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Old 02-28-2003, 07:57 AM   #1
KaitlinCostello
 
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How physical do techniques need to be?

How physical do techniques need to be?

Okay… I've spent most of the night and morning mulling over my last few practice sessions. I have mainly two problems have sprung up. Uke's who do not keep contact with me when I am moving through my technique, and one Uke who is simply too rough on me.

So my question, my torture really, is how physical should the techniques be?

The way I currently interpret aikido is something along the lines of : We are all on the mat to learn and to learn in a safe environment. The safe environment things is paramount for me, as I've taken steps back, instead forward since last night. Second, Aikido is about trusting your partner to take care of you and vice versa.


Admittedly I am head shy and skittish and thus require patience from those Nage and Uke with me. Generally my training partners are understanding of this and work with me slowly. All save for one, who "does not play well with beginners." He moved too fast for me and once again hurt me. To top things off he applied a full bar to my elbow and cranked my shoulder and wrist way too far. I understand that he is more advanced then me, but really there is no need to break me!

With a beginner like me, why be so physical? If I blink and I'm twisted up on the ground , there is no way I'm going to learn the technique that bloody fast. My attitude concerning actually stepping onto the mat has changed-- I want to train , but there is the nagging fear of being hurt again. I feel like all the confidence that I had has suddenly evaporated.

I don't mean to complain… I'm trying to make sense of the mistakes at both ends. I screwed up in not properly conveying that my shoulder and wrist were still injured and not putting down a firm enough boundary. But somehow I feel like there is more I did wrong…

Anyway I am curious to hear thoughts and opinion on the physicality of Aikido techniques, whether it be too much or too little.

~Kate

~~No smile is as beautiful as the one that struggles through tears.~~
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Old 02-28-2003, 09:42 AM   #2
akiy
 
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Have you given the above feedback to the person who hurt you? To your teacher?

I think it makes sense to "take it easy" on beginners who have trouble taking the ukemi until their ukemi improves. However, aikido is a physical art -- sooner or later, as uke, you'll be needing to take a lot through the body. Sometimes, this will be uncomfortable, especially if you're learning the physical movements. But, I think the discomfort should be healthy -- "healthy discomfort" -- rather than one that induces fear.

Hope that helps.

-- Jun

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Old 02-28-2003, 09:59 AM   #3
Nacho_mx
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Quote:
The way I currently interpret aikido is something along the lines of : We are all on the mat to learn and to learn in a safe environment. The safe environment things is paramount for me, as I've taken steps back, instead forward since last night. Second, Aikido is about trusting your partner to take care of you and vice versa.
Your interpretation is correct, still some newbies treat their ukes like dummies instead of people...
Quote:
Admittedly I am head shy and skittish and thus require patience from those Nage and Uke with me. Generally my training partners are understanding of this and work with me slowly. All save for one, who "does not play well with beginners." He moved too fast for me and once again hurt me. To top things off he applied a full bar to my elbow and cranked my shoulder and wrist way too far. I understand that he is more advanced then me, but really there is no need to break me!
There is always someone...my advice is either avoid him or call this to the attention of the instructor.
Quote:
With a beginner like me, why be so physical? If I blink and I'm twisted up on the ground , there is no way I'm going to learn the technique that bloody fast. My attitude concerning actually stepping onto the mat has changed-- I want to train , but there is the nagging fear of being hurt again. I feel like all the confidence that I had has suddenly evaporated
The goal of aikido is to manage energy in the most efficient manner, no more and no less than needed, thus nage´s response should be proportional to uke´s intention. To little and you won´t be able to break his/her balance, to much is overkill and uke may slip away or counter.

Quote:
I don't mean to complain… I'm trying to make sense of the mistakes at both ends. I screwed up in not properly conveying that my shoulder and wrist were still injured and not putting down a firm enough boundary. But somehow I feel like there is more I did wrong…
If you are hurt, rest. As Uke be honest and don´t try to resist Nage´s response, because then he will try to push through, using brute strenght instead of proper technique. If you comply and he still insists...tap hard or yell and report him to the instructor.
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Old 02-28-2003, 10:20 AM   #4
Ron Tisdale
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Baically, your milage may vary. Your shite (nage) should moderate to accomodate you, especially if you're a beginner. I'm all for rough practise myself, but that is a personal thing, and should not be imposed on beginners. And male / female bullying is a definate no no, IMHO.

If you had been training longer, I'd make noises about connecting as uke, never getting "behind" the technique since you know what's comming, etc. But frankly, I think its still too early for all that. Stick with partners who don't break you.

