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Old 06-25-2003, 06:05 PM   #1
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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both sides

~~Hi all! Just wondering...as instructors, do you teach the roll that uke plays in the kata we practice as equally detailed as that of nage?
I often find uke not seeming to understand the dynamic we're trying to practice together and have noticed that uke role is rarely explained or demonstrated by most instructors. I've been trying to focus in my own training to fully understand both roles so that I can come to a place where those rolls blend into one because we're both moving with authenticity. Enjoy!

~~Paula~~
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Old 06-25-2003, 06:42 PM   #2
Thalib
 
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When I'm leading a class, I would do my best to explain the role of uke. The best way of doing that is being uke myself.

There's a total beginner class every Sunday afternoon, and my Sensei wants me and my fellow seniors to take the class. When I'm explaining a technique I break it up into different parts (almost like the Yoshinkan way of doing it).

When I'm nage, I explain the different parts of being nage. When I'm uke, I explain what is the role of uke in each of those broken up steps. I explain why the uke react the way they do.

I always explain time and time again that uke is not a punching bag that the nage could throw around. Uke is suppose to be active not passive. When uke doesn't fall, uke doesn't fall. But many misunderstood this, they think that by saying that, uke should block the technique and hold his ground and stay static.

When I'm uke I show the reason why uke follow through, one of them is uke wants another chance for an attack. It is shown by the reaction of the uke that the uke is maintaining connection and keeping himself stabilized to prepare for another attack. It's not dancing, there's a reason why uke follow through, uke's role is to attack in any circumstances.

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 07-07-2003, 11:31 AM   #3
aikidoc
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I frequently show the ukemi for the technique and how to take it properly. I also explain the role of ukemi and that it is just as important to learn as a tool for helping understand the energy of the technique and for uke's safety.
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Old 07-07-2003, 11:55 AM   #4
rachmass
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In class, as teacher, I demonstrate first the technique as nage, and then my uke and I switch and I take the role of uke. Have to admit though, that there is more emphasis while demonstrating, on the nage side. During the part that follows however, I try to give equal weight to uke and nage. That said, bear in mind that my dojo consists only of beginners, and that this is really necessary. The dojo from which I come, has many high level students, and there is much less emphasis in the demonstration role for ukemi. I think everyone stresses ukemi however while they are just working on techniques, but I think that Paula was asking about the demonstration end of it for the instructor.
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Old 07-07-2003, 01:24 PM   #5
jxa127
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Paula,

At my dojo, our instructor spends a heck of a lot of time teaching ukemi. With beginners, he focuses mainly on falling safely. One goal is that students should be able to take a break fall by their 7th kyu test (we have an 8 kyu system).

After the first couple weeks of practice, more and more emphasis is given to attacking and "follow through" in ukemi. Even after almost four years of practice, I still work at refining and sharpening that aspect of my ukemi.

Recently, another student and I have passed our test for 3rd kyu. Our instructor consideres us as assistant instructors for him. We're only expected to teach within our ability, and to focus on basics. One of the things I'm sure we'll both be focusing on is giving good ukemi.

Regards,

-Drew

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 07-07-2003, 02:07 PM   #6
opherdonchin
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Here's a contrarian point of view:

I'm actually slightly uncomfortable with too much 'teaching' of uke. I think we (or at least I) spend an enormous amount of time in Aikido telling people what they are supposed to do, and that one of the wondeful things about uke is that it leaves a little more breathing room for self-discovery.

Sometimes, however, I will devote a class to focus on uke and their choices and point out the opportunity that being uke gives you for learning about commitment and being responsive. I also make a point, when working with people, to let them know if it seems like they are throwing their balance away unnecessarily.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 07-09-2003, 02:54 PM   #7
jxa127
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Here's a related question: how often, when teaching, will you take ukemi for a student?

Regards,

-Drew

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-Drew Ames
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Old 07-09-2003, 03:02 PM   #8
rachmass
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almost every time (or at least 80% of the time).
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Old 07-11-2003, 02:56 PM   #9
Patrick O'Reilly
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I wanted to chime in here from a stundents point of view, namely one of Rachel Massey's newbes. We were talking about this subject just last night in class. It was about the 50/50 thing, 50 percent training as nage, 50 percent traing as uke. One of her main points is "don't give up as uke". Even though nage is applying a technique don't just give up or submit. I't ain't over until you're pinned to the mat. Rachel stresses the point that as uke to keep as strong a stance as possible because you may get the chance to reverse it (that's later training I know). During the traing last night she told me to try and reverse her technique so I could see the importance of a strong uke stance. I did, still ended up planted in the mat but it was a good point to consider while uke.

