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Old 08-03-2012, 01:16 PM   #1
TokyoZeplin
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Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

I have a bit of a question for the long-term, as well as short-term, practitioners here, though since the long-term ones have most likely had a chance to practice with a bigger variety of teachers, I assume this question is mostly targeted at them:

I believe we have all seen videos, or demonstrations, of Aikido, where Uke is very over-compliant, falling before being touched, or barely touched, make huge screams of pain from nothing, and so forth.
My question is, if any of you have experienced this become a problem for teachers?

Due to the high level of respect, and hierarchical order, of Aikido, as far as I understand, most consider it a great honour to train with the highest level in Aikido, and that they also often choose people who they want to train with. I would imagine it a great embarrassment, as well as dishonour, for a person not to fall to the techniques of such a person. Because of that, everyone falls.
You often see this in demonstrations too, where Uke didn't quite realize fast enough, that this was the point of the demonstration where they had to fall down. Or they react differently when it's shown "how it should be done", than they did when they show how it shouldn't be done (but Uke's role is the same in both cases).

So my question is this: have you experienced that this has basically gone to the head of some high level practitioners? If you continually only meet people, over several years, that fall perfectly to your technique, is only told compliments in 99% of the cases, could this not lead to a false idea of your own strength? I could imagine that someone in such a situation, might believe themselves to be much stronger than they really are, simply because they are only met with people who willingly fall to them.

Of course, this would be negated in many other Martial Arts, as inter-art competition takes place, and you are tested in a variety of ways, but since Aikido doesn't have competitions, and discourages such "inter-art fights", that doesn't happen.

As I said, this is just my imagination going off a bit here, so it is a question to people, how this has affected, or not affected, Aikido.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:40 PM   #2
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Hi Philip:

Have you started training yet?

Aikido may feel different to you than it looks. When I tried to resist Maruyama, Sensei for nikkyo I thought my wrist was going to come off. The pain was very sharp and very fast. That experience taught me not to resist like that again. Have you ever felt anything like that?

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Old 08-03-2012, 02:06 PM   #3
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Hi Philip:

Have you started training yet?

Aikido may feel different to you than it looks. When I tried to resist Maruyama, Sensei for nikkyo I thought my wrist was going to come off. The pain was very sharp and very fast. That experience taught me not to resist like that again. Have you ever felt anything like that?
Afraid my dojo doesn't open until 4th of September, for summer vacation, so not yet

And you seem to have misunderstood me. I'm not somehow saying that Aikido doesn't work, or that there aren't great Aikido practitioners out there at all, so not entirely sure what you're replying too

Whether I have felt something like that, well, since I haven't fought any people in Aikido, not exactly, but sure, in Karate, I've certainly felt pain that was "very sharp and very fast" Oh goodness, I remember a guy blocking my arm with the shin of his leg... there was almost tears ._.'
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Old 08-03-2012, 03:22 PM   #4
James Sawers
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Please keep in mind that both nage and uke are doing aikido. The uke is not taking the fall to make nage look good, but to protect him/herself. So, a high-end demonstration can look like a choregraphed dance. A good follow-up question then is, what happens when uke is inexperienced or does not practice aikido at all, but attacks with a full, commited attack? Depending on nage's skill level, this can result in a skillfull blending where not much damage is done, to a severely injured uke. Both outcomes work within the aikido paradigm. A high-end nage (sensei/teacher) is aware of all this. What goes on in his/her head is only known to him/her.
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Old 08-03-2012, 03:55 PM   #5
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

What James said. Most aikido probably looks fake to someone who's inexperienced in the practice, because they don't realize what the techniques can do. Something like nikkyo sure doesn't feel like much, until it's your wrist in that lock. So, is uke being "compliant" in aikido techniques? Yes, in a sense -- strictly speaking, much of the time you don't have to take ukemi. You could choose to be knocked unconscious, have your shoulder dislocated, have your ribs broken, etc. It's your choice. I think you'll agree that it's a stupid choice -- but then, the choice won't present itself in those stark and obvious terms to an inexperienced person.