Ron Tisdale

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Old 02-28-2003, 10:49 AM   #5
aikidoc
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I generally stress the issue of control when training. That is, nage should be in control of the situation and given unforseen incidents is responsible for the care of the uke. I have seen too many injuries occur due to assuming everyone has the same joint flexibility or ability to withstand forceful technique. Some have to work with their arms and hands for a living and injuries can affect their livelihoods. The worst case scenario is generally the mix of adrenaline and testosterone. To injure someone, especially through ego, lack of control or on purpose states something about one's character and compassion for fellow practitioners. To me, it also reflects badly on my instruction and I simply do not tolerate it. During testing, if I see concerns I will warn the person to get under control. If it continues, I stop the test before someone gets injured and they can test again when they learn to be centered and control the technique.

I realize some uke's will get injured no matter what is done to protect them. However, an environment of fear does not enhance training.

Last edited by aikidoc : 02-28-2003 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 02-28-2003, 11:37 AM   #6
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I think as the others have said, you need to tell the sensei. There is no shame in telling your nage " lets take it slow"

I too was nearly injured on a shionage with alot of umph at the end. My head was tucked when I went down, but the force of the fall bounced my head off the mat. I wasn't expecting him to go that fast and rigid. he was doing the technique wrong too so I could have ended up seriously hurt.

I was more mad than anything. Not in the sence like Grrrrr Im gonna get this guy. But angry because I put my total trust in my nage to practice on me without injury and he treated me like a training dummy.

My advice would be to tell the sensei and all your nages that they need to take it slow and easy on you until you gain the needed confidence to go faster. There is no shame in that and they won't look down on you.

If they have a problem training slow and gentle and they just can't manage it, then THEY are the ones who need to revaluate their Aikido skills.

I can play a guitar. I can play a song lound and obnoxious with all my might, but I can also play the same song so slow and soft it would put you to sleep. My aikido is the same way.

There is nothing wrong with being timid and unsure of someone who is to rough on you. You just have to take it slow and easy until you can work up to the faster stuff. When you are ready, is when you will be ready.

hang in there.

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Old 02-28-2003, 12:20 PM   #7
KaitlinCostello
 
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Thank you for your replies..

Jun,

I've talked to my instructor , yes. He is going to speak to the person in question . I too will speak to him the next time I get onto the mat. This time I'm going to make sure that he understands that I do not have the ukemi, nor the technical skills to move as fast as he can, so if he wants to work with me he will have to slow down. I do understand that Aikido is a physical art, however I don't feel that full force is needed in the situation we are working in. The results are unpredictable and have all the ingredients to be physically and mentally disastrous.

Ignacio,

Rest is good… I do intend to rest, but doing will not clear up my physical issue's. The only thing I can do is to continue training and work through the pain in my joints. Had my training partner had any idea of how irritated my shoulder was, he probably would not have pinned my arm back so hard.

Such is the price of knowledge and experience. I'm trying to up my outlook for next class. I cannot avoid this particular partner-- as it is , to me atleast, immature on my part. I have to set aside my fear and try to build my trust back up. I can never truly do this if I avoid every person who has ever hurt me, scared me, etc.

Ron,

Every technique we switch partners, so that we do not get used to one person's way of doing things. I favor this system-- as it keeps me fresh and tests my technical skills ( especially in dealing with those who, to the shock of many, are even more inexperienced as I!) I think that this should be a learning experience for both the person in question and me. This is a chance for him to learn to tailor his skills to working with those less experienced then him , and a chance for me to work with someone who has as much to learn as I do.

John,

As I said in my initial introduction, way back when, I am stepping away from a life that was heavily influenced by fear. I do not see the entire mat as being something to fear, merely training with certain people. Some people I do not trust because I have not worked with them enough, so people have hurt unintentionally. This rekindles fear. I sacrificed a large part of my need to control, by stepping into an art that so contact oriented, so it would seem ridiculous to let the very thing I'm getting away from draw me back in. There is something to be learned from everything.

And last, but not least…

Brian,

I too am a musician ( Clarinet rules ; ) .I face Aikido much like my orchestra and symphonic work-- as being something to respect and patiently work with.

The feeling of anger is as you described it, but more. As a student more senior to me, it was all but obvious to Nage that I had a lot to learn. Still he pushed past. Maybe I look tough or something… (yeah right lol) I'm willing to give it another chance. My trust will have to be earned back, but I think that by facing this problem openly and directly, we'll both be the better for it.

~Kate

Last edited by KaitlinCostello : 02-28-2003 at 12:34 PM.

