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Old 07-01-2010, 12:22 PM   #1
Robb
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Larger/stronger opponent

Hello everyone,

I am new to the forums but have read them with interest for some time now. A bit on my background before I ask my question - I am currently 4th kyu, maybe halfway to 3rd in Aikido. I have done Judo and Shotokan Karate for the last 20+ years. Now on to my question:

In my Aikido class we have a guy who is essentially UFC-Brock Lesnar's size. This guy is 6'4" and 300+ pounds. He is practically impervious to pain. I read with interest the thread about Aikido in real situations and that is what led me to this question - how can one make their Aikido work on someone with this natural size and strength?

We were doing wrist grabs the other night and he was resisting (which I am fine with) but I tried Nikkyu, Kotogaeshi, Sankyu, Shionage...pretty much everything I could think of and he just shrugged off each and every thing I did - they simple had no effect on him. Now granted I wasn't going 100% - because with the typical Uke you can determine pain thresholds by their reaction - I was afraid that this guy was at the point of joint damage or bone breakage and he simply doesn't show pain. I finally got frustrated and took him down with a Judo throw - quite easily.

He wasn't being a compliant Uke, but ok no biggie, he doesn't always resist..but we were testing out stuff (essentially his size) so it was fine...and he of course knew all the Aikido moves as I did them, which made it easier for him to counter. I think this is why the Judo worked - he had no clue it was coming. However, it did sort of set me back a bit as to how much size DOES matter despite Aikido's protestations to the contrary.

Looking for opinions on this, suggestions, similar experiences etc.on how to handle people with extra-ordinary size/strength.

P.S. - on a positive note, I like training with the guy because he is the one guy in class that I cannot possibly muscle a technique on - so it forces me to concentrate on breathing, extension, technique etc. moreso than the average sized person.
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:06 PM   #2
dps
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Robert Hidalgo wrote: View Post

We were doing wrist grabs the other night and he was resisting ...
Were these static wrist grabs where uke grabs your wrist stands still and then you try the technique or were they dynamic where uke pushes or pulls you.
?

David
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:10 PM   #3
Robb
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Were these static wrist grabs where uke grabs your wrist stands still and then you try the technique or were they dynamic where uke pushes or pulls you.
?

David
They were static, which makes it much more difficult to pull off techniques. Had he been pushing/pulling I would have had much more to work with. We were testing an essential worse case scenario - large person grabs smaller person and refuses to let go. I also did zero Atemi, which would have made a difference.

Even so, with most people my size or smaller I can make them dance a jig even from a static grab/hold...no such luck with this guy. Fyi I am about 6'1" 220.
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:43 PM   #4
RED
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

If it was being done static then I don't see the point of resisting that much. Static practice is for learning the foot work and movements. If he was giving you energy then I can see being a little harder on you.
But static practice is for 6th kyu class and children's class, both of which it's better not to be resiting, but focusing on learning the movements and posture. Just my little opinion though.

MM
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:43 PM   #5
sakumeikan
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Robert Hidalgo wrote: View Post
Hello everyone,

I am new to the forums but have read them with interest for some time now. A bit on my background before I ask my question - I am currently 4th kyu, maybe halfway to 3rd in Aikido. I have done Judo and Shotokan Karate for the last 20+ years. Now on to my question:

In my Aikido class we have a guy who is essentially UFC-Brock Lesnar's size. This guy is 6'4" and 300+ pounds. He is practically impervious to pain. I read with interest the thread about Aikido in real situations and that is what led me to this question - how can one make their Aikido work on someone with this natural size and strength?

We were doing wrist grabs the other night and he was resisting (which I am fine with) but I tried Nikkyu, Kotogaeshi, Sankyu, Shionage...pretty much everything I could think of and he just shrugged off each and every thing I did - they simple had no effect on him. Now granted I wasn't going 100% - because with the typical Uke you can determine pain thresholds by their reaction - I was afraid that this guy was at the point of joint damage or bone breakage and he simply doesn't show pain. I finally got frustrated and took him down with a Judo throw - quite easily.