I'll never forget my first experience with nikkyo, long before I started training. Sure doesn't look like much! I wasn't one to trash-talk an art I didn't know anything about before then, but after watching and experiencing nikkyo, I adopted a "there is more to this style than what your uneducated eye can see" attitude.
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:05 PM   #6
TokyoZeplin
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Maybe I'm explaining myself very badly here...

I understand that generally Uke takes big leaps and falls, which to some look very fake, to avoid serious injury. That is not at all what I'm talking about. I also think I made it clear, but perhaps not enough, that I'm not saying Aikido doesn't work, or that there aren't outright amazing top-level practitioners. Those are certainly not the people I'm talking about.

But there certainly are videos where it's quite clear that Uke is simply doing "whatever it takes" to make the techniques look good. I remember one video, as an example, where Nage does that bend-over-like-a-ball technique (no clue that it's called) as Uke is charging. Uke is naturally supposed to "fall over" Nage, but literally stopped a little, and then jumped over, without ever touching Nage. Then there are other videos where you can see Uke falling before actually being touched.
Those are the extreme cases of what I'm talking about, simply to point out the, uhm, point, in a clear manner.

You don't even need to look further than these forums, for some light (and often ever so slightly off-topic, so it never really goes into it) discussion on this, with some horrible demonstrations. A recent Aikido Journal also briefly mentions this type of Nage, in it's "Bulldogs" article.
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:33 PM   #7
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Quote:
Philip Zeplin-Frederiksen wrote: View Post
But there certainly are videos where it's quite clear that Uke is simply doing "whatever it takes" to make the techniques look good. I remember one video, as an example
Well, since we've evidently all misunderstood you: as a basis for discussion, do you have any examples of such videos? Can you cite them and explain what makes it "quite clear" to you that uke is being overly compliant?
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:36 PM   #8
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

You might just have been watching some bad aikido video demonstrations, what we call "air-aikido" (perhaps my ki is not that developed?). I have seen such myself and encountered a few practitioners. Aikido is a large community. But such practitioners do not last long in our system as we tend not to live on the same philisophical plane and they leave.
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:41 PM   #9
Michael Hackett
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Philip,

There are times when Uke does "take a dive" during demonstrations. In an honorable dojo, Uke isn't tanking, but rather doing what would likely happen and assisting the instructor in showing a particular movement or technique. That doesn't explain the videos we've all seen where Uke is writhing in pain when the instructor is still in the dressing room putting on his hakama. That's a much different situation.

From your description of the Nage rolling into a ball, I think you are describing sudori. If so, sudori are done much like a cross-body block and intended to cut Uke's knees out from under him. If done too forcefully, Uke can end up with broken knees, so most Nage will not drive in as hard or as deeply. Uke will still be stuck in his forward motion, but has no room for his feet to move forward. He has to take a forward fall over Nage's body or he can choose to trip over Nage and do a face plant.

Michael
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:53 PM   #10
grondahl
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

In Aikido tanking and overly compliant uke is like the yeti or bigfoot. Everybody has heard of it but no one has actually seen it in person. And if the overly compliant uke is caught on tape it´s fake or not really aikido (according to their own standards).
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:16 PM   #11
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Aikido practice is fundamentally cooperative rather than competitive or combative so I think your analysis is operating with some flawed premises at the outset. (which is not to say that it can't be helpful in a combat situation)

Most of the situations where uke takes ukemi without being touched it's avoid a broken nose, lost teeth, dislocated knees, or similar, and is as much a display of their skill, timing, competence and sense of space (ma-ai) as it's about nage's capability.

As for the screaming in pain thing, speaking from personal experience as a natural sceptic and someone who's only been training a few months, I'm a large 40 something guy with above average strength and I've been floored in less than a second by guys in their 70s applying 1-handed nikyo. The alternative was very obviously a broken wrist. When I've tried to apply nikyo to the same guys, be it with focus on my centre/ki/kokyu or brute strength, I've got absolutely nowhere.

