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Old 03-27-2017, 02:12 PM   #1
Cass
 
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Unlearning Bad Habits

So after today's training I'm feeling a little disheartened and am looking for some advice. After 6 months of doing basic ukemi (7 months training total) my sensei spoke to me after class and pointed out that I am doing the basic rolls incorrectly. In so, I am giving myself momentum (as opposed to letting the roll happen naturally) and pushing my hand along the tatami (inward) to make shorter rolls and tucking my head inward toward my chest (putting my head in riskier position) rather than turning it to the side. He had me demonstrate afterwards until I kind of "got it". The problem is, now this type of ukemi is pretty firmly ingrained in my training, which tends to have a swift enough pace that taking ukemi is automatic. I do not hurt myself when rolling (most of the time) but understandably I am a little frustrated that now I physically can't help myself from reverting to my default "bad roll" when I go to receive ukemi.

So, how has everyone else overcome unlearning bad technique? Of course going slower is a factor but often due to the pace of the lesson and my partners this is not very possible. The icing on the cake is that I have been very eager to start break falls - even doing a few (poorly and a bit painfully) with a yudansha post-class today - but he was quite explicit that until I have mastered correct basic ukemi it is not possible to progress onto break falls. In general today was a pretty poor performance for my ukemi which hasn't helped and now I am somewhat questioning everything, what other poor technique am I ingraining if even this hasn't been picked up before now?

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Old 03-27-2017, 03:01 PM   #2
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

I have one answer. Practice correct technique more than you practiced poor technique. After only 6 months you are relatively lucky. Some of us have years or even decades of poor technique to unlearn.
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Old 03-27-2017, 03:16 PM   #3
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Please remember that learning and unlearning is very plateau specific.
We learn the best we can at one level, as we progress we need to unlearn and learn something new to progress.
We can only see/understand from where we are.
As we progress we see more and learn/unlearn more.
The path to excellence is found in these learning plateaus of learning/unlearning/refining (endlessly repeated).
If your instructor has offered corrections, take it as a compliment and progressed enough to refine even more.

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 03-27-2017, 03:57 PM   #4
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Six months of training? I'd bet you are doing everything "wrong".

But don't panic, it will be worse. Just train.
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:23 PM   #5
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

This is a really good problem to have identified and it will be a good process to overcome this obstacle. The time to begin to worry is when you no longer can find things that are wrong or need improvement.

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Old 03-27-2017, 09:24 PM   #6
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

What it all this means is - when learning something new, try it just a couple of times, then sit down and watch others carefully. Think it through while you sit. Then try again. Get it right ... from the beginning. Start slow - don't be rushed. If it feels awkward - it will be wrong.

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Old 03-28-2017, 12:38 AM   #7
Cass
 
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Thank you for the responses. I fully expect to get things wrong as I go - and often I do - and learn things constantly but usually they are more "minor" issues like which direction I am facing, how firmly I grip or how well I keep contact. The basic movements and techniques are more natural now. This is akin to learning that you have been doing tenkan or tai sabaki movements wrong the whole time - it removes the baseline for what you have been doing. Especially with recent lessons the forms of techniques are challenging and typically I have to focus my full attention on those movements, second guessing my ukemi every time will detract from my training as a whole and eliminate any fluidity I had started to build. It is, at the least, a setback that I wasn't expecting. Often when I am corrected after repeating the movement with the new approach it feels better, "clicks" in a sense that feels right. Now, when I was trying the modified ukemi, I felt very minimal difference which, while it didn't feel "wrong", it also didn't bring me to the "a-ha" moment. I expect that if anything now I will do ukemi worse for a while at least as I try to correct myself quickly and make mistakes.

Hopefully in the end it will all lead to a better overall comprehension and application though, I enjoy being uke and if this will improve me in that regard, well, felix culpa. I have actually told me sensei previously that I love being uke, so perhaps these corrections are due to that - if he will use me he wants a good uk, or perhaps not. I will try to observe the ukemi of the yudansha and maybe ask one of the favoured ukes after class to demonstrate the differences between what I am doing and they are doing, perhaps seeing it done by a stranger will help me grasp the specific issues more firmly. Searching for that "a-ha" as it was. It is surprising to hear that many find they have to unlearn things even at advanced levels, I know there are plateaus both of motivation and progression, but falling back - even briefly - to have to unlearn is unexpected.