He wasn't being a compliant Uke, but ok no biggie, he doesn't always resist..but we were testing out stuff (essentially his size) so it was fine...and he of course knew all the Aikido moves as I did them, which made it easier for him to counter. I think this is why the Judo worked - he had no clue it was coming. However, it did sort of set me back a bit as to how much size DOES matter despite Aikido's protestations to the contrary.

Looking for opinions on this, suggestions, similar experiences etc.on how to handle people with extra-ordinary size/strength.

P.S. - on a positive note, I like training with the guy because he is the one guy in class that I cannot possibly muscle a technique on - so it forces me to concentrate on breathing, extension, technique etc. moreso than the average sized person.
The guy you are working with like most really big or powerful guys really in general dont want to be seen to be weak.Hence the resistance to your waza.My question is this how do you think you can both gain from this type of competitive mindset[on his part ]?
I would not be surprised if the guy is as stiff as a board.
Aikido is a mutual exchange between partners.One partner acquires throwing skills etc the other acquires Ukemi skills.
If this guy never learns to absorb the waza from his partner because he wants to be Mr Powerhouse what happens if he runs into a guy who might apply a waza and damage his wrist etc?
He needs to lighten up, and co operate with you.At your level you need to train wisely not get involved in trials of strength.
If all else fails and he keeps on being awkward try applying a well placed atemi prior to your application on areas such as ribs / kneecaps /shins, chin.Of course be gentle here.Use this remedy only if all else fails.After a few clips here and there Mr Powerhouse might get the picture.
Are you the only one in the dojo who has this problem?Do your mates handle the same scenario easily?If the answer is yes , ask them how they sort Big Guy out.Let me know how you get on,
Cheers, Robert, from Joe.
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:54 PM   #6
Marc Abrams
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

A static "attack" where the person is simply trying to ground out any movement that you are doing is plain and simple B.S.. Not only does this never happen in "real life" (you know, not in the dojo), but a static grab is simply not an attack.

I am also on the smaller side (5'5" on a good morning ) and have gotten to the point where I can execute technique on big people (One guy at our school had a nickname of "Vast"- 6'8" over 350lbs.). The first thing that you have to achieve is kazushi. When a person does not have dynamic equilibrium, the body automatically re-assigns resources to achieving that task, thereby "robbing" the person of usable strength. In order to achieve that, you really need to learn how to establish an energy connection (ki) with the person so as to move them from the inside out. Once that has been accomplished, techniques seem to suddenly work.

Until you get to that point, if a person is simply grounding you out in a static attack, give him some atemi "love" to establish kazushi !

Good Luck!

Marc Abrams
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:07 PM   #7
Robb
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
The guy you are working with like most really big or powerful guys really in general dont want to be seen to be weak.Hence the resistance to your waza.My question is this how do you think you can both gain from this type of competitive mindset[on his part ]?
I would not be surprised if the guy is as stiff as a board.
Aikido is a mutual exchange between partners.One partner acquires throwing skills etc the other acquires Ukemi skills.
If this guy never learns to absorb the waza from his partner because he wants to be Mr Powerhouse what happens if he runs into a guy who might apply a waza and damage his wrist etc?
He needs to lighten up, and co operate with you.At your level you need to train wisely not get involved in trials of strength.
If all else fails and he keeps on being awkward try applying a well placed atemi prior to your application on areas such as ribs / kneecaps /shins, chin.Of course be gentle here.Use this remedy only if all else fails.After a few clips here and there Mr Powerhouse might get the picture.
Are you the only one in the dojo who has this problem?Do your mates handle the same scenario easily?If the answer is yes , ask them how they sort Big Guy out.Let me know how you get on,
Cheers, Robert, from Joe.
I think you hit the nail on the head ....he doesn't want to show weakness/pain. I am not the only one who has noticed - he has been told on numerous occasions to loosen up and quit fighting techniques. I am not sure if he is trying to prove something or if he is generally just new enough to not know any better (he just made 5th kyu).

I guess I should have not engaged in a contest of wills, that was my mistake and I won't let that happen again. But it still opened my eyes because no one has ever resisted my techniques before - short of Sensei when I am just screwing something up...and that was obviously for him to make a point.
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:15 PM   #8
Robb
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
A static "attack" where the person is simply trying to ground out any movement that you are doing is plain and simple B.S.. Not only does this never happen in "real life" (you know, not in the dojo), but a static grab is simply not an attack.