~~No smile is as beautiful as the one that struggles through tears.~~
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Old 02-28-2003, 02:26 PM   #8
JMCavazos
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Kate,

As uke, you need to take care of yourself. As the uke, you are loaning your body to the nage, but - it doesn't mean you need to give your body up. As you progress through your aikido training, this may make a little more sense - allow the nage to use you, but don't give your self up to be injured.

Just how experienced was this nage? The nage should feel that the uke is not cooperating, and the nage should know if the non-cooperation is on purpose or if the uke just doesn't know ukemi yet.

If not, always let your nage know when you are not prepared to take a fall. As an instructor I will let a student know before hand whenever I am hurt or hurting. "Remember that my shoulder is hurt - so be careful on this side".

It is your responsibility to not get hurt. Take every precaution that is necesary - for your own good.

When I first started I had a terrible time learning to take ukemi. Luckily most of my nages were careful with me - but I always let them know at what stage I was at before we got into the technique.

I hope this helps.
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Old 02-28-2003, 04:31 PM   #9
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Much good advice here.

Speaking for myself, and only for myself, I no longer train with people who do not have my safety as their primary concern. If I ever think that my safety is secondary to anything with partner, I will politely let them know how I feel and ask them to adjust our training accordingly. That is their first and only warning. Should it happen again, I won't train with them, regardless of their rank, their status, their reputation, or their lineage.

That's what works for me.

I hope you heal quickly and reach a beneficial resolution to this problem.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 02-28-2003, 11:26 PM   #10
Kevin Wilbanks
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I'm with Paul on this one. It is a simple and sensible code for protecting one's long-term health and well-being. Speaking of which, I have to comment on this:
Quote:
Kaitlin Costello (KaitlinCostello) wrote:
Rest is good… I do intend to rest, but doing will not clear up my physical issue's. The only thing I can do is to continue training and work through the pain in my joints. Had my training partner had any idea of how irritated my shoulder was, he probably would not have pinned my arm back so hard.
Among people I am aware of who think like this, many have had seriously debilitating injury problems at way too young an age, inhibiting not only their Aikido or sport, but their day to day lives. 'Pushing through' an injury, particularly in a joint, is a good way to end up with life long chronic pain problems and reduced functioning. Leave that to top athletes who are getting paid millions to abuse themselves, or who are willing to sacrifice for the glory of a medal or championship title. If you have that much pain, you should rest it, seek help with rehabilitative and preventative conditioning, or at the very least mark the body part with tape and clearly state your special limitations to each training partner. Think long term.
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Old 03-01-2003, 06:00 AM   #11
Kelly Allen
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Unfortunately dojos are filled with human beings with human failings. When those failings include ego injuries occure. everyone in the dojo is responsible for the safety and mentoring of the junior members. The most junior member is responsible to learn from the senior members and protect him/her self to be able to advance without injury.

Speaking of injury. If your shoulder is hurt that much PLEASE don't use that side in a technic untill you are properly healed. There is NEVER a good reason to risk long term injury. When I injured my elbow I merely kept the technics to the other arm until I was healed. neither my partners or my sensei minded. In fact they were happy to see that I wouldn't put them in a position where it would make them feel bad if they injured me further. BTW the elbow injury I sustained wasn't injured in the dojo.

Train safe!
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Old 03-03-2003, 06:57 AM   #12
mike lee
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Quote:
How physical do techniques need to be?
The question doesn't really make sense. The only ways I know of to do what you call "non-physical" aikido is in the imagination or in dreams. In the waking world, one has to move, even if no contact is made. Even if a person is not making contact, it's still physical.

If the question is how much strength should be used, the answer is that strength should not be relied on, but rather proper technique, which means aiki. If you don't know what aiki is, then you need to ask your teacher. If your teacher doesn't know, then he shouldn't be teaching aikido and you need to find a teacher that can tell you what aiki is.

There are many high-ranking instructors who still believe that "maximum power" is needed to propery carry out a technique. Such thinking clearly indicates that such individuals have no understanding of aiki. Aiki uses the attacker's power, not nage's. Nage needs to use maximum focus and attention, not "maximum power."

"Maximum power" merely relies on who is stonger and negates the skill of aiki. People who rely on power are generally insecure in their aikido, and rightfully so! They know that there will always be someone who is stronger than them. Their only recourse is to then regress even further back into punching or tripping because they have no skill in aiki.

But people who develop in the way of aiki develop a sense of confidence because they don't rely on strength, which continually deminishes with age, but on skill in aiki, which, through proper training, continually grows with age.