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Old 03-28-2017, 02:12 AM   #8
grondahl
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
This is akin to learning that you have been doing tenkan or tai sabaki movements wrong the whole time - it removes the baseline for what you have been doing.
This will happen over and over again, this is a part of what makes aikido interesting in the long run. If your practice is alive it will never stop.
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Old 03-28-2017, 03:38 AM   #9
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
This is akin to learning that you have been doing tenkan or tai sabaki movements wrong the whole time - it removes the baseline for what you have been doing.
Funny. This has happened to me several times over my aikido career. I totally took apart the way I was doing tenkan about 4 years ago and relearned it. That was about 12 years after starting aikido.
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Old 03-28-2017, 04:31 AM   #10
PeterR
 
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Always loved the phrase ''level up''. Can be forward roles or anything but basically good instructors tend to be forgiving for imperfections in the early stages of learning. Deciding when to tighten-up and improve is part of the instructors art and really depends on where the student is.

Forward roles are famous examples. Sometimes just getting a beginner to make the attempt is ..... well its not easy. It is interesting that he is asking you not to project out in your roles. He knows you and I am not second guessing but just last Saturday I was giving one of my 6 monthers the opposite advice. I only mention this to reinforce the idea that requirements will change according to circumstance. I wanted my beginner to prepare for some of the more powerful projections and get over the fear of flying - I felt she was a bit timid. Your instructor feels you have other things that need emphasis.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-28-2017, 07:10 AM   #11
phitruong
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
So after today's training I'm feeling a little disheartened and am looking for some advice. After 6 months of doing basic ukemi (7 months training total) my sensei spoke to me after class and pointed out that I am doing the basic rolls incorrectly. ......................The icing on the cake is that I have been very eager to start break falls - even doing a few (poorly and a bit painfully) with a yudansha post-class today - but he was quite explicit that until I have mastered correct basic ukemi it is not possible to progress onto break falls. In general today was a pretty poor performance for my ukemi which hasn't helped and now I am somewhat questioning everything, what other poor technique am I ingraining if even this hasn't been picked up before now?
ego is an insidious thing. it sneaked up on you like ninja in the kitchen. many many moons ago, a bunch of outsiders, who didn't practice aikido, came on aikiweb (and a few other websites) and told aikido folks that they haven't a clue about aiki. can you imagine for people who spent their whole life practicing aikido and who got umpteen dan ranks to have some bozos telling you that you don't know nothing about aiki? ego arise.. "arise ...spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered, a sword-day, a red day..." aiki war ensured on aikiweb and everywhere else. there were roving bands of aiki/IP and aikido folks who went on plunder and pillage trips. the aiki landscape were devastated. took many years to recover; in some part, still barren desert. the irony was that those bozos were actually right.

don't feel too bad that somewhere in your aikido journey, when someone telling you that you sucked! consider it as a gift.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 03-28-2017, 07:18 AM   #12
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

It also happens that in order to understand what your are doing "wrong" you need to have experience. As you progress you will find that things that your learned are the easiest way to do something at a given stage, but not the "right" way. Once you have improved enough to understand the next step, a "correction " can be made. I don't think aikido is unique in this way, but it certainly has more opportunity to revisit and improve on techniques. I find it fascinating that people will happily invest time and effort on constant improvement of techniques such as ikkyo or shionage, but seem reluctant or even frustrated by the prospect of having to improve ukemi. It does seem to be something that students feel they've "mastered" and do not need to learn more about or improve (present company excluded

Since we spend half the time falling and rolling, and hopefully in our modern lives are more likely to fall down than be attacked with a sword, we should embrace improving our ability to fall and roll.

Enjoy!

Derek Duval
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Old 03-28-2017, 07:40 AM   #13
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

One goes about unlearning bad technique by accepting that it will take as long as it will take. One goes about not developing bad habits by developing a new way of seeing and a new approach to practice.