I am also on the smaller side (5'5" on a good morning ) and have gotten to the point where I can execute technique on big people (One guy at our school had a nickname of "Vast"- 6'8" over 350lbs.). The first thing that you have to achieve is kazushi. When a person does not have dynamic equilibrium, the body automatically re-assigns resources to achieving that task, thereby "robbing" the person of usable strength. In order to achieve that, you really need to learn how to establish an energy connection (ki) with the person so as to move them from the inside out. Once that has been accomplished, techniques seem to suddenly work.

Until you get to that point, if a person is simply grounding you out in a static attack, give him some atemi "love" to establish kazushi !

Good Luck!

Marc Abrams
That is essentially why the Judo throw worked ...Judo forcibly takes a person's balance ...it lacks the finesse of Aikido..and Judo is largely static rondori. But I admit it showed my level of frustration that I resorted to that. Sensei told me in such a situation he would simply disengage and wait for the next attack.

I am actually a bit afraid of using atemi on this guy because he is big enough to be dangerous and I am not sure he would take it well. Suffice to say I haven't trained with him enough to get a read on his temperment. This may sound ridiculous being that we are talking about an Aikido class...but I have been in and out of dojos long enough to know that some people just get mad when you hit them,..even if it is part of training

Thanks for the advice tho..I will work on it.
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:24 PM   #9
RED
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Robert Hidalgo wrote: View Post
(he just made 5th kyu)
If this is true, he probably should be focusing on his training and form, more so than defeating his upper classmate's techniques.

His Aikido really can't progress until he refocuses himself on himself.

But look at the bright side; you are working to make yourself effective, and he is training to make YOU effective...you are doing all the training when you work with him. So really when you work with him you are the only one training if you think about it.
All the training for you, none for him. You'll progress and get better. If he doesn't refocus he'll stagnate.

MM
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:30 PM   #10
Robb
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
If this is true, he probably should be focusing on his training and form, more so than defeating his upper classmate's techniques.

His Aikido really can't progress until he refocuses himself on himself.

But look at the bright side; you are working to make yourself effective, and he is training to make YOU effective...you are doing all the training when you work with him. So really when you work with him you are the only one training if you think about it.
All the training for you, none for him. You'll progress and get better. If he doesn't refocus he'll stagnate.
So very true. I have already noticed improvements in my movement, blending (he attacks hard and fast), and technique. He is very obviously still in the muscle stage of technique- this essentially forces me to not rely on strength since he will out-strength me 100% of the time. I agree...he will stagnate if he doesn't adjust. I just have to make sure I don't play his game mentally or physically. Maybe once he realizes I have acknowledged his physical superiority by not getting into a contest of wills he will tone it down a bit.
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:32 PM   #11
C. David Henderson
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
But static practice is for 6th kyu class and children's class ... Just my little opinion though.
I don't know about where you practice Maggie, but IME kihon practice is useful for more than figuring out where your hands and feet go. Many shihan routinely emphasize the importance of "basics" for everyone.

I think, nonetheless, you're right about the underlying problem with uke.

Regards.

David Henderson
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:04 PM   #12
Mark Gibbons
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

I don't see why it matters if the uke is junior. i don't think the OP said that. It's interesting and symptomatic that uke is being blamed for nage's technique not working. There's a good chance uke is feeling muscled and just not responding to being pushed around. The OP might want to ask. Atemi goes both ways. If nage feels free to toss in the odd atemi so should uke. Same for judo and other extra stuff.

It sounds like this was static practice. Some folks can make static techniques work without forcing things. Most people (me especially included) can't, in my experience. Resorting to tricks is more about winning than about practicing. When my nages do that I give up and fall. They are signaling they don't want to practice anymore and I don't care if I lose when I'm not competing.

Mark
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:32 PM   #13
Robb
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
I don't see why it matters if the uke is junior. i don't think the OP said that. It's interesting and symptomatic that uke is being blamed for nage's technique not working. There's a good chance uke is feeling muscled and just not responding to being pushed around. The OP might want to ask. Atemi goes both ways. If nage feels free to toss in the odd atemi so should uke. Same for judo and other extra stuff.

