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Old 10-02-2002, 07:35 AM   #1
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
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Pain to train, or nudge to budge?

OK. Let's get into the use of Pain verses Nudge.

As soon as I mention pain, some people think of the extreme pain that occurs right before or after injury, where pain is literally the degree of signal being sent to the brain from the nervous system sensory network. In this context, it could be interpreted from touch as the bottom of the scale to intense pain from injury.

Most people know what a nudge is ... the slight use of movement used to cause movement. If you consider the force used to cause a nudge, that force can be used to cause pain if applied with the knowledge of correctly using position, angle, direction, and correct technique in either Aikido or nerve ending.

Do we need to induce pain to train? According to many of the questions about "..does Aikido work for real?", I would say there needs to be a validation for these people.

It may not be the general concensus that we need to cause some type of pain in practice, whether it is the feeling of touch, stretch, pinch, bee sting, or learning to feel the degree of stretch verses pain when doing techniques in practice ...

Learning to feel the techniques with some degree of pain validates the neutralization of opponents, and does indeed create a safer practice.

I am feeling pretty good today, so you hawks and doves can take a shot at me with if you feel I go too far from nudge, budge, into inducing and teaching degrees of pain in Aikido practice ... or does my treatise revert to the foundations of O'Sensei's practice?
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Old 10-02-2002, 08:13 AM   #2
gamma80
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It is my belief that as Uke we need to experience some degree of discomfort when working a technique to fully appreciate its' effect. If you don't take your practice to that level you aren't giving yourself the chance to grow and completely understand how a lock or throw works when you execute it.

I approach Aikido as a martial art and expect some degree of pain and discomfort in my training, I think this physiological feedback is beneficial and helps me grow as an Aikidoka. A little pain is good in a controlled environment.

Chris
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Old 10-02-2002, 08:48 AM   #3
DanielR
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Re: Pain to train, or nudge to budge?

Quote:
Bruce Baker wrote:
Learning to feel the techniques with some degree of pain validates the neutralization of opponents, and does indeed create a safer practice.
I completely agree with this. After feeling the pain when sensei is demonstrating a technique with me being an uke, or seeing the expression on the face of another uke, I both see that it works and am paying more attention to the move that inflicts pain when being a nage.

Daniel
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Old 10-02-2002, 11:43 AM   #4
Alfonso
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my teacher often makes the point that pain is not a reliable tool for technique. some people can ignore pain, or are able to shut it off for enough time to kill the bastard who'se causing it. Inflicted pain often enrages the receiving end. Self inflicted pain is different, if you're causing your own discomfort by trying to force yourself out of a lock or by resisting a pin for example. relief is in your own hands then. I think causing pain for the hell of it is an invitation to find out whether your uke is one of those who go berserk.
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Old 10-02-2002, 01:36 PM   #5
Deb Fisher
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Yeah, IMHO I think it's a semantic difference. I think I can count the number of times even the "ouchy" techniques like yonkyo or nikkyo have truly felt painful, and only then because I was not doing proper ukemi. When working in a focused way with a good partner, though, I often feel "urgently compelled to move" with the threat of pain if I don't respond with good ukemi.

This sense of being urgently compelled is important - it's the clearest (and kindest, in a funny way) nonverbal communication between uke and nage that I (in my one little year of experience) have felt. Which is what I'm in it for.

Last edited by Deb Fisher : 10-02-2002 at 01:40 PM.

Deb Fisher
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Old 10-02-2002, 02:03 PM   #6
opherdonchin
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I'm with Deb in the sense that the key thing is giving the uke a sense of being 'urgently compelled to move.' I disagree with her, however, if she is saying that it is the implied and consciously understood threat of pain the induces this urgent compulsion.

I have a very high pain threshold and pain is rarely something that compels me to move. Certainly it is not fear of pain that drives my uke. I was taught that uke goes best if you take him where he was going anyway. I was taught that pain -- caused or threatened -- causes uke to stiffen and interferes with their ability to respond appropriately to technique. I was taught these things not through discussion and theory, but through a practical understanding as uke and nage of what does and does not cause people to move. My experience says that pain causes immobility, stiffness, tension, and conflict, and is not a good basis on which to build your technique.

