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Old 01-01-2011, 08:31 PM   #26
jurasketu
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Re: uke collusion

I think it might be instructive to look at professional baseball and basketball. Every day, pro baseball players take batting practice against someone throwing 55 - 65 mph fastballs down the middle of the plate. This allows the hitter to work on good form, motion, timing, posture, etc. This builds confidence and good muscle memory.

If a hitter took batting practice against a pitcher throwing his best *stuff*, unless the hitter already has their timing and form in perfect order - they would likely fail completely - instead of just mostly. Sure they need at-bats against live pitching to be really proficient - but that is just a very small portion of their training time.

Similarly, basketball players spend a lot of practice time shooting and making moves to the hoop with no one guarding them or only pretending to guard them. It's hard to get shooting or moves solid in a reasonable amount of time if the ball is constantly being swatted away or the move is being countered.

So it seems to me that professional athletes in competitive sports seem to think that a significant amount of collusion in practice/training is extremely useful. Something to think about anyway.

All paths lead to death. I strongly recommend taking one of the scenic routes.
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Old 01-01-2011, 11:02 PM   #27
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

Granted there are different levels of practice and as a normal matter of course different levels of uke response are appropriate. When the Sensei asked the ukes to try not to move it seemed to me like they did their usual level of resistance, almost none. It just seems like in this exercise just following and being nonreistant was contrary to what the instructor was asking for. The level of collusion made it difficult for people to be sure they were really succeeding against solid opposition.

Remember this was just an exercise, no falls, no danger, minimal technique. I don't think a generalization to "nage won't learn if they never succeed" applies. It looked like more of a case of the ukes not being able to break out of their usual methods.

Do people do anything but what they already know at seminars? I hope so, but didn't gather any evidence.

Mark
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:01 AM   #28
Janet Rosen
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Thumbs down Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
It looked like more of a case of the ukes not being able to break out of their usual methods.

Do people do anything but what they already know at seminars? I hope so, but didn't gather any evidence.

Mark
Ah...well, that is a specific complaint I have heard/read several high ranking instructors make after seminars over the years. And I have watched and partnered with folks, often quite senior to me, at seminars who seemed to go on autopilot the moment they I.D.d the technique being demo'd, completely ignoring either the verbal direction from the instructor or the crucial detail/difference from "usual" in the demo.
Why they bother to attend, travel to, pay for seminars then just train as usual, that's always been a mystery...I may not "get" what is being taught but it won't be for lack of trying!

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 01-02-2011 at 12:02 AM. Reason: Spelling

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Old 01-02-2011, 12:17 AM   #29
bkedelen
 
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Re: uke collusion

I often find that I don't get much out of seminars and classes when I spend my time thinking about how everyone else is doing it wrong.
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:50 AM   #30
Janet Rosen
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
I often find that I don't get much out of seminars and classes when I spend my time thinking about how everyone else is doing it wrong.
"worry" - no I'm training not standing there and critiquing, and- what 99% are doing doesn't affect me- but it is not easy to learn when partnered with people who insist on doing things via their default rather than working on what is being taught.

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Old 01-02-2011, 05:11 AM   #31
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Re: uke collusion

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Robin Johnson wrote: View Post
So it seems to me that professional athletes in competitive sports seem to think that a significant amount of collusion in practice/training is extremely useful.
Yes agreed.
The training aspects are certainly different than the competitive aspects of any activity. And since Aikido does not have a competitive (with a few exceptions) aspect we are left with training. Good point.
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:16 AM   #32
jurasketu
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Re: uke collusion

I perfectly understand Mark's basic complaint that started the thread. It is actually comical that people expend effort, time and money to attend training where they proceed to seemingly ignore what is being taught. I don't think this is limited to Aikido seminars. We'll find the same thing in virtually any voluntary training.

It might be interesting to speculate about why that would be (some of these points have already been mentioned by other posters but I thought a summary would be useful)...

