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Old 08-21-2002, 05:48 PM   #1
akiy
 
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Blurring the Roles of Uke and Nage

Hi everyone,

Just did some interesting exercises to try to blur the "distinction" between uke and nage over the weekend during the ukemi class and I thought I'd share them here.

We started out with seated kokyudosa (uke grabs nage in ryotedori, nage connects with uke through the arm, nage "throws" uke then pins). Rather than nage throwing uke four times then switching roles, I had "uke" (the person grabbing) throw "nage" two times then "nage" (the person being grabbed) throw "uke" two times then switched roles. This had the effect of each person throwing the other four times in succession but twice as uke (the person grabbing) and twice as nage (the person being grabbed) -- kind of like a phase shift, if you would.

I then had them do the same but with both parties trying to do kokyudosa on the other with one caveat -- to be honest and open if the other person "gets" you regardless of what "role" (uke or nage) you were. This had the effect that both people were trying to connect and off-balance the other without the thought that "uke loses" or "uke always falls down."

We then did other exercises in this manner while standing with a few katatedori kokyunage variation leading into katatedori jiyuwaza -- with both parties trying to "throw" the other while remaining honest and open to being affected themselves.

I thought this was interesting in that some of us are very much attached to the role of uke or nage and that there seems to be an inherent difference when we grab versus when we are grabbed. It's also interesting how often we lose track of good aikido principles and end up in a sort of a wrestling match when we confront "opposition" during our techniques.

In any case, I thought this was an interesting exercise which I'm sure I'll be revisiting soon...

-- Jun

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Old 08-21-2002, 06:54 PM   #2
Kevin Leavitt
 
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When working with more experienced people in the dojo...i have found the only distinction between uke and nage should be who iniates the attack. After that the situation should develop.

Albeit, when working with your partner and trying to synthesize stuff...it helps to divide the roles so nage can learn!

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Old 08-22-2002, 01:55 AM   #3
erikmenzel
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Dear Jun,

nice exercises, aren't they? Done them a lot.

IMHE people always get a bit confused about the uke and nage division. This is probably partly due to the way we train. One person holds, grabs or stabs and the other throws, locks or pins. Unfortunately the biggest misconception that is planted in the brain at that time is often the feeling and idea that one knows what is happening and going to happen and how the roles are divided (on before hand).

We try to teach people to realy have an open mind about the role of uke and nage (without turning it into a struggle or ego contest, which is difficult for somepeople). Just do the exercise you were shown b sensei and try to feel what role you get, let the union of partners determine the role, not your mind or whish.(Just remember that investigating the role you have is something totaly different from resisting or trying to block something!!) It is all about being in the moment, no remainder of the past, no looking forward to the future.

I found that this kind of approach not only improves your overall skil, but also forces people to let go of expectations about what is going to happen.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
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Old 08-22-2002, 08:43 AM   #4
MaylandL
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Hello Jun

Sounds like a very interesting exercise. We do a similar exercise in kokyudosa. Uke grabs ryotedori on nage and then extends. Nage has to stop Uke's extension by blending. Sometimes Sensei gets the yudanshas together so they can train together. In that situation we are expected to do kaishiwaza(sp?) if Nage has not done the technique correctly.

Some of training requires Uke to have a very directed attack where the direction of the energy and the intent from the attack is very clear. Nage has to blend in order to perform the technique.

Other times the intention o the attack is masked and Nage has to understand and be sensitive to the weaknesses in posture of Uke.

Happy training all

Mayland
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Old 08-22-2002, 09:55 AM   #5
jk
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This sounds like an interesting idea...not that I'm any expert in Tai Chi, but this seems to be like the various Tai Chi push hands exercises in terms of function and intent. I suspect that with aikido technique, it could end up looking like judo randori, but there's nothing wrong with that...

Regards,
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Old 08-23-2002, 01:20 PM   #6
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
When working with more experienced people in the dojo...i have found the only distinction between uke and nage should be who iniates the attack. After that the situation should develop.
Which is which?