I feel that Seiser Sensei's comment really sums it up: "We can only see/understand from where we are." Understanding THAT is the key to the rest of it: understanding that what you understand now is just the view from where you stand, that it is not the thing itself. Many aikido students with only a few months training feel that they've "mastered" tai sabaki or basic ukemi, because they don't understand that the world is bigger than what you can see. Early successes on the mat foster this feeling and set you up for a fall. As the saying goes, it's not what you don't know that will get you, it's what you know that just ain't so.
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:42 AM   #14
Michael Hackett
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Pedagogical philosophy aside, just go to class early or stay later and do the rolls exactly as your Sensei taught you. Whatever you were doing incorrectly will be fixed in a reasonable time. This sort of thing happens to everyone on the mat. Good luck.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 03-28-2017, 12:29 PM   #15
Cass
 
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Well, somewhat expected, today my ukemi well and truly sucked! Trying to apply the corrections led to more mistakes than before, even trying to focus on just one part didn't seem to work. Focusing on keeping my head to the side led to me nearly dislocating my shoulder when my arm collapsed instead of staying firm. Returning to just focus on the projection led to smacking my head. It's a frustrating experience but definitely humbled me a little - it does feel like starting from scratch all over again. I am always one of the first on the tatami and last to leave, so I practiced a little before - until too many yudansha were sitting around waiting and I got shy of showing my sorry rolls and stopped :P. I spoke to another beginner, who used to have the opposite issue with the arm, he tried to offer advice but due to inverse issues it didn't help much.

I think next time I will focus on limiting my projection instead of the head issue as while it is less of a safety concern it means that I can still watch what I am doing, as now that I am unsure turning my head away just reduces my awareness of the rest of my form. The head can come after once the rest of the ukemi is automatic - I found it to be quite dizzying to be honest.Trying to curb an emotional response is a difficult challenge too, after failing miserably as a demo uke, proceeding to poorly perform on several techniques and corrected several times by my sensei it was a little easy to start to feel hopeless and a little upset. But next time there will be more opportunity, today a friend of mine passed out on the tatami at the end of the lesson so I was taking care of her so no post-class training, ukemi can wait. I suppose it can make you feel indignant to have to correct ukemi because we perform it so often, while you might do ikkyo or irimi nage once or twice a class, ukemi is done on all techniques (albeit in different forms), so we get the most experience with that. It's a little like taking the carpet from beneath someone, akin to telling them about a bad trait of theirs, they will stop focusing on the good and suddenly only recognize that trait. Similar to today for me, where I was more lost than usual because I was thinking too much about ukemi. The notes on perspective are good to keep in mind too, I have allowed myself to become complacent in that I am "doing well" so therefore assuming what I have been doing is correct - which is why it came as a big hit to find out that in fact, I haven't been doing so well; at least not in this regard.

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Old 03-28-2017, 03:34 PM   #16
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Don't put too much pressure on yourself, it is counterproductive. Remember to not hurt yourself, which is the main purpose of ukemi (besides ridding oneself of impurities.)
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Old 03-28-2017, 06:14 PM   #17
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

I restarted Aikido after a number of years off the mat, so I spent a lot of time thinking about practices to help develop good taisabaki again.

The one I'm working on now, though in this case for the sake of my juniors, is rolling. Many can't do forward rolls well, even after years, so I'm going to try teaching a trick to see if it helps them -- I'm going to teach them to roll backwards better.

The idea I have in mind is based on practice I did many years ago to get the "perfect" backwards roll, where one's knees don't touch the mat at all, but one rolls back onto one's feet. Basically, if you are sitting on the mat with your left foot forward and right foot tucked in, you'll extend your left arm out in a curve as a continuation of your back and practice regular rolling.

The movement is diagonal, as in your right butt to your left shoulder. You start not doing a full roll, but basic seated training, backwards and forwards again, but each time try and go backwards a little more, supporting yourself on that extended arm. As you go further, eventually you want to go back until the toes of you forward foot can touch, and push off the mat (rather than your knee). Eventually that becomes an elegant rearwards roll.

If you do this for 5 minutes a day, even at home, your body will develop in a way that will make forward rolls easier, as the movement from pushing off the mat with your toes is a forward roll.

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Old 03-28-2017, 07:44 PM   #18
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Cass, how about next time, don't "concentrate" on anything? How about not trying to set the agenda, not trying to accomplish anything? Just get on the mat with the simple intention of being a sponge. Listen, observe, try to emulate. Don't try to figure it out. Don't analyze what you just did. Didier Boyet Sensei once said, "Every technique is different. The last one you did is dead. So, make something new." Listen, observe, don't try to FIGURE IT OUT, just do as best you can. Then try again. Just train without expectations or any goal, without any postmortem analysis. Just focus on each moment and do your best in each moment and let go of the need to get somewhere. Do that for a while, and I do mean a WHILE, and see what happens.
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Old 03-29-2017, 01:51 PM   #19
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Paralysis by analysis.