Oh ya, she loves ukemi as much as the rest of us. I guess once a student always a student.
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Old 07-14-2003, 03:47 AM   #10
David Yap
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Both Sides - my views as a student and as a MA instructor

What instructions should be given to the Uke/Tori?

For a start, the Uke should be taught to carry out an attack with commitment. Commitment does not necessary means to attack forcefully. The strike (shomen/yokomen) should be aimed at the intended target and carried out in a flowing and willing manner.

There are no "teasing" attacks in aikido as there are no competitions in Aikido. In other competitive martial arts, an artist may carry out deceptive or "dummy" attacks to test the skills of his opponent or to create an opening for the finishing strike/cut/blow. Such techniques of attack have no place in an aikido dojo. Some instructors teach their students that when attacking, the uke is required to have "Awase" -- to blend with the Nage. No doubt "Awase" is a requisite to avoid injury of any kind (spiritual as in ego or physical) to either Uke or Nage. The "Awase" of the Uke is not intended to change the course or technique of attack -- by doing so the "kumi" (drill) would become a "shiai" (duel).

O' sensei has stressed over and over again that Aikido is firstly Budo and its shell is always Budo. Hence, in Budo, when confronted with an attack the immediate response is to Step off the line of attack, next Off-balance the attacker and finally, Control the attacker. Most instructors these days have either have discarded these principles (for reasons they know best) or have not learned them in the first place or lack the skills to present them. Most time the students are wondering, "How come I could do this a moment ago but I can't do now?" or "How come I could do the technique with partner A but not with partner B?" Sometime the instructors themselves are wondering the same thing. In their analyses of what went wrong, the Uke are most times named as the culprits -- the Uke did not have Awase (not blending with the Nage). The Uke are then taught to step here or there or turn to assume an unbalanced posture so that he or she can be moved at ease by the Nage. What an insult to O sensei's art of Aikido? Aikido is not a choreographed dance or action movie scene.

IMHO, there is no such thing as two sets of separate instructions such as one for the Uke and one for the Nage for any technique to work. The role of the Uke or the "Awase" of the Uke is to acknowledge defeat and yield to defeat when already defeated. Any further resistant or attempt to overcome the defeat or impending defeat will only bring more pain. In this regard, all Uke must have the ukemi skills.

The highest level of the art of aikido per O sensei is Takemusu -- spontaneous response to an attack. Control the opponent in the quickest and shortest technique. As in Budo, strive to defeat the opponent without humiliation. Any technique having the fundamental elements of the art will always work regardless of partnering with Uke of different size/height/gender/age or training at different dojo environment. For the technique to work, one also requires the calmness of mind to assess and ascertain the presence of such fundaments. When ones mind is disturbed, the techniques seldom work and even if they do work they are done so with much excessive force. One can always judge the quality of ones instructors by reading their temperaments in the dojo. If they are quick-temper, easily angered or irritated and show their impatience or frustration with violent and excessive force on the students, then they have not reached the level of being teachers. Basically, one judges the quality of the teacher by looking at the quality of his/her students.

Generally in all martial arts (including Aikido, of course), the principles of self-defence in respond to an attack are:

Move off the line of attack (Principle of the Triangle, moving omote or ura)

Off-balance the opponent (Principle of the Circle)

Control the opponent (Principle of the Square)

To off-balance the opponent, we need to understand and apply the following Aikido Principles:

Principle of centricity

Principle of extension

Principle of sphericity

Principle of leading the mind

Aikido is a science and not a mystic art. Generally, if you have a good understanding of the above principles and a good amount of practice and training, you would be able to get a Shodan within two years. If you have been training for years and have not heard your teacher utter a word or demonstrate how these principles work, you better ask them now. The above principles are the magical formulas of Aikido. As in physics and relativity, each scenario requires one or more combinations of the formulas to work effectively.

What, if you then may ask, my teacher does not know all of the above principles yet he/she could successfully carry out the techniques? Some people learn by perceptions and then they teach others based on their perceived understanding of the art or teachings by O sensei. Aikido is a martial art that offers hundreds of perceptions. The danger of perceptions is that sometime you are right and sometime you are wrong and when one teaches based on perceptions both rights and wrongs are passed down. In an isolated group, most times you perceive that a technique is 100% workable but unless you train with someone outside your group you may find your technique jammed up because that someone may offered you a different "Awase".

