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Old 05-21-2003, 09:11 AM   #1
acot
Dojo: West Michigan Aikido
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Being a good Uke

We all train focus most of our training on nage, but what about Uke? Night after night I know which training partner I like to work with because they are realistic in attack, but not so uncoopperative that I don't learn the technique. My question is how important is uke training? (personally I really enjoying being Uke, kinda like getting a well done Thai massage) How many of you work on Uke movement and attacks in details?

Peace
Ryan
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Old 05-21-2003, 09:18 AM   #2
DavidEllard
Dojo: Dunstable/Dinton
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We do lots of Training on Ukeing, in fact at one of my clubs i'd say we spent more than 50% of our time over the last year practising ukeing.

I find ukeing well far harder and more demanding that being Tori.
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Old 05-21-2003, 09:30 AM   #3
fullerfury
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To paraphrase my old teacher, Bob Gaeloene: "you spend half your time training in Aikido as Uke, so you might as well do it right". Half of training is indeed providing the framework to allow your training partner to execute the technique. Uke does oneself injustice when he/she does not keep a focused mind set when performing this role. Staying centered, attacking off line instead of directly into a vulnerable position to Nage's attack, and staying connected to Nage is essential...for both Nage's development and Uke's.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-21-2003, 09:32 AM   #4
sanosuke
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To me, being uke is like being a teacher, because you know whether the techniques work on you or not, so you can tell the nage how to correct their techniques. Besides, being an uke have another plus point too, since you know where the pain spot is, you may do the techniques easier rather than if you always be a nage. And also because of that, you won't do a technique recklessly because you know how painful it felt (at least in my case).

Oh, another one, I noticed that people that often take ukemi have smoother breakfalls compared to the ones seldomly take ones. Or maybe you guys have other opinions about this?
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Old 05-21-2003, 10:25 AM   #5
akiy
 
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Re: Being a good Uke

Quote:
Ryan Bertram (acot) wrote:
My question is how important is uke training?
Ukemi, to me, is the most important part of aikido training.

What makes a good uke? The same things that makes a good nage.

To me, there's no difference in the principles used in being a good uke as the ones used as a good nage. Both roles are learning aikido, after all...

-- Jun

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Old 05-21-2003, 10:37 AM   #6
Russ Qureshi
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Gotta go with Jun on this one. If your ukemi is no good, your execution as nage will be similar and the likelyhood of being injured increases exponentially with your (in)ability to take ukemi. Ukemi is paramount to aikido training.....

Regards,

Russ
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Old 05-21-2003, 11:42 AM   #7
jxa127
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The best advice I've gotten on ukemi is from my instructor. He is constantly telling us to continue the attack throughout the technique, and the best way to do that is to try to get your hips under your shoulders, and to keep turning toward nage.

For example, you strike with a punch to the mid-section (tsuki). Nage catches your timing and makes a connection with your arm as she pivots off line. At this point, assuming she has caught your balance, your shoulders will be in front of your hips a bit. So, take a step forward (get hips under shoulder), turn toward nage, and punch again. The step forard and turn can be part of the same movement, not necessarily separate steps.

If nage has been doing her job, you will continue to be off balance and won't be able to land the second strike. However, if she messes up, you'll be in a much better position than she.

Working to keep the hips under the shoulders and continuously pressing the attack are just training aids for when we work at less than full speed. At full speed, with a mindset of "just get nage" these things tend to happen naturally.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 05-21-2003, 02:02 PM   #8
Mallory Wikoff
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When i'm uke, i try to act like i'm going 100% only in slow motion. To me, Ukemi is half of Aikido. without the uke it would be hard to practice. W/o Ukemi it would be very painful to be uke.

if your enemy hungers, feed him
if he needs cloths, cloth him
in doing this you are piling burning coals on his head.
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Old 05-21-2003, 05:59 PM   #9
Dave Miller
 
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I would say that being a good uke is at least as hard as learning the techniques themselves. The tough part for me comes from knowing the techniques so well that, despite my best efforts, my body wants to anticipate what's gonna happen, thus thwarting tori's efforts. After a little time off, it is my skills as an uke that deterioriate the most.

DAVE

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Old 05-21-2003, 07:09 PM   #10
DCP
 
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Everyone has made great points IMO. I just have one thing to add that could put ukemi in a slightly different light and possibly give additional defense to the "aikido isn't effective" thinking:

Ukemi is the art of saving your own butt.

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
- Aesop
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Old 05-22-2003, 08:40 AM   #11
akiy
 
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Quote:
Dave Miller wrote:
I would say that being a good uke is at least as hard as learning the techniques themselves.
Especially when most dojo I know place far greater emphasis (and, unfortunately, importance) on nagewaza moreso than ukemi. There aren't that many dojo that I know with, say, classes devoted to ukemi.

-- Jun

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Old 05-22-2003, 09:34 AM   #12
Don_Modesto
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
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Jun,

I know you sometimes teach UKEMI classes. Besides falling, what do you do in them?

