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Old 12-29-2010, 10:06 PM   #1
Mark Gibbons
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uke collusion

Ikeda Sensei taught at the last seminar I attended.

One exercise called for two ukes, one on each arm of nage. The ukes were supposed to be grounded, hold on and not move. The exercise was completely static. Nage was supposed to do whatever it was Ikeda Sensei had demonstrated and move the ukes. I didn't know the person I was holding on to was a 5th dan and a dojo cho. So I stood there getting tugged on. The guy on the other arm was moving quite freely. Sensei came by and arranged us with the whole dojo watching, nage was then able to move us both. Let's chalk that one up to doing the expected.

Out of 30 nages I trained with, only Ikeda Sensei and one other did something that made me move without major yanking. From what I could see most other ukes were moving for almost everything. Some of them even moved for me and I really did not understand what I was doing.

I think that too many aikido ukes are trained to move for anything and will, especially when rank and social expectations enter the picture. So is what I think I saw and felt really going on? Is this behavior helpful for learning aikido?

Regards,
Mark
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Old 12-29-2010, 10:44 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
Some of them even moved for me and I really did not understand what I was doing.

I think that too many aikido ukes are trained to move for anything and will, especially when rank and social expectations enter the picture. So is what I think I saw and felt really going on? Is this behavior helpful for learning aikido?Mark
Mark, I wasn't there so I can only speak insofar as it relates to experiences I have had at various dojos and seminars....
Yes there are folks who will "tank" - sometimes I've had ukes start to turn away from me before I've connected to them or moved, a real head-scratcher that! - and there is no doubt rank and or expectations play a part...
But may I be permitted to answer your question by posing one? How can one ever learn what is only partly understood if he is never permitted to succeed? If I feel nage is heading in the right direction in terms of connection, posture, etc then as uke I keep my side of the connection open and let myself be moved just enough for nage to get the feedback that he is on the right track.
Now that begs the question in context of your description: if the instructor explicitly said not to move at all, then perhaps he meant to set up an all or nothing situation.
But in general I don't think that is conducive to learning a physical art; a disconnected, tanking uke sucks but the nage who is given no opportunity to succeed can't learn.
I think in there s much to be said for the koryu tradition of senior students taking uke's role in order to teach the junior.
My 2 cents, maybe only worth a penny....

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-30-2010, 01:36 AM   #3
Amir Krause
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Re: uke collusion

I wrote on this numerous times. The correct answer is that being a good Uke is extremely complicated issue.

Uke response should be situation dependent, some indicators are:
- How experienced is Nage?
- How close is Nage to the exact technique (no one is perfect)?
- Is this a new technique for Nage ?
- Is this a learning phase or an examination phase?

All of those, assume that Uke himself is much more experienced then Nage, knows this technique and related openings & mistakes much better then Nage, and even knows the level of proficiency currently expected of Nage.

In a seminar situation, as you describe, the above is obviously not true, most Uke do not even know Nage, and have very minor idea of the technique. In such a state, what are the possible approaches:

- Uke could resist as strongly as he can, and only let very good techniques work
This is an erroneous teaching style, one can not learn a technique in such a manner (even in martial -arts which favour "live testing" the learning is not done this way). All (except the 2) would have failed.

- Uke could only follow if he must, or if he feels this is in the right direction
In most cases, this behavior is the best one. While "right direction" is determined by the experienced Uke. In a way, this Uke is guiding / teaching the Nage, even without speaking (or he may had verbal explanations / suggestions). In most cases, this is the best Uke, but in this situaiton, Uke might be judging it completely wrong, what then?

- Uke could go with the flow, except when it feels completely wrong
In this particular case, this seems like the best solution. Again, this type of response is not the best, only when Uke has only a vague idea on the technique. Such an Uke is not sufficient in order to really master a technique, only adequate to start learning it.

- Uke could always go with the flow, regardless
Most practitioners do not have clear ideas on principles and are un-certain as to the exact identification of "wrongness" . Thus, they follow this concept, instead of the previous one. Obviously this option is inferior to the previous two, yet those required knowledge.

To my understanding, the last option, the always following Uke, is still better, compared to the non-responding Uke. If Nage has a general idea of the technique, he could slowly build the dynamic situation to resemble the example, and improve it.