In Osensei's books--1933 & 1938--NAGE initiates on OMOTE, UKE on URA.

So much for facile declarations regarding the "defensive" nature of aikido. (The argument can be made that NAGE realizes UKE's intention to attack...which sounds uncannily reminiscent of the Fuhrer's intuition re: Poland...)

You'll see this tradition continued in the work of Saito and Hikitsuchi and perhaps others.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 08-23-2002, 01:32 PM   #7
Erik
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
I thought this was interesting in that some of us are very much attached to the role of uke or nage and that there seems to be an inherent difference when we grab versus when we are grabbed. It's also interesting how often we lose track of good aikido principles and end up in a sort of a wrestling match when we confront "opposition" during our techniques.
Jun, that's the fun part! Watching that bbbeeeeaaauuuuttiiiifffuuuuullll technique go right out the window at the first sign of active resistance.

It would be even better if that often didn't describe my technique too.
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Old 08-23-2002, 01:58 PM   #8
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Erik Haselhofer (Erik) wrote:
Jun, that's the fun part! Watching that bbbeeeeaaauuuuttiiiifffuuuuullll technique go right out the window at the first sign of active resistance.
I hope I don't bore, but I often find Nietzsche a wonderful interlocuter for many experiences. He admonishes, "Isn't it precisely for the moral philosopher to be...immoral?"

Doing pristine JKA karate, I always hated watching Kyokushin. They seemed ruffians, crude and brute. I get the same feeling watching Tomiki tournaments; it's aikido ugly. But I also feel the intimation that maybe it ought to be like that more often...

I think there's a reason Osensei insisted that ATEMI is 99% of aikido. Not sure I want to inflict it on my KOKYU HO partner, though.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 08-23-2002, 02:11 PM   #9
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How can technique be "beautiful" if it cannot work against active resistance?

"When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."

R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983)

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-23-2002, 05:34 PM   #10
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
Doing pristine JKA karate, I always hated watching Kyokushin. They seemed ruffians, crude and brute. I get the same feeling watching Tomiki tournaments; it's aikido ugly. But I also feel the intimation that maybe it ought to be like that more often...
Hi Don - I know and understand what you are trying to say and between you and me would leave it alone especially since Paul pipped in with How can technique be "beautiful" if it cannot work against active resistance?. Unfortunately, many of the readers of these forums might not get it.

Anyhow, I wonder how many Tomiki shiai and at what level you have seen? There really are not that many and I have yet to see a video that captures the best. Competition includes Enbu - kata demonstrations - which you are of course not referring to I hope.

I will agree that a good part of shiai isn't pretty. What do you expect when most competitors are in their 20s and cooperation is not the name of the game. As we all know skill takes time.

BUT: when you see the perfect execution of technique in the most trying of circumstance it is absolutely gorgeous. Far more attractive than some over complicated waltze.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-23-2002, 09:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
Doing pristine JKA karate, I always hated watching Kyokushin. They seemed ruffians, crude and brute.
Sorry Don, I always preferred watching the Kyokushin guys kick at each other's thighs over JKA kumite; it seemed more...realistic.

Regards,
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Old 08-24-2002, 03:38 AM   #12
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I had a kung fu instructor who used "play" to teach principles. Uke would go down on all fours and Nage would try and flip them on to their backs. Uke would resist for a while until "nage" got it. Non-competitive and totally in fun so uke could just turtle up if they thought nage was a bit slow.

Following the side diversion re: uke and nage. I always understood uke was the one who recieved the final technique ie ended up on the ground. Is this definition only relevant to formal "kata"/technique training?

I've been thinking lately we should all spend more time on "drills" like you describe.

David McNamara
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Old 08-24-2002, 10:26 AM   #13
Bruce Baker
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Hi Jun,

We were doing the role reversal in some exercises my teacher brought back for the New England summer camp from Kanai Sensei, outside Boston, Mass.