Many times people have asked me whether Aikido is a good martial art to train for self-defence. My answer has always been - "When it comes to self-defence, it is a question of seeking the right teacher not the right Art". Someone wrote somewhere -- "If you cannot find someone to teach you the right skill, then you are better off not training at all" -- or something to that effect.

Happy seeking or training.

Regards.
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Old 07-14-2003, 03:59 AM   #11
PeterR
 
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David very eloquently states his views - don't agree with all of them, agree with others.

There is something to be said for allowing drills were feints are allowed. This introduces a level of unpredictablility which can be very difficult to do otherwise. How often do I see people basically kuzushi themselves because they think they know what uke is going to do. Once balance is broken they are at uke's mercy.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-14-2003, 08:28 AM   #12
opherdonchin
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Quote:
David very eloquently states his views - don't agree with all of them, agree with others.
Now, that is what I call eloquent. I couldn't agree with you more, Peter.

I don't know if I need feints in Aikido. I do think that a big part of what nage learns on the mat is how to tell a committed attack from one that can be safely ignored. I understand that feints are supposed to teach this, but to me (based on very little experience) it always seems like they cloud the issue more than they clarify it. Still, it's something I don't know much about so I shouldn't talk about it.

I am sort of amused by David's idea that Aikido can be explained as a set of principles, easily understood and mastered, and applied in proper admixture. Maybe my teachers are just really bad, but I feel like I'm still learning more all the time and it's been quite a few years.

Also, I hate it when people throw around the word 'science,' but that's just the scientist in me bristling.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 07-14-2003, 05:37 PM   #13
Patrick O'Reilly
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This is probably a mistake to reply but....David Yap, above your post where do you see the words " "teasing" attacks or "dummy" attacks"? I hope you didn't get that from my post which is just above yours because that's not at all what I said. I looked through all the posts and couldn't find those words, maybe I missed them.

I was saying that uke shouldn't consider himself/herself just a bag of rags to just be tossed around or am I mislead? From what I've learned from a year in Aikido is that Uke has just as much of a roll as Nage. I have been in classes where uke just sits there like a bag of rags and it's harder to learn as nage in that situation.
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Old 07-14-2003, 05:53 PM   #14
rachmass
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I didn't see anything in your post Patrick that elicitated that response; it might well have been from an earlier post to which he was replying. In any case, I agree fully with you, that uke and nage have equal roles, and that uke shouldn't consider him/herself a bag of rags. Neither should uke fight back in such a way as to get hurt though. There is this fine line between trying to keep following through with the attack and being resistant (if you resist, you stand a very good chance of getting hurt).

My aikido teacher used to go through a series of reasons why we take ukemi. The first was always to neutralize the force, the second to create distance and the third to regain balance (not necessarily in that order though).

best,

Rachel
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Old 07-14-2003, 06:06 PM   #15
Mel Barker
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
A few quick questions for our new-comer, Louis.

How many times have you been physically assaulted "on the street" over the past ten years? How about the past twenty years?

Where are you situated? Which aikido dojo have you taken a look into?

You said you do not have any experience physically training in martial arts -- is this correct?

-- Jun
Oh no, Louis is in trouble!

Mel Barker
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Old 07-14-2003, 06:11 PM   #16
Mel Barker
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
My aikido teacher used to go through a series of reasons why we take ukemi. The first was always to neutralize the force, the second to create distance and the third to regain balance (not necessarily in that order though).
Hi Rachel, how's tricks?

Our newest thinking on ukemi adds another reason. To learn aiki! Trying to develop the same sensitivity that is vital to excellent nage waza while doing ukemi.

Mel Barker
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Old 07-14-2003, 06:21 PM   #17
Patrick O'Reilly
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Sorry, didn't mean any thing by it. I shouldn't have posted here in the first place, I'm not a teacher.
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Old 07-14-2003, 06:26 PM   #18
Erik
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
A few quick questions for our new-comer, Louis.
There's a post by a Louis in this thread?????
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Old 07-14-2003, 07:29 PM   #19
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
I understand that feints are supposed to teach this, but to me (based on very little experience) it always seems like they cloud the issue more than they clarify it. Still, it's something I don't know much about so I shouldn't talk about it.
When we train we are very clear when its time for feints - otherwise you are perfectly correct it tends to cloud the issue. We have a series of exercises, starting with simple taisabaki to a straight knife thrust no feints leading to full blown randori with feints but even these exercises are usually left to the last 15-20 minutes of class. Most attacks during training are very clear.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-14-2003, 08:26 PM   #20
rachmass
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Patrick,

You didn't write anything offensive in your posts; don't worry about it!