1. People are stupid. We are. But that is besides the point.
2. People don't listen very carefully. We don't. That is hard to fix.
3. People don't understand what is being asked. We do something we do understand desperately hoping that we're close.
4. People will have preconceived expectations of what will be taught. We will do what we were expecting instead of what was actually asked.
5. People are uncomfortable doing things we don't know (yet). We do something we know instead and cover by saying we're doing it the *effective* way.
6. People are under stress. We revert to previous training.
7. People have their own training agenda. We do what we want to do regardless of what was shown.
8. People like to show they are competent. See number 5.
9. People find learning challenging. See number 6.
10. People actually know all this and still ignore what is being taught. See number 9.

How do we fix this? The answer is to always train with a "Beginner's Mind". Please let me know when you can do that consistently -- and maybe hold a seminar that I can attend and uh... learn that... hopefully...

All paths lead to death. I strongly recommend taking one of the scenic routes.
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:59 PM   #33
ravenest
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
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
SOOO glad you bought this up! Recently I got so frustrated with one in particular, I hardly touched him and he goes flying past and dives through the air and roles ... WTF!? I thought, if he's gonna do that, he should get nikkyo on himself and tap ou t he got up and goes, sorry can we do that again? But he always recieves like that. I'm one of those guys that dont hunker down and dig in, but I dont take a dive and that frustrates some. I'm easy to move, I'll take a floop step forward or back, let my body be pushed around and go floppy, I'm not resisting but few people follow through and throw me easily (except those that know what they are doing ) I'm constantly saying, just keep going - If they do, down I go. But some think I am resisting ????

I think its hard to see a lot of the point of aikido unless it is clearly understood the reason for the particular exercise AT THAT TIME.
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:06 PM   #34
ravenest
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Re: uke collusion

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Jessica Tackett wrote: View Post
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.
That sounds good, but in some dojos NON of this stuff is talked about.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:07 AM   #35
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Re: uke collusion

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Robin Johnson wrote: View Post
I perfectly understand Mark's basic complaint that started the thread. It is actually comical that people expend effort, time and money to attend training where they proceed to seemingly ignore what is being taught. I don't think this is limited to Aikido seminars. We'll find the same thing in virtually any voluntary training.
In a lot of other things as well. I'm reminded of the way that people often go about religious practices, attending worship services but ignoring (or even resisting) the opportunity (imperative?) to make the personal changes that the teachings imply. I guess the common thread is, "Here's a path that offers you instruction in how to change to become more like X."

I like your list a lot. I wonder how many of those items boil down to (or derive a lot of their oomph from) resistance to change.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:41 AM   #36
Basia Halliop
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Re: uke collusion

Well, I'm a white belt, so maybe it's not exactly the same experience, but I've often realized at seminars that what I'm doing is not exactly what the teacher is showing, especially if they do things very differently from my own teacher.

However, I really am trying to learn what they're teaching. It's just that if so many aspects of what they're doing are different from what I know (basic footwork and body position and posture all different than I have been taught, plus a new technique, plus a different approach to ukemi, etc), then it's kind of a mental overload. I just can't mentally take in ALL of it at once in a weekend, let alone a two minute demo of a single technique.

So I end up picking one or two things the teacher appears to be drawing attention to or talking about or some specific thing I notice them doing, and trying to see and work on those. By default, the rest of what I'm doing tends to end up looking more like what I know best and have spent years training my body to do...

I.e., it's not always intended as disrespect or lack of interest in what the seminar teacher is teaching...

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 01-05-2011 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:33 PM   #37
jurasketu
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Re: uke collusion

Re #35: Mary-

"...resistance to change..." Aikidoka resisting a learning challenge. That is also highly comical. Thanks Mary.

Re #36: Basia - Failure is part of the learning process - you are trying. Mark is complaining about folks that aren't really "trying" so they are avoiding failure and hence learning.

My favorite saying about learning is this: "You learn from failure, not success." [Really - it should be "You largely learn from failure, rarely from success"]

Robin

All paths lead to death. I strongly recommend taking one of the scenic routes.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:02 PM   #38
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

My objection was directed more towards ukes that don't try to or are so conditioned that they can't follow instructions and in effect stop folks from practicing what the Sensei is trying to teach.