At this level, it's not about the morals. It's about what actually works.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-02-2002, 02:58 PM   #7
Kevin Wilbanks
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One thing I've been curious about for some time is how applying joint-binding techniques with massive, damaging force would actually force someone to move. It's one thing to say that pain doesn't force you to move from practice experience, saying you have a high pain threshold, etc...

However, what if you determined to just stand there and take the pain while Steven Segal applied a ballistic, huge, movie-style kote gashi. From the looks of it, the technique would likely tear the entire carpal joint capsule open, as well as rupturing many tendons and tearing quite a bit of forearm musle tissue. Would you be able to just stand there and say 'Ouch!'? Or would there be a slight delay between the damage and the processing of all the nerve impulses, after which you would jump head-first whether you wanted to or not?

Or, imagine someone who is fairly nimble and about 200 pounds binding you up in nikkyo until it is quite tight, then jump-dropping into a full squat position suddenly. Could you just stand there and watch your arm being ripped apart, or would you hit the ground face-first before you even knew what was happening?

The problem is that I doubt very many people really know the answers to such questions. The only real way to find out would be to gather a fair sampling of evidence by going out and crippling people.
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Old 10-02-2002, 03:46 PM   #8
Bruce Baker
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I really hate to disagree about the developement of pain and people who think they have high thresholds of pain, but being uke in many karate/ jujitsu lessons ... I must say that you are very wrong in thinking this.

Maybe you have the ability to resist pain to the point of unconsciousness, but in my experience this type of thinking causes the uke to injure themselves needlessly. I try not let pain go this far, but isn't it better to find neutralization of that pain with either submission to the technique that might allow you a chance to escape?

I am down to my little piddies with how many times I have proved the statement of" ... I have a high resistence to pain and it won't work on me." ... absolutely wrong.

I really don't like to prove it, and have an injury occur because of the increased force applied by a noncompliant uke, it is terribly heartwrending to accidentally hurt someone who thinks they are untouchable. I would like to think I am able to inflict just the right amount of pain to avoid injury in practice while opening the mind of the disbelievers.

Unless you are a victim of having no feeling at all in your body, the signals or the pain will be transfered to the brain ... if nothing else, your physical control will be sufficient.

There are much more effective techniques than what we let the kyu levels practice, and it does take a sensitivity to keep from injurying each other, but don't discount the signals of pain not being the harbingers of injury being immenent.

Last edited by Bruce Baker : 10-02-2002 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 10-02-2002, 04:17 PM   #9
Erik
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I'm a pretty aggressive guy. Ask me to grab and assuming you aren't a beginner I come in pretty solid. And, I'm stubborn. I've been plowed quite a few times and I often wind up muttering, "I know better".

This is one thing. I did it to myself and falls into the realm of exploring edges.

Inflicting pain is something else entirely. Unless I get stubborn, and or, for some reason resist (usually because the opportunity was given to resist by someone applying technique) when the technique is applied, pain means something is wrong. The descriptions I read above implied to me a situation where pain was applied as part of the technique. To me, applied pain, means a forced expression of technique or dominance. I don't think this is entirely invalid in all situations. If I were in a fight and needed control or in law enforcement I could see this sort of expression of technique. However, I don't believe it's the most effective expression of technique.

For instance, applied pain tends to focus nage on a specific point and is effectively an attack. At this point, you've give me something to work with. I have information that I can use and if I choose to, I'd likely change what I was doing to counter, withdraw, or redirect my attack.

The best throws are those you never feel.
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Old 10-02-2002, 04:18 PM   #10
opherdonchin
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Wow. I'm certainly going to think twice before taking uke for either Bruce or Kevin after this. I honestly feel a little threatened.

I have no idea who can and can't hurt me and what they can and can't teach me by that. All I'm telling you is that my experience is that there are a lot better ways of getting me to move than hurting me. Is that stupid on my part? Probably. Am I trying to make some sort of macho point? Certainly not. Is it possible to move me with pain? Perhaps, but it isn't the best way to go about it, again, in my very limited experience.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-02-2002, 05:24 PM   #11
Jucas
Dojo: Multnomah Aikikai
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I don't know what all the fuss was about, pain is good inspiration.