Earlier this week I watched a 5th dan shidoin with 40 years of practice squawk like a parrot when a 7th dan shihan half his size took hold of his toe. Good-humoured stuff but I've no doubt whatsoever that his expression was 100% genuine.
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:17 PM   #12
TokyoZeplin
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

@Michael Hackett,
Michael, thanks! You seem to have pretty much gotten what I was trying to say I of course understand that in forms of demonstration how a technique works, there's nothing majorly wrong with that. Though I particularly remember one demonstration, think it was on how to use Atemi on YouTube, Uke was attacking in two (subtle) different ways: one when it was explained how the technique worked, and then slightly different when an actual demonstration of the technique was done. Just seems to me that the attack was altered to make the technique actually work, when demonstration was done, but was no longer what was originally taught.

It sounds like it is indeed Sudori I was talking about... especially Gozo Shioda seems to use it a lot in his old demonstrations? I understand the idea behind the technique, doesn't take a genius to really, fairly straight forward. But what I'm talking about, as an example, was a video where Uke actually makes a very quick stop BEFORE "hitting" it, and then jumps. In effect, Uke could have simply stood there instead. Something I'm still waiting for: where Uke just falls smack down on the back of Nage, possibly faceplanting Nage (from the sudden pressure) onto the ground

@Peter Gröndahl
Thanks, that gave me a fantastic laugh
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:27 PM   #13
graham christian
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Hi Philip.
I think I understand what you are asking for.

I have found that there are some and in my experience there can be quite a few who are overly complient in as much as they think they are 'supposed to' do x, y, and z. I have found that the most common reason in my experience was due to fear of pain.

Some also have been so because a) the technique the way it has been done or taught is incorrect and potentially damaging so they think they have to breakfall a certain way to escape damage and b) because they haven't been taught how to counter or as I would say, harmonize with it.

This is my experience.

There are many reasons why this can creep in to training and is something to be aware of.

Aikido is a funny art for on the other side of the coin a person who chooses to just be a problem to the person doing the technique eventually gets damaged.

Should be a good experience for you, it will certainly get you thinking

Peace.G.
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:33 PM   #14
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

I've seen tanking - I've even been asked (told) to tank. And yes, there are certainly some instructors who believe their own press releases a little too much.

That doesn't mean that everybody does it, or even that everything that looks fake is fake - but it's a little too common for my own personal sense of comfort.

OTOH - it's not just an Aikido problem, I've seen it in a lot of martial arts.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-03-2012, 05:33 PM   #15
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Guys, give him a break.

Yes, it happens. Yes, I have seen it. No, it's not as common as you might think.

I think what is mistaken for tanking a lot of the time is when the teacher is using an uke who can't take the fall, and they ease off to let uke practice their fall in their own time. Why they would use that uke in a demonstration,I can't say. As for the move you are talking about, we just call it speed bump waza at my dojo. It works, but it is a shit to fall from if it is done well. In the vid you are talking about, he was probably being nice to his uke. Here is a vid of it being done well. He does it at about the 2 minute mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF6O5vIuo58

Just be aware that when you start training, the teacher isn't going to do the technique to you properly to begin with because they won't want to hurt you. Once they are confident you can take the fall, they will throw you harder. Eventually, you will be able to resist and still fall safely when you get slammed into the mat.

Anyway, I think this is what you are talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdUxPLIJVgI This isn't aikido, but you sometimes see this sort of crap in aikido demonstrations.
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Old 08-03-2012, 06:56 PM   #16
Michael Hackett
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

I haven't seen Bigfoot, but I have seen Uke being very compliant when an instructor was demonstrating a particular technique in a class or seminar - in what was obvious to me as an attempt to show the technique in the clearest light. I've seen the same two people training together on the mat later and going at each other like demons, with concerted attacks, resistance and attempts to counter. There is a time and place for everything I suppose and I honestly don't see anything wrong with being compliant during a teaching demonstration, or when taking ukemi with a new student to help them learn the movement. That is a far different situation than being over-compliant in all training.

