for the other way round (when the other's attacking), so disharmony cannot be the aim. As the principles of aikido say: you need to try to achieve harmony with yourself, with your partners and through all these, with the universe.
To simplify, harmony can only be achieved considering each other, but to be able to do so it is inevitable that the role and work of the attacker is taught. If it's not clear for the attacker what their role, aim and movements are, how could they show the mistakes of the defender's technique?

Szilárd "Connor" Pál

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