There is a person at my new dojo here in Pasadena, who is basically a giant meat-sack. Now he's not ripped at all, but very stocky, about 5'7" give or take. It isn't that he is particuarlly strong, albiet I would say he is stronger than most. He just doesn't move. He has a hard time commiting his attacks, partially because he is a newer student to aikido, but because he doesn't not flow or accept the technique in anyway combined with uncommited attacks makes it hard to redirect his energy and take his balance.

So I took into consideration what everyone said, "Try something else." I tried nikyo, sankyo, atemi, it like he isn't there. I even tried a ju-jitsu elbow break technique... nothing. Not to mention, pins... I don't know whether he just doesn't feel anything, or just doesn't know how to respond or what...

I had a hard time doing iikyo on this particular individual. He would attack. I would blend in, catch the arm and take the elbow to tenkan and "wind him" down. Problem happens when he doesn't turn when I am taking his arm and elbow, potentially putting himself in a dangerous position where the potential is there to break his elbow by pushing forward. Anyhoo, he starts to turn, I try and get him low enough to take his balance, but he is stronger than me and doesn't bend well at the waist. Then I turn, he steps to catch, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Eventually I got frustrated and put his elbow into my armpit and went to the ground with all my weight. Even with that I felt like he was taking a fall for me.

From my own examination I can see that I wasn't taking his balance, or getting him low enough. The problem comes with the fact that he doesn't respond to atemi, pain or commit his attacks.

Any thoughts?

-J

  • Like a rotten log half burried in the ground.
  • My Life which has not flowered.
  • Comes to this sad end.
-Minamoto Yorimasa
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Old 10-02-2002, 06:39 PM   #12
Kevin Wilbanks
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Quote:
Jonathan Auch (Jucas) wrote:
From my own examination I can see that I wasn't taking his balance, or getting him low enough. The problem comes with the fact that he doesn't respond to atemi, pain or commit his attacks.
Once again, I question what is meant by such statements as "doesn't respond to atemi". You step in, punch him in face really hard, breaking his nose, and this doesn't loosen him up at all, even for a second or two? A forceful soccer-style kick to the groin... no response?

The point is the same as with my response to Opher: be careful how you generalize on the basis of what is a very carefully circumscribed training situation in the dojo. What he doesn't understand or acknowledge is that his lump-like behavior is exploiting some of the dojo rules which are intended to make practice safe, civil, and useful for beginning and intermediate stages of training. Being an unyeilding and unresponsive uke is frustrating you because it is basically a behavior that is outside the rules. These rules include yeilding to mild atemi as though it were stronger, and yeilding to the application of techniques - both are done in part to assist your partner's education, in part to develop habits of self-protection, and in part to practice continually moving to tactically advantageous, reversal-ready positions.

Words are the tool you need to move the uke in question... more likely the Sensei's words. Someone needs to explain this to him in a way he can understand. His ukemi is most likely a hindrance to his partners and a potential danger to himself, even when partners are as nice as you.

If you were conditioned and trained to strike effectively, I guarantee you could loosen him up with atemi - especially with very nasty techniques such as throat strikes, eye jabs, and ear poppers. In the process, he might end up permanently disabled, so I don't recommend it.

When I encounter such an uke, I do what I can to try to signify that I could be taking his head off, and if the message doesn't seem to be getting across, I just grin and make the best of it. If I get an opportunity that seems appropriate, I may try to explain ukemi theory to them.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 10-02-2002 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 10-02-2002, 06:59 PM   #13
Jucas
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Good thoughts kevin. No doubt if I was to actually hit him with atemi he would move. A quick open palm strike would keep him on his toes.

When I said, "does not respond to atemi," I was basically saying, he doesn't consider the "friendly" atemi we practice like it is actually going to hit him, which of course, it doesn't.

Your right, words are what he needs to hear. I will try to emphasisize those strikes, and tell him, nicely, that I could be breaking his head like a melon.

Thanks for the thoughts.

-J

  • Like a rotten log half burried in the ground.
  • My Life which has not flowered.
  • Comes to this sad end.
-Minamoto Yorimasa
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Old 10-02-2002, 07:08 PM   #14
Kevin Wilbanks
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
Wow. I'm certainly going to think twice before taking uke for either Bruce or Kevin after this. I honestly feel a little threatened.