With diving ukes I can't tell if that's just the way they do it, if I'm so brutal they are trying to stay safe or if they just want to get it over. Nage's practice is their problem. At seminars I'm almost never senior enough to know when nage is doing something right. About all I can do is try to follow instructions, attack and hope I can stay safe.

Regards,
Mark
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Old 01-06-2011, 01:10 AM   #39
Randall Lim
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Re: uke collusion

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
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....
I agree with you. As an Uke, I would move when Nage leads me. If Nage doesn't lead me, I would hold firmly or attack committedly.

Holding firmly means making sure the entire surface of my palm is in physical contact with Nage's wrist (if it is a Katate Tori). I do not need to hold so tightly such that Nage feels pain, loses blood circulation or is unable to move an inch.

As long as I can feel the connection with Nage's centre (through our arms), I would adjust my body & centre to maintain this connection.

In this way, Nage learns to achieve connection
& develop his Ki projection through the subtle sensational feedback I give to him that he is doing it right.

However, if Nage lures & leads me, I would adjust my body & centre to achieve a firm grip. But the very moment that I do achieve a firm grip, I would be in an awkward position, making my balance at risk. This is the wonder of LEADING.
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:46 AM   #40
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: uke collusion

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
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
Much Aikido ukemi was designed around making the techniques work. Very few people I encounter take good ukemi. They are either reactive or stump-like. Neither represents good martial arts.

A martial artist simply cannot have too much sensitivity but his training should be geared towards reducing reactivity to as close to zero as possible. So you have the folks who are very sensitive... which generally means that if you look at them, they fall over.

If you want to see an example of this, just take a look at Watanabe Sensei's ukes at the All-Japan Demos up on YouTube. You can see exactly how he is projecting and his ukes have been trained to move simply because they felt the direction of his intention. It might be interesting sensitivity work but it is wretched martial arts. Having actually trained with Watanabe, I know that he is quite capable of doing solid Aikido, so I can't say what is going on in his mind. But he has gotten his ukes to suspend any common sense and take ukemi that has simply passed from the realm of anything one could call martial arts.

On the other hand, many of us trained with teachers who, in an attempt to demonstrate that they could do technique effortlessly against stronger, larger partners, encouraged their ukes to resist strongly. Whereas that might make a good demo and certainly makes the teacher look good, it is terrible methodology and has given many practitioners the idea that making a good attack in Aikido is to shut the partner down.

Aikido is about training. Training is done to learn. Imagine that you were in driver education and the instructor told you to start the engine, put the car in gear and then start driving, then, every time you tried to hit the gas, he hit the break. You will NEVER learn proper technique by not doing it. You will never learn to relax by imprinting tension.

The uke is your training partner, not your opponent. It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly. There is no intention to resist, that's bad martial arts. The ukes job is to establish a solid connection to the nage's center. If nage can get kuzushi, then the uke takes the fall. If, on the other hand, nage at any point runs into uke's structure, the technique should stop dead (at the yudansha level, it should be reversed). Uke does not compromise his own structure, nage must figure out how to do that. When nage does figure it out, uke takes the ukemi.

Especially when working on really high level technique, like Ikeda Sensei is doing, it is imperative that nage can count on the fact that uke isn't "tanking". With my own students, I will purposely do a technique wrong, tense up, push or pull, and they had better not let me get away with that. With "aiki" work, it is so effortless when it's right that one needs to be sure that the partner was trying to maintain his structure.

That's uke's job... to maintain his structure, to recover his posture if compromised (if possible), and to not create any tension that would be bad martially (anything that would slow him down, restrict his total freedom to react as needed, or diminish his power). Too reactive is no good, too resistant is no good.

There is no valid reason to fall down for anyone unless they make it happen. But training with the intention of stopping the other guy is just as bad. Neither results in developing the real skills that eventually would make collusion or resistance moot.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-07-2011, 07:46 AM   #41
Cliff Judge
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
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.
Mark, hang on, are you saying you willfully colluded because Sensei was making a point in front of the whole seminar?