Each thrust or movement of the jo, is countered so that Uke and Nage's roles seem to blend into the fabric of blurring the lines until the seventh or eight movement where we usually stop cause everybodys head is spinning from switching so much.

It does take away from the mind set of domination by nage, and continual attack by uke. Although we do slow down some of the strikes so the response is within a larger margin of safety, Sensei Griffin did get to a point where we worked on the point of missing a strike, or slight variations that would maintain roles for another movement or once again blurr the lines.

We don't often get into the longer versions of some forms, such as the 75 count jo form Sensei John Stevens works on each year, but working on putting the many short practice forms that are introduces to most practices, and finding offensive/ defensive roles that switch .... it really heightens the opportunity to act/react without thinking.

The obvious possibilitys for variation and changing roles .... I enjoy it so much when it works, I usually laugh out loud.

If you get to the East Coast, you have to come practice with us sometime.
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Old 08-24-2002, 10:35 AM   #14
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I don't remember who first showed me this exercise, but I've really enjoyed it. It's a different take on some of these ideas:

Uke and Nage start with arms at the places where the two arms meet in a shomenuchi attack (there is name for this position, but I can't remember what it is: arms crossed as though Uke had just done shomenuch and nage was just about to do ikyo). From this static position, Nage does ikyo twice: once right and once left. Then they switch, but not in the sense that they switch Uke and Nage. Instead, now Uke is the one 'doing' the ikyo on themselves. That is, they move themselves through the appropriate Uke positions for ikyo, and Nage follows along with a feeling of effortlessly performing the ikyo. You do this again, once right and one left. Then switch Uke and Nage and go through it all again the other way.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 08-24-2002, 07:41 PM   #15
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I love practicing counters.

Until again,

Lynn

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 08-25-2002, 12:13 PM   #16
George S. Ledyard
 
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Videos

Chuck Clark Sensei was gracious enough to send me a couple of his videos and I have to say that his Randori video is a wonderful example of how to start blurring the roles of uke and nage. They can be obtained at:

Jiyushinkai Website

Also, Robert Brynner Sensei put out a very useful set of videos on precisely this topic. I would also recommend these! They are available at:

The Dojo

Saotome Sensei has a new DVD called Oyo Henka which is also about developing the ability to spontaneously adjust to changes in uke's attack. This is available from ATM at:

Aikido Today

You'd have a lot to work on if you got a couple of these videos.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 08-25-2002, 01:50 PM   #17
Don_Modesto
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Re: Videos

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Also, Robert Brynner Sensei put out a very useful set of videos on precisely this topic. I would also recommend these! They are available at:

The Dojo
George,

I tried to follow up on this once before upon your own recommendation. I got no answer when emailing them. Since then, the site has changed--they no longer offer online snippets of the product. Are you in regular contact with them, i.e., have you a contact address that will work?

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 08-26-2002, 02:52 PM   #18
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Re: Re: Videos

Quote:
Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
George,

I tried to follow up on this once before upon your own recommendation. I got no answer when emailing them. Since then, the site has changed--they no longer offer online snippets of the product. Are you in regular contact with them, i.e., have you a contact address that will work?

Thanks.
I saw Bryner Sensei at the Expo so I know he's still cooking... Don't know why your e-mail went astray? Try (310) 445-0080 which is the number listed on their site for info.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 08-26-2002, 02:59 PM   #19
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Hi George,

A lot of my thoughts on the blurring of the roles of uke and nage come from the Shochugeiko intensive at Chuck's dojo that I attended a few years ago. And, yes, his randori video does provide some good points on the matter.

I should be seeing Bryner sensei in November. I may have to ask him to bring some of his videos if he still has them. Yes, he was at the Aiki Expo; I was able to chat with him briefly there.

I haven't seen Saotome sensei's latest video. I'll have to put that on my "wish" list...

Thanks for the recommendations!

-- Jun

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