I have no idea who can and can't hurt me and what they can and can't teach me by that. All I'm telling you is that my experience is that there are a lot better ways of getting me to move than hurting me. Is that stupid on my part? Probably. Am I trying to make some sort of macho point? Certainly not. Is it possible to move me with pain? Perhaps, but it isn't the best way to go about it, again, in my very limited experience.
No threat intended. I have never deliberately punished anyone I was training with, and I've even trained with people who have made direct, explicit verbal threats to me on the mat. No amount of macho posturing or general assholery (not that that's what you were doing) would cause me to lose it in the context of practice. I think dealing with difficult people and striving to maintain training discipline in the face of emotions or motivations such as vindictiveness is an important part of training.

To me, expressing that kind of emotion via physically punishing behavior to the uke would represent a grave failure. Doing it just a little bit and trying to make it look like a legitimate part of training because you think you can get away with it, a cowardly grave failure. To me, that kind of behavior is an unthinkable violation of the spirit of practice and the dojo as a space and what it means to me. When I hear people proudly talking about doing such things, it gives me a sort of sickening sinking feeling. Hence, I don't appreciate being associated with Bruce.

I would first try to deal with the situation via verbal communication and within the confines of proper dojo ettiquite, refusing to continue training with the person if it came to that. If someone did something so heinous to me that I could not settle my desire for retribution internally, I would try to get off dojo property before settling it, or I would at least abandon the pretense of practicing, push them off the mat and just freaking wail on them without restraint. It's hard for me to imagine what someone could plausibly do in a practice context that would cause me to lose it like that. I value my continuing good relations with the dojo and living outside the confines of the prison system too much.
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Old 10-02-2002, 10:00 PM   #15
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Quote:
Kevin wrote:
I have never deliberately punished anyone I was training with, and I've even trained with people who have made direct, explicit verbal threats to me on the mat. No amount of macho posturing or general assholery (not that that's what you were doing) would cause me to lose it in the context of practice. I think dealing with difficult people and striving to maintain training discipline in the face of emotions or motivations such as vindictiveness is an important part of training.
Thanks. I appreciate hearing that. I was pretty sure that you didn't actually mean to that you intended to teach me through pain, but, you know ...

I've been thinking more about the 'high pain threshold' thing. It's certainly true that I have a very high pain threshold. It's certainly true that I've been injured on occasion because feelings that should have been interpreted as pain by my system simply weren't interpreted that way. Now, I may be unusual (and unusually stupid), but it's certainly true that people have different pain threshold and different kinds of responses when that threshold has been crossed. I guess I'm just repeating what Alfonso said in post #4.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-03-2002, 12:57 AM   #16
Abasan
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Isn't pain designed to work with your reflex?

For example, if someone was to jerk your hair by surprised, you will be thrown in that direction.

But if he telegraphed it, you would already be ready in anticipation and therefore have overriden your reflex to fall and preserve your scalp.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 10-03-2002, 06:33 AM   #17
Bruce Baker
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Don't do that, it hurts

I guess I have to explain the means of learning from pain.

Much like a child learns not to put their hand in the fire, because it hurts and causes damage to the body we tell them "Don't do that cause it hurts."

So too we should learn from the indicators of pain in the jujitsu, judo, and Aikido practice that we do. Some people dance with pain expecting that their puppet show of childish screaming is the way to relieve pain, while most of us learn, and I reiterate LEARN, to go with the flow and learn to use ukemi to relieve pain to make our practice easier.

Maybe the lump is one of those who hasn't learned the lesson of going with the flow, and needs the slower lessons of doing the practice with instruction, and needs to be acquainted with the proper ukemi for relieving pain? I don't often see this, but every so often the Brain Fog is so thick it needs to be logically approached like a child that needs special help to catch up to the rest of the class.

If you understand that the use of pain is merely the validation of technique, as has clearly been put forth in more than one story about the early students of O'Sensei, then you begin to see the danger of practice ... and you will appreciate the safety concerns we have taken to make practice much much safer.

It doesn't matter if you are a gorilla, like me at six foot tall 285 pounds, which is continually proven moot by many smaller people who practice with me when they correctly stick to the classical style of Aikido which inflicts pain if I do not blend with techniques.