Interesting way to start a thread about the Problem of Collusive Uke, but at any rate - you might not have had to do that. Ikeda Sensei enjoys setting up a very small nage with a very large uke, and telling nage to move uke. Nage can't, so Ikeda Sensei reaches down and adjusts something in nage's posture and then it works. I have seen this happen so many times and with such a variance of success that there has got to be something to it.

Ikeda Sensei's internal work, I really think, requires a special kind of ukemi. Its not collusion so much as limiting the extent to which you will alter your structure before "giving" it to nage. And you should end up giving it to them, because at some point it is just dumb to be either standing there, with your entire frame organized around resisting nage's flow of energy, or stretched out in some weird posture but yet still kinda standing.

Also, at regular speed, you don't have the opportunity to make these adjustments, I think. Or maybe you do, but you wouldn't, because nage would be stupid to try to sit there and continue to try to do the same thing to you.

Ikeda Sensei's seminars are unbearably frustrating, because you do so much work at such a slow speed for such a miniscule payback of perceived success.

But I do believe it's important to strive for what he's got. And that requires mindful ukemi that is strong but honest. And as soon as I figure that part out I'll let you know!

Last edited by Cliff Judge : 01-07-2011 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 01-07-2011, 07:58 AM   #42
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: uke collusion

"Very few people I encounter take good ukemi. "
George...this is such a general statement.
We all try so hard to be good ukes. At our dojo much emphasis is placed on the roles of uke and nage. Yet we all have our limitations in both roles. Isn't that what makes Aikido so interesting?
My training as nage is to accept each uke as them come...some fall to soon, some resist illogically, some are stiff and unnatural, some selfish and afraid and some are from uke heaven. Each uke in each instance offers me an opportunity to see myself in that moment and watch and move and be...
Aikido is that connection of me and uke...I may feel frustration or judgement and then I can go back to my center and really connect...again... the next time I may lose my center and get yet another opportunity to reconnect...
I am hoping to come to your seminar in New York. It will be nice to meet you.
Mary

Last edited by Mary Eastland : 01-07-2011 at 07:59 AM. Reason: weird smiley
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:59 AM   #43
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Re: uke collusion

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post

Mark, hang on, are you saying you willfully colluded because Sensei was making a point in front of the whole seminar?

Interesting way to start a thread about the Problem of Collusive Uke, but at any rate - you might not have had to do that. Ikeda Sensei enjoys setting up a very small nage with a very large uke, and telling nage to move uke. Nage can't, so Ikeda Sensei reaches down and adjusts something in nage's posture and then it works. I have seen this happen so many times and with such a variance of success that there has got to be something to it.

Ikeda Sensei's seminars are unbearably frustrating, because you do so much work at such a slow speed for such a miniscule payback of perceived success.

...
It wasn't completely willful collusion. But it was collusion. Sensei set up a good magic trick and I fell for. He adjusted things and I didn't readjust after he changed things. My balance got changed just enough that it made sense to move. Social pressure and uke training were also a big part. I'm not complaining about everyone else doing things wrong. I object the most when I do something that doesn't make sense. I probably would reset now and be a much tougher uke.

Realize, I wasn't just being a brick in the first place. It wasn't a very martial exercise, but I was still being aware of what I could do to nage and what nage could do to me. I think there were 6 levels of rank difference between nage and me, (4th or 5th dan, 2nd kyu). Nage really had no issue moving me if they wanted to do something else, but the nage was really trying to get what Sensei was teaching. I'm not sure what the guy on the other arm was doing.

Mark
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:24 AM   #44
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Much Aikido ukemi was designed around making the techniques work. Very few people I encounter take good ukemi. They are either reactive or stump-like. Neither represents good martial arts. ...

Aikido is about training. Training is done to learn. Imagine that you were in driver education and the instructor told you to start the engine, put the car in gear and then start driving, then, every time you tried to hit the gas, he hit the break. You will NEVER learn proper technique by not doing it. You will never learn to relax by imprinting tension.