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 05-22-2003, 09:47 AM   #13
akiy
 
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Hi Don,
Quote:
Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
I know you sometimes teach UKEMI classes. Besides falling, what do you do in them?
Many odd, weird, and confusing things. Nothing you probably haven't seen.

Last night, I was asked to cover the 6pm class. Although our main instructor was on the other side of the curtain (which sometimes separates our mat space) teaching the centering class, I was surprised that there were about ten folks there.

For the class last night, I started out with normal irimi and tenkan exercises. Then I had the person grabbing do irimi and tenkan -- with the same intent and purpose as that if one were being grabbed. One of the things I underscored was for the person grabbing to take their partner's balance at first touch. We then continued with this with the person grabbing doing the technique through techniques like katatedori kaitennage, kokyunage, sumiotoshi; kousadori iriminage, shihonage, kokyunage; and ryotedori tenchinage. We ended class in zagi kokyudosa where "nage" did two "normal" kokyudosa techniques and then did the same while grabbing their partner's wrists.

The class was meant to illustrate that the point of a grab wasn't to just be a "crash-test uke" but to have intent as to immobilize and/or throw your partner. Also, the same exact principles that underly being a good nage applies to being a good uke.

Other things I do in the ukemi class here include movement from center exercises, rolling from "awkward" positions (such as those a good nage might place you into -- ability to roll 360 degrees kind of thing), striking exercises (eg how to do a proper munetsuki), connection exercises (eg staying connected with your partner through iriminage), ukemi techniques (eg the iriminage shuffle, ikkyo ura flop, the backwards forward roll, the outside forward roll), and kaeshiwaza.

So, as you can see, I try to do a lot of things outside of falling since I consier the falling part of ukemi to be only a small part of what uke should know about that "role." In fact, I ask for folks to have a handle on basic falling skills before they jump into the ukemi class.

I'd, of course, be interested to hear the sort of exercises folks do at their dojo in the pursuit of becmoing a "good uke." Anyone?

Hope that helps,

-- Jun

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Old 05-22-2003, 10:16 AM   #14
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Hi Jun,

Being an absolutely tiny dojo, we don't have an classes devoted to ukemi. I do however, spend about as much time working on teaching ukemi in class as I do nagewaza. Also really try to focus on connection between partners and to giving a good committed attack. As we are still at a really base level (longest training student is now 7 months), we are still focusing a lot on just putting the correct foot in the correct place, and not diving out of techniques (and relaxing!).

Your class sounds excellent, and I'd be really interested in hearing how folks who take these classes perceive them, and what they feel is the best things they have learned. Also, it would be beneficial to hear from some of the newer students who post on this site, what they have found as helpful in learning to take ukemi (and I'm not talking so much about the falling part, but the following and being a "good uke" part that started this thread).

Thanks, and BTW; good thread!
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Old 05-22-2003, 10:36 AM   #15
DavidEllard
Dojo: Dunstable/Dinton
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A lot of our ukeing exercise concentrate on keeping contact, keeping a positive connection. Difficult to describe, and my teacher informs me -- difficult to teach!

We have a belief that to a great extent Uke determines whether or not a technique can take place.

Now this can be somewhat controversial, because what we are saying is that if someone doesn't move ‘correctly' we may not be able to perform the requested technique.

Let me explain:

Say you go to do Ikkyo (from ai hamni) and as you raise and move the arm uke turns their back on you. In the way that a lot of people seem to do when they are first learning. Now by moving round, using atemi etc we can get to Ikkyo, no question, but the when uke turns their back they present other techniques that are far more appropriate from that position, not to mention they have exposed their rips.

Another example with Ikkyo; if I begin to turn the arm over and Uke goes stiff and strong in the direction I am moving as the arm begins to lower. What do I do -- I might be strong enough to use strength to get through -- but that's not aiki -- maybe I can adjust our movement and move round the point of resistance and perform Ikkyo, but maybe it's easier since uke is so strong in one direction just to turn it around and throw them in the other direction.

So in our training we work as harder, if not harder on being in the correct position as uke as when we are doing the techniques. Not only does this improve ukemi but it begins to makes counters available.

Another advantage of this is not only the fact that not forcing techniques leads to less injuries but that you begin to learn to go into a situation think "I am going to perform technique X" but that you are able to perform a technique based on what actually occurs, something that I think is both in keeping with the spirit of aiki, and also possible more use in any self-defence situation that does happen to crop up…
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Old 05-22-2003, 01:45 PM   #16
Bronson
 
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Quote:
not to mention they have exposed their rips.
ouch

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 05-22-2003, 02:34 PM   #17
Don_Modesto
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
The class was meant to illustrate that the point of a grab wasn't to just be a "crash-test uke" but to have intent as to immobilize and/or throw your partner. Also, the same exact principles that underly being a good nage applies to being a good uke.
Wish I'd been there. Thanks for the run down.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 05-22-2003, 09:17 PM   #18
jk
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I'll second Don's sentiments in wishing I was there for Jun's ukemi class. We've only started to touch upon uke giving an effective attack not only in terms of striking techniques, but also in sincerely trying to put nage on the ground everytime they get a hold.