Enjoy
Amir
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Old 12-30-2010, 01:58 AM   #4
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: uke collusion

No uke should jump, tank whatever you call it.... period

No matter how frustrating that is to nage.
I nearly decided to give "aikido" the "elbow" at first as I did not think it worked until I met the "right" people.....
If no one could throw me, I always thought their problem not mine...
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Old 12-30-2010, 08:05 AM   #5
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
...
But may I be permitted to answer your question by posing one? How can one ever learn what is only partly understood if he is never permitted to succeed? ...
I think in there s much to be said for the koryu tradition of senior students taking uke's role in order to teach the junior.
My 2 cents, maybe only worth a penny....
Thanks Janet. I'm not sure how anyone was supposed to learn what was being shown. It was one of Ikeda Sensei's, see it's on, now it's off seminars with no visible difference detectable from where I sat. All I could figure out was to try to follow instructions as uke and as nage. So for the static grabs I tried to connect with nage's center and pin them. Most folks just muscled things and some were strong enough to drag me around. The folks that tried doing whatever kind of internal stuff was being shown might not have moved me but got real practice, just not the reward of seeing uke move or fall. What does succeed mean in this case?

Ukemi has always been a mystery to me. I try to do what's asked for but what I understand and do never quite matches what other people seem to do or exect. I like the idea of the senior people taking all the ukemi.
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Old 12-30-2010, 08:14 AM   #6
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

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Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
No uke should jump, tank whatever you call it.... period

...
And yet I've read far too many comments about good hard training that's safe enough unless uke "resists". Then uke gets broken. I think that idea trains people to fall very early and it makes sense to me to fall rather than press on and have someone crank a pin in revenge.

Regards,
Mark
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Old 12-30-2010, 08:26 AM   #7
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

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Amir Krause wrote: View Post
I wrote on this numerous times. The correct answer is that being a good Uke is extremely complicated issue.

Enjoy
Amir
Thanks Amir,

I thought that was a very good analysis. I like to try for a slightly different idea when practicing established techniques. Instead of resisting I try to keep attacking while I'm uke. Resisting strongly is too much hard work. Following when it makes sense to protect myself and attacking vulnerabilities is what I like do with the people I really respect.

One Sensei told me, just attack and the fall will happen at the right time. I probably over learned that lesson.

Cheers,
Mark
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:00 AM   #8
Amir Krause
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
Thanks Amir,

I thought that was a very good analysis. I like to try for a slightly different idea when practicing established techniques. Instead of resisting I try to keep attacking while I'm uke. Resisting strongly is too much hard work. Following when it makes sense to protect myself and attacking vulnerabilities is what I like do with the people I really respect.

One Sensei told me, just attack and the fall will happen at the right time. I probably over learned that lesson.

Cheers,
Mark
Mark

You are of course correct in the sense that rigid resistance is not a smart martial move. Yet, it is often useful as a teaching guide, and so is showing a person his openings.
But, as I wrote above, both assume Uke is more experianced then Nage.

Amir
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:17 AM   #9
Amir Krause
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
No uke should jump, tank whatever you call it.... period

No matter how frustrating that is to nage.
I nearly decided to give "aikido" the "elbow" at first as I did not think it worked until I met the "right" people.....
If no one could throw me, I always thought their problem not mine...
"Showing prowess" does not equal training, not to speak of learning.

You are describing entirely different situation in which Nage is supposed to be much more experienced, and Uke should be able care for himself.

The issue is not the frustration of Nage, rather his ability to learn anything. People learn best if they get ~75% of success, this is how our systems are wired. The brain is a neuron network, and it needs both positive and negative feedbacks to learn.

The above does not imply a fair Aikidoka should not be able to throw a non-cooperating person attacking him. Again, that is the different situation, and if one is not able to throw in such a situation, it is not the place of choice for me either.

Amir
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:52 AM   #10
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
And yet I've read far too many comments about good hard training that's safe enough unless uke "resists". Then uke gets broken. I think that idea trains people to fall very early and it makes sense to me to fall rather than press on and have someone crank a pin in revenge.

Regards,
Mark
No cranking involved just good kuzushi......
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:58 AM   #11
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Amir Krause wrote: View Post
"Showing prowess" does not equal training, not to speak of learning.

You are describing entirely different situation in which Nage is supposed to be much more experienced, and Uke should be able care for himself.