It sounds like this was static practice. Some folks can make static techniques work without forcing things. Most people (me especially included) can't, in my experience. Resorting to tricks is more about winning than about practicing. When my nages do that I give up and fall. They are signaling they don't want to practice anymore and I don't care if I lose when I'm not competing.

Mark
I would willingly take the blame the uke responsing to my muscling technique if I thought that were the all of it, but even our shodans have problems with this person. The only person who doesn't seem to have any issues is Sensei - but he is 8th dan and doesn't have problems with anyone.

I haven't gotten the habit of muscling completely conquered yet, but I have made improvements in leaps and bounds. I know the Uke was deliberately using strength however because I have an incredibly smooth (almost sneaky) shihonage, and I felt him reach up with his other hand and deliberately attempt to reverse it and dump me on my head. I disengaged rather than one of us get hurt at that point.

This is why I question his temperment and don't entirely trust it. I don't mean to assess blame (even tho I know that is what I am doing), I just am stating the situation how I saw it, and will plan on not getting into this type of situation in the future. Much like you said above...I will just go with it, and as Maggie said earlier..I will learn from it and leave it up to him if he chooses to do the same or not.
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:49 PM   #14
Mark Gibbons
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

You and your large uke both sound like good folks to play with.
The only thing I have found that works is being even softer and using what scraps of aiki I can scrape up.

Mark
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:04 PM   #15
dps
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Robert Hidalgo wrote: View Post

I know the Uke was deliberately using strength however because I have an incredibly smooth (almost sneaky) shihonage, and I felt him reach up with his other hand and deliberately attempt to reverse it and dump me on my head.
He should not be able to do this if his balance is broken. You do not have him unbalanced which happens at the beginning of Shihonage.

I would be more concerned with unbalancing your uke than muscling him.

David
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:15 PM   #16
Janet Rosen
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Besides all the stuff like working on proper breathing, posture, etc...two things come to mind:
1. if he is outright resisting you to a degree that you can never move, then you aren't able to actually learn anything. That's different from simply being harder to work with.
2. for gripping large hands or wrists in nikkyo or sankyo: I have very small hands and weak, arthritic thumbs. What I have been counseled to do is grab uke's fingers instead of the whole hand. It can be very effective.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:25 PM   #17
Robb
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
He should not be able to do this if his balance is broken. You do not have him unbalanced which happens at the beginning of Shihonage.

I would be more concerned with unbalancing your uke than muscling him.

David
I did not extend him to unbalance him as I should..I flowed into the attack as if he was moving...and since he was static it did not have the desired effect..I guess the whole lesson is simply this: I was concentrating more on moving and technique, whereas he was wholly concentrating on resisting.

Janet - thanks for the tip on the fingers ..I have seen/felt Sensei do that ...it is quite effective!
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:39 PM   #18
RED
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

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Robert Hidalgo wrote: View Post
So very true. I have already noticed improvements in my movement, blending (he attacks hard and fast), and technique. He is very obviously still in the muscle stage of technique- this essentially forces me to not rely on strength since he will out-strength me 100% of the time. I agree...he will stagnate if he doesn't adjust. I just have to make sure I don't play his game mentally or physically. Maybe once he realizes I have acknowledged his physical superiority by not getting into a contest of wills he will tone it down a bit.
Frankly sometimes you need to play to people's ego. If he wants to feel like he's not weak, reassure him that he isn't in the way you handle your training. He might let up on you without having to feel like he needs to prove something

MM
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:41 PM   #19
RED
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

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Charles David Henderson wrote: View Post
I don't know about where you practice Maggie, but IME kihon practice is useful for more than figuring out where your hands and feet go. Many shihan routinely emphasize the importance of "basics" for everyone.

I think, nonetheless, you're right about the underlying problem with uke.

Regards.
I think that's really the root of my point. Static practice is about learning and focusing on basics. A heavy, uncooperative uke is inappropriate for the situation.

MM
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:43 PM   #20
BWells
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Well I'm a reasonably big guy so don't have that problem that much. What I do try sometime with a more junior in a static practice like this, is lock down a bit and have the junior see what movement (internal, shifting weight, relaxation, etc) will start to impact me. Sometime they are amazed at how relaxing and dropping center can impact me so much. What I suggest is, instead of basically fighting each other, ask him to do what he does and tell him you are going to try changes in your body and have him tell you how affects him. If you still can't move him, ask him to lighten up a bit and then see the results. Think this will make him a partner in your learning and not an opponent.

