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Old 06-13-2010, 07:14 PM   #1
Daniel Lloyd
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What are uke's rights?

What are uke's rights?

Just a question I have had recently due to a rather...."vigorous" student of Aikido.

I almost received a elbow injury from said nage, and I think it's from my lower level ukemi, so seeing as how I need more practice how can I protect myself from being injured?

How does one respectfully and politely decline to being Uke for practice?

Should I sacrifice my safety for traditional courtesy?
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Old 06-13-2010, 07:29 PM   #2
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Safety always, always comes first. Unless you and your partner have explicitly agreed otherwise. If you feel that nage is too rough, just tell them "please go easier on me, I'm a beginner/having a slow day/injured/still working on the ukemi for this technique".

If this is not ok at your dojo, personally I wouldn't want to train there. Sure, sometimes it's necessary to work outside one's comfort zone - but pushing of your limits should be done by people you trust and who know how far to go safely.

kvaak
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Old 06-13-2010, 07:43 PM   #3
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Safety is the number one priority for any qualified martial art instructor. You should have every right to ask your training partner to tone it down a bit. Seek Sensei's advice. If he seems not to care too much, you might need to seek another dojo.
But really, most of the time, just speaking up is enough. Don't be so shy!
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Old 06-13-2010, 08:39 PM   #4
Abasan
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Uke's right is to be treated with respect.
Uke's duty is to attack sincerely and protect himself.
Nage's duty is to blend with the attack, protect himself and protect uke.

In any paired exercise, the Senior belt is responsible for the Junior belt. It doesn't relieve the junior from his responsibilities, just emphasises to the Senior not to lose control of the situation irrespective of his position as uke or nage.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 06-13-2010, 08:50 PM   #5
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
Safety always, always comes first.

kvaak
Pauliina
I think it is not such simple subject. Aikido is a Budo practice, not some kind of healthy gymnastic....

Nagababa

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Old 06-13-2010, 10:16 PM   #6
Walter Martindale
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

It's not a simple question - it's a martial art where we're learning, ultimately, ways to hurt people. HOWEVER - we're learning it with a bunch of people who are trying to learn the same stuff, and if we hurt our training partners while we're training with them, a) we're fair game for them or for other tough-guys to beat on when it's their turn, and b) hurt too many partners and we won't have people with whom to train...

It is a martial art - you're going to expect some injuries sometimes, but because it's non-competitive, they shouldn't occur as often as in (say) judo.

ALL of the shihan to whom I've been exposed (over the years, and varying amounts: Yukio Kawahara, Akira Tohei, Seijuro Masuda, Moriteru Ueshiba (only once), Nobuo Takase) say it's the responsibility of aikido people to protect their training partners - they say(said) it in one form or another.

The person who's going at a pace a little faster than your ready to handle needs to be asked to tone it down while you learn how to handle it, but you also need to pay closer attention to protecting yourself from damage...
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Old 06-13-2010, 10:41 PM   #7
raul rodrigo
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

It's hard to say who is at fault. Sometimes I get an uke whose body is so tense that they unwittingly put their elbows or other body parts at risk. But given that, then it's my job to make sure that they're not hurt while still preserving the essence of the technique. As one Japanese teacher told us: you break uke today, no uke tomorrow.
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:33 AM   #8
Eva Antonia
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Hi,

I just wanted to say so much - in my dojo (and in all others where I have trained at a guest or during a seminar), the teacher always advises us to go easy with beginners, and it would certainly have some consequences if an advanced aikidoka insisted on going rough on someone who is not yet able to take ukemi well. We always ask a newcomer or beginner if he is comfortable with ukemi on this or that technique, and if he says no or hesitates then we just slow down and let him do a soft backwards roll or whatever.

This said, there is still the possibility to get hurt by your own awkward movements, but that is your own risk.

Best regards,

Ev
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Old 06-14-2010, 04:17 AM   #9
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
I think it is not such simple subject. Aikido is a Budo practice, not some kind of healthy gymnastic....
I agree. That's why my second sentence was: "Unless you and your partner have explicitly agreed otherwise. "

There are times when it's appropriate to practice more intensely and possibly less safely. But both partners have to agree that it's time to do that! It didn't sound like that was the case here.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 06-14-2010, 11:50 AM   #10
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
I agree. That's why my second sentence was: "Unless you and your partner have explicitly agreed otherwise. "
kvaak
Pauliina
This sounds like concept 'fair play" or 'gentlemen agreement'. I have strong impression those terms are totally absent in the concept of Japanese Budo.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 06-14-2010, 01:11 PM   #11
Garth Jones
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
This sounds like concept 'fair play" or 'gentlemen agreement'. I have strong impression those terms are totally absent in the concept of Japanese Budo.
So what is your answer to the OP's question?