Most of the folks who post here are not teachers, as a matter of fact, I would bet that fewer than 10% are (Jun, do you have statistics about this?). Anyway, the forums are for everyone to post on, and you shouldn't apologize for what you said; there was nothing wrong with what you said. I for one am delighted to see you post here.

Hey Mel! How are things over in Kentucky? Going to ER camp? Shawn and I are headed there next Friday, long drive. Looking forward to some excellent training.

best,

Rachel
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Old 07-14-2003, 11:22 PM   #21
David Yap
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Hi Opher
Quote:
I am sort of amused by David's idea that Aikido can be explained as a set of principles, easily understood and mastered, and applied in proper admixture. Maybe my teachers are just really bad, but I feel like I'm still learning more all the time and it's been quite a few years.

Also, I hate it when people throw around the word 'science,' but that's just the scientist in me bristling.
Why should you be amused? This is not my idea in the first place. Though O sensei was a great martial art genius and technician, he wasn't a patient teacher. This might be due to the fact that he had so much thoughts and tactics that needed to be manifested before they get forgotten. Thankfully, we have great teachers in Tohei sensei, Shioda sensei, Saito sensei and others who put forth to us such principles and fundamentals of aikido so that we can easily understand and grasp the meanings of aikido.

What I was trying to express in my thread was that the learning process in Aikido would have been much shorter if we have been shown and taught these fundamentals at the early stage. Sometime I wonder if the teachers are underminding our level of intelligence. I have been learning martial arts since 11. I'm 46 now and I'm still learning. I commenced aikido training in 1993 with various Aikikai styled instructors. My last instructor in 1997 was an Iwama stylist. Result-wise, there is no difference between these two "styles". The objective is the same but the routes are different. I stopped training in aikido in 1998 after the last instructor had to returned back to his home country and I moved to work elsewhere. I jump-start Aikido a couple of months ago and surprising my moves are still there - because I can still remember the principles and fundaments taught to me by the last instructor. However, when it come to swirls here and swirls there sometimes I'm completely lost. By swirls, swirls & swirls you can figure out what school I'm in now.

Happy training

Regards

David
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Old 07-14-2003, 11:47 PM   #22
opherdonchin
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Quote:
What I was trying to express in my thread was that the learning process in Aikido would have been much shorter if we have been shown and taught these fundamentals at the early stage. Sometime I wonder if the teachers are underminding our level of intelligence
I guess this is what I was objecting to. I've seen lots of different teachers and lots of different teaching styles. Some have been didactic, oriented around principles, and cerebral. Others have been intuitive, oriented around examples, and expressive. I can't say that any of them provide shortcuts, although clearly each person is comfortable with certain styles more than others. I can't even say that I know for sure that the teaching style I'm most comfortable with is also the one that teaches me best (most quickly, most thoroughly, most deeply).

Its great that you have a clear idea of how Aikido should be taught (if that's what you are saying). I think having a clear idea like that helps teaching, whatever that clear idea is. On the other hand, I can't claim that I myself have any such clarity.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 07-15-2003, 02:43 AM   #23
David Yap
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Quote:
Patrick O&#039Reilly wrote:
This is probably a mistake to reply but....David Yap, above your post where do you see the words " "teasing" attacks or "dummy" attacks"? I hope you didn't get that from my post which is just above yours because that's not at all what I said. I looked through all the posts and couldn't find those words, maybe I missed them.

I was saying that uke shouldn't consider himself/herself just a bag of rags to just be tossed around or am I mislead? From what I've learned from a year in Aikido is that Uke has just as much of a roll as Nage. I have been in classes where uke just sits there like a bag of rags and it's harder to learn as nage in that situation.
Sorry Peter, it wasn't from your post. I was replying to someone's post on separate instructions for Uke and Nage.

You are absolutely right -- Uke has an equal role as the Nage. Almost all of the learning processes in Aikido are in drill forms. Drills that need a partner to train with. Even when your Uke is a beginner, you still would learn something from this experience. Have you tried doing shihonage with a first day beginner? As you turned around to lock the Uke's arm in a bended elbow the Uke turned around with you and both of you ended up in the same neutral position as before. Do you blame your Uke for not understanding your intention (not allowing you to complete the technique) or do you blame yourself for giving enough room for the Uke to turn with you?