Since I haven't seen the video showing the sudori, I really can't comment on it. I have had the same experience when Nage didn't enter deeply and I got caught almost taking another step. I tried to stop and had my weight up and the forward momentum of my upper body suggested the best course was to take a breakfall over Nage. That might explain what you saw on video - then again, you could have been watching real crap. I know the situation I described above was crappy and certainly would have looked that way to any onlooker. It felt that way too.

Michael
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:44 PM   #17
James Sawers
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

This may be the best aikido demonstration video yet. It may help you.

http://youtu.be/SGz8MjIlsO4

Once you have some aikido experience under your belt you may look at these videos differently....
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Old 08-04-2012, 12:10 PM   #18
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Quote:
Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
Guys, give him a break.
Anyway, I think this is what you are talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdUxPLIJVgI This isn't aikido, but you sometimes see this sort of crap in aikido demonstrations.
but this is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L0dFcnux58 - an Aikikai shihan

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Old 08-04-2012, 01:52 PM   #19
Nick Hentschel
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

As a newly-fledged aikidoka, it may be that I am guilty of this vice, personally!
I am not a naturally contentious, combative person (that's part of what drew me to Aikido), and my instinct as an uke is to literally "roll with it," and let the solution present itself through compliance with the technique. In fact, as I enter my second month of study, my instructors are often having to remind me to "fight" them more, as they apply techniques!
In some cases, it seems that my resistance is actually essential to the techniques' effectiveness: in a classic yin-yang paradox, to resist is to comply.
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Old 08-04-2012, 08:01 PM   #20
Mario Tobias
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Quote:
Philip Zeplin-Frederiksen wrote: View Post
I believe we have all seen videos, or demonstrations, of Aikido, where Uke is very over-compliant, falling before being touched, or barely touched, make huge screams of pain from nothing, and so forth.
My question is, if any of you have experienced this become a problem for teachers?

As I said, this is just my imagination going off a bit here, so it is a question to people, how this has affected, or not affected, Aikido.
Hi Philip,

I think you need to understand that it is indeed possible to throw a person by barely touching them but it requires almost perfect conditions. However you won't believe it until you have done years of aikido practice because you yourself need to experience it/do it to believe it. For me I am now a convert, I was a skeptic for decades but now believe since I can do some no touch "tricks" with most ukes with the same effect. I am not saying the telekinesis types of throws but normal techniques where uke reacts instantaneously to protect himself from injury.

The videos might look like they are fake masters but they are in fact genuine. It is difficult if not impossible to judge in the videos alone. Yes, there are fake masters like the kiai master shown which is funny as but most I think are genuine after you really analyze their movements. Until then you can't generalize that just because the ukes are falling with no-touch throws that they are over-compliant.

Years ago, I saw watanabe sensei's videos and said to myself it looked farcical and that it was crap. But when I saw the videos again recently with an open mind and better understanding of some aikido principles, they were indeed what aikido is about. I know this maybe controversial to some but this is my opinion.

In my experience, I can offer several reasons:
1st is the principle of irimi and cutting down. For me, these are PRINCIPLES. For beginners, these are taught in basic TECHNIQUES and movements. These are physical, external movements. As you get advanced these techniques become principles and are taught in the psychological sense. Even before there is physical movement, in the mind, you already have entered strongly/pierced the opponent and have cut your opponent down in your mind. That is the intention. For beginners, irimi is done by the feet/body. For seniors, irimi is done with the mind. For beginners, cutting down is done with the sword or weapon. For seniors, the body IS the sword. Just imagine uke attacking with suddenly a sword in his face. Would he still keep attacking and go through the sword? I don't think so. Uke will sense this and react almost instantaneously to protect himself but this can only be done with almost to perfect irimi. This won't happen with wrong timing. For seniors there is no difference whether you're holding a weapon or not.