Last night we worked on ushiro ryo kata dori; normally I get annoyed with this particular attack because all too often, uke just minces around nage, delicately planting his/her hands on nage's shoulders. So folks were made to practice throwing their partners to the ground using this attack...my sensei called it a version of iriminage, but the most apt description for me is ushiro ate from the Tomiki syllabus. It really made a big difference during the next round of techniques in response to ushiro ryo kata dori; nage actually had to do some work to maintain balance, and kokyu nage didn't feel anywhere near contrived.

Yeah, took us a while to figure it out up to this point; but then, the present dojo instructor's kinda slow on the uptake.
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Old 05-23-2003, 08:18 AM   #19
DavidEllard
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Quote:
Bronson Diffin (Bronson) wrote:
ouch

Bronson
Doh!

I really must sew up the hole in the back of my hakama...

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Old 05-26-2003, 02:53 PM   #20
JPT
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For me the number one thing in being a good Uke is sincerity of the attack. Attacks should be on target & done in a spirited, but controlled, way. It is no good if uke just aimlessly sticks his arm out, tori needs something to work with.

The second most important thing is the falls, you need to know how too do them so that you can fall safety in order to get back up & attack again.

Lastly the thing that makes a really good uke, is one that knows just the right amount of:-

a) correcting uke by pointing out errors.

b) testing uke by being slightly difficult or by changing their responses.

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Old 05-26-2003, 05:21 PM   #21
akiy
 
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Hi everyone,

Sorry for the late reply here...

Thanks to everyone who commented on my thoughts on ukemi and the ukemi class I usually do here. I enjoy leading it and I also enjoy inviting other folks where I train to lead the class on occasion.

As far as feedback on the class has gone, some folks come for just one class and then never come back whereas others seem to keep coming back. I think the most touching comments I've gotten are from folks who told me that the class doubled their pleasure in the regular classes as they could now try to "work on aikido as uke" in the same way they used to work on it as nage.
Quote:
David Ellard wrote:
Say you go to do Ikkyo (from ai hamni) and as you raise and move the arm uke turns their back on you. In the way that a lot of people seem to do when they are first learning. Now by moving round, using atemi etc we can get to Ikkyo, no question, but the when uke turns their back they present other techniques that are far more appropriate from that position, not to mention they have exposed their rips.
Interestingly enough a couple of weekends ago, Saotome sensei was commenting on doing ukemi from just that type of ukemi. By changing the technique to a more tenshin/tenkan version of ikkyo, it's easy to break uke's balance and take them down to their back balance point. As far as uke stiff-arming you in ikkyo, you can "cycle" the ikkyo by letting their resistance carry them into the direction of their resistance and then using it to "cycle" back into regular ikkyo. And so on.

Over the last several months, I've been working on getting people to attack effectively and efficiently as uke. I've also spent time in working on the actual falling past of ukemi as well. However, I have to say that the most interesting part of ukemi and, hence, the most difficult would be the space in between the attack and the fall (if there is one). The "middle section" of ukemi seems to be the least well-defined but, perhaps, the most interesting. There's a lot of stuff to be discovered and chewed on there!

-- Jun

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Old 05-26-2003, 09:40 PM   #22
Mares
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Re: Being a good Uke

As an aside, it's interesting to note in my experience, usually someone good at ukemi will also be strong in technique. Someone strong in technique is not necessarily good at ukemi. But I have not seen anyone good at ukemi but have poor technique.

Is this similar at your dojo?
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Old 05-26-2003, 09:50 PM   #23
PeterR
 
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I think my technique far outstrips my ability as uke. Of course someone impartial might say both suck but generally speaking I think the relationship between ukemi skills and the ability to execute waza is a bit over blown.

That said both good uke and good nage have a relaxed body in common.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-27-2003, 11:01 AM   #24
acot
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I find the most difficult ukemi I take is for Ikkyo (the reverse, sorry my Japanese terminology sucks, only Chinese is used on our dojo) back side technique. When I am circling nage and headed sometimes my knee will hit first. This is really painful, and even put me out of training for a week last year. Does anyone else have problem ukemi? and any suggestion on landing backside Ikkyo better?

Cheers

Ryan
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Old 05-27-2003, 01:48 PM   #25
Ron Tisdale
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I take it you mean ikkyo ura, osae waza, or in yoshinkan terminology ikkajo osae ni. There is a specific breakfall taught for that where I train, which seems to be very helpfull in preventing injuries. I'll try to describe it...

Sliding breakfall number 2

Since you know the nage/shite movement (pivoting, then turning the body) you know that as uke you basically must descibe a circle using your whole body. The breakfall consists of shuffling forward (if you are in right stance, you shuffle forward with the right foot without changing stance), go to front knee down, pivot on the knee so that you are facing the direction you came from, and slide into the mat stance hand first.

With a partner turning you, you actually step with the foot around your partner, so that you minimize the amount you need to pivot on your knee. I think if you concentrate on following your partner's lead at first, thinking about where you should end up, it will help you get the feeling down.

Ron Tisdale

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