The uke is your training partner, not your opponent. It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly. There is no intention to resist, that's bad martial arts. The ukes job is to establish a solid connection to the nage's center. If nage can get kuzushi, then the uke takes the fall. If, on the other hand, nage at any point runs into uke's structure, the technique should stop dead (at the yudansha level, it should be reversed). Uke does not compromise his own structure, nage must figure out how to do that. When nage does figure it out, uke takes the ukemi.

Especially when working on really high level technique, like Ikeda Sensei is doing, it is imperative that nage can count on the fact that uke isn't "tanking". With my own students, I will purposely do a technique wrong, tense up, push or pull, and they had better not let me get away with that. With "aiki" work, it is so effortless when it's right that one needs to be sure that the partner was trying to maintain his structure.

That's uke's job... to maintain his structure, to recover his posture if compromised (if possible), and to not create any tension that would be bad martially (anything that would slow him down, restrict his total freedom to react as needed, or diminish his power). Too reactive is no good, too resistant is no good.

....
Thanks Sensei. I heard this before and I keep trying.

I notice you said "It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly." Once we get past knowing which foot to move and hand to use I've never really been able to translate that statement into what I should do. I think it takes way more skill and experience than I have. I hesitate to presume to judge what people way more experienced than I am should be doing with a technique. I can usually help people with way less experience, but what if my understanding of what they should do is wrong? People can usually count on me for honest ukemi with no real intent to embarass or hurt them. But my honest is still very aggressive. Shouldn't uke be trying to disrupt nage's posture?

I will say most of the time when teachers are trying to purposely do a technique wrong they usually have many tells (card player term) that let the students know they should not fall. Ikeda Sensei did that a lot at this seminar, but it was really obvious when folks were supposed to fall and when they were not.

Thanks again,
Mark
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:44 AM   #45
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
It wasn't completely willful collusion. But it was collusion. Sensei set up a good magic trick and I fell for. He adjusted things and I didn't readjust after he changed things. My balance got changed just enough that it made sense to move. Social pressure and uke training were also a big part. I'm not complaining about everyone else doing things wrong. I object the most when I do something that doesn't make sense. I probably would reset now and be a much tougher uke.

Realize, I wasn't just being a brick in the first place. It wasn't a very martial exercise, but I was still being aware of what I could do to nage and what nage could do to me. I think there were 6 levels of rank difference between nage and me, (4th or 5th dan, 2nd kyu). Nage really had no issue moving me if they wanted to do something else, but the nage was really trying to get what Sensei was teaching. I'm not sure what the guy on the other arm was doing.

Mark
FWIW, it seems like it is pretty normal for nage to be able to move one uke, while the other one is unmoved, in that exercise. In my experience.

I think when you said "my balance got changed just enough that it made sense to move," you hit the nail on the head. The right thing to do is to feel for nage connecting to your center and nudging your whole body. That's what the goal is. Then you both learn how to feel when a good connection has been made, and when the resulting setup between your two bodies is such that nage can express some movement without breaking the connection.

Its actually difficult to take the appropriate ukemi for these exercises. There are a collection of things that I believe are wrong that I experience all the time:

1) Steel grip, noodle arms. So you can't actually connect to their center. They don't actually have you, of course, and you can do whatever to them....but you're both trying to do one particular exercise at that moment and henka is not really appropriate.

2) Overstrong grip. Uke grabs really really tight, so tight their muscles actually expire after a few seconds, and then all of a sudden they go. Its like great, now I think I can actually make this work, thanks. Sometimes you both think nage just did the technique.

3) Dead Fish Eyes. I am guilty of this all the time. Uke grabs onto nage and then their brain goes somewhere else. Either they are thinking about the technique they just did, or they are thinking about the beer they are going to drink in an hour. But its really hard to connect with somebody when they are not mentally there. Uke's mind and body are both needed! Anyway its really good training to force yourself to focus when you are very tired.

4) Uke focusing every fiber of his being in opposing your technique. A few summer camps ago I grabbed one of my kohai and wanted to work on some aiki-age stuff George had showed me. My friend just got completely on top of me and I couldn't do a damn thing. But all I had to do was switch to a drop and he was on his butt in half a second, because he had entirely organized his structure to resist my lifting technique. This is a really tough thing to work through because it seems like what you are supposed to do. Sensei says "strong please," "don't let partner move it," etc. But you should pretend that you don't know exactly what technique is coming, or else you cheat both of you. Because, again, you are both there in a contrived situation trying to work out a principal through one technique. Its not the time for henka, so uke should not put nage in a position where they have to switch to another technique.