Certainly we can train with maximum effort all the time and throw without regard to uke's skill. The Japanese military trained their fighter pilots with that kind of intensity before and at the very beginning of WWII, for example. The training was so intense that something like 80-90% washed out and there were injuries and deaths. The few that survived were some of the best pilots ever to get in a cockpit. Our military is a bit less harsh on their special forces recruits but there is still a high fail and injury rate.

We could run an aikido dojo that way, but I don't think it would be in business very long and it better have an awesome liability policy.

All of the Japanese instructors I have studied with over more than two decades of aikido have taken safety in training seriously and have not tolerated throwing people way past their ability to protect themselves. They have often come up to the edge and gone past it a bit - that's how we get better - but regular injuries are not acceptable.

Anyway, back to the OP's question - Daniel - ask the person who threw you or your sensei about it. It's their job to teach ukemi as well as waza so if you ask them how to take the fall so it doesn't over stress your elbow (or any other part) they may well have an answer.

Cheers,
Garth
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:32 PM   #12
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

I think you should train to the level of the lowest ranking person. Since you are new, your partner should put things back into first gear and go at a pace you are comfortable with and are capable of taking safe (and proper) ukemi. Simply asking them to slow down may fix this problem. If that doesn't work, next time you need a partner, be proactive and snag up someone else.

I think it is also important to note that this person may not have tried to hit you with their elbow. Ukemi often isn't natural and you could have moved in what seemed like an instinctual and safe way, when in actuality you put yourself in a position to get clocked. Ukemi is all about fluidity of movement and body placement.

As far as declining to be uke for practice... not sure if that can be done. You are nage half the time and uke half the time. You can't just do one and not the other. If on the other hand you mean, "Can I decline taking ukemi with this person?" Again, I don't think that is fair. Either ask them to slow down or work with someone else. If the problem persists, talk to your sensei after class.

Last edited by ninjaqutie : 06-14-2010 at 03:35 PM.

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Old 06-15-2010, 10:40 PM   #13
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Re: What are uke's rights?

Hi Daniel,
Its a little while since i have practiced with you on the mat and I am sure you have made good progress in the mean time. My suggestions are
1/ Don't allow your elbow to be locked out..not ever ever - especially if you have a propensity for hyper extension
2/ Only attack at a pace and intensity that you are comfortable to receive
3/ Use aiki and ride nage's technique, if you are only 1mm and a fraction of a second in front of the impending devastation its enough to keep you safe and learn a lot about aiki in the process.

These things should allow you to practice with all but the most insensitive of uke, with whom you practice good ma-ai skills when looking for a partner

best,
dan

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Old 06-16-2010, 09:11 AM   #14
Janet Rosen
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Re: What are uke's rights?

With beginners I'm always on the lookout for the rigid, locked elbow and reminding them to soften it up to avoid injury AND so they can actually feel what is happening to them.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:49 AM   #15
Andrew Macdonald
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Re: What are uke's rights?

in my opinion, yes Aikido is a budo and should test us during practice, but the test should be at a fair level.

being an uke shouldn't be a comfortable experience, if it is we are not really learning anything. but if the nage is pushing to fast too soon, or doesn't have the experience to gauge the level of his uke correctly he simply needs to be asked/told to calm down alittle
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:55 AM   #16
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Re: What are uke's rights?

Budo begins and ends with respect. Accidents happen to be sure, but if we train/teach in ways that do harm to each other, the level of training gets "dumbed down" so that real skill is impossible. We will only get good at finding people that we can "beat" (hurt) in order to succeed. Budo training is not that... shinken shobu is harmful and is sometimes necessary to survive and then we have to be responsible and live with the consequences.

Real budo training teaches us how to do our best to keep others from harming us while doing as little harm as possible. We should never be lazy and settle for what may seem the easy way. Training should scare the crap out of us... until it doesn't... but our goals should always be to uplift our fellow beings. Easy to say, for sure, but very difficult to do. We must do our best. If you can't understand /do this... broaden your search for a teacher.

Best regards,

Chuck Clark
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Old 06-17-2010, 11:33 AM   #17
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Re: What are uke's rights?

Quote:
Daniel James wrote: View Post
2/ Only attack at a pace and intensity that you are comfortable to receive
This is a good point. Remember that the harder you attack, the more momentum you are giving your partner. Depending on the skill of your partner, they may not be able to slow it down. Attack at a slower pace and maybe the technique will slow down to accomodate this.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:34 PM   #18
Basia Halliop
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Re: What are uke's rights?

I would just ask him to go easier on you as you're finding it hard to keep up. It's usually not a big deal. Most people are not out to injure someone and most people are perfectly willing to try to adapt to beginners or injuries or whatever.