Motto tsuyoku
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Old 03-29-2017, 06:48 PM   #20
Currawong
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Like Bruce Lee said at the beginning of one of his movies: "Don't think, FEEL."

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Old 03-30-2017, 05:38 AM   #21
Cass
 
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Amos, I would love to see a video of what you are describing, I am trying to imagine what you are describing but it is a little difficult .

I am prone to overthinking and overanalysing, it is not particularly a trait that I can stop. I do usually have clarity on the mat though due to focusing purely on the technique, just the aforementioned class I was distracted by my thoughts. I tried to do as suggested and just feel for it yesterday, it was better (at least less painful and clumsy), though I am still not sure if I was correct or just reverted to my previous ukemi, we'll see. I'm not entirely sure how to not concentrate while watching and still be able to emulate what I see. Plus if I am not trying to improve, how will I improve? I can do the wrong thing forever if I just go for what feels good to me, but I won't get anywhere. Likewise, before I can improve I have to understand, which I do by observation, analysis and well, interrogation of my peers and sensei to be honest :P. Change is not always comfortable, but sometimes it is necessary, and at first it may not feel good \_(ツ)_/

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Old 03-30-2017, 06:32 AM   #22
Walter Martindale
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Cass, The film Amos refers to is "Enter the Dragon" - early in the film, Lee gives a lesson to a young member of his temple.

Part of the lesson is that you need to "be in the moment" instead of thinking about what you're doing.

Easier said than done, because when you're new (or relatively new) at anything, you have to be in "conscious control" of your movements as you direct your body parts to where they belong in a movement. After a while, and a bit of "success" (Hmm, that one didn't hurt my shoulder, must do it that way again. - or Wow, partner moved really well that time and it kinda felt effortless) you remember (consciously or not) what it was you did to bring that success about. It's how you learned to walk - step, wobble, fall. get up, step, wobble, fall, get up, step, step, wobble, almost fall, wobble, step, wobble, fall, and so on. Now you don't think about walking but there's a huge amount of processing that went on in your brain to learn how to transfer your weight from one leg to the other, swing the recovering leg through, rock over the supporting leg, brace the muscles of the recovering leg for heel strike, and on, and on, and on - but you don't think about it.

In aikido, you're likely in the "stage of learning" that is roughly equivalent to starting to learn to run... Having learned to walk, you want to get there a little faster, but you don't know which parts of your body you have to move faster to get where you're going faster, yet.

Patience... and "Don't think, FEEEEEEL"
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Old 03-30-2017, 08:30 AM   #23
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
I am prone to overthinking and overanalysing, it is not particularly a trait that I can stop.
That's really unfortunate. It will limit what you can do in aikido -- particularly if you tell yourself that this is not something that you can change.
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Old 03-30-2017, 09:27 AM   #24
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Cass... in your last post you really described the journey of aikido.

We watch and work at emulating what we see. Of course, what we see and what we do is different for each of us because of body types and different ways of moving. Not to mention varying abilities. The dilemma of trying and doing and seeing and feeling and staying out of the mind is what the journey is all about. May you have a fun, slow journey in aikido.

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Old 03-31-2017, 04:37 AM   #25
Cass
 
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Re: Unlearning Bad Habits

Walter is pretty spot on with his description of my current situation. I can't let go and feel because at this point in my training, it is not automatic. Sometimes, here and there, I find moments where things just happen - like in jiu waza - but just as often I find myself grinding to a halt halfway through a technique because I didn't think clearly about the steps I needed to perform and got lost, as it were. Learning to walk and run is a good analogy, you don't judge the ability of a toddler by it's performance in a race. By my thinking and analysing, when I am practicing it is not so excessive, there isn't time after all and I do not dissect every single performance unless I am particularly distracted or stressed that day. But I am aware of how I perform and subconsciously "keep notes". Instead, it is often, as mentioned earlier "post mortem", I go home and think about how the lesson went, what I need to work on, what went well, what I didn't understand and what realizations I had. This helps me feel directed and focused on the right places and lets me know where I need more work. When I go into the lesson I might have an objective - for example I might want someone to help me understand all the variations of kokyu nage - but if that is not covered in the lesson, I save it for either before or after class and approach either the sensei or a yudansha.

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