The issue is not the frustration of Nage, rather his ability to learn anything. People learn best if they get ~75% of success, this is how our systems are wired. The brain is a neuron network, and it needs both positive and negative feedbacks to learn.

The above does not imply a fair Aikidoka should not be able to throw a non-cooperating person attacking him. Again, that is the different situation, and if one is not able to throw in such a situation, it is not the place of choice for me either.

Amir
As I have always enthused that with out kuzushi there is no waza..... When my posture was upset by kuzushi I was thrown easily, even by my wife who I am much stronger than....
That is the biggest problem I see in the aikido today....
If uke does not have their balance broken, no amount of cranking or trying to break uke will result in a throw, unless the uke is far weaker physically.....
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:16 AM   #12
C. David Henderson
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Re: uke collusion

This is a nice discussion. As I read Mark's OP, it appears the situation was explicitly a training exercise (from myrote dori?), not a technique. In that kind of situation, I believe I try to follow Amir's second example. FWIW

David Henderson
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:53 PM   #13
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Re: uke collusion

I attended a seminar with Ikeda in the spring and we did the same exact training excercise. In my group of three there was a gal who was a bit higher ranked than I and just as solid, and a tiny little girl who was brand new only had in like one or two days of training.

Well when me and the other solid gal got the greenie between us of course this poor little thing could not move us. Well that is until Ikeda came over and walked her through it. We moved... and I guarantee neither of us was giving it away.

The look on her face when we went flying was priceless.

We work with these kinds of excercise in my dojo fairly often and I have worked with people who would succeed in getting my balance but not fully understand just how they had done it. Sometimes it takes a while for some to really be able to feel what they are doing internally.

Last edited by Shadowfax : 12-30-2010 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 12-30-2010, 03:05 PM   #14
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: uke collusion

I've been in this situation at a seminar with Ikeda sensei. It's an unusually tricky one I think because if uke moves out of politeness in this situation (static exercise looking for a connection) nage can really get led astray and learn the wrong lesson out of it.

I'm almost leaning towards no one should move unless they have to, and everyone's technique should just fail. Because then maybe they would get more hands on explanation. But that is very hard to do, socially, if people don't know each other very well.

Our "at home" seminars with my teachers teacher Terry Ezra sensei also include a lot of this kind of practice. And you'll often see a couple of people almost not moving at all, until tori maybe finally succeeds once or twice. But that is between people who have gone to the same seminars for years together and know each other well.

(Sometimes you'll hear two people going:
"no, lost me there" "now i've got you again""you're forgetting your elbow" "oh, thanks" "yes, got you again" and all the time there's barely any movement visible... )

It's also the kind of practice that needs to be built up over time, just seing it at a seminar somewhere is bound to be frustrating.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 12-30-2010, 03:19 PM   #15
Janet Rosen
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
(Sometimes you'll hear two people going:
"no, lost me there" "now i've got you again""you're forgetting your elbow" "oh, thanks" "yes, got you again" and all the time there's barely any movement visible... )
Yes, this is also valuable feedback I find it helpful to both give and receive when working slowly on connection and kuzushi.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-30-2010, 03:25 PM   #16
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

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Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
... We moved... and I guarantee neither of us was giving it away.
....
I'm fairly sure the guy on my nage's other arm would swear he wasn't giving it away either. Yet there he was moving all over for no reason I could detect.

Regards,
Mark
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Old 12-30-2010, 03:38 PM   #17
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

..
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:19 PM   #18
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
I'm fairly sure the guy on my nage's other arm would swear he wasn't giving it away either. Yet there he was moving all over for no reason I could detect.

Regards,
Mark
Understood. So in other words you just have not learned what it is you are looking for and just hit on it without really realizing. Get between a couple of people at your own dojo and try this with them giving you the kind of verbal feedback mentioned above and this might help you detect the feel of the connection that causes the unbalancing.

Even when you know what it is you are feeling for it is really not easy to accomplish. It's more advanced training I guess.

We have a newish guy at the dojo right now who has said he also can't feel what it is he is supposed to feel yet. He is equal in rank to myself but his training in other dojo just had not included this lesson yet.I get the impression that a lot of people don't begin to see this stuff at their home dojo until after shodan....
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:50 PM   #19
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

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Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Understood. So in other words you just have not learned what it is you are looking for and just hit on it without really realizing. Get between a couple of people at your own dojo and try this with them giving you the kind of verbal feedback mentioned above and this might help you detect the feel of the connection that causes the unbalancing.