P.S. Admittedly, a certain amount of strength is required for some techniques such as shihonage. A minimum level of grip strength is needed to properly carry out the technique. Grip strength can be developed by practicing about 200 overhead cuts with a bokken on a daily basis.

Last edited by mike lee : 03-03-2003 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 03-03-2003, 07:37 AM   #13
Kevin Wilbanks
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Doing 200 reps of anything per day doesn't develop strength at all, it develops endurance. Actually, without further increases, after a few days it only maintains endurance.

If you want to develop grip strength, I recommend the Ivanko Super Gripper:

http://www.langhampark.com/pullum/listings/123.html

Also, regarding the inevitablity of strength declining with age: That's an old saw based on the fact that most people are lazy and ignorant of productive training methods. I know some powerlifters who are over 70 who are stronger than I'll ever be. Declined from younger levels, yes, but still stronger than 99.9% of the population. There is no reason, with proper training, one can't be very strong and capable into very old age.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 03-03-2003 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 03-03-2003, 07:48 AM   #14
mike lee
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keeping it simple

Quote:
Doing 200 reps of anything per day doesn't develop strength at all, it develops endurance.
It develops strength as well as endurance, which translates into ki. I've trained many students this way, and I can say for a fact that their grip strength increases dramatically.

Personally, I use an extra-large training bokkan, which is about three times the weight of a regular bokken.
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Old 03-03-2003, 10:18 AM   #15
Kevin Wilbanks
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If a student could barely do 1 or 2 overhead cuts to start, and they gradually built up to 200, then they would be developing strength at first. However, once they get up above about 15 reps or so, further increases will have little to no effect on strength. If you kept the reps low and started adding weight to the bokken at lower reps, then you'd have a strength training program, albiet a rather silly one. Although doing a few strikes with teacher feedback makes sense to me for skill development, as physical training, bokken strikes in the air is a pretty goofy exercise. The most stressful part of the movement is the decceleration against gravity and momentum at the end, which isn't specific to Aikido techniques at all, or particularly useful in terms of general conditioning or developing overall motor qualities.
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Old 03-03-2003, 10:31 AM   #16
mike lee
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where are we going?

There's a lot of other reasons for practicing a lot of cuts with a bokken. For someone who is weak, developing some strength might be one of the first benefits. For someone who already has sufficient strength — form, accuracy, and ki development are some other benefits.

Once again, aikido is not about using strength or strength development. It's about using certain movements such as a sword-strike motion, with aiki in unarmed waza such as shihonage.

If the goal is not kept in mind, it will never be reached.
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Old 03-03-2003, 11:22 AM   #17
Kevin Wilbanks
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Speaking of keeping the goal in mind, you have now changed the subject. The original claim I disputed was that 200 cuts was good for developing grip strength. Now you have apparently conceded that only the first few reps would help to develop strength in someone who is weak (personally, I don't think I've ever met anyone who was too weak to do a dozen bokken strikes).

If the point of the exercise is skill and form development, 200 reps is also a poor prescription, as muscular fatigue will cause the movement pattern to deteriorate as one moves into higher reps and the body will compensate in whatever way it can, resulting in a large volume of practice with sloppy form. Take a look at athletes of all types that favor training methods developed via science and careful trial and error, as opposed to recieved dogma, and you'll find that they practice skill movements in small sets, with long rest in between, at the beginning of workouts, when fatigue is at a minimum.
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Old 03-03-2003, 11:52 AM   #18
mike lee
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Quote:
If the point of the exercise is skill and form development, 200 reps is also a poor prescription ...
I never said that they had to be performed continuously.

I've conceded nothing.

Last edited by mike lee : 03-03-2003 at 11:54 AM.
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Old 03-03-2003, 12:05 PM   #19
George S. Ledyard
 
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Hard Training?

Hi Caitlin,

There are a couple of issues here.

First of all is the difference between that which is painful and that which is injurious. It sounds to me like this partner was not walking the line carefully. This is clearly not ok. There is no excuse for injuring your partner when training. If this person is a junior student who just happens to be senior to you, then it is the job of the teacher to instruct him about the proper manner in which to train. If he is a senior student, this is even worse. A senior who does this regularly reflects poorly on what is being taught at the dojo. I have seen my teacher severely reprimand, and in a couple of cases even expel yudansha level students who repeatedly injured their partners. You must feel free to tell the teacher about your concerns so he can observe and make these adjustments.

There is often another element in these complaints and that has to do with men vs. women in training. This is a difficult one to manage with finesse. Serious female students often complain that the males do not train with them seriously. The men have a condescending attitude about the female's capacities to train hard and they find this offensive. Yet I have seen other male students who made no distinction between the way in which they trained with the women and the way they trained with the men and this resulted in complaints about how rough they were from many of the females.