5) Adjusting to the point of absurdity. There is a basic exercise Ikeda Sensei used to do towards the beginning of a class, where you do irimi and rather than you moving forward, you get uke to come along. Now uke can certainly refuse to move his feet, and wind up completely bent forward with his arm extended and his butt sticking out the other direction. But what's that supposed to be about? You don't even have a center anymore.
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Old 01-07-2011, 11:14 AM   #46
Cliff Judge
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
I notice you said "It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly." Once we get past knowing which foot to move and hand to use I've never really been able to translate that statement into what I should do. I think it takes way more skill and experience than I have. I hesitate to presume to judge what people way more experienced than I am should be doing with a technique. I can usually help people with way less experience, but what if my understanding of what they should do is wrong? People can usually count on me for honest ukemi with no real intent to embarass or hurt them. But my honest is still very aggressive. Shouldn't uke be trying to disrupt nage's posture?
We would not have these problems if Aikido was like most koryu weapons arts, where juniors always take the nage-equivalent role in kata until they are at a certain level, then they are taught the "uke" equivalent role.

Of course there would probably not be so many of us that we'd all be here, and we'd probably be less open about our training, etc.
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:31 PM   #47
SeiserL
 
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Re: uke collusion

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Ikeda Sensei's seminars are unbearably frustrating, because you do so much work at such a slow speed for such a miniscule payback of perceived success.
But so worth the patience, mindfulness, and discipline.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:52 PM   #48
Mike Sigman
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
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
Man, this is such a good post. Nice observations, Mark. So what was it that Ikeda Sensei was doing when he moved his own uke's? How does it work? What are the parameters in relation to uke's and Ikeda's position and actions that it takes for the demonstration to work? And so on. I think if you can pin all of that down, you can pinpoint the observations about ukes' participation pretty accurately.

Ikeda controlled 2 ukes. How did he do it? If no one knew for sure then probably no one was doing the right physical things. Or then again, maybe an element of (some degree of) collusion was involved and the demo is not really a good one. And so on. Worth dissecting.

2 cents.

Mike Sigman
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:13 PM   #49
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: uke collusion

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Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
Thanks Sensei. I heard this before and I keep trying.

I notice you said "It is his job to offer just exactly the kind of ukemi that forces you to do the technique properly." Once we get past knowing which foot to move and hand to use I've never really been able to translate that statement into what I should do. I think it takes way more skill and experience than I have.
Your key is to look at the Sensei's uke. Ostensibly, the Sensei was doing a technique that was appropriate for the attack his uke gave him. It is your job to deliver precisely the same attack that the Sensei got from his uke. It is staggering how many ukes do not do this. The Sensei's uke pushed, my uke is pulling. The Sensei's uke was quick and responsive, my partner thinks he should grab me and set in stone. This virtually guarantees that you will force the technique in an effort to make it look like the Sensei's technique when in fact, what needed to happen was that a different technique should have taken place.

Quote:
I hesitate to presume to judge what people way more experienced than I am should be doing with a technique. I can usually help people with way less experience, but what if my understanding of what they should do is wrong? People can usually count on me for honest ukemi with no real intent to embarass or hurt them. But my honest is still very aggressive. Shouldn't uke be trying to disrupt nage's posture?
What did the Sensei's uke do? At the lower levels when learning Kihon Waza, ordinarily the uke is not trying to disrupt nage's balance but is simply trying to establish the connection to the center that would allow him to do so. If you are trying to learn a technique and I have already broken your balance, how are you ever going to learn the technique.

This so-called "aggressive"...what is that? If you are competing with your partner, you have the wrong attitude. You are there for his or her learning as they are for yours. That is training. If you are fighting with your partner, that is something else.