Quote:
This sounds like concept 'fair play" or 'gentlemen agreement'. I have strong impression those terms are totally absent in the concept of Japanese Budo.
Possibly... was it the samurai or someone else who practiced by killing peasants? Or is that a myth? In any case, whether it's 'traditional' or not is not really the point -- the point is what's ethical, and sorry but if tradition and ethics are in conflict, ethics wins. How you're going to treat your practice partner depends on what they've agreed to... sometimes the agreement is explicit and you've literally discussed it, other times it's implicit based on conventions that are assumed to be understood by both partners... But if there's no consent, it's some kind of assault...

Of course, that's a general concept and I don't know exactly how it applies in this situation. The 'harsh nage' may feel that his uke _has_ agreed to that kind of training by bowing and stepping up, or if that's the way the dojo as a whole trains (even with new people) he may even feel that uke has agreed by joining the dojo.

Or more probably, nage might simply not realize he's hurting his uke and going further than uke wants to go -- he may be misjudging uke's level of ukemi or flexibility or uke's attitude or whatever... common enough... I'd start by just asking the guy to be gentler or slower or whatever and see what happens from there.
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:46 PM   #19
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Re: What are uke's rights?

Quote:
Daniel James wrote: View Post
Hi Daniel,
Its a little while since i have practiced with you on the mat and I am sure you have made good progress in the mean time. My suggestions are
1/ Don't allow your elbow to be locked out..not ever ever - especially if you have a propensity for hyper extension
2/ Only attack at a pace and intensity that you are comfortable to receive
3/ Use aiki and ride nage's technique, if you are only 1mm and a fraction of a second in front of the impending devastation its enough to keep you safe and learn a lot about aiki in the process.
1 and 3 may be hard to pull off for a beginner -- easy to say "don't let them do that" to a beginner, not so easy for a beginner to do, and "use aiki and ride nage's technique" is a concept that few beginners can explain, let alone execute. But 2 is something that a beginner should be able to put into practice immediately: don't attack at a speed or intensity that you wouldn't be comfortable receiving -- or, as my sensei once said to one of my partners who took a full-speed, full-force swing at my head with a jo less than five minutes after he'd picked up the weapon for the very first time, "Don't dish it out until you can take it." If your partner is sufficiently advanced, they may be able to go with your attack and be quite gentle on you, but if not, there's a good chance that they'll react with equivalent speed and force out of sheer necessity -- and you're going to be on the receiving end of that. If you pick up the pace, that's the pace you're going to have to march to.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:58 PM   #20
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
It's not a simple question - it's a martial art where we're learning, ultimately, ways to hurt people. ....
Just goes to show once again that there is no "one" art that is Aikido. In My Aikido, I specifically train how Not to hurt people, successfully.

Not jumping on you, just making a point.

Uke has the right for whatever training agreement that is made between participants, to be honored fully.

Larry Novick
Head Instructor
ACE Aikido
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:38 PM   #21
Marc Abrams
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
This sounds like concept 'fair play" or 'gentlemen agreement'. I have strong impression those terms are totally absent in the concept of Japanese Budo.
Szczepan:

I think that you are simply confusing bujutsu with budo. If you and I are practicing together and I gouge your eye out while you are standing up, is that Japanese Budo? I think not. There should always be a "gentlemen agreement" when people are practicing together. I am curious as to what your idea of Japanese Budo is in regards to this matter and who taught you that idea. We should always be aware of our surrounding and we should always display and expect respect from our training partners. Anything less than that prevents people from pushing their training to the limits of safety. Even in modern bujutsu practice, there are limits that must be kept so that people remain safe (as opposed to injured, maimed or killed). There is a very fine line in hard training and the respect between partners is what allows us to continue to push the envelope of our abilities.

Marc Abrams
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:05 PM   #22
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Re: What are uke's rights?

I prefer the context of partners' responsibilities when training, as opposed to their rights.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:16 PM   #23
Walter Martindale
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Quote:
Larry Novick wrote: View Post
Just goes to show once again that there is no "one" art that is Aikido. In My Aikido, I specifically train how Not to hurt people, successfully.

Not jumping on you, just making a point.

Uke has the right for whatever training agreement that is made between participants, to be honored fully.
Understood, and later in my note I think I point out that within the confines of the training session in the dojo, we train to not hurt our partners, as well as to not get hurt by our partners.

However, at most, if not all, of the dojo I've trained in, the instruction includes "atemi" points - parts of the technique or movement where hurt and even harm can be done.