Now I am not trying to justify this behavior. It shouldn't make any difference, male or female, large or small, how you train. You make your adjustment to each and every partner as an individual and should have the skill to be able to judge what level each of them is both capable of functioning at and what they wish to be functioning at.

But I have had the experience of some of my fellow male students feeling a bit taken aback when a female student complained about their rough treatment when he simply thought that he was training with them the same way he trained with his male buddies.

It is a somewhat difficult area to navigate. In some dojos, especially in Japan, the females are simply not expected to be serious. I have a female friend who trained at the main Aikikai dojo in Tokyo. She said that the women were not expected to train hard. If one had been up too late partying or was injured and was looking for an easy class one went "cruising for Tofu" which meant getting one of the Japanese females for a partner.

I don't think we want to have that kind of double standard. At the same time there are obvious physical differences in size, bone structure etc. between the average female students and the average male students that have to be part of the equation. So I believe that it is the job of the teacher to instruct people over time to train with each and every partner as "serious" but to take their cues from that partner about how hard they wish to go not inflict that on them regardless of their desires.

Your comfort level is crucial in training both from a safety standpoint and from a martial standpoint. You internalize the emotions associated with a motor skill at the same time you imprint the skill itself. If you learn a set of skills in a fearful atmosphere then you will have that set of emotions when a similar situation occurs. This is not the goal of training. We strive for Fudoshin, Immoveable Mind under stress. If your training pushes you too far outside your comfort level each time you are on the mat you will not achieve this. That is a mistake on how your training is structured. On the other hand you want to push yourself as much as you can because if you stay too much within the comfort level all the time you cannot make the kind of breakthrough that will help you get past these fears.

So the bottom line is still the difference between what is rough, a bit scary, but still within your ability to handle and what is injurious, is too far above you to do safely. Safety is till the most important thing. You get injured and you can't train. Simple as that.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-03-2003 at 12:08 PM.

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Old 03-03-2003, 05:56 PM   #20
aikidoc
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The debate on strength, power, etc is really not the major issue. The major issue is can the uke take the technique delivered without injury. As George states no one should get injured. In my experience, excessively forceful technique without awareness of your partners ability to take the power will cause damage. Testosterone and adrenalin are often causes (tests are the worst risk). Part of aiki to me is to learn to feel the capabilities of the other person and adapt your force to it. Someone with very stiff joints for example cannot take a strong sankyo (I'm a good example of that having had my ligaments torn in my wrist from one-permanent injury). I personally feel that a lack of control exists when someone is injured unless the uke just hurts themself. Out of control nage's need to learn to feel the technique as well as just crunch someone.
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Old 03-04-2003, 08:03 AM   #21
Michael Brown
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Hello, Kaitlin,

There is a lot of good advice on this thread. I particularly agreed with what Mr. Riggs and Mr. Ledyard had to offer. As Bruce Lee once said, "absorb what is useful and discard the rest." Recently, I decided that a particular individual had to leave our dojo because he had injured another on the mat (there had been other problems with this individual, too). I would have not known about the injury or some of the other problems had others not informed me, and as Mr. Riggs so eloquently stated, injuring someone (outside of accident) is intolerable for a number of very good reasons. Now, at my dojo, there seems to be a renewed positive spirit in training among our members, and those who stayed away are returning. I have found over the years that abusive people who come to train eventually have been weeded out, but usually not before the problem has come to the attention of the dojo-cho. I hope that what happened to you won't keep you from continuing in your training.

Sincerely,

Mike
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Old 03-04-2003, 04:15 PM   #22
jxa127
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Re: How physical do techniques need to be?

Quote:
Kaitlin Costello (KaitlinCostello) wrote:
How physical do techniques need to be?

Okay? I?ve spent most of the night and morning mulling over my last few practice sessions. I have mainly two problems have sprung up. Uke?s who do not keep contact with me when I am moving through my technique, and one Uke who is simply too rough on me.

~Kate
Hi Kate,

Most of the responses so far have focused on the uke who is too rough on you. I'd like to address your other concern: ukes who don't keep contact with you as you do technique.

When I have that problem, there are usually two causes, often at the same time: (1) I am moving too quickly, thereby breaking the connection, and/or (2) uke simply does not continue the attack.

The answer for me in both cases is to slow down a bit and make more deliberate movements -- really study the motion. I try to lead uke with very a distinct motion and keep the connection. This tends to cure both the reluctent uke and overzelous nage problems.

Regards,

Drew Ames

----
-Drew Ames
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