Many folks have no idea how to attack properly. This is because they have no background in any other martial art or what background they did have was bad. I constantly get partners who think that on katatetori, they should push my hand into my body. That's their idea of a committed attack. What idiocy. Katatetori isn't an attack at all. It is a piece of an attack. I should be practicing a grab that can take your balance and allow me to strike you with my off hand. Pushing my hand into me places your head inside my striking range. I'll let you push then punch your lights out.

A good grab establishes connection with the nage's center as lightly as possible so that you can use only the most minimal effort to break his balance. With beginners, I simply connect and then let them work the technique demonstrated. But with mid to higher level yudansha, I should actually be trying to take their center. If they understand what they are doing, at that level I won't be able to even if I am trying.

We have started teaching this to the beginners at my dojo. We teach them how to grab and effect the partner's balance. This cannot be done using muscle power and doing the immovable rock ukemi number won't do it either. You have to be relaxed and fluid to break someones balance with just a hand grab and that is what the uke should be imprinting, not the nonsense commonly seen.

Quote:
I will say most of the time when teachers are trying to purposely do a technique wrong they usually have many tells (card player term) that let the students know they should not fall. Ikeda Sensei did that a lot at this seminar, but it was really obvious when folks were supposed to fall and when they were not.
Thanks again,
Mark
Of course. Demonstrating is different from training as well. The Sensei has a communication with his partner about what he wants so that he can show what he wishes to show. Taking ukemi from the "big guy" is a good way to develop sensitivity to subtle signals and changes in intention, which is good martial arts.

However, it is a problem when people misunderstand the purpose of what the Sensei is doing up there. Often the Sensei is asking the uke to do things he or she should never do. They tell the uke to resist, to be really strong, to try to stop them. That makes the Sensei look really great when he does the technique. But he already knows the technique! Everybody else is trying to learn the technique and messing with them while they try to figure it out will not result in efficient learning. Not to mention that you have had the uke doing precisely the opposite of what he is trying to do when he is in the nage role...

50% of your training time is spent as uke. If you are doing something different as uke from what you are as nage, your body only gets confused. This is what I love about Endo Sensei... he won't allow that. So much of Aikido is about nage trying to learn and execute technique at the most subtle and sophisticated level while working with a partner who acts like a moron. If we are truly training martial artists, the both partners need to be doing good martial arts. Neither should be doing anything in his practice that imprints habits that one doesn't wish to have at the end of the process. If you are training tense, you will have tense Aikido. If you are training fearfully, your Aikido will be fearful.

All training should be constructed with a certain goal in mind and everything should be about doing what is necessary to get there and not doing anything that interferes. It's really simple... you become what you train. If you are aggressive, then your Aikido will be aggressive. If you train with no content, your Aikido will have no content.

In my opinion, fixing how Aikido folks think about their ukemi is the single biggest issue facing us going forward. So, to sum up, the uke should not break his posture voluntarily, he offers his attack as a tool for his partner's learning, not as a competition, he should not do anything which reduces his complete freedom of movement (like planting and having too much tension in his attack, and when the throw is there he should take the fall. And when it isn't there, he doesn't. That doesn't mean resist. I've had people try to stop my technique when they were in the most compromised of positions. I could knock them cold and they couldn't stop it. They needed to not be there any more. If you are past the point of no return and can't recover without being totally open, the you should be falling.Later on, everything gets a lot clearer. If they don't have you, you have them... one way or the other.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 01-07-2011 at 02:19 PM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:49 PM   #50
Mark Gibbons
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Re: uke collusion

I have to watch Sensei and Sensei's uke at the same time?

My definition of an agressive uke. If I can get my balance back I will. Depending if we've agreed to it, I'll reverse you if you aren't just learning the dance steps. If I can hit, or kick I'll probably do it and stop about 1/8 inch away. If I hit with one hand I think its fair game to strike with my other body surfaces as follow up.

Knowing where is the edge for overdoing it, and knowing when I'm severely compromised, well those concepts are really hard. Years ago I figured out I was fighting too much and it was getting in the way of learning. I just can't do moron uke though.

Thank you for a most instructional set of posts.

Mark
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