One former sensei of mine tells of a former student being attacked by someone armed with a switchblade. After disarming the person with a kotegaeshi - tanto-dori, and with the person lying on his back in front of him, apparently the aikido student folded the knife, dropped it on the attacker's chest, and said something like "I did that wrong, attack me again please" with the response that the guy pushed the (folded) knife off his chest, got up, and ran away.

I've had other sensei and shihan say that if you're attacked by someone armed, and you manage to survive and actually gain some control, it's going to get brutal while you disarm the person - and yes, he (usually he) did, after all, attack you with a weapon.

I get the philosophy of escalating the response only if necessary - I have no desire to hurt anyone, so I'll use "jaw, jaw" before using "war, war" (I think Churchill said something like that), but if necessary, cause pain. If necessary, cause damage. If necessary, cause severe injury. If necessary... well... I'd rather not go there...

But - in the dojo - we work together so that we can both learn and so that we can explore our limits - just on the edge of our abilities. Beginners' abilities to tolerate and anticipate movements are less developed, so we move more slowly, more deliberately, and let them take ukemi at their pace. After all, they need to go back to work or their families after training...

I'm only a relatively recently graded nidan, but getting kinda old, so my movements are a little more deliberate than others; I can take more punishment than most beginners without getting hurt, and other nidans, shodans, sandans etc, can usually take it, too, without getting hurt - but we work to the level of our training partner. At 56, I'm not about to go looking for a street fight or a bar fight (never have, actually), but if one comes to me I hope to be able to exert enough control to come out without too many deep wounds, and without having harmed anyone, too....

Walter

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 06-17-2010 at 10:19 PM. Reason: punctuation
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Old 06-18-2010, 08:50 AM   #24
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Re: One very confused Aikidoka

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Szczepan:

I think that you are simply confusing bujutsu with budo. If you and I are practicing together and I gouge your eye out while you are standing up, is that Japanese Budo? I think not. There should always be a "gentlemen agreement" when people are practicing together. I am curious as to what your idea of Japanese Budo is in regards to this matter and who taught you that idea. We should always be aware of our surrounding and we should always display and expect respect from our training partners. Anything less than that prevents people from pushing their training to the limits of safety. Even in modern bujutsu practice, there are limits that must be kept so that people remain safe (as opposed to injured, maimed or killed). There is a very fine line in hard training and the respect between partners is what allows us to continue to push the envelope of our abilities.

Marc Abrams
Hi Mark,
I believe the duality bujutsu/budo is rather recent western concept. I think for Japanese martial artist is all the same as inherited from their culture. I like Clark idea "Real budo training teaches us how to do our best to keep others from harming us while doing as little harm as possible". As aikido develops compassion for attacker, the etiquette becomes the central point for dojo behavior.

However, taking all this in consideration, aikidoka must not take for granted that practice must be safe. This is the worst error that has the most important consequences in approach for aikido as an art, but also the consequences are in the way how everyone practices physically on the tatami daily.

The art is how to have constructive practice together without feeling completely safe(for uke AND tori!!! ). I think there is no simple answer for that.

I believe "gentlemen agreement" idea is responsible for watering down aikido last few years. Because of such idea, martial context is completely absent in aikido practice as we can see in most aikido videos on YT.

O sensei advised we practice EVERY technique like the LAST technique in our life, like it is a technique that will decide between life and death. This is the only criteria that differentiate Budo from Sport Fighting. How would you preserve such spirit of practice knowing that practice is safe? -- It will be impossible. That is why you can see so many sloppy attacks -- they have no real, martial meaning -- it became the mimics and parody of the attacks.

That is why you can see so many sloppy aikido techniques, no martial spirit at all, most people simply don't care. They know whatever they do, attacker will fall down every time, and everybody around will tap their shoulder saying: "well done, Johnny, well done!!! And the Ego will grow bigger and bigger, more politics, more disagreements....…this way the ultimate goal of Founder will never be realized.

Nagababa

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Old 06-18-2010, 09:10 AM   #25
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Re: What are uke's rights?

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
Possibly... was it the samurai or someone else who practiced by killing peasants? Or is that a myth? In any case, whether it's 'traditional' or not is not really the point -- the point is what's ethical, and sorry but if tradition and ethics are in conflict, ethics wins. .
It has nothing to do with ethic and tradition in my opinion. In the moment of EVERY attack you - as a nage - are in situation life or death (if you follow O sensei idea). In such situation you are supposed to develop compassion for attacker. It means first you may defend your life, OR if compassion is bigger than your desire to continue your life, you scarify your life.

In the scenario when you chose to defend your life – how come you can imagine that it can be 100% safe for you or for your attacker? As Chuck Clark said we are trying to do as less harm as possible for attacker, because of compassion, but other than that, we can’t guarantee much more….

Nagababa

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