Even when you know what it is you are feeling for it is really not easy to accomplish. It's more advanced training I guess.

.......
Huh? No nothing like that at all. I was expressing doubt of your guarantee of not giving it away when you were uke.
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Old 12-31-2010, 05:58 PM   #20
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
And yet I've read far too many comments about good hard training that's safe enough unless uke "resists". Then uke gets broken. I think that idea trains people to fall very early and it makes sense to me to fall rather than press on and have someone crank a pin in revenge.
I'm not very big, which means that many people can successfully muscle through a technique when working with me.

My take on it is that I'm responsible for my own body, not for nage's training. If they decide that encountering my structure means that they need to do more of whatever they're doing, then I'll move, even if whatever they're doing is wrong and wouldn't work on someone their own size. I'm not going to sacrifice my joints (and, ultimately, my ability to train) in a misguided attempt to enlighten them. *But* the structure is there for them to encounter, and people who are paying attention will recognize that they've gotten stuck.

As for the dangers of resisting, part of the problem is nages who mistake force for effectiveness, but it's also true that ukes often choose to resist in really stupid ways. If someone has taken your balance and is in a position to drop their entire weight on your lumbar spine, resisting is a really dumb idea.

Katherine
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Old 12-31-2010, 06:01 PM   #21
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Re: uke collusion

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Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
Our "at home" seminars with my teachers teacher Terry Ezra sensei also include a lot of this kind of practice. And you'll often see a couple of people almost not moving at all, until tori maybe finally succeeds once or twice. But that is between people who have gone to the same seminars for years together and know each other well.

(Sometimes you'll hear two people going:
"no, lost me there" "now i've got you again""you're forgetting your elbow" "oh, thanks" "yes, got you again" and all the time there's barely any movement visible... )

It's also the kind of practice that needs to be built up over time, just seing it at a seminar somewhere is bound to be frustrating.
Yes. If all parties understand the exercise and can give useful feedback, it can be very valuable. That's usually not the case at a seminar.

Katherine
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Old 12-31-2010, 07:35 PM   #22
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
Huh? No nothing like that at all. I was expressing doubt of your guarantee of not giving it away when you were uke.
LOL oh ok... well... I know when someone has me and I know when they don't and I don't move until they do. That goes for everyone including my own teachers. I tend to be a popular partner for this kind of stuff specifically because I do not give it away and I'm not easy to get.
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Old 01-01-2011, 05:57 AM   #23
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Re: uke collusion

I train with Ikeda Sensei every chance I get so I know what you are talking about.

One one level, uke may be moving in cooperation with the tori/nage appropriate to their level of proficiency. Meaning its a sensitivity drill which is best learned with sequentially more and more resistance. Too much resistance too soon just sets up failure. Too little isn't helpful. If its a new skill, rank doesn't really matter. Sometimes higher ranks have a harder time stepping out of their well hones box of skills to learn something new. IMHO, very few people are doing what Ikeda Sensei is asking us to learn and do.

OTOH, yes, many uke are in collusion and give a false sense of proficiency to the tori/nage and a bad name to Aikido. We need to do more focused and instruction on being a good uke and calibrating to the tori/nage level of skill/proficiency so they can learn.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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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 01-01-2011, 06:03 AM   #24
amoeba
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Re: uke collusion

Well, one other thing that might make a difference there is that on a seminar with people I don't know, I normally move along with what they're doing. At home, when we do stuff like that (or if I know my training partners), it's interesting to try to make myself as heavy and unmovable as I can when doing this kind of excercises (one of my teachers teaches Daito Ryu, too, and we did a lot of that there). But with people I don't know too well, I don't like doing that unless they specifically ask me to... I don' move on my own or anything, I just try to be cooperative.
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Old 01-01-2011, 07:19 AM   #25
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Re: uke collusion

I don't know about anyone else, but at our Dojo we are taught to not fall unless someone has our balance and stability. So, no bailing out. The only exception is when a younger student (like me) is really close to a technique. Then we generally fall and then tell them how to improve it.
That's just how we do it.

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