Last words of wisdom.

The first two weeks I started Aikido I found the grasps to be very firm, and a reticent stiffness in my partners. Coming from Karate/Jujitsu, the techniques were proven by the pain factor moving the uke and taking the slack out of techniques to be your margin of safety from offensive movements. My first partner was a younger ex Marine who was good natured but still depended upon upper body strength to muscle through techniques. At that time I had just finished working a constrution job, so I was in really good muscular condition for a forty something man.

We were doing shihonage, ura and omote, but I felt his arm getting tighter and tighter as it resisted the technique ... until after a few rounds I slipped and tried to pull him tight over my shoulder with muscle. You have probably heard a yelp of pain in your dojo at one time or another, and that is when the sensei comes over to see what is wrong.

I explained how tight this fellow was, and that there was a lot of muscle resistence. Now, being the new student the teacher didn't know how gentle the gorilla is or know me from Adam so he does a couple of shihonage's and tells the student, "you are using too much muscle to resist, relax, go with the technique." I have a lot more stories about nearly hurting some of my partners, but learning from first hand experience of being an uke in karate where teachers usually expect to induce twice as much pain as is ever seen in Aikido, I know from personal experience the difference in injury and discomfort.

Properly done Aikido will induce great amounts of pain if you do not learn to go with the technique, never go much beyond taking the slack out, or learn to have a sensitivity to feeling the amount of force needed in throwing / movement techniques.

Take the slack out, use your whole body, and give the lump a little time to blend.

Don't worry Opher, Kevin, I am just a middleaged gorilla without the temper of youth, and I lean more to laughing at myself these days.

Besides, my wife said I am not allowed to bounce people anymore ... takes all the fun out of growing old.
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Old 10-03-2002, 09:41 AM   #18
Ron Tisdale
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I think there may be an over reliance on pain in general in aikido technique as it is often performed. A proper joint lock controls the center...pain is incidental. If you rely on pain to make technique work, check to see if

A) Uke is unbalanced at the moment of contact

B) If using a joint lock, make sure you lock all joints leading to the shoulder, and from there lock the center.

C) practise doing the locking without inflicting pain. When properly done, uke should be controled...pain or no pain.

As for atemi and the reluctant uke...a slow, focused atemi that forces uke to move or block does wonders. You don't have to actually hit them...just place the strike and then continue to focus and push through the target. They'll usually move or block. You must make them feel your "intent".

Ron Tisdale

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 10-03-2002, 10:04 AM   #19
opherdonchin
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My teacher used to teach that atemi was often as (or more) effective if you touched, tickled, or lightly pinched the uke. The point is to take their center not break their ribs.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-03-2002, 04:11 PM   #20
Bruce Baker
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I guess we could debate the difference of training verses using our techniques that lock the opponent with a jujitsu type of submission for resistent opponents until the oceans dry up and hell freezes over, but it seems the majority of responses are aimed towards practice and not actual application.

I know I saw Ron Tisdale at the John Stevens sensei seminar in July, and he was quite taken aback at my candor / ability to flat out say what I was thinking, pity we didn't get a chance to train together. At one of the open discussions I said too much and Sensei Stevens reminded me of "... who is the teacher here." to which I shut up and laughed at my ability to put foot in mouth ... even if Sensei does agree with where I was going. Done it before, and I will do it again, but sometimes that is the quickest way to learn or get information from the horses mouth.

I hope that more of you will get the chance to show me what you are talking about should we meet in th future. Don't be put off if I laugh during practice, I love a well done tight knit technique.

As for training verses goals, I do agree about using minimum force to train, but ... as you become comfortable with both practice and partners, you really should learn to reach into the deeper more exacting movements that cause pain, or .... you will hurt someone, very badly, if you really use Aikido to its full capacity on a resistent uke.

If you understand that this is the goal of "Pain to gain, or Nudge to budge," then we have gotten somewhere.
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Old 10-11-2002, 11:19 AM   #21
Bruce Baker
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We seem to have gotten away from the nudge as we have wandered into pain as the main subject.

What about ways that use the motion of a nudge as you take the balance and start your partner on the Aikido version of a "Nantucket Sleigh Ride?"
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