Good luck on this,
Bruce Wells
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:51 PM   #21
Flintstone
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
But static practice is for 6th kyu class and children's class, both of which it's better not to be resiting, but focusing on learning the movements and posture. Just my little opinion though.
OMG. Just OMG. Wasn't it Saito Morihiro who said you should practice only kihon waza until sandan?

Last edited by Flintstone : 07-01-2010 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 07-01-2010, 05:19 PM   #22
Ketsan
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Robert Hidalgo wrote: View Post
Hello everyone,

I am new to the forums but have read them with interest for some time now. A bit on my background before I ask my question - I am currently 4th kyu, maybe halfway to 3rd in Aikido. I have done Judo and Shotokan Karate for the last 20+ years. Now on to my question:

In my Aikido class we have a guy who is essentially UFC-Brock Lesnar's size. This guy is 6'4" and 300+ pounds. He is practically impervious to pain. I read with interest the thread about Aikido in real situations and that is what led me to this question - how can one make their Aikido work on someone with this natural size and strength?

We were doing wrist grabs the other night and he was resisting (which I am fine with) but I tried Nikkyu, Kotogaeshi, Sankyu, Shionage...pretty much everything I could think of and he just shrugged off each and every thing I did - they simple had no effect on him. Now granted I wasn't going 100% - because with the typical Uke you can determine pain thresholds by their reaction - I was afraid that this guy was at the point of joint damage or bone breakage and he simply doesn't show pain. I finally got frustrated and took him down with a Judo throw - quite easily.

He wasn't being a compliant Uke, but ok no biggie, he doesn't always resist..but we were testing out stuff (essentially his size) so it was fine...and he of course knew all the Aikido moves as I did them, which made it easier for him to counter. I think this is why the Judo worked - he had no clue it was coming. However, it did sort of set me back a bit as to how much size DOES matter despite Aikido's protestations to the contrary.

Looking for opinions on this, suggestions, similar experiences etc.on how to handle people with extra-ordinary size/strength.

P.S. - on a positive note, I like training with the guy because he is the one guy in class that I cannot possibly muscle a technique on - so it forces me to concentrate on breathing, extension, technique etc. moreso than the average sized person.
I'm kinda indifferent to this kinda thing. Most of the guys in my dojo are much bigger and stronger than me and during static practice they can lock me down if they want.
If I do the technique properly through it's a different matter.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:58 PM   #23
Robb
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Bruce Wells wrote: View Post
Well I'm a reasonably big guy so don't have that problem that much. What I do try sometime with a more junior in a static practice like this, is lock down a bit and have the junior see what movement (internal, shifting weight, relaxation, etc) will start to impact me. Sometime they are amazed at how relaxing and dropping center can impact me so much. What I suggest is, instead of basically fighting each other, ask him to do what he does and tell him you are going to try changes in your body and have him tell you how affects him. If you still can't move him, ask him to lighten up a bit and then see the results. Think this will make him a partner in your learning and not an opponent.

Good luck on this,
Bruce Wells
Thanks Bruce, sounds like a good plan.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:46 PM   #24
Rob Watson
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

Quote:
Alejandro Villanueva wrote: View Post
OMG. Just OMG. Wasn't it Saito Morihiro who said you should practice only kihon waza until sandan?
Yup...'cause that is what Osensei always said, too!

They don't have to be big in order to give 'trouble' ... I'm 6'4" 240 lbs and one fellow I train with is ~5' 170 lbs and 70 years old and strong like an ox. Gotta be just right or he is not going to move. I relish those moments because more is learned then than most every other time. Even kinonagare won't be so good if the execution is not just right - no kuzushi=no aikido.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:54 PM   #25
danielajames
 
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Re: Larger/stronger opponent

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Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
Frankly sometimes you need to play to people's ego. If he wants to feel like he's not weak, reassure him that he isn't in the way you handle your training. He might let up on you without having to feel like he needs to prove something
Absolutely!
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