2nd is the principle of leading. For beginners, you are taught not to clash and to lead the body. Again this is the external/physical part of aikido. As you get advanced, you get taught that aikido is really leading the mind first in order to then lead the body. If you only worry about the external side of aikido, then I think you won't get far. This is just my opinion. Because you are now dealing with leading another person's mind, things get more interesting because there are now more possibilities that you thought were impossible before. It is unlike any of the martial arts I have experienced before. As one of senseis said, do not be afraid with the unfamiliar.

I think it was suganuma-sensei who said, in a demonstration the element of performing techniques accurately is obvious, to this there is the added question of what it is you would like to express during the frame of time you have been given. For example, maybe you want to try to express strength or beauty or softness. A demonstration is a means of self-expression. Therefore the issue of what we would like to express in the demo is important.

For watanabe shihan's demos which looks fake to a lot of you, if you think about it IMHO he is relaying the message that aikido is about leading the mind to lead the body. I havn't trained with him.

Of course I think he is just exaggerating at the start of the demos and the ukes are indeed part of the show, falling by themselves. But I think what he is really trying to do is relay a message to us that most of us won't be able to understand and pick up. I think he himself knows aikido is not about telekinesis and that is not the message he wants to relay which most of us misinterpret as him doing telekinesis. This maybe also the only way he can send the message that can't be done by doing normal techniques.

You would soon see that he is performing normal techniques at the end of the demo and applying the principles he would have wanted to relay at the start of the demo that he hoped some of us would pick up.

If you did not pick it up, go practice a decade or two and analyze it again. Unless one has an open mind to these kinds of things, one will always be a skeptic.
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Old 08-04-2012, 08:39 PM   #21
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post

Of course I think he is just exaggerating at the start of the demos and the ukes are indeed part of the show, falling by themselves. But I think what he is really trying to do is relay a message to us that most of us won't be able to understand and pick up. I think he himself knows aikido is not about telekinesis and that is not the message he wants to relay which most of us misinterpret as him doing telekinesis. This maybe also the only way he can send the message that can't be done by doing normal techniques.
I may have spoken too soon. It looks like this is the way he really conducts his class and not only in his demos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0XW2...eature=related
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Old 08-04-2012, 08:50 PM   #22
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
I may have spoken too soon. It looks like this is the way he really conducts his class and not only in his demos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0XW2...eature=related
It's been a few years, but I've attended more than a few of his classes.

I always enjoyed them, he's friendly and very personable, but he doesn't really do that stuff on people who are outside a select group of his students.

As for making it work on someone who's outside the group and not being compliant? I don't think he can do it - but that's just my opinion.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-05-2012, 12:50 AM   #23
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

Quote:
Nicholas Hentschel wrote: View Post
As a newly-fledged aikidoka, it may be that I am guilty of this vice, personally!
I am not a naturally contentious, combative person (that's part of what drew me to Aikido), and my instinct as an uke is to literally "roll with it," and let the solution present itself through compliance with the technique. In fact, as I enter my second month of study, my instructors are often having to remind me to "fight" them more, as they apply techniques!
In some cases, it seems that my resistance is actually essential to the techniques' effectiveness: in a classic yin-yang paradox, to resist is to comply.
as a newly fledged aikidoka, your major concern when being thrown should be to protect yourself. Don't stress about it.
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Old 08-05-2012, 07:39 AM   #24
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

This is fake to the extent that the interaction is presented as some sort of confrontation or a simulation of one. If you are told that this has any sort of practical value then "fake" is right and comes from the correct vocabulary. If on the other hand this is presented as an exercise in "leading" then, that is what it is. Naturally an attempt to apply this stuff on the unenlightened ends up in a comedy.

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Old 08-05-2012, 05:51 PM   #25
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Re: Overly Compliant Uke - Belief in Non-existent power

this kind of empty force nonsense gives aikido
a bad name

stan
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