There is a whole mix of people doing Aikido. My seniors for not allowing them to complete their techniques sometime reprimand me. Honestly, I have no intention to stop them or to behave like a bag of rags. I had been a Uke for visiting shihans and senior instructors, I can proudly say that my ukemi is good having done judo before. As a Uke, my attacks are willing, committed and consistent regardless whether the Nage is a Shihan or a 5th kyu. As a Uke, I will try to feel what the Nage is doing. When the Nage happens to be a Shihan or senior instructor, I would normally feel nothing until I am in the air or being locked or swirled and I am helpless to do anything while in this state and before you know it, it's all over. When the Nage is of lesser experience, I would feel almost everything from the inception till the end of the technique. Thus with lesser experience Nage, I would tell him what I felt so he can know the flaw of his technique. In this new class I joined, I was a Uke for a senior (with 10-15 years of Aikido experience behind him) in jiyu waza. As usual, I attacked with the same commitment, he turned ura and I found myself in his swirl and when the swirling(s) stopped I felt nothing and found myself in upright balanced position with one of his hand resting on my neck and the other gripping my upper arm. I waited for his next move to unbalance me again - it never came. What I got was a nasty bruise on my arm where he gripped me. Later, he told me off that as a Uke, I must learn how to blend with him to allow him to do his techniques; I should learn to empty the cup of the art/style I learned before (TKD, Iwama-ryu aikido) and start all over again. As for the bruise, I did not get any apology from him. I cannot figure out what I did right or wrong. The icing on the cake was "Don't be angry with what I said". As a budoka, I was definitely angry with him for undermining my maturity and insinuated that I have used TKD in the class. Then again, if I had used TKD in the class wouldn't it be easier for him to throw me?

Can someone out there figure it out what are my mistakes as the Uke in this instance? But don't ever tell me go for a special course in ukemi; O sensei will flip in his grave if there's one.

Still searching

David
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Old 07-15-2003, 05:03 AM   #24
David Yap
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Smile

Hi Opher
Quote:
"I guess this is what I was objecting to. I've seen lots of different teachers and lots of different teaching styles." Opher
Seeing and doing it are two different things. Example:

"Iwama-ryu is hard, I don't think my students can take it". "Have you trained Iwama-ryu before?" "No." "Then, how do you know that Iwama-ryu is hard?" "Well, it looks hard to me."
Quote:
"Some have been didactic, oriented around principles, and cerebral. Others have been intuitive, oriented around examples, and expressive. I can't say that any of them provide shortcuts, although clearly each person is comfortable with certain styles more than others. I can't even say that I know for sure that the teaching style I'm most comfortable with is also the one that teaches me best (most quickly, most thoroughly, most deeply)." Opher
Agreed that there are no shortcuts in any art forms. The pointer of truth is the student and not the teacher. The teacher is only a guide. The teacher may have so much to offer on a plate but the student will still have to taste and feel whether the stuff offered are palatable. As a student, I would be much happier to verify that the principle is true -- "Hey! It works all the time, teach me more" than spend time figuring out the underlying principle by try and error that most time is a long process because the teacher keeps changing to a new technique before one can start to figure. Other thing is the student's perception on the integrity of the teacher. If the student finds that certain things can be taught in a simple and comprehensive manner but the teacher chose to take longer path to express them -- was it deliberated so he/she could earn more income? When I first started as an Auditor's assistant I was told that when you expect a simple answer and received a complicated reply then the person replying is trying to hide something. On the contrary when you expect a complex answer and the person answered in simplicity -- then the person does not know the subject matter. BTW, IMHO, integrity is more important -- saying one is honest is not enough; one must be seen to be honest.
Quote:
"Its great that you have a clear idea of how Aikido should be taught (if that's what you are saying). I think having a clear idea like that helps teaching, whatever that clear idea is. On the other hand, I can't claim that I myself have any such clarity." Opher
Modesty will not take you anywhere



Happy searching...

David
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Old 07-15-2003, 08:22 AM   #25
jxa127
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Hi all,

Something I read about the koryu arts really helped put ukemi into perspective for me. In the koryu arts, the instructor would usually take the "losing" side of a kata, and the student would "win."

I'm not necessarily sure why that works so well, but it's a great psychological boost to the student. Think about the first couple of times you sucessfully threw your instructor.

It is most beneficial for a student as nage to have a more experienced uke. Uke is nage's teacher. Uke need not overtly teach, but by offering good, centered attacks and being sensitive to nage's openings, uke can show nage where there are problems in the technique.

It follows that the instructor should have the best ukemi and be the best person to teach through ukemi.

Regards,

-Drew

----
-Drew Ames
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